A few weeks ago, my cousins Vanessa and Josh came to visit me. When I asked Vanessa what they wanted to do, she said, ‘Christmas stuff’ and also ‘more Christmas stuff’, so that’s what we did (it didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting). And when the weekend was over, I thought, ‘Hey, this would make a great little Christmas tour of New York’. I called up Vanessa to ask her if she wouldn’t mind writing up a little something about what we did, and after just the tiniest bit of begging, she agreed. So now, without further anticipation, I present for your consideration…
The First Official smoothliminal Guide to Christmas Time in the City
(Commentary by Vanessa. All pictures from Google because it’s Christmas and we’re busy.)
1. Candle Café (at 75th Street & 3rd Avenue, Upper East Side)
Kristy’s philosophy is that everyone should eat at the smallest restaurant possible when they visit New York, so we went to Candle Café, which is adorable and tiny. Tiny! Clearly this perspective is influenced by my current address in the wide and spacious southwest, but I was impressed that they manage to produce such good food and attentive service in what is basically a hallway. Also, my sister-in-law had her first ever vegan meal and loved it, so clearly our visit was an epic success.
2. FAO Schwarz (at 59th Street and 5th Avenue, Upper East Side)
Then we made our way to FAO Schwarz (and not, as my father-in-law assumed when pulling up, to the Apple store… to which 5/8 of the occupants of the van exclaimed “You don’t know me!” and tried to hide their iPhones). We were half-and-half divided on whether it’s cool for FAO Schwarz to sell “BYOB” cans to small children (“Bring Your Own [gummy] Bears”––so funny! So not appropriate! See, I’m still conflicted).
3. Rockefeller Tree (on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, Midtown)
To conclude our evening, we made our annual pilgrimage to the Rockefeller Tree. This is my fourth year running, and this year’s visit compared favorably to other years in the ‘weather’ category (it wasn’t freezing!) but less favorably in the ‘exciting events observed’ category because last year we witnessed a marriage proposal on the skating rink. Although this year we did watch a pair of MARRIED Cuban men unsuccessfully try to pick up a pair of not-born-yesterday Mexican women (¡bien hecho, mujeres!
4. Murray’s Bagels (at 13th Street and 6th Avenue)
One interesting tidbit I learned about NYC living this time around? Apparently many New Yorkers don’t start their workday till, like, way late. So even though we didn’t get to Murray’s Bagels for breakfast until 9:30, we were still just in time for the breakfast rush! My review: delicious, and huge.
•5. The Highline (on 8th-10th Avenues, between West 14th and West 30th Streets)
So, one time my sister-in-law really, really wanted to take us to the Highline. She talked about it all day. But then, when we got there in the evening, it was closed. Ever since, I’ve been super curious to go to this little park, and we finally did, and it was amazing. Quotable moment from the Highline: we saw the side of a building covered in what looked like mirror and rusted metal, prompting Kristy to exclaim, ‘Oh! I read about this. It’s art.’
6. Ice-skating in Bryant Park (on 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues)
Here’s what you need to know about ice skating in Bryant Park (or anywhere, probably): MAKE SURE YOUR SKATES ARE LACED TIGHT. We didn’t figure this out until we were almost finished and Josh’s legs are still recovering from the war-wounds. Also, I didn’t realize how smooth and wonderful this ice is until I went ice skating at an uncovered rink in downtown Phoenix that’s essentially a piece of plywood with a veeeryyy thin layer of ice on top. New Yorkers, you have it so good. This was the most Christmassy thing we did in New York, what with the ice, the Christmas songs playing, and the general mood of festivity and cheer. I loved it.
7. Bryant Park Holiday Market (on 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues)
After skating, we were starving so we ate the most delicious arepas and soup. Kristy also introduced us to kombucha (or whatever it’s called), which tasted… healthy.
8. Zara (on 42nd Street at 5th Avenue)
After lunch, we hit up Zara for some Christmas shopping. Normally I adore Zara, but I’m extremely displeased with the company at the moment because I bought a skirt with the cheapest zipper known to man that broke the first time I wore it. Oh yes, I did just blog about it, Zara customer service!
9. Grand Central Station (at 42nd Street and Park Avenue)
We had time for one more thing before we headed to the airport, so we went to check out Grand Central Station. At this point things started to get a little rush-y, but we did take a minute to pick out the constellations on the ceiling and take pictures and generally admire the building.
10. Magnolia Bakery (on the lower level of Grand Central, 42nd Street and Park Avenue)
For the very last of our adventures in the city, Kristy treated us to not one but TWO treats from Magnolia bakery, because that’s just the kind of person she is. One hop over the subway gate later (what? it wouldn’t let me through and the train was leaving! I swiped my card, I swear) and we were Jersey-bound. You know how sometimes when you’re saying goodbye to someone it’s better to do it in a mad dash of packages and coats and two flights of subway stairs so you don’t cry? This was one of those times. We love you, Kiki! Can’t wait to see you at Christmas!
•Visit Vanessa’s blog here: holasunshine.wordpress.com
Merry Christmas, everyone!
P.S. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to New York by tomorrow, the best part about Christmas in the city is that it lasts well into January.
P.P.S. Let me know if any of these pictures are yours. I’ll happily credit the photographers or remove them.