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Trip Report NYC - Daytripping on the Upper East Side

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My husband, BJ, and I treated our friend Phyllis to a day in New York City for her birthday. Each time we come into the city we pick a different neighborhood to explore. We all had an interest in seeing the James Turrell exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, so this time we would hit the Upper East Side.

It was an easy 2 1/2 hour drive across I-80 from our home in Pennsylvania, and we're paying the $13.00 toll for crossing the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. It then took us another 1/2 hour to get down the Henry Hudson Parkway to the 79th Street Boat Basin, and across Central Park to the Upper East Side. For some reason, we hit every red light trying to get across town.

We parked our car at Central Parking, 85th & 3rd Avenue. I printed a coupon off their website for $20.00 for any 12 hours. The attendants, dressed in white dress shirts and ties, were very friendly and let us use their bathroom after the long ride.

By now it was noon, and we were hungry, so off to the Lexington Candy Shop Luncheonette (c.1925), a convenient 2 blocks away on the corner of Lexington and 83rd. Walking into the shop was like going back 70 years in time, complete with the "Soda Jerk" mixing your sodas and shakes with vintage equipment. The walls are decorated with photos and art documenting 90 years of history. And if you're into Coca-Cola, they have an historical collection of bottles and toys. Phyllis and I ordered some burgers (very tasty), and BJ had the French Toast and sausage.

Feeling sated, we were ready to tackle the Guggenheim Museum. Because of the popularity of the exhibit, and this was the last week to view it, I had purchased our tickets online, to avoid the queue. As it turned out, they had one "Will Call" window, with the slowest clerk, so it would have been quicker if we had just waited to buy our tickets.

BJ and I had never been to the Guggenheim, and it was over 40 years since Phyllis was there, so we were all excited about visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's building, and seeing the James Turrell exhibition, particularly since we have all worked in theatre, and understand the perception that light and color can have on an object or space.

The first exhibit, Aten Reign, was in the famous rotunda of the museum. Walking into the space was like walking into a rainbow. We found seats along the wall and proceeded to crane our necks upward, mesmerized by the change of colors and intensity projected on the scrims that lined the rotunda. I eventually found a spot on the large circular mat laid out on the floor, directly under the egg shaped oculus. It certainly gave me a different perspective, allowing me to feel the colors and light envelop me.

On the second floor was the second part of the exhibition, which included three of his early works of projected light. I found this exhibit unimpressive. In fact, the one piece took me back to elementary school, and the square white image reflected from the overhead projector onto a screen.

On the fifth floor was the final piece. We took our place at the end of a very long line, and waited 50 minutes for total disappointment. In groups of about 20 we were led into a dimly lit room with a grey light projected on a scrim hanging on the wall. There we stood, waiting for something to happen, only, that was IT. Oh well...there's an hour of my life we'll never get back. At least it gave us good topic for conversation the rest of the afternoon.

There was a small Kandinsky exhibit, which was the only other art available for viewing at the time. By now it was 4:00 and we were ready for a drink. I had printed off a list of pubs on the UES, so we headed to the Trinity Pub, an Irish Bar on 84th. Only they were closed. But that was okay, because we discovered Molly Pitcher's Ale House, on the corner of 2nd and 85th. BJ & Phyllis enjoyed a couple of Molly's Ales, while I had their house special Belgian Witte.

On a recommendation from Doug Stallings, we had a light dinner at the Barking Dog, 1678 3rd Ave at 94th. BJ had a delicious Blue Cheeseburger with properly fried French Fries and kick-ass coffee (he's our chauffer). Phyllis had the turkey burger, and I was satisfied with a bowl of chicken soup with vegetables (lots of white chicken meat).

By now it was 7:00 pm, and the commuter rush was over; we could easily slip out of the city and head home. We enjoyed our evening stroll down 3rd Avenue, back to the parking garage, as the sun began to set on a fun, relaxing day on the Upper East Side.

Robyn :)>-

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