Extra Day in NYC: Solo Travel

After an unexpected flight cancellation, I had an extra day in NYC before leaving that evening for SFO. I wanted to make the most of it, despite the pretty gloomy weather. I woke up to rain, left during a lull, and quickly realized that the best $10 I was going to spend the entire weekend was on a basic black umbrella. It was pretty flimsy but since there was only rain without wind, it held up fine.

First, I wanted a NYC bagel so I found Liberty Cafe via Google Maps. There was a line, so that’s a good sign. I ordered the #5 on advice from the guy at the door who was serving as crowd control. The customer in front of me had asked him what his favorite bagel was. The guy responded, “Why do you ask?” and then laughed uproariously. Man’s got jokes.

Mom had suggested I go to The Cloisters, but first I decided to go to the Met for another chance at going to the Van Gogh’s Cypruses exhibit. I’m so glad I did because it was so good! The virtual queue was only 15 minutes. It was in a three room exhibition gallery that was definitely congested, but not terrible. Gaps would open up here and there that allowed me to get close to the paintings and even stay for a little bit. Except for Starry Night. That painting required it’s own crowd control man. He was pretty chill, moving people along “only after their 17th selfie.” I asked him if he photo-bombed any pictures and he said, “Sometimes. But only if they’ve taken a lot.”

I really liked the exhibit. There were sketches, drawings, and paintings. There were two paintings hung Wheat Field With Cypruses and A Wheatfield, With Cypruses (keep them straight!) that hadn’t been hung together since 1901. The left painting was more edgy while the right more stylized. I preferred the left, but it was interesting to see what changes led to a more refined painting, per art critics.

The apogee of the Cyprus theme was Country Road in Provence by Night. In his own writings, Van Gogh stated that he felt he had really captured the night stars, the cyprus, and the surrounding landscape. I agree. And I spotted a selfie stick!

Before leaving, I wandered through the Dutch Masterpieces at The Met Exhibit. There were a lot of 17th century Dutch businessmen in excellent lighting, but I was most impressed that The Met had three Vermeers just casually hung as part of a larger exhibit. Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just super famous and rare! There are only 36 known Vermeers in the world!

As I walked through the museum, I accidentally came across a Fabergé exhibit with three eggs just casually on display. Amazing! There are only 57 known surviving eggs today.

I also hung out with George.

And I spent some time in a gallery full of Winslow Homer, including his last, unfinished painting.

And finally, I found Leda, the anti-bird lady. Although really, who could blame her? That myth seems particularly terrible.

On my way to the subway, I got caught in some rain. My shoes were soaked.

Then, it was up the island to The Cloisters which, once I got to them, were amazing. The train ride wasn’t bad, I just took the longest walking route possible and nothing makes an imported stone-by-stone castle seem enormous as when I’m forced to walk around the whole thing trying to find the entrance.

So, as far as I could tell, John D. Rockefeller imported a castle which was reconstructed brick-by-brick and then put in a bunch of chapels and alters from other provenance inside. This is probably not the tour guide version, but this is what I think was going on. [Ok, ok, I had to look it up. It seems its a compilation of five separate cloisters.]

And looked what I found! Only the most famous unicorn tapestry in the world! Somewhat gruesomely, it is part of a tapestry commemorating a unicorn hunt. Even this tapestry called The Unicorn Rests in the Garden is clearly an injured unicorn penned into too small an enclosure.

The central courtyard was really pretty.

It was a really great museum and I was so glad my Mom had told me about it. I had never heard of it before and it was a great place to see.

King Arthur!!

After seeing The Cloisters, I headed back downtown to see a show. Although I considered seeing something different, I decided I had to stick with the theme of the weekend and see Camelot!

Even though it was no where near as magical as seeing it with my parents and my seat was no where near as good, it was awesome to see again. The score and lyrics are so good! Also, based on the shortened run, I don’t think this is a musical that’s going to have a revival anytime soon. So, totally worth seeing twice!

Then I went to the West Village for dinner at L’Artusi, which came highly recommended by members of a particularly discerning Facebook group. Yes, I know. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but apart from the blackberry focaccia, which was only ok, the rest of the food was so good! I had a salad, scallops, and a delicious red. I sat next to a nice-enough guy. We spoke a bit, but he also ordered three different mains. Maybe he’s a once-a-day eater cramming it all in, but he certainly didn’t look like a person who would pack that much away!

And then, that was it! It was time to head home via JFK to SFO. The flight was again delayed so I got home really, really late. Like, 2 hours before I had to go to work late. Yuck. So, not the best travel experience, but the weekend overall was amazing. And I definitely feel lucky the bad travel was on at the end so I didn’t miss the show and our awesome Friday together!

5 thoughts on “Extra Day in NYC: Solo Travel”

  1. I just saw the Van Gogh in Chicago on Monday – I knew that some of the biggies were missing, of course, and now I know where they were hanging out.
    Also, THREE VERMEERS? That might be enough to get me to NYC. Haven’t been in years… I’m envious of your art-filled day.

    1. The Met was amazing. I’ve been four times now and have never felt that I’ve done it “properly.” By that, I mean I’m usually going for something specific rather than wander for hours. Although I don’t know if I have museum stamina for an hours-long visit.

  2. Wow so many great things to see in one. I really struggle on how you did it if you had a flight that night too. For me it would have been three days entertainment. I really want to the the Met. We opted for the national museum when we were in NYC. And that cloister. So crazy. Specially the unicorn.

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