Friday, December 30, 2011


On the fourth day of Christmas we did some really unique things. My son who is on vacation from teaching in Northern Labrador spent the night with us on December 27th, as well, our oldest daughter and her husband are with us for the balance of the Christmas holidays.

Since we were all together we had an early breakfast of cooked barley cereal with dried cranberries then we headed out to visit the Distillery District in Toronto. You don't want to arrive too early in the Distillery district because most of the shops do not open until 11:00AM or later. We arrived just as most of the shops and galleries were opening. to start with we stopped in at Balzac's Coffee for something hot to drink.

Afterward, we visited some of the shops and galleries. Cubeworks was especially interesting, it is all about the medium. The Thompson Landry Gallery was also interesting. We had a full day ahead of us so we decided that we would return to the Distillery District later in the day.

At 2:00PM we had theater tickets for the five of us at Second City on Mercer Street. We drove close to Second City and walked the few blocks to Mercer Street. It was bitterly cold outside so we were all looking forward to getting inside. Originally, we had decided to go to Gretsky's which is just past Second City on Mercer Street. As we rounded the corner on Mercer Street we spotted a Mexican restaurant called Milagro. It looked inviting and the wind was cold so we decided on the spot that this was where we were going to have lunch.

It turned out that Milagro was an excellent choice. The food was well priced and the quality and quantity of the food was excellent. I had Pollo con Mole which is chicken with a thick chocolate sauce and about 16 different types of chili. it was great!

Pollo con Mole

Everyone else in our party also enjoyed their lunches as well.

After lunch we took a short walk down the street to Second City. We were seated immediately near the back of the theater which was fine for us. Second City is a comedy troupe which puts on high quality shows. This particular show was called "A Dysfunctional Christmas". We spent the next two hours being entertained. I have to say that I had not laughed so much for some time. It was great. I can only say that if you have time go and see this show. You will not regret it.

After the show we returned to the Distillery district to see more of the shops that had not been opened when we were there earlier in the day. Since it was later in the day when we returned to the Distillery District we saw the Christmas lights that were still installed. It was colorful and festive to look at.

We left about 5:30PM to return home for dinner.

It is somewhat of a tradition for us to eat at Swiss Chalet during the Christmas season. Our son was tired so he decided that he would just go home so my wife and I had dinner with my daughter and her husband at Swizz Chalet. I know that this is not high dining but there is a certain comfort in eating some place that is familiar and traditional. It was all that we had expected it to be.

On the fourth day of Christmas we had fourth excellent entertainments; the Distillery District, the Second City Revue, lunch at Milagro and dinner at Swiss Chalet.


After we left Civitavecchia it was a long night a sea while we traveled down the long coast of Italy to Messina. Messina is about as far south as you can go in Italy, it is located  on the northeast corner of Sicily. In the morning, as we were approaching Messina, we were told that we were going to pass the island of Stromboli which is a live volcano. This was pretty amazing for me because I had never seen a live volcano or any kind of volcano before.

The city of Messina is nestled into a natural protected harbor that is perfect for fishermen to launch their fishing boats which was the traditional industry of Messina.

When you dock in Messina the city is immediately accessible from the harbor. We literally walked off the boat and we were in the city of Messina.

We had a specific agenda in Messina, you could call it a culinary agenda. Our goal was to eat thin crust pizza in Messina because we had heard that it was the finest pizza in all of Italy. We also wanted to eat canoli, preferably with a freshly brewed espresso. If possible, we also wanted to find Torrone, the Italian candy that is a blend of honey, nougat and nuts covered with chocolate.

We had no real direction in Messina, there was no tourist bureau that we could see when we landed so we just struck out in a direction that looked interesting. we saw a church up on a hilltop that looked interesting so we walked towards it.

A view of the church on the hilltop

Getting to the church was more elusive that we imagined and we had a few detours on the way. Eventually, we stopped a postman and asked him how to get to the church. He told us how to get there. I understood most of what he said except for the last part which involved some hand motions that were probably easily understood by the locals but lost on me. We followed his directions until we got to the last part. The church was in sight but above us and we could not figure how to get there so we made a choice which turned out to be wrong. We retraced our steps then realized what his hand motion meant, " you get to this point then you walk around the ramp going upwards and then you are at the church", all that in a hand gesture. At any rate we are at the church. It was interesting enough as far as churches go. It could not compare to the churches of Florence. At  one point, we were standing by a spiral staircase that seemed to go right up to the roof. A man asked us if we wanted to go up. I said I did, my wife declined. the way up the stairs was a lot trickier than it seemed. At the top another man opened a small hatch and then I was out on the roof of the church. yet another man walked me around the inside of the dome an let me out at each quadrant of the dome to look out over Messina. The view was spectacular. At the last hatch that I walked out I could climb up a short ladder and get an even better view. It was a breathtaking experience.

A view of the harbor and our cruise ship

Another view of the harbor

After climbing up to the church and walking back down it was almost noon and we were hungry. We had passed a neighborhood restaurant on the way up to the church that had not been open at the time. On the way down the restaurant was open so we decided that this was where we were going to eat Sicilian pizza. We were seated immediately and ordered two pizzas; Frutti di Mare  which was a pizza made with sea food and Margherita which is a pizza with tomato sauce and herbs. Both pizzas were excellent, the crust was crisp and paper thin. The flavor was outstanding. We washed the pizzas down with a liter of sparkling mineral water and I had an espresso. Our entire lunch was less than 20 euros, a bargain.

With our bellies full of great pizza we made our way back towards the ship, looking at everything that looked interesting. There is always something of interest on every street in Italy. Everywhere you turn there is some kind of ruin or other. We made our way down to the main road that runs parallel to the dock. Most of the shops were still closed. In Italy, all businesses close between noon and 2:00PM, except for restaurants. We found a bakery that looked very nice. In fact, this bakery not only had Canoli in their display case but we could see that they also had Torrone. Unfortunately, the bakery was not open. We were just about to turn away and walk down the street when a young woman walked up to us and told us to wait a minute, her father was going to open the bakery for us. They were just returning to the bakery after their mid-day rest. They would have waited to open the store but they saw us standing there and decided to open the bakery early. We went inside and ordered two canoli which were incredibly delicious. We also bought two kilograms of Torrone which we took away with us.Our day in Messina was a complete success!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Today is the third day of Christmas. We went to a hockey tournament to see one of my niece's son's hockey team play, the Hamilton Bulldog novice team. Since we do not normally follow novice hockey, at least not since my own son played hockey some 20 years ago, we were not exactly sure were the arena was. My niece told us that it was on Appleby and Mainway in Burlington. Well, we knew where Appleby Line is and we know where Mainway street is so we thought that we knew where the arena was. We left the house just after 8:00AM thinking that we had plenty of time to get to the game. we arrived at Appleby Ice Center around 8:30AM just as all the novice hockey players were arriving with their parents so we thought that we were right on time. When we walked into the arena we did not realize that there were actually three hockey pads in the ice center. We did not know which pad they were playing on so we went from pad to pad looking for the Hamilton Bulldogs. After about 20 minutes of fruitless searching we asked one of the fathers who was sitting outside one of the pads if he knew where the Bulldogs were playing. To our amazement he wiped out his ipad and called up the entire junior hockey schedule for all of southern Ontario, and possibly beyond. within a minute or so he told us that we were in the wrong arena, the Bulldogs were playing in Mainway Recreation Center which was just a few blocks away on Mainway west of Appleby..

I have to admit that by this point I was getting a little frustrated, mainly because I did not have the information that I thought I needed to resolve the problem. So, back in our car we got and drove to Mainway Reacreation Center. It didn't take us long to find the game where the Hamilton Bulldog novice team was playing. We had arrived just as the third period had started. It was not going well for the Bulldogs. The visiting team, The Little Caesars from Detroit were leading 2 to 1 in the third period. We did get to see our niece's son play for the first part of the third period but then he was taken off when the coach put on the second string of players to try and even out the odds. That strategy did not seem to work so well.

In the last three minutes of the game it seemed that a little desperation set in and the coach pulled the goalie so that they could put one more player out on the ice. It had the wrong result, the Little Caesars scored again. The final score was 3 to 1 for the Little Caesars from Detroit. Well, there is always one team that has to win and one team that has to lose. Today, it was the Hamilton bulldogs novice team's turn to lose. Still, it was interesting and a gift of sorts. Hockey is such an integral part of the Canadian psyche that I could not imagine Christmas without hockey.

When I was a teenager and spending many of my Christmas holidays in Quebec I attended many a day long hockey tournament where we would watch team after team after team play hockey for an entire day. It is something that tends to settle somewhere just below your psychic makeup. I also recall the endless cold winter mornings that we had to endure while my son would practice hockey at 6:30AM on a Saturday and Sunday morning during hockey season. They were bone chilling experiences at the time but know they seem to be warm memories. Amazing, isn't it, how memories mellow and soften over time.

So, I can say that on the third day of Christmas we were given the gift of hockey, in three periods, at the three pads of Appleby Arena and unfortunately for the score of 3 to 1.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Today is Boxing Day, the second day of Christmas. Since my son was not able to be with us yesterday, he spent the day with his girlfriend's family, we decided that we would all get together on Boxing Day to celebrate Christmas Day.

We had our traditional breakfast of eggs, Canadian bacon, fruit salad, homemade Christmas bread and coffee. After breakfast we engaged in another tradition, opening our presents. What made this Christmas special was that it was my granddaughter's first Christmas. It seemed that as much attention was focused on my granddaughter's reaction to Christmas as it was to the rest of us celebrating. Maybe this is part of the expansion in our family, our first grandchild.

There were a lot of great presents exchanged today, thoughtful and imaginative. My wife and I were amazed that our children, spouses  and partners had joined together an bought an ipad for us. This is a gift that fits with our lifestyle so well. When we are traveling we can easily keep in touch or be connected in every way that we could think of. It also gives us portability and incredible flexibility. We appreciate the gift greatly and we will make good use of this present.

One of the most unique gifts that everyone received were mittens that were made by Inuit people who live in the village where my son is currently teaching high school. The mittens are made from cured caribou skin. These are the skins of the caribou that the Inuit hunt and eat. The skins of the animals are then used for mittens and other items of clothing. Some of the skins are smoke cured and they give off a delicious odor that is reminiscent of BBQ meat that is cooked with Hickory. Other mittens were cured in the normal way and they have a faint odor that is similar to the smell of a leather coat.

In the picture, there are two sets of mittens. The lighter colored set with the floral pattern belong to my wife. The fur around the outside is rabbit and the lining is detachable so that it can be removed and washed. The other darker pair are mine. We are not sure about the fur around the outside of the mittens but the fur reminds me of the fur of a wolf but we are not certain. The lining of my mittens are also detachable so that they can be washed. At any rate, The mittens are incredibly soft and warm. I would guarantee that I could wear these mittens at -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit) and feel toasty warm.

So, on the second day of Christmas we received two pairs of mittens.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It is Christmas Day. Funny that it has seemed so long to get here but not that it is here it is time to slow down and enjoy every moment. I have not had time to publish a single post the entire month of December so far. I thought I would do a twelve day of Christmas series of post.

This year, it is just my wife and I for Christmas Morning, family will be over later this afternoon and evening. We had a quiet early morning breakfast. Even though we were by ourselves we had our traditional family breakfast of eggs, Canadian bacon, fruit and home made Christmas bread with coffee. While we ate we listened to the music of Mannheim Steamroller, a perennial Christmas favorite in our house. Mannheim Steamroller has always elicited the right amount of Christmas ethos that creates the perfect Christmas morning mood.

After breakfast my wife started some bread that we will have for dinner tonight with our family. I went outside to give our wild friends a Christmas Day treat. I filled the bird feeder with fresh bird seed

and filled the bird bath with warm water.

All the time that I was filling the bird feeder and the bird bath I could hear the birds, not too far away, chirping and "tweeting" to one another that food and a warm bath is getting ready for them.

I also put out a treat for our local squirrel population which is fairly numerous. We had a box of Rice Crispies which was way past its due date so it was relegated to squirrels who do not worry so much about the niceties of due dates and the like. If it is edible that is good enough for our local country squirrels.

Perhaps city squirrels are more discerning but that is another story. In my rail fence on the ravine side of our property there is once section that has a long and deep natural trough. I filled this trough with a generous portion of Rice Crispies. Now, I can watch from the comfort of  inside our house, the birds and the squirrels enjoying their Christmas Day meal as well.

So, on the first Day of Christmas we had one lovely Christmas Morning breakfast. I guess we were not as alone as I thought on Christmas Morning!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Cover of book from York University Press website

I just finished reading a book about Galileo written by David Wootton published by York University Press. Galileo was born in 1564 and died in 1642 which puts him squarely in the Renaissance, on of the most interesting periods in history. He was one of the founders of modern science, committed to science yet forced to bow to religion. He was a brilliant mathematician yet he was inept socially.

In his book, David Wootton looks at Galileo as an astronomer, an engineer and a writer. He worked from original documents such as Galileo's letters that he wrote and received. using this material he pieced together a vivid picture of Galileo. from his youth through his tumultuous formative years, to his discoveries in astronomy and physics.

Galileo was one if the first to understand how the telescope could be used as a tool to explore the cosmos.

"Philosophy is written in this very great book which always lies open before our eyes (I mean the universe), but one cannot understand it unless one first learns to understand the language and recognize the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language and the characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures; without these means it is humanly impossible to understand a word of it; without these there is only clueless scrabbling around in a dark labyrinth."

The passage above is Galileo's most famous quote. It was Galileo's commitment to a realist theory of knowledge. his point of view was that mathematics is the language of science. Newton may have developed calculus but he built it on the foundation established by Galileo and his students.

Wootton's purpose in writing the book was to provide an intellectual biography of the one of the world's greatest scientists; Galileo. he wanted to demonstrate the evolution of Galileo's thinking over time. In Galileo's book, The Dialogue, published in 1632 he argues that the universe does not serve humanity. Galileo's universe is mysterious and unknown. It's size is unknowable. Galileo even argues that there are probably other planets with other beings. We on earth are simply terrestrials.

Galileo was the first true, modern scientist. He invented the thermometer, the micrometer, and the pendulum clock. he transformed the telescope from a toy into a tool for serious scientific investigation. I thoroughly enjoyed the book by David Wootton. I would recommend to everyone who has an interest in science.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I guess it is time to wrap up these posts on out trip to Europe this Spring seeing that the year is hurtling towards the finish line.

After Florence out next stop was Civitavecchia, which means ancient town in Italian. It comes by the name honestly since it is built on the site of a former Etruscan settlement. Many people on the ship bought tours to Rome. They had to endure a train ride of an hour or more to get to Rome, rip through galleries and tourist sights, get back on the train and arrive back at the boat before it set sail. If it was the only chance that we were going to have to see Rome we might have done that but we had plans after to the cruise to spend extra days in Rome.

Instead, we booked an excursion into the Tuscan countryside where we would visit a medieval town, Tuscania, that was once ruled by the Medici family then we would visit an olive farm and taste a variety of Tuscan foods and olive oils. It sounded infinitely more relaxing than scurrying around Rome trying to cram as many sights as you could into one day. We were on the bus after breakfast. Our guide was an Archeologists which was perfect for our excursion. The town that we were going to visit was called Tuscania. As it turned out, our guide was actually born in the town of Tuscania. Her English was quite good, inflected with a pleasant Italian accent. She gave us a running commentary of the area as well as a general history of the area starting with the Etruscans.


Tuscania was a picturesque town with lots of opportunities to take pictures and enjoy the Tuscan countryside.

A Tuscan ruin

The Tuscan countryside

There are people who still live in the town and there is an international school in the town which is mainly financed through the fees of foreign students who go to the town to learn Italian and Italian, history and culture.

Lorenzo de' Medici school

An ancient vine growing on the front of someone's home

After our visit to Tuscania we boarded the bus for a short trip to the olive farm, Casale Bonaparte. As it turned out this particular farm has been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte's brother, Lucien Bonaparte. It was a very nice location and the the farm house had been nicely preserved. I would say that it has seen a recent renovation but it still maintained the feel of the period of the late 1700's.

Lucien Bonaparte's farm house

There was a little explanation about the farm and how olive were harvested and processed; the first virgin pressing, the second and third pressings. It was all very informative.

Our guide and our host

Afterward we were invited to sit down at long tables and eat. there was bread with meat and cheese and salads with many types of olive oil to try. there was also wine and beer to drink. It was a tasty lunch in pleasant relaxing surroundings.

Pavilion where we had lunch

In a way it was the opposite of the hectic day that we had spent in Florence the day before. After eating, my wife and I strolled around the grounds taking pictures and generally soaking in the ambiance of the Tuscan countryside.

Road from the farm to the main road

A field of poppies with olive trees  in the background

We were reluctant to get back on the bus and head back to Civitavecchia. It was only mid afternoon when we returned to the boat. After depositing the oil that we bought in our stateroom we took the shuttle bus to Cittavechia which was only a five minute bus ride. We decided that we would just walk around the city without any real plan. as we strolled up the Corso Centrocelle we came upon a small maritime museum that was free to enter so we took the tour. I was a very small museum with some statuary that dated back to the Roman and Etruscan period as well as pottery shards. It also showed the ramparts of the old city as it was in the pre-Christian era. It was all very interesting. We continued our stroll up the street until we came to a square that had a small shrine to the Virgin Mary. At the point we decided that we would try a few side streets as we made our way back to the boat. There was no danger of getting lost because the boat was in plain sight most of the time.

Eventually, we found a small gelateria that served the locals. Although it was the middle of the afternoon the place was very busy. We saw a few tourists from the boat but most of the people were locals. I had a wonderful Baci flavored gelato and my wife had her favorite flavor in the world; Spumoni. We had just about finished our gelato when we saw a little leather shop near the pier. It was very tiny but it was packed with leather goods. After looking through their goods my wife bought herself a nice leather purse that could be quickly transformed int a back pack or a regular purse. It was very versatile. I bought two nice leather belts, one brown and one black. With purchases in hand we made our way back to our cruise ship. We had a very nice day in Civitavecchia.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Well, this is the end of our vacation in New York. We had four event filled days that seemed to have sped by us like an express Manhattan train. We left our borrowed apartment before 6:00AM leaving the key with the concierge. I was great having the use of our son-in-laws apartment in Jersey City but it was time to go home. There was still one more gesture of goodwill that he extended to us. with all the points that he had accumulated on Amtrak he was able to push two tickets for our return trip home on Amtrak in business class. We were extremely happy to have that extra perk.

As I said, we left before 6:00AM and we are at Exchange place just after 6:00AM. We thought that the place would be deserted but there were at least a dozen other early morning commuters on the platform. When we got on the train at Grove street that was going to 33rd street there was standing room only. After getting off at the 33rd street station we stopped at the McDonald's on 7th Avenue near Penn station.

In Penn station there is a waiting room where you can sit comfortably as long as you have a train ticket. After we parked all our suitcases in the waiting room my wife went to Zaros to get half a dozen bagels of different variety to take with us on the train. There was no way we were going to leave Penn Station without getting bagels from Zaros.

On the platform we were directed to the first class car. Although all the seats for two people were taken we found single seats, one in front of the other. There was a copy of the New York times in each seat, a nice touch. We were located right behind the canteen and we had our own bathroom. When you consider that we were going to be on the train for the next ten to twelve hours have these simple amenities was going to make all the difference. After finishing my muffin and coffee I sat back and read the New York Times. By the time I had worked my way through the Times we were already passing through Poughkeepsie. Along with Vassar College, Poughkeepsie is also the home of the CIA, that is the Culinary Institute of America. My wife has often talked about visiting the CIA in Poughkeepsie. They also serve gourmet meals at the CIA. One of these days we will do that.

Eventually, some of the other passengers left and we had two seats together which we kept for the rest of our journey. It was a pleasant comfortable trip in business coach. we passed the time looking at the scenery as the train passed through the country side. Fall foliage was starting to appear and there were a lot of colorful trees to look at. We also talked about our vacation in New York. We also spoke with the couple in front of us who it turned out were from Texas. They had spent a few days in New York and were on their way to Niagara Falls Canada to round out their vacation. We also spent time reading.

Eventually, we made it to the Canadian border where we had to get off the train to clear customs. Being in Business coach we got to go through customs first which only took about two minutes. After waiting for everyone else to clear customs we got back on the train and continued on our way.

The rest of the trip was not more than an hour and we were home. Our vacation in New York was great. We saw and did so much that it will take some time to digest it all. Yet there was so much that we didn't see. We never did make it to Central Park. That would be an entire day trip in itself. My wife would like to spend time in the fashion district. She only managed to visit one shop on this trip. I imagine that she could spend an entire morning or afternoon in the fashion district. That be an opportunity for me to spend time at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). We would like to go back to Chelsea to visit the shops and art galleries. I would like to go through some of the major galleries in Soho as well and there is the Whitney gallery and the Frick collection. All of that is just in Manhattan.

Then there are the other Burroughs of New York. There are many things to see in Brooklyn. There is a Pratt Institute sculptural garden. There is the Bronx zoo. I could go on and on but you get the picture. We have to go back to New York to see everything we didn't see the first time!

Friday, November 18, 2011


This was our last full day in New York and we wanted to make the best of it. Our plan was to spend the morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then spend the afternoon exploring Central Park. That's not quite how it turned out. The one thing that everyone who contemplates going to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts must think about is what they are going to see and what they are not going to see. With some 3 million works of art sprawled over 7 square miles, there is no way you could see everything in one week even if you spent every waking minute at the museum. So we made our choices.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

We decide that we would spend some time looking at European sculpture

A sculpture in walnut by Master of Soeterbeeck, about 1470

and decorative arts then move on to Modern Art on the first floor. After that we would go upstairs and take in some more modern art.

Art Nouveau Mural

We figured that we could do that in an hour or so then see some European painting followed by Greek and Roman art then some Egyptian art to round things off. we figured we would be done by half past noon. After all, we did get to the museum right at 9:00 AM when it opened. That way we could spend the afternoon in Central Park which is directly behind the museum. As it was, we barely got passed Modern Art by the time we decided we had to time to eat. We went downstairs to the cafeteria and checked out the menu. paying $15 for a hamburger that was kept warm under heat lamps was more than we could stomach. Instead, we went outside and bought lunch off of one of the trucks outside the museum, Lunch was not quite as good as the food truck outside of St. Barts but it was certainly good and cheap. Lunch for both of us was less than $20. It has started to rain so we stood as close to the wall of the museum and ate out lunch. It wasn't very refined but we didn't get wet. So, after lunch we decided to go back into the museum. One reason was that we had a lot more to see. The other reason was that it was now raining and we did not want to tramp around Central Park in the rain.

Constantin Brancussi - Bird in Space - 1923

Marc Chagall - The Lovers - 1913-1914

Henry Moore - Reclining Figure #4 - 1954-1955

This beautiful fabric was actually made from pieces of recycles materials such as bottle caps and wire and other found objects.

This piece was composed of pieces of cut mirror that were glued onto a substrate.

Rodin - From the Gates of Hell - The Thinker

Claude Monet - Water Lilies - 1919

Henri Matisse - Odalisque with Grey Trousers - 1927

Vincent Van Gogh - Irises - 1890

In the afternoon we spent time with Greek and Roman art, Medieval European art, then the European Sculpture gallery was outside the cafe on the ground floor. I have to admit that I really enjoyed my time with the sculptures. One of my favorites was the Burghers of Calais by Rodin.

The Burghers of Calais - 1884 - 1895

While I was admiring and taking pictures of the Burgers an artist was drawing them. We finished up the day in the Egyptian gallery which was completely amazing. We had never seen so many mummies and we had never seen ones that were so elaborate. What really impressed me were the life size wooden statues that were over 2,000 years old. when I think of the tools that they had and the quality of the work that I was looking at, well it was humbling.

Merti and his wife - 2350 B.C.

Illustratiing the many layers of a mummy

We spent five hours at the Metropolitan Museum of art and we barely scratched the surface. There was so much more to see and take in. I look at it this way, it is one more reason for a return visit to New York.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


On Tuesday morning, after a restful night, we were ready to go again. The plan for Tuesday was an architectural tour of Midtown, the heart and soul of New York City. Again, we took the train to 33rd street. this time we walked north on seventh avenue then east on 40th street to the New York Public Library. When you approach the front entrance of the library you are struck by the opulence of the facade of this Beaux-Arts masterpiece.
New York Public Library

 Inside the library there is sheer elegance. we toured all the sections of the library eventually winding up in the Rose Main Reading Room where we had some free time on a public computer to catch up on some of our emails. All we had to do was show some picture ID.

The Rose Reading Room

After the library we headed east on 42nd street towards Grand Central Terminal. As we walked, we had various views of the Chrysler building. I took pictures at various vantage points.

The Chrysler building

When arrived at the 42nd street entrance to Grand Central I was so impressed with the facade that I had to take pictures of the sculpture, Transportation, adorning the top of the clock. The three figures are Mercury flanked by Hercules and Minerva.

Mercury, Minerva and Hercules on top of clock of facade at Grand Central Terminal

Inside the terminal we were awed by the immensity of the great hall.

Great hall at Grand Central Terminal

When you look up there are figures of the zodiac across a pale blue ceiling.

We walked around the mall and looked in the various shop windows. I took a few pictures of the wonderful cakes in Zaro's window.

Zaro's bakery at Grand Central

We literally walked through the terminal to get to Park Avenue. A few block north of Grand Central is the famous Waldorf Astoria. We waltzed into the hotel as if we were long term residents and sauntered around the lobby and the promenade beyond taking in the art-deco murals, mosaics and ornamentation. If nothing else, the Waldorf Astoria is opulent.

Continuing north on park Avenue for just one more street to 50th street we cane upon St. Batholomew's church. What you notice about St. Bart's from the outside is its intricately tiled Byzantium dome.

St. Bart's Byzantine dome

Inside the church is an oasis of stillness in the activity of Park Avenue. There are lovely stained glass windows

Stained glass window at St. Bart's

and an absolutely beautiful baptismal font that is a sculpture of an angel holding a basin.

Baptismal Font at St. Bart's

Of course, my wife lit a candle which she has done in every church that we have visited.

Back out on the street, we realized that it was noon and we were hungry. After our little extravagance at Momofuku the day before we decided that we would dine off of one of New York's famed curb side food trucks. Since we did not know which one's were best we went with the truck that had the longest line figuring that the best would have repeat customers. We were not wrong. I had a lamb pita and my wife had a Greek salad. For both, we paid $11.00. both of us agreed that lunch was outstanding. We found a place to sit along the side of the church. It was great.

After lunch we walked west along 50th street to St. Patrick's Cathedral. When we entered mass was already under way so we sat down in a pew and waited respectfully until the mass was over. After mass we toured the church. I was impressed with the sheer immensity of the church. Of course, there were also outstanding works of art and sculpture. The architecture of the cathedral was a statement to the faith of the Irish workers who built the church in 1859.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

After St. Patrick's cathedral it was time for more secular sights. We continued north on 5th Avenue then west on 53rd street with the intention of going to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Unfortunately, MoMA is not open on Tuesdays so we had to content ourselves with going into the MoMA shop which probably has one of the most extensive and up to date collections of books on Modern and Contemporary art that I have ever seen. It is a worthwhile trip just to browse through the books in the museum shop.

After browsing through the MoMA shop we walked south down the Avenue of the Americas to Radio City Music hall where I took several pictures of the facade.

Radio City Music Hall

Around the corner and we were in the Rockefeller Center. There is so much to see in the Rockefeller Center that it is hard to see it all at one time.

After all the walking that we had done we felt it was time for a break so we went into Bouchon Bakery that was across the street from NBC.

Bouchon Bakery

I had a coffee, My wife had a tea and we split a muffin. Those three things cost more than the lunch that had purchased from the food truck! Still, it was very good and the ambiance at Bouchon was wonderful. After our brief but expensive refreshment we went back to the lower plaza of the Rockefeller Center to take pictures of Prometheus.


We agreed that we had walked enough and began the trek back to the 33rd street station to take the train back to Jersey City. Taking 7th Avenue to 33rd street took us through Time Square. My wife and I agreed that Time Square was the least favorite part of New York that we toured. Time Square is a larger than life barrage of billboards, flashing neon lights, hustlers and hawkers.

Time Square

We moved through Time Square as quickly as we could. However, we did make one detour to a sewing notions and supplies shop in the fashion district which is just south of Time Square. My wife bought some buttons for the Christening gown that she was making for our granddaughters upcoming christening.

After dinner that evening but before it was dark we went out onto the deck on the top of the building to take pictures of Manhattan. here are some of those pictures.

Lower Manhattan

The Empire State Building  and the Chrysler Building
A close up of the Chrysler Building