Monday, January 9, 2012

My Excellent Christmas Adventure to the Big Apple

I nearly forgot to mention about my trip to the Big Apple last week to visit my son for Christmas.  Let me tell you all about it ... in a New York minute. 

After arrival via the Santa express at 6 am on Christmas morning, I rode the comfortable and safe MTA to the Upper West Side.  As is the case with every trip, the subway ticket machine sold me tickets, then the little monitor said I didn't have money on my subway card, but the kindly gentleman provided me a special envelope and form so I can reclaim my $25 by mail.  I've been home a week and haven't taken care of it yet. 

My son greeted me at his apartment across on the Upper West Side about 8 am or so.  Present opening and a light Christmas breakfast of orange juice and cinnamon bread freshly baked by my daughter were first on the agenda.  Coffee helped to compensate for me getting but three hours sleep on the plane.  My son is the only other human on the planet who really "gets" how I like my coffee prepared, ie a dash of coffee with my milk.  In the afternoon, we took a walk through the entire expanse of the wintry but still lush and beautiful Central Park from Cathedral Parkway to Columbus Circle, had drinks at the Russian Tea Room, indugled in some window shopping on Fifth Avenue, celebrated Christmas evening mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, wove through thick crowds watching skaters at the foot of the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and capped off the evening with a Christmas dinner of Boeuf Bourginon at Cafe du Soleil on the Upper West Side.

Boxing Day, or the day after Christmas, we engaged in casual after Christmas (mostly window) shopping in Soho, Union Square, and Herald Square, home of the world's largest department store - Macy's.  Among the finds: shining armor (knight sold separately), ostrich eggs, and halfway-to-heaven-yes-this-is-fashion platform shoes. There was a lunch detour for "street meat" (a gyro) for me and a salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwich from Russ and Daughters for my son.  I had a bite of that scrumptuous creation and bagels will ne'er be the same again!  I insisted on going past my ever favorite Flatiron Building with its window display of coffee cups.  I love that building!  The day ended at Times Square for some views from an eighth floor bar at the Marriott Marquis and a birds eye viewing of all the lights and commotion yet again. 

The next morning, we rode the bus to Costco in Spanish Harlem for some gift exchanging.  The samples and food court are the same, but the cheese section beats the one in Murray, Utah where I shop hands down.  After a walking and taxi detour, we continued to Jackson Heights in Queens to a predominantly Indian neighborhood where we ate an Indian buffet.  I tried on elegant saris in several stores.  I still cannot figure out why Indian women pay hundreds of dollars for beautiful sequinned fabric that ultimately has to be tailored into the sari, but so (or sew) it is.  We sauntered on the tiny street of retail shops: a velour Spiderman blanket was tempting, not to be trumped by the green jackfruit. 

Sleeping late became habit forming and it was noon by the time we took the subway to the Village for lunch a long-awaited $17 hamburger and fries (yes!) at the Spotted Pig.  Boutique window shopping in the Village and Soho gave way to a trip down Canal Street through Chinatown to the South Street Seaport (by where the mezzanine of the South Tower of the World Trade Center used to be) in search of a shorter theater ticket line (impossible).  We settled for picture taking of Brooklyn and New Jersey skylines at sunset, and then made another attempt at walking through Macy's to see if there really were any after Christmas bargains (nope). 

We walked to Harlem the next day and happend on a glimpse of the famed Cotton Club! We had fried green tomatoes at Dinosaur BBQ.  We walked ALL the way down Broadway for several hours.  A cadence ensued as we marched the blocks from 125th Street to 59th Street.  We landed at Columbus Circle in time for happy hour at Nougatine in the Trump International Hotel.  Did I say how much I LOVE the Tuna Tartare?  Well so much that the ladies next to me at the bar ordered it upon my recommendation, and yes, they were eternally grateful for my suggestion.  When my son graduated from Columbia, I gave him no choice as to where his graduation celebration would be held.  Nougatine or bust, because every time in NYC, I have to have my Tuna Tartare fix.  Why doesn't Market Street make this stuff?  Don't answer that.  We even went to the uptown TJ Maxx in search of crepe pans and evening dresses.  The selection wasn't much better than at home, but by then my cold had seized control of my body and brain so shopping was the last thing on my wish list. 

My week of fun came to a dramatic close.  I'll spare the details here, but I was incredibly ill.  I had to travel home, but not before a visit to the lively Hells Kitchen for lunch at a Balkan eatery.  Hells Kitchen looks really intriguing and I want to explore more of it on my next visit.  I headed on the E train to the Air Train to Terminal 3 at JFK Airport. 

I LOVE you, New York!  I think the Big Apple is one of the world's greatest cities to engage in my beloved sport of urban hiking, in my case up to ten miles a day.  My son is such a great host because he knows the city quite well and I got the insider's scoop.  I'm lucky to be able to visit often with a free place to stay and immerse myself in this American treasure of art, fashion, architecture, history, culture, and cuisine where even the hot dogs are a treat (hint: if you go, eat your hot dogs at Gray's Papaya for best enjoyment at a low budget price).


  1. Hey, I "get" how you like your coffee too. That's not to say I understand it, or like it that way, but I sure know! :)

  2. Really nice way you spent your Christmas day. Macy is my favorite among dept stores. Beside this JOHNSTON & MURPHY is also good store at NY. This year we did shopping at JOHNSTON & MURPHY.

    Jeril from Store Hours

  3. Yes ... I know you "get" it, but there is "getting" it and making it. Both critical after three hours sleep. ;) Although really, my coffee could be defined as milk with a shot of coffee so maybe there is not much caffeine rush in that. No more than the Diet Coke my coworkers drink every morning.