Silk Stockings and French Cafes

It’s that time again, time for another day in the shoes of Husband and Hilarie. The latest installment of Great Walks of NYC takes us all around our own neighborhood: The Upper East Side, or as the book calls it “The Silk Stocking District”. Apparently the wealthy residents that have historically resided here could always afford silk stockings, giving it it’s nickname. Presently, they should probably change the name to the “Bergdorf Goodman’s Shoes District”. Although, for the that rule to apply, Husband and I would have to move to a new neighborhood….or better yet, buy some fancier shoes.

Before the walk began we tried to visit Carnegie Hall, but they were closed due to construction. Luckily, there was an open fire hydrant to keep us distracted.

The first official stop on our walk was the “Metropolitan Club”. This club was started by J.P. Morgan (Did you know he died on the  Titanic!?!) This is basically a crazy fancy exclusive men’s-only club that was started in 1891 and still exists. These wealthy men come here to play cards, bowl in their private bowling alley, and smoke cigars….all for an expensive annual fee of course.

A few boring historical buildings later, we made it to the Temple Emanu-El. This is “grandest synagogue in the city”.  It supposedly is adorned with beautiful mosaics, but the doors were all locked, so we were only able to to appreciate the outside of the Temple.

Lately, all of these “walks” are mostly churches and historic buildings, which are beautiful and appreciated and whatnot, but after a while they are just boring. It’s like the time we took the walking tour in Rome…it was just church after church after church. Even though they were all incredible, they eventually started to blend together and I couldn’t remember one from another. That’s exactly what’s happening on our Manhattan walks. I needed a change…something a little more memorable.

Enter, The Bohemian National Hall! From the outside, this place looked like one more boring ol’ historical building. I daydreamed of running away to Sephora-land as Husband read me the description of “the most important Czech-American building in the country”. (Who cares???) While ignoring him, I noticed a sign on the door for an interactive exhibition and decided this would be a very welcome change in our tour.

The exhibition was free (awesome) and meant for children (even better). Every installation is meant to be played with, and the entire exhibit is meant to grow and change through series of events and interactions from guests. All of the installations either move, make noise, light up, or all of the above.

As we entered the exhibit we found a spiral staircase surrounded by tubes, lights, and funnels. People (children mostly) are supposed to drop marbles in all the different tubes at the top and watch as they roll down, make noises, and light up different areas.

I spent some time learning to play tiny cymbals nailed into the side of this log thingy.

Then, I taught myself to play the harp-a-ma-jig.

Whenever we got bored with the instrument installations, we took the elevator to the roof. The Bohemians must be very trusting. We were able to take the elevator to every floor, look around every room, and no one seemed to care where we trespassed walked.

When we left, I convinced Husband to ditch the book for a little while and take a coffee break with me at a local French cafe, Le Moulin a Cafe.  I had never been here before, but all the French girls I teach rave about how it’s the only place they’ll even consider eating a croissant. It’s located across the street from a private French school, and is the most authentic French cafe I’ve seen in NYC. On my lunch break I often see women dressed in black and white stripes, wearing buret’s, smoking long skinny cigarettes, pushing prams, and walking French poodles coming in an out of the cafe.

Okay, that’s a lie, BUT they’re coffee and croissants did taste tres bien!

After re-caffenating Husband was able to convince me to continue walking. We ended the walk at Carl Schurz Park on the East River. This park is small, but really pretty. It has two dog parks, a couple basketball courts, lots of greenery, and a really nice historic mansion…of course.

The walk turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected. I am always surprised at the number of buildings I’ve never seemed to notice in my own neighborhood. If only we would have happened upon a reasonably priced one bedroom apartment for rent on our walk… That would have been just TOO easy.


9 Replies to “Silk Stockings and French Cafes”

  1. Wow, you almost had me on the french women in berets pushing prams. So, now does Peter wanna join the men’s club?

    1. he wishes! that’s a little out his league haha

  2. Just move your stuff to the Bohemian National Hall since no one is paying attention.

    1. Now THAT is the best idea I’ve heard!

  3. Love the stair case…that should have kept Peter busy for at least 10 min.

    1. haha he tried but there were a couple school aged kids hogging it most of the time!

  4. I could add tubes , lights, and funnels to your spiral staircase.

    1. that’s a great idea!!!!

    2. haha, you should! we could have our own exhibit

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