Woke up at 7:30am – voila – no jet lag!
Today was museum day. I planned to get the Connoisseur Pass which let me in to three great little museums: Neue Galerie, The Frick Collection and The Morgan Library and Museum.
First stop, the Neue Galerie. It’s a Sunday so everything opened at 11am so I thought I’d walk – what’s a short 40 block walk between friends? I do love New York for it’s walking friendly footpaths (ie, no hills!). I basically walked up to 5th Avenue and then just stayed on that to 86th Street.
I got there about 20 mins early but it’s right next to the bottom of Central Park so I walked in there and sat on a bench to watch the world go by – and it did, on 2 legs or 4, on 2 wheels or 4, and sometimes 8. Someone actually asked me for directions (no backpack today – I looked like a local?) and I actually knew where they wanted to go (The Met – I’d walked past it about 30 minutes earlier)!
11am and in to the Neue Galerie. This is a depository of Austrian and German art in different forms (painting, furniture, crockery, silverware, etc). It’s most famous acquisition is the Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt – I saw the movie about 3 years ago and became determined to see it in the flesh. Amazing, beautiful, distinctive. Klimt has a very distinct style that you can see in almost all of his portraits – a kind of hazy/dreamy body and a clearly defined face (normally with brilliant eyebrows). The Galerie has a whole room devoted to his painting and then you can go into another room to see his etchings (do NOT take children to see Klimt’s etchings – just saying…). Mainly nudes in various poses but also starter sketches and half portraits.
It’s a small museum in one of the old style houses – built in 1914 by the same guys who built the New York Public Library. The museum is across three floors and multiple rooms – some devoted to a particular artist and others to a story (ie Richard Getstl and his love affair with Arnold Shonberg’s (the composer) wife) or style.
They had a free audio tour and I found it quite fascinating, although occasionally yea in stereo as the person next to you started one up as well.
Then it was into Central Park for lunch. I picked up a sandwich and a drink at a deli and then wandered into the park looking for somewhere to sit. I think I took a wrong turn because I ended up in the pathway around the reservoir (no seats but great views).
I eventually found my way to some grass and sat and watched the world go by again – it was still out there on all manner of wheels – including a bike that you actually rowed!
It was then a stroll down Fifth Avenue to The Frick Museum (I knew where it was, I’d passed it on the way up). This was also very interesting but completely different. This museum had European classics from the 13th to the 18th century. Works by Vermeer, Constable, Van Dyck, Monet, Degas, Rembrandt, El Greco and Gainsborough. This was a private collection put together in a house built in the early 29th century by a Mr Frick (hence the name). This place was gorgeous – a revivalist 18th century French villa, down to the murals painted on the walls, the Sevres porcelain to the flocked wallpaper. It was a confusing mishmash of rooms and I went through it twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything. The only place you could take pictures was the atrium but it was pretty special (and only sculptures so you can’t wreck any paintings with a flash).
It was about 4pm by then. I had a dinner reservation at Bibby Vans Grill for 7pm and the last museum was still a few kms away so I decided to sit in a bar with a drink (and get off my feet!) for a little while.
The Morgan Library and Museum will be done before week’s end. Will squeeze it in somewhere because it looks to be the most beautiful if the three.
Back to the hotel for a little laundry and a change of clothes before going out. Speaking of hotel, I know I said I would be able to touch both walls at the same time? I exaggerated, but only a little… and I’m happy to report that my duvet does not have the wallpaper pattern on it.
It has aircon and its own bathroom though so all good. The view from my bedroom window cracks me up every time I open the curtains though!
Last stop for the day is Bobby Van’s Grill – a New York steakhouse.
I happen to be in New York for Restaurant Week, a complete coincidence I assure you. I’ve made three bookings at nice restaurants for this, and the first was tonight for dinner (the other two are lunch bookings). It was only two blocks from the hotel but pretty fancy. Waiters in jackets, four kinds of bread in the bread basket, and they bring your main on a trolley. I did feel a bit rushed through my meal – somebody actually brought my main (or entree, as the Americans like to call it) out before I had even finished my entree (or starter, as the Americans like to call it). They took it back and I got a new one when I was ready but it just seemed a bit rushed. Of course, when I looked at my watch, I’d been there for about 90 minutes so probably not too rushed…
No of steps: 27,000
Distance travelled: 19kms