December 11, 2012

Merry Manhattan 2012

Perhaps the one day of the year that I feel the most Christmas spirit is the December Saturday that I decide to make the train ride into NYC to see all of the holiday decorations and window displays. With this past weekend being forecast with temperatures of 55-degrees and a 30% chance of showers, I felt that the time was right so I hopped aboard the LIRR bound for Penn Station. In all, this venture usually covers about 60 city blocks.

While the main part of it is the stroll down Fifth Avenue to take in all of the holiday windows, I always try to find some new destinations to add to the day. I had heard about a holiday train display at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex at Grand Central Station and it sounded like the perfect way to start off. After emerging from the tunnels at Penn Station, I set out on foot toward Lexington Avenue. Along the way, I stopped off to check out the holiday windows at Macy's (their theme this year is "Magic of Christmas") and Lord & Taylor (showing holiday scenes from cities around the globe). These vibrant displays definitely set the tone for a day of NYC Christmas.

Soon, I had made my way to the cavernous Grand Central Terminal. It took me a while to find the Museum Gallery Annex, where I had to stand on line to enter the miniature train set up.  It proved to be well worth the wait. A joyful Christmas scene stretches from one side of the room to the other and brings the eye from the city to the mountains. The tiny details are very beautiful. One can even see King Kong scaling the Empire State Building.

After leaving Grand Central, I took a cab uptown to see the Bloomingdale's windows. I really enjoyed their fantasy scenes from Cirque Du Soleil. From there, I walked the few blocks over to that classic of toy stores, FAO Schwarz. I always enjoy seeing what kinds of new Lego sculptures they have set up. This time, I was greeting by one of their saluting toy soldiers and also by a Clone Trooper with blaster in hand. In their bookstore, I bought another holiday CD: Putomayo's New Orleans Christmas. With all of those trombones sliding their way through the familiar holiday melodies, this one is sure to become a December classic at my house.


Across the street from FAO Schwarz, one can find what I think are the very best of holiday windows: Bergdorf Goodman. Once again, these finely-details, sparkling scenes stole the show. Whoever designs these windows year after year has quite a vivid imagination. Bergdorf Goodman is always my favorite.

For dinner, I had done a little research to find a good restaurant in the mid-town area. I came up with Bistro La Bonne Soupe at 48 West 55th Street. When I arrived there, I was told that the wait would be about a half-hour. I could tell by the conversations that many people on line were regulars and they were giving the place rave reviews. Once, inside, I ordered a bowl of artichoke soup and a crepe. Service was a bit slow, but the food was delicious. It really is an excellent restaurant and I highly recommend it.

After the meal, I continued the walk down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick's Cathedral. While the structure is currently undergoing renovations and is riddled inside and out by scaffolding and tarps, every square inch of the place is still beautiful. The sculptures and recesses are amazing. It is a place that really exudes the spirit of Christmas.

Next up were the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue. More colorful, magical sights. High above, a snowflake show is projected on to the building's facade every seven minutes. It is a wonderful thing to see.

From the windows at Saks, all I had to do was turn around to see one of the most recognizable Christmas Trees in the world. Rockefeller Center! An absolute Christmas must-see! Love & light...

"And suddenly there was with the angel 
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will toward men.'"

~Luke 2:13-14