I spent months reading this site before we went on our Christmas and New Year holiday and although I never asked a question, I found the advise posted in reply to others really useful in making our holiday a huge success from our point of view, so before I post my trip report, just to say a big thank you to everyone!!
21st Dec - We arrived in New York via JFK and Carmel Limo (great car and service) on Tuesday 21st December from Las Vegas having spent 10 nights at the Luxor (fab Jacuzzi suite) where we had a very self indulgent time eating and drinking (not gambling) our way round LV. It kicked off our NY experience to a great start arriving in style and it seemed fitting for our arrival at the Westin Times Square where the bell man immediately sprung into action sorting out all our (well ok, mostly my) luggage. Hotel great and got king heavenly bed in a high room with views of Times Square and the Empire State Building - couldn't be better! As it was 9.30 pm by the time we had arrived and quickly showered and unpacked, we headed straight out to wonder round Times Square and despite all expectation to the contrary had a great hot meal at Planet Hollywood - maybe it was the thirst quenching beers and bottle of wine that helped. As we hadn't yet had our fill of alcohol we went looking for a friendly local bar and stumbled across the Times Square Brewery where we subsequently had many great nights. We met Tom, a very friendly Irish bar man who gave us numerous recommendations about where to go including a top place for Christmas dinner (more on that later...). The bar has a great selection of home brewed beer and a different jazz band every evening, all of which were very good and added to the atmosphere and enjoyment on all of our numerous visits there.
22nd Dec - Husband's Birthday - opened presents and cards and spoke to family and friends back in UK to wish him a great day. Took cab to Liberty Helicopters and arrived an hour before our due time, but they said they would get us up as soon as possible and they were true to their word. I had booked the mid price trip, but we were upgraded to the full tour and had 20 to 25 mins in the air and had great views of all of Manhattan, the Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge. Walked to the Chrysler Building and looked round and then to Grand Central Station before heading up to Michael Jordan���s Steakhouse for a very memorable lunch on a balcony table and great view under the stars! On to Campbell Apartment and a celebratory bottle of Verve Cliquot and back to hotel to sleep off lunch before heading to Caroline���s Comedy Club. Finished off the day at Times Square Brewery where we met Jose, Kenny, Pablo and Don who got the band to play Happy Birthday to my husband while they sang it to him and bar man gave us round of free drinks. Home to bed with a very happy husband!
23rd Dec ��� Walked to Dakota Building and across to Strawberry Fields and walked round Central Park including all main sites before heading to lunch at Tavern on the Green, which exceeded my expectations having read comments about it on this site. Got great table in Crystal Room and had excellent Christmas lunch special with good service and very reasonable bottle of wine which seemed to set others off along the same lines as all we could see people drinking up to then was water! Unfortunately raining, but decided to take carriage ride anyway and although the hood was up to keep off the rain and we could hardly see anything as a result, we had a huge laugh snuggling under the blanket which stank of horse manure and made the experience truly memorable! No one on the Wollman rink as it was covered in an inch of water so headed to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and Prometheus. Thought about hanging around for a cocktail at the Rainbow Room, but the heavens opened and we dashed back to the hotel. Hot showers and bottle of worst red wine ever on the bed purchased from the deli next door ��� never again!
24th Dec ��� shopping madness!! Saw all the big department stores and holiday windows and had lunch at Stage Deli as Carnegie Deli banged-out and more madness than the shops! Had very good lunch and chatted to some very friendly locals and headed off to see St Patrick���s Cathedral. Purchased goodies (not from local deli) ��� wine, champagne and crisps (chips) and few token presents to open on Christmas morning. Dinner at Manhattan Chilli Company and great time listening to the Jazz Band at Times Square Brewery until late and met more fun people to chat to. Headed to bed and put champagne on ice for the morning���
25th Dec ��� Christmas Day in New York!!! Phoned family and friends back in UK and opened presents and drank bottle of champagne. Recreated Studio 54 in our room and danced round in our Egyptian Cotton Bath Robes until time to go out for Christmas dinner at barman���s recommendation to Kennedy���s Irish Bar and Restaurant. It had a great informal atmosphere, friendly staff and nice surroundings without being posh and excellent traditional UK Christmas lunch for 35$ each and wine and liqueurs very reasonable on top. Headed to ESB, but 2 hour wait put us off after our very enjoyable lunch, so headed back to hotel and quick drink in hotel bar before retiring to our room and a bottle of good red wine and crisps on bed and watched Elf (terrible but Christmas fun). All in all we had a fab Christmas day in New York!
26th Dec ��� Walked through Central Park again and saw the skaters on rink and headed to Met and then over to American Museum of Natural History and Rose Centre for Earth and Space all of which were excellent. We particularly enjoyed the Big Bang and Are We Alone? Back to hotel for quick change and headed out to watch Matthew Broderick in the Foreigner which was both funny ���ha ha��� and funny ���peculiar��� at the same time. Snowing when came out from theatre which made my Christmas!
27th Dec ��� woke up with very nasty sore throat (couldn���t speak and lost voice) so spent morning in bed sucking ice chips. Husband dragged me out of bed mid afternoon (couldn���t object as couldn���t speak) to eat something at Olive Garden and bottle of wine helped the food down ��� perked me up a bit and booked tickets for New Year extravaganza to avoid getting more cold standing out for 8 hours. Back to bed and warmth and sleep and ice chips!
28th Dec ��� Mid morning start at ESB, still 2 hour queue, but at side entrance very nice man let us in as we had pre-booked tickets so only took 20 mins to reach viewing platform. Had purchased the audio tour as part of our package and were glad we did as ���New York Tony ��� explained to us a lot more about what we were seeing ��� very impressive views as clear day. Took subway to South Ferry and went to find out about the tickets to Statue of Liberty trip that I was too ill to do yesterday. Very helpful chap sorted out replacement tickets for us including the tour up the statue without having to pay again ��� still couldn���t speak so he knew I wasn���t lying. Stood in silence for one hour to wait for ferry and blessed relief when finally got on the boat as hands and feet all numb from the cold. Finally got up to the plinth to see the views back over Manhattan and legged it back to the ferry so that we could see some of Ellis Island before it closed. Snowing on way back to Manhattan ��� magical views through the flakes! Hadn���t eaten all day so very hungry and headed to Grand Sichuan for very welcome beer and very spicy food which they pepped up for us, all of which helped my sinuses! Can���t believe it took all day to do ESB and SoL!
29th Dec ��� Subway back to South Ferry and headed for Wall Street via Fraunces��� Tavern and saw New York Stock Exchange and stood on the stone platform where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the USA. Visited St Paul���s Chapel and walked round to Liberty Plaza, Century 21, Ground Zero and World Trade Centre ��� words can���t describe the feelings. Found the Pound and Pence Pub for a stunning example of authentic cold food poorly cooked from England, but the Cider and cold Guiness made up for it! Wondered round to the Woolworth Building and City Hall Park and stared long walked back to hotel via Tribeca, Soho, Greenwich Village, University place and Cedar Tavern, Washington Square Park, the Arch and lovely tree, up 5th Avenue via Flatiron Building and finally welcome drink at hotel bar to rest aching feet. Tea at John���s and wish I had my camera for picture of interior. Ended the evening at Times Square Brewery - again! Bumped into Kenny and Don whom we met on husband���s birthday night and stayed up way too late���
30th Dec ���Very slow start to morning and packing a huge nightmare ��� two bodies with no brain to coordinate them��� Finally managed to move hotels to Doubletree Guest Suites on Times Square ���sugar high from cookies and nearly lost several fillings, so glad you only get one on the first morning or I would be back to sucking ice chips! Great to have a suite and fridge again and more space after the Westin ��� good view from 30th floor over Times Square and away from noise of lifts and streets below. Caught subway to Clark in Brooklyn and walked down to Brooklyn Promenade for spectacular views over Manhattan as lovely sunny Dec NY day. Strolled to Brooklyn Bridge and walked back over it to Manhattan ��� one of my best NY experiences. Trotted down to South Street Seaport and lots of people sitting out in the sun having a beer listening to band play; good views of Brooklyn Bridge from end of pier 17 and had late lunch/early tea at one of the restaurants. Walked over to China Town and Little Italy for a glass of beer and sat outside on pavement table ��� couldn���t believe we were doing this in December! Subway back to hotel and husband came out in fever with hot and cold sweats (what you get for sitting outside in December!) so got in bed and ordered room service and even worse movie in Sky Captain and World of Tomorrow ��� fell asleep praying that he would be well enough to enjoy tomorrow!
31st December ��� Husband better!!! Whey - party on again! Went to UN and did the tour as Auntie had worked there. Went back to China Town to shop and bought top quality knock-off DVD���s (not) and had long late lunch in superb restaurant in Little Italy. Decided we ought to make our way back to hotel to avoid crowds gathering for Ball Drop and glad we did as got caught in crowd-crush-nightmare! Managed to get to front of crush by politely explaining to crowd that we were not interested in grabbing a prime space, but that we wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and get back to our hotel. Very helpful NYPD Officer told us to turn round and go back and find a different route out ��� crowd wished us luck as it was multiplying exponentially every second. Big chap parted bodies and let us through ��� could have kissed him! Finally back in our room to celebrate British New Year ��� did count down and sang Aulde Lang Syne but no pictures of London on TV and no one phoned us to wish us Happy New Year��� Half an hour later we worked out we had the time wrong and there was still 1.5 hours to British New Year! Decided it hadn���t been a waste and that we had celebrated Bulgarian New Year instead! (our mate has moved to live there so not just arbitrary!). Had power nap and up in time for real British New Year ��� did Aulde Lang Syne again (!) and friends phoned to wish us Happy New Year and all the best for the special evening in NY ahead���! Out of the window all we could see were people and we wondered how we were going to get through the crowd to the Olive Garden. In fact it was a breeze and we strolled over at 7.50 and got in for 8.00 pm although the ticket said it didn���t start until 9.00 pm. Got a cozy table for two and congratulated ourselves on a great choice having seen everyone outside with another 4 hours of standing to go! We had a truly excellent time and were very impressed with the Olive Garden ��� the buffet food was very good, all the staff were excellent and all the punters got a table and it wasn���t crowded at all. The DJ and dancing and open bar were all very welcome and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves until 11.30 pm when we went to queue to be let out at 11.50 to watch the ball drop. When we were let out, the people in front of us made for the street in front of the barriers, whereas we were very well behaved Brits and consequently managed to snag top spot in front of the barrier just in time to watch them get told to get back to behind-barrier safety. Had fun time chatting to people round us while waiting for the main event and when it did finally happen I nearly missed it as the ball is soooo small! But never-the-less it was amazing and the ticker-tape and the music (Aulde Lang Syne again and New York New York) really made it. The NYPD Officer on our corner was great and he took our picture and let me round the barrier to have my picture taken with him which made my day! We stood out taking in the atmosphere and taking lots of pictures and having fun until 12.25 and headed back in to enjoy a champagne toast and the rest of the party until it finished at 1.00 am. We sauntered back to our room and grabbed the video camera and everyone was having a good time and wishing each other Happy New Year. While husband took footage I stood and took in more of the atmosphere and thought that the night couldn���t have been better so good things had come from me being ill on holiday after all ! We had a tactical MacDonald���s and made our way back to our room to watch New Year in Las Vegas, drink champagne and phone my parents to wish them Happy New York New Year (friends had told us not to bother as they would still be sleeping off British New Year!). Fell asleep thinking that it had been so much better than I had even dared to hope!
1st Jan ��� No hangover! Long lie in and spent afternoon wondering round Greenwich Village after excellent lunch in Cedar Tavern. Found cozy bar to hole-up in and while away a couple of hours���Terrible dinner in Hard Rock Caf�� ��� been to 7 across the US ��� first 6 excellent, but this was off the scale bad despite complaining and the waitress trying to sort out the problems. Ended up in the Times Square Brewery and met Jose, Kenny and Pablo again and several other people that they had met as us there and partied until the early hours and tried to forget that we were going home after a brilliant 3 weeks in LV and NYNY. Truly fantastic holiday and planning next visit to NY this time when it���s hot, so that we get a different feel of the city.
2nd Jan ��� flew home ��� ���nuff said!
3rd Jan ��� arrived home; rescued cats from cattery ��� very pleased to see us! Opened Christmas presents and drank bottle of champagne (still technically on holiday until 5th Jan!) and fell into bed for long sleep���