Saturday, December 27, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Living far away from home brings an added dimension to the holidays. Christmas and the time off around it turn into a stressful, sleepless, carefully orchestrated event.

I always try my best to plan my schedule in a way that maximizes my time at home. It's tough though when your friends live all over the state, you have family events and, if you live in a place like Iowa, have to deal with whatever may be thrown at you weather wise in any given winter day.

From the moment I left my apartment for the airport on Sunday morning I tried to mentally prepare myself, but this visit has been particularly trying this year.

In summary:

*United Airlines sucks, my friends and family rock
*Getting wisdom teeth pulled is not on my list of things to ever have to do again
*Having to drive 15 mph home through a snowstorm after having driven through an ice storm earlier in the day really sucks
*Despite my good intentions, I still haven't seen half the people I wanted to while here
*I forgot how FREAKING COLD negative four feels!!

I never thought I would say this, but this year I think I'm ready to go back...and next time, I will only visit for two or three days at Christmas and save my visiting for the summertime.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas is like crack to me

I can never get enough of it. I love everything about the season and often find myself a little sad once the Christmas music stops and the commercials no longer air.

Growing up my mom never let us celebrate Christmas until after my sister's birthday on December 16th. I am sure this made my sister's day seem more important, but it also made the Christmas season seem much shorter in our house.

So being in NYC at Christmas is like a dream come true for me. I know I mentioned this in a previous blog entry, but seriously, December in the city is the most perfect place to ever get your fix if you are a Christmas junkie like me.

I took advantage of yesterday's beautiful weather to take in some of the sights. Here are a few more pictures:

The famous - and tiny - skating rink in Rockefeller Center

Bryant Park

An amazingly non-crowded section of Fifth Ave.

The only snow I've seen in the city so far

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What I love about NYC

I haven't had a lot of time for extensive exploration of the city yet, but there are two things in NYC that are definitely far superior than Boston already:

1. The Subway
2. Pizza

1. The Subway - Reliable transportation is a necessity for the city that never sleeps. I LOVE the fact that the Subway runs all the time here. In Boston I had to make sure to be at the train station by 12:30 to catch the last T of the night otherwise I would get stuck paying a ridiculously expensive cab fare home. In New York, I am trying to get used to the fact that no one even goes out before 10 and that's just fine because you can leave even the bars that close at 4 am and still hop on the Subway.

The speed of the trains is also impressive after suffering the snail's pace of the Green Line trolleys. I can hop on a train in Brooklyn and make it to the Upper East Side in less time than it took me to get the 8 miles from my house to downtown Boston each morning. (I also happen to live on an express stop here which makes my commute even happier.)

I never think twice about doing something because of the commute, which was a main factor in most of my decisions in Boston. That's why I sadly never got to spend much time in Cambridge even though I lived closer to it than downtown Boston. It took ten minutes to drive to Cambridge and probably a good hour to get there by T.

Making an addition to this entry - I also love the fact that the Subway stops are underground and that most of them are connected by underground passageways. This at least makes the winter a bit more bearable.

2. Pizza - The whole time I lived in Boston I never found very good pizza. Granted, I didn't eat a lot of it either, but most of the stuff I tried was mediocre at best. The famed Upper Crust was acceptable, but I always found myself wishing I were eating pizza from the Other Place (a pizza joint back home) instead.

In NYC there are pizza places everywhere. There are at least four that I know of within walking distance of me. The windows are lined with pies - white pizza, veggie pizza, Sicilian slices, slices made with circles of fresh mozzarella. Slices are cheap and are usually as big as the plate they are served on to make them best eaten using the fold technique. These places typically serve until 3 or 4 am and are always full of people to strike up a conversation with.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New York City Christmas

I love Christmas! The first year I was in Boston I visited NYC at Thanksgiving. That visit was magical and probably the time I loved the city the most. Not only because it was my first visit to the city, but because it happened to coincide with the holiday season and New York celebrates Christmas like no where else.

I can still remember walking through the magical winter wonderland inside Macy's that November. If I close my eyes, I can picture the holiday crowds jamming the sidewalks below as I stood on the stairs to St. Patrick's. I remember the elaborate window displays along 5th Avenue and I also remember my disappointment at seeing Rockefeller Center complete with an unadorned Christmas tree.

One thing I had always wanted to see was the tree alight in Rockefeller Center. I was certain that the tree would be lit immediately following Thanksgiving and because I was staying for a few days, I was hopeful that I would get to see it before heading back to Boston.

I soon learned that the tree is never lit until December and always first on a weeknight. So this year I took advantage of the fact that I live here and Matt and I went to the actual tree lighting ceremony.

We arrived at Rock Center a little before 5 pm, which turned out to be perfect timing. Shortly after they closed off the street and then we began to wait. The lighting itself wasn't scheduled until 9 pm, so we spent the next few hours getting pushed around by people trying to score a better view and letting out those who decided the wait wasn't worth it and wanted to bail.

Around 7 pm, the pre-televised entertainment started and soon Christmas songs sung by Miley Cyrus, Harry Connick Jr., Faith Hill and Beyonce could be heard. At 8 pm, the show got underway for the nationwide audience and everyone started to get antsy. The wind picked up and no one could feel their feet anymore. We just wanted to see the tree!!

After what seemed like an eternity, the moment we had all waited for arrived. The countdown began and the tree was lit!

It was long, cold and crowded, but definitely something I had to experience as a New Yorker. I can now cross another thing off my list and I think I am going to have to visit the tree at least once a week between now and Christmas :)