I’m writing this almost a year and a half after the fact… I was just doing some clean-up on my blog to try and clear some space (unsuccessfully – ended up using more ) and realized I said I was going to post about how things went and never did. Maybe I can knock something out today~
I’m not going to post a bunch of random trip pictures, even though I could because they turned out GREAT, because I’ve already posted everything on Facebook in 5 albums (shared with Hubby). If we are friends, you can check them out. If not, you can wait longer, because I still have plans to share some on Flickr when I finally get around to posting a selected bunch of various trips there. (What’s on my Flickr account now is basically just garbage.)
What I do want to do here is compare the list in my last post to what actually happened and maybe a few anecdotes to go along with it. I should probably list them in some sort of chronological order of what we did, but I’m just going to go point for point on the previous list. It makes it more complicated for me right now but easier for anyone who reads this and keeps the continuity.
1. a carriage ride in Central Park – We did that closer to the end of the trip. It was interesting, and because we didn’t have much time in NY, it was a great way to see some of the park in a short amount of time. They had two routes to choose from – a long and a short one – but Hubby asked if we could do the short one with a little detour a bit further up to go past Strawberry Fields. Our driver was pretty obliging. It would have been more romantic/Christmasy if it had been snowing, but there was nothing we could do about the unseasonal warmth. (A short video clip on Instagram here.)
2. Rockefeller tree – This was one of the things we did on the first day. I knew it was going to be crowded, but… Dude! It’s so crowded. And, if it didn’t have all the iconic traditions around it, it wouldn’t be that big of a draw (for me). It’s just a giant tree. Yeah, it’s pretty and it makes a good backdrop for selfies or whatever, but now that I’ve seen it, I never need to see it again.
3. skating in Central Park – We never did any skating. I realized as I was there that I didn’t necessarily want to skate personally. I just wanted to be in the atmosphere. Something about outdoor rinks stirs something in my heart. To be honest, it didn’t have to be Wollman Rink. On our first day, we strolled through the market at Bryant Park and spent some time watching the skaters at their rink. It was lovely! Exactly what I had wanted to experience. We did pass by the rink in Central Park when we were there but it was so crowded, we didn’t bother to try to get close.
Video clips I posted on Instagram comparing Central Park, Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center.
4. stay at a Park-side hotel – Of course, before ever being there in person and only seeing the area on maps, I couldn’t gauge well the actual size of where we were going to be spending our time. The only parts we were really interested in for this particular trip were what falls between the Empire State building and south end of Central Park, Park Ave to the edge of Hell’s Kitchen. Basically, Times Square and the surrounding blocks. It’s not actually that large of an area so as long as our hotel was close to that, that worked for us. In my biggest dreams, we would have stayed at the Plaza or Ritz Carlton right on the edge of the park, but, c’mon. $$$
We ended up staying at the Hilton Times Square. Hubby was in charge of booking and I think he got a deal on it. It was absolutely fine with me.
5. Christmas Eve viewing of The Nutcracker – I love The Nutcracker. I first saw a live performance of it in Pittsburgh when I was very little, maybe 6 or so. (I saw it at least one other time when I was still young, maybe in Toronto.) Then there was the TV version they used to play every year along with Rudolph and Frosty. I had a record of highlights that I used to dance around the living room too. There was an animated movie that came out when I was a teenager that I loved. And I also loved the segments in the original Fantasia movie, which had nothing to do with the story but had all my favourite musical pieces. To me, The Nutcracker is an inseparable part of Christmas. Part of “Christmas in the City” needs to involve getting dressed up and enjoying the story and music of The Nutcracker in a live setting. I’d go every year if I could.
6. romantic fancy dinner – To fully live up to my dreams, we would have to have a lot more disposable income. But Hubby also knows me and knows that sometimes my dreams are incongruous with my personality and wouldn’t fit my comfort level. I think he did such a great job finding a place that was “fancy” but in our price range AND not a place that I would feel like a poser. I want to be fancy, but alas, I am not.
We had two lovely dinners – the first night at Carmine’s and the third night at Gallagher’s.
7. coffee shop breakfast – Poor Hubby. I had so many ideas about what I wanted to do but could assist him very little with verbal specifics. This wasn’t something he could source out ahead of time since I only had a vague impression of what I was searching for. It turns out that I don’t think what I wanted even exists, at least not in that neighbourhood. So this isn’t an item we can really cross off the list but we had a good breakfast in a restaurant our first day and several more coffee-related outings during the trip.
(This is one of those weird, inexplicable things. I get fuzzy pictures in my head of things I want to experience in the real world and share with others, rather than just enjoy in my own head. Sometimes they are concrete things from TV and movies, as with most of the items on this list, but other times they are just feelings that I want to recreate in a visual/tactile way. The funny thing about this one is that I don’t even drink coffee. I just see it on my favourite shows and movies and want to be a part of it.)
8. Radio City Christmas Spectacular – Spectacular, indeed! The show was great, as was the pretzel and ginger slushie I ate from concession during the show.
I have a few video clips from Instagram – here, here and here.
9. Macy’s Santa – Not at all what we were expecting. Kind of a letdown but a memorable experience anyway. There was a LOT of waiting and it didn’t have that magical quality I was looking for. I was hoping for more out of the line set up – more interesting things to look at, more interactivity… IDK. And once you got to see Santa, it was so rushed and actually a little creepy/uncomfortable since we’re grown ups… Could have been better, but could have been worse.
10. Union Market – We didn’t go to all the way there since it was far, but Bryant Park fulfilled everything I had been looking for. This was actually probably my favourite aspect of the entire trip. And the cider was delicious!
11. 5th Ave. window shopping – It probably would have been a better experience if it had looked like Christmas. A few stores were decorated with window displays and decorations, some of them quite impressive, but I didn’t get that feeling of the cheery hustle and bustle of casually strolling amongst the rushed holiday shoppers. Still a thousand times better than what downtown Toronto has to offer.
12. Serendipity – The only time we had to squeeze this into our packed schedule, they were closed. We still walked all the way over there but we’ll have to save going in for a treat until the next time we visit NYC.
13. the holiday sandwich from Earl’s – OMG. Just as delicious as I remembered from when I ate one in Vegas a few years ago. We don’t have this chain in Canada. As far as I know, there aren’t even many locations in the US either. And the holiday sandwich is a limited-time only thing so if you ever get the chance, and you love holiday dinner as much as I do, definitely try it! Yum yum yum. (It’s basically turkey with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy with mayo, made into a sandwich. Might sound kinda gross but it’s awesome.)
14. Central Park’s Alice – This actually has nothing to do with Christmas. This was the one thing I wanted to do that was only a NYC thing. The Alice statue was an important setting in a great movie, Remember Me, starring my favourite… Yeah, I couldn’t not go.
So, there’s this thing my friends and I do (or, let’s be honest, mostly me and I force my friends to help) called scene framing. I tried to do a few Remember Me scene-framing shots. It was difficult with the amount of people but I managed a few solo pictures.
There was also a little old man playing the er hu a few feet away that I was enchanted by.
15. Grand Central laser lights – Didn’t go. This wasn’t a priority – not something I was familiar with beforehand, just something that kept coming up on lists of Christmasy things to do when I was doing research. Totally okay missing it.
16. Empire State Building – Due to the weather, we skipped this too. It was so foggy most of the time. The rest, it was too warm and would have been too crowded for my liking. It was enough for me that I got it in the background of some pictures and it’s something we’ll do next time. Less of a Christmas thing, more of a general NYC thing.