The city that never sleeps
As usual, I will propose you a daily program. So, you can travel to New York – spontaneously or just – like we did this time at Christmas time – for a long weekend and you don’t waste time planning a visit to the best sights in New York.
Thanks to the arrival in the late afternoon in New York (LH 402) you will have the opportunity to admire the colorful, elaborately decorated shop windows on Fifth, to witness the spectacular light show of one of the most legendary department stores and finally to marvel at the unique Christmas tree before the lights go out.
Day 1: Program from 8:00 am to at least 12:00 pm
Early in the morning – after a sumptuous breakfast at the grandiose The Peninsula – stroll along Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (a five-minute walk).
Afterwards, also at sunrise, visit Rockefeller Center, which is just a stone’s throw away. In the 1930s, oil billionaire John Rockefeller Junior had around 230 houses demolished to build “a city within a city” in the Art Deco style. Today’s complex includes, for example, 14 skyscrapers, including the 70-story Comcast Building (formerly known as the General Electric Building), which in good weather offers a 360-degree view of Midtown and Central Park from its observation deck, the famous Radio City Music Hall and the world-famous Christie’s store. The centerpiece is Rockefeller Plaza with its legendary, uniquely sparkling, sky-high Christmas fir (at Christmas time). Since 2004, the Swarovski star with its 25,000 crystals has crowned this festively decorated 20-meter-high Nordmann fir. Also, worth seeing is the ice rink at the Plaza under the handsome tree of lights in front of the golden statue of Prometheus. Ice skating is a New York Christmas tradition! The Top of the Rock – 360 – degree view of New York City´s Skyline is a must! Book in advance Top of the Rock – VIP Access and after a few minutes, you enter the elevator. The doors close for 43 seconds, the lights dim, and the ride is punctuated by lighting effects. From the fabulous three-story Observation Desk in the Top of the Rock building, there is an unobstructed view south across the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty, the magnificent Empire State Building and the spectacular skyscrapers of Manhattan, and north to Central Park. My husband and I experienced a brilliant blue winter sky with a real New York goosebumps moment. After we got back down, we explored the rest of Manhattan on foot.
Grand Central Terminal, a two-story terminal known as the largest train station in the world in terms of tracks, has 44 platforms and 67 tracks and is also the world’s quaintest train station, as the 4th floor houses a public tennis club for the well-heeled. The historic marble hall with the astrological ceiling painting, the stylish chandeliers decorated with gold and the very valuable, almost priceless clock with four dials made of opals, immediately captivated me.
From the station we walked towards the Chrysler Building, one of the most significant Art Deco buildings built in 1930, but this elegant skyscraper with seven arches stacked at the top and the pyramid-shaped crown clad in stainless steel is not open to the public. Only the lobby with marble floors and wonderful murals can be visited. Back on 5th Avenue, you must visit the venerable New York Public Library, the Stephan A. Schwarzman main branch. Stone lions guard the entrance to this 1911 Beaux-Arts building on the right and left. The wood-paneled reading room with elegant reading tables is a dream. Indulge in some quiet time here, browse through the books and enjoy the venerable atmosphere before continuing along vibrant Fifth Avenue to the Empire State Building, an architectural gem built in 1931.
A few meters further across the street, the Flatiron attracts all eyes with its unusual wedge shape. The building with the iconic shape of an iron is one of the oldest and most striking skyscrapers in the city.
Continue straight ahead to Washington Square. This iconic arch – built on the basis of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris – was erected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the 1st US President George Washington. Near Washington Square Park is a quaint little Italian restaurant with a picturesque interior garden that I highly recommend.
After an excellent lunch, you can either hail a cab or take a leisurely walk back to The Peninsula (approximate walking time: 1.45 minutes). But before you return to your room or suite, pay a visit to the infamous Trump Tower (diagonally across the street). The first four floors are free to enter. The impressive atrium of Italian marble, golden escalators and a 24-meter waterfall is rightly a symbol of luxury real estate. In the late afternoon, treat yourself to a brief relaxation at the fantastic The Peninsula Spa before being picked up by your driver around 7:00 pm. He will take you to the “Winter Wonderland.”
The Brooklyn borough of Dyker Heights is famous for its magnificently decorated houses during the Christmas season. This sea of lights that adorns a typical American home is surrounded by trees glowing red, green and blue. In some front yards, moving penguins with scarves, deer, reindeer and pixies twinkle and sparkle, while the gigantic, handsome Santa Claus waves to passersby in other gardens. Furthermore, there are light animations designed in sync with the music. This extraordinary light spectacle with a colorful glittering world you simply must have experienced live, only then you will understand why the Dyker Heights in the Christmas season is also jokingly called Dyker Lights. The pictures in the slideshow can only partially reflect the true, genuine, American Christmas atmosphere. However, the multi-faceted well-filled day is not over yet.
Around 10:00 pm, a fantastic dinner in one of New York’s most famous restaurants with a view of the Statue of Liberty (The River Café) awaits you. But before that – both from the Brooklyn Bridge and from the Dumbo district (down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) – there is a unique view of the illuminated Manhattan skyline.
Day 2: Program from 8:00 am until late evening departure
After a short night, you should visit One World Trade Center in the morning with a private driver. Maybe you will be luckier and catch a sunny winter day. Unfortunately, during our visit, the foggy, dreary rainy weather skillfully reflected the atmosphere there.
In New York’s financial district, the New York Stock Exchange stands not only for power, but also for misery. October 19, 1987, in fact, made financial history dishonorably as “Black Monday,” and October 25, 1929, the fateful “Black Friday,” also heralded the collapse of the economy. Even today, these two stock market crashes should not let anyone get carried away by speculative bubbles. It won’t do you any good to touch the Charging Bull several times, a bronze statue near Wall Street that symbolizes rising prices and success!
Get back into your private limousine and a few minutes later, you´ll be at the ferry terminal. During the nearly hour-long round trip, the free Staten Island ferry offers you a fantastic view – weather permitting – of both the southern Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty, the symbol of the American way of life. Unfortunately, the fog clouded our view of Lady Liberty! Take a close look at the photo on the right, with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
After this boat ride, the driver skillfully steers you to Chinatown. Mott Street with its exotic smells, Chinese characters, the hustle and bustle in the side streets reminded me of Shanghai. Allow half an hour for this quarter. Little Italy is only a few minutes away by car. Here I recommend you to stroll through Mulberry Street and visit the legendary Christmas store, which is open all year round. After about an hour, get back into your private limousine. The TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal Street) district, a few kilometers away is characterized by old industrial buildings. In the SoHo district (South of Houston Street) – a few minutes away by car – I was fascinated by the ornate, elegant, cast-iron facade sections with their cantilevered ceilings on Greene Street.
Treat yourself to a fantastic late lunch around 2:30 pm at Osteria Piemonte San Carlo Piemonte. Best on Sundays with musical accompaniment!
Afterwards, the private driver will take you to Central Park around 4:00 pm. From Cherry Hill, you should descend the legendary steps to the Bethesda Fountain. There you will find one of the most famous fountains in the world. Because of the angel statue, this fountain is also called the Angel over the Waters and thanks to the good acoustics, street artists often play music under the Bethesda Terrace. Further on, you should walk to the “tragic” Strawberry Fields, the favorite place of John Lennon or get a ride in a kind of rickshaw. Of course, you can also get to know Central Park during a carriage ride or rent a boat at the rowing boat rental. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, had this tiny little part of the park designed and named after a Beatles’ song. Take your time and stand in front of the Imagine Mosaic, a black and white work of art set into the ground, a symbol of peace. After that, you can look up at the Dakota Building, once home to John Lennon and his wife. Today she alone occupies the top floor in this luxurious, traditional New York apartment building. Passing numerous famous bridges, you will reach the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir after a few kilometers. The wife of the 35th U.S. president jogged on this running track around the reservoir during her stays in New York. This park also has a few ice rinks in the winter. However, the Wollman Rink offers the most breathtaking view of the surrounding skyscrapers. The grandiose Central Park, the green lung of Manhattan, has much more to offer, but unfortunately there was not enough time to visit more there.
The Guggenheim Museum welcomes you with bizarre architecture. Inside this spectacular circular building, you will immediately notice the 400-meter-long ramp that spirals up from the first floor to the fourth floor. Another museum worth seeing is the Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is the largest art museum in the United States of America. I was especially interested in Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Far Eastern culture.
To finish today, I recommend a walk around Times Square, the most visited place in the world in the Broadway theater district. It is loud, hectic, lively and international at the “navel of the world”. It is an absolute must for a New York visitor because of its light spectacle! The famous time ball with its more than 30,000 light diodes, which is lowered about 30 meters on a pole 60 seconds every year, rings in the new year.
If your legs still carry you to Herald Square, visit Santa Claus at Macy’s, one of the most famous department stores in the world, before heading back to the airport late in the evening. If you’re too tired, relax at the spa, your room or suite at The Peninsula.
Take a relaxed first-class flight with Lufthansa from Frankfurt. The First-Class Terminal, the premium “waiting room,” offers you everything a luxury world traveler’s heart desires.
Since we booked spontaneously and the return flight to Frankfurt was already fully booked, we flew via Zurich and treated ourselves to the VIP service at Zurich Airport. The pictures speak for a unique service!
Traffic control system:
The traffic in the Big Apple is a single disaster! Most of the time it only goes at walking pace – surrounded and surrounded by the famous yellow cabs. New York’s rush hour now stretches from 8:00 in the morning to 20:00 in the evening. In the borough of Manhattan, you’ll even get to know the infamous gridlock, the so-called Manhattan-style special traffic jam. The city planners with their grid, the grid of streets, in the 19th century are to blame for the current terrible traffic situation. After each block, the next traffic jam awaits the stress-ridden driver, as the wide avenues and narrow cross streets intersect every few feet. At each intersection is written “don’t block the box,” meaning that any mode of transportation may not block an intersection in the event of a back-up. However, this rule is disregarded and so police officers additionally regulate this chaotic traffic situation at every intersection.
The best time to visit New York is in spring (from April to early June) or in autumn (from September to early November). However, those who want to experience the Christmas season in New York must expect some weather caprices.
Have fun in New York,