But we almost ended before we started because of something called "Summer Streets," whereby cyclists take over the Village and Park Avenue and many cross streets were closed. We could not get to either our hotel or first stop, the Merchant's House Museum. Very frustrating to drive around for what seemed like forever--most of the parking garages are on the side streets so there was nowhere to stop. Yes, yes, I'm sure it's great that the cyclists get the streets--but with no announcements on the traffic radio and with the cops uncertain where all the blockades were (they didn't even know why the streets were closed!!), it was a little difficult. We eventually parked somewhere near enough to our hotel and managed to get the bags there, where they would hold them while we made our first outing to the Merchant's House Museum, via the subway. Look, beavers at the Astor St station! Maybe the Astors were fur traders long, long ago?
|Beaver tile in Astor Pl subway--for you, Pop|
The Merchant's House Museum, built in 1832, is the only family home preserved intact from the nineteenth century in NYC. And it's a jewel--4 stories right out of The Heiress/Washington Square, complete with kitchen and family room in the "garden apartment"/below street space, formal first floor with two parlors separated by pocket doors, bedrooms on the second floor, and then the only existing Irish home from 19th-century NYC where the servants lived on the fourth floor (current museum staff on third)! With sparse visitors, unobtrusive staff, a big binder of information, most of the original furnishings (it became a museum right after the youngest daughter of the family died, aged 93, in 1933!), and natural lighting, you really could immerse yourself in the place and imagine the time. Though, going from basement to fourth floor was a haul--those poor Irish girls! We also liked the little garden in the backyard. I would highly recommend this to all, both jaded NY inhabitants, seen-it-all regulars, and newbie tourists.
|The garden at the Merchant's House Museum, a highlight|
This is our hotel, same one as last year, on Irving Place. It's an indulgence, for sure, but we love the Victorian richness and the location.
|Where we stayed|
|Fresh flowers everywhere|
|Our room, rich Victorian decor, especially the wallpaper|
We headed out to the Greenmarket in Union Square to peruse the produce and farm products, coming across a few Connecticut "neighbors"--the cheese guy from Colchester and the garlic lady from Shelton! We sampled goat cheeses and jams, pickles and chutneys. In the end, we cobbled together a wonderful market lunch--farmer's bread, a honey lavender goat cheese, roasted garlic spread, plum chutney, triple fruit marmalade, another goat cheese, two aged Welsh cheeses (a Vivace and a Boomsday??), a slice of mazurka cake, and cups of mint lemonade and mint tea with maple syrup (Mama also got some jerky and sausages for another time.) Of course, we didn't finish it all, but it was a lovely meal. I also picked up some lovely merino in variegated pink.
|A butterfly proving the worth of butterfly bushes, at the Greenmarket in Union Square|
|Gandhi and sunflowers|
|Dozens of chess players set up in the Square (Bud would love to play)|
After an afternoon nap, we headed out again at dusk to do some shopping. Mama replaced her worn out Doc Martens and then we wiled away the evening at Forbidden Planet and Strand Books. It's hard not to buy more books than we can carry! Especially now that we buy kids' books, too. A late dinner was falafel and fixings at Maoz's. Yes, a lot like last year.
Sleeping in. The Sunday NYTimes. A pot of Marbury Rose tea. Chocolate scones. Almond scones. Fresh fruit. A lazy stroll around the neighborhood. Dark chocolate granita. A wonderful, slow Sunday morning in the city.
On our way out of Manhattan after noon checkout to get the kids in the Rockaways, we drove around the Village a bit now that the roads were open. We located my old office on 13th between 5th and 6th (it housed the museum staff before the museum building opened.) And serendipitously came across famous Brit teashop Tea and Sympathy! I've always wanted to take Mama there, having been once myself, but we never seemed to be in the right place at the right time. And we even got a parking space! We weren't ready to sit for tea but went into the shop next door, where we spoke at length with Sean, husband of T&S founder Nicola Perry (whose portrait, Lambeth, was recently at your NPG.) He told several jokes--about Texas, his wife, and even alluded to something funny surrounding the Dalai Lama--and was very friendly. We bought two kinds of tea, Garibaldis, pickled onions, wine gummies, and a copy of their cookbook. While I waited to pay, Mama nipped next door and ordered us some fish and chips at their companion store, A Salt and Battery. Hmmmmm! With extra vinegar on the "chips." Mama also got some mushy peas, a few pies, and who knows what else. She wanted to get a "chip butty," or french fry sandwich, for Sis, but we didn't imagine it would keep. We'll have to take them there, especially because we're very seriously considering a trip across the pond within the next year (what do you think, Lambeth?) to see the Harry Potter studios, London, and of course Lambeth.
After polishing off our lunch, we headed, late, off to Queens, past the construction of the new World Trade Center tower and then under the Verrazano Bridge and past the cannons in the area (Fort Hamilton.) The kids had an equally wonderfully time with Ma and Gong--Chinese soup bun lunch, the beach, watching the movie Spaceballs not once but twice, a fancy homecooked seafood dinner with prawns and lobster (and chicken for Sis), pancake breakfast made to order by Goo, dim sum, and even ice cream from the truck twice!
We sure know how to have a fun weekend!
|World Trade Center/Freedom Tower, but with ominous cloud|
|Driving under the Verrazano on the way to fetch the kiddos|