#NewYork Series: The New York Palace

If you’ve ever watched Gossip Girl, then you know why The New York Palace is so famous. (If you’ve never watched that show, The Palace is where Serena, the main character, and her family lived while their regular apartment was being renovated. The Palace was featured mostly in the first season of the series.)

The Palace

The Palace

The hotel sits right behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the more recognizable and iconic entrance is the Madison Avenue Courtyard.

The Palace

The hotel first started out as a residence called The Villard Houses. It underwent a series of changes from private homes to corporate offices to finally, a hotel. The bottom chunk of the photo above is The Villard Houses – now known as The Villard Mansion – and the rest is the 55-story tower that blends in with it to make up The New York Palace. It has gone under a renovation since they filmed Gossip Girl.

The Palace

The Palace

I had quite the interesting experience at The Palace. A really nice security officer started talking to me about Jacques Torres (I was carrying a lot of Jacques Torres chocolate) and then I decided to mention that I recognize The Palace from Gossip Girl. (“I figured”, was his response. Is it that obvious?)

Lobby of The Palace

Lobby of The Palace

He proceeded to tell me a bit about where they filmed some scenes – in the lobby, what you see above, is where Serena was waiting for Dan to pick her up for their first date in the first season.

Lobby of The Palace

Lobby of The Palace

The security officer told me after that through this one set of doors off to a corner was where they filmed one of the balls, although I’m not sure which ball he was referring to. He then got a call on the radio and told me to just head on in!

One of the function rooms in The Palace

One of the function rooms in The Palace

A function room in The Palace

A function room in The Palace

I felt like I should’ve recognized what scenes were filmed there when I walked in, but I can’t seem to pinpoint it.

Inside The Palace

Inside The Palace

Now, this place, I recognize. This was where Serena and Nate were running down the stairs after Blair threatened to tell Serena’s big secret to Dan at Bart Bass’ brunch in the first season.

The Palace

I never caught the security officer’s name, but a big thank you to him for letting me wander around part of the hotel! Of course, I had to trek back at nighttime to see the Christmas tree lit up.

Christmas tree at The Palace

Christmas tree at The Palace

It was quite the painstaking process of taking some of the photos that I captured. People in New York don’t stop for you while you’re trying to take a photo. (Cars don’t either, ha!) Lots of patience was required to get some of the shots with nobody around (or without some blurry head streaking across the frame).

The Palace

Or, like the photo above, with no cars passing through when you’re across the street!

#NewYork Series: Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Probably the biggest building or structure I have ever had the opportunity to walk into (and sit inside for 3 hours) is Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Officially called the Cathedral Church of Saint John: The Great Divine in the City and Diocese of New York, it is tied with Liverpool Cathedral for the title of largest Anglican church and cathedral. And yes, it is jaw-droppingly massive.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts about the enormousness of so many New York buildings and the absolute failure to capture said enormousness in photos, this cathedral is definitely in that category. However, I feel that you do get a better grasp than other places like Carnegie Hall (coming up in a future post).

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Just look at those columns. And the stained glass. Anywho, the reason I was there was to watch Paul Winter’s 35th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration. It was an eclectic mix of singing and dancing, featuring artists like Danny Rivera (“the national voice of Puerto Rico”), Theresa Thomason, and dancers and drummers from the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. The show also featured a humongous sun gong that ascended 12 stories, a giant globe that was eventually suspended, and a “tree of sounds”.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice Celebration

Now, back to the cathedral. Construction began in 1892 and was originally meant to be of Romanesque Revival style, but then changed to a Gothic Revival style in 1909. It sits in the Morningside Heights neighbourhood (right above the Upper West Side, to the west of Harlem), and to this day, the cathedral remains unfinished.

Outside of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Outside of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

As you can see from the photo of the outside, the top left (our left) side has not yet been constructed. Or maybe will never be constructed. The big circle you see in the middle of the front of the cathedral is the Rose Window, and is the largest rose window in the US, comprised of 10,000 pieces of glass.

DSC_0987

Rose Window

As you can probably tell from the photo of the outside of the cathedral, I had a tough time trying to fit the whole thing in the frame of the shot. That’s how big it is.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The two sets of big bronze doors you see above are the great west doors, although they were initially called the “Golden Doors” when they were first unveiled. A designer by the name of Henry Wilson made them, and these were one of only four sets of bronze doors he made in his lifetime.

Phoenix, by Xu Bing

Phoenix, by Xu Bing

Above is one of the biggest pieces of sculpture ever displayed in the US, called Phoenix, by a Chinese artist named Xu Bing. To give you a bit of perspective, each phoenix (there are 2 of them) is about 100ft long, and they took up about half of the cathedral. Not even. The cathedral actually spans the length of 601ft. Wowza!

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is truly an extraordinary place. It’s one of those places where if you feel scared (or some other similar emotion), you can go in there and feel totally safe because of its sheer size. I’m very thankful that finally, on my 4th visit to New York, I was able to witness the grandeur and splendour of this magnificent cathedral.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

 

#NewYork Series: The Cloisters

The Cloisters is a museum in Fort Tryon Park near the very top tip of Manhattan. It is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) and is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Its four-acre lot rests atop a hill overlooking the Hudson River, which you have to climb up if you, like me, do not have access to a car in New York.

Outside the Cloisters

Outside the Cloisters

Boy, I was already tired when I got to the top. Their recommended admission is $25 for adults, and it provides you with same-day admission to the Met as well if you decide to go there.

The Cloisters

The Cloisters

The museum and gardens features about 2000 works of art, and date between the twelfth and fifteenth century for the most part. Here are just a couple of photos from inside the various areas of the museum.

The Cloisters

Inside the Cloisters

The Cloisters

Inside the Cloisters

The Cloisters

Inside the Cloisters

The Cloisters

Inside the Cloisters

The works of art were quite interesting, but I was even more interested in the actual cloisters themselves. If you’re wondering what a cloister is, they are “the nucleus of monastic life” – basically, it’s a courtyard that is in close proximity to the chapter house, church, dormitory, and refectory. There are four of them in the museum and gardens, with my favourite being the Cuxa Cloister and Garden.

Cuxa Cloister and Garden

Cuxa Cloister and Garden

It has an interesting pink tinge to its stones and was quarried for the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa. In the warmer months, medieval and modern plants are grown in the garden, but of course, nothing was growing there during my visit.

Cuxa Cloister and Garden

Cuxa Cloister and Garden

Another one is Saint-Guilhem Cloister, from the monastery of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, near Montpellier in France.

Saint-Guilhem Cloister

Saint-Guilhem Cloister

Saint-Guilhem Cloister

Saint-Guilhem Cloister

Yet another is the Trie Cloister, elements of which are from the Trie-en-Bigorre convent near Toulouse, France.

Trie Cloister

Trie Cloister

The last one is the “Bonnefort” Cloister, which is completely outside and borders Fort Tryon Park and looks out over the Hudson River. There are 21 pairs of double columns to this cloister.

"Bonnefort" Cloister

“Bonnefort” Cloister

"Bonnefort" Cloister

“Bonnefort” Cloister

"Bonnefort" Cloister

“Bonnefort” Cloister

"Bonnefort" Cloister

“Bonnefort” Cloister

As I mentioned, there are views of the Hudson River from the Cloisters.

Looking out onto the Hudson River

Looking out onto the Hudson River

Looking out onto the Hudson River

Looking out onto the Hudson River

It was quite a nice day to be somewhere peaceful like the Cloisters.

Outside of the Cloisters

Outside of the Cloisters

Outside of the Cloisters

Outside of the Cloisters

I ended up spending quite a lot of time up there. If you ever go to New York and want to see something a tad out of the ordinary and a little bit out of the way, I would definitely recommend heading up to see the Cloisters.

Outside of the Cloisters

Outside of the Cloisters

Then, it was time for the trek back down the hill!

Leaving the Cloisters

Leaving the Cloisters

Leaving the Cloisters

Leaving the Cloisters

I hope you enjoyed this post – stay tuned for more New York ramblings!

#NewYork Series: 1 World Trade Center

8.5 years after I first saw the 2 humongous blank spaces where the Twin Towers used to be, I revisited the WTC site and its new memorial & museum. It is still hard for me to wrap my head around the enormity of what are now reflecting pools – I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must’ve been like on that day.

1 World Trade Center - aka Freedom Tower

1 World Trade Center – aka Freedom Tower

I had reserved a free ticket to the museum (every Tuesday after 5pm if you reserve online 2 weeks before) and I have to say, I am not a big museum goer, but the National September 11 Memorial Museum is one of the most amazing museums I have ever been to. They’ve preserved many artifacts from the site and strategically placed them amongst the (here’s that New York term) ginormous museum.

One of the many preserved artifacts

One of the many preserved artifacts

I won’t bore you with details of everything that’s there, but you go through a series of areas that showcase items they recovered from the wreckage, many of which have special significance.

The Last Column

The Last Column

What you see above is the “Last Column”. This is what the caption said:

On the evening of May 28, 2002, workers representing the trades at Ground Zero – ironworkers, laborers, dock builders, and operating engineers – were given the honor to make small cuts around the Last Column in order to free the column from its footing. In a private ceremony organized by construction workers, the Last Column was lowered onto a flatbed truck while bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.” The column was then shrouded in black and draped with an American flag. Two days later, New York City and the nation publicly saluted the Last Column as it departed from Ground Zero. Police and Fire Department buglers played “Taps,” bagpipers and drummers offered a rendition of “America, the Beautiful,” and NYPD helicopters flew overhead as the column was driven out of the site, marking the end of the nine-month recovery period at Ground Zero.

The Last Column

The Last Column

The layout of the museum was very well thought out too. You start out above ground (so to speak), and the view you get is looking down to where the Last Column and other artifacts are. Eventually, you make your way down, and then you can look back up to where you came from!

9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Memorial Museum

There was a place where you could record your 9/11 story and it can be played back through the museum. And also another area where you could write a message and it would appear electronically on a world map, depending on where you are from. Pretty cool. What I also found interesting was that while it was bustling with people outside (and then the wait to go through the airport-type security check), the museum itself was very peaceful, serene, and quiet.

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time." - Virgil

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” – Virgil

The concrete wall you see in the photo above is what separates visitors to the museum and where the Twin Towers used to stand. Throughout the museum, there are many references to, “You are standing…” and some relation to the WTC site.

Destroyed fire truck

Destroyed fire truck

Above is one of the fire trucks that was on scene that day and was obviously destroyed. Seeing that was quite a jaw-dropping moment.

South Tower glass

South Tower glass

The piece of glass you see here is from the South Tower. The caption reads:

Almost all of the more than 40,000 windows in the Twin Towers shattered on September 11, 2001. Only one windowpane, from the 82nd floor of the South Tower, is known to have survived intact. Jan Szumanski, superintendent for Tully Construction at Ground Zero, discovered the unbroken pane of glass still set within a fragment of the South Tower facade that penetrated Church Street. He extricated the glass and was aided in its preservation by Joseph Carsky, Tully’s chief engineer.

I’m not sure exactly how they determined that the glass was from the 82nd floor, but interesting nonetheless.

9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Memorial Museum

There was also a separate area – photography and videography prohibited – that went into detail about what happened before, during, and after the series of events. I probably found that area to be the most interesting. It included a lot of video and audio footage from that day, and even talked about the terrorist group behind the attack towards the end (that I wasn’t particularly interested in).

I was exceptionally captivated, though, by one quote by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) that I saw on the wall that read:

There will be no trains running at all today – anywhere.

Wow. The largest rapid transit system in the world. Try to wrap your head around that.

Reflecting pool

Reflecting pool

Now, back outside to the reflecting pools. This is one of those places where photos truly cannot capture the size, enormity, ginormousness, of the area. You have to be there to see it for yourself.

Reflecting pools

Reflecting pool

Along the edges of the pools list the names of everyone who perished as a result of the attacks. I found myself very shocked when I saw many tourists who were taking selfies and smiling in front of the reflecting pools. Like, do you even know where you are right now?!

Reflecting pools

Reflecting pool

Although not a tourist attraction through any positive means, it certainly is an eye-opening and interesting experience going through the museum and visiting the reflecting pools.

September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001

Sorry to end with such a gruesome photo, but I found it very, just, wow-I-am-in-awe-I-have-no-words. You know what I mean. Just, wow.

#NewYork Series: Tompkins Square Park

Keeping in line with my Washington Square Park post, today, I’ll talk about Tompkins Square Park. (Sorry if I’m already boring you with the topic of parks, but I promise you the photos will be worth it!)

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

One of the lesser-known parks in Manhattan, Tompkins Square Park is, quite literally, a square park at the edge of Alphabet City, which is in the East Village. Landscaped pretty much identically to parks like Washington Square Park, it offers yet another tranquil area to relax and unwind from the dizziness of city life. (And if you’ve never heard of Alphabet City before, it is just a series of streets that have single-letter names – Avenues A, B, C, and D.)

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

There is also a doggy play area in this park – saw a beautiful Golden Retriever and a dog literally sitting in a wagon being carted to the doggy play area. Should’ve taken a photo of its laziness.

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

However, the thing that fascinated me the most and what kept me at the park for a while – the squirrels. Oh my god, the squirrels. I was actually surprised to see squirrels running around in all of the parks I went to (considering the temperature was quite cold the majority of the time I was in New York), but there they were, all grey and fluffy and cute.

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

My favourite is a toss-up between two photos…

Squirrel looking at me from above!

Squirrel looking at me from above!

This one – you can’t really tell, but this squirrel was actually right above me peering over the branch and down at me and actually looking right at me, I guess trying to see what kind of funny business I was up to – and…

Squirrel! *squeal*

Squirrel! *squeal*

This one – ahmygawd. (Squirrels look kind of funny straight-on, but, ohmygawd.)

Squirrel on a tree

Squirrel on a tree

This guy was pretty cute too; he seemed to be looking at me out of the corner of his eye, and he made some funny hissing-grunting noises. Not sure what that was about.

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

What was interesting about that day was that it was exceptionally warm. It was probably about 10C. Okay, that’s not that warm, but I was wearing my Canada Goose jacket (meant for -15-25C). I just sat on a bench and it felt like spring – ahhh…

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

It was a beautiful day to sit down outside and relax… Keep following for more New York ramblings!

Yoga on Ice with the Vancouver Canucks

So today, I did yoga next to Yannick Weber.

Preparing for yoga in Rogers Arena

Preparing for yoga in Rogers Arena

I signed up for Yoga on Ice on a whim yesterday when I came across it randomly on FB. This year, I’m trying to do more things that I normally wouldn’t do, or would consider outside of my comfort zone. This was something that I maybe normally wouldn’t find myself doing. The event was $40 with all proceeds going to the Canucks for Kids Fund, therefore making the price tag for 1 hour of yoga more reasonable.

Yogis (and some just-Canucks fans) awaiting the start of class

Yogis (and some just-Canucks fans) awaiting the start of class

I arrived, yoga mat and water bottle in hand, not really knowing what to expect. As I was by myself, I got plopped onto a random mat in the 2nd row, and was told that I could take that yoga mat home at the end of class. Say whaaa? (And it was the exact same mat that I already have.) I later found out that the yoga mats were the gift that lululemon was giving out to the first 100 participants that arrived there – and I certainly was not amongst the first 100!

View from my (new) mat

View from my (new) mat

I noticed that I was placed right next to a mat that had a “Reserved” sign on it, and wondered if perhaps I would get the opportunity to sit next to one of the players. (Eeeee!)

Reserved - for Yannick Weber

Reserved – for Yannick Weber

When 5pm rolled around, the 6 Canucks players who were participating – Zack Kassian, Bo Horvat, Shawn Matthias, Yannick Weber, Alex Burrows, and Luca Sbisa – were introduced and led to their corresponding spots amongst the square. A lululemon gal was with each player and sat next to them, and sure enough, Yannick Weber was brought over to my area; the lulu gal took the mat next to him, and he plopped down right next to me. (First thought: Hehe, he’s so cute.)

Gathering around for yoga

Gathering around for yoga

And off we went with the class. It was led by Alex Mazerolle, a lively and humorous instructor, who guided us through many downward dogs, Warrior 2s, and cobra poses. I have to say, Weber is quite good at yoga (from what I saw out of the corner of my eye), not that that surprised me.

Shawn Matthias

Shawn Matthias

The above shot of Shawn Matthias was the only mostly-clear shot I took of a player. No photo opportunities were available – not surprising – but we all did gather into a circle at the end and the players ran around to give us all a high 5. (Burrows did miss me though, I’m not so impressed with that.)

Everyone packing up!

Everyone packing up!

All in all, this was a great experience. If I had done the class without a hockey player stretching out next to me, it would’ve probably felt like just another yoga class, so this was uber cool. And I’m glad that this event helped to raise money for a charitable cause – I’m very thankful for having had the opportunity to take part in this!

PS – I am certain that photos of this event will appear on the Internet at some point in the near future; after all, there were about a dozen cameras there, strobe lights and all! Let me know if you come across any – you just might see my (probably gross and oily) face doing tree pose next to Weber! ;)

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