30 December 2008

Upper Manhattan

I was leafing through my Lonely Planet New York City the other day, and it occurred to me that I more or less have visited the necessary places to visit for a tourist. Of course, I did not do it in one sitting, since my strategy for New York City is to visit a few places here and there one at a time, whenever I am in town. The fact that most of my legal affairs take place in New York (I have trekked down to New York City twice now to get a visa, one in 2006 for the Czech Republic and another last summer for Denmark and Hungary), I am in town at least once a year.

This time, while spending the holidays with my sister, I decided to visit a neighborhood that I haven't been to before: Upper Manhattan. I am talking about the area around Columbia University.

The first thing I did was walk all the way to the bank of the Hudson River and visit Grant's Tomb. This is a huge mausoleum where the body of Ulysses S. Grant is buried. They say that this is the largest tomb in the country. I was the only one there when I visited, until a lone jogger came in for a break.

After that, I headed for some lunch. I went to a cafe, and had Japanese lunch while I was reading my book.

Then, I walked across the road to Columbia University. I entered the Low Building, and admired the columns, the statues, and the architecture.

Finally, I went to visit the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. This apparently is the largest church in the country. And indeed, it is huge. The church had its full blast of Christmas decor and music. The organs were blaring, and somehow, I think that the music that was playing that time was rather avant-garde, not really your traditional organ music. There were large puppets that were being prepared for a play in the afternoon. The chapels around the altar were designed and decorated differently from each other.

After that visit, it took me to mid-afternoon, and so I decided to head back downtown, given the fact that I had to meet my sister in Greenwich Village for a show we were to watch.

(Sea of Dead, from my Arlington Cemetery Series)

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