Friday, 15 May 2015

New York

If you're reading this, then you have almost made it to the end of the North American portion of our travels, as New York was our last stop before Africa. We had two days in the city and spent one of them sightseeing, then spent the other running general errands like posting home extra winter gear, getting haircuts and repacking for flying (had to find all those pesky gels and liquids that make their way into your handbag). I don't think you particularly need to hear about the errands day, but here's what we did with our sightseeing day (and the night before).

As we discovered when researching what to do in New York, the Guggenheim museum is 'pay-as-you-feel' on one evening a week, which happened to be the evening we arrived in town. So we rugged up and walked from our accommodation, which was just across Central Park (give or take a block or two) to the Guggenheim. It was all snowy and magical in Central Park - everything an evening in New York in winter should be. Then we got to the museum. Apparently some other people knew about this cheap evening thing as well. So we waited in the queue and were finally admitted. I don't want to whinge, but it was rubbish. Let me say, I love the Guggenheim and they have an amazing collection, almost none of which was on show when we were there. They had an exhibition by an artist whose name I have suppressed in a part of my brain where I keep things that I loathe. His idea of 'art' was to paint big date pictures. So, a big canvas with that day's date painted on it. Like Jan.4.1966. When he wasn't painting date pictures he was sending telegrams to random people with the message 'I am still alive' (oh but I wish he wasn't...) or postcards telling people what time he woke up that morning. These telegrams and postcards had all been collected and were on display. Alongside the date paintings of course. As art. In the Guggenheim. As a start to a career of dragging Will to art galleries, it was not promising. I had to do some pretty quick talking to stop him from pulling out of every plan we had for seeing art anywhere in the world. Thank goodness the Guggenheim is an interesting building so there was still something worth looking at.

After that inauspicious start, we set out the next morning for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). Ahhh. Now that's what I call an art museum. An entire reconstructed Egyptian temple, some Tiffany's stained glass windows, a weapons and armour collection for Will, lots of lovely paintings and sculptures. Much better. A quick side trip to Times Square and the M&M shop then on to the New York Library where they have the original toys that inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, looking a little worse for wear but I'm a total fan-girl so I don't care (they're hidden in the kid's section if you are looking for them), and they also have an absolutely kicking book shop with many books I now have to buy. We went to Grand Central Station which was indeed grand, central and a station - I am being flippant but it is a beautiful building with many photographic possibilities. And Will explored all of them. We went up the Empire State Building where Will again took many, many photos while I had a minor panic attack about heights, told myself to suck it up and go outside, did go outside, took some photos, then went inside and indulged my panic attack some more until we were on solid ground again. We went and saw the Flatiron Building and wandered down Fifth Avenue, saw Rockefeller Centre and generally meandered. That was our sightseeing day.

Two other very cool things that we did while we were there - those of you who know Will, also know that he is a swing dancer. I am not. We are totally star-crossed lovers but somehow we make it work. New York seemed like the kind of city which would have a reasonable swing dancing scene so Will did some research and found a club with a live swing band and a group dance lesson on a Tuesday night so off we went. There was quite a group of dancers there, and some keen amateurs like myself, and it was a generally fun-filled night. We ran into one of Will's old dance teachers from Melbourne (small world, the swing community) and met another dancer from Melbourne we didn't know but the swing community is very friendly. Will danced with some very good dancers from New York, including one lady who I would estimate was around the first time swing dancing became popular, and she could still cut a rug, and all while dressed to the vintage nines. I even danced a little bit too. The second cool thing that we did (which won't make much sense to the non-Christians in our readership) was go to Redeemer Church, which is headed up by Tim Keller, one of the leading theologians of our age. They have three congregations, and they never say which one Keller will be speaking at beforehand, so we chose on the basis of music style and we happened to hit the one where he was preaching. He's really good to listen to, and I know that in this day and age I could just podcast his sermons but I find it much easier to listen when I'm there in the moment. So that was cool too.

And then we flew to Africa. The End (of North America)

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