I think New York City at Christmas time is one of those things that's impossible to explain with words or pictures, but I hope this post gives you at least a little taste of the experience. My wife and I have wanted to go for quite a while, and decided that December was the best time for a couple of Griswolds like us to make our first trip to the Big Apple.
It's like the city itself is a living, breathing entity. The energy is palpable and the atmosphere is like nothing I've ever been around. You see something new with every step you take. The lights, the Christmas trees, wreaths the size of my living room, the street vendors, the parks, the shops, everything comes together to give you the feeling of one of those old classic Christmas songs you've heard so many times.
We hit most of the major "touristy" spots, and enjoyed them all. They're definitely popular for a reason. But I think I liked the small, unexpected things as much as the big ones that were on our to-do list.
I'm sure it was painfully obvious we were first-timers. As soon as we landed, we got grabbed by some gypsy "cab driver" with a big new Escalade who charged us $66 to get from La Guardia to Times Square (it's supposed to be a $45 flat fee). No wonder he's in an Escalade. He told us about his kids he's putting through college (a.k.a. buying iPhones for his entire extended family back in Kazakhstan). Actually, I hate to be skeptical like that. I hope his story was true.
Luckily, one of my wife's cousins lives in NYC and was able to spend a day showing us around. It was nice to have someone who knew a bunch of cool places to go and exactly where to get on and off the subway. Ah, the subway. I didn't think it was scary, but I thought it could be, if that makes sense. I expected it to be like the mailroom scene in Elf, where Buddy's like "This place reminds me of Santa's Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me." But it wasn't bad. We hit up a couple of awesome donut shops, which somehow I didn't get any pictures of (most likely I blacked out from excitement beforehand, then immediately slipped into a sugar coma afterwards).
I could keep telling stories, but I'll spare you. Long story short, we loved it. I already want to go back!