New York February 2006

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: Kat. I have regularly visited New York and last month I had arranged a long weekend to visit my daughter there. Manhattan is a place for walking, unlike the rest of the United States where the car is King. I had intended writing about walking in New York City but unfortunately just before the trip last month I had an accident playing tennis and damaged the ligaments in my ankle badly. I travelled to the US anyway and arrived at Newark Airport in a wheelchair so this article is less about a walk and more about a hobble in New York over several days.

Photo: St Johns. I was staying on 112th Street in the upper west of Manhattan, adjacent to St John the Divine Cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral was started in 1892 to a Romanesque, Byzantine design but by the opening in 1941 it also included some Gothic. When finished, it will be the largest Cathedral in the world (St Peter?s in Rome is technically a Basilica). Walking from here down Amsterdam Avenue a few blocks, Central Park is reached at the northernmost end. As the purpose of the walk was to visit Museum Mile, the route through Central Park was diagonally across to the Upper East around Harlem Meer, known as the reservoir and featured in many movies. Everything in New York seems familiar as it has been recorded in so many films and television series. One would be forgiven for thinking that there are a lot of Hispanic people with dogs but they are just working as dog walkers and a favourite place to take the pooches is to Central Park with as many as six dogs being lead by one dog walker. The walk continues to the Metropolitan Museum down Fifth Avenue running alongside the Park.

Photo: Guggenheim. We passed the Guggenheim Museum which was looking a little sad under scaffolding where there is ongoing work to restore the cracking on the fa?ade after removing a staggering twenty nine layers of paint. At the Metropolitan Museum, one of the special exhibitions was Fra Angelico which needless to say was spectacular with many of the exhibits restored to their jewel colours for the exhibition. There seems to be a dearth of eating places around this area but we had been recommended the Caf? Sabarsky in the German Institute which is a replica of a Viennese Caf? and had atmosphere. After lunch, I would have walked right down Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village in the south of Manhattan but this was out of the question so we took the bus and watched life go by.

In Greenwich Village, we visited my nephew in his bijou apartment, real estate here is about the most expensive in the world. His new book, Washington?s Spies is about to be published and he was excited about the launch. The book is about America?s first spy ring and is featured on Alex?s website. We went out for dinner to John?s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street where only full pizzas are served but rival those in Italy. We also paid a visit to the Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes which are all the rage now in New York. It was a dreich, windy, wet evening in Greenwich Village so we gave the shops a miss and headed back uptown on the subway.

Photo: Harlem. On the following day, Sunday, we travelled by taxi further uptown to Harlem to the Abyssinian Baptist Church to hear the renowned choir. By chance, it was the Martin Luther King holiday weekend with a special service to mark the event. The church was full and the choir sang joyful songs to the organ accompaniment but there followed the special service with the Pastor reading Martin Luther King?s words interspersed by the choir singing them along with solo singers. It was like a mini Opera and some of the best singing I have ever heard. This was accompanied by a pianist on a grand piano and was truly world class standard. You can read about the church on Abyssinian Gospel Church

Photo: Metropolitan. I also went to the Lincoln Centre to see New York City Ballet who were excellent and to Madison in New Jersey where the wonderful Morris Nanton Trio were playing at Shanghai Jazz. The next time I am in New York, I intend to visit the Boroughs as they also have good museums, architecture, restaurants, etc. There is so much to see in NYC it is impossible to give more than a snippet in an article. This is a bit different from my usual writing about hills but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Hopefully, my ankle will recover and I will be back on the hills soon.

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Coming attractions; Cairngorms, Arran and a walk in Glasgow!

Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos

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