Along with the changing of the leaves and the Autumn air blowing into the city, I was able to visit Manhattan for five days, and stay in a luxury condo on the Upper East Side. Long before Bernie Madoff made this neighborhood infamous, the New York elite started settling into the Upper East Side over a century ago. As a result, there are well preserved high rises up and down both Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue. There is a section of Fifth Ave around 70th street that is home to what was once called “Millionaires Row”; the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, and the Astors entertained their friends here at the turn of the 19th century. Today, this section is called “Museum Mile.” One of the highlights is the The Frick Collection housed in the 1914 mansion of industrialist Henry Clark Frick. The mansion-turned museum includes works by Rembrandt, Degas, Goya, and many more of the art world’s best-known names. (I learned this handy traveler’s tip: “Pay what you wish” admission is every Sunday between 11 am and 1 pm.) The website has virtual tours on it for those of you who would like to visit by internet.
One of my favorite things to do in Manhattan is to go to Broadway shows. This time, I got to see Liev Schreiber and Janet McTeer in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses. This drama is known as one of the sexiest plays ever written, and it certainly was! It’s a tale about seduction, manipulation, and betrayal set in 18th century France. Hot, hot, hot.
I also saw Josh Groban in his Broadway debut. He stars in a musical take on Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” entitled “Natasha Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812.” The set design alone is fantastic, as cocktail tables are dispersed throughout the audience, and seats are constructed both on the stage and behind the stage. The orchestra musicians are also part of the cast, and the Russian folk music is exhilarating.
Staying on the Upper East Side, I was able to walk to some interesting new restaurants. I was lucky enough to secure a reservation at the Polo Bar . (Guests who want to dine there must call thirty days in advance and be prepared to wait on hold for several hours.) The ambiance and the food were comfort at it’s finest. Diners begin their meal with home baked popovers and fresh creamed butter. Then whimsically, the drinks came with miniature polo sticks. I was delighted! My autumn soup, and fresh fish, were followed up with their famous chocolate cake. I was a happy preppy camper.
My favorite lunch spot is also on the Upper East Side. It’s an Italian “locals only” type of place, and the food reminds me of lunches in Milan where you can quickly grab a sandwich and a delicious bowl of minestrone soup. Manhattan wouldn’t be complete for me without a stop into Via Quadronno. The minestrone here comes with tiny pieces of toast that are lightly sprinkled with olive oil and herbs. They are the perfect accompaniment to the simmering soup.
Being near Fifth Avenue, one of the perks is admiring the gorgeous shop window displays. In the Autumn, Christmas decorations begin to come out. Somehow, walking in the chilly air, it just feels alright to see this before Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Most of my family lives in California, but my niece and my parents were both living in New York this time. My niece came from Brooklyn to hang with us for a few nights, (awesome!) and we took my parents to see Cagney, the Musical, which was enjoyed by all.
I felt quite pampered being on the Upper East Side, along with the chic Manhattan crowd. I was grateful to be able to slip in and out before the snow hits, the ice sets in, and this California girl would really freeze her butt off.