Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gone to the City!

When we had our retail shop, a trip to NYC had become almost run of the mill. Since the shop was sold in 2000, I haven't been there, so visiting for the day was a real treat. I'm not sure exactly how it came about, but we decided to attend the International Gift Fair at Javitz and traveled by train with friends, Sarah and Kara of Radiance, an herb shop in Lancaster.

Since we will be doing a couple of herb faires and of course, our farmers' market, we thought maybe there might be something we needed - plus, we were just itching for the hustle and bustle of NYC and a chance to just break out of our day to day routine (idyllic though it may be)!

The weatherman was predicting a beautiful, sunny day for Monday - a repeat performance of a very gorgeous Sunday and we were looking forward to a lovely train ride and a sparkling view of the city.
It was not to be, but, even in the fog there is always something interesting going on. You can see the top of a skyscraper disappearing in the fog in the picture above... and if you look at the top of the building on the right, you'll see some workmen doing something to a round structure up there!

The Gift Fair is an enormous undertaking that runs for about a week. If you are seriously wanting to see the whole thing and do some major buying, you would want to spend the entire time there.

It is row upon row of opulent booths and tables full of everything you can imagine; Jewelry, clothing, household linens, toys, flowers, decorative items and on and on. Anything that could conceivably be considered a gift.... It is exhausting and even that huge hall full of people becomes stuffy and hot.
We stepped outside to cool off and get some fresh air and to sit down a couple of times during the day. One of those times, we were collapsed on a very cold cement bench facing the street and I looked up to see a parade of Amish headgear bobbing along above the wall toward the street. I would imagine this show is one of the more "worldly" events. Something about "storing up your treasures on earth"... But, now that many Amish run gift shops and bakeries catering to the "English" I guess they need to keep up with what's new.

Earlier, as we rounded a corner inside the show, I was shocked to see an Amishman followed by his daughter and even more surprised to realize that I knew him! It was Eli, one of our first soap customers. He's been selling our soap in his little countryside road stand for probably close to 15 years now. I called his name and he finally turned around to see us. I think we were all pretty amused to be running into each other there. We discussed how we had all gotten there and compared notes. He and his daughter had come up in a "taxi" which is basically a van and driver that hires out to groups of Amish for things like this or for getting to a work site. After we explained the train experience, he thought that might be a nice alternative to try.

Finally, a shot taken in front of the Javitz. This is where the shuttle buses line up to haul fair goers back and forth from hotels and transportation venues. They run every half hour all day long.

I actually really liked the composition of the picture. The geometric shapes and blocks of color reminded me a little of one of our local (historic) painters - Charles DeMuth. The man on the cell phone and the woman behind him, dressed in black are iconic NYC figures.

Finally, I wanted to mention the changes since I have been there last. The last time I was in The City was 1999 - obviously before 9/11. It is pretty evident the changes in security. We used to be able to just buy a round trip ticket on the train and choose any train that day to return home. Now, we must book a specific return - all using photo ID. That's a minor irritation. The physical barriers everywhere are a little jarring. The old taxi stand at Penn Station is no longer there... now it's outside on the street. There are huge barriers up outside the Javitz building where at one time buses and taxis moved freely. I really saw very little of the city and yet the changes are obvious.

Signs of the times....

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