Wednesday, December 3rd, I ventured to the Big Apple mostly because I stumbled into a discount ticket deal last month and thought I would take advantage of the low cost trip to get a couple of things done.
Number one on the list was to visit the Chinese embassy and request clarification about some of the visa information on their website. To my consternation, I was met at the front door and told that entrance is denied without having all of the required forms completed in advance. It is difficult for one to complete forms without having the ability to obtain clarification of certain questions. So, this item was forestalled until next year.
Normally, I try to avoid the heavy crowds during the holiday shopping season in Manhattan, but my intention was to try and get ahead of the process for my upcoming spring travel plans. Even the best laid plans…….
I suspect that the increased security may have something to do with the Falun Gong protesters across the street. Standing in the freezing rain all day is one indication of the determination of this group’s willingness to engage in peaceful protest to seek a redress of their grievance. Perhaps my students may be able to read the signs in spite of the poor quality pictures.
Since I was in the city, I figured to visit the Metropolitan Museum. It is a standard activity for me so, I walked across town in the cold but light rain to catch the M1 bus up Madison Ave. Then, waited for 30 minutes, but the two M1 buses that passed said “NOT THIS BUS”. Strange.
I began to walk hoping to catch a cab but was unsuccessful. After walking nearly 15 blocks, I turned to see an M1 bus. I got on and noticed the guy who was waiting at the bus stop 15 blocks back was on this bus. He was drier than I was. Funny.
The line for the coat check was long and I added it to the list of reasons why I don’t enjoy visiting the city in cold, wet and nasty weather. Upon entering the museum I headed for the European paintings on the second floor only to discover that many of my favorites had been rotated out and replaced with more of the seasonal, religious art of Renaissance Europe. It is not my favorite. Yes, I see the talent and mastery of skill in these works, but they all seem so repetitive. I suspect that at the time of their creation, each of these artists might consider me to be blasphemous for speaking such heresy!
…and then there are examples of new artists reproducing the work of old masters. Not so much for the sake of copying, but as a test to measure their own level of proficiency. Or, perhaps as a tool to demonstrate their talent.
When I am in that area of Manhattan, I try to get over to the East-side to pick up a loaf of delicious Raisin-Pumpernickel bread. Orwasher’s Bakery is well known for a wide selection of artisan breads.
After a quick visit to the museum and then my trip to the other side of the island for bread, I needed to get something to eat. There are always plenty of choices, but I had two places that I wanted to check out. I decided on PIO-PIO. A Peruvian restaurant known for great chicken. I was very satisfied with the half-chicken, fries and Cristal beer from Peru. With tip and tax I was out the door for under $25.
Getting there turned into a bit of an adventure. Apparently, there were protests around the city (unbeknownst to me at the time) and the protests were causing some serious traffic problems as the protesters blocked intersections around the city. I should also note here that these were different protests than the one outside the Chinese embassy. When I arrived home I read the news about the Grand Jury declining to indict either of the two NYC cops who were recorded on video placing a choke-hold on a suspect in a misdemeanor crime “investigation”. The suspect subsequently died. His name was Eric Garner and he is yet another American citizen killed by police who too often lack personal discipline and good moral character, are frequently overly-aggressive when approaching fellow citizens. Additionally, the police are clearly over-armed for civilian the environment and poorly trained with those arms. The combination is volatile. I do not agree with the assertion by many of the protestors that this is a racial issue. White cop -v- black youth. Rather this is an issue that speaks directly to a lack of accountability in government and what limits are we to put on police with respect to their use of force.
Anyway, I wanted this post to be a little more upbeat, even though I have plenty to say about law enforcement in the United States. Maybe another time for a rant on that.
I first attempted the bus only to discover that I had used the last ticket on my Metro-Transit card on my previous bus ride. The bus drivers do not take cash. Off at the next stop and walk a couple of blocks west to try and find a cab. Traffic was really jammed up around Columbus Circle and that creates a trickle-down effect. The city was really starting to cramp up on me.
Finally, I hailed a cab at Broadway and 78th to get me uptown and across to the West-side, Amsterdam Ave @ 94th .
Picture of Peruvian children in their native dress on the wall at PIO PIO. I forgot to snap a pic of the chicken,,,,maybe next time.
One of the problems with a pre-pay discount ticket is the limit placed on when you leave. Ordinarily, I am free to choose any bus I want to go home, whenever I decide I have a full day. Martz Bus-lines run about 50 buses each weekday to and from DWG and PABT.
So I had time to kill before my bus would leave. The bus was departing at 6;30PM.
One last detail and not really a necessity, but the selection of wines available in NYC far exceeds the dull and limited choices found in local, state-operated stores. So I poked around a couple of wine shops that I happened by. I found two decent bottles of quality claret. One from the Rhone region of France and another from Italy. The former is a wine worth keeping in the cellar for 3 to 5 more years. The latter is vintage 2008 and drinking now and for the next 3 years or so. A lovely wine made by using an interesting and little known process of reusing grapes after the first pressing from making Amarone. The wine is called a Campofiorin. The method is known in Italian as “‘repasso” – translated to mean – re-pass or second pass. The grapes from the esteemed Amarone are each carefully selected at the peak of ripeness and allowed to partially “rasinate” (to slowly dry and become like raisins). This slow process makes a very rich and special (and expensive) wine. The “second pass” uses these same grapes to make a wonderful, but slightly less full bodied red table wine. Thereby creating a terrific value for a quality wine.
A nice meal at a new (for me) restaurant, good bread and fine wine….I guess the day wasn’t a total waste of time. I was tired when that bus rolled up to the corner of 51st and 8th Ave. I climbed on board and turned on my music to rest and snooze for the 2 hour ride home.