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Trip Report: Philadelphia and NYC, Thanksgiving 2016

Trip Report: Philadelphia and NYC, Thanksgiving 2016

Old Dec 26th, 2016, 01:27 PM
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Trip Report: Philadelphia and NYC, Thanksgiving 2016

We spent 12 days on the East Coast, splitting the time between Philadelphia and New York. It was a unhurried trip, in part because our hostess in Philadelphia had torn a ligament and was wheelchair and pretty much house bound. Any excursions we had planned with her were to be done on our own, and major meals were restricted to her apartment.

Reservations had been made for the Winterthur estate in Delaware, so we went on our own. For those relying on MapQuest for directions, be careful. We were directed to the back side of the estate, where there is no entrance and no signs to direct us to the proper entrance. After several false starts in two directions (trying to find the entrance .2 mi. from an intersection) we fell upon the employee entrance and an employee who was driving out who directed us to the proper entrance a few miles away. Google map does not make the same mistake.

There are three main components to Winterthur: the mansion, the gallery and the grounds. The latter would probably be of little interest during the winter months, but should be gorgeous during the growing season. The gallery contains a collection of crafts (American made and trade items) and might also include a special exhibit. The main house is a multi-storied affair, and there are several tours available. The general tour that we took had us visit the main living quarters of the family, other tours specialize in various periods of Americana of which the Duponts were avid collectors. For those living close enough to do a day trip to the estate, I would recommend the annual membership, as the estate is worth a visit at various times of the year.

Here are our pictures of the visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...964307270/show

We also went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art which was holding an important exhibit of Mexican art during the revolution—essentially 1910 to 1940. The exhibit occupied most of our time in the museum, with a break for lunch, and we only glanced at the rest of the museum on our way to the cafeteria and back, and from what we saw is worthy of multiple visits.

On our own we also visited the Reading Terminal market.

Here are our pictures of Philadelphia: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...240960481/show

We left Philadelphia using the Chinatown express bus ($12 per person) which has the most convenient stop for us in NYC. There is no reservation system, so it is not worth picking up a ticket ahead of time. We simply arrived 45 minutes before departure and purchased our tickets at that time. The station is around the corner from the Reading Terminal Market, so we picked up some great sandwiches for our lunch on the bus—the sandwich/pizza shop is located right at entrance no.9 of the market. The bus ride is fine, and arrives in NYC at the scheduled time.

NYC was family time, although we did visit the Neue Galerie to see the Klimt women exhibit. We also went to the Village as my wife wanted to see Murray’s Cheese Shop, had lunch next door at a fish restaurant, which is also its name. Good mussels and fish&chips.

We had a small Thanksgiving (seven for the meal) with the family, no turkey as our daughter-in-law does not like. Instead it was a slow roasted pork from a David Chang (Momofuku) recipe. The family also took a tour of the Green-Wood Cemetery which just around the corner. The tour is a combination of famous statuary and graves (deWitt Clinton and Leonard Bernstein) with a history of the cemetery and its concept (a better after life) meaning that skulls and bones are not to be found on gravestones, unlike earlier cemetery stones as found, for example, in New England. Ironically, the cemetery was an excursion site for New Yorkers escaping crowded Manhattan for a day including picnicking on the site, which is no longer allowed.

We offered our daughters two restaurant meals to cover their respective birthdays when we are not there. The first one was at Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton’s restaurant (http://prunerestaurant.com/ ). It was good, but I ordered the wrong thing, which was capon; I think that the slow roasted veal breast would have been more interesting. The braised tongue and grilled octopus dish was surprisingly good. 9 dishes and 5 glasses of wine for 4 persons cost us $300 including tip.

Our second restaurant was La Vara (http://www.lavarany.com/about/ ) in the Cobble Hill district of Brooklyn. The food is more interesting than Prune’s, the wines cheaper; the total cost was $190 for the four of us. I do not think that I would go back to Prune, although a first visit is recommended; I would go back to La Vara.

The New York pictures from this trip are combined with pictures taken at other times:

Michael is online now  
Old Dec 26th, 2016, 05:30 PM
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Thanks for the report. Several days can be spent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art without seeing everything that is there.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 05:14 AM
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I used to live in Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens neighborhood. Boy has it changed! Was an old Italian neighbothood. Now very chi chi. Couldn't afford to live there these days
Glad your Chinatown bus trip went ok. However, it is notorious for crashes. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone. Spend a few more bucks and take a real bus line or train.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 07:41 AM
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However, it is notorious for crashes

True years ago, I have not read any recent incidents.
Michael is online now  
Old Dec 27th, 2016, 09:52 AM
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If you reserve a Greyhound bus ride from Philadelphia to NYC a week in advance online, the cost is $10. For next day, the cost can be as low as $14. You pick your departure time (buses run about once every hour), you have a guaranteed seat, and you wait for the bus inside while seated in a separate section of the terminal. Many buses are non-stop, and all have free Wifi and a 120V outlet. If you pay $18 for an "Economy Extra" ticket; you get to board first, your second piece of luggage is free, and you can change your departure time at no charge.

Sitting & waiting for a bus inside a terminal is (generally) a depressing experience, but it HAS to be better than standing & waiting outside.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 11:12 AM
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it HAS to be better than standing & waiting outside.

The location of the Çhinatown bus terminal neat the Reading Terminal market has an enclosed waiting room. It's the Bolt that is out in the open. If one feels uncomfortable about taking the Chinatown express, don't use it. But for us it is the most convenient as it is close to the last Manhattan subway stop on our way to Brooklyn.
Michael is online now  
Old Dec 27th, 2016, 04:51 PM
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I enjoyed reading your take on your visit to NY. Good use of time. Impressive that DIL cooked that Chang pork recipe; a neighbor out east cooked it for us last summer and it was wonderful, although I know that he labored a long time to get it right. Was your rendition fabulous? (I'm on the fence about buying the Momo book)

Coincidentally, I visited La Vara for the first time a few weeks ago and was very happy with our meal, as were my two dining companions. I'd go back in a minute although it was a little bit of a schlep on the train from east midtown. They own a sister restaurant in Manhattan but I liked La Vara better.

As much as I respect Gabrielle Hamilton (and I loved her autobiography; she is one talented, and very cool, woman) I find Prune to lack the kind of excitement that I seek when I dine out. All dishes I've had are good; none are memorable, which I suppose is the point. But I have little desire to return. In that area, I like Estela much better.

Thanks again for taking the time..come back soon!
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