Merry Christmas to you. I hope you’re having a good day. Kevin got Mom’s cold on Saturday so right now he’s in bed, napping. We exchanged gifts and then it was back to bed for him So, not the most joyful Christmas, but on the other hand, last year was Mom getting run over and other crazy nightmares, so today doesn’t seem so bad. It has been raining all day but I’m hoping for a break in the weather soon to try out a very soggy jog.

Here’s a fine photo of Riley, who is not usually one to pose.

Anyway, NYC – Mom and I flew out on Tues. Dec 12th and I was surprised to get such a good shot of the Statue of Liberty from the plane window.

After a sort of scary cab ride from La Guardia, where even big buses were whooshing past us and cutting us off and acting like maniacs, we finally arrived at the Hyatt Grand which is attached to Grand Central Station. There’s a whole stupid story about the hotel – basically, I’m addicted to looking up hotels and trying to get deals, and I did this after having found the literal perfect hotel. But when I looked up hotels a few days before our trip I found one that was almost as good but substantially cheaper. I’d booked a Southwest Travel package which included flight and hotel, and I spent over an hour on the phone with an agent and it ended up being an unpleasant situation and we ended up with the Hyatt. But it was a fine hotel, obviously recently updated.

Since we got there at about five there were so many people on the street and cars everywhere that I decided we’d walk over to the half price TKTS Booth on Times Square even though I knew it’d be a mob scene because so close to Christmas. Before our trip I’d resolved that I wouldn’t drag Mom all around and walk too much. But I figured it was only a 15-minute walk and it’d probably take more time to get there in a cab because of the traffic.

We started walking and the crowds were very crowded and a stiff wind was blowing. Mom stopped to sit down a couple of times and was clearly not having a good time. When we finally arrived at Times Square she didn’t want to go any farther, so I left her on a bench and started walking towards the ticket booth. I realized that if I battled my way up to it and got tickets it’d be time for the show with no time for dinner. I decided to forget about it and instead came back and sat with mom. Here’s Times Square with a lovely shot of a garbage truck. You can’t tell from the photo but there were a million bazillion people there.

We’d passed many restaurants on our walk and stopped at a diner for dinner. It was nice to sit down, anyway.

Besides not forcing Mom to march all over the place (which I’d immediately failed at), my other plan was to go to some old and iconic hotels and have a drink in their old and iconic bars. I had a list of about five hotels, and one of them was the Algonquin, which had been a hangout for writers at the beginning of the 20th century. I asked Mom if she wanted to go and she wanted to know how far it would be and I said, “It’s right next door,” and it literally was. So that was a good thing, mom-walking-wise.

Here’s a little bit about the Algonquin from Wikipedia:

The Algonquin Round Table began meeting in 1919, and within a few years its participants included many of the best-known writers, journalists, and artists in New York City. Among them were Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Robert Benchley, Robert Sherwood, George S. Kaufman.

On the sandwich board in front of the hotel was a notice that a singer would be performing at 7:00, and we asked the doorman about that. He was eager to help us out. This card was also on the board, which I thought was from a long time ago. I took a picture because the cat looks just like Lester and Pumpkin.

But when I just looked up the Algonquin, there’s a whole history of the Algonquin cats:

The Algonquin Hotel has kept a cat in its lobby since the late 1920s. The practice started when the hotel took in a stray male cat that was originally named Rusty. When a guest was sick, Rusty frequently went to that guest’s room and stayed there until they had recovered. Rusty was renamed Hamlet at the suggestion of John Barrymore, who at the time was performing on Broadway in the play Hamlet. Since then, all the male cats have been named Hamlet, while all the female cats have been named Matilda. All the Hamlets are named after the original cat. The hotel has had eight Hamlets and three Matildas in its history. The Algonquin acquired its current cat, Hamlet VIII, in 2017.

The hotel’s lobby contains two feline tree houses. The cat’s collar interacts with an electric geo-fence, which prevents the cat from leaving the lobby, because the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene does not permit animals in dining areas. The cat has received several gifts from visitors, including four oil paintings. Many people have visited the Algonquin specifically to see the hotel’s cat. One of the male cats was featured in the illustrated book Algonquin Cat; when that cat died in 1982, his obituary appeared in Variety magazine.

I didn’t know anything about the cats when we stopped for a drink and I’m bummed about that. Does the hotel still have a cat? Nobody mentioned it, even though not only was the doorman very helpful, our waiter was also very chatty. Next time I’m in New York I’ll have to go back and seek out the cat.

Mom and I found seats right across from the grand piano and Mom ordered a fancy cocktail and I had a nonalcoholic wine. The waiter, I can’t remember what country he’s from, is a poet and showed us one of his poems on his phone.

The singer finally showed up and was blonde and lovely and sparkly, dressed head to toe in green including a green hat ringed with green feathers and a green boa, which she spread across the piano top. She was maybe my age or a little older (or maybe younger? Because most people are these days). She was accompanied by a tiny blonde who we realized must have been her mother.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the mother/daughter duo. They started singing Christmas songs but most people were talking loudly and not paying attention so Mom and I clapped loudly for them, and they both smiled happily at us.

The only thing is, they weren’t so good. We figured that a singer in NYC at an iconic hotel would be outstanding, but their voices were thin and very high.

The other thing is that the Algonquin had been completely re-done and I’m sure looked nothing like it used to look. It was sleek and white and modern. But it was perfectly nice and festive and I tried not to feel self-conscious because I was still wearing my green “elf” t-shirt with a big picture of Will Ferrell saying “Santa, OMG I know him!” Everybody else in the bar was all in black, or at least dark attire. Cause it’s New York.

But it was nice to sit in the bar after our busy travel day and Mom’s strong drink gave her the fortitude to march back to our hotel without saying “HOW MUCH FARTHER” too many times.

The hotel was right next to the Chrysler building and I got this picture and hoped we’d have time to go look at the lobby at some point.

We passed through Grand Central Station and the place was almost deserted.

Whew. We survived our first part of a day in New York.

Ok then, Merry Xmas.