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Day 15 in NYC: The Frick Collection, a lunch date, and Off Broadway Puffs

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Thursday, July 11. I’d gone to bed late for me and slept in until almost 7am, which is really late for me. There wasn’t much to the blog entry from the day before so had it up before 8:30am. The first thing I had planned was a lunch date at 1pm so I had plenty of time to work something else in.

I decided on The Frick Collection. I had it on the list for this trip but things got moved around when I stayed in for most of Monday and wasn’t sure I could work it in. Now was the time. It’s in the Upper East Side which is where my lunch was so it all made sense.

I left around 10, took a bus to Port Authority Bus Terminal, then went into the 42nd St subway station. I’d have to take 2 trains to get where I was going.

Small metal sign on a beam in the subway platform: Times Square 42 St, 7 to Grand Central & Main St, Queens. Also in Braille beneath it
I hadn’t noticed one of these before, but I had seen some posters about how MTA is trying to increase accessibility. Notice it’s in Braille, too.

When I got to my platform for the 7 train, I noticed this plaque. Had never seen one before, but glad they’re working on accessibility. See the Braille at the bottom? I notice constantly how inaccessible this city is from a disability perspective. Took the 7 to Grand Central then transferred to the 6 which goes up Lexington on the East Side.

Museum entrance - not much to see really because of the angle from the sidewalk. It's a big building, this is just the front door
Entrance to the Frick Collection from 70th Street

I almost didn’t go in once I got here. The fee was spendy as museums go – $22, and you couldn’t take photos. The Met, by comparison, is $25 for its 3 day pass to any of its 3 museums. But it was only 11:20am so what would I do otherwise? I bit the bullet and went in.

Glad I did.

Henry Clay Frick grew up with not a lot, never finished college. Started in the coke business (and in this context it’s carbon, relates to the steel industry) with his cousins and eventually got involved with Carnegie. Did well for himself overall, and in his mid-50’s he developed an interest in art and began a serious collection. It grew quickly and he had this mansion built for the purpose of having a place to display his collection. He constructed it with the intention that it would be turned into a museum upon his death. The mansion was completed in 1914. He died in 1919. His will stipulated that his wife would continue to live here until her death. It was turned into a museum in 1931.

And it’s quite the collection. Many names you wouldn’t recognize. Lots that you would: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck, Degas, Monet, Manet, Frans Hals.

I was excited to see Frans Hals work here, there were several pieces. You don’t see him much but on my first trip to Europe Dan and I visited a museum dedicated to him in Haarlem, Netherlands, where he is from.

But my favorite find here was the work of Thomas Gainsborough. There was a room with many large portraits all around it that were beautifully done. One in particular caught my attention. It was of an elegant woman in a blue dress. The style reminded me of Blue Boy, but I couldn’t remember the painter’s name. I looked it up and sure enough: Thomas Gainsborough, and this entire room was all his work. There was more of his in other parts of the museum as well. I had never heard of him until Dan and I went to the Huntington Library in Pasadena at the end of 2017. It was there I was so excited to see Blue Boy, which we had as a print in the house I grew up in; it never occurred to me as a child that it was a real painting. Clueless back then.

A bathroom sink with the hot and cold faucets completely separate
In the men’s room. What’s wrong with this picture? I thought this only happened in England.
Atrium courtyard in the center. Columns along the edges, fountain in the middle, park benches, plants, statues
This was the only area you were allowed to photograph.

I really enjoyed this collection. I also watched a 15 minute film about Frick and the museum, which was where I got most of the above information.

The Frick Collection from across 5th Ave
The Frick Collection from across 5th Ave

I left around 12:20 and slowly made my way down 5th Ave along and through Central Park.

long curved bench along the sidewalk against columns, with a statue on either end and bust in the middle
Just your random sitting spot against Central Park along 5th Ave
Long wide sidewalk lined with trees and lawns
A beautiful day so far, although lots of rain in the forecast for the afternoon and evening
Vast lawn in Central Park
This was the area behind me from the prior photo
On a hill in Central Park, looking out over a gazebo with skyscrapers in the background, framed by trees
Skyscrapers from a hill in Central Park
Looking down 5th Ave with Central Park on one side
More “I just like this way this looks” photos. Looking down 5th Ave with central Park on the right.
Awning above door and a flag above that, both with the name of the restaurant on them
Entrance to Rotisserie Georgette on E 60th.

My friend, Meher, had made reservations here for 1pm. It was now just about 12:45.

Entrance to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, next door to the restaurant
Entrance to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, next door to the restaurant
Sidewalk sign for Barneys of New York
This was across the street. I was early so browsed a little.
Glass display with Pride t-shirt "be proud of who you are" in rainbow colors, rainbow sunglasses
They still have their Pride stuff out
Inside the restaurant, classic elegance
A quick photo inside; I was self-conscious of taking it for some reason

Meher arrived right at 1pm and we quickly dove into conversation. She’s an Employee Relations Manager for a law firm a few blocks from here. We met in – 2013? – when I hired her at Nationwide. When I was here last year she reminded me she’d left Nationwide (after I did) and was back in NY, and we’d met for breakfast then. It was great to see her again, then and now.

Cold corn soup
Cold corn soup

I love anything corn and this was lovely on a warm, humid day with a storm brewing outside.

rotisserie chicken, fries, salad
Rotisserie chicken, fries, salad
Roasted cherry creme brulee
Roasted cherry creme brulee

This might be the best bite of the trip. Those cherries in the custard just dissolved in your mouth. Amazing flavors and textures.

Me and Meher
The waiter was happy to take a photo of us.

We were there close to 2 hours; I walked her back to her office after, on Madison Ave.

My next thing was a 4pm appointment for a pedicure and massage at a place in Chelsea I’d discovered in my wanderings the day before, and made the appointment then. I got to that neighborhood about 3:20 and found a place to sit with a bit for coffee just around the corner. It hard started to rain a little. The Weather Channel had been blasting flash flood warnings on my phone all day, starting about this time. I wasn’t looking forward to that but was glad to have the refuge of the spa coming up.

Inside Essen from upstairs seating area
This was a place called Essen. Had a great variety of food, seemed reasonably healthy and reasonably priced.
Living Fresh Men's Spa from the sidewalk
Living Fresh Men’s Spa

Living Fresh Men’s Spa, on 22nd Street just off of 7th Ave I think. This was a classy joint with very reasonable prices.

Feet in a bubble bath
My feet get really gross while traveling because I usually only wear sandals and do a ton of walking, as you know.

They offered me free wine, I took the bottled water instead 🙂

inside the spa while getting my pedicure
This was a nice, elegant place. Very classy.

The massage was really good, and there was a shower available in the massage room which was handy and I took advantage of before and after. While I didn’t know it when I took this photo, the room for my massage is the open door. That’s a mirror reflecting the table; it was pretty small!

I was done there just before 6pm. I had an 8pm show in the Theater District but had forgotten to make dinner reservations, so I decided to stay in this neighborhood for dinner. Per Yelp, the #1 place in the area was a dumpling place. Can’t go wrong with that.

restaurant from sidewalk - "excellent" is in it's name, not what I'm calling it
Excellent Dumpling House on 23rd
inside the restaurant
It was prime time – 6pm – and had a decent crowd.
Shumai with shrimp on top
This is one of my favorite dumplings, shumai. The shrimp on top was a nice touch. They were pretty tasty.
Sizzling spicy beef chow fun: beef, noodles, onions, peppers, served on a hot skillet
Sizzling spicy beef chow fun: beef, noodles, onions, peppers, served on a hot skillet

From here it was a straight shot on the C train up 8th Avenue. It was So Crowded I almost didn’t get on the first one that arrived. And it was already 7:15pm.

New World Stages theater marquee from the sidewalk
New World Stages theater marquee from the sidewalk

This is on 50th Street, but “the other side” of 8th Ave from the theater district, which I guess is what qualifies it as “off Broadway”? Or perhaps that just references the quality of the show. (Actually – I just looked it up: off Broadway is any theater with seating capacity for 100-499; under 100 is “off-off-Broadway”. The More You Know 🙂 )

This was a complex with 5 different theaters in it. I was here to see a Harry Potter themed show with a ridiculously long title – “Puffs: Or 7 Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic.” Yes, magic used twice.

This was sort of Harry Potter meets Monty Python. Silly, spoofy comedy, very physical, but engaging and fun nonetheless. I do believe you have to have a background in HP to not only appreciate but understand what’s happening. They seriously condense all 7 books into 90 minutes. So many inside jokes. A large ensemble cast, many who played multiple parts (which I finally realized on this trip happens a lot, I’d just never noticed before), and as I watched I appreciated how actually complex the staging was and can’t imagine what the rehearsals must’ve been like. Art had seen this last year and recommended it. I was glad it’s still running and just in time – it’s closing in August.

Stage
I was in first row balcony. It was a pretty small theater.
Cobweb looking decorations and paintings were slung around the balcony walls and railings
Cobweb looking decorations and paintings were slung around the balcony walls and railings – to my left
Cobweb looking decorations and paintings were slung around the balcony walls and railings
Cobweb looking decorations and paintings were slung around the balcony walls and railings – to my right; downstairs, too
Strawberry cheesecake and lemonade from Junior's
The after-show cheesecake tradition. Strawberry.

Since this might be my last opportunity for cheesecake I couldn’t resist one final stop at Junior’s.

It wasn’t raining too too bad and I walked back to Port Authority Bus Terminal. I got back to my place around 11:45pm.

The big thing today is the Jewish Heritage museum. Will see what else I come up with as the day goes. Last full day in NYC! I’m surprisingly not ready for it to be over.

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