Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Boston and NYC: Final Week

Upper East Side brownstones
I am writing this post from my familiar spot on the couch at home.

Yes, my month-long holiday has come to an end, but what a glorious month I experienced!

My husband joined me for the final week in Boston, and then we spent three days in New York City before heading home.

I still believe vacationing for a month is the perfect way to travel. I was able to see all the sights I wanted to see while not running myself ragged. And I left still wanting to stay a bit a longer. That is far better than overstaying my welcome.

Boston - final highlights:

The weather wasn't the best for the final few days in the city, so we didn't do a lot of sightseeing. Most daily adventures involved local cuisine. AND... I managed to complete the first draft of my MG manuscript!

We enjoyed the obligatory lunch at Cheers...
but no one even asked our name!

Sunday afternoon in the North End...
loved this cafe where the locals spoke Italian

No visit to Boston is complete without a bowl of chowder
at the oldest restaurant in the United States:
The Union Oyster House - FABULOUS!

New York City - Highlights:

Perhaps a little-known fact: we lived in Greenwich Village from 1984-1988. In fact, my eldest was born in the Big Apple. Of course, that was more than a couple of lifetimes ago. 

At the time we moved into the city, we were considered DINKS: Dual-Income-No-Kids. We were both involved in finance and hung out with like-minded co-workers. In other words... I was not into books or writing or art.

On this return trip to old stomping grounds, we made a point to visit places we somehow ignored in the past.

One familiar place, however, was Grand Central Station. We used to take the Metro North commuter train to Fairfield County, CT as part of an everyday routine.

While the train schedule hasn't changed much, the station certainly has. There is now a Grand Central Market, which offers a wide array of the city's best edibles to take home after work: Eli Zabar's baked goods, Murray's Cheeses, and Ceriello's gourmet treats, reminiscent of my favorite Village "grocery store" - Balducci's.

I used to brag I could tour the MET in an hour flat. That was at a time when I didn't understand art or its role in bringing richness, beauty, and contentment to life.

Consequently, I never took advantage of this New York City treasure when I lived here. Now... I dream of returning to the city for a month (or longer), becoming a member of this museum, and walking its hallowed halls several times a week.

We spent about four hours here on a rainy Saturday viewing the vast collection of European and American Impressionists. I'm smitten by the hidden stories behind each painting that are aching to be told.

I also toured the gift shop (could spend days here as well) and finally settled on a book, Art is... which provides lots of thought-provoking content, despite its small, compact size.

The main reading room was closed for renovation...
perfect excuse for a return visit.
While I have always enjoyed reading, there was a prolonged period in my life when I set that interest aside for other priorities. I would say the vast majority of the 80s and 90s I rarely read anything other than cookbooks.

I can't imagine how many hours I would spend at this landmark institution if I were a NYC resident. The seating in Bryant Park makes a perfect journaling spot (if the weather cooperates), and the entrance steps provide a perfect spot for people-watching (and character development).

We had barely an hour to spend before closing time, which was just long enough to walk upstairs and peer into the side reading rooms (the main Rose reading room was closed for renovation). I did reserve a few minutes to visit the small, eclectic but ever-so-lovely bookstore. I restrained myself and bought only a canvas tote bag, but when I return for that month-long visit, you can be sure I will find more goodies to bring home.

97 Orchard Street - home of the Tenement Museum
I had great plans to visit Ellis Island this trip, but the weather did not bode well for a ferry ride on the Hudson. I have a deep desire to discover my husband's family records as they passed through immigration from Italy to Bridgeport, CT - but that will have to wait for the next trip.

We did, however, have an opportunity to visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, something I would highly recommend to anyone interested in learning about our country's past through immigrant stories.

The museum, which opened in 1992, offers several tours of this twenty-family apartment building. It's difficult to fathom that nearly 7,000 families lived here in the 60+ years of its existence.

We took the Hard Times tour, which focused on a German immigrant family from the 1870s, and an Italian family from the 1930s. While the three-room apartment (325 square feet) did not appear too cramped for a modern-day NYC couple, I simply can't imagine how a family of six could live there with no indoor plumbing, no central air or heat, poor ventilation, and little privacy.

*Edit:  Photography is not allowed inside the tenement building, but if interested, you can view a few select photos on the museum's blog.

The museum is a wonderful testament to the sacrifices our ancestors made to give the next generation a better way of life. My mind is teaming with stories, both fiction and non-fiction, waiting to flesh out.

So I am now home and gearing up for a very hectic October schedule. I am grateful for this past month's get away. I relaxed, learned about American history, visited beautiful museums and libraries, explored neighborhoods with camera in hand, and discovered great new ideas for future writing projects. I would deem this the ultimate Artist's Date.


  1. What a wonderful post! You're making me miss the East and all that it offers. I'm glad your time in Boston was so good, and then a trip to NYC too. Love the photos, thanks for the tour. I feel I have places to visit if I ever back there.

    1. You made my day :) I write these posts with the hope I might inspire others to visit these special places.

  2. What fun to tag along on your trip. And what fun to have the time to really explore things, to get to see things you wouldn't have time for in a shorter stay, and to rediscover old haunts!


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