Friday, November 9, 2007

The New York Experience: Day 7 - The Holiday Spirit Begins In New York City

Guess what? Christmas is coming. If you didn't realize that by the loads of holiday items at your local supermarket or Walmart, then you need to get out a bit more. Today's experience is what I would call the true beginning of the Christmas season. Today we headed south to the big city of New York for a holiday tradition that's been around for generations...The Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular featuring the one and only Rockette's!

Our adventure started off with a 2-1/2 hour early train ride from our small little country town to Penn Station in Manhatten, Going from Albany to NY is definitely a change in both climate and culture. We were in the "Quiet Car" on Amtrak's Empire service. The "Quiet Car" is one where you can't use ipods, cell phones, computers, etc. I guess all that stuff bothers some people and any of you who know me know that quiet definitely isn't my middle name.

We arrived a Penn Station and headed from the tracks to the street level where the temps were cold and it had just started raining. I should have figured on that one. We waited outside of Penn Station for a friend of mine John who works in the city and decided to meet us for lunch at a place called the Brooklyn Diner.

My Mom hadn't seen John in a long while (probably since my wedding) and we had a nice lunch in this busy restaurant just off Times Square reminescing about old times and life in the city. John was a country boy like me and it was pretty cool to see how he's adapted to life in the city.

From there we grabbed a taxi to go across town to get to the Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular show. It was opening day and only the second performance for the show so we hit some pretty good lines. After a quick wait (the lines really move in NY) we were in the amazing Radio City Music Hall waiting for their 75th Annual show. We were excited and ready for anything.

The show featured some really cool stuff...especially the Rockette's. Boy, can those girls dance. They had around 15 or so "scenes" which featured dancers all over the place, live animals from time to time (have you ever seen a camel in Manhattan?), and of course, Santa Claus. They really put on a great show complete with a live nativity. I took a few pictures without my flash as evidenced here but it amazed me as to how many idiots used their flashed the entire time!

My wife and my Mom totally enjoyed the show. For me, being in the entertainment field, I thought the show was well done although I caught technical glitches throughout. They made great use of the giant video backdrop throughout the show and the orchestra and on stage talent was excellent. My wife totally was enthralled with the show along with my Mom and it was a fitting beginning to the Christmas season for all of us. There is nothing like Christmas in New York - bundled up in warm clothing, shop windows decorated to the hilt, the Christmas tree going up in Rockefeller Center, and the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular!

After the show, we spend about 15 minutes trying to hail down a friggin' taxi to go to one of my favorite restaurants in all of New York. Gallagher's steak house is a New York icon with some of the best tasting steaks and outstanding service in all the world. Even though it's pricey by most people standards, it is truly what NY is all about when it comes to food. Nothing is ever done wrong although when I ordered a dozen littleneck clams, I never expected them to be RAW! Yikes. But with a little cocktail sauce, they went down smoothly. We all had a steak or filet cooked to perfection with some great side dishes. In fact, we all brought home leftovers!

The trip from Gallagher's to Penn Station to return home was an adventure. It had been raining and getting a cab was like playing "Where's Waldo?" My 81-year-old Mom had a Martini at Gallagher's and we think that with that and her daily medicine, she got a bit tipsy and I became her personal escort for the trip home on the train having to almost carry her at times. Take that stress along with the fact that our train was full to the hilt with Mom in the first car of the train and my wife and I in the last car, it was a trip to remember. I've got to give my wife some credit on this one, she was able to handle all the purchases and leftover food bags while I tended to my 98 pound lush! Thanks darlin'!

Our friend John met us in Penn Station on his way home to New Jersey on the train so we got a chance to see him one more time. It was a nice surprise. I think he's got a little thing for my Mom (the reason for the repeated picture) but at 81, she's not makin' any quick moves! We made it back to Albany with Mom definitely entertaining the people in her train car. But they all understood and they took car of Mom since I was on the opposite end of the train. So you see, the adventure just continued!

In conclusion, a great time was had by all. Isn't that what it's all about anyway? Spending time with family and the people you love over the Holiday's. But if your Mother ever orders a Vodka Martini staight-up with a lemon twist, look out! That's one Christmas Spirit you may want to stay away from!