Sunday, November 30, 2008

An Action-Packed Visit

As promised, my Thanksgiving-related posts are continuing today with a recap of my time with my dad before all the Parade fun. I was really glad that we were able to spend some time together and do some sightseeing. Unfortunately, my dad was never able to get up to DC to visit when we lived there, so I was glad he was able to see our New York home so soon!

Dad arrived at Port Authority after taking the bus from the airport around 9:00pm on Monday. Eric, Achilles and I met him out there to escort him back to our apartment. Achilles was beside himself - he gave my dad quite a vocal welcoming. He then continued to bark his way down the streets of New York as we continued on. It was very strange. It was raining (which seems to happen every time we have visitors), but we decided to walk Dad home through Times Square anyway, since it's only about a block out of the way. Times Square is just a nice way to start your NY vacation!

Tuesday morning we got up and left the house shortly after 9:00 a.m. We headed straight down to Battery Park on the very crowded subway, then took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was still raining and cold, so it was exceptionally unpleasant by the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was okay of course, as it is indoors. We wandered through the exhibits and checked everything out before getting back in line for the ferry back to Manhattan. While we waited for the ferry my dad struck up a conversation with some members/chaperones of a high school band from Arkansas also in town for the parade. Band folks were EVERYWHERE as we walked around on Tuesday!

Dad doing his very best not to look cold at the Statue of Liberty. Doesn't this picture make you feel cold just looking at it?

Lady Liberty

Ellis Island

When we got back to Battery Park, we began our trek north to see Wall Street/The Bull/The Stock Exchange. I was surprised to see the Stock Exchange decked out for Christmas - there was a huge Christmas tree in front of it, and they had removed the big flag that usually covers the columns, and it has been replaced with Christmas lights that will make a flag when lit up! We might have to head down there at night to see that lit up one of these days. There also were a bunch of people in colonial dress in front of Federal Hall (the sight of George Washington's first inauguration), but we didn't ask them why, so I wonder what was going on. We also stepped inside Trinity Church (as seen in the movie "National Treasure"), which I had never done before. It was very pretty inside, as you might expect.

The New York Stock Exchange Christmas tree

More Christmasy Stock Exchange

Colonial peoples in front of Federal Hall

Inside Trinity Church

From there we walked through Chinatown up to Little Italy and had a delicious lunch there, complete with cheesecake for dessert. I just cannot resist NY cheesecake! Then we hopped back on the subway up to 34th Street, where we checked out the Macy's Christmas decor and New Year's Eve ball.

The front of Macy's, decorated for Christmas

Dad testing out his Parade performance spot in Herald Square

Dad and the New Year's Eve ball

One of the window displays at Macy's - a mini replica of itself!
They also had a series of window displays that recreated scenes from "Miracle on 34th Street," that were very cool.

After Macy's we went back to the apartment to rest up before heading out to Radio City Music Hall to see the "Christmas Spectacular" show, featuring the Rockettes! Eric met us there after work, and the show was fantastic. We all really enjoyed it. Plus, I had never been inside Radio City before, and it was gorgeous. So it was a very cool experience all around.

Radio City Music Hall

Inside Radio City. What a tiny chandelier, no?

Before the show

Part of the show required 3-D glasses!


The Rockettes

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

More show fun

Nativity scene

With Dad after the show

After the show, we walked over to Rockefeller Center to see some of the Christmas decorations. The Christmas tree still isn't lit yet (that will happen this Wednesday), but there were some pretty decorations on the outside of Saks 5th Avenue, and their window displays were set up and very cool! They tell the story of a snowflake named Mike. See, back when your parents were young, snowflakes were all alike and fell in one big clump. Then Mike came along and wanted to be himself. He inspired the rest of the snowflakes to also be themselves, and now snowflakes are all unique and fall individually. Very cute! So we admired that a bit before walking home.

Snowflakes on the Saks 5th Avenue building

There's Mike, the first individual snowflake

Now all the other snowflakes are being themselves, too!

On Wednesday, we got going fairly early again to get some sightseeing done before Dad had to leave for band rehearsal in New Jersey. We walked through Times Square (so Dad could see it in the daylight and clear weather), then went to Rockefeller Center again - this time to go all the way to the Top of the Rock! Heather and I had just gone to the top of the Empire State Building, so I decided to try something new with my dad and do the Top of the Rock instead. It was so much better than the Empire State Building, I must say. It was much less crowded, and even if there had been more people, it has three floors of observation decks that you can go on, so there's more space to spread out. There was a lot more room to wander around, and it was nice that it was enclosed with glass instead of big iron bars. Plus, there was a neat little exhibit and video theater you could go through before going up, which showed the history of Rockefeller Center. Even the elevator put on a cool little show on your way up. It was all just really nice, and something we'll definitely add to our list of things to do with future visitors.

With dad at the Top of the Rock
Looking down at one of the lower observation decks

Looking north

After Rockefeller Center we checked out St. Patrick's Cathedral, then walked up Fifth Avenue and into FAO Schwartz. It was so nice to see everything decorated for Christmas! I could (and very well might) do an entire post about Christmas decorations around the city one of these days.

Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center

Fifth Avenue - check out the giant snowflake suspended above the street!

From there, we headed back to the apartment and stopped for some soup along the way. Then we just rested up a bit before Dad had to be on his way. It was a great visit! We really jammed a lot of stuff into a short amount of time. Dad was a trooper for putting up with all the walking in the cold, and sometimes in the rain. Yuck. Hopefully our next visitors will have better weather!

And that officially ends my posts about our Thanksgiving week! I really had a wonderful time. This week promises to be fun, too! Today Eric and I are staying in and decorating our apartment for Christmas. Then tomorrow Eric turns 26 years old! Tuesday we have tickets to "The Daily Show," and Wednesday is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting. So stay tuned - I'll have lots more to share with you this week!

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