Radio City New York

Christmas in New York

New York Central ParkI was lucky enough to spend Christmas in one of the most festive cities in the world. New York.

The setting of one of my favorite Christmas tunes (who doesn’t love Fairytale of New York?!), favorite Christmas film (hello Miracle on 34th Street) and dressed up in more lights and sparkle than you can imagine, New York is guaranteed to reinvigorate your festive spirit.

But, where to start? As a New York newbie, I hit up the sites everyone wants to tick of their New York wish list.

Ice-Skating in Central Park

Central Park Ice Skating New York

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You simply can’t get more Christmassy than this. Surrounded by the dazzling heights of New York’s most fabulous buildings, gliding around this ice-rink listening to xmas tunes can be a bit surreal.

We’ve all seen it in the movies so being there for real, on Christmas day is something else. Head down at night to admire the twinkling lights and wrap up against the frosty winter chill.

More information here.

American Girl Place

American Girl Place New York

This place is crazy at any time of year, but Christmas is mental. Parents rush around manically trying to secure one of the ludicrously priced creepy dolls – many made in their child’s own image. To top off the creep factor, there is also a doll hair salon, doll hospital and doll changing rooms. So weird and oh so U-S-A.

Find out more here.

Christmas Dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Ellens Startdust Diner

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This place left me speechless. One of New York’s first 1950s themed restaurants, this place is no shrinking violet. Adding to the assault of neon regalia is the singing waiting staff. Yes you heard right, SINGING. I love anything musical and being serenaded over my Christmas burger was my idea of heaven.

Every now and again the music will start and one of the waiters will pounce onto a table or roam around the diners, crooning and warbling to their heart’s content.

Everyone who works here has moved to the ‘Big Apple’, with dreams of stardom, Ellen’s gives them a place to hone their talents and money to fund theatre training and acting classes.

Check it out here.

The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall

Radio City New York

Another stop on the Christmas Day itinerary was a visit to the Radio City Music Hall to watch the world-famous Rockettes in action. Every year the Radio City Christmas Spectacular smacks its audience round the face with Christmas cheer. The Rockettes are American’s most iconic dance troupe and attract over 2 million viewers to the show every year. You simply can’t miss out.

Buy tickets here.

A Trip up the Rockefeller Centre

Empire State Building New York

After checking out Rockefeller’s iconic Christmas tree, head to the ‘Top of the Rock’ for the best views in New York. Skip out on heading up the Empire State, from the Rockefeller you can see the Empire State in all its glory. Just make sure you have a good head for heights…

Learn more here.

Shopping!

Barneys New York

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New York is rightly famous for its shopping. For British visitors, make the most of the bargains and pick up some perfect Christmas presents. For the best bargains head to Century 21, close to Ground Zero.

Pretend you’re rich and swan around the iconic stores like Tiffany’s, Macy’s and Barney’s. They all put on amazing Christmas displays with festive windows to die for!

Have you been to New York for Christmas? What did you get up to? Do you have any exciting Christmas plans this year? Let me know via social media or in the comments below. 

Santa Monica Lifeguards

The 7 Interesting Characters of the 720 Bus…

Santa Monica Lifeguard

When I’m travelling I always make sure I use the local public transport, it’s usually the cheapest and most authentic way of getting around, showing you the bits of town you’d probably otherwise miss (sometimes this isn’t necessarily a good thing…) It’s generally always the way the locals get from A to B and therefore you should follow suit!

However, this isn’t quite the case in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is a city famed for its traffic, highways and the fact that pretty much EVERYONE owns a car. Public transport is used solely by those who can’t afford to run a car, not like London where it is used by most as the easiest way to hop around. As an eighteen year old backpacker with five days to kill in the city I was in no position to tackle car hire let alone the notorious freeways. This meant that I had to rely on public transport to get me any further than Hollywood Boulevard, resulting in me having to catch two buses on a day trip to Santa Monica. It also meant getting the bus under the cover of darkness in a city which doesn’t have the best after-hours safety record…

So after an hour or so delay in the middle of one of the less desirable suburbs of LA, I boarded the 720 bus to Hollywood Boulevard, a 45 minute or so journey pinpointed by some of the most interesting and crazy characters I’ve ever came into contact with. Here are my 7 favorites:

1- The Tour Guide: This elderly lady shouted out the name of every stop along the route, listing the local points of interest as well as giving directions to any place she heard mentioned by other passengers. Quite helpful actually.

2- The Poet: Obviously everyone in LA is trying to make it ‘big in the business’, this guy was no exception. He sat reading snippets of his poetry to anyone who would listen and nattering about how many pieces he had had published (‘oh but I’m not bragging!’) Yeah… Not quite a Ginsberg yet…

3- The Couple: There was a massive argument between a couple about who had/hadn’t paid the bill that month. (‘Ya’ll so damn tight Rhonda!’) Apparently Rhonda had to bail her brother out of jail that week so what did he expect!

4- The Rehab Guy: A guy sitting at the back of the bus was treating us all to a pros and cons conversation with his mother about sending his brother to rehab. (‘Expensive though isn’t it?’)

5- The Eccentric: A small older lady wearing a very revealing top which slipped around as she sporadically jumped up and down and screamed for a bit before getting settled.

6- The Stoners: A young skater couple sat silently at the back of the bus, the girl occasionally cocked her head and smiled Exorcist style and the boy constantly bit his nails and stared intently at everyone boarding the bus.

7- The Philosopher: A very high, very drunk and very smelly young man sat having a conversation with a sympathetic older gentleman who sat next to him. After an intense discussion about the benefits of legalising drugs the older guy proceeded to give him a fistful of money before gravitating to a group of guys sat near the front who slipped him a packet of small white pills.

So, as you can tell, Los Angeles public transport was definitely an experience and one which is still left pretty unrivaled by the other bus journeys I’ve taken. If you are travelling alone then I would definitely take care, especially when travelling on the buses in the dark but during the day the buses are definitely the cheapest way to get out of town. I paid $1.50 for unlimited travel and it doesn’t come better than that. It also gave me some of the best stories from my trip and allowed me to see a side of LA outside of all the glamour, mansions and theme parks. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.