Views from Princeton

September 23, 2010

My dear readers, I have been remiss in my blogging. And for that, I apologize. I have lots to say, but have not found the time to write about any of it. Have no fear though, things are happening and I am now ready to share them with you. To begin, I’d like to mention my trip up to Princeton, New Jersey a few weeks ago. My fiancĂ© works there these days and I have recently discovered how convenient this is for me. Remember my inspiring trip to the Met? All made possible by a helpful ride to Princeton, from which NYC is only a train away. When I was last in Princeton, you may remember I had a heck of a time actually getting from Princeton to New York, leaving me stranded right next to the Princeton campus for a while, waiting for a bus. I had long known Princeton U has a great art museum, but had never been and determined that I would come back soon to see it. And a more lenient fall teaching schedule than last spring allowed me to do just that.

Today I would like to share some of my photos from my jaunt around the Princeton campus and then in a few days, share highlights from my PU Museum visit. Having attended the University of Toronto for a year, I am well-aware that older universities have some of the most breathtaking campuses, and Princeton being an Ivy League, one could expect no less. That said, I was in awe of my surroundings. I lucked into one of the beautiful fall-like sunny days New Jersey has been getting until, ironically, the first day of fall. The air was crisp but the sun made the campus inviting. I was surprised to see almost no students around (it was a Thursday in September after all), but this was not bad as it let me wander at my leisure.

One of my greatest finds of the day was the Cathedral, located not far from the main road in Princeton, Nassau Street. It seemed like a popular tourist destination and the doors were unlocked, so I went in for a look around. I was impressed with the lighting and colors inside, but also in love with the Phantom of the Opera organ music being blasted from the front of the church.

I apologize for the dark images. There is only so much flash and editing can do in a nearly pitch black space. But I had to show you the view of the apse and these amazing lantern chandeliers. Perhaps my favorite details, however, were the carvings above the front entrance.

Just next door to the cathedral, I stumbled across the rare book library. Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures inside, but I found a fascinating exhibit called Strait Through: Magellan to Cook and the Pacific. There was a wonderful collection of maps and original documents from the days of Pacific exploration. The exhibit was set throughout a glass-cased collection of rare books and I had a great time looking through the titles, which included two very old copies of Homer’s The Illiad and Balzac’s Droll Stories from the Abbey of Touraine. When I was finished drooling over all the books, I headed next door to the Costen Children’s Library. This room is phenomenal and if I were a kid, I would spend hours there. The books, incorporating all manner of children’s material, line three stories of one wall. There are locked stairs leading to the upper levels which house rare illustrations, manuscripts, and even rare toys from the 15th century to the present day. On the main floor is a fun house type reading room. They have a book nook complete with comfy chairs, a puppet theater, a treehouse, and several other child-friendly crawl spaces, including a life-size tree.

From here I simply wandered for a while, waiting for the art museum to open. I stumbled across this very peaceful memorial dedicated to the Princeton alum who died in 9/11. It was a charming garden with the names and dates of the victims written on stones in the center and this copper bell protecting them.

I’m very glad I got to spend my day in Princeton. It was very relaxing and quite inspiring. Hopefully I will make it back soon and check out the excellent shopping and dining that I sadly missed out on!

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