Sunday, December 16, 2012

Warhol, Patsy's and the Slice of Brooklyn Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour

Exhausted from our first full day in New York, we had a bit of a lie in, before plotting our second day. We had pre-booked our Slice of Brooklyn Christmas Lights and Cannoli tour, so planned our day around that end point at 6 pm in Union Square.

We wandered up 8th Avenue from our hotel and had breakfast at Pigalle - it seems we were on a French eating theme. Yummy croissants and cafe au laits, and we were set to start our day. We wandered up the street in search of a bank and stumbled upon a Fire Hall with its doors open, as a truck had just left to investigate a call. I wandered in, staying cautiously close to the door, as I saw a memorial to those fire fighters that had lost their lives in 9/11. Families of the fire fighters were decorating a tree inside, and the crew were happily talking to whoever wandered in.

Both Belin and I had debit card issues at the bank. Be forewarned, when  travelling to New York city, often your bank will put a hold on your account, even when you let them know you are travelling there, due to the high rate of fraud in the city. A phone call later, and we were sorted and solvent and on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue.

The museum sits midway up the park on its eastern edge. To me, the perfect location, as I will take any excuse to visit Central Park, in this case simply driving up and through, in order to get to the museum. Our goal was to see the Warhol show - "Regarding Warhol, sixty artists, fifty  years." It was an interesting take on an exhibition. Of course it had Andy Warhol as the star, but it also had many of those he had influenced over the years. It was a larger show that I had expected, and the pieces were much larger too. This period of Art is not my most favourite, but, I can appreciate what was done, and where they went with it. An obligatory walk through a couple of the gallery shops was in order, as I always find some little treat there. This time I had noticed the prices of pieces had gone up considerably — I guess they are not getting enough money from the suggested admission fees and have to supplement it somehow. I ended up purchasing a Warhol Advent calender. It is unique as the man himself.

Lunch at Patsy's. Patsy's is one of those family friendly restaurants, with yummy food and a casual atmosphere. I had my birthday dinner here a couple of years ago in the upper east side location, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time I had the Cheese Ravioli with creamy pistachio white sauce - yum. Since the Slice of Brooklyn tour was three and a half hours, and started at six, we thought we should have a decent mid afternoon lunch to tide us through, until they served us our cannoli.

Patsy's is almost across the street from Bloomingdales, so we decided to wander over and check out the store, as well as their window display. The window display was a little disappointing. They had a Cirque de Soleil theme, that just didn't scream holiday window to me, sorry. We then wandered inside the ground floor, into madness. Everyone and his uncle seemed to be there that day. Cash registers were mobbed and there was no sign of a recession in this store. We attempted to get cupcakes at the delicious Magnolia Bakery outlet on the east side of the store, but then thought we would come back tomorrow to get them the freshest before we came home. Best laid plans...

By now it was time to cab it down to the Union Square area to find our holiday lights tour. I was thrilled to be going on this tour. It would take me to parts of Brooklyn I had never seen before, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, and it just seemed like it would be fun, and campy and worthwhile. And you know, it truly was. We met on the corner of 4th and East 13th, where a huge group was already gathering. For some reason I thought this would be a small bus, but I was mistaken. It was a huge bus, and I think it was filled to capacity. Angela and Irene were our guides, both donning Santa hats and offering us candy canes as we boarded, along with Johnson, our driver.
Tourists on the bus.

Lucy's house, who started this tradition in Dyker Heights.
Well, we saw it all — professionally decorated gorgeous homes, to Mom and Pop homes decorated by the owners, and everything in between. It was great. Over the top lights, to theme homes, to homes that were synchronized to music on our bus radio, to understated elegance, to all four walls of the home as a light show. Yes indeed, the Brooklynites know how to put on a show. Angela gave us some great history and background on the homes and neighbourhoods, and some of the owners: there was Lucy, who started this whole light show thing in Dyker heights, and the streams of cars that were driving by, to the four corners were four big mob bosses once resided, with tunnels under the streets linking there houses,  to the story of where Tiger Woods got his start in golfing at the Bay Ridge Golf Club, a very tasteful display of lights there. We all ended up at a local bakery for cannoli's. I mean, what's a visit to an Italian neighbourhood, without getting a cannoli. Having grown up in Toronto, with a huge Italian population, I had an appreciation for a good cannoli.

Santa swinging from the trees.
Our first stop. A beautiful house with a beautiful light show.
This beautiful green and gold light show was made up of
dancing bear topiaries - one for each of the owner's grandchildren.
Your more traditional window light show.
A  continuous flow of traffic with families checking out the lights.
Incredible bundles of wiring, reminded me of wiring in Kathmandu.

Professional lighting or home made?

With clips from classic Andy Williams Christmas specials, and Frank and Bing singing on the video screen on the bus, we were heading back to Manhattan. Ah, it was truly a fun tour, and not to be missed. Angela was an excellent guide, with her enthusiasm oozing out, and Johnson's skill at manoeuvring this bus around tight corners was outstanding.

Sam the Greek's house.
All four sides have lights, and he turns them off at 2 am.
His poor neighbors.
Sam also makes all his own ornaments. He put them up just before Sandy struck,
and only lost one decoration. Says something about his construction.

Since Barnes and Noble was still open in Union Square we wandered in for a look about. After the storer closed, we thought we would head up to see the Rockefeller tree lit up and were trying to find out what time they turned out the lights on the tree. On a previous visit, I had sadly found out they had turned the tree off at ten, when I got there at ten past ten. We didn't want to make that mistake, but not even the local police knew the time. They told me to "google it. "So, there Belinda and I stood outside Barnes and Noble in Union Square, as it started to drizzle, googling everything we could think of to find out the tree lighting times. As the drizzle turned to full on rain we decided to abandon this idea and just head back to our hotel.

 I ended up the evening watching, "live from New York, it's Saturday night!"


  1. Thanks for sharing Kathi, enjoyed very much, as always. Glad to see you enjoying life. BRAVO!

    1. Thanks Brenda. Glad to hear you enjoying reading them. Merry Christmas.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.