Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to finally live the life you had always seen in the movies? This is how I found myself on Christmas morning in 2004; ice-skating in Central Park, with the New York City skyline in front of me, jingle bells playing in the background, and Santa zooming right past me as I scrambled to keep my legs upright.
As a child growing up on the beaches of East Coast Australia, I couldn’t be any further removed from a traditional Australian Christmas. I was instead, experiencing the traditional Christmas I had grown up seeing on movies like A Christmas Carol.
I was in New York; the ground in Central Park was covered in snow and had Craig been able to release his grip on the sidewall of the rink, we just may have been able to skate around the ice rink holding hands together.
My joy had managed to melt the freeze that had iced my body during our previous days of exploration among the city streets. It was in Central Park that we saw snow for the first time in our 30 years on Earth.
Rugged up in thermals, heavy coats, hats, scarves and gloves, we would dart from Macy’s to Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue, marveling at the Christmas lights strung from street lamps and trees to fantastic nativity and Santa Claus displays in the windows. Our interest in walking into the famous boutique stores along the Broadway and Fifth Avenue were not for shopping of any kind, but to spend 5 minutes smothering our body in warmth so we could continue seeing more of New York.
My interest lay more in buying a cup of coffee and a donut from the street corner vendors. I’d caress the warm, paper cup in my hand, sniff the aromatic steam and with a sigh, whisper “Yep. I am in New York.”
New York, New York. Is there really any place that could ever compare to it? As I walked along the streets and looked up to the towering buildings that loomed above me from all directions, shutting out all but a tiny patch of sky. I could only think of how clever they had been to capitalize on so much air space. New York is a city mostly lived in the sky. They made something so great from nothing. And this is New York.
For 10 days we walked from East to West, from North to South, exploring the quaint bars of Greenwich Village, the buzzing excitement of Times Square, the hip areas of Soho and Tribeca. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge, catching a ferry along the Hudson River and riding the subways to experience a Sunday morning Baptist Church service in Harlem. Religious, we are not, but we had heard about the beauty of the melodic voices ringing out from the African America choir, and we were not disappointed.
Nights were spent drinking $2 pabst beers in Pizza bars, watching college basketball games at Madison Square Garden, talking to New Yorkers over pints at the bar, and walking the streets soaking up the vibrancy of the city that never sleeps.
After our Christmas morning ice skate in Central Park, we met up with friends and walked down to China Town. The only place we knew that was open for lunch and buzzing with the energy of a town not closed down for Christmas. We sat with friends and ate Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and Chow Mien washed down with cheap Asian beer. Okay, so may be this is not the traditional Christmas lunch, but a random New York experience to remember. And this is New York.
As our romance with New York came to an end, we found ourselves sitting on the roof of an apartment building by the Battery in Lower Manhattan. Fireworks of red, blue, and white were exploding over the Statue of Liberty.
There was no need for us to be squashed behind barriers in Times Square in the freezing cold, with no toilets, or food and drink, just to see a giant ball drop. We were sitting with New Yorkers eating canapés, drinking champagne and toasting to the promise of the incredible year to come and the memories of the year just lived.
And that is New York baby![guestbloggerfooter]Caz Makepeace has been living and traveling the world since she graduated in 1997. Her husband joined her when they married in 2002 and now their 3-year-old daughter is part of their backpacking adventures. You can read more at their popular y travel blog and become a part of their fan page community.[/guestbloggerfooter]