I visited the Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Sawmill during a visit to Long Valley, NJ for Morris County’s “Pathway to History” tour and this was one of the most unusual and interesting sites on the tour. The mill was once one of the most active businesses in the area. The Mill processed and packaged flour for the areas farmers making it one of the most profitable businesses in the region. By the end of WWII, the Mill was itself was becoming antiquated and larger producers could make the product for far less money and the business closed.
I visited the King Canal Store Museum and the King Homestead during the Morris County “Pathways to History” tour in May of 2022. This interesting store was still intact with its merchandise lining the shelves with a pot belly stove in the center of the store which was the center of action when the store was open to the community. All sorts of grocery items and notion items still line the walls.
The guide explained that upon the death of the owner wanted to store closed and sealed. His daughter only opened it in the 1930’s…
I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.
This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
This semester’s project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.
The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:
I chose Rutherford because it was the next town over from the Lyndhurst campus where I was teaching and the fact that Lyndhurst did not have a cohesive downtown area to promote. When I walked it, their downtown was in sections instead of one long stretch. Also, Downtown Rutherford had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of an old church dominating the downtown and a park with a band shell at the top of the shopping district. There was more you could do with it.
The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City and one into Newark as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Rutherford has all of these.
I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.
I entitled the project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.
The second week back from the Spring Break I presented the project and handed out the positions of the company and then explained the project. I go the usual ‘Yeahs’ and ‘groans’ from the students. I also got those panicked looks from the students who looked at me like they could never handle their position in the company. I would like to think as a CEO, I know them better than they know myself. After that, I had the Teams break up into their groups, met with my Executive Team and then met with the President and Senior Vice-President of Operations before they left for the night. It is always an interesting experience when meeting your Executive Team for the first time. They look nervous about being in charge.
The Project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town”:
This all changes over the next few weeks as the students start up group chats and meet with one another after class. Then it was time to take the students out “into the field”. Right before COVID hit, I was going to take my class who were creating the project “From Revolution to Revelation-Visiting Historic Bergen County, NJ” out to visit historical sites, museums and farms all over the county. Then the virus hit, and we could not do any of that. I had seen how successful these field trips had been just by visiting our own campus or our trip to Downtown Paterson, NJ. I had to help the students overcome their fear of that city and see it gems and benefits.
I arranged for the students to take a field trip to Downtown Rutherford, NJ one night of class three weeks after the Spring Break. Of course, it has been raining the whole week and I asked the students in advance if they wanted to take the field trip even if there was a chance of rain. My Senior VP of Operations emailed me and said that people did not have a problem with it. It was the most rainy, miserable night to walk around a town!
We all met in class where I gave my speech about behaving themselves on a field trip and how they are representing Bergen Community College. That always helps. Then the heavens opened up on our way to the first stop, the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford, an elegant church at the top of the downtown that was going to serve as the location for the “Snowflake Festival”.
The First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford at 1 East Passaic Avenue
The church was an example of Victorian architecture not seen today
I could not believe how beautiful this church was with it wooden carved benches, Tiffany windows and elegant pews. The whole church was done in carved wood and since it had an endowment to keep it up, the church was immaculate. It was one of those churches that you want to attend during the holidays to enjoy the pipe music and flowers. It also had lots of meeting spaces that were perfect for the project. I could tell that the students were impressed.
The inside the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford is so elegant
After we left the tour of the church, we had to endure the elements and walk to Lincoln Park across the street to view the band shell for the “Big Band” concerts that we would be holding there in the month of August. I could not believe that most of the students were not carrying umbrellas (this is after I told them all to bring an umbrella with them twice). The rain was really coming down at that point.
We walked the park and I showed them how we could set the whole thing up and how operations could work. We could even use the meeting rooms at the church and their kitchen to cook the refreshments for the concerts. While we were finishing, one of the students snapped a group shot of us at the band shell.
My class at the Band Shell in Lincoln Park in Rutherford, NJ on that rainy night
After the tour of the band shell, we walked the entire side of the downtown going south with me pointing out historical points like the WWII Memorial at the circle and historic businesses like Varrelman’s Bake Shop at 60 Park Avenue (it was closed at this point of the evening). We then stopped at the railroad station and talked for a bit where there was a covering from the rain.
I explained how people could come into town by both rail and by bus where they did not need a car. This way people from other parts of New Jersey could join in the fun without having to look for parking.
Then we walked north up the other side of Park Avenue to our final destination, dinner at Da Mario Pizza at 25 Park Avenue for dinner. I had planned a pizza dinner for my class (which I pay for) which is a Team building event and also gives the students a chance to bond as a group. Plus, I feed them and on this gloomy night, they deserved it.
I ordered five large cheese pizzas and then let the students pick their beverages. I gave a little speech about the town and then about the project. We would be having another series of field trips to other places in town over the next few weeks while they worked on their project. They would also have to take trips to the town on their own. After that, I let the groups get together and work on their game plans for the project.
It was nice to just get out of the rain. I was hoping by the time we got out of the restaurant that the rain would stop. It poured more! After dinner, the Teams walked to the Williams Center to see the complex and I explained what would be happening in the future to the site with a new condo building and parking garage. It would bring more people to the downtown creating a new base of customers to the businesses downtown. Then I let them go home. It was a wet evening.
“Welcome to Rutherford” video promoting the attributes of the town
Over the next two weeks, there were two extra credit trips, one to the Meadowlands Museum on a Saturday so that the students could see the museum with time to visit all the exhibitions. The other trip was to City Hall for a Council Meeting to meet the Mayor and the Borough Council. Those were eye openers for not just the students but myself as well. These were the trips that I was to take with my students two years earlier to promote their projects before COVID shut us down. I could imagine the extra work that could have been done on those projects if the virus had not come.
I was able to arrange with the Meadowlands Museum, a small historical museum in Rutherford that concentrates on both the town and the County’s history from the Native Americans to the rise of the agriculture industry in Bergen County. I lead my class on a tour before class one Thursday evening and it was an eye-opener to students who lived nearby and never knew the museum existed.
We toured the first floor with its local art exhibition, communications display and section dedicated to a local doctor. Then to the second floor where children’s toys were located, the mining exhibition and a display of glowing minerals to show off New Jersey’s Mining past. Then it was to the basement level where spinning wheels, farm equipment and a turn of the last century kitchen was displayed. Some of the students had never seen displays like this before. After the tour, it was back to class for their quiz and lecture.
My class touring the Meadowlands Museum during class time
For the next three weeks, I gave the students class time to work with their Teams on the project and then on their own they revisited the town, created their commercials and put together their presentations.
The Historical tour of Rutherford, NJ brought to YouTube
On the night of April 28th, 2022, the students dressed in professional dress and presented their project to the Honorable Mayor Frank Nunziato and the Rutherford Borough Council. This is when I present a group of Generation Z students as Generation X consultants, and they are the executives of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
Each group presented their part of the presentation to our invited guests and creatively introduced their section of the project. I could not have been prouder.
The PowerPoint Presentation of “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town”:
These videos of the presentation are available on YouTube:
The Introduction and the Talent Team:
My Introduction of the Project and the Talent Team Presentation
The Historical Team Presentation:
The Historical Team describes their ideas for the Historical Tour and updates at the Meadowland Museum
The Marketing Team Presentation:
The Marketing Team presented their ideas for Special Events and Advertising plus the new town song “Rutherford 07070”.
When the presentation was over, I could see that the Mayor and the Council as well as the Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce were blown away by the whole presentation. They were so impressed by the work that the student consultants did on the project.
Everyone had such great questions for the student consultants, and they were up for the challenge. I even had our Team Leader sing “Rutherford 07070” live to the Mayor and his Team and everyone enjoyed that.
The song “Rutherford 07070”
Each of the Council men and women got up and talked with each Team on their ideas and were very impressed by the thoroughness of the budgets and the realistic numbers that they presented. They even noted the student’s followed things like budgeting for the police and DPW for the Special Events. They also liked that everyone from locating our offices in the Rutherford area to using downtown restaurants for catering and for our company “Wrap Up” party. Everyone got a chance to give the student consultants their input on the project.
After the presentation, the Mayor and the Council along with the Vice-President of the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce took a group shot with my class and that meant a lot to me. It showed both myself and the students that they took the presentation seriously.
My Business 101 student consultants with the Mayor and Council and Chamber of Commerce of Rutherford, NJ
After the presentation was over, I had a light reception for the students, their families and our invited guests. It was a nice evening, and I was so proud of my students. It was another group that has now entered to the Alumni of “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.” (Acronym for Bergen Community College-Paramus Campus).
I went to Heights Bar & Grill that evening to celebrate their success. It had been a long semester in the post-COVID era. We overcame the difficulties with masks and stress and achieved the goal! This is when a pizza and a cocktail taste even better.
Don’t miss the “Pathways to History” event each May in Morris County, NJ. You can see a lot of the county’s historical sites in a two-day period.
The Florham Park Historical Society’s “Little Red Schoolhouse” Museum is full of artifacts of the town’s rural past. There is even a small classroom set up to show children that times have not changed that much.
The classroom set up is still similar modern classrooms
I visited the “Little Red Schoolhouse” Museum in Florham Park as part of the Morris County’s “Pathways to History” event that is held every May. This interesting little museum showcases the town’s historical collection of items from the 1800’s and 1900’s dealing with all aspects of town life.
In the back there is a small classroom set up keeping with the theme of the building. This lets students who are visiting the building of their counterpart’s early education with desks, ink wells and chalk boards that have not changed that much over the years.
Not much has changed in the modern classroom over the years
The Chester Historical Society/Chester Rockefeller Center has just been moved to Downtown Chester and is currently being renovated. Their collection is in storage right now while the building is being renovated. When I went to visit the museum, they were displaying their plans for the museum in the future outside the building.
The Chester Historical Society is currently open only at certain times and the collection is in storage while renovating. They are telling the town’s story on both a story board outside and on tables outside the building while it is being set up. Please check out their website for upcoming events and openings.
I have never dodged so much construction before. There are so many streets that you cannot walk down, or you were crossing streets with traffic going to the Lincoln Tunnel buzzing at you. As I have mentioned in many of my blogs, walking through this part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea is not for the faint hearted.
If you do walk through this neighborhood, you will be surprised by all the beautiful shiny, new and innovative buildings that you will see, new parks developing, interesting street art and of course the Highline. They are a lot of things to see and do that is tucked in new buildings and the brand-new Hudson Yards mall. That itself is fun to explore. The problem with walking the streets is that the place is one giant construction site, or you are walking through “The Shops at Hudson Yards” to get from one side of the site to the other. This is definitely a neighborhood of the future that will not be finished for a while.
I started my walk after a long morning at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen where I have been volunteering now for almost twenty years (has it been that long?). I took almost two years off as the buffet concept is now gone and we are now packing 750 snack packs to go along with the takeout hot meals we serve. It has amazed me how we have gone from serving about 1300 meals a day to now over 2000 meals. The need has gotten bigger in New York City as it is still struggling from the pandemic.
Walking down West 33rd Street from Ninth to Twelve Avenues was the easiest part of the journey. This part of the Hudson Yards has been completed but there is still some work being done of buildings on both sides so watch the equipment and the construction workers walking around.
To one side of West 33rd is Bella Abzug Park, where there was a festival and food trucks and carts all around for workers and tourists. I walked through Bella Abzug Park, which was being partially renovated at the time and walked through the three sections from block to block. Part of the park is being renovated but the other parts look like they are ready to open in the warmer weather with cafes and seating. The park spreads over three blocks that are fully landscaped.
Bella Abzug Park with the Hudson Yards rising like Oz in the background during the summer months (NYCParks.org). The park was named after famous activist and politician Bella Abzug.
To other side is the entrance to “The Shops at Hudson Yards”, an upscale shopping mall with high end stores and restaurants. On the weekends, the mall is mobbed with tourists and locals enjoying the shopping experience and dining in the restaurants. During the week on a gloomy day, the place was practically empty with bored salespeople looking out the glass partitions of the stores. I never saw a mall so empty.
During the week when I was walking around the complex, there was a lot going on. On a sunny weekend afternoon, the Vessel Park area is packed with people taking pictures and milling around the mall but when it rains during the week, the area is like a ghost town. The Hudson Yards neighborhood is still developing and trying to find its identity. Once people really start moving into this neighborhood, it will start to develop its character and not just be a ‘tourist destination.
The Shops at the Hudson Yards (The Shops at Hudson Yards)
I walked all around the first floor of the mall and admired all the upscale stores in the area like Cartier, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. The security is heavy at these stores with all the recent robberies of merchants like this all over the country. I have not seen as much of this to that scale since the riots in June of 2020. Still security watches everyone.
Walking back around the site, you will be dodging more construction and scaffolding then you are used to in a neighborhood but the results are all these gleaming new innovative looking buildings. It is nice to see so much interesting and unusual architecture in one spot. On a nice sunny afternoon, its nice to walk along the paths of flowers but on a rainy day it loses its appeal.
Walking down West 32nd Street poses many difficulties considering that it pretty much disappears after Seventh Avenue. Now you will walk through courtyards and buildings and pass stores and restaurants in the new Hudson Yards complex. Detouring off Ninth Avenue, you will walk through One Manhattan West building complex and the elaborate Citrovia complex
Between One Manhattan and Two Manhattan West in the Hudson Yards complex between 389 and 395 Ninth Avenue is the Citrovia display. I was trying to figure out if this was a company display or an artist’s display. There were all sorts of lemons all in the trees and in the gardens. During the summer, these must be an amazing place to sit but between the snow and the winds that sunny day, I just walked through the display.
The Citrovia display at One Manhattan West on Ninth Avenue (Manhattan West Website)
Citrovia is a fantastic outdoor interactive outdoor installation that transports the visitor to a sprawling citrus garden of whimsical displays, a sitting area with a lemon tree forest and I swear when you walk through the whole thing you can smell fresh lemon (Manhattan West website). It is almost like the ‘Land of Oz” or “Wonderland” with lemon trees and slices all over the place. It is a whimsical journey through the lemon display.
I walked through the Manhattan West complex, and it really dawned on me how the neighborhood has changed so much in the last decade. They took a run-down neighborhood and made it shine with modern buildings housing new tech companies and a series of restaurants, shops and hotels. It is a neighborhood onto itself.
Manhattan West complex (Manhattan West.com)
I walked through the complex as people were coming and going into the local Whole Foods that is located inside. I have to say that I am very impressed by this store. It is so nicely set up and the front section has a whole prepared food section with soups, salads and entrees and baked goods to the side. There are places to sit down both inside and out and on a nice day there is quite a few by the Highline.
Throughout the complex there are a series of expensive sit-down restaurants that were busy during lunch hour and there were tourists milling around taking pictures with the giant lemons. It was an interesting mix of people. You have to cut through the complex to get back The Shoppes at the Hudson Yards before you come out at the entrance of Hudson Boulevard where the Vessel is located and the gardens and benches that surround it.
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”
When returning to Ninth Avenue and walking back down West 31st Street, you pass all these complexes again from the outside. You have to walk around the complex again, walking down West 30th Street to Eleventh Avenue where the West Side Yard is located with trains awaiting their next trip. The yard spreads from Eleventh to Twelve Avenues and trust me, when you walk along Twelve Avenue all you will see is parking lots and fencing protecting the yards. Not the most exciting site.
West 30th Street offers it share of challenges being the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. You can’t just walk down this street without being hit by a car. I dodged everything from cars to bicycles to buses making a dash down the street. The right side is all construction and parked cars and the tunnel itself and PLEASE don’t attempt to walk down this street.
As you pass under all the scaffolding of the post office between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, there is an interesting plaque that could be easily missed as marking the spot of the Hudson River Railroad Station where President Lincoln left as the first passenger on his way to his inauguration. He left here in his funeral train four years later back to Springfield, Illinois. I thought it interesting but spooky at the same time. Life offers such strange situations.
The Hudson River Railroad Plaque
I think this plaque is almost symbolic to how dangerous this section of the neighborhood is with it dangerous streets and comings and goings. This changes though as you come to Tenth Avenue.
Under the underpass, you will a well landscaped garden that leads to the entrance of the Highline Park walkway. This beautiful path leads under the overpass to West 29th Street is lined with colorful flowers and bushes. It is a nice place to take a break from all the craziness of construction and traffic.
As I walked into the Hudson Yards complex again, I stopped through “The Shed” building to see what was inside. It looked like an interesting present that had been wrapped from the outside. Inside was a small restaurant and a bookstore.
The security guard gave me a strange look as I asked for directions to get to the other side, and I walked up a staircase to the other side of the building. This lead back to the Hudson Yards courtyard with the Vessel in front of me. Right now, there was not much inside, but this will become a premier arts center in the future.
The building was designed by architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro and the Rockwell group. It is such an interesting piece of architecture with its unique and challenging design and its beauty as you walk around it. You would never know all this from what I saw in two hallways and a staircase. It will be thrilling to see a performance here.
Once you cross onto Eleventh Avenue again, you face the Westside Yards and a lot of fencing. I wonder if the complex is going to cover this up as well to build more buildings. It is amazing what is being built on top of railyards. It just goes to show in the ingenuity that can be created by a group of architects and engineers.
Walking back and down West 29th Street is an adventure into itself as you walk under the building that holds a branch of the post office and this place is always busy. You are dodging trucks leaving and security that is all over the place. There is a lot of action between Ninth and Tenth Avenues so again watch yourself as you are crossing the street.
On top of all the construction going on the street, there are a few small gems hidden in the corners that you have to admire. The little garden under overpass of the Highline is a painting by artist Kelsey Montague entitled “What lifts you” that is painted on the side of the building next to the Highline pathway. It is easier to view when you walk the Highline from above.
Kelsey Montague’s “What Lifts You” on the Highline is so spellbinding (Kelsey Montague website)
Her works are really uplifting and show the spirit of the City. She puts all sorts of symbols that are unique to New York City (artist video). I find the work to be whimsical and fun. It is hard to see has there was scaffolding in front of the work and had to visit the internet to find a full version of it.
Kelsey Montague is an American born artist known for interactive art and illustrations. She studied art in Florence and graduated from Richmond University in London with a degree in Art, Design & Media.
After admiring the art from the street, I decided to take the stairs up to the Highline and see it from the top. From what I could see, it looked like a fun piece of art and showed the artist’s personality of bringing people together.
I travelled down the Highline for a few blocks and then exited around West 23rd Street and decided I was hungry. It was getting later in the afternoon, and I was not sure what I was in the mood for lunch.
Tiring of pizza, I stopped at Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street for lunch. The place was full of delivery guys who were talking amongst themselves in Spanish when I walked in and then they went quiet. I ordered from the front and sat near the TV.
I thought I was more in the mood for a snack and ordered the two-cheeseburger meal with fries and it was lunch for two people. Each cheeseburger was topped with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and was the size of most places’ normal burgers. They give you a bag of fries that is almost a half-pound of freshly cooked fries and then I go for the constant refills of the delicious Boyland sodas.
The burgers here are so juicy (Lucky’s Famous Burgers)
After lunch, I decided to walk around the Hudson Yards one more time and soak up the architecture of this strange new land developing on the west side of Manhattan and take it all in. Once all the scaffolding is down and the buildings are all finished, this is going to be one special neighborhood that will take its place in the annals of unique Manhattan neighborhoods.
On another trip to revisit the neighborhood, I visited Stick to my Pot Potstickers at 224 West 35th Street for lunch. Don’t miss this little hole in the wall in the Garment District that caters to the garment workers as it does tourists. Their dumplings, scallion pancakes and spring rolls are all terrific. Don’t miss the Mochi cakes for dessert.
Don’t miss the dumplings that are freshly made in front of you at Stick to my Pot Potsticker at 224 West 35th Street
There will be more changes in the future.
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:
I came across the Brim’s Snack Food lines on a recent trip to Dollar Tree and was craving for Cheese Popcorn, one of my favorite snacks. This ultimate cheesy popcorn is layered with a nice coating of Cheddar cheese flavor, and you can taste the sharp Cheddar in every bite.
This addictive snack will make you want to eat the whole bag in one sitting and with popcorn having a nice fiber count makes it a very nutritional snack (less the salt) as opposed to other fried snack foods. The popcorn is really fluffy, and the company does not skimp of the portion size of the bag as it is really full. It makes the perfect snack when watching a long film at home or when studying as I…
This was the first year that “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk around the entire island took place since 2019. Since I had done the walk twice on my own, actually doing more of the walk than was required. This year I wanted to make it official.
I officially finished “The Great Saunter Walk” in May of 2022
The problem was by the time I wanted to sign up for the walk, it was completely sold out. So, I was put on a waiting list. With a prediction of rain all day (and it did rain all day!), many people dropped out before the event occurred, so I got to sign up. On a very gloomy Saturday morning, I got to the Frances Tavern at 7:30am to register and start the walk by the entrance of the Staten Island ferry.
Rather than rewrite the whole day, I updated the blog that I have written over the last two years and added to it. I hope you all enjoy my journey around the most famous island on earth on the gloomiest and rainy day ever. I hope you enjoy the journey!
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 soup was a meal onto itself. I slurped the soup with the noodles being sucked up at the same time. 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.
This is what it was supposed to look like but didn’t (Wiki)
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 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.
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 Chedder 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. 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.
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!
*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.