The city that never sleeps and neither can I … New York ~the big Apple has taken a big bite out of me!
Our flight via Vancouver is usually a step up from the crappy snatch and grab in Los Angeles, when flying to New York from Australia. You get your entry voucher after scanning your passport and your finger prints and have an ugly screen photo taken, snatch your bag, queue at customs and tell them what colour knickers you have on and where you will be staying and why you are visiting before you run for the next plane dumping your bag on the way…..
In 7 years of visits, I’ve made that 2nd flight from LA to NY twice!
This year wasn’t one of them either… our Air Canada flight to NYC via Vancouver was a fail too. Although it was much more pleasant and the ground staff were brilliant.
Our flight left Sydney late, so we were always going to struggle making the connection. New York via Vancouver and then via Montreal anyone?
As we are having a big family trip to Whistler, Canada… our travel agent routed us through Canada, plus we heard it’s normally the easiest transfer and includes customs clearance for the USA.
After our very long flight we finally arrived in New York quite late, (1:00am) McDonalds still open (it’s the city that never sleeps after all) and teaming with people.
Our hotel on the edge of Chelsea /Midtown is a few streets down from where I usually stay and 1 block over ( Avenues are uptown or downtown and the streets run east to west ).
Anyway it’s my new favourite area, even though I was totally disoriented from not being in my usual midtown area.
We are staying in the “flower district” where in years gone by there were blocks of streets filled with florist shops. Now it’s probably only 1 block…… but boy is it pretty~ Greenery and flowers everywhere.
Tis the season.. so there are also loads of pine trees both potted and those ready to be popped up for Christmas. There are stunning wreaths that are incredible and it appears stores, streets, parks and local homes all display these gorgeous wreaths.
I’m here with my girls Jess and Lana and we are having 5 days in the big apple before meeting the rest of our family and partners in Whistler for hopefully a white Christmas.
I’ve never been to New York in the winter and to see all the beautiful decorations and hear the bells ringing is just a dream come true. It’s been quite a mild week of weather, with the odd little snow flurry as they call them on our 5 day/night trip and although cold compared to Australian weather it hasn’t been too bad.
They have these things called winter boxes outside of restaurants and some stores and clubs as their entry point to allow you to come in out of the cold or rain and wind without bringing it inside with you!
It’s a clever system and we also soon figure out that you need to layer your clothes the right way to avoid being too cold outdoors or too hot indoors. I’ve never put my thermal on last, over my clothes…but it’s worked for us.
No matter the weather, you never leave the hotel without beanie, scarf and gloves and the trusty puffer jacket that squashes up to nothing in a bag or backpack is a winner, so you aren’t ‘lugging’ all these items through stores or losing an item.
Whilst we have all been to New York before, we all have new things we want to see and experience and although it would have been nice to see full on snow here we also know what brown slush and rain is like to get around in.
Our first day we eat a little breakfast as we have planned to have lunch at this kitschy German restaurant that is seriously off the richter with Christmas decorations….. floor to ceiling and it’s incredible. I booked 3 months in advance and whilst we waited for our booking time, (just incase we got lost finding the place,) the 3 of us sit across the road at a cool and groovy bar – Craft and Carry, serving boutique beers on tap with names like The big Alice- a nice Pilsner that I enjoy, Lana has a Rosè cider on tap and Jess has the biggest can of cider -750 ml we have ever seen.
From the bar we watch the line at Rolfs Restaurant move further around the block. It doesn’t appear to lessen at all. There must have been over 100 people lined up around the block for over 2 hours (in the rain might I add) just to have a drink at the bar!
It’s also a Santa convention in the city. Not the real Santa – Santcon is a glorified pub crawl, with people dressed in onesies, daggy Christmas sweaters etc. all going from pub to pub, unless like the boutique brewery we are in, that has signs saying ‘ no Santacon here’ ….. Power to all the ‘Santa’s’ out there today…… in the drizzling rain.
Our time slot arrives and we wander over to be led into our booth by our host and order incredible veal schnitzels with green beans and potato that looks and tastes just like Gnocchi and a glass of wine.
The wait staff dodge cameras and iPhones and also help take photos of those of us lucky enough to have a booking!
We all have a great couple of hours and then I push into the bar to get a photo from the inside out! Ahhhh …. we roll home on the subway with Santaconners, and locals alike. All in good spirits and a little merry.
The subway in winter is easy to find. You just see the misty steam rising out of the road and side walk. In summer you feel it and in winter you see it.
I have to say Jess is an absolute bloody legend with the subway planning and sometimes Lana and I contribute, however it’s mostly Jess being an uptown gal and getting us where we need to go….. I’d probably still be in the subway or just choose to walk this trip as I was a little lost the first 2 days, but by the end of our 5 days I feel like we have all nailed the subway. Just always check to make sure you’re heading the right way… uptown or downtown.
This trip I’ve seen a lot more dogs on leads wandering around the steets obviously ‘doing their business’ or playing at the designated dog parks. They have also been in stores shopping, well not them obviously but their owners.
Their human owners are only ‘allowed’ to take them on the subway if they fit into a bag~ like a sports bag with mesh to contain them in……. they are also allowed to hop on a short flight without being placed under the plane in the cargo hold! The flight we are on is 6 hours and I’ve seen 5 dogs all with their owners.
It has also been seen – a big labradoodle ‘almost wearing’ an Ikea bag…… with holes for its legs, that was ‘in a bag’ travelling the subway. (Jess saw this) I’m just bummed I didn’t !
The puppies as the park wear little rubber sock booties when it snows or is too cold……
I’ve just been chatting to a guy flying with us to Vancouver ( very late after a massive snow storm) about his beautiful dog that he’s bringing away with him for 2 weeks…… a 6 hour flight and I can’t imagine Addie my border collie just sitting on the floor in front of my feet, she is such a princess she would want her own seat or a baby bassinet !
Ahhh New York it never sleeps and all the big trucks delivering the plants, flowers and trees in our street wake Lana and I up a couple of nights dropping pallets off their trucks etc, their days start early before sunrise (7:00am) and the shops close up around 6:00pm
There are also cute little street stalls selling trees for Christmas both small and large ~ how tall would you like your tree? Yes! we would be happy to deliver! And seriously the smell….. if we had a little more room I would have got a tree for the 5 days in our hotel room.
A trip to NYC wouldn’t be complete without a tour with Our Kind of Town Tours and our friendly host Jerry, who this time took us out to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn…. wow it’s crazy that there is a whole neighbourhood with houses that are often professionally decorated by Christmas electrical specialists… It’s so big now that you can do a bus trip out there to see the lights. My tip is go early like 4:30pm it takes an hour in the traffic to get there in the traffic and it’s crazy…..
Our private tour in Jerry’s black Mercedes SUV then took to us to all the beautiful Christmas trees on display, all through the city. Rockerfeller Center, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle’s stars and a wonderful tree at Wall Street, outside the actual stock exchange.
They have also moved the fearless girl, she used to be near the bull, and she too is now outside the stock exchange.
Jerry also drove us passed the Hudson yards, took us to Brookfield place where we saw a palm tree light display and beautiful Christmas decorations and a new ice rink!
He then drove us along 5th Avenue past all the big guns and their window displays and light shows. Saks 5th Ave is like a fairytale castle and in fact every 15 minutes it plays a Frozen 2 themed music and light show, a little bit like what we have on customs house in Sydney during our winter for the Vivid light display. Jerry can’t believe. They chose FROZEN…… as he said, we have only just stopped singing the let it go song!
We also ventured to 5th Avenue ourselves as the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Cartier, Tiffany etc. are incredible as are all the stores.
My favourite store Anthropologie was as always spectacular and I could just curl up in a display and hang out there for a few hours … their trees were actually decorated with pom pom garlands and just dreamy, very on par with their winter alpaca woollen theme!
Maybe that will be my inspiration for 2020 tree decorating. I better start now so many pom poms
Macy’s also has the cutest interactive windows and Urban Outfitters is awesome around Herald Square.
Our next adventure on a fine Sunday morning is the Subway downtown to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and down into DUMBO area, it’s a great morning and of course we take a few photographs as the last time the 3 of us were here, I somehow lost the camera card and therefore all our photos.
New Yorkers are mostly in black jackets (as are we) so it’s all about the scarves and beanies !
A quick stop at an eatery called the Clinton Street bakery and we share a chocolate chip pancake plate with maple butter …. rub that on your thighs as that is where its going, but if you train hard all year you can enjoy all the holiday treats !
We visit an organisation called Feed, where you can help pack food parcels and also purchase bags etc. to help feed underprivileged children. It’s all ethical and I love it.
A quick shop run through the shops, and it’s time to head home and chill out .
Monday sees us eating an egg and cheese bagel from the local deli ordering our coffee which they call a half and half cortado and it’s off to Columbus Circle to see the beautiful stars and the Christmas market before we wander into Central Park.
Lana and I often share a meal as they are huge, and not that Jess eats her whole meal, just slightly different taste buds.
Central Park is quite cool compared to the rest of the city. It’s in a little valley and the temperature drops, we visit the Wollman ice rink, climb the park rocks, walk down the mall to the Bestheda fountain and get a few more photos before we head to the Plaza Hotel, not for high tea this time, just a coffee and Luke’s Lobster roll and a Sprinkles bakery cup cake from the food hall underneath the Plaza – a great little find that was recommended by my friends Deb and Adrian a few years back – with lots of specialty eateries all together!
More shopping on 5th Ave before the afternoon crowds hit the streets to see the lights which in winter are pretty spectacular all the time. As they are predicting snow flurries on Monday night and rain the next day, we decide we will push through and go to my favourite park in the whole world Bryant Park.
It’s behind the New York Public Library and in summer they host yoga and outdoor cinema on the grass, while in winter it turns into it’s own winter village. Another gorgeous Xmas tree, lots of food trucks and shops, the most beautiful ice rink and an urban space that is also a bar ! We enjoy a couple of hours here before a quick subway ride back to our hotel to drop off the shopping -then a block walk back up to Madison Square Garden to see the ice hockey. We bought our tickets on stub hub, where local ticket holders re sell their seats to us tourists if they aren’t attending the game.
Our new friend Dave who is sitting just in front of us is from Jersey, can’t quite pick our accent, we can tell he’s from Jersey but (sometimes locals think we are British) and by the end of the first quarter when he realises we really like sport and the ice hockey we have a great chat and although the Rangers had twice as many shots as the gators ( that’s what Kate, Tim and Marty on Nova radio call all American teams) in the end they lost 4-1 to the Nashville Predators….. the rain has started as we leave the stadium and guess what ? Right next door is a Kmart so off we go shopping to let the crowd disperse of course!
The weather man was correct and it’s a rainy day Tuesday so we head downtown to Chelsea market for breakfast and some cool pop up shops by local artists and flea sellers.
There is a new jean bar in town called Madewell and also another Anthropologie stop…… then it’s the train home via Macy’s and a whole floor of Christmas decorations (which were 70% off) …… 3 hours later a quick change in our room before we head to Rockerfeller plaza where we try to go to Bar 69 at the Rainbow room for a drink and bar food. We crash and burn so head outside to the City Winery Igloo bar for wine and tapas before we line up at Radio City Music Hall.
It’s a balmy 1 degree temp as we wait in line for our Rockettes Christmas spectacular show and it doesn’t disappoint. I get called out for allegedly taking a sneaky iPhone pic ( just for once I hadn’t) and although you aren’t supposed to take photos seriously we are up in the stalls and I am a rebel and frame up a few sneaky pics between the people in front of us. The show is 90 minutes and we absolutely love it.
Just around the corner is Time Square and it’s only 10:00pm, so the M&M store and the Disney store are calling our names.
Our last day today Wednesday before we fly to Vancouver tonight (we gave ourselves a 2 day buffer in case of a snow storm) more about that later.
A subway ride downtown to Soho – which actually stands for South of Houston Street and a yummy scrummy breakfast at Balthazar – another family favourite. A quick look in the Lucky denim store and Sephora and we have 1 more special activity.
2 hours of fun and games and ice cream tasting at the Museum of Ice Cream . It’s brilliant – a concept dreamed up by a girl when she was 6 years old and now 15 years later her dream is a reality. It’s all interactive and very over the top in an American kind of way – with loud, cheesy, smiling attendants all dressed in pink including the boys. You have to choose your ice cream name…….. I was Lyndaliscious ( thanks Nat Pow POW ) for the nickname, with messy Jessie and you won’t believe it Lana Banana…….
We went to a cloud party, ate smooth cream ice cream, soft serve, hard chewy honey bee and caramel, and a stretchy gum like ice cream. Oh and did I mention the sprinkle pool!!! All in the name of fun. There were so many photo opportunities with our new friends from Florida, Venezuela and Connecticut….. just a great way to spend our last morning in the big apple.
Now back to the snow storm. I think I jinxed us. Our driver drops us at the airport well ahead of our scheduled 6:00 departure.
They have this cool system that sends phone/apple watch alert warnings to anyone in the city. I guess it’s a radio frequency thing because it even goes off with our phones and watches on airplane mode. First it was when we were at Chelsea markets (about a child being abducted ) and then they went off again at the airport today, warning us of an imminent snow squall storm and to take care. We watch the storm roll over the airport which goes from having an amazing sunset to a white out, and it kept squawking and swirling and we just sat and wondered whether we would leave.
Our flight is fully loaded after the storm ready to take off and, oh no it’s another snow front so there we were sitting on the tarmac waiting to taxi off and now it’s 3 hours later than planned, I’ve dished out the Valium (thanks Lisa ) and I’m at the front on the plane the girls are down the very back.
I’m texting Steve slightly freaking out and he’s sending ‘ just breathe babe’ messages. They announce that they will hose off the plane because there is snow and ice all over us…. no shit Sherlock just a regular day out.
I don’t know what I was worried about, seriously we are now 3 hours into our 5 and a half hour flight and apart from a few bumps taking off it’s been a great flight…..
So I’ll sign off and post this when we arrive in Vancouver. We are going from the East to the West coast and gaining 3 hours. Not that that matters when it’s now 1am (it really 4am) and it’s been worth it.
Emma and Tim are in Vancouver or Seattle ( I don’t know exactly). Jared left Sydney this morning and arrives in Vancouver tomorrow as do Josh and Lizzi.
Steve, Alistair, Marcus and Chelsea are all Vancouver bound this Friday (Sydney time) and will arrive before they leave, once they cross the pacific and the international date line. Then lucky last, Steve’s sister and her family arrive on Saturday for our 8 days in Whistler village. With 12 of us in the chalet I have packed 3 bottles of VI Poo!
I’ve had the best 5 days and am truly blessed to get to spend this time with Lana and Jess.
Here’s to a white Christmas in Whistler