“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” - Jawaharal Nehru

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmastime In The City

Here are a few Christmas festivities Nick and I have had the last two weeks...

Last weekend we went to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn to see the crazy, all-out Christmas lights. This Italian neighborhood is always featured on HGTV, Travel Channel, and all the other TV shows showcasing the top towns for Christmas lights.

We took the long subway ride into Brooklyn. On the subway there we were reminded that it was Santa Con. Santa Con is where people dress up as Santa, elf's, reindeer's and basically get wasted the entire day at tons of bars. Not my kind of fun but there are a lot of people that participate. At one of our stops three girls and one guy got on our subway. It was obvious they had a long day of drinking. One girl in particular was finding it hard to stand on her own. She eventually slid down and sat down. Mind you... she was in an extremely short Santa skirt. You get the picture. She also proceeded to say how incredibly nauseous she was. That's the last thing Nick and I wanted to hear. If someone gets sick on the train it has to stop and you are pretty much stranded for a while. We didn't want that to happen. So, we crossed our fingers - luckily she did. But as she got off the train and stumbled up the stairs I wondered if she would make it to her apartment.

We made it into Brooklyn and walked a little under a mile into Dyker Heights. We stopped for some pizza at a local restaurant before making our way to the neighborhood. On our way we made a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for some hot chocolate and what else? Yep, donuts!

Dyker Heights goes all out for Christmas. This 4 block radius is just crazy with the lights, decorations, music, and anything else you can imagine. It was crowded too, but not so crowded that you couldn't enjoy it. Now, if we had been in a car then it would have been awful. Traffic was horrible. I definitely recommend walking through the neighborhood if you decide to go.

And now is a look at the crazy Christmas lights...

Nick and I had a really great time. It's one of those things that you have to do once. We made our way back to the subway to head home. We took the same line that we took to get to Dyker Heights. We waited and waited and waited... no subway train. I kept thinking what is taking so long. Eventually we see some people go back to the main area and then come back down and tell us that there is no train at this station. There has been some sort of blackout and we will have to take a bus to another stop. Really nice of the man who was sitting up there to come down and let us know so we didn't waste 20 minutes waiting on a train!

We made our way to the stop with tons of other people and then proceeded to watch the bus go by because it was already full. Nick and I started to think we would be stranded in Brooklyn. No point in standing in the cold only to wait for another bus to go by... we started walking! I think we walked about 30 blocks in the blistering cold and were finally able to find a subway stop that was functioning.

That hiccup added an extra hour home to our trip it was still worth it. It was just a little more colorful than expected!

Friday night was my office Christmas party. We had dinner reservations at The National at Lexington and 51st. The group was quite eclectic but it was really nice to have everyone outside the "office." People were really able to relax and it was a nice feeling. And the food was amazing! I had the pork chop with broccolini and cheese grits. It does not get any better than cheese grits. Amazing. And the pork chop was just as good. I seriously would go back to that place.... and that's saying a lot since we have thousands of restaurants in NYC.

Saturday night we went to Lincoln Center to see The Nutcracker. Nick and I decided not to do any Christmas presents for each other. We do that a lot... save the money for our trips we love to take. But I wanted to do something special for Christmas. So about 2 months ago I bought tickets for The Nutcracker. I haven't been since I was a child and Nick has never seen it (or he has and he has no memory of it). And what better way to see it than in Lincoln Center with the New York ballet.

We had dinner reservations at The Nook. It is on 9th Avenue and 51st street. Nick had found the restaurant and it had amazing online reviews. It's like this really cozy, hole in the wall place. We decided to take a cab to the restaurant. Big mistake... or the cab driver was a complete idiot. He tried to take us through Midtown... I mean literally right through Midtown (past 5th Ave, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Tree). Complete idiot. Of course traffic is going to be horrendous in that area with all the tourists! I was not happy. We eventually got out at 51st street and Madison and made the walk.

The Nook was absolutely amazing. It's a wonderful feeling when you can find a gem in the city. And this was a gem. The restaurant was really small. It had maybe 10 tables in it. The decor was beautiful and they had Christmas lights all around the restaurant. It was just so warm and inviting. I mean it couldn't get better... oh, but it did. You can bring your own wine which I love and the food was delicious! We started with the mushroom cigars (which I didn't think I would ever like but I loved them) and the tuna tartar. It was so good I completely forgot to take a picture! I ordered the filet mignon with rosemary fries and Nick ordered the cheeseburger with fries. It was one of the best meals we have had. Then came dessert! Of course I ordered the warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream and Nick had the peanut butter chocolate cake. To die for! Go to The Nook!!!

We made our way to Lincoln Center. We haven't really been there before now. We've walked passed and everything but at this time of year it is so beautifully decorated for Christmas. We snapped a few pictures and made our way inside. The building was gorgeous and inside the David H. Koch theater was breathtaking. It was a beautiful venue.

Outside Lincoln Center

They had these cute snowmen on the bars and I adored them! I want one too!

We had seats on the first balcony towards the left... couldn't have gotten better. The ballet was so wonderful. I mean The Nutcracker has a place in everyone's hearts. The dancers were exquisite... so graceful. Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. We even decided that we would have to look into more shows as well as New York Opera.

Sunday was a nice relaxing day, of course. I finished our Christmas cards and mailed them. A little late but it's okay. Read and watched some TV. Also, started thinking about getting everything ready for our flight back home to Dallas on Friday. I cannot even tell you how excited we are to be going home for the holidays! Bring on the family, friends, traditions, Mexican food, and everything good that goes along with being home.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Shopping

Christmas has officially begun in the city! Holiday music playing, tree in Rockefeller Center, Christmas lights, hot chocolate! Oh... and the thousands of tourists that inundate the city at this time of year.

This past Saturday I spent some time Christmas shopping while Nick was out with his bike. We had ordered a few things online during Cyber Monday but still needed a few items. On a side note - online shopping is so incredibly easy. I mean... search, click, and buy. Plus free shipping!

Obviously I can't tell you where I went because that would give away the presents I bought. I did enjoy walking along 5th avenue seeing the beautifully decorated store windows. I have to say Bergdorf Goodman knows how to do it. Their windows were absolutely beautiful!

I eventually made my way down to Rockefeller Center and saw the tree. It wasn't as exciting in the daytime. Plus this was the most crowded area. I could hardly walk... so I snapped a picture and got the hell out!

It was a lovely day of shopping and the best part I was able to finish my Christmas list! Now I can enjoy the presents under the tree before I have to ship them home!