Friday, October 01, 2010

Big Cities and Great Meetings

I have spent 3 nights in Chicago and 4 nights in New York and am now on my way to New England.
The weather has been hotter than I expected, Chicago had its hottest late September day on record and was very windy and New York was also hot and humid with a lot of rain.
On my first day in Chicago I met up with "Birdie" Strelitzia (Picture 1) from Indianapolis. She drove for 3 hours to meet me and I was chauffeured in style in her convertible with the top down along  Michigan Avenue getting a very good view of those super tall buildings. We then parked the car and took a river and harbour cruise. I learned all about the various buildings with their different ages and styles as we made our way up the Chicago River under countless bridges then out through a lock into the harbour from where we got a great view of the skyline (photo 2) Great for the 91’F (33’C) temperatures. It was a great contrast in skylines from the otherwise similar tour of canals and harbour in Copenhagen several weeks earlier.
Then over lunch we discovered more about each other than can be gained even from the internet. I greatly admire the work Birdie is doing to increase Gay acceptance in her church and her writing for Bilerico. I do pray her application to work more in the area of assisting gay youth is successful. A remarkable, fun lady.

After Birdie dropped me near my hotel, I met Madeline & Bill (photo 3) in the foyer. They are both former librarians and I have met them several times before, Madeline in Sydney in 98, then both of them at their home in Alabama in 99. They drove over to Charleston to show my sister, Bev, and me around in 2007 and now they flew up for a short holiday in Wisconsin and then to meet me in Chicago. We had several lovely meals together and, on my 2nd day, visited the Adler Planetarium before walking about 3 miles along the lake front to the Navy Pier.  I was sad to say good bye as on Saturday morning they headed for Midway airport and home and I went to O’Hare airport for the flight to New York. Keen travellers, I hope they find time to revisit New Zealand.

While it had cooled in Chicago, New York was still hot and also very humid. After finding my way on the subway to my hotel, not helped by weekend track work, I had a quick shower and was out to dinner with internet friends (Bettermost Forum devoted to Brokeback Mountain fans). The group was spending a weekend with a young couple, Kelda and Callum from Scotland and I had discovered that just by chance I would be in the city at the same time. They had been sightseeing all day but I joined them for dinner in a rather noisy restaurant which did not help my problems with accents. Photo 4 shows me with Meryl.

On Sunday I had planned to meet another internet friend, an Episcopal priest, about an hour’s train ride from New York but Elizabeth has taken a break from parish work so instead I went to Trinity Church, Wall Street not far from the World Trade Centre. I spent an hour beforehand in the area and Battery Point. On the way back to my hotel I saw Archbishop Carnley in the street. Peter Carnley, now retired,  was Archbishop of Perth and Primate of Australia. He has also written in favour of homosexual acceptance in the Church and was reviled by the Sydney establishment, so a hero of mine.  I spoke with him and he mentioned he had attended church at St James, King Street when he lived in Sydney.

I had planned an easy afternoon but the forecast for Monday was not good so I dragged myself out and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (Photo 5 is an unusual angle). A walk around Brooklyn Heights then I was able to catch a subway train that crossed back over Manhattan Bridge rather than the usual tunnel routes. In the evening I was invited, with the Scottish couple,  to the home of Meryl from Bettermost who also loves Lord of the Rings (and therefore New Zealand).

On Monday. following advice from the dinner group and encouraged by rain, I visited the Neue Galerie which had a Viennese cafe, momentarily transporting me back to Europe,  then it’s exhibition of the sculpture of Messerscmitt about whom I had known nothing . There were also a few works by Klimt and Schiele. I headed for MOMA (Museum of Modern Art ) but found a long queue in the rain to buy tickets. so went back to my hotel room for the afternoon. Unfortunately the hotel in New York was small and poky. It is advertised as in a typical New York Brownstone but steep stairs and lack of light was not very pleasant. My room in Chicago and now Albany have been luxury in comparison at much the same price but I guess that is New York. I am grateful for the recent rise in the value of the Aussie dollar.

 Tuesday started fine but, after collecting my rail tickets for the rest of my US journey, I was drenched by a downpour on the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is huge and I could just sample a few sections before lunch then headed out to Times Square to line up for half price tickets to Musicals. Fortunately their was only a slight drizzle and after an hour I had a ticket to “A Little Night Music”.  I was tempted by Phantom, La Cage and Westside Story but had seen all of them. Wicked and Jersey Boys were not available.
A quick trip over the harbour  on the Staten Island ferry gave me a shrouded view of the Statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan skyline (photo 6) as the sun began to appear.
Then I had dinner in a French restaurant, getting a good deal with a coupon handed out while in the queue for tickets. I had a front row seat for the Musical starring Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. It was a wonderful performance.

Today, with the sun shining, I have travelled by train to Albany which I will describe later but the afternoon was another great meeting spent in the company of another blogger, Fran There will be Bread (Photo7). We have been reading each other’s blogs for several years and she is another very busy lady with a university course tonight but took time off work to meet me at the station, drive me to my hotel and then we walked around the city and enjoyed a coffee taking several too short hours to meet the real person. It is so great that the internet has allowed me to meet up with such wonderful people, friends over great distances.
I have probably had enough of big cities for a while but  never enough of great meetings with friends who have been made online.


Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

I just read about your meeting with Fran... how neat!!



Anonymous said...

Glad you're having such a great time.

Fran said...

It is so nice to see this post. It was such a joy to meet you! Not that I ever thought you'd be anything less than delightful, but spending time with was really great.

I am very grateful to have been a part of your journey!

Leonard said...

Wonderful...I have never seen ¨Little Night Music¨...the ¨music¨ has been a favorite of mine (for thirty+ years I think)...enjoy America and don´t forget to feast on the Blueberry Muffins of New England (I used to stick boxes of them in the overhead compartment and take them back to Los Angeles for gifts whenever in the NE)...the broiled Scrod is excellent too!

Birdie said...

I'm terribly late in posting my own version of our adventure, but thank you for your kind words here. I had a blast with you! I'm grateful you carved time out for me in this busy itinerary. It was a wonderful time with you.

liturgy said...

What lovely encounters. I'm sure Fran is just as she is online.