Hello, everyone. Good-bye 2008 (almost). Today was both a great day and a little disappointing one. It began with a delicious breakfast buffet...down in the lobby of our hotel. (The picture above was taken from just in front of our room door, looking down into the lobby. The restaurant itself is hidden behind the elevator shaft--on the right.) We're on the 17th floor--there are at least 30 floors above us!)
From breakfast, we checked in to activate our transportation tickets at the City Tours office. We jumped onto a bus right away for the Uptown Tour. Now THAT was much fun. We had an amazing guide who was about 60 years old. He was raised in Manhattan, so he had tons of stories to tell. When we passed the sprawling and upscale Lincoln Center area, for example, he told us that it had originally been a violent, gang-ridden area of the city. (WEST SIDE STORY was filmed right on the property--it was covered with tentement housing back then.) We saw the apartment buildings of Madonna, Yoko Ono, Jerry Seinfeld and others. We saw Grant's tomb (I always wondered where it was--haha). The guy was a total fount of interesting (and entertaining) information.
We went through the campus of Columbia University and drove by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine...where Bill Clinton attends services occasionally. We then went through Harlem.
This is the famous Apollo Theatre in the
heart of Harlem. The Apollo is famous for its
nightly "amateur night." Some great musical
legends had their beginnings at the Apollo.
Also in the middle of Harlem is the
building in which Bill Clinton has his New York
offices. (This is the Adam Clayton Powell office building.)
Before we got to Clinton's office, I noticed this
Hardware/Housewares store on the street.
I took a picture because of the Clinton name...Lyn
said, "This must be where he picks up his girls."
I thought I had to share!
We left the bus at the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. Amazing, amazing, amazing place. BUT,
it was ridiculously crowded. (One of the employees
welcomed us to the "Fifth Avenue Zoo!" He wasn't
exaggerating.) It was like being at Disneyland on a
crowded day. Definitely NOT the way to visit a
world-class museum. And I thought the Louvre was
crowded when we were in Paris!!
This is one of the great corridors housing artifacts
at the Met. (Actually, this appears to be
the space between two different buildings.)
Beautiful sculptures here!
I enjoyed taking some photos of
Lyn in one of the more picturesque halls.
And they weren't terribly crowded! YEA!
When we were in France, we visited Claude Monet's
country home in Giverny. Lyn fell in love with
the bridges and lillies on the estate. She wanted
to be photographed with one of his famous
The Met has a wonderful exhibit of musical
instruments--European and international.
They had some beautiful "double harpsichords"
on display. I'd never seen one "live" before, but
have read about them for years.
And I thought our 9' grand at church
was "fancy!" Isn't this gaudy? (But beautiful
in a "rococo" kinda way.)
Not only were there double harpsichords, but
there was this amazing double "virginal." A virginal
really IS a harpsichord, but the strings run parallel
to the keyboard. (In a harpsichord, strings
run perpendicular to the keyboard, like a grand piano.)
This particular virginal was made for a mother and
child...the mother played the keyboard on the left. The
keyboard on the right played an octave higher than the
After we left the Met, we walked through
Central Park. Lyn suggested that I
take some pictures. I'm glad I followed
her suggestion. I love how these turned out.
Love this park lamp...it blends with
the bare trees in a beautiful way.
Disappointment #2...(with #1 being the crowds at
the Met.) We had SOOO looked forward to
a "City Lights Tour" as part of the touring
package we purchased. It should have been
a great tour, but we had a young, uninformed, uninteresting
guide who was the polar opposite of the guy we
had this morning. He was so pathetic that many of
the passengers left the tour at our Grand Central Station
stop, and took a Subway back to their hotels. This guy
was so bad that he spent more time talking about the menu
at a Todai restaurant we passed than ANY other
landmark on the tour! It was so bad it became funny.
Oddly, he looked genuinely surprised when people
weren't tipping him when the tour was over!
(The picture above was taken on Times Square as we
first embarked. Our expectations were WAY too high!)
(In his defense: at the end of the tour he showed
us where Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie and Janet Jackson live.)
When we got back to Times Square, it was
really hopping. They'd just conducted a
test run of the ball drop. All the media crews
were there calibrating equipment and making
sure the cues all worked. It was
fun being in the melee!
You can see the name of our hotel (Mariott) down
below the Kodak sign in the center of the shot.
Soooo....let me be the very first to wish
you a Happy New Year...with the lighted 2009
Times Square sign to affirm it!
GOD BLESS! More to come tomorrow....