Monthly Archives: November 2018

Bruce Springsteen, Hamilton and more in NY City

For about a year, we talked about visiting New York City with our good friends Bob and Diane. Lynn and Diane were longing  for the big city —  culture, shows, fine dining, museums, shopping and miles of daily walks.

Bob made it happen – he gave Diane tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway for their anniversary so we were all in for taking a bite out of the Big Apple.

Broadway Shows

Hamilton on Broadway

The impetus for our visit was to see Hamilton on Broadway. Bob researched the musical, listened to the soundtrack and educated us about the show before we even left for our trip.

The musical is about the life of Alexander Hamilton — one of the founding fathers of the United States. Hamilton was the founder of the nation’s financial system and the first secretary of the Treasury.  But his life was full of interesting happenings and was ended tragically in a duel.

What makes the show iconic is that it’s not an ordinary musical. No operatic singing — all songs are rapped bringing a hipness to stage that is unique, interesting and incredibly cool.

If you haven’t seen Hamilton — see it! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

About a year ago, I read the auto-biography of Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and became an even bigger fan of his music as I listened to older albums that I hadn’t known about before. 

I really got wrapped up in his music and it became one of the top artists on my personal playlist.When we decided to go to NY, I knew we had to see the Bruce Springsteen musical. It’s been on Broadway for almost 2 years and will be ending at the end of 2018. 

Imagine having Bruce Springsteen over for dinner, sitting in your living room and telling you his life story.  How he started out, the struggles he faced, the rejections, the depression, the meteoric rise to stardom, and the relationships he made along the way. And as he starts telling you his story, he belts out songs you know and love that represent that time in his life.

That’s what the show was like. Set in a small intimate venue, there were no pyrotechnics, no props, and no backup singers. Just Bruce, his story, and his incredible gift of music shared with you.

Wicked on Broadway

We also saw Wicked on Broadway. This is a musical about the Wizard of Oz but told from the story of the Wicked Witch of the West. We saw this before seeing Hamilton and Bruce Springsteen and thought it was one of the best musicals we had seen. Then we saw Hamilton — even better! Then we saw Bruce — the best!

Fine Dining

New York City offers pretty much any cuisine you desire and on almost every block. 

We even found the famous restaurant that was on the Jerry Seinfeld show — you remember the Soup Nazi, right? Here is the restaurant from that episode. I had soup there — it’s actually very good!

Museums

There are so many great museums in New York. We started by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art (called the MET).

It’s hard to take in The Met in a day — it is the largest museum in the USA and gets over 7 million visitors a year. It boasts art from America, Europe, Egypt, Greece and Islam.  

Diane being creative

We also visited the Museum of Modern Art, it has a great collection as well. It houses the iconic Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh — you know – the guy that cut off his ear and mailed it to his lover to show her how much he loved her

Starry Night prompted Don McLean to write a song about it (Starry Starry Night), listen to it here. Van Gogh also had a similar painting that I like even better:

We also visited the American Museum of Natural History. Similar to The Met — you could spend all day here. It had the biggest dinosaur bones I’ve ever seen. I wish we had more time to experience it all.

Finally, we visited the 9/11 Museum at One World Trade Center. The new One World Trade Center is beautifully designed and inspiring.

Local graffiti artists painted this building

Before entering the museum, you see a memorial called Reflecting Absence that honors the victims of the September 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The memorial, designed by Peter Walker and Israeli-American architect Michael Arad, consists of a field of trees interrupted by the footprints of the twin towers. It contains the names of everyone that tragically died that day.

You can spend hours in the museum and learn all about the backstories of heartbreak and experience stories of people that suffered  that day. You also learn about the heroes of the day. Below is a firetruck that was devastated from falling debris.

If you get a chance to visit the museum, please do. It is sad yet empowering — highlighting the resilience of Americans.

Shopping

Shopping in New York is like no other place, they have just about anything you need.  Lynn and Diane had a field day visiting all the shops and I enjoyed the 24 hour Apple store.

Miles of Walking

We stayed in Manhattan and took advantage of Central Park.  You can walk or cycle it. Citibank offers low cost bicycles you can use all day long for $12.

Here are a few pictures from our walking adventures around town.

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Montreal Canada: A Bike Friendly City

Our oldest son (Cameron) was married in April 2018 and we were excited to vacation in Montreal with Cameron and his wife Kara. After visiting with them in New Hampshire, we drove towards Montreal.

It was fall in New England and we joined the “leaf peepers” by taking in the change of seasons.

We took the opportunity to stop at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Vermont to have apple cider and cider doughnuts — they melt in your mouth.

If you get a chance to visit, it’s worth the stop. Located in Waterbury, Vermont, Ben and Jerry’s original location is also just up the street.

Montreal, Canada

A great way to experience Montreal is with a tour on bicycle. This city is so bike friendly, it’s safe and easy to navigate.

We started our tour at Mount Royal Park where we learned that Montreal’s namesake came from the words “Royal Mountain”. It was a chilly fall day but plenty of people were out enjoying the day. 

We made our way through narrow streets of Old Montreal along cobblestone streets that offered a distinct European feel.

Montreal is a mashup of French and English architecture and is home to world-renowned universities.

Cameron being a goofball

In 2017, McGill University was ranked the number 1 student university in Canada is ranked 32nd worldwide. After cycling, we came back to visit the Redpath museum, a donation-only museum that’s worth a look.

We made our way along the St. Lawrence river — the connector between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. This area of town has a hip vibe, with a mix of old and new. 

Notice the old mills in the background — now government protected as they determine what to do with them.

As you cycle along the river, there are plenty of spots to chill along the way.

Habitat 67

Across from the river is Habitat 67, a model community built for Expo 67 by architect Moshe Safdie. It began as a thesis project for his architecture project at McGill University. Essentially, the building is made up of cube dwellings — coined an “architectural wonder” in 1967.

After cycling, we visited the underground city — interconnected shops, boutiques and office buildings that you can walk in the winter without experiencing the cold.

Montreal Art Scene

We also took in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts — you can spend an entire afternoon exploring the exhibits.  The museum is housed in multiple buildings but they are all connected via underground tunnels. 

Notre Dame

No visit of Montreal is complete without peaking inside of Notre Dame — Montreal’s most famous church.

Gardens of Light

On our final night in Montreal, we visited the Gardens of Light at the Botanical Gardens.  Located next to the Olympic Stadium — the site of the first Olympics in Canada.

At night, the Botanical Gardens is illuminated with a juxtaposition of light and art.

What’s Next?

Montreal is an interesting city with incredible eateries. Since Cameron and Kara are Vegan, we ate vegetarian most of the visit and the food was amazing.

Leaving Montreal, Lynn and I will venture to New York City to take in some Broadway shows with friends — stay tuned for an upcoming blog.

I’ll leave you with a sight you don’t see everyday — this dog seems to be the perfect sidecar companion.