Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From Bleecker to Bemelmans

Friday morning on our last day in New York I was determined to get the most out of it.  I rose early and headed down to Greenwich Village on the subway. We'd been going non-stop for the past five days and Christina knew that as soon as she stepped off the plane the next day her four kids would be lovingly thrust into her arms by her harried hubby.  She opted to sleep in.


Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village


A gated street known as The Mews is just south of the park.  Years ago  it was a row of stables that 
serviced houses in the area, but was turned into housing and offices for New York University.  The gate was open so I walked in as though I belonged.  Construction was going on at one end of the road, but nobody stopped me so I took photos while I had the opportunity.





I strolled down famed Bleeker Street snapping photos as I went.



This popular store was having a 90% off sale.  I snapped a photo despite the fact that 
farther down the line I heard a lanky blonde girl asked "Can I take a picture for Instagram?" 
and the response was a curt "NO."


Christina and I reconnected at our hotel and walked to the nearby Museum of Modern Art.




Alighiero Boetti's "Tutto"  (Embroidery on canvas)




I don't think she's part of the exhibit, but she certainly matches well!


When we'd had our fill of MOMA, we strolled back up Fifth Avenue to FAO Schwartz where Christina bought gifts for her kids and I bought my big kids some Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate frogs with their collectible wizard cards.  Even in their 20's my kids are still big Harry Potter fans.  










The Louis Vuitton window was surrounded by people intrigued by their latest display.  
I'm pretty sure she wasn't real, but an amazingly life-like wax figure.

I had hoped to see a bit of The Metropolitan Museum of Art but being on the go so much was really catching up with me.  Christina and I stopped for a lunch at a pub not far from our hotel and then headed back to our room.  I had a quick shower and put my feet up for a few minutes.  Below is the view from our hotel room at the Hilton on Avenue of the Americas.


I hoped to have a special meal while visiting the Big Apple.  Encouraged by our concierge and the location, all six of us had dinner at "The View".  It's a revolving restaurant above Times Square and was part of New York Summer Restaurant Week.  With a Prix Fixe menu of $35.00 per person we still ended up paying more than $60 each for an average dinner with one glass of wine.  I was not impressed, but the company made up for it. 

  Leanne, Allison, Lara, Tracy and Christina

After dinner the Kelowna girls joined the Vancouver girls who had pre-booked a time to watch the sun set from the observation deck above Rockefeller Centre. Thanks to a very friendly doorman who welcomed us with "Where have you ladies been?  We've been waiting for you!" and the City Pass which enabled us to skip part of the lineup, we were allowed to join our friends for the sunset on Top of The Rock.



On the way up we were encouraged to re-create the well known photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper taken in 1932 during the building of Rockerfeller's 70 storey building.







Back downstairs we managed to sneak into the NBC store just before it closed where we purchased a few souvenirs from our favourite TV shows.  Christina bought her husband a gavel from Law and Order that made that iconic noise when you banged it on a desk, Lara bought a couple of things including a Central Perk coffee cup, I bought a key chain from Vandelay Industries and darned if I can remember what Tracy bought.

Afterwards Christina, Lara, Tracy and I took a cab to the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper Eastside.  I'd read and heard about Bemelmens Bar, named for Ludwig Bemelmans, illustrator of the Madeline children's books and I was keen to hear some Jazz while I was in New York.  


We were mislead by the concierge who told us the cover was $25 per table.  It ended up being $30 per person and cocktails were $22 each. Looking from the outside you might think it was an overpriced experience, but to me it was worth every penny.  We sat on leather banquettes below a 24 carat gold leaf ceiling, surrounded by the murals of Ludwig Bemelmans.  We were served by attentive waiters in elegant white jackets, we sat near the grand piano and listened to the velvet voiced Chris Gillespe and his talented bassist and saxophonist.

The band played several of our requests and really made it a special evening for me.  I chatted with Chris Gillespe between sets and he complemented my song choices.  When I told him I was a singer he told me he'd suspected as much.  


We were drawn into conversation by the couples sitting next to us.  New Yorkers are so friendly!


Below, our new friend Mike goes for a photo bomb when I was
actually trying to sneakily capture he and his girlfriend.



The waiter gets in on the photo bombing with a karate chop to the eye!



Against our better judgement we stayed into the third set despite the fact three of us had to get up at five to catch the airport shuttle. It was a quintessential elegant old world New York experience and for me, the perfect ending to a lovely trip.

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