I am not going to lie to you. Jeg lag is a serious thing when you arrive in a location.
I was taking a course in “Culinary Tourism-How the Culinary Arts play a role in Tourism” for a week in Paris and it was like planning on going to the moon! I have never planned for a trip or watched to many videos to prepare for a trip. I watched every “Les Frenchie’s” YouTube video at least four times before I left and became an expert on getting back and forth from the airport. That and how to maneuver around the subway system.
We all had to arrive on our own time, so we were coming from each direction and arrived at different times of the day. I got in early in the morning on May 21st and then got to Charles LeGault Airport and then had to clear customs when I was half dead from no sleep on a six-hour flight. Actually, I felt pretty good until I stood in line for forty-five minutes and that’s when it hit me. I got a personality minus cab driver at the airport who did not say a word to me and just dropped me off at the University of Paris and then left (mine with me).
When I arrived, I thought we had to stop by security and these three French security guards at the college looked at me like I had just arrived from a foreign planet. One of them actually followed me to my dorm to be ‘sure I got there’. I must have looked strange with all my luggage, totally Jeg lagged and tired lugging those bags. At least check in to my dorm was seamless and I was able to get to my room and relax for a bit.
After I settled in and took a nap and a shower (the two things my father always said to do when you arrive at a destination to acclimate yourself to the time zone), we met for what was supposed to be a short walking tour of campus. It ended up my professor decided that we would take a tour of the Montmartre and we toured the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre and the Square Louise Michel. For dinner, he had tried this restaurant in a very touristy area around the church named Au Clarion des Chasseurs for a light dinner. He had been there many times and wanted us to try it. Thank God I took that nap!
We stopped at the Anvers subway stop and walked up to the square to visit the church. I thought I had arrived at a French version of 42nd Street with all the tee shirt shops and tiny little tourist restaurants. These streets were totally geared to foreign tourists with the “I love Paris” tee shirts, the vendors selling small souvenirs and water and the bracelet vendors who chased after you to put those stupid bracelets on you. I had seen enough videos online where I was watching for them and the scammer cabbies.
We started our walk up the hill at the Square Louise Michel, which was in full bloom in the late Spring. The park was packed with tourists and locals taking pictures, riding the merry go round and buying food. That late in the afternoon people were out and about enjoying the warm day.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur du Montmartre and the Sqaure Louis Michel in the front
While the rest of my class took the tram up, I climbed the stairs passing dozens of tourists snapping shots of the church and the vendors who would not stop bugging me to buy things. It was interesting to see the French police walking around with machine guns and these guys running away quickly. I do not see this in Manhattan.
Walking up the Rue du Steinkerque past the touristy spots
One of the tiny restaurants on the Rue du Steinkerque that I admired.
The flowers and the lawn of the Square Louise Michel was so beautiful. All the flowers were in bloom at the same time (Paris seems to be a bit behind New York with the season) and people were out picnicking and talking on the lawn while enjoying the beautiful sunny day.
Each set of stairs led to another level of the gardens and with each I got to set beautiful beds of flowers showing off their blossoms and the beautifully landscaped tiers of the gardens.
The gardens and lawns of the Square Louise Michel
The view from the top of the stairs by the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur was spectacular. You could see an amazing view of the city from this spot and really soak in how big Paris and its surrounding suburbs are in the borders of the city.
The views from the top of the stairs at Square Louise Michel are spectacular.
The fountains below the Basilique were beautiful and reminded me of some of the fountains in New York City that were created by Italian stone crafters during the late 1880’s. The stonework and the carvings were beautiful, and I took the time to admire them as I continued to walk up the steps.
The fountain at the Square Louise Michel
We walked through the Basilique du Sacre-Couer with its quiet elegance and many different dedications to the saints around the exterior of the pews. The church was a nice place to relax and contemplate a thought. People were inside praying, relaxing and taking tons of pictures which, we were asked not to take but everyone does it anyway. The is the power of cellphones today.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montremarte at the top of the stairs
The detail work at the top of the church from below
I took my time and walked around the church, admiring the displays to the saints and relaxing myself in the pews. I was exhausted from the trip and could not believe that I was taking this tour when I was still jet lagged. Still, I carried on and figured that we would only be in Paris for five days and I wanted to see as much of the city as I could for this trip.
We walked around the church complex on the Rue du Mont Cenis and then down the Rue Norvins to a little restaurant cafe that my professor had been to many times. I thought it looked a little touristy, but the food and the service were wonderful, and we sat outside on this warm sunny night and the three of us with our professor enjoyed dinner and people watching.
Rue Novins with La Boheme Montremarte in the background in the Place du Tertre across from our restaurant
Another view of the Place du Tertre with the musicians in the background and the La Boheme Cafe to the right.
Since we were on a Culinary Tourism tour of the city for class, I kept snapping pictures of all the food, the service, the people and restaurant. I have really turned into one of those pictures obsessed tourists with a cell phone. I just could not believe how beautiful Paris is and how I underrated it in comparison to New York City. It is just as spectacular but in a different way. It is just older city but with just as many wonderful things to see and do.
We relaxed at the Au Clarion des Chasseurs Cafe and sat outside. It was fun to watch all the people walking by who seemed just as excited to be in Paris as we were that evening. It was a warm sunny evening and the perfect time to eat outside. I like the cafe culture of Paris where people take time to relax and enjoy their food and not seem rushed or have to be somewhere. I needed to sit because I could really feel the traveling catching up to me.
Our waitress spoke perfect English with a French accent and I could tell she was used to American tourists. We kept dinner light. My professor ordered for us, and we decided on a Meat & Cheese tray and a Salmon Pizza. I thought the food would be just okay in a spot like this, but the meal was wonderful, and it was just enough where I did not have a big meal in me before going to bed.
My professor with my classmates at dinner at Au Clarion des Chasseurs on the Rue Novins
The Place du Tertre was said to be a big artist hangout, but I mostly saw tourists walking by with cameras, people eating ice cream and crepes and typical French music being played by accordions as if on cue from a movie. I loved every minute of it. I am not as jaded as I thought I was and soaked it all in. It was just a place for people to gather and have a wonderful time and that’s what dinner was, just getting to know one another and the reasons why we took this class. Also to enjoy a good meal with people sharing an experience.
Our ‘light’ dinner of a Meat & Cheese tray stacked with different meats, cheese and pates and a Salmon Pizza with poached Salmon on top and the wonderful French bread.
The pizza that evening
The Salmon Pizza
Our Meat & Cheese tray which was more than enough food.
The wonderful French baguettes that our table seemed to inhale at dinner.
My meal I really enjoyed.
Part of my dinner: the wonderful Salmon Pizza and the Pate on the Baguette
After a wonderful relaxing dinner, we made our way back to the college for an early evening. I could feel the trip across the Atlantic Ocean catching up to me. After dodging an evening of pickpockets, wristband workers and vendors selling everything under the sun, it was time to go back to the room and just relax. Trying to go to bed was tough.
Just like at home, my window was right next to a highway so I get to hear traffic, ambulances and police cars and people walking around campus all night. Who says that home does not follow you around the world. It really dawned on me as I was walking down the steps at the Square Louise Michel.
One of the stars of the both the New York International Restaurant Show and Fancy Food Show has been the Crunch Factory’s Crunch Rolls. These delicious deep fried appetizers have the most intense and rich flavor with each ingredient. The crispness of the rolls when they come out of the fryer are perfection and they crackle with every cut of the knife and every bite.
The Crunch Rolls in their deep fried perfection at the NY Restaurant Show
The Crunch Rolls come in four flavors: Mac & Cheese, Banana Pepper, Buffalo Chicken and the newest, Philly Cheesesteak. The outside of each roll is layer which a breaded coating that when fried offers a crispy and crunchy consistency with each bite. The flavors are marvelous.
The Buffalo Chicken Crunch Rolls at last year’s show
I found this wonderful combination bakery and gourmet shop when walking home from school one afternoon and exploring Greenwich Village. All the delicious pizzas and pastries in the window lured me in.
I had just eaten my lunch, so I was not that hungry and just wanted a snack. I saw the small doughnuts in the windows called Bombolones, which are yeast doughnuts filled with chocolate or vanilla cream fillings and then rolled in granulated sugar. The small one is $2.15 and the large one was $5.00. Don’t let the price deter you as it is a sweet and filling little dessert. The fresh vanilla cream played beautifully off the sweet dough and sugary topping. Each bite was wonderful, and it was…
The colorful and mouthwatering selection of donuts is what lured me into this popular and very special dessert shop in Greenwich Village. Just one look in the window wanted to make me walk inside.
The unique logo
Walking into The Donut Pub is like walking into the donut version of “Willy Wonka’s”. There are just so many choices and all those delicious donuts scream “Buy me”! I have only been in The Donut Pub a few times, but I am hooked already. Just looking in the window makes me hungry.
The first time I passed the shop I was just taking a look at what was on display to see what they carried and this delicious and mouthwatering large…
Park Terrace Deli has been one of my go to places to eat uptown for a few years. I came across the deli when I was walking “The Great Saunter”, the 32 mile walk around Manhattan and needed an additional breakfast for extra protein and carbs. They did not disappoint me.
Park Terrace Deli at 510 West 218th Street
I always order the same thing here, the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a hero roll ($6.50) and it is one of the best in Manhattan. They scramble two fresh eggs and then tuck it into a soft chewy hero roll lined with American cheese. Then they top it with several pieces of crisp bacon. The combination of flavors is amazing, and the portion size is enough for breakfast…
A la Mode Shoppe is the type of ice cream/candy shop that every neighborhood should have in it. It is a colorful spot with unusual, homemade ice cream flavors, and a nice selection of gourmet sodas, candies and gifts. The store is decorated with bright colors, comfortable chairs and a festive inviting environment. They even have a small party room off to the side of store with seating for small children.
The inside of A la Mode Shoppe (A la Mode Facebook)
What I come for is the ice cream. There are two flavors that I come for when I visit the store, Pink Sprinkles, which is Strawberry ice cream with loads of colorful sprinkles layered…
Well after seven years of trying to get to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival I finally got down to the city to get to the tidal basin to see the display. It looks like it will be eight years as almost all the cherry blossoms disappeared almost two weeks earlier. All the leaves were long gone and as I overheard another tourist say to a friend that she was disappointed that she had not known and most of the trees were bare.
The Tidal Basin in April 2023
The festival was in its second week and most of the trees had gone green. I found out later from the Internet that they peaked on March 21st and right after that we had all that rain. It probably knocked the petals off after that.
The festival ran through April 16th, 2022 (the peak of the blooms was March 21st)
It was bummer in that I finally had a free weekend open to visit Washington DC and I had been looking forward to seeing Mother Nature’s show. I even took an early Amtrak train down to DC so that I could spend time in the Basin area when I arrived. The sun does not go down until 7:30pm now (which is a pleasure).
The trip down by train was nice as I love taking my time and just watching everything fly by. The train was packed. I kept forgetting that it was the start of the Easter weekend and people were starting their holiday travel plus for some schools it was Spring Break and college students were coming on the train loaded with luggage. The train was almost completely sold out.
Union Station was a shocker. I had not been in DC since the summer of 2019 when I went down for my Georgetown interview. The station was buzzing with commuters milling around the station and workers coming in during their lunch and dinner hours to enjoy the restaurants and shopping in the terminals. Union Station had a nice selection of restaurants and boutiques to visit, and it was a nice place to spend the afternoon.
The inside of the entrance of Union Station in Washington DC on a Sunday
The place looked like a ghost town when I arrived. The terminal was busy but not like it used to be and so many businesses closed. The lower-level restaurant food court was practically empty. That was really spooky. There was two people downstairs in the about four restaurants open and one was a homeless guy. I could not believe what COVID did to the station.
Still, it was a beautiful day and I decided to walk up First Street to my hotel. I was staying at the Marriott Courtyard DC in the NoMA section of DC (North of Massachusetts Avenue-Frah Frah) and it was only about a twenty minute walk for me. I could not believe how quiet DC was at the time. It was late afternoon and the only people that I saw on the streets were the security guards guarding the buildings. It looked like everyone had left DC for the holidays.
The Marriott Courtyard DC/Capital Building at 1325 Second Street NE
I was able to check into my room early, unpacked and off I went down New York Avenue to downtown. My first stop was Chinatown because I was starved, and I needed the late lunch. Downtown DC is one of the places in the core of the city that really has kept its architecture intact and has lots of character. On D, F and G Streets lots of older buildings from the post-Civil War era to the end of the Victorian Age and the facades now been incorporated into new buildings.
F Street from the White House to the arena used to be the old shopping district up until the 1990’s and you can still see the ghosts of Garfinckel’s, Woodward & Linthrop and Hecht’s Department stores in the architecture of these former grand department stores.
Garfinckel’s Department Store was the inspiration for my novel “Love Triangles”
Sadly, though when the arena was built, it pretty much knocked down the core of Chinatown and what is left now is about five restaurants, a small grocery store, tea shop and a gift shop that I am not sure whether it is open or not. There are still a few hangers on that give it some character but it’s not like the Chinatown’s in New York or Philadelphia.
The Entrance to what is left of Chinatown in Washington DC on G Street
One of the two blocks left of Chinatown in Washington DC on 6th Street
There is one restaurant I still love going to when I am in DC, and I always visit it for sentimental reasons and that’s Chinatown Express Restaurant at 746 Sixth Street NW (see my review on TripAdvisor). I discovered the place several years ago when I was on a location search for my novel “Love Triangles” (Day One Hundred and Fifty-Two: Reading the Prologue of the Novel “Love Triangles”):
The entrance to the former Julius Garfinckel & Company: The inspiration for the novel “Love Triangles”. The entrance is on F Street in Downtown DC. The future cover for “Love Triangles”.
What attracted me to Chinatown Express then as now was the cooks are always making homemade dumplings and noodles in the window of the restaurant. One of the owner’s was making pulled noodles on my first trip there and then after that I was always looking for the chef making the pulled noodles.
The roast meats, noodle and dumpling making in the front window of Chinatown Express
The last time I saw him was when I went down for my Georgetown interview. On this trip, I saw who I assumed was his kid’s wrapping dumplings in the window and I had to have some of those.
Not really looking at the menu, I ordered Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings and Fresh Pulled Noodle Soup with Roast Pork, all of which is made inhouse. What a lunch! The dumplings were crisp and tender on the outside and a well-spiced pork mixture on the inside. This was made even better by the soy sauce mixture that I dipped them in.
Lunch at Chinatown Express in 2022 and 2023 (even in 2007)
The Pulled Noodle Soup had a nice rich chicken broth as a base with large slices of roast pork, fresh Bok choy and long strands of freshly made noodles in the soup.
The homemade dumplings made to order
The soup was a meal onto itself. I slurped the soup with the noodles being sucked up at the same time.
The Cantonese Wonton Soup with Lo Mein Noodles and Roast Pork
The roast pork had a nice, sweet glaze on top and they gave me a lot of it. The soup warmed me up and filled me up after a long journey.
After lunch was over, I had a lot more energy and ready to tour DC. I headed down to the Washington Mall to see the Tidal Basin. What a disappointment! The blossoms were over. There were still some trees around the basin that we a certain species of cherry tree that bloom late (these are the ones we are waiting for to bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and these were the ones on the fringes of the basin that everyone was taking pictures of with their families. I guess it is another year before I see them again ( the pictures are from 2023).
The Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossoms in 2023 after the rain storm the night before
Not all the species lost their petals in the storm in 2023 so the visuals were marvelous!
Talk about over-tourism in 2023 to see the Cherry Blossoms
All the trees around the basin had flowered and dropped their petals. There were a few bunches of late bloomers here and there in groups that my fellow tourists huddled around to take pictures. It was pretty sad because the DC Cherry Blossom Festival was in its second week and the blossoms had bloomed already. Mother Nature had the last laugh!
Still the trees were bursting with green leaves and the start of summer looked like it was upon us. It seems that everything was growing two weeks in advance even up by me and it looked like late Spring all over the Washington Mall. The paths were full of people looking at the trees making the same comments that I did about the leaves. I have to say that the tourists have come back. I heard many languages being spoken as I walked to the Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the basin and people were taking pictures of everything. It was nice to see DC busy and full of people all over the Mall.
The Jefferson Memorial in the distance during the Cherry Blossoms in 2023
The Jefferson Memorial was being repaired but still impressive and makes a statement when you walk around the structure. You can see all the quotes that spoken carved in the walls and reading them I was wondering how far we have come as a society with everything going on today. I had to dodge construction and people taking pictures in every direction.
I walked back to the patches of flowering cherry trees and the groups of people huddled around them desperate to show in picture the beauty of the trees. I have to admit that these patches of trees around the Washington Monument were very impressive.
The Washington Monument at 15th Street NW when I visited in 2007
I stopped for a while, bought a Coke from a vendor selling beverages all over the Mall and sat on the lawn and just relaxed and watched the sun set. Groups of families were sitting on the lawn, chatting, laughing and taking pictures. It was nice to see people again visiting the country and enjoying the city.
As I left the Mall lawn, I walked back into the downtown area. I stopped by the Portrait Gallery, but they were closed for the evening. Outside the Portrait Gallery, they were having one of the Cherry Blossom Street events with food vendors, musicians, people playing video games on the big screen and then they showed a Japanese cartoon film. There was a food vendor named Miguel’s Miniatures, who made homemade empanadas, churros, mini doughnuts and homemade lemonade. The prices were really reasonable.
I ordered the mini doughnuts that were ten for $5.00. These were freshly fried in front of me and then they had a series of glazes in squeeze bottles and sprinkles and candies to top them. It was a really nice concept and the doughnuts hit the spot after a long walk and a good lunch. It was nice to munch away while listening to the music.
As it got dark, I walked back to the hotel to settle in for the night. I have to say that Washington DC is a great walking city. Unlike Manhattan, the streets were really clean and well-groomed, and I did not see the amount of homeless that I would see in New York City. As I walked back up through downtown and up New York Avenue, I just noticed how organized the city seemed. There were a few tent encampments but again they were under overpasses and kept out of view from the rest of the neighborhood.
I walked through most of the Northeast section of the city, just north of New York Avenue and admired all the old town houses. They all look like they had been sandblasted back to like and the fronts of the homes were covered in flowering plants and there were lots of rainbow flags almost showing me the gentrification of the neighborhood.
When I got to around where the hotel was located, I got a little lost and did not realize that there were two First Streets off New York Avenue. I knew that I had not reached the McDonalds that I had passed or some of the street art that I use as a marker to remember where I walked. So, I walked around the block and down another street. That is when the fun began.
I walked down the first First Street and knew I did not recognize anything, so I just walked through this construction site of two new buildings going up and walking through the alley way between both sites and passed a dark church on the side of these construction sites. I thought that might be a good sign. I got to the other side of the street only to walk up a street between the two First Street and more construction only to have a group of 30 bikers without helmets coming at me in each direction.
I was more perplexed on why they were not wearing helmets and doing dangerous wheelies than coming at me in every direction. Even some of the bikers had strange looks on their faces as they surrounded me and went around me. It just said to me “What was I doing there?” and “Who was I?” and they continued to ride down the street and never looked back.
They never came back around to see what I was doing. I ended up in front of a public housing complex where the residents gave me a strange look walking by. Some were trying to hide that they were smoking substances that are no longer illegal.
I just looked back once and then kept walking and found my way back onto New York Avenue, crossed the bridge on the highway and then recognized a piece of art on the street that gave me back my directional sense. I knew my bearings as I crossed over New York Avenue and walked down North Street NE back towards the hotel. It was like another world from the one I just walked through. There I found Menomale Pizza Napoletana NoMA at 35N Street NE.
It was surreal. I felt like I went from one world to another in just a few feet. The restaurant was just going through it first seating and people were leaving. I looked at the menu and decided that I was hungry. That and I did not want to know if I would have enough energy once I got to the hotel to come back, so I entered and got a table. What a wonderful decision.
The menu had a nice selection of appetizers, pizzas, entrees and desserts and I settled on a simple Pizza Margareta ($14.95) with a Coke. I wanted to keep it simple because it was getting late, and I did not want to have to digest a heavy dinner so late at night.
Menomale NoMA at 35 North Street NE
The pizza was excellent with a topping with a fresh tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes and freshly made mozzarella and basil with a little olive oil on top. The pizza was also the right size for one person about the size of a large dinner plate. Being a thin crusted pizza and the dough was light and chewy, it was not difficult to devour the whole pizza. I thought the service was very professional, friendly and personal. Several waiters stopped by my table to see how I was doing. Between the food, atmosphere and service, it was the perfect meal. It ended a very strange walk back to the hotel.
The one thing I have to credit Marriott with is that their beds are super comfortable. I hit the pillow and slept soundly that evening. When I awoke the next day and opened the blinds and let the sunny morning inside the room. I felt so relaxed and not a bit tired from all the walking that I did the day before.
I had a quick breakfast at the McDonald’s around the corner from the hotel and had my usual Sausage with Egg McMuffin combination breakfast. It always hits the spot, but I will be pretty honest. Maybe it was all the walking or just I was hungry, but I needed more even after I left the restaurant.
I love breakfast at McDonalds
As I made my way down to the Mall to visit museums, I needed something else to eat. So I stopped at this small Farmers Market on I Street NW right near Milian Park and saw a woman selling empanadas and stopped for one. She said she made them from her mother’s recipes and her breakfast empanada contained Mexican bacon, chorizo, eggs and Cheddar cheese. For $4.00, I thought it was a fair price. The same thing in the Farmers Market in Union Square, they would have charged six or seven dollars for the same thing. It was the perfect breakfast accompaniment.
What I liked about DC was things like this. There were small Farmer’s Markets on the side streets, vendors with all sorts of foods all over the Mall and in front of the Portrait Gallery was the Downtown Cherry Blossom Festival with the movies and food. People have been complaining how bad DC has gotten and maybe it was me but in the two days I spent there, I only saw very positive things to participate in.
I finally got to the Hirshhorn Museum at Independence Avenue and 7th Street to see Yayoi Kusama exhibition that I had seen discussed on ‘CBS This Morning’ a couple of weeks earlier.
The Hirshhorn Museum at Independence Avenue and 7th Street (Hirshhorn Museum)
This was one of the reasons I had come to DC on top of seeing cherry blossoms that were not there. To my surprise, the museum had been open since 10:00am (I thought it did not open until 11:30am) and then the guy at the door says I needed timed tickets that were distributed starting at 9:00am that morning. He would not budge!
Ms. Kusama is a Japanese born artist who was trained at the Kyoto City University of Arts and is known for Avant-guard works and her later use of polka dots as her trademark.
Video on Ms. Kusama’s work
I went back upstairs to talk to the ladies at the desk and God must have been listening to me because in front of me were two people who did not want to go see the exhibition and I was able to grab one of their tickets. Talk about luck! I hate to say it but the guy at the desk downstairs looked disappointed that he had to let me in.
I swear that the Yayoi Kusama exhibition was well worth the trip down to DC. What an interesting way not only to display art but to be part of the art exhibition as well. The exhibition started with a few larger pieces of her work with lots of polka dots and pumpkins until you got to move to the private rooms where you got to part of the exhibition. This is where it got interesting.
The curator told me that this pumpkin belonged to the museum
I got to walk into her Mirrored Room with here soft sculptures and was left inside by myself for thirty seconds when the door closed. It was amazing and mind-blowing that you could see the repetitiveness of yourself in the artform and got to experience what she had seen as well. All those little red and white soft sculptures all over the floor made you feel like you were in a surreal ‘Wonderland’.
The Mirrored Room at the Hirshhorn Museum was like being in a surreal ‘Wonderland’
After leaving the mirrored room, I passed a through a small walkway and then when entering the next room of polka dot lanterns, it felt like you were walking through some crazy dream. It was so odd and exciting at the same time. It was so thrilling to be part of the artwork. It was like being in a usual funhouse.
The Polka Dot Lantern Room at the Hirshhorn Museum is a colorful ‘funhouse’
The exhibition is so engaging I wanted to walk through it again but the lines to get in when I left were so long that I knew I would not get tickets again. It is an exhibition that was worth the wait and the trip down to DC and I highly recommend it.
After I left the exhibition, I visited the Laurie Anderson exhibition and was again memorized by the lines of flags going up and down like a surrealist dream. Her videos of people sharpening knives was pretty weird as well.
Ms. Anderson’s work was just as wild, and she also makes it fun to walk through an exhibition. You become part of the art and that is just as interesting. Ms. Anderson is an American born artist who graduated with a BA from Barnard College and MFA from Columbia University. She is known for her Avant-guard works that spread across many mediums (Wiki).
The Laurie Anderson exhibition “The Weather” was another unusual journey
After spending most of my morning participating in the art of the Hirshhorn Museum, I wanted to walk through the sculpture garden. It was nice to walk amongst the flowers and all the pieces of art.
I knew I would be heading back to Manhattan after I finished at the museums and I stopped for lunch in the Washington Mall, which was line with food trucks. I stopped by a very busy one I had seen the other day called “Ribeye Philadelphia Steak” for a Cheesesteak. I had not had one since I went down to Philly for the Penn/Cornell game.
For $13.00, I got a large Cheesesteak with Wiz and a Coke and ate it on the lawn of the Mall. God, was I in the mood for that Cheesesteak. I felt like I was back at the Reading Terminal Market again. The roll was really fresh and chewy and the steaks were perfectly cooked. They must have made a mistake in the order because I got Provolone inside the roll and Cheese Wiz on top. I didn’t care. The combination was delicious and I just relaxed on the lawn on a sunny afternoon and enjoyed my lunch. Don’t miss this food truck when looking for a meal in the Washington Mall.
I walked past the White House and talk about security. The whole place was cordoned off and security is extremely tight. I had never seen all of this before. For the last twelve years there has been so much craziness with protests and people trying to get into the White House I do not blame them for the security. I have to say one thing, I saw the real FBI guys protecting the perimeter of the area and now understand why people think I look like I am in law enforcement. These guys looked like a younger version of me.
Me in front of the White House in better days in 2007
I walked back to the Downtown area and went to visit The National Portrait Gallery at Eighth and G Street for the “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” exhibition.
The National Portrait Gallery at Eighth and G Street in Downtown Washington DC
I still remember the Watergate scandal from when I was a kid. The only importance that it had to the nine-year-old me was that all the cartoons and kids programming was cancelled for the hearings. Learning more about the incident in college and from books was how hard this hit the American public and their trust of the government.
National Portrait Gallery exhibition “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” (Time Magazine Cover)
The exhibition had all sorts of illustrations of the scandal and the people who were participants of it. It was funny to see the names and faces of the people who were involved in this event and know now that most of them are no longer alive to defend themselves. Even though the scandal was seen in the form of illustration, it did make a point into the ramifications of what happens when you get caught.
It was a low point for our country, between that and the ongoing war in Vietnam and inflation, you have an idea of why the country was so cynical. I am convinced this is why the Disco era happened. When it was all over, people needed to blow off steam and have a good time. Plus, the Baby Boomers were coming of age and needed time for themselves before starting a family.
It was funny to see how the artists depicted these important people or people who thought that they were important. It is amazing how fast the mighty can fall fast. It was not until the Reagan Administration that there was some pride back in the country and in some ways that was all a facade as well. It takes an exhibition like this to point that out.
After I toured the exhibition, I toured the Hall of Presidents and saw all the portraits. I saw the portrait of the recent president and listened to the comments that patrons made. They were not all bad and some were quite complimentary.
President Trump’s recent portrait was added to the collection
When you are touring this room, you have to remember that everyone is human, and all of these men have made mistakes in the past. Since many people do not know American history or the backgrounds of most of the people in that room, it is hard to comment on.
President Van Buren from New York
Before I headed back to the hotel to head home, I stopped in the Downtown Cherry Blossom event they had in front of the National Portrait Gallery and listened to the music again. The kids were playing a video game on the large screen and parents were swinging in the swings by the tables.
I stopped by Miguel’s Mini’s again and had one of his stuffed Churros with Bavarian cream. If you wanted to ever sink your teeth into something delicious, it was a freshly fried Churro filled with fresh vanilla cream. It was decadent and the perfect snack before my long trip home.
I picked my luggage up and walked back down to the train station and just made the 5:00pm train back to New York City. Talk about luck with the last-minute travel plans.
Even though I got to see just a limited version of the Cherry Blossoms in DC it gives me something to shoot for next year. It was a nice two days in the nation’s capital and told me one thing, not everything in Washington DC is all that bad.
You just have to look for the positives and you will find them!
My trip to Washington DC in 2023:
I arranged my trip to Washington DC in 2023 so that I could finally see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom. I was lucky in that the trees were still in bloom but the problem was that a massive rain storm the day before again knocked a lot of the blossoms off some of the trees before I got there. Still there were about four different species planted and the white cherry blossoms must have bloomed later as they were still up all around the basin so I finally after thirty years of wanting to see them, I got to see the Washington DC tidal basin in bloom.
The Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms in 2023
I almost thought I was never going to get down there with the amount of homework and classwork and papers that I had to do for both school and work. Even though the load is a bit easier this semester than Fall semester, it has been a lot on me with finishing Midterms (A-, C- and A- on my paper). I have had a lot of long days and I wanted to get my mind off everything.
I took the early morning train to Washington DC on a very sunny morning after a really bad rain storm the night before. I afraid that the petals would be knocked off the trees and I would see bare trees again. I took that risk, had a game plan to see the things I wanted to see again.
Once I left Union Station, I walked down to the Tidal Basin getting lost only twice. I walked out a different door then the last time and walked in the wrong direction going south instead of east. Two turns later I never realized how much of Washington DC has been gentrified.
Union Station in 2023 was busy but not crazy that afternoon
Even the areas around Union Station have really gotten nice and very expensive looking. I took a peek at some of the restaurants that opened just south of the station and could not believe the prices of things.
I made my way down D Street passing all the closed government buildings on a Sunday afternoon and then took a turn around New Jersey Avenue and walked the length of F Street watching people as they went to the stadium for an ice hockey game. There were loads of crowds for that.
As I walked down F Street, I remembered working on my book “Love Triangles” and walking this street thirty years ago when the old department stores were still open. I remember the days when Garfinckel’s and Woodies (Woodward & Lothrop) were still open. I do not remember going into the old Hecht’s store when it was open but I did go to the new one in the mall around the corner in 2002 when I visited my cousin when he and his new wife were living in the capital. That is now a Macy’s.
The old shopping district has gone from being ‘down and out’ to a vibrant shopping, entertainment and restaurant district with many of its historic buildings either renovated or part of a new structure. It is funny to see the exteriors of so many buildings built into a larger more modern structure.
The new and modern F Street shopping district
One by one I passed the old department stores that used to dot the shopping district and remembered how important this shopping district once was to the capital. These stores played such an important role in retailing up until the early 1990’s when they all closed down. The Campeau bankruptcy of Federated and Allied Stores in 1991 doomed all of these retailers. Today many of these same stores have been renamed under the Macy’s banner. So much for traditions.
The original Hecht’s Department Store is located closest to the arena and was the first store to close back in the late 1980’s to move to their new location in the mall on G Street. That left their original flagship empty for years. It is now serving as an office building.
Hecht & Company Department Store on F Street and 7th Street
The next grand department store to close in the early 1990’s was Woodward & Lothrop, “Woodies” as it was called by shoppers. The store was beautiful inside from what I remember on my last trip inside it in the early 90’s before it closed but empty of shoppers and the merchandise just could not compete with Macy’s or Bloomingdales when they entered the Washington DC market in the late 1980’s. The company had merged with Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia and that was another grand department store on its way down in the early 90’s as well. It was a sad ending to such a great store.
Woodward & Lothrop Department Store on F Street and 11th Street
The original Woodward & Lothrop store on G Street which was extended to F Street later in its history.
The historical sign on the store
The details of the original store from the 1880’s
The ultimate luxury was Garfinckel’s Department Store which catered to the elite of Washington DC society and was one of the best known department stores in the nation. This store catered to all the First Ladies and was a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy and Bess Truman.
I remember shopping at the store for gifts for my parents and sitting down at the desks while my brother and I waited for them to be wrapped. I still remember a woman would not sell a silver salad server to my brother and I because we did not have the extra dollar to pay the tax so we had to buy her something else. We bought my father a bottle of Grey Flannel cologne and I swear my father had that bottle until the late 90’s. The funny things you remember as a kid. I also remember eating in the Greenbriar Room for lunch and having a burger.
Later on in the late 1980’s I used the store for the inspiration for my novel “Love Triangles” where the protagonist, Alan Ballantine Garfinckel finds love in a New York Department store over the Christmas holidays.
The former Garfinckel’s Department Store on F Street and 14th Street
After a walk down the old shopping district and past all the old buildings of the original downtown, it was time to head to the tidal basin. The lines were wrapping around where the White House was and I was not sure if people were touring it but they had tickets in their hands to something and the line wrapped around the block.
The Washington Memorial Lawn was packed with people as it usual is on a sunny afternoon. People were flying kites and walking their dogs or eating their lunch at one of the many food carts. The lawns were overflowing with people.
The tidals basin was packed with people. The storm the day before had knocked off some of the petals of the original blossoming trees around the basin but the rest of the basin was in bloom and was a spectacular view.
The basin in full bloom and after all these years I got to see it in its glory.
Looking back at the Washington Monument
Walking with the crowds amongst the Cherry trees
Spring is coming to Washington DC
We talk in our tourism classes at NYU about ‘over tourism’ and the Washington Mall really suffers from this. There were just too many people packed into a small space. Not only that it was the way people behaved. People with double baby strollers trying to maneuver paths not meant for it or unfortunately people in wheelchairs struggling to get through paths that were not ADA compliant and full of small hills and roots that stood out. It made it for a lot of abuse on the trees.
People were also climbing on trees, pulling down branches and pulling off the blossoms. I never really took into account of these things but now I really noticed how cellphone cameras have just changed people’s behaviors. People have gotten abusive to nature.
Still, I tried to not to be that person and moved along as soon as I took my pictures. It was nice to just walk around the basin and enjoy nature’s magic. I made another stop at the Jefferson Memorial which after a year is still being renovated. There was so much construction stuff around the memorial that it made it difficult to move. That and everyone trying to take the perfect picture created a situation where everyone was on top of each other.
The Jefferson Memorial with all its beauty from a distance
I think we are forgetting this
After the quick tour around the memorial and paying my respects to the president, I continued the walk around the basin.
The beauty of the blossoms attracted so many people
It was a nice walk around the basin on a warm sunny day
After the walk around the basin, I was starved and wanted something to eat. All around the Washington Monument there was an array of food trucks but they were all packed with people. It was all the same thing and trying to find the perfect cheesesteak truck was hard when you see pictures of the hero with lettuce and tomato on it. I decided to go back to Chinatown to Chinatown Express again.
Chinatown has gotten even smaller since I last visited. Three more restaurants closed so it has been reduced to four restaurants, one grocery store and one liquor store. If they knock down this buildings on this block, you will have two restaurants left.
What’s left of Chinatown in Washington DC. One block by a half block.
The ice hockey game had let out by that point and every restaurant around Chinatown and the downtown area was packed with people and Chinatown Express was no different. When I arrived, there was a line out the door and people were on top of each other. In a way, it was nice to see. Everyone was with family and friends and looked like they were having a nice time.
Chinatown Express was packed after the game
I ordered my old standby Cantonese Wonton Soup with wontons and roast pork, a side of steamed dumplings and some egg rolls. I was less than thrilled with the food this time around. Everything either was not cooked all the way through or was tepid. The taste was good but the quality of the cooking was really lacking. When I read the TripAdvisor reviews later that evening this seems to be a trend at the restaurant.
The egg rolls at Chinatown Express were delicious but tepid
I enjoy the same meal when I dine at Chinatown Express but the food was disappointing on this trip
After lunch was over, I walked down to the Portrait Gallery again down on F Street. I did not have much time on this trip so I just went through the Presidential Gallery with all the portraits and got to hear a lot of opinions of certain presidents and none on the ones no one knew or remembered (which was more than half of them). It seems that most people remember the first four and the last four.
The portrait of Pocahontas is always impressive
I was able to quickly visit the museum visiting some of the highlights. I want to be able to spend some more time here on the next trip to the museum.
After the museum, I walked back to the train station to return to New York City. I almost did not make it as every train back to Manhattan was booked. I was lucky that a sympathetic train employee found a way to get me on the Palmetto at 8:00pm. I did not get home until 12:45am that evening.
Still it was worth it to see the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin. It is worth the trip!
*This blog is dedicated to Lucy, whose input and cheerleading for this blog has been much appreciated and to another memorable lunch!
I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for almost nineteen years and over the years you become friends with the other volunteers. Lucy and I have gotten to know one another over the years. Last Spring, we had gotten together for an amazing lunch over pizza from Lions & Tigers & Squares on West 23rd Street.
Maybe it was the pizza, maybe it was the weather or maybe it was just the view of the Flatiron Building in the background as we were eating lunch by the plaza next to Madison Square Park or maybe all of the above. It was just an amazing lunch.
Over the Fall and Winter months we had kept in touch and the conversation always went back to that amazing lunch and just the beautiful view of the Flatiron Building in the background while we ate. I had commented to her that all over the world people wished they could be in the very spot that we were in eating lunch and here we were eating there. There is sometimes a moment in time that are just perfect.
When Lucy came in again, I had been through a lot lately losing my friend, Barbara and some family issues. So, it was nice to have someone nonpartial to listen. I was going through a lot at one time.
Having had pizza the night before and for lunch the day before that, I really did not want to go back to Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) so we on a whim tried S & A Gourmet Deli at 240 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a sandwich.
Talk about another excellent lunch. The sandwiches there are excellent. S & A Gourmet Deli does a great job with their food. I ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich ($8.99), which was two freshly fried chicken cutlets topped with Swiss Cheese and Ham topped with spicy mustard on a fresh hoagie roll. Each bit was amazing.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich at S & A Gourmet Deli
The two of us had a nice afternoon talking about what was going on in our lives and just enjoying the warm weather. What was strange was only about an hour before it was pouring down rain and then as we met it cleared up. By the time we finished lunch, it was almost the same weather as the time we had lunch last year, sunny and warm and in the 70’s. I guess God was listening.
Having lunch outside with the Flatiron Building in the background is amazing!
After lunch was over, we said our goodbyes and I was off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the Magnolia trees blooming and the breathtaking Daffodil Hill, where thousands of daffodils would be blooming at one time around a 100-year-old Oak Tree.
With everything going on, I am getting a little leery about traveling by subway but off I went. The ironic part is that the trip was smooth and quiet and non-eventful. I found out later on that evening that the N Line earlier the morning had been hit with a smoke bomb and a shooting. Talking about shattering an imagine. Thank God I did not know all this on the trip down to Brooklyn.
The Entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 990 Washington Avenue
The weather was even better when I got up the stairs on the Number 2 line outside the Brooklyn Museum. It had gotten even warmer. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was the busiest it had been all season with people taking pictures of the now blooming Cherry trees and Japanese Garden coming to life in the early Spring months.
Daffodil Hill was just as spectacular as the many years before. The daffodils were in full bloom and the hill on the other side of the Japanese Garden next to the flowering Magnolia trees which were also in full bloom. The scents were wonderful with scents of sweet jasmine and candy.
There are very few places in the world that are perfect but the bench by Daffodil Hill is one of those spots. To sit there and just admire Mother Nature at work at her best is just something. I look forward to this every year and is one of the main reasons why I keep renewing every year. For one afternoon, I just want to sit at that exact bench and admire Mother Nature’s handywork.
The Japanese Gardens are starting to bloom
The Cherry Trees in the Japanese Gardens on the other side of the hill were just coming into bloom as well and the whole effect showed that Spring is here and not a moment too soon. Everyone needed the warm weather to come and relax us. It has been a long Winter.
I ended spending over two hours just walking around the gardens and relaxing under a tree like everyone under the Cherry Tree Esplanade that has not bloomed yet. The soft grass and the relaxing sounds of contemporary music on every half hour was a nice way to spend the late afternoon.
Once left the gardens, I was going to go to the Brooklyn Museum, but it was closed and the weather being so beautiful I decided to walk to Downtown Brooklyn and see how the reconstruction of the Fulton Mall was going. So I took the long walk around the circle and walk down Flatbush Avenue towards Downtown Brooklyn. I made a few detours along the way and explore Brooklyn.
As I got to the turn off to Atlantic Avenue just off Flatbush Avenue near the Barclay’s Center, I decided to make the turn and explore a neighborhood I knew well. This part of Brooklyn I had used for my novel, “Firehouse 101” and I spent many a day exploring the streets of Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill for my book, noting the streets, parks and businesses. There are lot of memories of me walking this neighborhood almost twenty years ago.
My novel “Firehouse 101” set in Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill Brooklyn
I can’t tell you how many times I walked Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Smith Street and Court Street for inspiration. Many of the observations of those afternoons were written into the book as I tried to make it as real as possible.
When I got to the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street, I made the right turn and walked the length of Smith Street in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. It also amazes me how a neighborhood keeps changing as new businesses keep opening and closing changing the complexity of a neighborhood and how the long-time businesses still chug along and watch it all happen. There are those family-owned enterprises that make the City unique.
As I rounded Smith Street, admiring all the new gift boutiques, gourmet shops and small restaurants, I crossed over Degraw Street to walk the ‘border’ of the neighborhood in my novel and walked to Court Street and walked up the street. I needed to stop a few times at some bakeries that I had been to many times on my walks here.
As I walked all over Atlantic Avenue, I saw all the new little boutique bakeries with their $5.00 cookies and $7.00-$9.00 pies that looked delicious but were not worth the money. No pie that is about three bites is worth $7.00. When I visited the longtime neighborhood favorite, Monteleone’s Bakery at 355 Court Street the woman at the counter reminded me why this bakery has been around for 100 years. Quality and service.
The pastries at Monteleone’s Bakery are delicious
The prices and selection are also a nice part of the bakery. Their miniature pastries which are nice sized sell for $2.00 a piece and the selection of them is extensive. I bought a pastry stuffed with cannoli cream and a mini cream puff with vanilla cream. I had the woman put them in a bag so that I could eat them along the way. They both lasted barely a block.
When I mentioned to the woman about the $7.00 pies and $5.00 cookies at the bakeries on Atlantic Avenue, she just laughed and said this is the reason why Monteleone’s is so popular and has been around so long. They know their customers. I know that I will be back when I visit the neighborhood again.
I was still hungry as I walked down Court Street to the Fulton Mall and downtown, so I stopped at the Court Pastry Shop at 298 Court Street for another pastry. I love my sweets and had not been there in a few years. It is funny that the Court Pastry Shop was used in a very funny scene in my book “Firehouse 101” so I always remember my trips there in the past when I was doing location spots for my book. Their cream puffs and eclairs are delicious.
I eyed my favorite eclair in the case and bought one immediately ($3.50). I swear it had been at least three or four years since I had had one and they are still the best. They had such a thick layer of chocolate icing on them and filled with the most delicious vanilla cream.
Now being full of sweet snacks, I continued up Court Street to the Brooklyn Court House and then walked back down Fulton Street to the Fulton Street Mall. At this point most of the Fulton Street Mall has been demolished and replaced with new apartment and office buildings. This was part of the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to revitalize downtown Brooklyn with a broader retail selection and replace many of the older buildings.
It is not quite done yet but within five years most of Downtown Brooklyn should be redeveloped. It looks so much different from even two years ago. This was documented in film “My Brooklyn”.
The film on Downtown Brooklyn “My Brooklyn”
It was such a nice afternoon, and I was enjoying the sunshine so much and I had a lot of energy with all the desserts in me, I decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I have done many times and never tire of looking at the view.
Talk about the perfect afternoon to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was clear, sunny and about 70 degrees. It really looked like the tourists were back because people were taking pictures all over the bridge from every angle including ready to fall off the bridge because they were leaning so much over the rails. The view of Lower Manhattan was just spectacular.
By the time I got to the Manhattan side of the bridge, I was starved. I decided that I had the energy to walk to Chinatown which is only a few blocks away from the bridge entrance. By the time I got to Chinatown, it was almost seven in the evening and found that most of the smaller places were closed (it was a weekday). So, I walked all over Mott Street, East Broadway, Catherine Street, Henry Street and the Bowery and decided on an old standby which I love Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway.
I was hungrier than I thought. I started with Shrimp and Mango Rolls ($5.95), Duck Spring Rolls ($5.95), Pork Soup Dumplings ($6.95) and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($5.95). After devouring all of that, I ordered the Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings ($5.95) and the Steamed Roast Pork Buns ($6.95). Everything was so delicious and fresh and came out steaming hot. Even on a weeknight I was surprised by how full the place was and it seemed that people were ordering more than me.
I especially loved the Shrimp and Mango rolls with the breaded and fried ground shrimp mixture with a piece of fresh mango in the center. It had a nice sweet/savory flavor to it and was fried perfectly golden brown. All of the dumplings were cooked to perfection and the pork and chive dumplings had a nice flavor to them (See review on TripAdvisor).
The Soup Dumplings at Dim Sum Go Go are excellent
By this point it was twilight and just getting dark, but it was still so nice out that I decided I wanted to walk through the East Village to see how busy it was that night and to see how many NYC students were out and about. Plus, I wanted to see if the Anthology Film Center was still open on Second Avenue (it was closed that night). I walked up Second Avenue past all the trendy little restaurants and closed shops which were packed with students. I could not believe how busy the area was this time of night, but it was still in the 60’s and just a nice night to mill around.
By the time I reached 14th Street, I figured I might as well walk back to Port Authority and walked up a combination of Second, Third and then by East 23rd Street, up Lexington Avenue through Kips Bay and ‘Curry Hill’ which I had visited a year ago. All of the Indian restaurants were busy as well and the smells of cumin and curry wafted through the air. I always love walking through this neighborhood.
I walked across East 34th Street and arrived at the doors of Macy’s and Herald Square was just as busy as the rest of Manhattan with people walking around the plazas of Herald and Greeley Squares. Koreatown on West 32nd Street off Broadway was also packed with students and tourists going out to dinner and enjoying the dessert restaurants. The restaurants serving Bubble Teas and Korean Cheesecakes has long lines to them.
I finally arrived at the Port Authority at almost 10:00pm and could not believe how far my journey took me. From the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to the Port Authority. This is the power of wonderful warm weather, a nice evening breeze and good food. It gives you the energy to keep going.
The weather finally broke today, and the sun came out and it warmed up. Now it feels like Spring even with the threat of a snowstorm in a few days. I am just hoping that all we get is rain. The thought of snow with all my daffodils and tulips coming up is too depressing. I figure the weather is getting warmer on the East Coast and we will not have to worry about this.
I was finally able to volunteer in the Soup Kitchen after two years. The days of the buffet lunches is over with COVID going on and we have now switched to a bagged grab and go meal with a to go hot entrée and bagged snacks to go with it. We had to bag over 500 pieces not just for the day but for the next day as well. Five of us got the work done with an hour to spare and we were able to finish by 11:30am.
I had time to visit the Avenues of the Hudson Yards and because there were only two Avenues to visit, it did not take too much time. I spent most of my time avoiding construction sites and dodging vehicles. As I have said in previous blogs in this neighborhood, these blocks are rising like the ‘Land of Oz’ and as each is finished adds to the simmering look of a modern neighborhood encased by the rest of Manhattan. The Hudson Yards is a city amongst itself.
The modern day architecture adds a totally new look to Midtown Manhattan and you should see the views from New Jersey as you exit the Lincoln Tunnel. It looks like a glittering picture with the buildings lit. It reminds me of when I worked in Manhattan before 9/11 and looking at the magnificence of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers at night. This always showed the power of New York City.
The Hudson Yards complex
As I finished my day at the Soup Kitchen, I made my way across West 28th Street passing Chelsea Park. The playground was busy with school children on their recess and parents and guardians watching them. The benches was filled with homeless people who were starting to eat their lunches that we had just served them and talking among themselves. It is sad that this is still a state of affairs in the twenty-first century but I am not sure what the solution is in the era of COVID. I just try to do my part to give people their dignity back.
Still when you reach the edge of the park on Tenth Avenue, it is like walking into another world. Tenth Avenue is lined with art galleries, high end restaurants and luxury homes that are mentioned in the documentary “Class Divide”. Two worlds that co-exist next to one another on the edge of the public housing projects.
“Class Divide” on HBO on West Chelsea/Hudson Yards
Since it was such a beautiful sunny day, I started walking up Eighth Avenue, watching the crowds grow near the new shopping center and make their way to “The Edge” on the top of 30 Hudson Yards. The views from the top must have been thrilling on such a clear sunny day.
The building 30 Hudson Yards was designed by architect Bill Pederson of the firm Kohn Pederson Fox and Associates and is the new home for the WarnerMedia Company and is located at the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 33rd Street. The building is the second tallest building in New York City behind One World Trade Center and has the highest outdoor Observation Deck in the City. The building is taller than the Empire State Building located further down the road at Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street (Related Oxford website).
30 Hudson Yards in the Hudson Yards complex (Wiki)
The observation deck, “The Edge” is located on the 100th floor of the building and offers spectacular views of New York City and New Jersey. It is the highest outdoor observation deck in the City and showcases the innovation in design (Related Oxford/Wiki).
“The Edge” at the top of 30 Hudson Yards (The Edge)
I could see that tourists were finally coming back to Manhattan as the lines are starting to get longer at the site. It is nice to see people visiting New York City again. As I walked past the Hudson Yards Mall, I realized that this was where the Highline started and I made the trip up the stairs to see where this amazing park began.
When I reached the top of the stairs at the platform that covered Tenth Avenue and saw the most unusual sculpture in the middle of the platform. This unique work called “Untitled” looked like an airplane flying over the platform and come to find out it was based on a drone. The work is the artist’s reaction to Drone warfare the US conducts aboard (Wiki/Artist Bio/NY Times).
Artist Sam Durant is an American born multimedia artist whose works deal with social and cultural issues. He has his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
‘Untitled’ by Artist Sam Durant is atop the Highline
Artist Sam Durant talks about his sculpture “Untitled”
I walked the Highline from Tenth Avenue down West 30th Street, enjoying the views of the Hudson River ahead of me and the plantings that adorned the sides of the walk. Being such a beautiful sunny day the walkway park was extremely crowded so I just walked closer to the river to enjoy the breezes and then walked back and people watched. The seats above the Tenth Avenue entrance are the perfect place to work on a tan on a sunny day.
I rounded around West 28th Street again dodging all the construction and the construction workers who had stopped to eat their lunches and spread out all over the sidewalks. The one nice thing is that the area is loaded with breakfast and lunch carts offering all sorts of cuisine. The aromas near the construction sites smell of hot chilis, cumin and curry.
While walking up Eleventh Avenue, I passed the Equinox Hotel at 33 Hudson Yards and was faced with the most colorful and creative mural that looked like it was expressing groups of people and the way they live. You really have to walk around the hotel to see the whole work, but the affect is amazing. I found out later this painting was American artist Elle Street Art called “HYxOffTheWall”.
Elle Street Art explains her mural at the Hudson Yards
She wanted to reflect the neighborhood and the diversity of the City. She really wanted to show the positive part of the heart of New York City.
Elle is a New York based Street/Graffiti artist known for her bold statements. She started out as an illegal graffiti artist and over time has built a reputation as one of the top touring street artists which has led to commercial works seen all over the world (Artist bio).
Next to the hotel in the same courtyard where the rest of the Hudson Yards surrounds is the impressive “Vessel” work, one of the cornerstone designs of the Hudson Yards and a signature building. It sits like an impressive statue in the middle of a group of skyscrapers.
The Vessel was designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick in a honeycomb like structure that consists of sixteen stories, a hundred and fifty-four flights of stairs, twenty-five hundred steps and eighty landings to stop at and observe the view. It is known as TKA (Temporarily Known As) for the structure’s name (Wiki). The structure was opened in 2016 and has recently closed for viewing because of visitor issues.
I walked around the complex to admire the structure and look at its beauty. It has such unusual look to it almost like a puzzle that is opening up to the sky. It looks like it shot up from the ground which is what makes it so unique.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick describing “The Vessel”
After I left the core of the Hudson Yards complex, I visited the 37th Street Food Market for lunch. What I liked about this deli was the outdoor dining tables which are nice to eat at on a sunny day. They are located on the side of the building in a small area of the sidewalk surrounded by plants and lighting. It is a very pleasant place to eat meals.
I ordered a Chicken Parmesan Panini that was pretty good. The sandwich was filled with chopped chicken cutlets and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella. The sandwich was then pressed, and it served with a side of sauce. It was delicious.
The seating area of Food Market in the warmer weather
The Food Market also has a nice selection of groceries and snacks and it’s a big place for the local residents to meet and one of the few places in the neighborhood to get these items until you walk over to Eighth Avenue.
I finished the walk walking around up Eighth Avenue and the Upper Part of the Hudson Yards around West 40th Street revisiting some of the streets I had seen in twilight just a week earlier. They seemed less ominous on a sunny day and did not have the shady characters standing around under the underpasses to the Port Authority. Just watch yourself at night walking around this part of the neighborhood.
As I have said before, the Hudson Yards is a neighborhood in transition, and it will be several years before all of these buildings are finished. The effect will be amazing in that they are building a City within a City and it will change this part of Manhattan in the future.
The Hudson Yards are an amazing place!
New York City just keeps morphing even in the Pandemic years!
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight-Walking the Borders of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
With the Easter holidays coming up, the aisles of the local stores are filled top to bottom with Easter candies of all assortments. One particular that I found that I had not eaten in years are the Spangler Bunnies, Chicks & Eggs, a delicious marshmallow candy that comes in various colors and the shapes of bunnies, chicks, and eggs that are perfect for any Easter basket.
These soft and sweet little candy figures are very similar to Circus Peanuts, another item that the company makes. This specialty item is only available at the Easter holidays. The consistency is slightly firmer than a traditional marshmallow but these rich treats taste of a sugary goodness in each bite.
These sweet treats are only available at the Easter holidays.