What I Did on My Summer Vacation

The last week of July was my vacation with the BF, and since he had a family reunion, we headed over to Vermont and the adjacent area of New York.  (My personal vacation is coming up in September, and it’s completely awesome – as I’ll be able to post about in October.)

A lot of the vacation was family based, but we did get some relaxing in, as well as some interesting side trips.

Side trip #1 was on our way over, and was to Pomfret, Vermont.

 

BF has been trying to track down one of the lines of his family tree, which has dead ended in Pomfret.    So we visited the probate court in Woodstock (the nearest big town), the Pomfret library, and the Burns Cemetery.      The cemetery is one of those classic old New England cemeteries, with the really old graves (well, old by American standards) and the really interesting headstones.     What’s really cool about this particular cemetery is that it’s still in use.

The other fun thing we did (this one was with the family) was a dinner cruise on Lake George.

We took the Lac du Saint Sacrement, which is behind the Minnehaha in this picture.     That was a lot of fun.    It’s a decent buffet dinner, and you can then stand out on the deck, where pretty much anyone that’s home when the book goes by wave as you go by.

The other fun thing we did that I didn’t get pictures of, was a driving tour of Northwestern Mass, and the roads around Bennington, VT.    Basically, we wended our way around side roads that BF wasn’t sure he’d ever been on, or knew he hadn’t been on in ages.      It was a really lovely drive – there’s some stunning scenery up there.     We were also amused to be able to contrast that section of MA’s Route 2 with the section closer to Boston that we usually drive on.   (Seriously – you’ll find it hard to believe they’re the same road.)

So it was a nice week, and a nice way to end July.

Central Park – New York City

Since I was already on the far Uptown side of Manhattan, I took the subway back down to Central Park, and walked through on the 85th street cut through, which goes by Belvedere Castle.   You can climb all the way up into the tower, and there are some great views from there.    The castle is right next to the Shakespeare Garden, which was still in pretty decent bloom for this time of year.   I took a little break near the garden and sat down on a bench and read a book for a little while.    Really made me wish we had a similar kind of park here in Portland.    We do have a fairly large central park, but it’s just not as people friendly.

Fort Tryon and the Cloisters

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday, I started the day with the looong subway ride up to the Cloisters.    If you take the A train to the 190th Street stop, it puts you out right at the entrance to Fort Tryon.    It’s then a ten minute walk through the park to the museum.   There’s also a bus, if you don’t want to walk, but the walk is totally worth it.    There are great views of the Hudson River, and as you get closer to the museum, it seems to loom above you.   Pretty neat walk.    Sadly, it was pretty gray while I was there, so I didn’t have as many pictures turn out as I would have liked, but you canl see I was able to indulge in pictures for my staircase pictorial collection.

I checked my camera with my bag at the museum, which I shouldn’t have done, as the cloisters in the building are gardens, and they were lovely.    My favorite was the Bonnefont Herb Garden – there are quince trees in the middle beds, which were full of fruit – absolutely lovely with all the other herbs and plants.    Made me want to run back home and build my own cloister herb garden.   (And I’m currently reading a Brother Cadfael book – which is not helping.)

Times Square

 

 

Holy seething mass of humanity, Batman!   Now, I really do live in a city.   It’s the largest city in my state, even.    Walking through Times Square made me feel like I’m from some village in the absolute middle of nowhere.    I swear there were more people packed into that square than live in all of Greater Portland.

The only reason I went to Times Square is that I was seeing the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic, so I was just a block away.   At that point, you kind of have to go.    I do have to say – the Times Square subway stop is way too big for its own good.    I felt like I walked for a mile just trying to get out on a side that was relatively close to my final destination.

Phantom was great.    I’d tried to go to some more recent shows, but every time I saw something interesting, I’d look it up, and it was closing some time earlier in September, before I would be there.   After about round four of that, I gave up, and decided to channel my inner high school student, and see Phantom.

When I was in ninth and tenth grade, a group of us were obsessed with it – it was when the original cast recording came out, and we all had it memorized.   I haven’t listened to it in years, and yet, I could have sung along to the whole thing.    About half way through the show, I realized I was channeling my inner self from a good twenty years ago.    I could have been depressed about that, but I’d already gotten the chills when the chandelier went flying off the stage at the beginning of the show, so I just went with it all, and had a ton of fun.

Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan

After the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, I took the subway over to DUMBO, grabbed some lunch at Almondine, and took that down to the Brooklyn Bridge Park.    There are great views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, as well as the Manhattan skyline.   Really great place to have lunch on a warm day.

Once I was done there, I headed back into Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge.    Which is an interesting experience.    The promenade is split – one side for walkers, the other for bikers.    The walkers are mostly tourists (at least around lunch time when I was there), but the bikers appear to be locals trying to get from point A to B, and they are going as quickly as possible, and do not appreciate all the yahoos sticking out into their lane, gawking at the sights.    They all had bells, and were using them like horns – actually pretty hilarious.

As close as I got to the Statue of Liberty this trip.
My favorite sign of the trip.
My favorite skyscraper – it’s the Beekman Tower, and is apparently the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere.   I just like that it looks wrinkled.

The sky line views are even better from the bridge – you could easily see the new World Trade Center Tower, which does  look a little odd since it’s unfinished on top.    I’ll be interested to do this walk again once that’s completed.I’d also like to go back when the scaffolding is off the bridge.    They’re doing some sort of repairs, and the view is blocked in places, so I’d like to be able to walk back through those areas and see how they look.I really enjoyed this walk.   If you can go on a nice, clear day like this (it was a bit breezy, so be prepared for that), it’s a great way of getting a different view of Manhattan,and you really can’t beat walking under those stone arches yourself – being able to touch those is worth the walk right there.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday morning, I hit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.   I was all excited because I was going to be able to use my Reciprocal membership from our Botanical Garden, and it turns out they’re free on Tuesday anyway.

The coolest thing in bloom at the moment was the water lily collection.   That happened to be near the glass houses, which had some really neat tropical plants, as well as a nice bonsai collection.

The whole thing is a really lovely park to walk through, though I’d love to go in the Spring – there’s a cherry esplanade that must be gorgeous when it’s in full bloom.

Empire State Building

 

 

 

My first night there, I wanted to be back to my room by 10:00 (because I’m officially a little too much of a Castle fan-girl, and needed to see the season premiere).    So, after reading recommendations that the Empire State Building was really neat after dark because you had great views of all the lights, and multiple people saying that had gone around 8:00, and there was no line, I decided this would be the thing to do to get me back to my hotel in time.

I was able to walk there, up Broadway and 5th Ave (have I mentioned how nice it is to be able to walk around a place at night, and feel safe?)    And guess what.    There was a queue.    A fairly long one.   But, we have a DVR at home, and I was there, so I waited.

The queue snakes through the second floor room before you get anywhere near the elevators.   I’m pretty sure they do that so that anyone with a fear of heights is already completely motion sick by the time they anywhere near the elevators, and therefore won’t care about the heights.    And I’m really not sure why the line took so freaking long to get through.   But, we finally found ourselves at the 80th floor, with six more floors to go, and a half hour wait for those elevators.   Fortunately, they opened the emergency stairs, and you could climb the six floors if you wished.    So much faster than waiting for the elevator, and it was kind of cool to see the guts of the building.

The views were indeed amazing, but the crowd was a little irritating.    I really don’t feel like I stayed up there long enough for the $25 I paid, but it was a really neat view, and a very NYC tourist experience.   (And I got back to my room with four minutes to spare, so that worked out well in the end.)