The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art – Medieval Gallery)

DSCN2697The Cloisters is the medieval art branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located in Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan. The building that houses the galleries is an amazing conglomeration of multiple monasteries from Europe that were crated up, shipped here to New York, and then reconstructed on site using a mix of original and modern materials. The attempt was well done and walking through the Cloisters feels like walking through an old monastery. There’s a main chapel, a smaller chapel, gardens and exhibit halls. The gardens are full of growing herbs and plants that were used during the medieval period, from nightshade to hops.

Going to the Cloisters is a pretty short trip. You can easily see everything in a day, and that’s if you take your time walking around and reading all of the inscriptions. The Met advertises that you can pay at either the main branch or the Cloisters and then access both branches in the same day, but I think that’s a bit of stretch, unless you do it on a Friday or Saturday, when the main building doesn’t close until 9 PM. Also, keep in mind that the prices listed at the entrance are “suggested” prices, meaning that’s what they recommend. You don’t have to pay that much to get in, so if you’re a little tight for cash, you can give them a dollar or two and they’ll still let you in.

Another great thing about the Cloisters is the park it’s located in. Fort Tryon park has some great views. Unlike most parts of Central Park, Fort Tryon Park is extremely hilly, with lots of paths, stairs, and great places for photo opportunities. When my wife and I went to the Cloisters, we rode the bus in from the train station, but on the way out we walked through the park. We’re looking forward to going back to the Cloisters in the near future, but we’re looking forward to exploring the park just as much.

Rite Aid Hired Professional Graffiti Artists to Redecorate Exterior for Grand Re-Opening

Just up the road from us there’s a Rite Aid. The place looked pretty sleazy when we first moved in, but over the last few weeks they really fixed the place up. It looks modern and new and doesn’t have that cramped, dirty feel to it anymore. In addition to fixing up the outside of the store, the management decided to turn the dingy, yellowing paint on the exterior of the building into something fresh and new.

We walked up on these guys spray painting the outside of the building in the evening. It seems as though they were given a lot of freedom in their choices, but they did have to redo a portion of their mural which contained a space ship. Apparently, that wasn’t what the Rite Aid management was aiming for.

The finished product is pretty cool. I wonder if people are doing this outside of New York City now, and especially down south? I don’t remember graffiti being recognized as art or encouraged down there. Not that anyone in Georgia was painting murals like this, or anything on par with most of the graffiti in New York City, anyway.

Jackie Robinson Park in Manhattan, New York City

Jackie Robinson Park Sign on Edgecombe Avenue

New York City is full of parks. The more my wife and I walk around, the more obvious that becomes. There are many more parks here in the northern part of Manhattan than there are on the Lower East Side, or at least it seems that way. Everywhere you look, there are trees and grass. Not that that’s a bad thing. It helps to break up the monotony of concrete and high rise buildings. It gives a greener, fresher scent to the air up here. And, best of all, it makes our walks and jogs a lot more visually appealing.

Jackie Robinson Park isn’t exactly a park you can jog through though. It’s a narrow strip that runs north-south from 155th Street down to 145th Street, between Edgecombe Avenue and Bradhurst Avenue.

Half of the land occupied by the park is a steep slope that’s mostly unusable, except for sets of stairs spaced at intervals to help people get from Edgecombe to Bradhurst, and vice versa. The area that is flat has been used to build playgrounds for young kids, basketball courts, and a pool complex. It’s actually pretty nice looking.

I’m almost always impressed by how good city planners are about utilizing every bit of space in Manhattan, though I shouldn’t be surprised. When you’re working with a limited resource, you have to make the most out of it.

A Day at the Bronx Zoo

Last June, my wife and I took a trip up to the Bronx Zoo. Prior to moving back to New York City in 2010, I’d lived here as a kid, or visited numerous times, but I don’t know that I had ever been to the Bronx Zoo before. Anyway, we showed up about two hours after opening and, after some deliberation, went ahead and put out the extra money for the all-access passes instead of paying a-la-carte as we went through the zoo. The zoo has a large amount of free “content” but if you want the “premium” experience, you have to pay a heftier fee.

I think it was worth the money. We almost exclusively visited the premium areas, but ran out of time before seeing everything. Of course, some of the stuff we wouldn’t want to see anyway, because it was geared towards kids, but basically the Bronx Zoo is a two day experience, at least. There’s so much left that we didn’t see that we’re definitely going to have to go back again.

My favorite photos from our trip:

If you’re thinking of visiting the zoo, my only suggestions are to bring water, food (inside prices are out of control), a hat for shade and comfortable shoes for standing in lines for access to some of the premium areas like the Asia Monorail and the Dinosaur Safari, which we didn’t ride, but saw the line for while walking towards the butterfly garden.