23 Oct 2012 - After the idyllic weather conditions for Autumn yesterday, it was drizzling today. Grey and damp, it matched our mood and energy levels after nearly 6 weeks of continuous travel. As we didn’t have the strength to work out the New York subway system, we opted for a taxi ride to the Metropolitan Museum on Central Park.
Catching a taxi to these necks of the woods on a Tuesday morning is not a good idea. But then again only a local would know this. Why? Because “The Met”, after being closed on a Monday, reopens on a Tuesday. Being the New York City's most popular tourist attraction , welcoming no less than 5 million visitors a year, such are the numbers that visit this museum everyday that a traffic congestion occurs on and around Fifth Avenue during the days that The Met is open. By the time our taxi dropped us off at the Met 45 minutes later, a trip that should have taken no more than 20 minutes, our enthusiasm had deserted us. Nevertheless, after a short respite at the fountain outside this mammoth of a building, we were good to venture inside.
Measuring almost 1 ⁄ 4 -mile (400 m) long and occupying more than 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m 2 ), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially known as The Met) is the largest art museum in the United States. Housing the most significant art collections, its permanent collection contains more than two million works of art divided among nineteen curatorial departments. Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity, Ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and Modern art. Founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens - businessmen and financiers, as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day - their purpose was to open a museum that would bring art and art education to the American people. Oh, to have such visionaries in the world today.
After the Ancient Egyptian section, American Art, and European masters, Peter and I were suffering from sensory overload. One cannot go for more than 2 hours at The Met without getting art fatigue. Sitting in the cafe nearly mute with exhaustion, we decided to call it a day at The Met and continue our Hop On-Hop Off bus tour of Uptown Manhattan and Harlem instead.
“At least we’ll be sitting down on the tour, so it’ll be somewhat relaxing.”, I told Peter.
“Whatever you say, love.”, Peter said, not caring either way.
Hopping on the double decker bus as it stopped on 5th Avenue outside the Met, we scrambled upstairs to find a good seat. Listening to a very knowledgable and entertaining tour guide called Jorge (pronounced HOR-he), we were off to a good start. Until it drizzled. And then it pelted. And then the winds picked up and the temperatures dropped by about 5 degrees, reducing us to popsicles on the upper deck.
Jorge was well prepared. He handed out these hideous but purposeful white plastic ponchos, which we pulled over ourselves in earnest. Clutching the plastic to our chins and around our bodies in a desperate attempt to stay dry, this fashion faux-pas gave us little protection from the icy winds. We must have looked a site, a group of bodies at the top of a red double decker bus wrapped in flapping white plastic sheets like a Christo sculpture gone wrong. Migrating downstairs to the bottom level for about 15 minutes, Peter and I had a choice to make: downstairs where it was dry and warm and miss the best sights of the tour, or back upstairs in the cold where we nevertheless had the best views. We opted for upstairs and cold.
By the time the tour ended, we were frozen to the bone. Finding our way to a random French bistro, we ordered a split pea soup and cup of tea which tasted like Ambrosia as it touched our frost-bitten lips. At the end of the day, it’s the simple things in life that one appreciates, don't you think?