Monday, April 7, 2014

Uptown touristing

This Saturday, in celebration of the fact that spring is finally here (sort of) and because we were invited, Sam and I headed to far uptown Manhattan to do a little tourism. We were invited by a friend in Washington Heights to try a brunch place in her neighborhood that was apparently recently highly reviewed by the New York Times. I'm wary of such things because usually no good can come from your neighborhood being "discovered" other than longer lines for brunch and higher rents. But then she owns her place and there was no wait to speak of, so I guess my concerns as an Astorian are different.

At any rate, after a lovely brunch in what clearly deserves to be highly reviewed for their steakhouse bacon alone, we decided to walk off a bit of brunch by heading through Fort Tyron Park and checking out the Cloisters.

A little bit of Spring in Fort Tyron Park. 
Hope and change.

The Cloisters are a part of the Met that contains Medieval Art in a fittingly designed castle-like building in Washington Heights. I'd been there a few times, and it always amazes me how far you can feel from the city while still on Manhattan. 

Not your typical Midtown architecture.

Me at the Cloisters. Touristing.

Some sort of saint killing Satan. 
After a short jaunt about the Cloisters, we all journeyed downtown a bit to St. John the Divine. Now this is one place I had never been, which always surprised Sam. When in Europe, I hit up the major cathedrals, but it never occurred to me to check any out in my own city. St. John the Divine is apparently the fourth largest Christian church in the world. So it's kind of amazing I never stumbled on it. It's situated near the Columbia campus in Harlem. Unlike many places in Harlem, they also have a number of peacocks roaming the grounds.

St. John the Divine. The fountain in the foreground was supposed to symbolize peace, but it had a number of giraffes depicted on it who seemed to be battling one another. 
One of the reasons for the trip to the cathedral (other than the fact that I had never been) was to see the giant phoneixes (if that's the correct plural of phoenix) on exhibit. Made of the trash from demolished buildings in Beijing and somehow transported from China to Massachusetts and then again to New York (during a January snowstorm no less), these 12 ton, 100 foot long birds, now hang from the cathedral ceiling.
Here's a close up, to get a sense of the incredible detail.
And one last look at the head.
After the church, we went to the Hungarian bakery across the street for some coffee and strudel. I felt very much like I was on vacation rather than than just spending a Saturday in the city where I've lived for almost six years. I guess that's one of the wonderful things about New York. You never do run out of things you haven't done.  

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