Friday, 10 April 2009

The Cloisters, Temple Emmanual, Time Warner, Empire State Building, Improv

Day Four (15/09/2006)
On this day, AW had decided to take the Grey Line Bus to Woodbury Commons to do his shopping. Woodbury Commons is a factory outlet which sells designer items for extremely cheap prices with discounts as much as 70% of the original price. I decided to give this a pass as I didn't see it practical to fork out the US$38 to get on a bus to a place to buy cheap designer stuff. I took this time to visit the Cloisters and had persuaded HL to accompany me. According to the Lonely Planet Guide book, this place is gorgeous with an architecture similar to old French and Spanish monasteries and lots of medieval artefacts and tapestries. I never regretted making the trip to Upper Manhattan to visit this place. It was spectacular! The detail in its architectural design showed in every corners of this building. It's the best place I have visited so far in New York. There were beautiful pillars, inner cloisters, outer cloisters with gardens, the arches on the doorway were all heavy crafted with intricate designs, there are pretty stained-glassed windows, the artefacts were all finely carved and they have a garden with medieval plants, some of which were termed magic plants! You know, I've always wanted to see how cloisters really looked after having played Diablo2, fighting against demons in a scary monastery with many cloisters. I'm impressed by the beauty of this place. Everything in this place is a beautiful piece of art. I couldn't help but took pictures of whatever hat drew my attention to it. There was a really old wooden door that was half-sealed with wooden planks for refurbishment. The carvings on that door were extremely fine and unique. However, the darkness in that part of the room prohibited me from taking a single decent picture of it. What a pity!

I like how these red marble reveals the age of this place. It gives it an ancient and mystical look to the building. According to the notes given on a wall, a lot of repair has gone into keeping the arches intact. So, some of the pieces may be of newer marble.

I like this room with the Mother Mary painted on the ceiling. I also like the brick work within the interiors of the building. From the pictures, the rooms look like paintings! Reminded me of a similar painting on the ceiling of a Byzantine church which I've seen on a documentary on Byzantium, the Lost Empire.

Check out the design of this tomb or memorial structure below. I am both intrigued and very impressed by this. The darkness with the dimmed lights made the place all the more eerie and exciting at the same time.

This picture below was one of the carved stone slabs on the sides of the door.

I've seen several stained-glassed windows but definitely not one with this design biblical scene on each circle.

We had planned to meet up with AW in the hostel at 7pm to go to Times Square to purchase tickets for a comedy show to watch for the night. However, we met up with an Improv representative in the afternoon while HL and I were hanging around the area and had bought a ticket off him. As advised earlier by the TKTS theatre guide, Rob Shappiro who is also a comedian at Improv, we mentioned his name to the representative to hopefully get a discount. The rep told us that we are getting a promotional price for the tickets as he was selling it on the streets. If we had gotten the tickets at the booths, the original price would have been the double of what we were paying. And, he recommended that we catch the 11pm Saturday night show as the speakers are more popular comedians, some of which that appear on Comedy Central. We called the following day to make the necessary reservations for the show.

Day Five (16/09/2006)

We started our day with a sushi breakfast.

AW was having a mixture of Californian, prawn, eel, tuna and salmon sushi while I preferred an assortment of cooked sushi (avocado, crabsticks and cucumber).

We were heading towards Central Park to visit the Temple Emmanuel for the second time. On our first attempt, the temple has been closed for renovation. This time round, we coincidentally came on the day of the German-American parade. Since we arrived before noon and the temple was having a service running until 1pm, we decided to watch the parade which started at noon. Minutes before the procession, a particular band was playing a catchy song which caught the attention of many pedestrians. The band members wore flashy costumes and danced as they spread the music around them. It was extremely entertaining. The audience watched with a smile as the music cheered everyone's spirit up.

The participants that joined the parade were mostly from some form of German association or school in the States. We saw bands from different schools and societies, and groups from some police department, fire brigade and organisations. Some groups were not in uniforms. Everyone, including the participants, was feeling merry from the parade.

Temple Emmanuel is the largest Jewish synagogue in the world and its architecture which, according to the Lonely Planet Guide book, has Byzantine and Middle Eastern influences. Unfortunately, only one of the halls was opened on that day which the guide told us is a simple auditorium and less impressive than the main sanctuary.

We headed to the Time Warner Centre which is a really pretty building with mirrored-windows that reflected the lovely blue of that day's sky. Right outside the building is a park with a fountain in the middle of it. This part of New York looks a lot cleaner and prettier than a lot of other streets. The main area of the building which is the part with the concrete bits is filled with shops and I'm guessing the tall silvery parts are mostly offices. Most of the shops here are selling designer clothes, watches and bags. There is a Samsung store which is pretty interesting as we get to try out the electronics they sell.

There is a chocolate statue of a man and a woman ( on the other side) in the lobby. The shops in the building are mostly posh-looking and sell expensive items. There are many floors with shops on both wings of the building.

I was thrilled when I saw Borders. However, the books here are selling at similar prices as those in the Borders of UK. There is also an area furnished with seats and couches for shoppers to rest.

This is an exhibit of different tea cups lined in a spiral, found on the highest floor of the mall.

On the first floor, there is an interesting screen with a camera embedded on it. Letters are flying around the screen and when you stand within the view of the camera, the letters float on top of your image.

On every floor, there is a balcony where you can look out through the glass walls of the building. On the highest floor, the view outside looked spectacular and it gives the view a tiled effect.

Next, we went to the Empire State Building. The embossed picture of the building that is hanged in the lobby area is eye-catching and grand. There were a lot of people standing in front of it to take pictures and as we headed towards the line to get up to the viewing floor, we found a long queue of people. We waited for about an hour in the queue before we reached the 80th floor where another long queue greeted us. When we finally got to the 86th floor where we can get a bird's eye view of the city, every centimetre of the railings were covered with people snapping pictures away.

My favourite building is the Chrysler Building. It is the prettiest building I've seen so far in New York. Its design, especially the top of the building, is unique and the silvery bits made it all the more majestic, elegant and beautiful.

I think New York City is a big piece of bread with mould of skycraper growing on it. It's amazing how every single building managed to find space on such a cluttered area.

And there is the Statue of Liberty on what seems to be a tiny island beyond the city.

Right in the middle of this picture is the Flatiron, a funny looking building in the same of a triangle.

That night, we had a Chinese dinner at a restaurant called Lunch Box. They were giving discount coupons on the street. Hungry and not wanting to walk any further, we decided to check out the buffet menu. There were about 30 over dishes to choose from in which we have a choice of 5 dishes. And, there were also vegetables and seafood dishes in which HL and AW can choose from. We eventually dined there.

I was surprised to find a lot of people at the Improv Comedy Cafe. Not wanting to be made fun of, which occasionally happens in a comedy show, we chose a seat a little further away from the stage. There were 5 speakers in the show, 4 of which were guests while the remaining one was the host. I enjoyed both the Australian guy's and this other African American guy's shows but found the shows of host and the 2 other speakers distasteful and crude especially when they went on to talk about their sex life in detail. It's one thing to tell a sex joke and another when you start telling your details of your sex life as a joke. VM thinks that I've got a really lousy sense of humour. Maybe I do.

I truly enjoyed Wali Colt's , the Black American guy, jokes. He had the whole crowd laughing like mad. We met him on our way out at the end of the show. He tried to sign on my ticket stub when I asked for his autograph but the ink wouldn't stay on the paper. So, I asked him to sign on my hand instead.

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