A Travellerspoint blog

Metropolitan

overcast 9 °C

The other Metropolitan is the museum. I don’t think I ever missed it when I visited New York. It has a good African art selection and a fabulous collection of European paintings, among many other things. And a very good bookshop. We went on another grey misty day, split on the doorstep of the African room and reunited for Korea and China, found the special exhibition on the terracotta army of Emperor Qin and returned to the growing mist that turned even the tulips and the cherry blossoms dull. The plan was to go to the top of the Empire State Building but the staff strongly discouraged it – nothing to see. We ended the day in a bar in Brooklyn.

Posted by jefvincent 06:21 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Rigoletto

overcast 11 °C

I developed my opera culture during the 3 years that I lived in Prague. There was not much to do in the evenings and the tickets of the 2 opera houses were filthy cheap – about 7 USD for the best places. I went at least twice a month and in the course of the years I must have seen Rigoletto at least 5 times. Composed in the 19th century by Verdi it offers a decent plot and very easy music. “la donna e mobile” (women are as fickle as a feather in the wind) as the major hit. Gilda’s aria (“Caro nome”) was adapted in 1966 by Mexican bands into “Juanita Banana” and those of my generation will certainly remember the television advertisement version for Fyffes bananas.
The scene is set in Mantua, Italy, where the duke is a womanizer and Rigoletto his jester. Interestingly in the Metropolitan Opera version the scene was transported to Las Vegas, and the duke had become a casino owner. Nothing surprises me anymore since I have seen Donizetti’s “Elixir d’Amore” transposed into the Australian outback (that was in Sydney). Still it was a good performance, the opera house itself is rather modern and rather not beautiful, the audience as old as in Europe, and there was a large variation in dress codes. In 1998 I was denied access to the opera in Rome because I didn’t have a tie (but there are always solutions), here t-shirts and tuxedo’s blended perfectly.
I was not allowed to take pictures, so Shin got increased attention.

Posted by jefvincent 20:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

new York: the first hours

overcast 10 °C

I have been visiting New York for 30 years, starting with business trips when I worked for JP Morgan between 1886 and 1990. I was here in 2011 and 2013, each time with an evening in the Blue Note and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum as unavoidable highlights. I could live here. However, for Shin it is the first time and this day was the first day. It was not raining, but far too cold and grey.

Our apartment is in Brooklyn. From what we’ve seen and heard so far a fair part of the population is Spanish speaking. There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants around. The streets are clean, we feel safe and we are close to the subway. The train takes us to Manhattan in 20 minutes. We walked a lot this first day, first in the neighbourhood and then along the fifth avenue and in Central Park. Walking in Manhattan is tricky, The avenues go from south to north, the streets from East to West and it takes less than 1 minute to walk from one street to the other. Our train alights at the 14th street and we walked the fifth avenue up till the Central Park, from the 59th street onwards, and then into Central Park. The problem is that there are traffic lights at each corner, that the streets are very crowded and one has to weave to move faster than the norm, and the 45 streets were more exhausting the one would imagine. The good news was that there is a “Korea Town” halfway and that we had an Asian lunch as intermezzo.

Posted by jefvincent 19:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

to New York

rain 10 °C

Cleaning the Airbnb, packing, driving to the airport, returning the car, checking in (problem with the excess luggage as Air Alaska is a budget carrier), waiting and waiting, flying 5 hours (no meals, no entertainment), taking the taxi to Brooklyn where we arrive at midnight, unpacking, settling in. There goes a long day.

Posted by jefvincent 06:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Underground

rain 12 °C

As our last feat in Seattle, we “did” the underground tour.
In 1897 a vast fire destroyed the whole downtown, that itself was regularly flooded at high tide. The city council decided to rebuilt the city on the same spot, but several meters higher. As this was a long term project, the city was first rebuilt – in stone this time – at the original level, and in a second phase the open places and roads were covered by a second layer, two or three meters higher at he highest levels, but several meters more at the lowest levels in order to make the city slightly more horizontal. The ground floors of the buildings disappeared from sight to become the cellars and the original streets that became covered became the underground. This vast network found multiple applications, from food storage during the gold rush to operational quarters for bootleggers during the alcohol prohibition and partytime during the sixties. We did the underground tour with a hilarious tour guide and learned a bucketful of juicy details about the city history, even to the amazement of Ryan who is more or less a native. The visit of the underground was not really spectacular. But the 90 minutes and 20$ entry fee (17$ for seniors!) were well spent.

Posted by jefvincent 21:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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