So after breakfast, we left the hotel without suitcases and headed for the city.
Basically, the destination was "Christmas"! We go where Christmas is!
So the first thing we had to do was get to Rockefeller Center via Times Square.
The walk from the hotel to Times Square is about 13 minutes. But it took a little longer since New York is a pretty photogenic city, and everything is new to us.
An ex-colleague visited New York, and she said that the skyscrapers were overwhelming. But we love these skyscrapers.
Everything is like in movies. From the hot dog stands on the street to the cops directing traffic to the hot air coming out of the sewers. And I haven't even said a word about the typical yellow cabs, the constant honking, or the chaotic traffic!
That's how we got to Times Square! To Times Square, which needs no introduction to anyone. It is a major commercial center and tourist destination. Times Square is famous for its numerous neon signs and is often referred to in the US as The Crossroads of the World, The Center of the Universe, or The Heart of the World.
Times Square is one of the busiest pedestrian streets in the world, the center of Broadway, and a major center of the entertainment industry worldwide. With about 50 million visitors a year, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. Around 330,000 people pass through it every day. The numbers are almost unbelievable. Honestly, it was nothing special to me at first. I mean, it didn't seem big enough for so many people.
But the light shows of the billboards and the atmosphere are, of course, enchanting.
You couldn't see the whole square at first from the direction we came from because H&M is scaffolded.
There is also a New York Police Department building on the corner. And here, at the top of One Times Square, is the famous ball lowered on New Year's Eve 60 seconds before the New Year with a countdown.
The first ball drop took place on December 31, 1907. Since 2009, the ball has been on the roof of the building for most of the year.
On New Year's Eve, it is said that up to 1,000,000 visitors come here. Now that I've seen it with my own eyes, it's hard to imagine. How can a million people fit in here? OMG! Shocking!
Here is the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall. You can write your own New Year's wishes on a little confetti that is collected and shot into the air at midnight when the ball is lowered! Well, our wishes also flew in Times Square this time on New Year's Eve.
There are also a lot of oddly costumed characters, a bit like the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After looking around, we kept walking.
Then we had a little interlude because we saw someone lying on the street with about 8 policemen standing around him. We don't know exactly what happened because we had just arrived at that place when a fire truck passed by with a ceremonial wreath on the front! They managed to get the man safely off the road in a few moments.
Other than that, we have never seen so many police officers anywhere. Not even in Washington, DC. But here, there was a police car (or several) on every corner and, of course, lots of cops!
There is also a small Christmas market, where we left Times Square to continue our journey. Around the corner is a candy store called M&M'S World New York. Thank goodness we didn't go in there! 😄 (Maybe next time! 😋)
From there, we headed back out searching for Christmas and soon found it.
On the other side of Radio City Music Hall are the giant red Christmas balls, and there's some kind of Christmas tree, decorations, and more on every corner.
Then we finally got to Rockefeller Center, where the famous Christmas tree is. Rockefeller Center is a group of 19 towers in New York. It was named after John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1931 (he was the builder). Probably the most famous skating rink in the world, "The Rink at Rockefeller Center" is located here, and the statue of Prometheus is also there. The tree is put up in mid-November and lit in a public ceremony on the Wednesday night after Thanksgiving. (This has been a national tradition since 1933). Since 1997, the lighting has been broadcast live to hundreds of millions on NBC's "Christmas at Rockefeller Center" television program. Attendance is estimated at 125 million a year.
The shape of the Christmas tree and its ability to support heavy decorations are essential. Each year, Rockefeller Center's head gardener searches for the right tree. Once the tree is found, it is transported on a special telescopic trailer. Due to road conditions, the tree can reach a height of up to 100 feet (~30 meters). Scaffolding is erected around the tree so workers can attach the approximately 50,000 colorful LED lights and stars. The Swarovski crystal star at the top of the tree was completed in 2018. It contains 70 spikes and three million crystals and weighs 900 pounds (408 kg).
Other than that, it is gorgeous.
You could feel the crowd here; there were so many people around the tree.
There are also small Christmas huts. But we liked the Channel Gardens with the Christmas angels the best.
The 12 wire angels were the work of artist Valerie Clarebout in 1955. Each angel holds a copper trumpet almost 2 meters long towards the Christmas tree and serenades the visitors (Clarebout used 122 kilometers of material and thousands of miniature lights to create this great work!).
It looks excellent from both directions. I think it's beautiful with the Christmas tree in the background, but also with the Christmas facade of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store!
We took a few photos here before walking on. Across the street, to the left of Saks, is the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is the largest Catholic cathedral in North America, built in the Gothic style. It was built in 1858 to replace the old cathedral. The cathedral was completed in 1878.
We didn't see too many cathedrals in America, but I think we saw the most beautiful ones.
Next to Baltimore, Boston, and the Crystal Cathedral in California, it is one of the most beautiful!
We went inside, sat down, and looked at the whole church. It is beautiful!
After that, we stayed on 5th Avenue, where we followed the Christmas trail because the streets were lined with many fun and huge decorations: yellow cabs, hot air balloons, Rubik's cubes, and teddy bears, among others. They were adorable!
Then we saw the massive building called Trump Tower. We saw a person dressed as Trump amusing people in front of the building. He was posing with everyone and taking pictures.
And you can also enter the building. The first floor is very nicely decorated, and there is a cafe and restaurant on the lower floor.
We didn't go downstairs, although it would have been interesting to see what kind of candy they sell (and at what price). On the first floor, there is a bar with a giant photo of Trump and in front of it on the wall is a plaque where you can read that he was the 45th president of the USA.
Continuing on, there is a designer Apple store and a building that we don't know what it was. I'm not sure if you could enter it, but we went in for a photo because the (giant) wreath on display was so beautiful that we just had to go in.
There is a teddy bear decoration on the corner. Across the street is the Plaza Hotel, famous for the Movie "Home Alone 2 - Lost in New York."
In front of the hotel is the Pulitzer Fountain. The fountain is named after newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who died in 1911 and left $50,000 to build the fountain, which was dedicated in 1916.
Now the fountain has a beautiful Christmas decoration.
The Plaza Hotel (also known as The Plaza) is a luxury hotel and apartment building. Initially, with over 800 rooms, it now has 282 hotel rooms and 181 condominiums. It has changed hands several times (including Donald Trump) but has been operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts since 2005. It is a New York icon with wealthy and famous guests. It hosts charity events, balls, and weddings and, of course, is featured in many movies.
I read about the Plaza Hotel that you can enter the hotel's lower floor during the Christmas season. However, the sign at the entrance says that only hotel guests can enter. And the security guard in front of the hotel turned away several people. We read what was posted, so we didn't even try.
Since then, out of curiosity, we looked at the hotel's website at home. We were blown away not only by the prices but also by the photos. Simply put, our hotel room was just a bathroom in comparison. The lowest price we found was $675 per night. But we also found rooms for $20,150 per night. 😄 Sure thing. Anytime! 😄 Oh, no. Not even in our dreams!
Well, that's how we ended up walking to Central Park. We were going to come here, but it wasn't scheduled for today! 😄
Central Park is a world-famous public park of 1.317 sq mi (3,41 km²), created in 1858. With 42 million visitors a year, it is one of the most visited urban parks in the country and one of the most popular destinations in New York.
It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. There are winding paths, ponds, small streams, bridle paths, a carousel, an ice skating rink, a zoo, sculptures, baseball and soccer fields, etc.
And, of course, the fantastic view of the skyscrapers.
We saw some funny little squirrels, cute sparrows, red cardinals, blue jays (which are beautiful), and a bunch of tufted titmouses. The tufted titmouse were very curious and brave because they came very close; they even flew in front of our noses, like our cute little hummingbirds at home in the summer! They were adorable little birds. We also saw a slightly uglier rat.
We only did a short round because we were freezing when we arrived, and Csibi's fingers were frozen off. We were out in the cold for 4.5 hours (without drinking a sip - a big mistake).
We were also hungry, so we looked for a restaurant nearby. We thought it would be an excellent way to warm up and get some energy.
So we followed one of the streets leading out of the park. We saw many more horse-drawn carriages, all decorated for Christmas, of course. The ones we saw along the way were even playing Christmas music. Very cool!
Csibi picked out a nice restaurant, and we went there. It was a restaurant called Carnegie Diner & Cafe. We were seated at a table and immediately given a glass of water (no ice this time!!!).
Csibi asked for some soup to warm up a bit, and then we both ate a burger. I couldn't eat mine because it was too big, and Csibi couldn't eat it either because he was already full. He said that his burger tasted better. He opted for the Carnegie Classic, and I opted for the Corner Burger.
We wanted dessert because there were really nice desserts at the counter, but we were already full. 😄
After we finished eating, we headed back out.
We were about to move on, but of course, I was immediately tempted by a Christmas shop window. The window of the American luxury department store chain Nordstrom was full of Christmas trees, and it looked so good that I had to take a picture. Because the shape of the building itself seemed so cool.
So we walked down Broadway.
We walked all the way back to Times Square, where the crowds were much more significant by now.
In the middle of the square, Argentine fans were celebrating soccer success. We hadn't really been following the World Cup. Still, we knew that Argentina was playing against Croatia and that it ended in a win for Argentina. So there was a big celebration.
We saw an exciting selfie camera. I've never seen anything like it. You stand on the platform, and the camera (or a cell phone) rotates 360 degrees around you.
I don't know how much it costs, but it certainly takes excellent footage. Especially here at the base of the skyscrapers.
From there, we went to Macy's department store because they have incredible Christmas decorations. Especially the store windows.
Macy’s was founded in 1858 by Rowland Hussey Macy. In 2015, Macy's was the largest US department store chain by retail sales. Macy's Herald Square is one of the largest department stores in the world. Since 1924, Macy's has hosted the Thanksgiving Day Parade and, since 1976, has organized the 4th of July fireworks display.
This department store occupies about 1.25 million ft² (116,000 m²) feet of retail space but also includes offices and warehouses. For me, it's hard to comprehend the size of this place. And we didn't even look at the whole store.
The entrance and the main windows are very imaginative and beautiful. You also marvel at the beautiful Christmas decorations when you enter the store.
The store itself did not impress us, there are a lot of stores on many floors. But since we didn't go shopping, it wasn't very interesting for us. We also didn't look at the prices, but I think it's a very expensive place for some reason.
By now, we were drained, but we still had to buy water somewhere.
Luckily, we saw a Target across from Macy's. So we also saw the other side of Macy's, which is also very nice and elegantly decorated. We quickly bought water and went straight from there to the hotel, which was about 12 minutes away.
Well, we were exhausted. Our legs were hurting pretty bad. In total, we had been walking in the cold for 7 hours.
After a quick bath, we went to bed relatively early, I think around 8-9 PM.
But the night was anything but restful. You may remember that I mentioned at the beginning that we had a window facing the street. There were horns, sirens, unloading, etc., all night long. It was terribly loud.
But somehow, the night passed. We got up early at 6:50 AM because we wanted breakfast before the big rush and had an appointment at 9:30 AM.
Come with us! Another eventful day is ahead!