Saturday, April 7, 2012

NYC Adventure - Day 2

 What can I say?  It's been everything I wanted and even more!

Spent Friday morning in Central Park, of course.  (That is part of the deal ... opera for him, flora for me.  Of course, I am getting the better part of the deal since I love opera, too!)
Skaters, bikers, pedi-cabs, horse-drawn carriages, walkers, dogs, children, seniors (both kinds), vendors, street performers, and anyone else you  might want, were all piled into the Park enjoying the sun.  Tulips, fruit trees and the first azaleas all in bloom, and the rest of the trees with that first bit of pale yellow green that tells you that actual leaves will follow soon.  In some ways it's my favorite color of spring - the color of promise!

We walked several hours and then met the lovely Marie (66 Square Feet) for lunch at Cafe Fiorello's - a wonderful Italian antipasto bar and restaurant.  Good food, great conversation, and a bit of prosecco - shat more could a girl want?   Marie is even more engaging in person than on blogland - we talked so much that sadly no photos were taken.  We so appreciated her taking the time to spend with us, as well as her generosity.  It was a great lunch and an even better time!
The disappointment of the day was getting cancelled from our walking tour of Lincoln Center.  We had a reservation for 4:30, but when we arrived the tour was "full".  Apparently someone else brought more people than they had made reservations for, so they got our places.  We were disappointed, but by then had been on our feet for about 7 hours and were happy to go back to the hotel for a little rest.

We then got last minute reservations for dinner at the Met dining room - which was also wonderful.  The food was great and the view even better. 

We were concerned that La Traviata might not be up to our expectations, because the soprano was ill.  But her replacement was quite good, and as a special surprise ... we had forgotten that Dmitri Horovostofsky was singing the baritone role.  He was in fine voice and we had a wonderful time.

Today's plan:

8:30 - Highline Park - our foray into the subway.  Marie gave us excellent directions and we have checked maps.  This is an above ground garden on the east side of Manhattan that I have wanted to see.

10:30 - brunch

12:00 - Manon at the Met.  Russian soprano Anna Nebrebko stars as the other fallen woman in French literature, Manon Lescaut.  This is a new production.  If you hurry, you can see it at an HD movie theater near you!  Look for us in the second balcony, stage right.   We shall wave.

6:00 - dinner somewhere

8:00 - Porgy and Bess on Broadway.   Audra MacDonald stars with Norm Lewis at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Friday, April 6, 2012

NYC the Adventure - Day 1

You know what I am experiencing.  Most of you have been here or to another major international city.

The excitement and the feeling of something going on all the time that fills the  air.  The mad dash of taxis.  (I live in a city town where you literally have to telephone for a cab.  They do not patrol anywhere except the airport.)
The train trip was fun and very relaxing.  Having driven it several times, we were amazed at how much faster it is to take Amtrak.

The hotel is nice (actually a bit nicer than I expected).  I had heard how small hotel rooms are in NYC, but ours is fine.  Maybe 10% smaller than we are used to, but plenty for us.  It has been recently re-done with new carpet, tile and bathroom fixtures.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and the other guests are friendly, too.
And, best of all .... there is a Starbucks only three blocks away and the prices are the same as at home!

We walked the neighborhood yesterday afternoon - to find Lincoln Center (five blocks), a place to eat dinner last night (many choices within three or four blocks), Columbus Circle (three blocks), Central Park (five blocks) and the restaurant where we are having lunch today (six blocks).  I know we have not even scratched the surface of the City, but we already feel more anchored just knowing where we are in this tiny little bit of it.

The Met -  What can I possibly tell you about the Met, except that it was wonderful.  A beautiful building, inside of which photos are forbidden.  A beautiful entrance and stairway and the most gorgeous chandeliers you can imagine.  Actually they are world famous and you  have probably seen them.  If I could have taken a photo inside, it  might have looked like this.

They were installed in the '70's I think and were inspired by Sputnic.  They were re-done in 2008 with all the crystals replaced with new Svorsky crystals, and they are gorgeous.

MacBeth was unfamiliar to us (musically, we know the story!), so it's difficult to evaluate.  Nadja Michael (Lady MacBeth) was wonderful and Thomas Hampson (MacBeth) was good, altho I have heard him sing in better voice.  Don't know if it was the part, or if he was not in best voice last night.  The production was lovely (and interestingly done), altho very dark.  No surprise there, but it would be nice if lighting directors would put a bit more ambient light in for those of us "of a certain age".

As much as anything, tho, we just loved being there.  It's like the Mecca of opera, in this country at least,  and a place I have longed to go.  About the same size as the Kennedy Center in D.C., but a bit more opulent, and since it was designed as an opera venue (only) every seat has an individual supertitle display which can only be seen by that person (so it doesn't distract one's neighbor), and which can be turned off if one doesn't like it.  That is a really special touch.  Can't wait to go back tonight!

Today's schedule:

6:30 a.m:  Catch up on blogs and maybe write about yesterday.  Let Michell sleep in!

Morning:  Central Park or a nearby museum.

12:30:  Lunch with Marie at Fiorello's

4:40:  Guided tour of Lincoln Center

8:00:  La Traviatta - My favorite opera with Natalie Dessay - France's leading soprano.  Can't be bad!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday - The Adventure Starts

Mani - pedi - check!

Haircut - check!

Facial - check!  (I know that was decadent, but I got it on Living Social, and Thomas Hampson may want me to come back stage tonight.)

Suitcase packed - check!

Stop at Starbucks for fuel - check!

Apparently we are actually ready to go.  The rest of the day looks like this ....

8:00 a.m. - Catch the train.  Amtrak 85 headed north.

Two  hours to D.C. where we stop to change engines.  Should be time enough to go into the station and pick up lunch - instead of hot dogs and hamburgers in the club car.  This part of the trip is an old friend - we do it a couple of times a year to spend the weekend in D.C.

Then on north.  One more hour to Baltimore, and then into new territory.  You do know about the "quiet car", don't you?

2:00 p.m. - Arrive at Penn Station in NYC. Now is the time to admit that the last time I was in NYC was spring break ... in the 8th grade! Yeah. I know. Mitchell went to college in Princeton, NJ and ran in to the "old" Met several evenings a week during the season, so NYC has not held much charm for him, while I have been dying to visit. Now's my chance!

8:00 p.m. - Curtain up at The Met!  Thomas Hampson is singing MacBeth for me.  Well, I guess for everyone else, too.   Pictures tomorrow.

P.S.:  thanks for all your encouragement and suggestions.  This is going to be fun!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Workday - This and That

It's that time when there is always something opening, and something that needs to be done.

You remember Magnolia 'Rose Marie' from last year, don't you?  She tried hard to bloom, but came too early for the season and the late cold caught her.
April 5, 2011
When I bought it from the botanical garden four or five years ago, the volunteer told me that it was his favorite of the hybrid magnolias.  If I can ever get her large enough to have more than one flower, I will agree with him.   This year she came equally early, but the early spring gave her a chance and she looked like this:
March 27, 2012
Can you imagine a whole tree of these?

When we got home from our weekend away I found a mystery plant blooming.  Am fairly sure it's a poppy (from the flower), but it has slightly unusual foliage and I didn't plant it.  I have been thinking that it was a volunteer artemesia, until it bloomed.   The buds are nearly red, but as it opens it turns shades of orange.  It's really lovely, tho.
Last week my tulips started to bloom just as we went out of town.  I didn't want to miss them all, so cut them early Wednesday morning and followed Jane's instructions for trying to hold them over in the refrigerator.  Wrapped in newspaper to support the blooms and deep in water, I kept them in the front of the 'fridge and Sunday night when we got home they were in good shape.  They are slowly opening and a pretty - perhaps not as fresh as they would have been a week ago, but better than all bloomed out in the garden. Thanks for the help, Jane.

The hard work this week was planting some astrantia, some dahlias and more scabiosa seeds in the cutting garden. I even had to water the whole garden today - on April 3rd!  Perhaps next week I can get the rest of the seeds planted.  One can hope!

Monday, April 2, 2012

An Adventure This Way Comes!

Remember last summer when we celebrated Mitchell's birthday?  Great party, lots of friends, but someone was missing.  Mitchell's best friend James lives in Albuquerque and was not able to join us.  He and his wife Vandi came a few months later for a brief visit and to bring a "little gift" to Mitchell.

Little gift, my eye!  Tickets for three performances at the Metropolitan Opera - you know, the one in New York City!

We are off on the train Thursday morning to NYC to see three great opera stars in three great operas and Porgy and Bess on Broadway.  Be still my heart.

I plan on walking Central Park and finding all the blooming trees and flowers in the City, and a museum or two, and a New York deli, and I don't know what else.  Camera is already packed and ready to go.

Fortunately, Vivienne has recently been posting a series of ideas for what clothing to pack for a week in Paris.  Paris, New York - pretty much the same things, don't you think?  I found lots of good ideas on how to mix and match and should be able to do this long weekend easily, moving from daytime sightseeing to evening performances, and without carrying everything I own.

More to come over the weekend!