Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant

Winter is “full on” in Knoxville, Tennessee, where we live, but already we long for the vibrancy of spring.

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

“Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Field of daffodils, Knoxville, TN

For more entries in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant, click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

If you’re in retail, you already know that it takes a certain amount of optimism just to stay in the game.  But add to that a cold December in New York City, a temporary tent, and goods that only big-city residents (not tourists) would carry home, and you have a renewed appreciation for those who remain optimistic enough to attempt selling goods outdoors in winter.

A rainbow of fresh pasta from this bundled up salesperson.

Fresh pasta at a sidewalk market, NYC

Anyone want fresh seafood from Long Island?

Seafood vendor, NYC

And someone was optimistic that a dog owner (of a big dog!!!) would want these bones.  Ya never know.  Put ’em out there.  Somebody’ll buy ’em.

Dog bones for sale in NYC

And optimism extended all the way to Chinatown.  Who wouldn’t want chestnuts just so they can roast them on an open fire?

Chestnut vendor, Chinatown, NYC

For more optimistic photos, check out the Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic.

And for more on New York City in December, check out our travel series: Christmas Holiday NYC. 

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Five ways to spend less in (of all places) NYC!

Spend what you can or pay the recommended price of admission -- it's just one way to save a bit when seeing the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Spend what you can or pay the recommended price of admission — it’s just one way to save a bit when seeing the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

You know it.  You just do.  Going to NYC will cost ya! (Well, to tell the truth, traveling anywhere has its unavoidable expenses and serendipitous must-have purchases.)  But there are things you can do to ease the financial pain.

Enjoying the sights of Chinatown costs little -- unless you're shopping for folks back home!

Enjoying the sights of Chinatown costs little — unless you’re shopping for folks back home!

When we decided (on a lark, I might add) to trip off to the Big Apple in December to get into the Christmas spirit, we knew we had to be budget travelers.  Oh, sure, you say.  Stay on a budget during one of the busiest seasons in one of the most traveled places in the U. S.?  But cut corners we did.  And here are some tips that worked for us.

1. Do your homework on transportation.

First, take a look at airline flights if that’s how you’ll get to NYC.  Once you click onto an airline, enter the Flexible Days arena.  There you’ll find flights that can be half the cost of flying on a busy weekend in and out of the city.  If you have the luxury of flexible flying, you can save a bundle, and that’s good news for retirees, casual travelers, and last-minute tourists like us.  (Our weekday Delta departure and return from Knoxville to New York’s LaGuardia was $173.00 compared to the over $300 and $400 flights on the weekends.)

Delta Airlines Flexible Day rate

And do a bit of research, too, on ground transportation from the airport to your destination.  We were directed to Carmel Limousine Service by the owners of the apartment we rented, and, despite some not-so-favorable reviews on the web, the limo and driver couldn’t have been more accommodating or affordable.  Other sites to check are Uber, Lyft, and the Super Shuttle (which could add numerous stops depending on who’s in the van at the time).  Just enter your destination, time of day, etc., and do a bit of comparing.

carmel mobile app

2.  Think about lodging and location.

Of course, if you’re only visiting NYC for New Year’s Eve, you may want to stay near Times Square.  But if you want to blend in with the locals, experience some of the neighborhoods, and stay in quieter locales, look for alternative lodging.  We found an apartment on the Upper West Side near Central Park with positive ratings on TripAdvisor, but other sites may also have just what you’re looking for:  AirBnB, HomeAway, or any of the B&B sites like bnbfinder.com, bedandbreakfast.com or bbonline.com.

The advantage?  You can save money and see another side of the city by staying in the ‘burbs, so to speak, where you can avail yourself of what the area affords permanent residents.  Our apartment with one bedroom with queen bed, kitchen and newly remodeled bath cost $170.00 per night, a far cry from what we’ve paid before to be near the theater district and Times Square.  Plus, our owner/manager knew the city well and shared invaluable tips on transportation, eating, sightseeing, etc.

3.  Get a MetroCard.

Because we needed transportation to all the museums, parks, and department stores (We wanted to see the windows, after all!), our apartment owner gave us the best piece of advice for saving money:  Buy a one-week MetroCard for $31.00.  With the price of one subway or local bus ride costing $2.75, we knew we had a bargain with unlimited rides for seven days for only $31.00.  (Be sure to check the MTA site for more info on how and where to buy, use, and reload.) The side benefits can’t be stressed enough:  on-time subways offer expediency, and buses let you see the city from the comfort of your seat — without the hassle of driving yourself!!!

Subways were our friend! Punctual, safe, nearby. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Subways were our friend! Punctual, safe, nearby. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

4.  Watch what you eat!

Now if you’re a foodie hoping to traipse through the city in search of highest rated restaurants and chefs, skip this section.  You’ll have to map out your locales, hire drivers or use your MetroCard, and pony up for foie gras! But if you’re more interested in sightseeing than eating, pace yourself.  First, eat only two meals a day.  If you’re staying where breakfast is free (like the national chain hotels usually), then dig in and enjoy the savings.  Eat a big dinner in early evening.  But even if breakfast isn’t free, consider cooking if you have a kitchen or eating a continental breakfast in your room.

Eat local: Jason's Pickles on the Upper West Side

A meal at Jason’s Pickles on the Upper West Side will fill you up for the day!

Second, head to the local convenient store/neighborhood market for fresh produce, baked goods, quick snacks, or precooked items.  It’s fun to see what’s served locally (and how much food costs in a different part of the country), and you’ll save money over those restaurant prices, too.  If you’re lucky, you may stumble onto a sidewalk market — usually on the weekends — where you can do the farm-to-table thing right in the big city!

5.  Strike a bargain at the museums.

Our apartment manager gave us another tip that even some of our friends who live in NYC didn’t know:  you don’t have to pay the recommended prices for tickets at museums subsidized by the city of New York.  If you see Recommended Price at the admission booth, you can offer less to tour the museum.  Museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, The Cloisters and many others will take what you feel you can afford to pay.  Other museums (like Guggenheim Museum Soho, Museum of American Folk Art, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center) are free every day.  (Click here for the complete list.) You can also weigh the option of passes such as CityPass, the New York Pass, or New York City Explorer Pass that bundle multiple sites for one lower price.

Inside the stately Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Inside the stately Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Don’t forget:  Some of the best things in NYC really are free — visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral, talking to vendors in Bryant Park, watching food handlers in Chinatown, creating an avatar at Macy’s, and strolling through neighborhoods.

What you spend on a trip to NYC is up to you!  Hope you can use one or more of our ideas, but please feel free to add your tips below for how to see NYC on a budget.

And check out other posts in the Christmas Holiday NYC series.  Thanks for traveling with us!!!

— Bert and Rusha

Credit:  Image of subway from Wikimedia Commons

This post has been linked to Monday Escapes #27.  Check out the other great posts on My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase.

TingNewBlue

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Oh, that building: New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Although we’re book lovers through and through, we don’t make it a habit to visit libraries wherever we travel.  But maybe we should.  Now that we’ve seen the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, we’re curious to know what’s inside other libraries.  Or perhaps it just doesn’t get any better than this.  After all, the Schwarzman Building seems to have it all: Beaux Arts architecture filled with museum quality artwork, detailed frescoes, marble stairwells, and much, much more.

Marble stairwell, Stephan A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Marble stairwell, Stephan A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Greeting us on our December 2015 tour were the iconic, loved-by-everyone lions known as Patience and Fortitude, named in the 1930s by Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia who said they represent qualities that all New Yorkers needed to endure the economic trials of the Depression.  Now these lions sculpted from pink Tennessee marble (See?  We knew there was another reason to love ’em!) are mascots of the library, their trademark likenesses emblazoned on everything from t-shirts to tote bags.

Patience (or is this Fortitude?) in front of Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Patience (or is this Fortitude?) in front of Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Beginning with a bequest from one-time governor Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886) of $2.4 million, the idea of a place to “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York” began to take shape.  After his death, two other libraries, the Aston and Lenox libraries were experiencing financial difficulties, so a revamping of their missions and a combination of assets formed the basis for a new organization: the Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. (Source: NYPL website.)

Second floor landing with painted ceiling, Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Second floor landing with painted ceiling, Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

With the vision of Dr. John Shaw Billings, a noted librarian, and the engagement of a new architectural firm (Carrére and Hastings), the largest marble structure in the U. S. to date (and costing over $9 million upon completion) broke ground in 1902. And then on May 24, 1911, one day after President Taft dedicated the library on May 23rd,  30,000 to 50,000 visitors streamed into this new building, no doubt as impressed as we still are many years later! (Click here for more of the history of the New York Public Library.)

And lucky us — on exhibit while we were there (ending May 27, 2016) was a collection of prints, etchings, woodcuts, etc., belonging to Henrietta Louisa Koenen (1830 – 1881): “Printing Women: Three Centuries of Female Printmakers, 1570-1900.” Quite the collection.  Beautifully showcased.

An upstairs reading room holds portraits — some familiar, some new to us.

Filled with portraits: 2nd floor Reading Room, Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Filled with portraits: 2nd floor Reading Room, Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

I stood and stared a while at native New Yorker Washington Irving since I had seen this very portrait in numerous 11th grade lit books from which I taught students (hopefully) to appreciate “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.”

"Washington Irving" by Charles Robert Leslie

“Washington Irving” by Charles Robert Leslie (1820)

We were rather surprised, however, to see this portrait of Truman Capote by John Whitney Fosburgh among the “older” notables on the wall.

"Truman Capote" by James Whitney Fosburgh

“Truman Capote” by James Whitney Fosburgh (Oil on canvas, 1971)

Lest you think the New York Public Library is strictly for bibliophiles of a “certain age,” take a look at this area designed to hook kids on the joy of reading.  What fun to see Patience (or is this Fortitude?) fashioned out of today’s “it” building material:  Legos!

At the end of our visit, we grabbed one of the free postcards that any guest can have for the taking.

Free for the taking -- but just one of each per customer: postcards from the New York Public Library!

Free for the taking — but just one of each per customer: postcards from the New York Public Library!

Then we made our purchases at the bookstore.  Armed with pins imprinted with a Patti Smith quote — “Long Live the Library” — and tote bags for folks back home, we reluctantly left the building.

A return trip to NYC will warrant a return to NYPL.  After all, there’s always something new going on at a library.  And, with a building like the Schwarzman . . . Wow! what a place this is to see again and again!

For more information:

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 330 W. 38th Street, New York, NY 10018; (917) 275-6975; http://www.nypl.org/locations/schwarzman 

Hours, directions, activitieshttp://www.nypl.org/locations/schwarzman

What you can do for free at NYPLhttp://www.nypl.org/checkusout

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/nypl

Twitter: @nypl

Instagram: nypl

To read more posts from our Christmas Holiday NYC tour, click here.

 

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Whitney to High Line to Chelsea Market: A newer New York

Traveling through the Meatpacking District of NYC to 99 Gansevoort Street, home of the Whitney Museum.

Traveling through the Meatpacking District of NYC to 99 Gansevoort Street, home of the Whitney Museum.

Mindful of our friends’ recommendations for what to see during our Christmas Holiday 2015 in NYC and loving art for art’s sake, we headed to the Whitney Museum following our usual routine:  look up address, find appropriate bus or subway, ride, get off, enjoy. But when we arrived where our guide book told us to go — 945 Madison Avenue — we found a closed building.  Shut, if you will.  Not a problem, we thought.  Just ask someone on the street.  And that’s how we found ourselves back on the bus headed to 99 Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District at the new Whitney Museum.

Map of the High Line in New York City

Map of the High Line in New York City

Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the cantilevered building known as the Whitney offers 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries with 18,000 of it dedicated to special exhibitions.  This largest column-free museum gallery in NYC is a far cry from the original museum founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930.  And with its position between the Hudson River and the High Line, the Whitney offered us an array of modern art as well as views of the area we would never have seen otherwise.

Whitney Museum in its new location in the Meatpacking District of NYC. Note the starting of the High Line with its row of trees in front of the museum. (From website: http://whitney.org/About/NewBuilding

Whitney Museum in its new location in the Meatpacking District of NYC. Note the starting of the High Line with its row of trees in front of the museum. (From website: http://whitney.org/About/NewBuilding

With art from names we recognized — Thomas Hart Benton, Alexander Calder, Peter Blume, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper — to artists we learned about the night of our visit, the Whitney amazes those well-versed in contemporary art as well as the casual observer.  Wide spaces, clean white walls, natural wood floors — all work beautifully, not only for giving each piece of art the space it deserves but also for allowing the efficient movement of spectators who want to view art up close AND far away.

But the evening outside was just as fascinating as the art inside.  Expansive porches allow guests at the museum to stand and gaze at buildings lit for the night, to watch people climb the stairs accessing the High Line, and to stare out at the Hudson River and watch the sun go down.

Sundown on the Hudson River as seen from the porch of the Whitney Museum.

Sundown on the Hudson River as seen from the porch of the Whitney Museum.

We, too, wanted to experience the High Line, but merely as a conduit to nearby Chelsea Market. Then we read more in our guide book about this pathway that was first an above-ground rail line.  In the 1980s, the last freight train on this line delivered goods to merchants.  But by 1999, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, hearing the outcry from residents to preserve the structure, founded Friends of the High Line to keep the railway and repurpose it for something else.  Planning and design work began, and by 2009, the first section of the High Line opened to the public as a scenic walkway.  Today, multiply plantings beautify the structure.  (See pictures on Flickr here.) And people enjoy walking the High Line as much for sheer enjoyment as to get from Point A to Point B. (Because it was dark, we have no pictures to share.  But here is an outstanding view from the Friends of the High Line website.)

Beautiful picture of the plantings along the High Line from Friends of the High Line website: www.thehighline.org

Beautiful picture of the plantings along the High Line from Friends of the High Line website: http://www.thehighline.org

We wanted to experience a walk along the High Line, but we were also on a mission:  to find dinner at Chelsea Market!  So, we climbed the stairs to access the High Line, walked a couple of blocks, and then climbed back down to find ourselves squarely in an industrial space filled with restaurants, vendors of quality goods, and people just roaming around — talking and eating, of course.  (Be aware of one thing:  there is little seating in Chelsea Market.  People order, stand at counters or take food out.  They enjoy the space for what it is.  We landed at a burger place simply because two stools magically became available!)

You can find seafood, burgers, spices, cheese, etc., at Chelsea Market in the block long, block wide building holding 35 vendors, or you can just watch the people go by.  (And according to the website, about six million national and international visitors filter through the place per year.) It’s a venue to see, all right, and the food (a global mix, we’d say) is worth the wait — and the standing!

Vendors line the sides of this industrial interior at Chelsea Market.

Vendors line the sides of this industrial interior at Chelsea Market.

If you’re thinking of visiting NYC, take the route we found quite by accident — from the Whitney to the High Line to Chelsea Market!  And, yes, it’s worth the steps. After all, you can rest on the bus as you ride back to your lodging in the city, feeling proud that you’re now an art connoisseur full of good food from one of the greatest cities in the world!

For more information:

Whitney Museum of Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014; (212) 570-10014; whitney.org.

Friends of the High Linehttp://www.thehighline.org/

Chelsea Markethttp://www.chelseamarket.com/

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Trees of New York: Christmas Holiday 2015

Bundled and leaning on each other, Christmas trees are piled high at a street mark in NYC.

Bundled and leaning on each other, Christmas trees are piled high at a street mark in NYC.

 

Looking back on a trip extends the pleasure of travel for us, and that usually happens when we review the photos we took. Oh, sure, we have pics of famous sites — that’s the main thing we come to see.  But sometimes another subject surprisingly presents itself when we download pictures to our computer.  For our Christmas Holiday NYC — we noted an unexpected theme: trees of New York .

Now why we didn’t expect to see Christmas trees lining neighborhood sidewalks, we don’t know.  But we didn’t.  In our home state of Tennessee, Christmas trees are sold on large, open lots where firs and pines and spruces are fluffed out and nailed upright in criss-cross board tree stands, ready for purchase.

But in New York, where space is at a premium, trees snug up to one another as they lean against a wall or storefront.  And different is good.  Christmas comes in many forms, and we love seeing how holidays are celebrated wherever we go. Piles of leaning trees indicate something special to us: city folks love real greenery as much as we do!

Piled up at a street corner shop, Christmas trees wait for NYC shoppers!

Piled up at a street corner shop, Christmas trees wait for NYC shoppers!

We also noted another first-for-us sight:  branches and pine cones laid around tree trunks. Love this idea.  Why not use greenery to beautify sidewalks and parks? We could do this in our city, too.  It’s called recycling!

As you can imagine in a city the size of New York, Christmas tree sightings are frequent.  And here are a few of our favorites.

Rockefeller Center — where people took selfies or posed for others.  There’s nothing more magical than this iconic tree — it’s the big one, for sure!

Bryant Park — At the top of the ice rink, the tree anchors the space and adds color and cheer.

Skating rink at Bryant Park

Skating rink at Bryant Park

The Metropolitan Museum of Art — A towering tree of twenty-two cherubs and fifty-five gracefully suspended angels attracted a huge crowd.  They were all taking pictures of the tree and the Neapolitan Baroque Creche at the bottom surrounded by shepherds and their flocks, wise men, and adoring townspeople.

Baroque Christmas tree at Metropolitan Museum of Art

Baroque Christmas tree at Metropolitan Museum of Art

Townspeople neatly arranged at the base of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas Tree

Townspeople neatly arranged at the base of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas Tree

The New York Public Library — a floor-to-ceiling tree, elegant and expansive surrounded by a base of branches and pine cones.

The 2015 Christmas tree at Public Library of New York.

The 2015 Christmas tree at Public Library of New York.

And then there were others — random trees that caught my attention at just the right time for me to snap them with an iPhone!

So, yes, Virginia.  New York does do trees at Christmas.  Lots of trees.  From Rockefeller Center to tiny flats — it’s Christmas, and a traditional one at that.  Just different!

To read more about Christmas in New York, check out all our posts at Christmas Holiday NYC. 

 

 

 

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Wishing you all the best in 2016!

Looking ahead to all the places we can see in 2016!

Looking ahead to all the places we can see in 2016!

It’s been a great year for us, albeit a quieter one in terms of travel.  But any year with good health, connections with family and friends, and a few getaways is a good year for us.  At the top of our travel list were short, local trips with our granddaughter to new-to-her places right here in Knoxville.

We appreciate your continued support of our blog.  Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing what you’ve seen with us.  The interaction means a lot.

Plans for 2016?  More international travel, we hope.  We’re  intrigued by photos of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, so that’s on the list.  And then there’s Alaska — a state we wanted to see last year, but just didn’t.  The National Park Service Centennial makes us think we need to stay in the states — and fill those blank squares remaining in our Passport to the National Parks book.  But wherever we go and whatever we see, we’ll be sharing with you, our readers.

Favorite quote we ran across this past year while looking at cards in a shop:

“The world is not going to come to you.

The sooner you realize this, the more time you’ll have to pack.”

Leigh Standley

May the new year bring you good health and the drive to accomplish any goal you set.

Happy 2016!

— Bert and Rusha

No mater where you choose to go, go boldly!

No mater where you choose to go, go boldly!

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The amazing Christmas windows at Saks!

A mannequin in white fur and winter finery poses in the Christmas 2015 windows at Saks with a cityscape reflection in the background.

A mannequin in white fur and winter finery poses in the Christmas 2015 windows at Saks with a cityscape reflection in the background.

As much as we wanted to see Rockefeller Center, Central Park and the museums of NYC decorated for Christmas 2015, we placed the windows of NYC department stores at the top of our must-see list.  Magical, sparkly, elaborate — these windows were all we expected and more.  In a previous post, we showed you fanciful pastries in the windows of Lord & Taylor and told you how the endearing Peanuts characters cheered up a down-in-the-dumps Charlie Brown at Macy’s. But the windows at Saks topped even these.

This mannequin looks assertive and poised as she "walks" toward the crowd in a window at Saks Fifth Avenue. The flags are reflections from the building across the street.

This mannequin looks assertive and poised as she “walks” toward the crowd in a window at Saks Fifth Avenue. The flags are reflections from the building across the street.

Now, we must say we were taken aback at first.  Not that the Saks Fifth Avenue windows weren’t spectacular.  They were. And they were so much more.  But they weren’t what we were expecting for Christmas windows. They weren’t traditional, and that was by design.

Cakes and candelabras added to the ambience of the Winter Palace theme at Saks.

Cakes and candelabras added to the ambience of the Winter Palace theme at Saks.

With the theme of The Winter Palace, Saks designers and decorators worked a year in advance to prepare blue-hued windows bearing sensuously posed models in icy colors of silver and white for a breathtaking, almost ethereal, wintry experience.

A sea-like mannequin floats magically above undulating waves in a Christmas window at Saks Fifth Avenue.

A sea-like mannequin floats magically above undulating waves in a Christmas window at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Mannequins floated.  Mannequins posed.  Mannequins seemed engaged in whispered conversation. But always they maintained the aura of haute couture models wearing the finest gowns, headpieces, and jewelry found at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Lighted trees on the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue

Lighted trees on the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue

But something else crept in to my photos of these ice princesses:  the reflection of the mid-day sun.  That brightness not only spoiled any ideas I had of shooting clear pictures for readers to see; it also reflected anything that was in front of the ice palace windows onto the photos — buildings, spectators, street vendors, etc. But rather than bemoan the fact that I couldn’t get “pure” photos of the Saks windows, I enjoyed seeing what two photos in one would look like.

So here’s my favorite “wellwhathavewehere?” photo: Two sensuously posed ladies super-imposed onto a reflection of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the building across the street.  Ironic? Perhaps.  But for sure, unexpected.

Two sensuously posed models seem ironically "surrounded" by a reflection of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Two sensuously posed models seem ironically “surrounded” by a reflection of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

For more about the windows from an article (“Saks Fifth Avenue celebrates the Holiday Palace on Fifth”) and a video of the opening celebration, you may want to check out this site. And for clear night photos of the windows, check out this post on Focal Point Styling: “Christmas in NY: The Dazzling #SaksHoliday Window Display.”

White on white, a mannequin floats atop a cloud at Saks Fifth Avenue, Christmas 2015.

White on white, a mannequin floats atop a cloud at Saks Fifth Avenue, Christmas 2015.

Then tell us what you think.  Do you like the Saks windows?  Or do you prefer something more traditionally Christmas?

We’d love to hear from you.

–Bert and Rusha

For more on our Christmas Holiday NYC, click here.

 

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Fave Christmas windows of New York: Lord & Taylor, Macy’s

Gingerbread House at Lord & Taylor. (Photo courtesy of NYCTrip.com.)

Gingerbread House at Lord & Taylor. (Photo courtesy of NYCTrip.com.)

It doesn’t take much to make us happy in NYC, I suppose.  Walking the streets, riding the subway, and taking in city sights rank right up there with visits to museums and restaurants.  (See, I said it doesn’t take much.)

But we’re not alone, judging from the crowds who also love staring into holiday windows and pointing out their favorite things.  This Christmas 2015 season was unseasonably warm in NYC, so some folks took advantage of the sunshine in their own sort of way.

Soaking up the rays on a warm December day in Macy's New York City plaza.

Soaking up the rays on a warm December day in Macy’s New York City plaza.

Two stores got our vote for best windows:  Lord & Taylor and Macy’s.  (By no means, however, did we see them all.) We like beauty, humor and any combination of the two as well as clever interpretations of a theme — and these stores had all of that and more.

Stacked gingerbread trees hold tempting baubles at the Lord & Taylor windows, New York City.

Stacked gingerbread trees hold tempting baubles at the Lord & Taylor windows, New York City.

Lord & Taylor’s patisserie windows delighted us “window tourists.”  Sugar-covered delicacies in bakery windows beckoned, and you could hear window peepers (like us) saying Mmmmmm while they gazed longingly at the culinary delights.

But the Peanuts children and the interactive windows at Macy’s won our vote for Best of Show.  The story line of Charlie Brown being in the doldrums at what everyone considers the “happiest time of the year” made for great narrative.

Charlie Brown needs support from Linus even at the happiest time of year.

Charlie Brown needs support from Linus even at the happiest time of year.

And not much could cheer him up — not even Lucy’s budget psychiatry.

Not even Lucy can cheer up Charlie Brown this Christmas.

Not even Lucy can cheer up Charlie Brown this Christmas.

But as we all know, it’s not things like trees and presents that make the difference.  Not even music by Schroeder.

Children stopped to play with the interactive piano at Macy's NYC.  Peanuts music in background!

Children stopped to play with the interactive piano at Macy’s NYC. Peanuts music in background!

What conjures up good feelings at Christmas?  It’s friends, of course.  Something Charlie Brown has aplenty.

So all is well in Peanuts land with Charlie Brown ready for the holidays and smiling at the crowd at Macy’s. You, too, can be a Peanuts friend by designing your own likeness at the store window.

Interactive window allows anyone to design a Peanuts character at Macy's NYC 2015.

Interactive window allows anyone to design a Peanuts character at Macy’s NYC 2015.

And so it goes.  Windows make people happy.  And New York at Christmas wouldn’t be the same without ’em.

Even a snowball fight with friends can be fun -- especially if you're in NYC!

Even a snowball fight with friends can be fun — especially if you’re in NYC!

For more information:

Article:  Schneier, M. “Elaborate Holiday Windows Dress Up New York Department Stores.” (November 28, 2015).  New York Times.  Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/fashion/macys-bloomingdales-lord-and-taylor-holiday-windows.html

Photo of gingerbread house at Lord & Taylor and other NYC windows available at NYCtrip.com

 

 

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It’s Christmas every day at American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History, NYC

Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt by James Earle Fraser in front of American Museum of Natural History

Our Christmas Holiday 2015 in the Upper West Side of Manhattan positioned us near Central Park and one of the biggest draws for tourists: American Museum of Natural History located at Central Park West at 79th Street. With 27 interconnected buildings and 45 exhibition halls filled with everything from minerals to mollusks, it’s a Christmas gift to the public all year long.

Once inside, you’ll recognize the interior from Night at the Museum.  But even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll be impressed by the soaring height of the main floor: exhibits so tall you have to bend over backwards (literally) for the full experience.

A soaring entry off Central Park West: Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, American Museum of Natural History

A soaring entry off Central Park West: Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, American Museum of Natural History

Add to this iconic structure, a pair of moss-covered dinos bearing Christmas wreaths and flanking the massive front steps — and you have a little holiday happiness to greet you.

Merry Christmas from the American Museum of Natural History

Merry Christmas from the American Museum of Natural History

We couldn’t scratch the surface in one day at AMNH, mainly because we could hardly pull ourselves away from two exquisitely researched and artfully showcased halls:  Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals (1st Floor) and Akeley Hall of African Mammals (2nd Floor). Massive showcases house strategically posed animals in real-life situations.  As if the animals aren’t enough to see, the settings themselves are notable, too, as they skillfully mix photography, artwork, and natural elements.  (Personal Travel Award: Best Combo of Flora and Fauna in a Museum.)

Staring right at us:  gemsbok from southern Africa

Staring right at us: gemsbok from southern Africa

But if you’ve got a kid (or a kid at heart) with you, head to the 4th Floor.  Maybe it’s the influence of Hollywood or the “cinemagic” of Jurassic World or the way that names like Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, or Megalosaurus have become more common — whatever it is, we all have an insatiable fascination with dinosaurs.  And you can’t go wrong no matter where you spend time on the 4th floor of AMNH: from areas named Saurichian Dinosaurs to Ornithischian Dinosaurs to Vertebrate Origins — all are remarkable.

In addition, educational signage and expertly mounted specimens brings Christmas year-round to those who love to look and learn.

American Museum of Natural History is open daily from 10 AM to 5:45 PM (except on Thanksgiving and Christmas).  Or check out social media (see below) for updates and photos of upcoming and current exhibits.  From your own home, you, too, can have a night at the museum!

For more information:

American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024; 212-769-5100; amnh.org

Facebook: facebook.com/amnh

Twitter: @amnh

Instagram: @amnh #InsideAMNH

Pinterest: naturalhistory

Hope you’ll continue to join us as we show you places we saw on our Christmas Holiday NYC!

Bert and Rusha

Posted in Christmas Holiday NYC, New York | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments