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Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Day in New York City

If you had to pick the perfect day and the perfect way to get stuck somewhere, this would have to be it. This morning Ashley and I woke up at around 7:00am and as I checked my email on my Blackberry – I had a notification from United’s EasyUpdate.

Uh, oh – our flight home today at 5:00pm is cancelled. But, we have already been rebooked on a flight home Christmas day at 9:50am. Initially, both Ashley and I are a little shocked that we will not be getting home until late on Christmas day – how will we make it up to my parents in Bakersfield? Furthermore, what about the hotel room – was the Hilton Times Square booked full tonight – what would we do?

Ice Skating and the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center on New Year's Evein NYC

Over the next half an hour, our worries are no more. With one call to United, I was able to move our flight from 9:50am to 7:00am in Newark, NJ instead of the La Guardia airport. Luckily, there was a direct flight that landed in Los Angeles before 11:00am rather than the late arrival through Dulles that we would have had us in much later. Better yet, looks like we’ll be at my parents by 2:00pm, early enough to catch the Los Angeles Lakers game and enjoy a great Christmas dinner.

Then, we found that our hotel still had room for the evening. A quick call to the Hilton HHonors folks and 40,000 points later – we added another free night to our stay. Whew, that was pretty easy.

United’s EasyUpdate really saved our day, otherwise we may have been oblivious throughout the day and showed up at La Guardia at 4:00pm – only to find out we were not only stranded, but check out of our hotel. What a relieft

Now on to the day...

The weather on Christmas Eve day was by far the best that we had experienced thus far in New York City. As we looked outside it was crisp – in the low 40’s, but clear as a bell. We were really looking forward to enjoying a great day now that our plans had been changed.

Our first event for the day was ice skating at Rockefeller Center – we had eyed the ice skating rink all week and today was the day for us to do some ice skating. After a quick wait, we had an absolutely wonderful time in this “must do” attraction in New York City. See my detailed post on the experience by clicking here.

Next up for us after the long skate session was lunch. We quickly debated a couple of options for lunch, namely the CafĂ© at the Rockefeller Ice Rink and Carmine’s Italian food before deciding on Carmine’s, just a couple block away.

Carmine’s was a good place to eat, although it started off a little rough. First our waitress was pretty brash before bring out a clearly cracked glass for the Pellegrino sparkling water. She was not too much help in advising us on what to order, either. The lunch menu was out given it was the holiday of Christmas Eve Day, so we went with the Chicken Parmigana and the Garlic and Oil pasta. It was excellent, but way too much food. In hindsight, you can order a side of pasta with the Chicken Parmigana for only an extra $10 and that would have been the right move.

So, we ate more than we should and could not even consider desert.

After Carmine’s it was off to Central Park to explore a little more and take some photos with the great sunshine in the weather we were experiencing. We spent the better part of a couple of hours exploring and taking photos with my Canon Powershot G7 with a mini-tripod. Here are a couple of the pictures we took...

Central Park on Christmas Eve Day

Central Park Boathouse on Christmas Even Day in Central Park, New York City
After finishing up in Central Park, it was getting towards sunset. On our previous visit to New York we went to the top of the Empire State Building. Tonight our choice was to repeat that for sunset (a la Sleepless in Seattle) or check out the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Electing for a new experience, we headed to Rockefeller Center and up to the Top of the Rock.

Ken and Ashley at the Top of Rock - Rockefeller Center at Sunset with a view towards Central Park
When we previously went to the Empire State Building, the weather was not the best. However, today from the Top of the Rock, as sunset approached – the view was amazing. Snapping tons of photos, below is one of the panoramic pictures that Canon’s Photo Stitch put together – a great view!

Panoramic View from the Top of Rock at Sunset Christmas Eve Day - Rockefeller Center
After the Top of the Rock, we headed back to our hotel to relax a bit before heading out to a movie. All the shows on Broadway went dark for Christmas Eve, so we ended up going to a movie instead. We saw National Treasure – Book of Secrets, which was at least as good as the first movie. After that, we headed back to the hotel and ordered room service to end what was close to a perfect day in New York City.

Completely unexpected.