The day after Thanksgiving is an excellent time to arrive in New York. The fares are cheaper, you miss most of the shopping frenzy, and everywhere is beginning to get ready for Christmas. New York decorates very beautifully for Christmas.
Husband was working in Manhattan, so I joined him for a few days. I needed to get home in time for multiple Christmas Fairs (great time to sell books) so I decided I would keep to a slightly late English clock. This worked brilliantly, as New York at 6am is fantastic. You can wander along empty streets, all the shops are shut (am not a shopper) and there are enough diners open so eating is easy (I am an eater!)
We mainly ate at Westway Diner, 614 Ninth Avenue. It has a plaque up, saying it is the birthplace of the Seinfeld series, but mainly it’s just a great New York diner. I got used to this when we lived here, and I love coming back, and slipping back into the easy routine of eating whenever I want: comfy booths, constantly topped up coffee, huge portions of comfort food, fast service. Nowhere in the world does pancakes, bacon and maple syrup quite like New York. Or cinnamon bagels with cream cheese. Or waffles with bananas and pecans. Or blueberry pie and cream. Really, I come to New York just to eat.
The decorations are good too though. As I said, 6am is the best time, as later there are queues of people lining up to see the displays in the big shops. Saks on Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Cartier – not places I would enjoy entering, but beautiful displays for Christmas. Outside, the Salvation Army ring handbells and collect money for charity. Even the banks make an effort.
There are lots of little parks, with Christmas markets (not that they call them that – they are keen to remove all religion, so they are “Winter Markets”. But everyone knows they are for Christmas.) I especially liked the one in Bryant Park. Early morning, you can wander round, looking at all the wonderful stuff which is great to look at, but you wouldn’t want to actually own it, and no one hassles you to buy.
People are very friendly in the mornings – lots of cheery greetings from the bin men (and homeless people)! New York generates a lot of rubbish, so there seem to be piles of it awaiting collection on every street. You can also, if bored, play a fun game of “spot the rats”.
The main thing to remember in New York, is to look up. At street level, many of the buildings look like boring offices, but several storeys up, they have wonderful carved facades and decorations. Husband assures me this is because when touting for work, architects make models, which are viewed from above, so all the fancy bits are where they will be seen by prospective buyers but are never noticed when the real building is actually built. Not sure if that’s true or not.
You should also visit Trump Tower. Whatever you think of the man or the politics, you have to agree that his tower has the cleanest, fanciest public washrooms in New York. And finding public washrooms you want to use is quite hard in New York.
We also popped into St Patricks Cathedral. They have a Nativity scene, which includes a dog. Not entirely sure this is at all accurate, but it’s sweet to look at. There is also a sign, assuring you that if you donate money, you will receive more in the future. Am sure this is not accurate and was slightly shocked by the gall of it. But it’s a nice building to visit.
We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton, on 40th between 8th and 9th. It was a great position for seeing things, as it’s just down from Times Square and an easy walk from Westway diner. However, it is not the nicest area. You can do a Google search for ‘safe places in New York city’ and there is a map, which shades areas according to how safe they are. Our hotel didn’t score too well – which, as it’s behind the bus station, sandwiched between the Probation office and various sex shops, was understandable. However, whilst I wouldn’t have walked outside after dark on my own, it was fine. And the hotel inside was clean and comfy.
Unfortunately, there is an Apple shop, and Husband was keen to look. Apple shops are very boring, and have a weird queue system, whereby the very long line of people are ordering the new iphoneX, and if you want to buy anything else you have to ask the man in the red fleece, who will put you on a list. However, if you write a blog, there is hours of fun to be had, making every display model look at your blog – which does wonders for the number of views you receive in a day! (But don’t tell anyone, is probably not very ethical.)
We decided to walk from the bottom of Manhattan to the park. I’ll tell you about it in a later blog. Why not sign up to follow my blog, then you won’t miss it. anneethompson.com
Thank you for reading.
Here are some more displays, for those of you who like pretty Christmas stuff!
Christmas is coming, and books make great gifts. So much nicer than yet another scarf for Aunty Joan… So, why not buy one of my books? Available from an Amazon near you.