Since I can never make things simple, I decided to stop in Philadelphia on the way up. I keep thinking there was something specific there that I wanted to do, but I couldn't remember what it was. So, I took the train up Thursday night, used a free night at the Hyatt at Penn's Landing, and spent Friday morning doing a Volksmarch through the western part of Center City. This was an especially nice urban walk, taking in the Parkway museum district (e.g. the Rodin Museum, the Franklin Institute, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and going along the Schuykill River along Boathouse Row. The weather was pleasant and there really are few nicer cities in the U.S. for walking. (Boston and Charleston, S.C. are the other great walking cities that come to mind, in case you wondered.) The only catch is that there are lots of historic signs to read and lots to look at, so one can't just zip through the route quickly. I was also reminded of another reason I like Volksmarch as I would never have thought to go into the lobby of the Comcast building without the route instructions to do so. (They have a changing set of interesting displays on TV screens.)
I should also mention that, this being summer, I've been in an ice cream mood. On Thursday evening, I tried the Franklin Fountain on Market Street, which had excellent ginger ice cream. On Friday, I sampled Bassett's, which claims to be the oldest ice cream maker in the U.S. Their cinnamon ice cream was tasty, but the texture was a bit gummier than I prefer.
The Hyatt had given me a late checkout, so I went back to shower before heading back to the train station. I had time for a quick visit to the Fabric Workshop and Museum on the way. The temporary exhibit by Paula wilson was nice enough, but my favorite piece was an item from their permanent collection that was made of glass and spider silk. (Unfortunately, I didn't write down the artist's name.)
Once I got to New York, I checked into the Hilton Garden Inn, satisfied my need for periodic doses of deli food at Ben's, and meandered around midtown for a while, much of that time spent browsing in Kate's Paperie. (This is a paper store on West 57th, more or less around the corner from Carnegie Hall. I could spend a lot of money there if I let myself.) Eventually, I made it over to Studio 54 to see Sondheim on Sondheim. I'll write about that separately, as it triggered some general thoughts about musical theatre.
Saturday was the Brooklyn Reality Tour. This involved a 50 passenger bus and lots of conversation about frequent flyer miles / hotel points, in between Dan's lectures on Brooklyn. Stops included the Brooklyn Promenade, Coney Island, and East River State Park, as well as several food stops. We had a lavish lunch at Casa Calamari, a bakery stop at Teena's Cake Fair, pizza at L&B Spumoni Gardens, and a second bakery stop in Little Italy on the way back to the drop-off in Manhattan. Abbondanza! (By the way, Teena's was supposedly the last place that made nesselrode pie. I bought a few bowtie cookies there, but ignored the other bakery.) The most entertaining part of the day was our poor bus driver trying to manipulate the bus through some narrow streets. He did clip one cross-walk sign, but he did great and put up with us well. All in all, it was a fun weekend.