15 April 2020 - Day 4 – New York City
Hoping to see Lady Liberty out my porthole, I’d left the blackout curtains open figuring that the early morning light would arouse me. Well it did wake me, but our captain (or the pilot) had managed to sail through Lower Bay and the Verrazano Narrows, past Liberty and Ellis Islands and was docking before the sun tried to peak through the canyons of Manhattan. I crawled out of bed, got a shower, dressed for a day of overcast 50° temperatures. Armed with my MSC ID card, my MetroCard from 2016, my camera and journal in my backpack, I headed up to the buffet and had a hard-boiled egg, toasted bagel, OJ and coffee.
Back down from 15 to 4 by the stairs, I queued up behind about 20 folks to show our cards allowing us to check off the ship for the day. We were docked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, and I saw folks arriving with luggage, waiting to board. Crossing under the West Side Highway, I walked across DeWitt Clinton Park to the corner of 11th Avenue and 52nd Street. Crossing three more avenues and two streets, I arrived at the IRT Broadway Local (#1) subway station. I descended to track level, found a fare machine and felt blessed that my card still worked (with money on it, even!) and added a twenty-dollar bill. Riding a single stop south, I crossed the platform at Times Square to a #3 Express, sitting in the front of the car, to the Hoyt Street stop, exiting onto Elm Place near Fulton Street in Brooklyn.
Google Maps took me south along Elm, away from Fulton to Livingston, where I went left at the T intersection. The next corner was Bond Street where I turned right and walked two blocks to State Street. To my left, the second building in was #StNicholasAntiochianOrthodoxCathedral. With three wooden doors protected by red canvas canopies, the gray stone blocks of the façade were stunning. The round
stained-glass window over the center door depicted a 6-point star, so I knew I’d have to research the history of the building and its former uses. Since it was almost 8:30, the building was closed, but I had seen the interior online.
Four relatively long blocks, I walked down State Street to Court Street, and five short
blocks to Montague Street brought me within a block of to my next objective (this walk was about three-quarters of a mile). St Ann and the #HolyTrinityChurch had actually grabbed my attention when I had been on my photo search in Brooklyn back in October 2016, and I had a poor
photo of it. Researching for this trip, I discovered that Holy Trinity (the actual structure) had been the Episcopal pro-cathedral for Long Island from 1869 to 1885, and had been elevated to that status again in 2018. [The Cathedral of the Incarnation, the Long Island Episcopal seat, is in Garden City; I’ll visit it another time.]
Leaving the pro-cathedral, I walked back down Montague to Court and another 2 blocks to the (Brooklyn) Borough Hall station stop for the #4 IRT line. Riding back to Manhattan, I exited at the Canal Street stop, and headed northeast on Lafayette 3 long blocks and then easterly 3½ blocks along Broome Street to #HolyTrinityUkrainianOrthodoxCathedral.
Next to an old brick firehouse, the beige brick façade had a central double door opening to a porch up stairs from the sidewalk, with two single doors banking it. I lucked out and was able to enter, as the attendants were just opening after preparing for morning service. I scooted around and got a few pictures, paid for three candles which I lit before an icon of St Anthony and said prayers for my grandfather (who probably rolled in his grave) before I left.
Returning to Mott Street, I walked through Chinatown to Canal Street, and then west towards the Holland Tunnel until I arrived at Broadway. Descending back into the subway, I was looking for a N or W train heading towards Queens. Maybe 3 minutes wait, I boarded a moderately crowded car which slowly emptied out as we rumbled under Midtown to 59th Street where, after the tracks bended to the east, we crossed the East River and Roosevelt Island to head to Astoria. Half an hour later, I exited at the 30th Avenue station to walk a block back to 30th Drive.
#SaintDemetriousGreekOrthodoxCathedral sits on the corner, with an exterior of orange-
colored bricks and white stone carvings. Two columned cupolas anchor the front corners, while a cross-topped white dome sits over the sanctuary. Further down the Drive are the Greek American School and St Demetrious Prep. Five stained-glass topped arches over three brass doors give access to the church, reached from the sidewalk via sets of side stairs. Beautiful inside and out, I was grateful to be able to visit this building, and was made very welcome by the staff. They were most curious to hear about the #GreekOrthodox cathedrals I’d visited in Britain, including the 7 in London, and particularly the Cathedral Church of St Luke in Glasgow.
My next stop was a mile away. Following 31st Street back towards the subway stop, with the weather looking iffy, I decided to get back on the train for the one stop ride. Ten minutes on the platform, and 2-minutes on the subway, I exited at the Ditmars Boulevard stop. Back a block on 31st Street, I turned northwest on 23rd Avenue to walk 4 blocks to 26th Street.
(Mysteriously, there is no 30th Street?) Turning right, a block and a half along and across 26th Street was the #CathedralOfSaintMarkella, also Greek Orthodox.
Not a soaring tall building like St Demetrious, it has two tall stories set up a half flight from the sidewalk. Three canopied entry double doors will allow overflow congregants to view proceedings in the sanctuary from the street. Nine blue enameled domes crowned with double crosses rise on the roof. Again, a Greek national flag waved over the street. Unfortunately for me, the building was closed.
Planning on returning to Manhattan, it was now about noon. Back to the Ditmars Blvd station, just before ducking underground, I called my friend Frank to arrange to meet for lunch on the Upper West Side. I caught the N train to Times Square where I switched to the Broadway Local heading north. Total time for this ride was 45 minutes, and I came up the
stairs at 79th street to a slight drizzle. A quarter mile walk up three blocks on Broadway and then a block and a half east on 82nd Street put me in front of the #UkrainianOrthodoxCathedralOfStVolodymdr. At three-stories, it is a wide presence on the south side of the block, ornate grill work in stone with stained glass inserts towers over the sidewalk. Four arches at the top of a short flight of stairs off the sidewalk yield to a covered portico and the entry into the cathedral. Inside, there were pews facing the iconostasis which was topped with icons of the saints in front of a magnificent arched stained-glass window. The chandeliers were turned off, but I got the impression that this is a magnificent building.
Stomach grumbling, I left St Volodymyr’s and crossed 82nd Street, returning to Amsterdam Avenue. Walking a quarter mile up 4 blocks, I arrived in front of Barney Greengrass just as
Frank arrived from the subway at Broadway at 86th. We’ve known one another since the very early 80’s, and recently got back in touch. Now a Yoga instructor, he’s been on stage as a singer-actor-dancer for over 40 years. Over an omelet with salmon salami, this monument to Jewish soul food was fun to visit, and the chow was spectacular (but a bit pricey.) Fortunately, it was midafternoon, and not too crowded, so we were able to catch up, as it had been maybe 25 years since we’d seen on another.
The skies were clearing as we exited, and I walked Frank back to the subway so he could return to his flat on Washington Heights. The Meraviglia wasn’t due to depart until 6pm, which gave me about 2 hours to meander down to 50th Street and 12th Avenue. Walking down Amsterdam, I window shopped as I got closer to my old apartment. At 72nd Street, I stuck to the eastern side and veered onto Broadway, crossing at 69th Street and continuing down to Lincoln Center. This was one of my old #NewYorkCity stomping grounds – in the 12+ years I’d lived in Manhattan, I’d spent many an evening in one of these halls. Walking past Philharmonic Hall and onto the plaza, I truly missed the old black marble fountain where one could rest one’s feet looking at State Theater and the Metropolitan Opera House’s Chagall tapestries. Heading back past the Met through the amphitheater, I headed down Amsterdam past the back of Fordham University (where I got my MBA, studying on Monday nights while working days). As Amsterdam changed to 10th Avenue, at 54th Street I turned towards the Hudson River, walking along the DeWitt Clinton Park again to the Cruise Terminal.
Reboarding was simple, just flashing my #Meraviglia ID and subjecting my bag to inspection while passing through a scanner. Heading up a level, I went to my cabin and dropped my gear, to then enjoy giving my hands and face a good scrub. It had never really gotten warm, so I didn’t feel a need to bathe or change clothes. After writing in my journal for a bit, I headed up for “Magic Martinis”. The usual crowd was there, and the newbies were just finishing up their muster drill. The blood orange martini was a big hit for me, so I got another and settled down for a bit of relaxation and conversation. Out the window we saw the New Jersey shore passing by.
As dinner time approached, I went back to the cabin to grab my copy of #CathedralsToTheGloryOfGod. I’d promised my Canadian dinner partners to bring it, but felt a bit uncomfortable with forcing it on the new arrivals. Fortunately, filling out our table were a brother-sister pair from Massachusetts: both retired, Art was a Lutheran minister, and Carole is a widowed housewife and proud grandmother. Our Carolinians raved about their dinner two nights before at the Kaito Sushi Bar; Mark and Helen encouraged me to give it a try, as they apparently had with the Canadians the night before. I reported on my delicious meal at Butcher’s Cut, and I got the impression that Rob and Bill would be angling to give it a try.
After placing our orders off the menu, the photobook started getting passed around. Now, I know that to really see all the pages, it will take an hour, so it really didn’t get too far around
the table. Fortunately, we had an empty chair to rest it on while we ate. Susan had discovered the station making fresh mozzarella daily, so at least half of us started with a caprese salad, and even the tomatoes were decent. (Did they load on New Jersey tomatoes? A bit early?) My main was mahi, seared and coated with sesame seeds and served with asparagus and a pair of small roasted red potatoes. Art, Susan, Jeanne and I all got cheese plates for dessert, and I remembered to ask them for an extra bread basket when we requested that the plates be put out to achieve room temperature before serving.
Chatting and looking at the book, we were close to the last to leave the Panorama Dining Room, and it was past starting time for the show. We slipped into the Edge Cocktail Bar for a nightcap, and I found a Meukow VSOP Superior hiding on the top shelf. I’d had a bottle of Meukow in California, courtesy of a client who worked as a liquor distributor, and I enjoyed this offering too. After finishing my snifter, I begged off due to a full physically busy day and sore feet, and headed with the photobook down to my cabin.
After an hour crafting this post, and downloading photos from the cameras and phone, I crashed, not even looking out the porthole to view out to Brooklyn and the Bridge support as we headed out to sea.