Sunday, December 29, 2019

Christmas in New York

A few years ago the Geek and I decided to stop giving Christmas and birthday presents to each other and travel instead. This year our daughter chimed in - no presents, but a trip. While discussing where to go in the winter she mentioned that she had never been to New York (except for driving through during our cross country trip in 2007). After some research we had booked our flights and a hotel just two blocks north of the Empire State Building between Fifth and Sixth Avenue - a perfect place for exploring the Big Apple.

The Geek and I had spent ten very happy days in New York in 1997 and were wondering how much the city has changed since then (apart from the World Trade Center). I have to mention here that we were madly in love at that time and probably saw everything with rose-colored glasses. It was quite different this time.

There is no doubt that New York is magical during the holiday season. Everywhere there are lights, Christmas music is playing (the most played song was "All I want for Christmas is you"), it's glittering and sparkling, magic.

And there are crowds. And more crowds. And... even more crowds.

People are pushing and shoving, kids are crying, adults are cursing - suddenly the magic just disappears and all you see is the consumerism behind the magic.

The front facade of Saks Fifth Avenue had a huge display of the "Frozen" theme that would lit up every ten minutes with a light show that was fantastic, I have to admit. The music could be heard over several blocks. A lane of Fifth Avenue was completely closed off to traffic so that people could stand and watch the light show. Both the sidewalk and the lane was completely blocked and if you were trapped in there you were stuck for the next ten minutes. It happened to us and it wasn't exactly fun (I don't particularly like crowds).

Of course, we also took our own "magical" photos - the magic being that the Empire State Building grows out of the Geek's head! However, I do like the photo of Kaefer and myself in front of the huge Christmas baubles behind the Rockefeller Center.

I can't tell you enough how glad I was about my knitted hat and scarf! It was flippin' cold in New York (17 F, fortunately it warmed up considerably after that), with the chilly wind blowing along the streets. Even New Yorkers were complaining about the freezing weather. No wonder I came home with a serious cold (just like back in 1997...).

I had brought my DSLR to New York, but from the very beginning I mainly used the phone to take photos. It was just too crowded to always stop, strip off the backpack and get out the camera. It always involved taking off my gloves, too, which wasn't pleasant especially during those first few days. I pretty much used the big camera only to take pictures of Brooklyn Bridge (which compared to 1997 had turned into a zoo) and a beautiful sunset behind the Statue of Liberty. After the third day I left the camera in the safe in our room and only took pictures with my phone. It was much more convenient and I actually took way more pictures in places I wouldn't have pulled out the camera (like in the subway).

Experiencing New York City in the holiday season was certainly exciting. I enjoyed many parts of it. We visited coffee shops to warm up and had cocktails in the evening. There was a wide range of food to choose from and we were extremely lucky to find a German restaurant with excellent food and delicious beer just five walking minutes from our hotel. We ate our fair share of bagels with all kinds of cream cheese (avocado and herbs, anyone?). We strolled along Christmas markets and ate honey roasted almonds. There were wonderful museums to discover like the National Museum of the American Indian and the Met Cloisters as well as the very moving 9/11 Memorial with its reflecting pools. Most of the people we met were very nice, ready to chat and answer questions. They put a friendly face onto this hectic monster of a city. We had some really nice and interesting conversations with people, both visitors and New Yorkers.

But I was glad when we finally returned home. I'm simply not a city person anymore. I didn't like the crowds at all, the consistent noise, the honking of the cars, the impatience, the rush. Every day we walked between 7 and 11 miles, and it was all on pavement. It's hard, and it hurts - my feet hurt, my legs hurt, my hips hurt. I was bone tired every evening and still I couldn't sleep because there was no way that we could open a window in our room and I simply can't sleep without fresh air (as much "fresh" air as you might even get in NYC). But what got me the most was the wastefulness, the mountains of trash, the plastic bags, the "to go and throw away" mindset. The streets were littered, the subway was littered and every night bags of trash piled up in the streets. It was disgusting. I learned to truly appreciate what I have in California. We might be seen as "wacko" by the rest of the country, but boy am I proud to be this kind of wacko.

There certainly will be more posts about our trip to New York in the future. For now let me wish you happiness, health and joy of living for 2020.


Elephant's Child said...

I loved the photos - but that is as close as I can comfortably get to noise and bustle and crowds.
Can I join you wearing the 'wacko' label?
And hooray for giving the gifts of shared experiences. It packs the memory banks and requires no wrapping or waste.
A very, very happy New Year (and all those to come) for you and yours.

La Vie Quotidienne said...

What a wonderful trip! I have never been to New York and have always wanted to go. I am happy to know that you got to do this. A great way to make holiday memories.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Carola. I would have shared your sentiments, I am quite sure. I am not a fan of big cities, and in crowded situations I find myself getting a little claustrophobic. Given the prevalence of mass shootings in recent years, I have little doubt that I would have felt extremely nervous in any crowded situation. Your return to California must have been a welcome relief. Please accept my very best wishes for 2020, which I hope will be joyful and blessed by good health - sans wildfires.

Magdalena said...

Liebe Carola, ich kann Deinen Bericht absolut nachvollziehen. 2016 waren wir in NY, allerdings im Sommer. Es war grandios, aber ich hatte die gleichen Probleme wie Du, nur dass es nicht kalt war. Es ist doch gut, dass man dann das Zuhause wieder genießen kann. Ich kann jetzt nach monatelangem Stress wieder ein wenig aktiver werden. Ich wünsche Dir alles Gute für 2020.
Übrigens: das Bild mit dem Empire State Building würde ich gut aufheben!!!

Red Rose Alley said...

I heard Christmas in New York is all decked out. I've always wanted to visit, and still have a dream to take a girls trip someday. This is a cute picture of you and your family, Carola. And I noticed the scarf you made wrapped around your neck all snug and cozy. That Christmas tree all lit up is GRAND. It looks like there is a trash problem there in the city by your photo. So glad you got to experience this little trip. It's an journey to remember, especially at Christmas when the lights are shining all throughout the streets.


Iris Flavia said...

Travelling is the best pressie ever! We do so, too. Just a lille pressie here and there, when you see something nice.
I hope you are still madly in love! A bit, at least ;-)
It looks beautiful, but I hate crowds, pushing, yelling... at the grocery store Hubby stands behind me. He can get as close as he likes, but no strangers!
My Nieces would love the Fozen theme (me, having to read a 1000 times to them not so much ;-)...)
Love your happy pic!... Pics! A German restaurant sounds like a wee bit homesickness... Have you ever been back?

Nice to learn the people are friendly, but, yikes, the trash? We recycle every stupid thing, or keep it in the house till the bins are ready for it again...

To a great 2020, I´m looking forward to learn more about your trip.

windrock studio said...

I really enjoy your photos and hearing all about you holiday trip but I sure agree with the dislike of crowds and noise! and the piles of trash somehow surprise me, I guess I've just never thought about that.
I bet it was really nice to get back home but the trip was such a great gift to each other!

Jeanie said...

I look forward to your other posts but I think I'm in synch with you on the city and maybe the combo of the city and holidays and extra people beyond the already-many. I would love to experience this. And not! But your photos are fantastic and I know it had many wonderful moments, especially with your beautiful girl!

Valerie-Jael said...

Hi Carola, great to see you around again! How lovely to have a trip to New York, thanks for sharing the photos. I mostly use my phone for photos these days as my fingers are getting very uncooperative! Have a great 2020, look after yourself. Hugs, Valerie

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, what an amazing trip! Truly loved all the photos! Although, that sure is a lot of garbage! LOL! I understand about the crowds and noise! Here's to an amazing 2020, with lots of love and good health! Big Hugs!

Cheri said...

New York City is great in small doses, but waaaaaay to much for a full week trip - especially during the holidays! Fun to see it all, but exhausting. I'm with you on big cities. So NOT a city girl. I felt the same way about London.

My name is Erika. said...

That looks like a wonderful festive trip. What a great way to spend your holiday, and to be together as a family. One day I will get to NYC to see all the beautiful sights lit up. Happy New year! Hugs-Erika

Lowcarb team member said...

I must admit the older I get the more I seem to appreciate a quieter place.
Your photographs were good to see though.

My good wishes to you and yours for a happy 2020.

All the best Jan