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NYC Pre-ChristmasAuthor: Lisa C. (More Trip Reviews by Lisa C.)
Date of Trip: December 2009
NYC Pre-Christmas Sets the Mood for Fun Holidays! I joined in purchasing a teacher's group package to NYC December 4, 5 & 6, taking my mother, 70, and my 23-year old daughter. Our packaged air via Continental Airlines put us down in EWR (Newark), where a chartered bus awaited our group of 25 to smoothly sail us into the city by 7:30 AM. Our perfectly located, packaged hotel, The Sheraton Manhattan at 51st Street, was more than happy to stow our luggage until our later check-in at 3PM. Left unburdened by our accoutrements, we immediately fell right into their on-premise restaurant, Russos, where an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with a view of bustling corner @ 51st & 7th Avenue kept us enthralled until we were refilled and chomping to hit the streets. Rockefeller Center was only a two block jaunt, via Radio City enroute, and we were under the famous tree where a chorus of carolers were performing on the ice. The weather was especially nice on our first day, 55 and clear w/no wind.
This Friday in the city was also not particularly busy and we were able to proceed in our walking tour to 42nd Street & Avenue of the Americas, where Bryant Park hosts yet another spectacular tree, as well as a spiffy ice rink, and where a mysterious man dressed as a white rabbit was skating amongst the crowds. We thought we had seen him, or one just like him earlier at 6th Ave...a promotion for "Alice in Wonderland" I think!
The New York Public Library (where Carrie got married!) is at the head of the park, and a magnificent statue of William Cullen Bryant, poet and editor, resides over the backside where there are also 100's of small kiosks containing all sorts of wares, art exhibits, jewelry and foods. The fountain at the middle has a small eating area beside it, along with several gaming areas where men were congregating, tossing bocce balls. We milled happily for hours in and around the library and grounds.
As it was nearing 2PM, we decided there was still time to take the Staten Island Ferry, a free way to see the Statue of Liberty via a close 'ride by'! We hopped on the S1 subway, taking us direct to the portside, waited less than 20 minutes in the warm ferry terminal listening to a couple of long- haired dudes play guitar for tips. The trip across to Staten Isle was crowded with folks who ride every day just like it's the city bus - there are no cars on this ferry, an oddity to me, but no one needs a car in an area rich with transportation options!
Waiting for the backward return was a cinch too, less than 15 minutes later, we were enroute back to NYC. Our hotel was a warm glow in the cold day quickly waning and we were checked in and in the pool by 7PM, a lovely large pool with views of the avenues billboards. There was also a sauna and workout room! Dinner was a disappointment at Rosie O'Grady's, which sat across the avenue from our Sheraton. Although the place was nearby, convenience should never be your guide in fine dining. I wished we'd gone to Gallagher's, only a few streets away and the best I've ever found for steak and smiling service staff in NYC.
Saturday we let Mom sleep in while we hopped a bus on 3rd Ave to the East Side Salvation Army, finding a plethora of name brand used items to choose from including purses, shoes, a vintage MJ T-shirt, bangles and even a few novels written about New York lives, all great finds and less than $25 took all. Picking up Mom by Noon, lunch was in SoHo at an amazing french culinary institute restaurant, Ecole, where as soon as we were seated in a lovely circular booth, it began to snow outside - great timing! A rainy mixed snow outside kept our shopping in SoHo very brief after lunch. The R train was a quick ride 'home' to our Sheraton.
Saturay night we had reserved seats at Radio City (2nd mezz was great!) for the Spectacular Christmas show with the Rockettes. You cannot go wrong on this show, it is a crowd pleaser with all the sights of the city and Christmas encapsulated into the show, a show of all shows for sure! A take-out deli stop on 52nd St. made for a quick late dinner option, w/three lovely slices of cheesecake, as well as chocolate croissants for our breakfast were purchased with an eye to the AM.
Our plan for the final day was Central Park, watching the skaters first at Wollman's rink, then riding antique ponies at the colorful carrousel before following the trail of many horse-drawn carts to the Tavern on the Green, where Mom treated us to a lovely repast of brunch in their sumptuous dining quarters. We walked slowly back up the Great Broadway, wishing we weren't heading out on the shuttle quite so soon!
Our journey's end was inclusive of a 6-hour delay in EWR; thanks Continental Airlines for the free headaches and hard times there at no extra charge! Oh well, it was well worth it for all the good times had in the Big City and we'll be back next December! 3 days are just enough to leave you wanting to do it again, I can't wait!
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