The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the few museums that are open on Mondays. I hadn’t seen Egypt on my first visit. Noel had told me I have to see Egypt, because of the temple they had brought from Egypt to New York and built up in the museum. So I went to see Egypt today and I have to admit it was impressive, even for people – like me – who have now specific interest in ancient cultures.
I walked from the West Side to the East Side along the northern shore of the Reservoir and down to the Met along the eastern shore. Central Park has become bare-branched by now and although it was a warm day again there were not many people around. Some joggers and some people walking their dog. A lot of ducks were sleeping on the water.
Maureen had advised me not to pay the recommended donation. No New Yorker would do that. So again I paid what I had paid last time and what I regard fair for staying about 3 hours. That was the amount of time I had planned to stay.
After scanning the main shop for little gifts that I still need I walked straight into the North wing, into Egypt. The collection is immense. There are statues, heads, coffins, jewelry, reliefs, hieroglyphs and many, many more artefacts.
They even explain the system of hieroglyph writing. That was fascinating me. Simple in its structure, but complicated because it is so different to what we are used to. And there is the Temple of Dendur that has been relocated from Nubia to New York in 1965 as a gift to the United States for helping to save several monuments threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Unfortunately they were preparing an event around the temple, so I could see it but not go into or even near it.
Right behind the temple the American Wing starts. There I looked at some period rooms and a collection of American paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th century. Nice stuff. I looked for my painting, the one that I bought for my living room, but didn’t find it.
When I left the museum I picked up a Pretzel from one of the stands outside and tried to hurry home to get ready for maybe opera. I wanted to try to get a rush ticket for tonight’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugen Onegin. 200 orchestra tickets are sold for 20$ two hours before curtain. As I had no idea how long I would stand in line and if I would still have time to get home to dress properly after getting a ticket I decided to go home first and stand in line readily dressed.
It was the wrong decision. The crosstown bus didn’t come for a while and the subway just left when I got into the station. So I got home late and arrived at Lincoln Center when the sale had already started. I got in line that was not too long, but after 10 minutes the rush tickets were sold out. I will have another chance on Thursday. Then I will be there an hour earlier and go home to dress after I hopefully have a ticket.
Outside at Lincoln Square there was something going on. A Christmas tree has been set up in Dante Park and a band was singing folk songs like “Country Roads”. A big crowd was gathered. I listened for a while then got closer to see what this was about. It was Winter’s Eve, a music festival at several places on Broadway and the Upper West Side’s own Tree Lighting Ceremony. The singer was Arlo Guthrie, well known for “City of New Orleans”.
Instead of listening to a real Met Opera performance I had dinner at Malecon, a Dominican neighborhood restaurant that Maureen had recommended. Their signature dish is broiled chicken. I had a half chicken and a side dish of plantains, half green ones and half ripe ones. The chicken was very tender with crispy and well-seasoned skin. The green plantains tasted unripe. Well, that’s what they are. The ripe ones – called maduros – were soft and sweet. Men from the neighborhood go to this place and just get their food served without ordering. I guess they come every day and have a daily special.
In the morning I finally met Maureen’s husband. He lives in Bethlehem and leaves to go back there tomorrow. He has been Arafat’s chief of protocol. Now he is still working for the Palestinian government but as there is not really a government and nobody comes to visit officially he has not much to do. So what he mainly does now is organizing tours for international groups to visit Palestine, meet people, see historic sites and get an idea of what the problems really are. Sounds good. Maureen will let me know when there are tours scheduled next year.
What I learned today:
Egypt had a very highly developed culture in those ancient times.