Oh, my beautiful New York! Everything is heightened at the holidays. Enhanced lighting, multilingual conversations, cathedral bells, and the slightest flurry of snow added to our enchanting journey. We stayed at a newly renovated boutique hotel called The Archer on 38th Street in the Garment District, hence the sculpture of an evening dress by the entryway.
Each evening, in addition to discovering a delectable treat on our desk, we had a view of the Empire State Building. Our in-room coffee service consisted of a Nespresso machine (think George Clooney and Danny Devito) plus Harney & Sons tea. On a past visit to NYC, my friend led us to the Harney & Sons Tea Shop which was devine!
The highlight of our first evening in the city was having dinner at Max Brenner’s–the very best dessert destination featuring chocolate–lots and lots of chocolate! They offer chocolate pizza, chocolate waffles…you get the idea. After dinner I chose the Chocolate Hazelnut Milkshake served in the “fantasy cup” inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The following day we were superbly lucky to have booked the Law & Order Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan through our friend, Ike, with NYC Adventure Tours. Ike is a retired, real, NYPD detective! He led us to multiple sites of crime scenes, movie and TV locations, and endless historical stories. Billed as “The hangouts, the haunts, and the hideaways of NYC’s most notorious criminals.” Here is just a sample.
Seen in movies and TV shows, Central Booking (or “The Tombs”) is where felons are held for processing and pre-trial detention. “The Tombs” are connected by the Bridge of Sighs, four stories up. When a prisoner is transferred, the two escorts meet in the middle of the bridge, replacing the handcuffs one at a time to avoid any escapes.
Scene of a famous mob shooting, Murder at the Feast of San Gennaro. Arthur Felig (aka Weegee) was the first newspaper crime scene photographer.
Oldest gun store in NYC and the only place to buy a legal hand gun.
Ferrara’s Pastry Shop, established 1892, was our snack stop on the tour. Everyone grabbed a cannoli and a hot chocolate to warm up as we continued the tour.
New York State Supreme Court. You’ve seen this in countless episodes of Law and Order, plus the movie Twelve Angry Men, and a scene from the Godfather where Barzini is walking out and gets gunned down by Al Neri, who is dressed as a cop.
Recognize this? It’s a filming location for Sex and the City. Still a good restaurant/bar today. 🙂 There were so many stops on this wonderful 2-1/2 hour tour, with a nice surprise at the end, but I won’t spoil it for you in case you get lucky enough to catch this great sightseeing experience. We had to say good-bye to Ike to head for our next agenda item–One World Observatory.
Be sure to pre-order your tickets online, like we did, or you’ll be faced with an enormous line of tourists. Once inside, you’ll ride in The Sky Pod elevators (among the fastest in the world) that will zoom you to the 102nd floor while watching a super speedy movie of the history of New York’s architecture on the elevator walls and ceiling! Whew! So, at the top…
Continuing on to our evening tour, we pit-stopped at Starbuck’s where the night sky offered up the most beautiful, gentle snow flurries! Kenny, our guide, led us on the NYC East Village Food Tour. We were treated to hot dogs, pizza, falafel, dumplings, papaya juice, egg cream and more. Between savory stops, we learned the history of this unique neighborhood and the culture that influenced the awesome food. Here is The Papaya King where we sampled quintessential New York hot dogs.
Our tour for seeing the holiday lights and store windows was cancelled due to security and traffic issues, so we planned our own holiday windows route including Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Cartier. Take a look…
And the last window was interactive. You could place your hand on the Naughty-or-Nice meter. 🙂
Well, I guess you could consider the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to be the height of holiday decorating, and we left the best for last. This year’s Norwegian Spruce from Oneonta, NY, is 94 feet tall and 56 feet wide, adorned with approximately 50,000 LED lights. You think it was hard getting that star on your tree? Try a Swarovski star, nine-and-a-half feet in diameter and weighing 550 pounds!
When I reserved our table at Rockefeller Cafe for New Year’s Eve dinner, I never dreamed we would actually sit at a round table by the window that was eye level with the flow of skaters. We looked out upon the magnificent tree above the bronze sculpture of Prometheus. Skaters would literally skate fast and grab the rail directly in front of us! It was fun to watch couples and families, some seemingly pro skaters and some first time skaters, all having a fun New Year’s Eve. Oh! And a few tables over, a groom-to-be proposed to his girlfriend and the whole restaurant clapped as she very happily said, “Yes!”
After dinner we made an unplanned stop to the Top of the Rock. As we scanned the city, we could actually see the crystal ball in Times Square, poised to drop at midnight. Amateur photographers with tripods were all setting up to capture the big moment.
We strolled back to The Archer (stopping to buy champagne) and watched the ball drop on TV as we toasted, listening to the crowds roar through our open windows. What a great year–and good wishes ahead for 2017!
On New Year’s Day, we started the New Year right with brunch at Sarabeth’s. Fabulous brunch menu and charming decor.
Then it was on to MoMA! We were fortunate to catch some traveling exhibits, including Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.
And…Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”
Time for another event and yet another check of the Uber app. 🙂 Yea, Uber!
Speaking of art, NYC graffiti artists have exhibited their work as well, which we noted on the Law and Order Walking Tour, often through chain link fences.
One of my all-time favorite places that we visited in New York was Bryant Park. The sun was low in the sky, casting beautiful scenes of light and shadow, while shoppers and skaters enjoyed a relaxing Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t stop taking pictures! Grayson was determined to find a hot dog from a real NYC hot dog stand. Success!
That evening, after dinner, we rode uptown to Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular. Every year is different and this year my favorite part was wearing the 3D glasses. 🙂
Monday was our last day in the Big Apple, but we managed to have lunch together before we went parted ways to separate airports. We ate the best pizza ever at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, called the Cathedral of Pizza. It is housed in a 19th-century church and has retained the original architecture. The stained glass dome ceiling remains, and the brick ovens adorn the edges like altars.
My trip wouldn’t have been complete without a teensy bit of fabric shopping. After all, we were in the Garment District! M & J Trimming was just around the corner where I found perfect hot pink fringe, and then it was off to Mood.
First of all, I had barely started shopping when I heard a bark, bark, bark! There was Swatch, standing at the top of the stairs, just barking at the air. 🙂 Poor Swatch, too many people invading his space.
So here’s what I found. Beautiful 3-D yellow floral trim which you will see on a bag in my next post. Also, some multicolor pink/red silky fringe. You know I love velvet, so I couldn’t pass up deep pink crushed velvet. I spotted a bolt of geometric red fashion wool which I can use next season. Then, in the back, where they keep the dress forms, what do I see but that very same fabric made into a jacket! Could it be from Project Runway?! Does that mean my taste qualifies me to compete?? Nope, I told ya before–I’m Too S-l-o-o-o-w!
So my final “taste” of New York, as we’re waiting on the Uber, is the last of many Gong Cha teas I consumed. Gong Cha–with the tapioca pearls! Yum!!
I miss you, Gong Cha! See ya next time!