Monday, December 12, 2016
Tips for the Holidays in New York City!
That's right. I went to New York City during the holiday season and I went to Rockefeller Center and looked at the tree. You kind of have to don't you? I mean, what is the holiday in New York without it? I certainly hope that we never have to find out. I hope that long after I die, you can still go to New York at the holidays and see the tree and go ice skating underneath it. I wouldn't want it any other way. But, on my trip there last week, I did that and so much more.
Now, if you go to see the tree, you have to turn around and head toward Saks Fifth Avenue. The angels trumpeting in Rockefeller Plaza set the tone for a great holiday adventure, and the windows at Saks don't disappoint. The displays are festive and artistic. It's like modern art outside the Met. There is a walkway/viewing platform set up for visitors to walk by the windows. I hate to say it, but see the outside. Once you go inside there are a few more decorations to see, but basically it's just annoying sales people trying to make a fortune off of you. For my sanity as well as my money stay outside on this one.
Now, 50th Street is Holiday central. The International Building houses the Rainbow Room which is one of the most romantic locales in the city. Many a marriage proposal has happened there and the view of the city is impeccable. Radio City Music Hall is in full swing with the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. It is one of the most famous continuing shows in the world. They have several shows a day and they do it until January 2. Also there is the Top of the Rock observation deck and the NBC studio tour. There are a lot of things besides the tree to keep you occupied this time of year.
What else did I see on this visit to New York? Well, right across the street from all those other things on 50th Street is St. Patrick's Cathedral. I love to look at old churches and cathedrals with the Gothic architecture and the stained glass. I love the ornament, the art, the structure and the amazing things that they've built. St. Patrick's does not disappoint. The ceilings are vaulted, the archways are tall and ornate. The windows are amazing stained glass panels with biblical scenes. There are many chapels throughout the cathedral as well as a gorgeous nativity. One of the things that struck me most was the fabulous and enormous pipe organ over the front entrance. This was a feat of ingenuity that I believe is truly admirable. At any rate, you don't have to be religious to go in or to appreciate this cathedral. So, make your kids put away their media and look up to see this amazing place. You can visit most days for a donation and it's once again, amazing art that's not in the museum.
Just a few blocks south of Rockefeller Center and all the touristy holiday stuff that goes with it is a lesser known spot called Bryant Park. If you're a tourist, you may not find this one. If you're a local, you know all about it. It too has a skating rink. It too has a big Christmas Tree. It has food and a bar and hundreds of shops where you can find truly unique gifts for that hard to buy for person on your Christmas list. This park sits right next to a large branch of the New York City Public Library and is surrounded by historic landmark buildings. There are many reasons to come to Bryant Park. The skating tends to be free. There's a carousel to ride on. This is the only place that I've ever been where I could buy jewelry made from money, a clock made out of a miniature toy toilet, art, woolens, leather, and borscht. They have it all in a Winter Village that runs from the end of October until the end of the season every year.
I visited Times Square like I normally do. Learned a couple of things this time. For one, the Starbucks at the north end of the Square is an inconvenient dump. Caffe Bene just up the street at Broadway and 49th Street is much better. The menu makes sense, unlike the sizes and stuff at Starbucks. Also, the coffee is better and the atmosphere is better. The view is crazy good too. I noticed the fact that M&M World is right across the street from Hershey World. This is good news for chocoholics like me. I went to both while I was in the neighborhood and found a lot of great buys. If you love Kit Kats, however, there are no tshirts for you at Hershey World. You can get your picture or that of a loved one on a Hershey bar for a great stocking stuffer.
This trip was my first to the neighborhood that everyone has heard of on travel shows, but no one knows where it is. Hell's Kitchen is that neighborhood just west of Times Square. The major run of restaurants there is on both 8th and 9th avenues from around 50th Street and then north. There are all kinds of restaurants there. If you want to eat reasonably, and don't want to make the trek to one of the neighborhoods, then forget Chinatown when it's not convenient with the rest of your day; just eat in Hell's Kitchen. There are a lot of off Broadway shows over there which means that it is still associated with the theater district and some of it is still part of that. Hell's Kitchen is the place to get dinner either before or after your show.
We were just getting lunch before our big adventure. We went to Chef Pho & Peking Roast Duck on 8th Avenue for our lunch. If you think that the only good Asian food comes from Chinatown, you are so wrong. This place was casual and fabulous. I would gladly eat there again. I would also be happy to try out the Italian, Irish, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, and many other styles of fare in Hell's Kitchen. It's a great place to eat.
So, I didn't go to New York for the holidays. I enjoyed the holidays while I was there, but we actually went to a taping of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. This is something that I had always wanted to do. There are several shows in New York that tape before a live studio audience and they give away free tickets so that people can come and be in the audience. There's everything from Live with Kelly to SNL on that list, but being long time Colbert fans; we decided to go and see this. We picked the day that the Vice President, Joe Biden was going to be there, so our experience was a little different. I have to say that between the SUV's, the helicopters, the security, and some really weird trips to the bathroom; I met a lot of really nice Secret Service guys. Over all, I was really glad that I went to the taping. We had a great time, I learned a lot about live TV, and it made my trip special. Would I do it again? I'm already planning it. The trip to see the inside of the Ed Sullivan Theater was worth the trip alone.
So, as I always say, go to New York City. It is one of the greatest cities in the world. There is non stop activity there. I go a few times a year and I never have the same experience twice. I always learn about something new. I always meet people there. It's actually way more friendly than it gets credit for. A lady and I enjoyed our coffee together while we saw a cab getting a ticket outside the window. I'd never seen that and neither had she, but there it was and we both made a memory. It's all about the experience. Life is all about the experience, and there is no better place to experience life than in New York City at Christmas. Enjoy!