IMAGE: Visitors take photos with the charging bull during a cold day in Wall Street.
Going to New York in the middle of December was a no brainer to me. But not to my wife. She feared that Manhattan would be cold and miserable at that time of the year and was also afraid that all of us would get stuck in a small room with nothing to do and unable to do much outside because of snow and bad weather. She also worried about not returning home on time because of cancelled flights.
“I don’t know why we have to go there now,” she complained a few weeks before leaving.
I wanted her, our twenty-something daughter, and me to experience the Christmas season in the city that never sleeps. I planned to show them around during such a special time. I had been in New York before on several occasions, for business; they had never been there.
It was a good thing that we all went. They both loved it. My wife hasn’t stopped talking about the trip with friends and family and she’s already planning to spend the New Year’s Eve celebration there next December.
Makes sense. We had a ball during our short, five-day visit to that magic, ethnically diverse and sophisticated metropolis. We were there from December twelve to the sixteenth. It was cold, no doubt, especially on the last two days of our stay, but it was fun. We had a fairytale kind of time there, quartered in a small, but cozy airbnb studio in the proximity of 53rd street and Second Avenue, living the life that mostly dreams provide. And near almost everything. On foot, on Uber or the subway.
Gotta hand it to airbnb for providing the means for finding economical and convenient lodging all over the globe. That alternative way of securing a place to stay works for me. Instead of having to pay a ton of money for a small, often smoke tainted room in some chain hotel in Manhattan, we got a nice studio near everything, with plenty room, a kitchen, a fridge, plates and wine glasses. And lots of coziness, for close to the same price.
The host, or perhaps the previous tenant, left a six-pack of beer in the fridge. That was nice. It feels good to down suds after a long flight and a ride from the airport.
New York, however, is not about spending your vacation time stuck in a room. The stay in it was good, though. While there, we had wine and cheese one night along with pizza. On another evening, we enjoyed Chinese take out and ramen from neighborhood joints. I was also sent out (by wife and daughter) to fetch breakfast, fresh morning bread and (on one night) microwavable popcorn from a CVS nearby.
We also ate out. It was fun. Pizza on the first night. Italian two days later. I know, we had too much of the same thing. But hey, that kind of chow is great in New York. It’s hard not to have it at least twice.
We did a lot during our visit. Our daughter was our guide. Young people are good at that, I must admit; all they need is a cell phone and the fingers to do the walking (much, much faster than in the old yellow pages days). It’s amazing; kids can find anything via those darn wireless and magically connected thingamajigs. She found restaurants, places of interest, transportation and much more just clicking on that phone. That’s why we were able to do a lot. Thank you daughter.
In just four days we managed to check mark many bucket list items, the must do things of life. Went to the Rock and up the 65th floor and from that vantage point got to admire the city’s skyline at night. I had a rum and coke at the bar of that place. Pricey, but worth every penny. My ears, by the way, are still popping from that quick rise in the Rock’s elevator. Just kidding.
Saw the NBC studio (from the outside) on our first night; it was being prepared for the following morning’s Today Show. That was fun too, especially for my wife. She bought a couple of pastries at the Bouchon Bakery right across the place. The next morning, while relaxing in our room, we noticed the notable bakeshop in the background in one of the scenes of that day’s show with Hoda and Kathie.
It was a great trip. We followed trail after trail in Central Park and walked quietly in the halls of the New York Public Library. Went to the Metropolitan Museum and were awed by its art collections from all over the world. Saw the Christmas Spectacular show performed by the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Spent an evening at Times Square. Visited stores and ate in small cafes, in the street. Saw the city; felt its vibrancy.
It was a happy time. It was also a time of reflection. On Thursday, the coldest day of our stay, we visited the World Trade Center Memorial. Seeing the names of the fallen carved on stones brought back memories of a time of despair and human suffering. But also of uncompromising resolute to move on and continue to fight for the ideals that have made this country a beacon of hope and freedom.
After leaving the Memorial, we walked towards the south, past Wall Street’s charging bull, and to a small park next to the bay. From there we saw the Statue of Liberty. It was far away, but the silhouette was conspicuous. A great dame lifting her lamp welcoming the world’s people to New York and America.
AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez