This morning dawned rainy, and I woke up with a killer headache. We weren’t sure if we could handle our plans for the day, but I had been looking forward to the NYC gospel Music tour for months – since we booked it – and I wasn’t about to miss it!
We had our breakfast, and Kipp was kind enough to supply me with two Advil – I wasn’t sure if I was going to be dealing with a full-blown migraine, so kill it before it got that bad. The Advil, coupled with orange juice, granola, and tons of fresh fruit took off most of the edge, and by 9:30 – the start of our tour – the headache was nearly gone entirely. My ankle was also holding up nicely.
Jenny and I had a funny little dance putting on her booties and poncho; she looked so forlorn! Then, because it was raining, we put on her Halti using our “compromise” method (instead of hooking her leash to the loop under her chin, I just kept it on her collar) and she was as happy as she gets during rainy weather – which is to say walking me almost drunkenly around puddles (swerve, swerve, swerve).
We hopped the Subway to Rector St and walked down to Trinity Church, where the tour started, and we had our first real crisis point of the trip. The tour we found was speaking in Spanish! While I speak the language somewhat – and understood about 80% of the talk – Ben doesn’t, and I nearly panicked, thinking “I KNOW the email said 9:30… it did, right?” Thankfully, after a couple of minutes, we found two tour guides who broke our group into two, and we went with Stacey, who was dressed so fashionably in a bright orange poncho.
We started off in front of the church, where Stacey described the role the church played in the Underground Railroad, as well as how gospel music got its start by mixing interpretations of traditional hymns, work songs (the songs the slaves sang on their way to working), and African music, mixing intonation, repetition, call-and-response, and improvisation to make a style all their own.
We walked down to the Subway, and as we passed, we heard the other tour clapping and singing, and it made me smile. This was going to be so much fun! We followed Stacey down, starting the catch-phrase :Follow the orange poncho”, and took the 3 train to Clark St, and we were in Brooklyn! We stood under an awning to get out of the rain, spoke more about gospel music and how it spread, and how a group of young people from Jubilee College made it popular to non-African-American audiences by touring around, using stops along the Underground Railroad, as a fundraiser for their college.
We then spent half an hour or so touring around some of the historic district of Brooklyn Heights, finding different architectures, hearing stories about the bridge, the parks, and the buildings. Some of the buildings were truly gorgeous, and the story of the Brooklyn Bridge itself was fascinating!
We then made our way to the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a non-descript building outside, but beautiful inside. They requested not to take pictures of the inside, so unfortunately we can’t share, but the woodwork was gorgeous and intricate.
As a tourist, the service was fantastic, with a full gospel choir and beautiful solos, though as a Christian I can’t say that I was “fed”. The people were lovely and helpful, finding us seats that could mostly accommodate the space Jenny needs.
After the service, Ben and I went to the New York City Transit Museum, which was just a short walk from the Tabernacle. There were exhibits of the subways, equipment used to make them, descriptions of worker strikes, and even the old-style turnstiles people used once they put in their money or tokens. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of exhibits that were geared toward adults, especially in the bus section, and the gift shop didn’t have the miniature Subway cars we were hoping for. So it wasn’t quite what we expected, but a cool way to see transit history for half an hour or so.
We were HUNGRY! We thought seriously about hopping the train back to our B&B and ordering in, but I bought a Groupon for Burger Bistro, and there was a location not far away, and we weren’t sure when we would be near another location. So we walked along from the R train and found a location… and had the BEST burgers! I got a turkey patty with portabello mushrooms and goat cheese, adding on a honey BBQ sauce, putting mine on two sliders (mini burgers). Ben had beef burger with sharp cheddar and caramelized onions, coupled with honey-mustard. We split an appetizer of buffalo tater tots, and a side of fries. YUM!!!!!!! It hit the spot!
We then took the 2 train back toward Manhattan, where we switched to the 1 at Chambers St, which was just across a small platform. We all needed a rest, so Ben enjoyed cheesy movies whilst Jenny and I napped and played.
Jenny was a bit barky last night, perhaps unsure of the sounds of the B&B as guests came and went, even barking at a couple arriving as we were leaving for our last nightly relieving. I felt really bad… we gotta work on that!
Tomorrow is an alone-day. Ben is off at a TV and Movie Sites bus tour, while I get to enjoy the touch tour at MoMa! Since booking this a month ago, I have been thrilled to experience MoMa, with its sculptures and descriptive art. I hope to find a nifty coffee shop along the way, too!
This is fantastic – I wonder if you might be willing to write a summary post sometime , something like “Recommendations for people who are visually impaired and visiting NYC” –I’d love a list of all you did, a list that includes a link to sign up for the Gospel Tour (so cool it included information about the underground railroad) and a link to who to get in touch with about the MOMA touch tour and stuff like that.
I am honored!
I would be so happy to!
Let me know where to send it, and I will put something together in point form, perhaps grab favorite quotes from the blog, whatever… 🙂
Have you ever been to NYC? It is by far the biggest, busiest city I ahve been in, especially independently. Sure, I went with my sighted husband, but there were several times where we split up, did our own things. I saw several cane travelers there… they have my utmost respect. IMHO, I would never want to take a cane through NYC unless I had two spares in my backpack and knew where to get more! 🙂
Oh, I meant you should do a post on your own blog with a list like this about places for people with visual impairments to enjoy in NYC, , but if this comment of yours means you’d be willing to write a *guest post* for my Safe & Sound blog, that’d be even better! I’ll email you separately with how to get something like this to me
Uh-oh. Just realized you don’t have a “contact me” link on your blog, so I can’t contact you separately! If you really are interested in doing a guest post for my Safe & Sound blog, how about emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you — thanks!