In my last post I told you about New York for the brave – Christmas is the one of the coldest times of the year, and sipping hot drinks in coffee shops and shopping replace exiting trips around the city.
So here are my winter time recommendations for you.
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Ice skating: how can you miss an opportunity to feel like in a Hollywood movie about Christmas time? It doesn’t even matter if you know how to ice skate, I don’t and I still had an amazing time.
You can take lessons here, and the locals are more than ready to help. I highly recommend the ice rink at Bryant Park – it’s smaller and not as crowded as Central Park and the legendary Rockefeller Center. Surrounded by skyscrapers, you’ll fell as New York as it gets.
Food: Christmas is a busy time of year, so err on reserving ahead.
Breakfast: Jack’s wife Freda:
I heard about this strangely named place a while ago, and this time I had to check it out. I imagined something fancy, but it’s a really small place with no reservation option. Be prepared to wait in line on weekends, but no more than half an hour.
Something in the atmosphere felt familiar, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. When I browsed through the menu and saw a shakshouka, it was clear – I felt like in a Tel Avivian coffee shop. The owner, Maya is sweet and ‘half Israeli’, as she defines herself with a heavy accent. If you happen to miss Israel, you can order an almost Israeli breakfast with chopped salad and avocado (it’s called a Mideterranean Breakfast in the menu). A little vegetable side won’t hurt the typical American breakfast, which usually includes fried potatoes and lots of Eggs Benedict. It’s fun to see people line up to eat “our” breakfast – way to go, Maya!
Lunch: ABC Kitchen
A restaurant and a concept store. It’s a popular place, and I like eating at the restaurant and then continuing to the store. Upon my visit, it was so decorated and pretty I couldn’t stop taking pictures, but overwhelmed, I didn’t buy a thing. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is very New York.
Evening: Bowery Meat Company
The perfect place for meat lovers. If you’re lucky and there’s rib eye on the menu – you won’t be sorry. My friends booked it not knowing I reduced the red meat on my menu significantly this year, but they managed to convince me to try the rib eye – and I just couldn’t stop “tasting”. Make sure to book ahead.
Nighttime: Onegin, a Russain restaurant-club
This place combines dancing and eating – a popular “Russian” trick. You’ll be sitting at a table in a pretty restaurant, eating festive Russian food (or not), and in the background, a DJ plays up-tempo music that won’t let you get fat. Big parties of people will celebrate birthdays around you – and soon, you’ll all be dancing together. It’s a shame a place of this level doesn’t exist in Israel, because we had tons of fun. There’s a lot of non-Russians who come there for the concept of food and dancing.
The prices are moderate.
If, by the way, you ask yourselves what’s the origin of the name, Onegin is the hero of a novel in verse by the legendary Russian author Alexander Pushkin. Some culture on the go, why not.
And a little culture ☺
I love art, but must admit I can’t spend more than an hour and a half in a museum. Besides, I often feel only seeing art is not enough – I want more information about the artist, what he/she was thinking when working on the piece… this is why, anywhere possible, I’m taking a private tour, and that’s what I did this time as well. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a totally new experience, but it is, of course, a matter of taste. Some people love to explore independently, but I like to be guided, especially in museums, too.
My plan was to visit two museums – MoMa and the Met, both were booked for a tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Metropolitan – it was that or shopping, and I couldn’t allow myself to come back empty handed, especially this time of year! My kids wouldn’t forgive me, for sure. MoMa, on the other hand, was amazing – on top of their permanent (and very impressive) exhibition, they had a beautiful exhibit by Henri Matisse – the exhibition focused on his cut-out technique, combined with the strong color I always enjoy.
We met Gabriela, an Israeli guide who lives, works and studies in New York for the last 10 years, in the museum’s lobby. We loved the tour – it did cost 200$ for 4 people, but at least we saved the 20$ of the entrance fee! If you do the math, the price is reasonable, especially if you get together with more couples. Gabriela also does gallery tours of Chelsea – it’s another highly recommended experience I did two years ago with another Israeli guide, and I had a great time. This is Gabriela’s website, where you can catch up on future tours and contact her: www.artwalksarttalks.com.
We also wanted to do a tour of the Metropolitan with Yaara Keidar, but couldn’t make it. Her tour sounds especially interesting to me – I’s a journey among treasures centered on the very special connection between fashion and art. The Metropolitan is the second largest museum in the U.S, and this is an opportunity to see it from a different angle, so I was deeply disappointed when I understood we can’t do it. Not to worry, next time. I have to learn to be more flexible – if I planned something and didn’t do it, I feel bad. I’m working on it though ☺
If you want to book Yaara‘s tour regardless, she guides groups on pre-scheduled dates, with the very comfortable price of 30$ per person.
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Shopping shopping shopping:
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Of course, shopping is essential, especially around the sale season. But take deep breaths – the amount of people is not for the faint of heart. I won’t recommend shops this time, but the whole experience – make sure you enjoy the decorated window displays. People were lining up just to see and photograph Sacks Fifth Avenue’s windows, which won this year’s best decorations in a festive competition with Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales.
A new year is coming, and I want to wish us a happy and more importantly, safe year.