So, here we are. It's the weekend and we planned on spending it visiting New York City. Never having been but having a particular idea of what the city was like, I decided that driving into New York would be as safe as driving off a bridge so I looked on-line to figure out the best way to take the train.
For all you Catholic stores out there that despair about having a current website - don't worry! The New Jersey transportation website has the wrong pricing (by almost three-fold) and wrong instructions on how to get into the city. Hopefully you are aspiring to do better than a New Jersey government agency, but if if not, you're in good company.
I would first like to put to rest the stereotype about New Jersey smelling and looking like a dump. Only Newark's airport train terminal smells and looks like a dump. The rest of Newark that I went through smells like petroleum and looks like a dock and the rest of the state we visited is nice and green and smells like vegetation.
We decided to park in the "economy" parking lot at the airport because it was supposed to only be $12. It was $15 and we obviously speak a different dialect because economy in New Jersey really means "within inter-continental missal range" of the airport.
We knew that things weren't going to go quite right when the $5.50 train tickets were actually $15 and we missed the train by about thirty seconds. While waiting for the next train, we got to experience "weather" New Jersey style. Fortunately we had also purchased a golf-cart sized umbrella so we didn't get completely soaked.
After getting off the train at the next stop ($15 each for a ten minute train ride?!!!?) because the conductor told us it was our stop, we found that not only was it not our stop, we were still in New Jersey. We couldn't get back on the train without spending another $30 so we took the subway into New York.
Just to back up a bit, we had expected to be in the city by 10:00 am and it was now 1:30 pm. Obviously, the Internet and the various agencies using it still have a few kinks to work out. Since our plans for the day had to be scrapped, we decided that the best thing to do would be to go to the MET. I understood that the museum was big. I didn't understand that by "big" they meant "Rhode Island fits in here."
See where Paula is standing? The pillars behind her are at the main staircase into the middle of the museum. Behind me is the South wing and it is at least a city block large.
We decided to start with the Greek and Roman art because it only filled a quarter of the bottom floor. Apart from all the expected sculpture, columns, coins, dishes and other two thousand year old items, this parchment fragment really caught my attention:
You've heard of the Gnostic gospels? The Da Vinci Code? The Albino Monk. None of that will prepare you for the revelation that the version of the Odyssey you should have read in school has secretly and sinisterly HAD TEXT REMOVED. This fragment is the oldest known fragment of the Odyssey written in the original Latin and it has lines on it that aren't in current versions!!! What were later editors trying to hide? What was Homer trying to say that has been hidden until now? How will Dan Brown connect this conspiracy to the Catholic Church, Opus Dei and the Masons? Since the Albino Monk caught up with Dan Brown and strangled him with a masonic rosary last week, the world will never know.
We were also able to see a collection of medieval art which included reliquaries, altar pieces, statues, processional crucifixes and rosary beads. These people took their rosaries seriously. Each bead was the size of a golf ball and opened up to show a 3-D, hand carved wood scene. My kids like to cut stuff out so we should have a similar rosary in production in a couple of weeks.
We also saw several rooms full of 17th and 18th century furniture that basically would have required you to have an army of maids to keep it all dusted.
For the young at heart we present this fine relief entitled "Children running in terror from a rabid animal." This hung in the nursery of Vlad the Impaler when he was a baby so his later "excesses" weren't really his fault. Blame it on his parents. *
Finally, we saw a cool collection of armor from the late middle ages which included several suits with bullet dents proving that you could safely get shot by a blacksmith and these full sets of armor that take up the middle of the room.
After going to the Met we made our way back to New Jersey in a lot less time than it had taken us to get into the city. Yes, Maria decided sleeping at night still wasn't a good idea.
* (This is made up. I think)