Thursday, May 20, 2010

Five days in...

The library entrance

Hello again from the Big Apple. My fifth day is drawing to a close, and my love affair for this place grows by the day. I feel like I'm sneaking around behind Melbourne's back, falling in love with another city. Don't worry, Melbourne; you will always be my No 1.

Since I last blogged, I have been to the library. Not just any old library, the New York Public Library, which is right up there in the library hall of fame, and for good reason. It's a jaw-droppingly impressive building. Marble as far as the eye can see, columns and arches and staircases (Beaux-Arts style, for those who are interested). But the jaw-droppingest bits were the McGraw Rotunda,  Bill Blass Catalogue Room and the Rose Main Reading Room. Simply stunning. So much ornate detail.  

Not only does is it a feast for the eyes, it has some amazing treasures in its collection - the letter Christiopher Columbus wrote to the Spanish king and queen notifying them he had discovered the New World, one of five copies Thomas Jefferson made of his draft Declaration of Independence (which contains a section abolishing slavery, which was promptly removed by Congress), the first Gutenberg Bible (dating back to the 1450s) to come ashore in America, a desk, lamp and chair belonging to Dickens and the original (now very threadbare) toy animals that inspired AA Milne to wrote Winnie The Pooh.

You can't see all of these things, but I did see the bible, Dickens' desk and the toys.

I had to abandon plans to go to the Empire State Building due to poor weather so I grabbed a Big Salad for lunch at a gourmet deli (my god, what an eye-popping array of food!) and then headed to the Museum of Sex. Yes, they do have a museum for that. It's not as tawdry as it sounds, although the first exhibit was on sex and the moving image, so you can imagine what they had on display there. Very bizarre experience seeing a money shot while you are in a room with fully dressed strangers. Also difficult to concentrate on reading the information displays with porn music and lady moaning in the background. I mean, I was there for the information after all.

The other displays were far less spicy and far more educational (unless watching a bonobo chimp orgy is your thing). I did touch a penis, however. No, no real genitals at the Museum of Sex, unlike MoMA. It was a silicone one meant to simulate the male member (not very convincingly, however).

The weather was even worse after I  emerged from touching faux penii and watching porn, so I spent some time cruising the souvenir shops (yes, I now own an I Heart New York T shirt), then headed back to my hotel, again catching the right bus and ending up in the right place. Go, me.

Today I visited the Chrysler Building, including the awesome art deco lobby and Grand Central Station, which is yet another jaw-droppingly gorgeous building, especially the main concourse with its vast blue ceiling featuring a mural of the zodiac and huge arched windows at either end.

Then it was showtime! I had a ticket to see West Side Story on Broadway. I've not been to many musicals in my life, and I've never seen West Side Story. I confess I'm not really that big a fan of musicals to be honest, but when on Broadway... I chose WSS because it's set in New York and I'm staying on the West Side.

I enjoyed it - lots of colour, great choreography and songs I recognised even if I never knew where they were from ("I feel pretty, oh, so pretty..."). Oh, and hot guys with muscular biceps. Noice.

It was at the Palace Theatre - surprise surprise, another beautiful building.

After the show I had some cheesecake (another New York specialty) and a can of Dr Pepper before heading to St Patrick's Cathedral. I walked past it the other day without knowing what it was and thought it was impressive from the outside, but today I went inside. Wow. Amazing. Can you tell I'm running out of superlatives? (Strange seeing security guard and so many tourists taking photos in a church though).

Then I headed home again. Tomorrow I'm finally going to visit the Statue of Liberty. Got to be up bright and early and down to the ferry terminal at 9am. I'm thinking I might even brave the subway in rush hour. I'm told it's bedlam - and I'm sure it is - but I'm a big girl...I'll just make sure I allow plenty of time to get there.

I also have a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus tomorrow so will spend the afternoon pootling about on that visiting various places on my must-see list. I'm hoping the weather will be fine enough for a trip up the Empire State Building too. 

1 comment:

Bill said...

I never knew about that early draft of the declaration of independence. It puts a new light on the perceived infallibility of the founding fathers.