People who know me well would never describe me as a relaxed, go with the flow person. I prefer a plan and a schedule. This past Wednesday I had scheduled a much-anticipated Christmas trip into New York City. I planned ahead and bought my ticket for the “Curb Side Express” back in November. This route picks up passengers a short two blocks from our apartment.
Wednesday morning, I arose earlier than usual and was ready and waiting at the appropriate spot five minutes early. It was a chilly morning, so I was delighted to see my motor coach approaching. I wasn’t delighted when it drove right past me without stopping! As a planner, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be at exactly the right time. I watched to see if he might circle the block to pull up on the side street, but no, to my horror, he was gone! Frustrated and confused, I called the bus company and kept getting transferred and cut off, so I stomped over to the bus station a few blocks away to tell them my tale of woe. There I was informed that I was supposed to “wave the bus down”!!! I tersely – but politely – explained that information was nowhere on their site and that I had been at the station previously to check precisely where I should wait for the bus and no one said a word about needing to flag down my ride.
I was put on the next available bus into the city, but that robbed me of the time I would have been there by a few hours. Needless to say, I had a prepared itinerary for my visit, so the first part of my trip was spent grumpily reviewing my list and deleting some things. Yet as soon as the New York City skyline came into view, my grumpiness disappeared to be replaced with sweet anticipation of the day’s adventures ahead.
My first stop with the festive Winter Village at Bryant Park located behind the New York City Public Library. This European inspired open-air market features over 175 vendors offering tasty treats and unique artisanal boutiques, as well as a skating rink that offers the only free skating in the city! This market always sparks my Christmas spirit. It seems to have that effect on others too as everyone seemed particularly jolly. I was charmed by the negotiations between the hot chocolate vendor and the cheese stick folks, trading their wares with each other. While I didn’t sample the hot chocolate, I can attest to the tastiness of the cheese sticks!
After some time perusing the village, I headed up busy, bustling Fifth Avenue towards Rockefeller Center. My first glimpse of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree makes my heart happy each and every year. It is always crowded, but even an introvert like me considers it an absolute must this time of year. I love every sparkle on this 75-foot masterpiece.
And as always in the city, you never know who you are going to run into. Although Mr. Smith says the fellow in the photo below is an imposter and insists that he is my personal ole St. Nick!
When I’m in the city for the entire day, I like to plan a break mid-afternoon to revive my energy and decide on how to spend my remaining time. I received a gift card from my grandsons that has been calling my name, so I had scheduled a couple of spa treatments at The Red Door. While they may have rebranded and changed their name, the pampering remains delightful and I emerged rejuvenated and eager to press ahead.
On to Bloomingdale’s! I know that department store shopping is time-inefficient, but it still holds a huge appeal. Attractive, well-dressed people want to spritz me with perfume, well-groomed folks want to give me a make-over, and one of Santa’s elves in the Christmas section wanted to know if I fancied a visit with Santa! I am a kid in a candy shop with the vast selection of finery and frippery. I made a couple of purchases, noted some things to think about, and soaked in the sparkly holiday décor.
It was now time to think about navigating my way back to arrive at the bus station in time to catch my ride back to Pennsylvania. I walked down picturesque Lexington Avenue and cut up to Fifth Avenue, admiring the shop windows and all the holiday decorations. This simple window stood out to me amongst all the opulent ones.
My bus connection home went smoothly, we made good time, and I was home sipping a cup of tea with Mr. Smith by 10:30. Many friends are surprised that I am happy to spend the day on my own in the city. Without a traveling companion, it is easy to settle into your routine and not venture out. But a day in the City reminds me it’s a big world – I love hearing the different languages spoken and seeing fashionable New Yorkers. I also like the sense of accomplishment I get by doing it on my own. I still remember how I felt over a decade ago on my first solo trip into the City when I was able to easily locate the Sephora where I had an appointment. Over the years, I gotten to know myself better and acknowledge that life can be an adventure if you learn how to flag down the damn bus.
C’est la vie.