Hometown Tourist: Chicago Cultural Center

What’s that saying about the hidden gem of a city? I’ve found Chicago’s, and when I say “gem” I mean “it looks like a beautiful jewelbox on the inside.” The Chicago Cultural Center is a neoclassical building running the length of a city block on Michigan Avenue. Even though it’s across the street from Millennium Park, I’d never heard of it before a few of my friends went on a tour and urged me to visit. What an odd and lovely building it is.

Chicago Cultural Center

You start out at the Randolph Street entrance and the tour works its way up and across the building until you’re at the Washington Street entrance. We had a wonderful guide, a lifelong Chicagoan who used to come to the Reading Room back when the building was still the city library. She knew everything there was to know, and editorialized subtly enough that you could miss it if you were so inclined, or hear her little digs at Daley’s 1989 plan to turn the building into a mall and such.

Recessed ceilings, as the Romans did

Apparently, after the Great Fire of 1871, Queen Victoria helpfully sent over thousands of book to replenish the city’s library–except Chicago had never had a library to replenish. So a library board was formed, and after fighting over the land with the city and then with Civil War veterans who wanted that land for a museum, they finally agreed to share for awhile, and went over budget to finish building it in twice the allotted time. Chicago!

Sunburst on the stairs

Even when it was finished, it was an unusual thing. You can only go from one part of the building to another on the first and fourth floors, one side of the building has a fifth floor and one doesn’t, and the second floor isn’t even the same height all the way across the building. You’d never know this from looking at the building’s facade, and I’m still not clear on why it ended up this way, but it’s quite an adventure walking around inside. A guide definitely came in handy.

The dome in the Grand Army of the Republic Hall — they covered it up to protect it form the weather and it muted the colors.

The Randolph entrance is all delayed gratification: through hand-carved mahogany doors, under a recessed ceiling pained white and gold, through a lobby full of people escaping the heat under more recessed ceiling, and finally to the two-sided staircase. Everything is made of marble, one of many safeguards against fire. Marble walls, marble staircase, inlaid tile on the ceiling… I don’t think I would have noticed if our guide hadn’t pointed it out, but much of the building didn’t have any painted surface at all, because there was no plaster to paint over. Everything was just solid. And it looked great; I can see why emperors and rich folks are so fond of using it.

They carpeted over the marble — quel horreur!

We looked at what was once the museum of the Grand Army of the Republic (those Civil War veterans from earlier). The view from that room is amazing, and they do $50 civil service weddings there every Saturday, in 15-minute increments. The walls under the dome of the GAR are decorated with brass bas-reliefs of piles of weapons. Just piles of them, haphazardly thrown together over archways. Very strange.

I like how the giant sword is sticking up through the top of the breastplate

They uncovered the cupola in the GAR dome a few years ago, and look at the difference!

The other side of the building carries on the marble theme, but here it’s white marble from Italy, inlaid with brightly colored glass and gold leaf that glistens in the light, brightening up the whole area. There’s more inlaid tile here, too, in intricate patterns naming famous authors and spelling out quotes about literature in various languages. If you were to enter the building from this side, you’d be immediately struck with the size and beauty of the staircase leading up to the hall with the Tiffany dome. But I’m glad we came in from the side; we made a progression from impressive site to impressive site (we had to skip a couple rooms because they’re switching out the exhibitions, but those are meant to be lovely too), and then we walked down a rather dull and small corridor, rounded the corner, and voila! Stunning.

Quite an entrance

Preston Bradley Hall contains the largest Tiffany dome in the world, and the largest display of intricate inlaid tile in the country, outside of a church in St. Louis.

Are those symbols of the zodiac?

I found the Cultural Center to be a lovely surprise, and a place I wish I’d visited years ago. Get going!

Where it is: The official address is 78 E. Washington St., but if you go for the tour, you’ll enter on Randolph.

When to go: The free tours are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1:15 pm. They last about an hour and a half, and that time flies by.

What to see: The tour points out all the architectural features, but of course this is an active cultural center, so you can come here for concerts, art exhibitions, and lectures. You can visit the art studio and gallery for mentally and physically disabled artists on the first floor, and buy some of their artwork. You can use one of the lobby areas to relax, eat a lunch, use the wireless. You can duck into the Visitor Center and get some official info on touring Chicago. You can convince some rich friends to hold their reception in Preston Bradley Hall so you can dance under that Tiffany dome.

Cost: For the most part, free!

Image 1. All other images mine.

The More Things Change…

From Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad (published in 1880):

Travel isn’t what it used to be
“Seventy or eighty years ago Napoleon was the only man in Europe who could really be called a traveler; he was the only man who had devoted his attention to it and taken a powerful interest in it; he was the only man who had traveled extensively; but now everybody goes everywhere; and Switzerland, and many other regions which were unvisited and unknown remotenesses a hundred years ago, are in our days a buzzing hive of restless strangers every summer.” (p. 225)

I saw this really cool thing… on the Discovery channel
“[The Ladders] are built against the perpendicular face of a cliff two or three hundred feet high. The peasants, of both sexes, were climbing up and down them, with heavy loads on their backs. I ordered Harris [hired man] to make the ascent, so I could put the thrill and horror of it in my book, and he accomplished the feat successfully, through a sub-agent for three francs, which I paid. It makes me shudder yet when I think of what I felt when I was clinging there between heaven and earth in the person of that proxy.” (p. 255)

I never go to tourist spots. I prefer to see the REAL places in a new country.
“I flit,–and flit,–for I am ever on the wing,–but I avoid the herd. Today I am in Paris, tomorrow in Berlin, anon in Rome; but you would look for me in vain in the galleries of the Louvre or the common resorts of the gazers in those other capitals. If you would find me, you must look in the unvisited nooks and corners where others never think of going. One day you will find me making myself at home in some obscure peasant’s cabin, another day you will find me in some forgotten castle worshiping some little gem of art which the careless eye has overlooked and which the unexperienced would despise; again you will find me a guest in the inner sanctuaries of palaces while the herd is content to get a hurried glimpse of the unused chambers by feeing a servant.” (p. 284)

ACAM: Vietnam — Where to Go, Part 1

Rounding up guidebook and Internet advice, here are some places to visit and things to see and do while I’m in Vietnam. Part 1 because I know commenters will have suggestions!

female puppets dance on the water

Do they break out in song? Do they dance?

See a show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi, or some other water puppetry venue. Apparently this art form developed as a way of appeasing spirits and entertaining fellow workers in flooded rice fields. Today, puppeteers stand offstage and manipulate the puppets via bamboo poles and string, and the puppets appear to walk on water. The shows are usually comedic. Sounds like fun!

Yum

Eat a lot. Here are some foods I’ve been encouraged to sample: phở bò, bánh xèo, bún thịt nướng, cơm tấm, bánh mì, banh bao vac, lau, and French-influenced foods like croissants and duck. I think every single person who learns I’m going to Vietnam says a variation on “oh the food!” This is a promising start.

imposing, with a flag in front

Mlle. O'Leary has a souvenir t-shirt from here

Visit war memorials and museums. I have a longtime fascination with what we Americans call the Vietnam War, and I’m interested to see it presented from the other side. The Hanoi Hilton, the Ho Chi Minh Museum and his mausoleum, and the National Museum of Vietnamese History are all in Hanoi and should give a pretty comprehensive view of the struggle, and there’s also the Vietnam History Museum and War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue

Take a boat to Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue. It’s one of the oldest structures in Hue (a town midway between the two major cities of Vietnam, on the coast), and it’s still a working temple populated by monks.

Image 1. Image 2. Image 3. Image 4.

Travel as Exploitation, or Whatever

Oh the hilarity! I mean, also sad, because I have definitely met far too many travelers whose inner monologue is probably shockingly close to this little satirical piece (without that hard-hitting bit at the end). And I have to watch myself closely to not go too far into this territory, too. But mostly it’s hilarious. Check it out:

“When I reached the end of the alley I saw this really elderly and impoverished Guatemalan woman, with like, missing teeth weaving brightly colored cloths on this big weaving apparatus. And I stopped, for like a whole three minutes and we exchanged a really long glance. I felt like I could see into her soul. I took some photos of her, like, without asking. I remember how pleased I felt, that I actually found something in that alley entirely mine. Like, I owned it or something.”

When we travel, what are we learning, what are we taking, and what right have we to do any of it? Those are the questions I hope we’re grappling with in this here blog.

Note: No need to be familiar with My So-Called Life for this to be entertaining. The author’s writing in the style of a 16-year-old TV character from the early ’90s, but that’s just icing if you know the show. (Which honestly, I don’t; I think I’ve seen one and a half episodes, and it was in this past year, so I missed out on the part where I strongly identify with Angela and draw parallels between her life and mine.)

Sex on the Road

Nerve.com had a feature up this week asking travelers about their love and sex lives. (This being Nerve, you might not want to click through if your office has filters up, and you might not want to read on if you don’t want to read about my views on sex while traveling.) It’s a quick round-up of questions they asked a few people at a bar in Colombia, but I think it’s a pretty accurate slice of the average backpacking population. (ETA: I realize they’re asked very leading questions in the vein of “make your travel sound as sexy and illicit as possible,” but still, you can choose how to answer those.)

If I knew how to Photoshop, I'd put some suggestive silhouette on here to show you what the Sexy UN looks like.

The main themes seem to be:

1) Travel is better when you’re single because you can get laid more.

2) In fact, even when you’re dating someone while traveling, be quick to emphasize just how complicated and non-serious the situation is lest you feel too tied down.

3) Indulge yourself in broad generalizations about the sexual proclivities and romantic tendencies of different ethnicities.

I can really only sign off on #1, and that only if you’re not traveling with your partner. If you’re traveling with your partner, that’s a whole different kind of fun travel.

#2 just makes it sound like backpacking is the ultimate refuge of commitment-phobes, and #3 is not only inaccurate but gross.

I’ve certainly met plenty such travelers on the road, people who consider themselves ambassadors to the sexual United Nations. They use much the same checklist for their dicks as they do for their backpacks; has it been inside as many countries as possible?

And yeah, I just generalized them to be guys. There are women out there with a similar attitude, but overwhelmingly it’s dudes doing this kind of sexual tourism. Even in that Nerve interview, the woman who says she prefers to be single talks about being happy with oneself and enjoying sexual partners as they come along, not as notches on a mobile bedpost.

I think it all ties back into your general approach to travel. If you see travel as a way to meet exotic peoples with strange customs in foreign lands, you’re going to fetishize your sexual experiences with those people as times when you touched the Other. If you see travel as a way to integrate yourself into foreign cultures and look with disdain on those who stayed home, unenlightened about the wide world that you’ve just discovered, you’re going to fetishize your sexual experiences with people in the foreign culture as proof that you’re a citizen of the world to whom no label can be affixed.

If, however, you see travel as a way to meet people on their own terms, in their own lands, in their own time, as fellow travelers in the world, you’re more likely to have sexual experiences with real people rather than stereotypes and personal checklists.

Photo from here.

Abandoned Cities, Tourist Hotspots

Well, I don’t know about hotspots, per se, but this Salon slideshow of “the world’s most beautiful wastelands” makes a compelling argument for why travelers and adventurers might enjoy scrambling over eroded walls and darting across dusty plazas. These places all used to mean a lot to the people who lived in them, and now they’re crumbling into nothingness. They served different functions but now just take up space. They’re a visual reminder of our transience, a melancholy ode to human achievement and fragility. Like stumbling across Atlantis on land.

photo from Salon.com

The splendor of days gone by in Detroit

Photo by Albert Duce, from http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/07/10/trazzler_slideshow_beautiful_wastelands/slideshow.html

Destination: Brooklyn

New York City. It’s one of the capitals of the world, a city teeming with sights to see, performances to take in, restaurants to savor. Of course, when we think of all the wonders of New York, we think of Manhattan. While there are certainly many years’ worth of things to see and do there, other boroughs have their own, less frenetic, charm. Since my sister lives in Brooklyn, I’ve spent a good portion of my two New York trips there, and I’m here to tell you it’s easy to make a whole visit out of Brooklyn alone. Here are some ideas:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prospect Park

Saturday was the first nice day in a long time, and we went for a walk in Prospect Park, which stretches along over twenty city blocks, topped by a giant statue in Grand Army Plaza. The whole park was full of kids and their families playing catch, flying kites, and riding scooters all over, and we strolled along past cyclists and joggers on our way to the farmer’s market. A perfect afternoon!

Cocoa Bar

I whiled away an hour or two at this Park Slope café, drinking a tasty hot chocolate and eating a divine piece of cake called Death by Chocolate. It involved cake, pudding, AND mousse, and no, I did not perish (but I didn’t finish it either). They have a garden backed by a colorful mural, which makes it even more appealing in warmer times.

Park Slope Food Coop

(No, I’m not sure why they don’t hyphenate.) One of the most established co-ops in the country, this place is highly organized. You can’t shop there unless you’re a member, you can only visit if you sign in and wear a visitor’s badge, and if you’re a member, you have to work at least one shift a month or find yourself no longer allowed to shop there because you aren’t contributing your part. The rules make sense for a small place that has over 14,000 members, but it is a bit daunting. Pro tip: don’t go at 5pm on a Sunday. It’s a little scarring. But! The food is cheap, and so much of it is local and organic, and it sure does beat giving your money to a giant conglomerate. Plus, just this week they were raffling off a classic Schwinn, so, y’know, hipster cred is always maintained. So find a friend who’s a member and head on in.

Brooklyn Bridge and Original Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Back when I visited during the summer, Emily took me to Brooklyn Heights, where we had delicious ice cream at the Original Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory while strolling along the pier right under this giant bridge that I hear is being sold for a really good price. (Aw, poor NYC, maybe we shouldn’t make Brooklyn Bridge jokes when their mayor is renaming other bridges nearby.)

Coney Island

Just take the F train all the way to the end of the line and ta da! You’re at the beach, complete with an old-timey carnival and boardwalk. When my flight was delayed on my summer visit, I spent a couple hours sunning in the sand, eating a hot dog, and peeking at the Ferris wheel at Coney Island. This place was a resort destination as early as the 1830s, back when it was still an island and landfills hadn’t connected it to the mainland. Nowadays it’s a bit run-down, but you can still buy an ice cream, a useless souvenir, and an amusement park ride ticket for under $20, so what else could you ask for?

Outpost

Outpost seems to be one of those places that can be a little bit of everything for everybody–café, bar, restaurant, gallery, performance spot. When I visited during Gay Pride Weekend in ’09, a queer party group called Banned threw a delightful fête here with cupcakes, dance music, and burlesque performers who stood on tabletops and set their tassels on fire. It was pretty exciting. Also, there is a charming garden in the back with cozy seating to share a beer or three with your friends.

Park Slope shops

This neighborhood has a well-deserved reputation for being full of yuppie parents steamrolling over the sidewalks with their giant strollers, but as long as you stay nimble and avoid getting run over, there are a lot of neat shops to see. Emily and I walked along 7th Ave and poked our heads in many independent stores, places built up by locals and supported by the same. I think after a few hours I’d find it all a bit precious, but until then, the many stationery, framing, book, jewelry, and boutique pet stores are a fun way to while away an afternoon.

Re/Dress

Emily found out about Re/Dress through a friend and knew it would becomeo an immediate favorite of mine. It’s a used and vintage store for women sizes 14 and up, and unlike most thrift stores, it’s huge. (Puns!) The staff is friendly and affirmative, the décor is zany and bright, and the clothes are affordable and good quality. Emily found me the perfect LBD there, and I stocked up on summer dresses in ’09 that get me compliments every time I wear them. Highly recommended if you’re in the size range and in the neighborhood (which I think is Brooklyn Heights?).

I know there’s much, much more to see, but next time I visit Brooklyn I’m sure I’ll have even more suggestions to bring back for y’all. In the meantime, enjoy!

Guest Post — Tourist/Non-Tourist

Dearest fellow travelers, it gives me great pleasure to introduce a guest post from Sessily Watt, a good friend and fellow K alum. A few weeks ago, she and I were discussing the comments on the Great Expectations post, and about what it means to live in a different country rather than simply visit it for a short time. Sessily is a writer living in Chicago, and her post reflects on her time spent living in Ecuador in 2005. Enjoy!

*********************************************************************************************

We were standing on a sidewalk between several medical buildings, in the middle of a tour of a small hospital in Ecuador, when the woman approached us. (Or maybe she was our guide through the buildings, and it was at this point that she asked us about who we were. Time has passed. The memories have shifted.) After a flurry of conversation she was under the impression that some or all of us were medical students, and offered for us to come and observe a birth that was happening at that very moment. She led us back through the buildings to the doorway to the delivery room, where it became clear that observing a birth meant all ten of us (nine students and one of our program directors) crowding into the delivery room and its doorway. Four of us had already felt uncomfortable as we approached the room, and our discomfort increased. We waited a moment, but it was soon clear the rest were planning to stay and watch, so we left them there, walked out of the building, through the waiting area where the pregnant woman’s family was waiting, out the front door to a set of benches in front of the building. We sat down.

Out on the benches, we were split again by the cause of our discomfort. Two, male, were personally uncomfortable with watching a woman give birth. Two, female, were uncomfortable that we had been welcomed into that room without permission being asked or granted from the woman who was lying on that table with her legs spread. Our fellow students were back in that room, with their cameras out. We waited.

The nine of us had been together in Ecuador for five months at this point. One of our program directors, who was with us that day, had led us on three previous trips as a group. We had already passed through that stretch of time where we got on each other’s nerves, and now we were a more or less cohesive group. The people who chose to stay in that delivery room and watch the birth were (and are) perfectly nice, lovely people. I enjoyed traveling with them. But I judged them for staying in that room.

Traveling, especially as a tourist to another country, can lead to a sense of entitlement to see anything and everything. In my opinion, the people who stayed in that room were acting out that entitlement. They weren’t medical students. Their presence served no purpose for the woman lying on the table. They were simply there to see what it was like. (In the case of at least two people, who have since gone on to medical school, I can see how this experience was edifying. And, who knows, maybe in some way it will prompt them into actions that improve the delivery of medicine, etc etc, but those benefits move us further and further away from that woman on the table who was not helped by them and who did not give her consent for them to be there.)

A study abroad program like the one in Ecuador is designed to encourage students to take part in society as if they aren’t tourists: we lived with host families, attended an Ecuadorian university, and ended the program with an internship/volunteer position in an Ecuadorian organization. One would hope these experiences would lessen that feeling of entitlement to see everything. To a certain extent, we lived in Ecuador for six and a half months, rather than traveling there. Especially during my last month in the country, volunteering at an organization where I worked with Ecuadorians, Germans, and French, I felt like I had found a niche for myself. I woke up in the morning, rode the bus for eight stops, picked up a copy of El Comercio from the newsstand, and walked three blocks to the corner building where the organization had a series of rooms on the second floor. Sometimes I went to lunch with my coworkers, sometimes I walked to a sandwich place that was nearby. My coworkers and I tutored kids in the afternoon. Some afternoons I was bored, others I was outraged, or sad, or content. In the evening, I visited with my host family for a little while before I went to bed. Some nights I went out. By living in Ecuador I learned that I enjoy large cities, can’t imagine living without public transportation (though I grew up in a small town without it), and when I’ve moved to a new place I feel anxious about leaving home until I get out and walk around, take a bus or two, and maybe get lost. Without living in Ecuador, I may never have considered moving to Chicago.

La Casa Amigos, where I volunteered during my last month in Ecuador

But no matter how well designed, a study abroad program couldn’t make us Ecuadorian, and the trappings and support of the program at times increased the feeling of being a tourist. When we went on the program-designed trips, we traveled in our own bus, a little bubble of pirated American movies and Seinfeld episodes. There were always nine of us to compare to all of them, emphasizing our differences. Like any other tourist, we were there to see the country, to experience those cultural differences we heard about in our pre-trip lectures. Perhaps even to “broaden our horizons.” Yes, there are real benefits to exposing ourselves to differences–not to mention that it can be a lot of fun–but that focus on cultural differences, in combination with other factors, leads to forgetting that those people aren’t there to open themselves up for us to examine.

the bus we traveled around in for our program trips

Every traveler has a different line they draw in how far they will go to experience it all. The other students in my program didn’t feel uncomfortable with their experience in the delivery room. The doctors were fine with their presence. The woman supposedly thanked them after it was all done (cynically, I ask, “Did she even know why they were there?”). As a very private person, I imagine that my line comes much earlier than others. By not staying in that room, I may have missed out on an amazing experience. I’m willing to imagine there are other instances where, if I had been willing to press a little harder, to dig in a little more, I might have had other theoretically amazing experiences. But.

I traveled by myself once while I was in Ecuador, right at the end of my time there. Throughout that trip, I often felt different from the people I was with, and like I didn’t belong. But it was during that trip I felt the least like a tourist. I wasn’t there to see the sites. I wasn’t there to see what life was like in this coastal city. I was there to visit a specific person, because I thought I would regret it if I didn’t visit her. It was in those moments when I was living my life and just happened to be in a country different from the one I grew up in–traveling by myself, volunteering–that I felt like I had the clearest glimpses of Ecuador.

Better Than Expected

Dearest fellow travelers, how often have you been obligated to do something that sounded dreadful, only to find yourself having a wonderful time? Or maybe it wasn’t even going to be dreadful, merely kind of dull, like a coworker’s wedding or your second cousin’s bar mitzvah, but the DJ played MIA and ABBA and other artists whose awesomeness requires that their names be in all caps, and the buffet had those tasty bacon-wrapped dates and slabs of Gouda (none of that cubed stuff), and you spent the night dancing with a highly attractive friend of the family who was very willing to share their hotel room with you at the end of the evening? In these situations, you might look back on the experience and conclude, “Well, that was better than expected.”

My mom is very fond of the phrase “better than expected,” and it’s become somewhat of a thing in our family to admit our pessimistic outlook was proved wrong and we were pleasantly surprised. Why, just a few weeks ago, when I was visiting EL, H and I went to a church party with our parents and had so much fun talking to people we hadn’t seen in months that we stayed an hour and a half later than we’d planned to. Better than expected.

When I went to New York City this past May, it was a classic case. I was, of course, immensely excited to visit my sister E, but that was separate from how I felt about visiting the city itself. See, I’ve had a bias against the East Coast for over ten years now, based on all the literature and movies that assume everyone is aware the Midwest is for uncultured oafs, and the only place to be, if you’re going to be anybody, is New York (followed by Boston or DC if you have to settle). Unfortunately, many of the people I’ve met from New York support this theory, and I can’t stand their smug superiority.

I’ll be damned if people are going to tell me my city is second rate to any other, especially a city as overblown and overdone as New York. People in New York are proud to be assholes to tourists, whereas people in Chicago might get annoyed at having to point out the Sears Tower over and over, but we’re still going to say excuse me when we bump into you on the street. Everyone in theater knows that there are two towns for theater in the US — New York and Chicago. New York has a giant park and a dirty ocean, but Chicago has miles of park running alongside a lake you can actually swim in. Bands might move to New York when they need to cut a record deal, but they’re just as likely to record that album in Chicago. And if you’re a hip hop act, Chicago is the place to be. If you want to eat at one of the hot restaurants in New York, you have to make reservations before the place even exists. In Chicago, I’m pretty sure I could get a reservation at Alinea or the Publican a week or two out, and in the meantime, there’s Kuma’s Corner. Chicago has the perfect combination of Midwestern manners and big city excitement, and I honestly don’t want to live anywhere else for at least a few years.

Oops. I got off on a tangent there. But that’s exactly what I mean — I get so defensive about Chicago when I’m talking to East Coasters, and New Yorkers in particular. Of course I still wanted to go to New York. It’s not that I think there’s nothing special about the place, or that it’s inferior to Chicago, or that I wouldn’t enjoy myself. Not at all! New York has many unique sights and a fascinating history. That’s what I had to keep reminding myself as I prepared to go there. I had a mental block about the people I’d meet and the city’s relation to my city, but if I could just get past that, there was a world class city waiting for me.

Indeed, I had a wonderful time. Granted, E introduced me to her friends, so everyone I met was friendly, but I was kind of expecting to get straight up shoved into the street for walking too slowly on the sidewalk, and that did not happen. I was also fairly confident that I’d get “tourist” hurled at me as an angry epithet when I stopped to take my 400th photo (in five days. not kidding.), but instead, I was twice stopped for directions from other tourists who took me for a native. And the sights did not disappoint. I am a firm believer in seeing lots of tourist sites when visiting a new place, since you never know when you’ll be back, and there’s usually a reason something got famous enough to be a tourist destination in the first place. Accordingly, I packed it in: Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Chinatown, a show on Broadway, Times Square (for ten bewildering and terrifying minutes), the Modern Museum of Art, and even Coney Island when my return flight was delayed by several hours.

 

Central Park

Central Park

 

 

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building from the top of the Empire State Building

The Classy Tourists

as touristy as possible, and mighty happy

 

 

What’s that? Okay. Yes. I’ll admit it, and gladly. New York was better than expected.