Monday, November 14, 2011

I [heart] New York: The Rest of the Trip

As it turns out I was  too busy showing Rachel The City (capitalization intentional) that by the time we made it back to our room I was too exhausted to actually write about it.

Her original flight in to La Guardia was cancelled, so while I waited for her I went ahead and hit up MoMA -- the Museum of Modern Art -- since Rachel tends to prefer more classical art. She didn't miss much. Last time I did MoMA there were works I didn't get and works that really captivated me. This time nothing really captivated me (and the galleries seemed particularly overrun with tourists) -- that is until I made it back to the Industrial Design section which is where I lingered for the longest period of time and had the greatest appreciation for: Commercial art that is eye catching and selling a product (PanAm destination posters)... Fonts and typefaces (Finally getting the attention they deserve)...every day products where function follows form.

After leaving MoMA I had just enough time to get back to the room get off my feet for a few minutes and confirm the route to La Guardia. Arriving several hours later than expected when Rachel landed she found her way to the Q33 bus to Jackson Heights where I met her after arriving on a Queens-bound (funny, since we were in Queens) 7 Train.

Taking her back we found a Manhattan bound E Train and rode in comfort back to the 42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal stop and the quick walk back to the hotel. One of many reasons why the Hilton Times Square is my favorite hotel in The City (and perhaps period) is that it, as near as I can tell, sits on top of  the largest subway complex in NYC... and if you can't get where you want to get from Times Square/42nd/PABT directly, a short subway Shuttle (S Train) ride to Grand Central will get you there.

Dropping her bags off on the 43rd floor -- room 4320 -- we descended back into the subway station, caught the Shuttle (despite it now being almost 8pm, still packed) and at Grand Central found a downtown 1 Train to meet a friend of hers (and her boyfriend) for dinner. We found a barbecue joint on 3rd Avenue somewhere in the 30s that had good food -- and even better margaritas. (Not having to worry about driving, I indulged in two). We had ice cream in the friend's apartment and by the time we returned to street level a light rain had started. We found an uptown train and retired to the double-Queen room for the evening.

Getting a lazy start on Friday morning, we worked our way downtown to the Meat Packing district using the Shuttle and a C Train to 14th street -- before we got to our actual destination we discovered Tom Otterness's Life Underground, an art installation as part of the MTA's Arts For Transit program and quite an extensive installation at that. Mr. Otterness's little creatures are always so cute and that was particularly true in this case. Once we left the station a quick (although blustery) walk got us to our actual destination: The New York High Line, a former elevated freight rail road structure adapted, converted, and reused now as a public park. Its quite an impressive project, and I would have liked to linger a bit longer had there not been a biting cold wind pushing us around.

Working our way uptown we found our way to the southeast corner of Central Park (though I'm not sure which combination of trains we took to get there) wandered through the lower section of the park eyeing the people and wildlife (and downing a hot dog) before arriving at Rachel's prime destination: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now I will admit that last time I visited The Met I wasn't overly impressed, but walking the galleries with Rachel it was delightful to see her eyes bug out as she excitedly bounded from artwork to artwork like a kid in a candy store "I've seen that one in books!" "We studied that in my classes!". We grabbed lunch in the Cafeteria lingered around the Europeans for a bit and then hit my highlight of the visit: The Met's renown Musical Instrument Collection displaying an evolution of musical instruments from the odd to the common... and a couple Stradivari violins.

Leaving the Met we walked further up 5th Avenue and toured the Guggenheim which currently has a rather odd installation hanging from the ceiling. We didn't spend long but I did buy a new watch.

Walking towards Lexington Avenue, I misjudged the direction for the nearest Subway so instead of walking two blocks downtown to the nearest 4/5/6 station we walked eight blocks uptown and caught a 4 Train back to Grand Central, shuttled to Times Square and kicked off our shoes for a few minutes before departing to another destination Rachel wanted to check out: The Morgan Library and Museum, founded by Pierpont Morgan. Open late Fridays with live music we stayed and lingered until the guards kicked us out at the 9 PM Closing.

Returning to Times Square we had dinner at Schnippers Quality Kitchen on the corner of 41st and 8th Avenue. I had tripped over this place while I was in NYC for the Tony Awards (and staying at a different hotel) but it's literally right down the street from the hotel's back door. The Mac and Cheese with Bacon hit the spot. Returning to the 43rd floor... high above the city...we both quickly disappeared into slumber.

Waking up Saturday morning we realized our time was limited, and although we had been staying in the middle of Times Square, Rachel had never actually seen Times Square so I walked her through the highlights and we popped into the Hershey Store. Curiosity satisfied, we hopped on a train downtown, emerged from the surface at a random stop and among other sights window shopped Chinatown. From City Hall Park we uptown trained to NYU where Rachel poped into one of the Manhattan branches of an employer to look around, and realizing that we were starting to run short on time, we returned to the hotel for the last time, collected our belongings, and checked out.

Entering the Port Authority Bus Terminal subway station, I made a near fatal error -- already cutting the time close (by my standards) -- In a snap judgement thought that the A, C, or E trains would get where we wanted to go. Until we got on an A train, and I looked at a map. And Paniced. Only the E train ultimately ended up where we wanted to go, we popped off at the next station, and I misread signs... so we missed the first E train, and waited.

It felt like an eternity before the next E train showed up (all the while the station announcements blared "There is a...uptown...local...train approaching the...upper level...platform. Please stand clear of the platform edge, especially when trains are entering or leaving the station." on a seemingly constant basis. Rachel, sensing my fermenting panic had started to ask "Well, how much would a cab cost...?", but finally the "There is a Queens Bound...Express...E...Train approaching the...lower level...platform" announcement finally came. Getting back to Jackson Heights/Rosevelt, we left the station and immediately hopped on a waiting Q33 bus. Found seats, and made what felt like the interminable ride to the Central terminal. I checked in and checked my bags with Continental, then Rachel checked in for her much later flight with American... and with about 30 minutes left until I was set to board and since our gates were behind different security checkpoints, we grabbed a quick lunch in the terminal before bidding each other a temporary adieu.

Both of our flights home were uneventful.


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