Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Whirlwind That Is New York

15 June 2018

We had a wonderful time in St. Thomas, even if we didn't do as much to help with the long-term hurricane recovery as we had hoped.  But we saw almost everyone we were hoping to see, and as a friend said, sometimes it helps just to talk about their experience and to know that someone cares.

But since this is Phebe and Richard travelling around, we had one of our usual trip craziness events.

On May 30, as we're finishing dinner at a restaurant with wifi (and thus finishing up our internet and email for the day), I receive an email from our hotel booking website saying that our hotel for New York City, arrival date June 2, has had to cancel the reservation.  Say what?  Three days ahead of time, no hotel?  My battery is almost out?  Our hotel, with hurricane damage, has no wifi?  And you want me to call you and fix this????  WHAT?????

We managed to call on our mobile phone and make all of the appropriate arrangements, although it took 45 minutes and I had to explain that no, a hotel 2 miles from our booked hotel would not work because it was in another state and thus not on a direct subway line to downtown Manhattan.  Yeah.

We ended up with a nice hotel in midtown.  But between the two reservations, we ended up paying twice.  And we're still waiting for our refund from the first hotel, the one that cancelled our reservation.  We've been assured that it is happening, but we haven't seen it yet.  So, caveat emptor and all that.  (And you know that if it turns into too much of a hassle, I will do a social media and blog blitz blasting the hotel booking website.)

Anyway, nice hotel not far from the south end of Central Park.  We arrived late on Saturday night.  We emailed all of our relatives and friends in the area, letting them know that we were coming to Manhattan.   

So Monday, I get an email from one of my nephews.  He and his lady friend (they're in their 30s) have planned to get married on Friday, at City Hall.  It's going to be very small, not a big thing, but since we're in the city would be like to come by and attend?

Well SURE!!!  OF COURSE!!!  I don't turn down weddings, we didn't have anything planned, and how could we not?

I also offered to help with something, and got to be in charge of flowers.  FUN!!!  I love flowers!!!

(Matles Flowers on West 57th Street is great - the flowers were gorgeous!)

So between ordering and picking up flowers, getting a haircut, and buying a top that didn't look as if I've worn it every week for the past year, we managed to get together with friends and family.  Walk around and see our neighborhood.  Eat some of our favorite foods.  Just enjoy the very urban environment that is Manhattan.

The wedding on Friday was lovely, though City Hall is not the most organized system for the amount of people getting married there.  It was fascinating to see how many people were there, some being tourists from overseas who apparently thought getting married in New York City would be a fun way to do a destination wedding.  Brides were in tradition dresses, or saris, or cocktail dresses, or cheongsams.  Grooms were mostly in suits, or at least shirts and ties.  My favorite was the guy in a dark suit, white shirt, bright pink tie, and white sneakers.  Formally informal!

There was a shop in the midst of all this marriage mass of people, selling tee shirts and flowers, although I suspect the flowers were artificial.  No cake or cupcake vendors, though - I would think this is the perfect spot for mini cupcakes, to sub in for wedding cake.

The wedding was a bit delayed, but the actual ceremony was short and sweet.  Seriously, possibly five minutes.  We all cheered and went outside and took photos, then caught taxis to the cafĂ© where they had a lovely reception.  I think there were nine or ten of us all told, which was perfect for spending time chatting and getting to know each other.  

Of course, everything after that was less dramatic.  I mean, how often do you attend a vaguely impromptu wedding?  

I managed to walk around Central Park and ride the 100+ year old horses in the carousel.  (While this is the fourth carousel to be used on this site in Central Park, the horses and actual carousel were discovered by the Parks Department, abandoned on Coney Island.  Stein and Goldstein, a company in Brooklyn, crafted these gorgeous horses and the housing in 1908!!!  This carousel is still one of the largest in the USA!!!  No wonder it's one of my favorites!!!)

We didn't get to a show on or off Broadway - after my phenomenal success last year, well, I couldn't top that.

But we did see and hear a wonderful drumming band in the subway!  They were great!  Everyone was grooving to the music and enjoying the drumming - one of the happiest subway rides we've been on in a long time!!!

So we had a great time absorbing the vibe of the city, seeing family and friends, and enjoying the wedding.  Plus of course the architecture - our neighborhood seemed full of churches, with spires and steeples and stained glass windows and incredible brass hinges.  And flowers planted around the small trees lining the streets.

It was a quick trip, but it was fun-filled and truly a whirlwind of activity!

Then a short (90 minute) train trip and we're now in Philadelphia for a few days.  We're here to attend a concert - but I'll post more about that next time.

Oh, I found this church near us to be totally fascinating.  This is St. Paul the Apostle church on the corner of West 60th and 9th.  It has Gothic arched windows and doorways, Norman exterior (the boxy bell tower is the give away), and this crazy vaguely Art Deco frieze!  Turns out the church itself was built in the 1880s, and has a magnificent interior.  The frieze was added in 1958, carved white marble over blue Venetian tile.  Definitely a mix of medieval architecture and Americana, but pretty powerful.  Apparently it is now the mother church of the Paulist Fathers - no idea what that means, but that's what it says on their website.

We also spent an afternoon getting SIM cards for our phones - not a big issue, but the man who owns the shop makes wonderful models of circus and carnival rides out of popsicle sticks and straws and such. I loved his carousel!!!

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