I've done the trip before and assured my two friends that the gloriousness of NY at Christmas awaited us (along with the massive crowds, traffic, puddles of dirty water, and the occasional crazy-but I left that part out because it's not kind to scare your friends, 'specially when you want them to take a trip with you). I have some other girlfriends who tricked, I mean convinced, their husbands to accompany them in a separate van. I'm not sure why they did that, because a trip to NYC with T is about as much fun as watching a pot boil-unless you're into that sort of thing, in which case you'd have a blast with your husband. Mine, however, is a bit of a Grinchy-Scrooge type. T is a 72 year old man in a 29 year old's body. He was happy to be left home with the comforts of leather cushions and cable television, and I was just as happy to have a girls-only day in the most fabulous city in the U.S.
I'll be honest and admit that I wasn't feeling the love at 2:45 am when my alarm went off. By the time M and I took our seats in front of A on the crowded bus (behind Mullet-Lady and across from Cell-Phone-Rings-Too-Much), we were too keyed up to go back to sleep right away. So for awhile we gossiped and eventually exhausted ourselves into a stupor. After a few rest stops and some make-up adjustments, we were entering the magical Lincoln Tunnel. I'm not sure what exactly is magical about the Lincoln Tunnel except that it has lots of traffic and some mildew, but maybe the magic is that people can swerve and cut in front of each other to get inside without having a 300 car pile-up. If this is the case, our bus driver is a master magician.
The bus dropped us off on 34th street, near Macy's and a very tall guy dressed as Frosty the Snowman, who was accompanied by two scantily dressed Mrs. Clauses. After gawking at them, my friends and I decided to experience New York! We chose to ride the subway yesterday, and I am so glad we did. With a $7.50 Fun Pass (T and I did this a few years ago and decided it was worth it), we had access to all the wonders of Manhattan. I'm not sure what all the fussing is about, because the subway is pretty awesome. With the exception of the scary man with the wild beard dressed in a trench in the back, everyone on our car was normal and just out for some fun. A and I came to the conclusion that since M is a law school graduate and passed the Virginia bar, she was the most obvious choice to read the maps and tell us stupid regular college graduates which line to take.
Our fun took the form of a jaunt down Canal Street in China Town. The shops on Canal Street seem to me to be the modern version of a Speak-Easy. A customer approaches the shop keeper and whispers the password, which is usually "Versace" or "Coach" or "Kate Spade" (my personal favorite). If you get the magic password correct, the shopkeeper takes you back to view rows of *real* designer handbags, and you just won't believe the prices, people! $30 for a Prada bag! $10 for a Burberry scarf! It's really almost too good to be true. M lectured me for a moment on the woes of the business on Canal Street, but I pretended not to hear her. She bought a non-designer green beaded bag, which A and I deemed just perfect. Then some other people bought some other things and yadda yadda yadda we ended up at Lombardi's in Little Italy for a pizza lunch. Lombardi's boasted an excessive wait in the cold, and fairly decent pizza. We chose a large pepperoni, spinach, and mushroom and inhaled the entire thing. It was a great break from the cold.
Rockefeller uptown was even more packed this year than it was last year. We couldn't even find a spot to take good pictures of ourselves with the tree in the background. It was M's idea to head inside St. Patrick's cathedral next, and I am so glad we did. It was warm and gorgeous inside. A and I were amused to see a priest filling a vial of holy water from a large orange "Gatorade" tub, but all in all, the cathedral was very impressive. Their indoor nativity scene was breathtaking. As we walked the aisles, we could hear the amazing choir practicing somewhere...the echoes were lovely.
We trudged further up 5th Avenue, passing the likes of Cartier, Trump Tower, Harry Winston (!!!), Louis Vuitton, The Waldorf Astoria, The Plaza (hi, Eloise!), and beautiful Tiffany & Co. The beautiful, glittering, glowing, shining display outside of Tiffany & Co. sang to me all the way down 5th Avenue. Walking inside that store (I've never made it that far up 5th before) was like hearing the hallelujah chorus, except that we just heard the choir at St. Patricks, so maybe it was just them echoing in my head. At any rate, I am convinced it was a miracle that I did not purchase anything in there. My wallet is thanking me today, but I am mourning for that little blue box I wanted to bring home.
It was dark by the time we reached Central Park, and our camera batteries were beginning to wear down, so any flash photography in the park would have failed miserably. We walked in just far enough to say we'd been to Central Park, but not so far as to encourage a mugging, kidnapping, or stabbing. After a quick photo shoot in front of The Plaza, we ran into FAO Schwarz, and then hitched a subway ride back to Herald Square. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the perfect spot for shots of Macy's all lit up. A and I decided that it wouldn't be a trip to NYC without a pretzel from a street vendor, so we munched on our snacks while we staked out a spot on 34th Street to wait for the return of our bus. Last year, it felt like you sort of had to run after the bus like a hobo trying to board a moving train, so we wanted to be early this time.
As we finally boarded, a tiny little policewoman appeared out of nowhere and gave our driver some flack for parking on 34th. She jokingly told him that she'd make his passengers split the ticket. I told her that would be impossible because we'd spent all our money already. That seemed to lighten her up, and she let us go with no problems.
While we rode back through Manhattan, I couldn't help but reflect on such a fun day. I am so grateful to have a chance to take a break from Mommy-duty for a day and just have some fun! I already counting down the days until next year's trip...A and M, are you guys up for it? I (Heart) New York!