Even in the very early planning stages of our NYC trip, I knew where Ryan would want to spend his 40th birthday. He's a lifelong learner, a lover of knowledge, a bonafide nerd, and a real smartypants, so as you can imagine, he likes to take his sweeeeeeet time in museums. He's one of those who has the patience (and desire) to read the fine print for each exhibit while I'm off exploring what the museum has to offer in terms of cafes and eateries. 😏
We saved The Met -- the mother of all art museums (outside of Paris's Louvre, perhaps) -- for Wednesday, Ryan's birthday. And much to my surprise, when we look back at the week as a whole, The Met stands out as very possibly the most epic experience. I am truly taken aback at how much I enjoyed it and how the memory of it has stuck with me weeks after the fact.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2018 -- DAY FOUR
Before we ever made it to New York, I always pictured The Metropolitan Museum of Art as being right in the middle of downtown, with modern-ish, angled windows and a sleek, slick look. And I'm here to tell you that I was wrong.
The Met has been located on the edge of Central Park since 1880 (!!!), and the building is so vast (two million square feet) that it takes up the space of four city blocks. Our original plan was to spend a leisurely morning at The Met and then walk across the park to spend the afternoon at the Natural History Museum (yay, museums!). But The Met demanded our full attention and respect. It said to us, "You are here, and I will lure you to stay with all my amazingness. I am better than any other museum." As I'm sure you understand, we had no choice but to listen and obey.
Something to point out: Up until a few weeks before we went, The Met apparently had a "pay as you can/wish" entrance policy. Unfortunately for us, the policy changed on March 1, and out-of-state visitors are now required to pay $25 for adults and $17 for students. That's not bad, considering what you get to see! Even so, a bit of a bummer!!
Okay, onward ...
We started with Egyptian art, which meant we chose to go to the right when we entered the museum. Next time, just because we didn't have as much time exploring European art as we would have liked, I think we would choose to go left.
Of course, Ryley wanted to help plan out the route. Did I mention the museum has two million square feet? You could get lost in there (and we did!).
In the American art, we saw "George Washington Crosses the Delaware." You don't realize how big the real-life version is when you see it in a history book.
This below is the world's oldest surviving piano. It comes from 1720 Italy!
A painting by Raphael ...
They had a small section of French-inspired "garden" paintings.
One of the most incredible, awe-inspiring things about art is that we are able to connect with people who lived centuries before us. This piece -- the picture an artist paints, like the one below by Claude Monet -- allows us to come face-to-face with another person's mind's eye -- to see and experience the product of their inner-most imaginings. Art makes you feel closer to people you've never met and connect with the greater human experience as a whole.
You're standing there, thinking, "I am seeing what Monet imagined in his mind." And you feel connected to him somehow -- in this eerie but incredible way.
And another Monet from that same garden exhibit ...
Also, it is truly amazing to me to see how different cultures and countries and artists have portrayed Jesus' death over time.
The actual field armor that Henry VIII of England wore ...
And then we moved on to Greek and Roman sculptures ... Since Ryan teaches classical literature, this area is of specific interest to him!
"Ode on a Grecian Urn"
Rodin's "The Thinker"!!! Amazing.
So the museum closes at 5 p.m., and when we got to this point, it was about 4:30. We had seen everything we thought we wanted to see, so in typical Moore family fashion, we headed for the gift shop. But at 4:45, Ryan comes running to me where I'm trying to decide on postcards to purchase and says, "I have to go back up. We missed something I really wanted to see."
"Well, do you want me to go with you?" I asked.
"Yeah, if you want."
So we told Ryley we'd be right back and then ran through a maze of back stairways and hallways and galleries all so we could find this:
Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait.
So that's what Ryan wanted to see, but lemme tell you: the gallery where we found it was an absolute gold mine for Impressionism:
Van Gogh and Monet galore. Rooms and rooms FILLED with paintings. I couldn't believe we'd almost missed this. Ryan and I lost track of each other in each of our own musings and then couldn't find each other again. I cannot express how absolutely massive, confusing, and overwhelming The Met is as a whole.
Hordes of people were heading to the exit, and Ryan and I reconnected somewhere near the grandiose lobby. NOW we were done with The Met. It was about 5:10 p.m. at this point, and Ryley was freaking out that they were going to kick her out of the gift shop if we didn't come back soon. But all's well that ends well, and we even bought my customary magnet and postcards. 😀
We still had two and a half hours to kill before our birthday dinner reservation in Midtown, so we decided to stroll through Central Park over to a cookie shop we'd heard about in the Upper West Side.
This Hamilton statue was in the park right behind the museum. Not as cool as seeing his grave, but still!
For all that New York City seems to (strategically) lack in seating space, they more than make up for it in Central Park.
It was such a pretty early-spring day.
So many paths, so little time.
Then, the cookie bakery! It's called Levain Bakery, and it is a hole in the wall, tucked beneath a fancy-schmancy salon. There was a line out the door and onto the sidewalk when we got there, but it had calmed down by the time we left. The bakery is mostly kitchen. You seriously stoop through a door, go down six stairs, order, and have just enough room to stand and eat your cookies at a counter by the window.
We did manage to pull together some stools like greedy suburbanites who needed to sit for a spell.
But OH. MY. GOODNESS. I am not kidding when I say this is the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever had in my life.
It has set us on a bit of a quest to find the best cookie bakeries in Denver. We haven't actually gone out and tried anything yet because we're trying to clean up our eating, "post-trip" -- for awhile at least. But the quest lives on in our hearts.
Next was dinner, because, you know, Moores like to have dessert first! We hopped on the subway and headed back to Midtown, right off of Broadway.
We'd set a reservation at Gallaghers Steakhouse, which actually has a room dedicated to aged meats....
So yes, after MUCH research and reading lists about the best steaks in New York (and in full transparency, we had TWO reservations so we could choose at the last minute between Ryan's two front-runners), the birthday boy settled on Gallaghers.
Ryan and I split the Porterhouse, and while we weren't disappointed, it wasn't the best steak we've ever had in our lives either. But then again, I wonder sometimes if anything can live up to expectations when we set them so high. 😉But the wait staff were wonderful, and they even brought out a birthday dessert and sang to Ryan, even though the only mention of a birthday that I had made was on the online reservation.
And Wednesday was a wrap! What a wonderful way for Ryan to enter a new decade of life. Museum, cookies, and steak = happiness.
And like I said before, the beauty of The Met is that its grandeur lives on in our memory, and we almost appreciate it more now than we did at the time we were standing there soaking it all in. I would definitely go back and spend more time there if we ever get the opportunity to visit New York again.
Total miles walked on Wednesday: 9
Stay tuned for Days 5 and 6! A couple freelance projects have gotten in the way of the timeliness of my postings, but I'm hoping to finish up this weekend while I'm between projects. 😙