Day 6: The Cloisters and The Met

In my hour of need
I truly am indeed,
Alone again, naturally

Alone Again (Naturally) - Diana Krall feat. Michael Bublé

Day 6 was like my last day in New York. The plan was to go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art which includes The Cloisters, which is located pretty far. Both The Met and The Cloisters opens at 10 am, but since The Met is nearer to my hotel, I decided to start the day by going to the Cloister first. Ticket bought at The Cloisters includes a same day admission to The Met. Ticket bought at The Met includes a same week admission to The Cloisters. I was also thinking that going to The Cloisters first would also help me get away from the queue at The Met which I read could be quite long. So do plan accordingly if you want to go. The word bought is a rather misleading thing actually because the price set is a suggested price. So you can pay lower, however it's kinda embarrassing I suppose telling the staff at the counter, can I just give $5 for example? Well I guess there are people who don't have much, I do hope the staff there wouldn't be so judgey on these cases. I don't know why they choose to put a suggested price, but I do hope the reason is so that art is accessible for all. Anyway, so I knew the train to take. I was even confident enough to take the express train to cut some travelling time. Arriving at the 190th Street station, I wasn't sure which exit to take, so I just chose one. When I got out of it, I was totally confused. There's this black lady who just read me straightaway and asked if was looking for The Cloisters. I said yes. She then told me to go back the way I came and then go left and took the other exit. As I did that, I was trying to figure out if there was any sign and if I missed it. So it turned out there was a sign but I missed it because the sign was pretty much hidden and it's not like there's a lot of signs. I might be dumb that I miss out the signs or couldn't figure it out, but seriously I think New York needs more signs.

So I got out the correct exit and what happened next was totally my fault. 2 choices, left or right. I should have done more research, I should have just taken the time to figure out the map in my phone, but I didn't. A lot of my mistakes I think were because I just didn't have the patience and take time to really figure out the map in my phone :( So that day, I chose to go to the left. I walked and walked and perhaps I'm just a stubborn person, it took me a few blocks to realize this couldn't be right. My mistake was confirmed when I finally took time to check a bus stop and see the direction of the bus which supposedly could take me there. The route posted in the bus stop wasn't that easy for me to understand by the way, but I did figure it out. So I had to walk back. I think that was like already half an hour or more of walking being wasted on being lost. It was truly so testing on the morale. I just felt so sad, I chose to do The Cloisters first to make use of my time in the most effective way and yet I did a really stupid mistake that already made me really tired by that time. I was thinking that goes the bagel I ate that morning, all the calories from that were already burnt.

To get to The Cloisters by walking, you have to go through Fort Tryon Park. It's a really beautiful park and when I was there there were a lot of flowers blooming without many people. However I couldn't really enjoy the park because I was just already so tired from walking and morale was low and I got really anxious if I was going the right direction. The park has these little paths as many parks do and you never know if the path would lead you to the correct place, what with my luck with direction. I really really didn't have much confidence that time. Unfortunately, all I had is me and hence the song I chose for this post. I was so demoralized that at one point I thought I was lost again. There were some signs pointing to The Cloisters but they seemed to contradict each other. Luckily though I did find it. Thank God!

The Cloisters houses a lot of religious artifacts, like sculptures of Jesus, angels, and so on. It has some tapestries too. The tapestries have unicorn in them. The one about the unicorn being hunted and captured is kinda sad to see. It also has this square garden enclosed by colonnades in its four sides. The fountain at the middle was pretty simple. I like the shadows the columns made.

There is another of this square open area, it's smaller but I really like the colonnades here, because the columns are in interesting designs, like some of them are wavy. Very cool. It doesn't have a lot of plants here. There's another very simple fountain. Overall it feels simplistic with off white columns and just the sunlight. It feels very zen here :)

It also has a garden outside in which the gardener grows a little vegetables and some herbs. The Cloisters is really a nice place to spend some time with, it's surrounded by greenery that it feels like a whole different place, like you're not in a city with a lot of sky crappers. There were some tourists but it wasn't crowded, so it's a relaxing place. I was still not that relaxing for me though since as usual I get perturbed easily and that time and energy being wasted from being lost really brought me down. Also unfortunately I couldn't spend much time, I had to really get going to The Met. Initially I thought I should take the bus because I just wanted to sit down all the way and just let my mind wonder. However I think I just missed the bus and with the time being tight, I decided to just take the subway again. Getting out of the subway, I had to walk across Central Park to The Met. By this time, I was pretty tired and hungry and the walk took much longer than I expected. It's already passed noon and I was thinking what's the plan of attack here. The museum would close at 5 something, I wouldn't have enough time to explore everything, I have to choose. So I started thinking about this. Arriving at The Met, I saw the sign of its opening hour and when I saw on Friday, it closes at 9 pm, I was like so relieved and felt like God really took care of me. Yes, I was lost, but he didn't let me down. I was really so happy, so thankful.

When I got in, there were many people, but I had my sticker ticket, so I didn't have to queue. I could choose to go to the left or right and I chose to go to the right to the Egyptian section. There were many artifacts and seeing those, I was thinking between this, The Louvre, and The Vatican Museum, I have seen a lot of these ancient artifacts managed to be kept and preserved for humanity. A thought came that I am very lucky to have had the opportunity, very very lucky indeed. The most interesting thing about this section is the Temple of Dendur area, it's this area with floor to ceiling windows so there's a lot of light coming in and there are remains of the temple. Very cool. Other than that, the Egyptian area has the usual mummy section, I wondered if there's a body inside it, but most probably not.

After this, I went to the American wing which is actually a really really cool place because it's my first time seeing what constitute American art. There were a lot of furnitures and rooms arranged with different theme and furnitures, very very interesting. I was so hungry and I decided to just eat at the cafe here. I would like to have a more proper lunch, but I thought I wouldn't have the energy to go all the way to another wing to eat. My lunch was nice though, I had corn chowder and a banana because it thought just the soup wouldn't be enough. By the way, being in America, I just lost all interest in having a sandwich. I hate coarse hard bread and its taste so I always avoided the sandwich options. Anyway, the corn chowder was really really nice and I chose crackers rather than bread, cause yeah I really really don't like hard bread. After that I explored more, I saw the armory section, some weapons (guns, swords, shields, etc), some sculptures, all are very interesting like this one which I couldn't remember from which section.

There are a few objects which I have seen elsewhere. I remember there's a smaller marble sculpture of The Nile God whose bigger version I have seen at The Vatican Museum. There's a sculpture of Hercules slaying Medusa which I realize come in different versions and housed in different places. Another was also a lion on the wall which I also saw in The Louvre. I have really good memories. I think one of the things that surprised me was when I saw Rodin's The Thinker. I thought there's only one of this sculpture and it's in Paris (which I haven't seen), it turned out there's a few and there's one in The Met. It's not very big, but it was cool to see that. I will be using the word cool and interesting a lot in this post. I wish I have better vocabulary but really that's all I have and feel. Of course there's a lot of interesting paintings, like these from Florine Stettheimer.

One gallery that attracts a lot of visitors is of course the one with the famous paintings in the second floor, the likes of Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Degas, Renoir, and such. Some paintings I could recognize straightaway who the painter was, but some have very similar style that I got it wrong, for example there's a painting that I thought was Cézanne's, but turns out to be not his. I really have so much to learn. There are so many beautiful paintings and I felt really happy and privileged to be able to see a lot of works from these famous artists. Here is a collection from Degas of what if I remember correctly are his experimentation before creating the very cute Little Dancer of Fourteen Years sculpture.

There was some area which were cordoned off, I guess because the staff needs to rotate between watching a room and another room. One such areas that I remember I believe hold collection from Rembrandt. I didn't stick around and wait to see if access would be opened up because I was getting really tired and I thought I should explore other wings. It's not tiring just for me who had walked a lot that day, I could see many of the visitors were like showing signs of being tired as well from walking around. I wonder if there's any secret from the staff who have to stand up all day watching people. I wonder if they get a break every few hours and how long the break is. So anyway, I tried my best to explore all the rooms, after all there are so many interesting things. For example, I wanted to see what they have in Asian Art. Well there's a costume exhibition in some parts of the Asian wing. The theme was China and it also attracted a lot of people. The reason I was interested in the Asian Art wing is because I wanted to know if they have some stuff from Indonesia and what they were. I saw a Buddha Head and I wondered if it's from Borobudur. This one below is from the Arab lands section which has a lot of Islamic objects kinda thing.

The museum closed at 9 pm that day, but I was just really running out of energy to walk, so there were some that I had to let go, I didn't enter them at all. I didn't go to the musical instruments section because I didn't have much interest, but it could be really interesting. One wing which I felt rather sorry for not giving much time is the American wing at level 2. This one has more paintings as compared to the furniture at level 1, so it should be interesting to see and learn more about American painters which I don't have any knowledge about. For pictures from The Met, please go here. It took me some time to google image the artworks. So hope you get to learn something too :)

I left just before 7 pm I think. The reason why I wanted to leave was also because I still have Central Park to explore and I wanted to have some daylight when I did that. This time around, I really paid attention to the map I had and made sure I passed all the landmarks I needed or wanted to see. First was the obelisk, then the Alice in Wonderland sculptures. From here on the way to Bethesda Terrace, I saw the Hans Christian Andersen sculpture and The Falconer. I'm pretty sure there are so many sculptures in this park that I haven't seen. Near Bethesda Terrace there's an area where there's a live band playing, but I didn't check it out. One of the interesting thing I saw in Bethesda Terrace was there were a few Chinese who make money by giving massages and they were quite busy. As always, the resourceful Chinese will find a way to make money.

My last stop was to the Strawberry Fields which I kinda missed on my first visit. Saw the imagine mosaic and didn't realize it's so close to the street. So finally that one is ticked off. By the way in Central Park, there are a lot of benches with a plaque and on it there's some writings. It's so sweet, a lot as remembrance for someone who died, some have beautiful poems or writings on it. The theme is mostly about love and I love them a lot. Just googled this and turned out it cost 10,000 USD to have a bench, so that is one expensive gift.

So that was the last thing I did in New York. To avoid being lost again, I walked at the pavement by the side of the street rather than going into the park again. Went to Shake Shack again and claimed my milk shake. They had a lot of options, but I ended up choosing peanut butter one. Maybe because I kinda had it around half an hour after I got it (when I got to the hotel I did some things first before eating), it ended up to be not so thick and I was quite surprised with it. There was an option to make it malted, but I didn't know what that meant so I didn't choose that. It's an okay milkshake, not out of the world heavenly. Now that I write this, I kinda miss Shake Shack, so many things I'm curious about and wanted to try. The 2 times I was there, I chose the same burger, the single shack burger. That day I was actually tempted to try the shake stack which has an addition of a mushroom burger, but knowing American portion, I thought it would be out of my league. I opted for fries instead and even those I ended up couldn't finish.

The next day, I had to leave New York from San Francisco. For pictures from Manhattan, you can go here. As mentioned in the last post, I got sad thinking about it because I have gotten used to the place. The one word I use when people asked me how New York is, is intimidating. Saying that, you must understand that one's perception of a thing or a place is more often than not is not about the thing or place itself but more about one's culture, background, or where one is from. I spend close to half of my life now in Singapore and Singapore is so clean, safe, and bright and I always believe that this convenience has soften me a lot. A Jakartan would perhaps not find New York to be intimidating because living in Jakarta requires one to be tougher than living in Singapore and I believe it's a good thing that way. I do feel kinda sad when I think the easy life in Singapore has made me so soft :( Being in New York, everything is just so so overwhelming for my senses. Entering the subway station for me is always something that requires me to be more alert. The subway station doesn't give a sense of safety and security. One time I saw 2 police officers there, I guess just watching how things go. I guess it could be quite boring for them, they were leaning on the wall. It's good they're there, but going down into the dark station, it's just not a place I actually enjoy to be in. One time I saw a rat in the track, very cliche New York? Then obviously the city is not as clean as Singapore. One time I saw a lady spit on the floor of the subway station and no, she didn't look homeless, she looked like a normal lady and I wonder why would you do that? Seriously! Of all the boroughs, I only experienced Manhattan and a bit of Brooklyn. I have a feeling than Manhattan might be dirtier than Brooklyn. Walking the street of Manhattan, very often one sees stacks of trash plastic bags. Once in french class, I wrote that I wanted to live in New York. Being there, my enthusiasm was dampen a bit and I wondered if I could do it and love it. The sentiment did get much better as I was leaving and after visiting San Francisco. The great thing about New York is all the art and culture. It would be such a blessing to be surrounded by all that and also they have wonderful parks, so it's great. The difficult thing was just being there and getting used with the streets and subways, again it's perhaps more difficult for me because I'm so used to with how everything is nice in Singapore. I reckon it'll take me some months to get used to the subways, by that time perhaps I would also get used to American meal portion :)

:) eKa @ 11:35:00 PM •

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