Sight & Sounds of NYC.

Finally made it to The Whitney Museum. It’s at the start of the High Line walk in West Village.

Unfortunately 3 floors were closed due to installation of the Biennial due to open on May 16. Get there if you can.

Having limited floors to cover actually allowed us to take our time and really enjoy the exhibitions.

So what we saw were 2 great exhibitions:

I love the work of Edward Hopper and Georgie O’Keeffe and they both featured in the ‘Where We Are’ Exhibition.

Leaving the Gallery we headed uptown to Mykonos Blue in 29Street. We met friends Lynn Sherr and Lois Dubin from our Galapagos swim trek two years ago.

Such great ladies who have become great friends. Both still involved in their professions – Journalism and Landscaping. Lois did the landscaping on Roosevelt Island several years ago. It’s worth a visit.

Walking down 29 street we noticed many trees and flower shops. Turn out it’s one of the main wholesale place for larger trees and planets. The hydrangeas the lillies and the orchids were fantastic. There was also every accessory imaginable for arrangements. Ribbons, vases, coloured sands. Etc etc.

NYC is great for walking if you have the stamina. It’s set out in a grid system so easy to follow and you just count how many blocks you have to walk. We decided to walk back along to the High Line. It’s like a spine running along the east side of the city for about 20 blocks. The sun was out and so were the walkers. It was crowded.

We started at the Hudson Yards. It’s newly finished with it’s new sculpture feature. The Vessel.

It an amazing honeycomb type gold copper type material. It has steps going up and down like a maze. It reflects what is going on around it.

We didn’t climb it. 2.500 steps if completed it. That would be too many! So we viewed it from the new shopping centre. It’s all shiny and filled with big brand names.

We enjoyed the walk in the sunshine and couldn’t help but comment on the building projects and street works going on.

We are staying right near Chelsea Market so got off there and explored the markets. Lots of great eating places and great little shops. It’s an interesting area to stay if you’re wondering where to base yourself in NY. It adjoins West Village another terrific area to stay. If you watched the TV series Friends then this is where the apartment is set. And Magnolia Bakery is here. It’s smells delicious!

In the evening we made our way to Time Square. We all had tickets for the The Temptations. We collected the tickets and had a drink nearby. We got back to the theatre and found like all the theatres here, there is no real foyer area so the line forms outside on the footpath. Somehow everyone gets into their seat on time.

We had great seats in the balcony but so close there was no room for legs!

The show told the story of how the Temptations formed with all their ups and downs. There were something like 42 guys making up the Temptations over a 25 year period!

Interval came and we decided on a quick trip to the restroom and boy did we get a laugh out of that. The queue went zig zagging up and down stairs with at least 100 in it.

Elizabeth and I decided we were chatting anyone so we’d try our luck. The lady who we christened the ‘toilet monitor ‘ was directing with all the energy and authority of a NY Police officer. Perhaps more because you wouldn’t want to cross her!

Sure enough they managed to get everyone through when the bells rang. Perhaps it works the other way round. They don’t ring the bell to return to your seat until all the ladies have been through the restroom!

The night finished with us all dancing and singing all the way home.

Staten Island, Brooklyn and the East River

You need to plan your days in NY. There are so many things to do and see.

Today we made our way down to Battery Park. The Lady Liberty looks small from the park so we decided to get the infamous Staten Island ferry for a closer look.

If you are wanting to take this ferry you’re in luck. It’s free! And it only takes 30 minutes over and 30 back. You have to get off the ferry at Staten Is and then re board it. It’s a good way to rest the feet!

We arrived back and walked along Water Street then Fulton’s Wharf area towards the Brooklyn Bridge. there’s some great street art.

We walked through Dumbo and stopped at the little beach near the children’s playground . It’s an oasis.

Wandering around this area is always interesting but we thought seeing it from the river would add a new perspective.

The East River commuter ferry came along so we jumped on and continued up the river towards Williamsburg.

We had 5 stops before getting off just near the United Nations at 34th St.

And then we walked. Through mid town and across town past Union Square and into Chelsea. We only just made it ready to go out for dinner!

Jordan has booked Buddakan. https://buddakannyc.com

If you’ve watched Sex and the City, it’s the restaurant that Carries and Big celebrate their engagement.

We had a beautiful dinner. It’s Asian fusion style and our group of 6 had the $75 pp banquet. It was delicious.

It’s big and showy and very dark!

There’s a big stairs where you can make a dramatic entrance- and hopefully not fall down it and really make an impact.

Elizabeth & Peter McGregor and Pippa

Three of the desserts!

A little Shopping and Sights to Behold!

As were were close to some shopping (how can you not be in NY?) we thought it was a good chance to do some whilst checking out of one hotel and into the next.

So off we went. Headed for Macy’s as they have a huge selection and always discounted. Steve has a thing for shopping. He does it maybe once a year and just goes crazy! I don’t. I tend to take too long and feel I’m wasting time.

So we separated and decided to meet up back at the hotel.

I walked to the New York Public Library. I’ve been to NY several times but never to the Library.

It’s magnificent.

The inside is massive and marble and so welcoming. Take a peek.

The reading room has gold lights where Boston had green.

Spring is finally coming to NYC! And the plantings are everywhere.

We met up and moved to our new hotel in the Meatpacking area. The Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel. It’s great. Just near Chelsea Markets and the High Line walk.

We have a great room overlooking 14th Street. It’s a pretty trendy place! And they upgraded our room as I said how disappointed Steve was to hear the pool was closed for maintenance.

We got settled and waited for our friends to arrive. Elizabeth and Peter McGregor from waterpolo days are here with two other couples staying in an apartment a block away.

We met for a drink on our rooftop and then we made our way down Bleeker St for dinner with Rob & Jordan. We were joining in their traditional “West Village Wednesday” dinner. They eat somewhere new every Wednesday!

Tonight it was Loring Place.

https://www.loringplacenyc.com

The food was great , particularly in the small plates section. Gorgeous asparagus, charred spiced cauliflower, ricotta with greens. So many lovely veggie dishes.

It was so good for Rob to meet up with his waterpolo mate Sam’s parents again. He shared a flat with Sam back in Sydney Uni playing days and played together for about ten years all over the world.

Back in the Big Apple 🍎

Travelling by train can be quite relaxing and it was great leaving the car in Stamford for the 45 minute fast train to NYC.

We arrived at Penn Station and walked 2 blocks to our hotel the Holiday Inn. It’s not the best area – pretty unexceptional street but handy and good for a night.

We came back a day early and our hotel near the Chelsea Markets didn’t have a spare room!

We got ready for our dinner with Rob & Jordan and took off in the Red Line 1 for Wall Street and Manhatta restaurant.

https://www.manhattarestaurant.com

Check it out because it was amazing.

The view, the food, the atmosphere and the restaurant itself. It has a $80 a head, 3 course set menu. If you pair with wines add $58, or choose from a well-selected, well-priced wine menu. There are about 5 choices in each course. They give generous breads with pate to start and 2 lovely chocolates at the end.

So you know what you are going to be paying. And it’s all delicious. And NO tipping! In NY that’s amazing. They practically chase you down for tips here. But this restaurant has a no-tipping policy and the staff couldn’t be nicer.

It was lovely spending time with the kids.

We started with drinks and admired the view. You can see Rob’s office from here. Right on Wall Street. See the arrow in the photo pointing at it.

It was a great night and even the subway trip home was entertaining!

Boston. We love you ❤️

Despite the cool. Despite the rain – we decided we love Boston.

It’s easy to get around. It’s a great walking city. There’s lots to see and the food is great.

This morning, we had coffee, did our washing and headed off. First a visit to Faneuil Hall. What a great market place for food. The fresh food markets are nearby and the cooked prepared foods are inside.

We jumped in an Uber and were at Harvard Sq by 10.30. Our guide Mike was quite the performer. In fact half way through the tour he told us in was in a drag show that night.

He was a good fun guide and kept the large group informed and moving along.

We heard lots of stories about how Harvard got its name, how women were not admitted until the 90’s. Women studied at Radcliffe. Now it is coeducational and women are dominating the numbers. We heard about living in the houses. 90% live on campus.

We heard about the buildings. They are grand and lovely.

One of the houses for students. JFK lived here.

The Library in particular is stunning and built with money donated.

Unfortunately you have to be a student to enter but Mike told us to visit the Boston Public Library as it had a reading room identical to that at Harvard.

After the tour we visited the Harvard Art Gallery. It’s a very good collection. Much has been donated by past students.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Man Ray. I thought he only did photography!

Now it was time for a good piece of American history. We went out to the JFK Museum. It’s a very grand structure about 20 mins from the city centre facing the Boston Harbour.

An orchestra performed in the atrium.

Lots of film clips if JFKs speeches. He was charismatic.

Beautiful rooms with memorabilia of the times

Then it was back to the city to the Boston Public Library. What a wonderful building. Old at the front and linked with a courtyard to a new serviceable part at the back.

The old………

And the new

We walked back to North End past

Trinity Church

The Boston Common with a Japanese festival!

Through the theatre district, Faneuil Hall and straight to the Oyster Company. It was at this stage my phone died so no pictures ! 😢

But I can describe the big succulent plump oysters, the Prosecco to give them life, and the smart jokes from the oyster shuckers as we sat at the round oyster bar chatting to a lovely couple from New Hampshire. These Americans are so friendly.

We called into book a table at one of the many good Italian restaurants in North End. Tonight it was ‘Strega’. Steve was over the moon with his veal chop stuffed with prosciutto. I loved my risotto de mare. again!

We finished with a limoncello and planned our trip tomorrow.

April Showers in Boston

We woke to grey skies and April showers. So if you’re planning a trip to this part of the world avoid April!

But it had to be bad to stop us. Steve kindly went to Modern the pastry shop around the corner.

http://www.modernpastry.com

It’s amazing, as is Mike’s – but a local told us to visit Modern. Steve arrived back with coffee and a cannoli!

It’s not something I would usually have for breakfast but it’s cold and we’re on holidays and it’s got ricotta in it so that’s good? OK?

It set me up for the Freedom Trail.

https://www.thefreedomtrail.org/visit

If in Boston put this on your list. It’s great. We downloaded the notes and decided to tour ourselves. There are walking tours but you don’t need to do that.

We set off all rugged up and decided, as our apartment is in the middle of the trail, we’d start from our place and reverse the order! Made sense to us.

We stopped at the first State House.

A great place to start the story of Boston. We did a tour and our lovely young ‘education officer’ spoke at a rapid pace so we had lots to take in!

By now the rain had stopped so we wandered along with the other walkers of the trail coming the opposite way towards us!

There are some great public statues including these in the Irish Square.

I really enjoyed the Granary Burial Ground where many of the key figures of the Revolution are buried including Paul Revere, Samual Adams, John Hopkins are all resting in peace.

I also liked the footpath game of hopscotch outside the first school.

Kings Chapel was lovely. Designed by architect Peter Harrison – no, not our friend Peter!

The new State House stands proudly above The Common.

It’s beautiful. Completed in 1798 it’s dome was done in copper by Paul Revere! He was a coppersmith. It was overlaid with gold leaf.

Today there was a crowd outside the house and names were being read out. Lots of names. All had died through workplace fatalities over the years. Quite moving in its simplicity.

We walked through the Common, a really lovely public space with a big history and loved seeing the squirrels!

This park would be lovely on a sunny day. By now we had reached the beginning of the Freedom Trail. but for us it was only half done. It was time for lunch. We headed across to Beacon Hill. This area is a gentile place to walk.

Spring plantings are everywhere. It’s a pity it doesn’t feel Spring-like today!

We found a warm place for lunch. Soup for me and a Reuben sandwich for Steve.

I remembered great bookshops from years ago when I visited with my sister but the one in this area had gone, so I found another in nearby Newbury St. ‘Just a short walk’ I told Steve! Well it was the other end of a very long street. A very interesting long street with lots of shops – mostly big names operating out of lovely old brownstone houses.

We rewarded ourselves with a hot chocolate for Steve and a latte for me but we were surprised by the things you could add to your hot drinks. We decided on CBD. Read about it here!

I wonder if my aches and pains will go.

We still had a lot of walking to do.

To mix it up a bit we got an Uber to the end of the trail and decided to walk it backwards.

Now Jo Jo, our larger than life very friendly driver was all chatty. She was into food, so we got a good run down on where to eat.

We ended up at Bunker Hill and the museum. Really interesting.

We kept on walking despite the chill and the rain and ducked into a church as it looked so interesting.

Low and behold a father and his daughter – the bride! – were inside the door waiting for the music to make an entrance.

They encouraged us in but we hovered in the foyer till she had made her entrance.

She looked beautiful and it took me back (and made me teary) because at about this time last year, on a Friday, Rob and Jordan got married in Santa Barbara. The date is actually tomorrow but it was a Friday. Fortunately they had beautiful Spring weather with blue skies.

We blew out into the street again and walked across the bridge back into the city.

It was soooooo cold.

We finished the walk. It was so interesting. Now we’re tucked up in our apartment drinking a glass of red bought across the street at a lovely wine shop.

We’ll stumble out for dinner a little later.

Tomorrow more walking. We’re off to Harvard for a tour.

Meandering Maine’s coastal town

Portland was a great overnight stay.

The morning was so foggy we put off viewing the lighthouses and instead headed north to Freeport.

I had told Steve about visiting LLBean the huge outdoorsy store and thought he should see it.

It’s amazing. Three huge barns devoted to everything you could need for being outdoors – or even indoors!

Freeport is a 20 minute drive north of Portland and is such a pretty, well kept place. It’s also an outlet centre. Lots of nice shops selling genuinely reduced clothes. Perfect for a short visit on a rainy morning.

We bought a few things. Steve’s keen on the Ralph Lauren polo shirts and I got some things in J Crew.

We headed back to the lighthouses of Portland. If you were here in warm weather you’d take a boat tour to view them but we drove ourselves.

There are two just south of Portland.

This little cute one shrouded in fog.

But I also enjoyed the houses in the area.

The next lighthouse was viewed through the artists frame.

We continued meandering down the coast stopping a few times. these ‘beach shacks ‘ are hardly shack like!!

Kennebunkport is a lovely seaside town.

And the white churches – and there are many – stand proudly on every corner.

Castle Island near Portsmouth was particularly lovely. There must be some wealthy people living here! The houses were gorgeous.

I’ve noticed people like wreaths on their front door. But they must have a wreath for each season. These ones are all about Spring flowers.

One house had an historic cemetery as part of its garden.

We passed many beaches and tried to picture them with the summer crowds.

Our final stop for the night was Newburyport. It’s a really lovely place.

We explored the streets and once again I loved the houses and the High School.

It’s just like in the movies!

Once again the churches are beautiful and the cemetery had a perfect section for us as it is Anzac Day in Australia. Here the people always honour their military.

We found a lovely BnB and made our way to the riverside for a walk before dinner. There are rows of benches for sitting all with plaques on them remembering someone loved. What a great idea.

There were some great shops particularly of a nautical theme but the Odds & Ends one above was a favourite. Look carefully at the odds and ends arranged so well!

We had a lighter dinner and an early night. These lovely ports are not jumping at night this time of year!

Is there such a thing as too many Oysters! In Maine!

We headed off from our Portland hotel and walked the cobbled streets. It’s an up and coming tourist destination (perhaps it’s already arrived!) and the township near the port is filled with fun shops, bars and restaurants.

We followed the suggestion of the hotel receptionist and went to J’s oyster bar.

it’s a modest place but packed with atmosphere. We tried two types of local oysters. A salty and a sweet. Both delicious but the sweeter one won.

Washed down with a Prosecco for me and a Guiness for Steve it was a winner. After a big breakfast we had skipped lunch so we’re ready to eat.

We left J’s and walked along the sea front

Then headed to Oyster Bar #2 called Eventide. Back a few streets it was just superb. Right on trend I’d say!!!

Cool guys working there but very friendly, we sat at the bar and ordered 6 different Maine oysters each. They came with a choice of sauces. I chose horseradish ice and Steve had lemon pepper ice.

We worked our way through the menu. We definitely had our favourites.

But all were delicious. Again washed down with Prosecco and beer(s)!

The rock on the bar was set up for oysters and the guy shucking them was a machine.

After some time there we walked a little, went to the hotel to regroup then went to Scales for our last plate!

http://www.scalesrestaurant.com/menus

What a great place.

We just had to try local lobster. We ended up slightly messy but it was worth it. And so was the Santa Barbara Pinot Grigio.

Slightly messy plate. Well worth it.

Portland is a foody paradise.

Easter Sun Shines in Montreal

Happy Easter all!

Last night we had a fun night at Modavi in old Montreal. The food was good, the wine delicious, the live music great (after we asked to be moved away from it) and the waiter friendly though somewhat disappointed in my tip. I thought it generous – he obviously didn’t!

What do you tip when eating out? It’s stand practice here to start with 15% and work up! In Australia, where the wages are higher, tipping happens, often generously if the service is great, but not to the amounts that are expected here!

We woke to Easter Sunday bells ringing from Notre Dame Cathedral and sunshine outside our windows. What a gift.

We headed off to explore other areas of Montreal. We took an Uber to Fairmont Bagels. THE place to get your perfect bagel. It’s in Mile End, an arty, hip area to visit in Montreal.

We joined the queue and ordered our bagels and a tub of cream cheese, then we walked two blocks to Cafe Olympia where we joined another queue for coffee, then sat outside in the SUN and spread cream cheese on our bagels and enjoyed with hot coffee. It was so good.

We joined other church goers and went to the “modest suburban” church opposite for a part of their Easter Mass – in Polish.

Then we walked towards Mont Royal. The day was fine , the sun shining and lots of others had the same idea. It was like a pilgrimage to the top. And up we went – taking the path less travelled as son Rob likes a challenge- not to mention a short cut. And it was beautiful.

We made it to the top, stripping off layers as we walked – and the view was great!

It was wonderful being with Rob and Jordan and to be celebrating Easter. It’s also almost one year since their wedding in Santa Barbara. How time flies.

We headed back down the mountain and once again took a cross country route.

We crossed a running stream – the snow us melting.

Fortunately I have a strong son who helped me on the steep parts.

We made it ! and walked through the street looking for a lunch place.

We passed a squirrel and the Grey Nuns House which is now part of Concordia University.

Lunch was a well deserved beer and a salad and Poutine!

Another Church stop

Some sculptures – we still were walking !

Back to old Montreal past Notre Dame and back to our apartment.

A short rest, legs up ! We walked many kilometres!

Then to a wonderful restaurant down behind the Cathedral. Jordan picked it on recommendation from friends. It was behind an unmarked door.

And it was good. Very good.

http://www.gardemanger.ca

Delicious food and wine & great company are the best ingredients. And the waiter was happy at the end of the meal!

We walked back through the streets and enjoyed the cities initiative on bringing history alive. Images projected onto walls each one telling a story. Absolutely beautiful.

Back past Notre-Dame to our home away from home.

Tomorrow the kids leave us. Back to work in New York and we get a car and head for Woodstock in Vermont.

Montreal. In the Rain

After travelling a few days and staying in an apartment it’s nice to have breakfast ‘at home’

I scrambled some eggs and it was lovely!

We set off walking around our area Old Montreal East.

Follow along with us.

Note the temperature. It’s not warm! I think we’re not seeing Montreal at its best. It’s s bit grey and damp but we are making the list of it.

We walked to the Bonsecours markets which is in a magnificent building

Inside it is now home to little shops selling all products from local manufacturers. Clothes, artefacts and food. And maple syrup of course.

We enjoyed a coffee at Cafe Sea Arts before heading next door to Musée Marguerite-Bourgeoys. Unfortunately it was still closed so we headed up the hill and visited one of the historic homes Château Ramezay. It’s a beautiful home built by the first Governor of Montreal. Fortunately it was saved and exists today as a museum. It’s set out well in the elegant rooms of the house and has some very good multimedia interactive displays with stories from people who lived in the house over the years.

Back outside we stood and watched the long Good Friday procession of at least 500 people led by a young man carrying a simple large cross. They were on their way to Notre-Dame. In silence.

As it was raining we decided to do a bus tour of Montreal. Not on the big red bus! But on a Grey line tour bus.

Before it started we visited Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. It’s beautiful. And who should arrive but the walking pilgrims. They had walked across the city from Notre-Dame to here. We sat and listened to the music.

It was a good decision.

Then it was time to join the tour.

It took us around the main sights of this lovely city. The main boulevards, the Stadium from the 1976 Olympics, the Grand Prix race track, the charming houses with their external stairs. They must be hard in snow! But they saved room in the houses.

We drove up Mont Royal past Justin Trudeau’s house in the hill – when he’s in town. Also past Céline Dion’s house.

We were entertained not only by our guide, a lovely lady named Marie Clare, but also by one of our fellow travellers – a young man who had much to say – asked and answered questions, commented on everything and spoke to everyone around him. He was harmless, likeable and on the spectrum.

We drove on through the rain and were grateful we were dry.

Unusual apartments of world renown

A rain soaked St Joseph’s Oratory getting ready for Easter celebrations

We finished back where we started and headed for the underground city. There are 20 kilometres of underground tunnels that connect the city and shield the locals from the harsh weather in winter. They are like shopping malls with all the shops, restaurants, Church, Theatres, a wax work museum….. with access to office blocks, apartments, metro stations. Everything you need to keep out of the weather. Brilliant! And it worked for us today.

Part of the 20 km underground city

We somehow got a taxi back to our apartment where we had R & R until an early dinner at Brassiere 701. A very smart place to eat.

We were meant to be eating at Moldavi with Rob & Jordan but their flight from NY got cancelled due to bad weather!

So we are eating without them and hoping they make it tomorrow.

We have a walking tour booked for 11am so fingers xxxx