Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Travelogue New York: Cloisters to High Line to Hyde Park

I love to visit New York and now that my son is a freshman in college on Long Island, our trips to this great state are becoming more frequent.  Our last trip was to help him move in, and once he was settled, we took off on the Long Island Railroad for a day in Manhattan.

First stop was to The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.  I have been wanting to visit for years, ever since I read Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn and fell in love with the idea of medieval tapestries and the stories contained in them.  The Cloisters' Unicorn Tapestries are a different set than those featured in The Lady and the Unicorn, but they were magnificent to see in person nonetheless.  I confess that seeing this one in person took my breath away.

When I got home, I promptly ordered a William Morris counted cross-stitch pattern to satisfy my need to create something beautiful and medieval-inspired.  I haven't done a counted cross-stitch project in years, but perhaps the promised "Chart #2 (tired eyes) 4 page enlarged chart that eases eye strain" will help. 

Apart from the Unicorn Tapestries, my favorite part of The Cloisters were the cloisters--the gardens enclosed by arches, with the campanile in the background.  I spent a good part of our visit roaming the gardens, conveniently partitioned by function...plants for medicine, plants for magic, plants for arts and crafts, etc. After reading about indigo, madder, woad, and weld, it was so interesting to see the plants in the flesh, so to speak.

The Cloisters is definitely an enchanting museum, worth the effort to reach (on the upper part of Manhattan) but simply magnificent in treasures and overall atmosphere.

After lunch at the Met on 5th Avenue (we took the bus, which took about an hour from The Cloisters, but we wanted to see the city and not be just underground), we rode the subway down to Chelsea and found an access point to the High Line.  The High Line is an elevated city park, repurposed from a former RR line, it is an aerial greenway on which you can walk above the hustle and bustle of NYC, enjoying a different perspective and a different pace.

View from the High Line.
The next day, we left Long Island and ventured up the Hudson River along the Palisades Parkway.  The Palisades are cliffs along the New Jersey shore on the Hudson and are spectacular.  We stopped several times at pull-outs to take pictures and enjoy the views across the river and watch birds soaring overhead.

My goal was to visit both West Point and Hyde Park, home of FDR.  Unfortunately all that stopping along the way to take pictures meant that we really didn't have time for the bus tour and museum at West Point, so we did a drive by and continued on to Hyde Park.

Hyde Park driveway

Hyde Park, home of Frankin Delano Roosevelt
I've long been a fan of FDR, not only his policies but his strength of purpose and optimism.  Regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not, I think most people would agree that he was a born leader.  I loved the museum at Hyde Park but didn't feel we had time to really do it justice.  However, being able to tour the house and see where the family spent their time will provide a new dimension to when I read up on FDR and Eleanor again.

Sitting room at Hyde Park
I was going to close with a photo of the tomb of FDR and Eleanor, but I think this is a better image, and one more positive than a marble box.

As luck would have it, we'll be returning to NY at the end of September for Parents Weekend, and I'm currently looking for new ideas for a day trip to Manhattan.  Any suggestions?


  1. What a great trip! And your photos are amazing. Sadly, I can offer no tips on what to do in Manhattan...the closest I've come is climbing the Statue of Liberty. Hope you have fun.

    1. Actually, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are on the list. They've been closed for awhile, due to Sandy, but I think have reopened.

  2. I have only spent one very rushed day in New York City - mostly doing research. It is high on my list of places to visit, and the Cloisters are at the top of the list once I get there! Have you been to the Morgan Library? They have Jane Austen letters among their treasures, and I think a manuscript. There is so much I want to see there.

    1. Not only have I been to the Morgan Library, I blogged about it here: http://janegs.blogspot.com/2010/01/travelogue-finding-austen-in-new-york.html

      That was a fun trip too!

  3. Looks like you had some great days! i am on Long island myself so I am not too far from these destinations.

    The Closters are a great place to visit and so is the High Line.

    I have never actually been to Hyde Park. I really need to get there. I am a fan of FDR for the same reasons that you mention.

    1. Hyde Park was so very cool. You should definitely try to make the trip. I didn't get a decent picture of his office, but that was very moving to see...as it was on the day he died, so they say.

  4. Looks like a wonderful trip. I'd love to get back to New York one of these days; it's been 30 years! The Cloisters would definitely be on my to-do list. We were only in Manhattan when last we went, doing all of the tourist stuff there.

  5. Gorgeous pictures, and they make me want to pack up my bags and get going.

  6. Divide-and-conquer might be the best strategy when exploring Central Park—its sprawling 840 acres are too great to take in during one visit. Instead, hit some of the highlights: Go for a stroll around the tranquil Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
    bus tours nyc

  7. Not sure how I missed this post! Funny story, we got in a cab at the Met a couple of years ago and asked to go to The Cloisters. A thunderstorm was threatening, and the cabbie said he'd be happy to take us there, but that we'd never find another to take us back downtown. Also claimed he'd been driving for 30 yrs and nobody ever asked to be dropped off there... find it hard to believe. We ended up heading back to the hotel, and The Cloisters is still on my list.

    Hyde Park is wonderful. We loved the FDR home. Next time, you should also stop at the CIA for lunch or dinner. We were lucky to get in without reservations for lunch, but it's probably better to plan ahead... such a memorable meal!

    Next time in NYC, I must see the Tenement Museum. Eataly is fun for browsing and eating, and of course Strand Books. There are some great NYC foodie walking tours - we did Chelsea Market/meatpacking district last time, but I want to do the Greenwich Village tour, too. And you can never go wrong with a Broadway musical.

    1. We took the subway to The Cloisters and it certainly was a long ride! Hope you get to visit--with all the medieval stuff I've been reading lately, this was a real treat.

      A friend from LI also recommended a meal at the CIA--so that is definitely on the list.

      I've checked into the foodie tours a couple of times, but the timing wasn't right.

      My son just saw The Big Fish and said it was wonderful.

  8. What a wonderful trip. I would love to visit New York some day!