It was Christmas in New York with teens this year! Each year we meet up with Grandma Linda somewhere in the world for Christmas. This time we went to visit her! It’s been nearly 8 years since we’ve been to New York and we knew we were going to be in for a great time!
The plan was to arrive a couple of days prior to Christmas and then head into Manhattan a couple of days after Christmas to explore Manhattan. Following that, our little family of 4 would take a couple of days to explore and give Grandma a break from us. Then, we’d return to bring in the New Year and head back to Spain a couple of days later. Well, it kind of worked out like that.
Where’s our luggage?
We arrived in JFK to a smiling face waiting to greet us, Grandma Linda’s good friend Meltem. She was there to pick us up and transport us to Grandma’s house on Long Island. The only problem was our luggage didn’t arrive!
We flew from Málaga to Madrid and then Madrid to New York. Our flight into Madrid was delayed, thus making our connection time very tight. As we exited our flight we found our next gate and saw the flashing sign showing it was a 24 minute journey to get there and we only had 40 minutes. The run was on!
Luckily for us, the agent in Málaga offered to check our carry-on bags too, so we each just had a backpack. It was a brisk walk to the end of the first terminal and then down several escalators, on to a tram, then up more escalators and of course a mad dash to the very last gate in the terminal. We knew then, if we had a tough time making it on foot, it was likely out luggage wasn’t going to make it. And we were right!
… back at the airport
Okay, back to our arrival. We of course now had to describe and make a lost luggage claim for each bag. About an hour later we were off to Grandma Linda’s house! She had ordered-in Asian food for us, so we were super excited. It was late, so it was a quick catch-up and then off to bed. Without our luggage, there wasn’t much to do to get unpacked. Grandma had new toothbrushes and other goodies for us, so we were set.
The day before Christmas Eve
The next day it was a food shopping day and a little bit of clothes shopping, as we had no luggage! This was December 23rd and the first of a few dinner parties Grandma would be hosting. The evening arrived and so did the guests! It was great catching up with everyone and we were all off in different directions enjoying the conversations, food and the entire night. It was off to bed again, still without luggage.
Christmas Eve 2019
Christmas eve day arrived and still no word on our luggage. We looked online and decided we now needed to purchase a few more items of clothing. It was a shopping morning again, a crazy day to go out shopping for sure. Late in the morning, we received a call that our luggage was on its way! About an hour later it showed up at the door and we were all very excited, especially because we had brought Christmas gifts!
A few hours later the family and friends arrived. Yet another fantastic group of people. Once again Grandma Linda outdid herself with hosting the night with amazing food and ambiance. It was time for one of Grandma Linda’s best Christmas traditions: It was time to decorate gingerbread houses. Lars and Anya did this with their cousins, Wade and Frankie. And why not make it a competition where everyone wins too! We did the white elephant gift exchange and had some good laughs. Again a great night and this time we were off to bed with our new family Christmas jammies!
Christmas Day 2019
We had a lazy morning and opened gifts. It was a fun morning and some of the gifts involved fun things to do in Manhattan! We had a glorious Christmas afternoon with friends, playing games and having good laughs. It was about this time when Alan started to fade. He didn’t feel well that morning and by mid-afternoon, he was down for the count. Unfortunately, he completely missed Christmas dinner, as well as the next few days of activities.
Following Christmas dinner, that set of friends returned home and we were off to other friends home in our Christmas jammies for dessert. It was great fun, as everyone was in jammies, so cute. We had amazing homemade desserts and a quick visit before heading home to rest.
The day after Christmas in New York with teens – Manhattan Bound!
We were up early in the morning and drove into the city for a 2-night stay in uptown Manhattan. Again, this was all minus Alan who pretty much slept for a few days. We arrived at the hotel and the rooms were ready for us! Awesome, it was a quick drop-off of our luggage and into the city we went!
The kids received tickets to see Dear Evan Hansen, so it was off to Broadway. We enjoyed lunch and then the kids went to the show. Grandma Linda and I just hung out next door in the hotel lobby of a Marriott and enjoyed staying warm inside.
The kids loved the show and we were off to Macy’s to meet friends for dinner. We really enjoyed our dinner at Stella 34 Trattoria! What a great night! Then it was off on a little walking tour with our friends to see Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, and the Times Square area.
It was so much fun hearing the bits of trivia from locals who live in the neighborhood. Then it was back to the hotel for some much-needed rest.
A full day in Manhattan!
We were up and out of the hotel fairly early and the kids and I were hankering for a McDonald’s breakfast. This isn’t something we have where we live in Spain. In fact, the local McDonald’s opens around 12:30 pm for breakfast and has muffins and things like that. We wanted pancakes, egg muffins or biscuits! The kids chose what they wanted to do that day and the Guggenheim was top on the list! We had the New York City pass, which you can view here. We wanted to do as much as possible in the few days we had.
Guggenheim New York
We spent a couple of hours at the Guggenheim, each of us at our own pace with a meetup spot and time in the lobby. I opted to take the elevator to the top and swirl my way down, while the kids went from the bottom up. It was nice just soaking up all of the art at my own pace and not having to worry about everyone. I remember finding a doorway, which resembled a keyhole. I entered to find a secret library and way in the distance was Lars reading some books. So nice to see him enjoying the moment.
I spotted Anya from a distance here and there, but we never crossed paths in person. There were several rooms to explore with sculptures and a favorite of mine, Kadinsky art! It was great fun and time to hit our next destination…Hudson Yard.
We made our way to Hudson Yards and explored the new Vessel. Meltem was good enough to reserve the free tickets for us, so we were set to explore the endless stairs and cool structure! It was a great experience.
Comprised of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs, almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings. The vertical climb offers amazing views of the city, the river and more. Read more on the Vessel and free tickets here.
Little Spain New York
Little drizzles started to fall from the skies, so we made our way into the shopping mall next to the Vessel. Grandma wanted to show us Little Spain! It was so cool, a trendy version of Spain eateries. They offered just about everything you could think of and it was jam-packed full of people! We then ventured to another area in the mall a little less crowded for a light snack and a planning session for the rest of the day.
What to do next?
Well, the kids wanted to walk, in the rain, to any thrift shop they could find. Grandma and I weren’t so thrilled with that option. We ended up heading over to see Rockerfeller Center to see the tree and maybe the kids would want to go ice skating. Turns out it was so crowded, the experience wasn’t as anticipated and the kids didn’t want to do the skating after all. Again, thrift shops were high on the list, but none were near. Instead, we made our way up into the sky!
Empire State Building
It was just before dusk and I read that was a good window of time to see the Empire State building. Off we went to see. It appeared there was a long line, but it moved fairly quickly. Once we were inside the building, it reminded me of being on an amusement park ride. You know when you see the line outside and think that is it, then you enter some cool structure and find there is a maze of lines inside too!
Well, at least this maze of lines was pretty much a walk-through, as very few people were in there. Eventually, we made it to the elevator to take us to the top! It was perfect timing with the sunset and to see the city lights turn on. What a spectacular experience! It turns out it was Grandma Linda’s first time up to the top as well, so it was fun doing something new with her.
We were all getting hungry and it was perfect timing for us to meet Meltem for dinner. We started by meeting for drinks at Urbanspace, but it seems there wasn’t much space for us to sit down to eat. It was packed full of people on a Friday happy hour and all of the food stalls looked amazing, but the group decided to move across the street to a quiet fine dining restaurant. It turned out to be a great choice, a spectacular meal and just what we all needed. Then back to the hotel!
Another Manhattan Day
We were all moving a little slower now, after several days of moving at a fast pace, visiting people, sightseeing and so on. We were off to a late start and Grandma Linda was starting to get that little tickle in her throat. She hung out at the hotel while the kids finally got a little thrift shopping in and we also went to the Museum of Modern Art. That was like a city all on its own and a couple of hours was nowhere near enough time to spend there. It was time to leave the city and meet some friends in Queen for an early dinner, so the kids and I headed back to the hotel.
Dinner in the movies
We checked out of the hotel, packed up the car and made our way to Queens. We met up with some really good family friends and enjoyed a meal right out of the movies at Park Side Restaurant. It was fun feeling like we were on a Godfather movie set and so much fun to people watch. This is an Italian landmark, right in the center of Queens! We had the best time and the food and company were amazing. You can’t go wrong with a 3-hour dinner, smiling faces and doggie bags. Back to Long Island, we went and Alan was finally up and around.
Another one bites the dust
The next morning we were all up and around, but Grandma Linda was now down for the count. She was now sick and needed rest, so that’s what she got. Instead of us going away for a couple of days, we all decided we just wanted to stay put and do nothing. That’s exactly what we did for 2 days, nothing! Well, kind of. We did get in a bit of shopping here and there and watch the TV with what seemed to be a million channels and all just hung out and enjoyed a little downtime.
New Years Eve
This was a very relaxing day and we went over to some good friend’s house for a little New Year’s Eve party. So much great food and good conversations. When it was close to midnight, the TV was showing the Time’s Square countdown. We were all given hats, noisemakers, champagne and we were ready for the countdown! The entire bunch of us all counted down, made our noise and toasted to a great new year. It was so much fun and the kids loved it so much. I think we finally departed about 1:30 or 2:00, but the kids wanted to stay. They were having so much fun, but we needed to give our hosts an end to a fabulous night. Away we went.
The final goods
The last day or two we spent making purchases of the things we wanted to bring back to Spain. It was a little shopping here and there and just relaxation time at home. Our final night we went out to a spectacular dinner in Amityville, at Vittorio’s. Then, off to the drive-through light show at Jones Beach “Magic of Lights“. What a magical evening and a great way to end our holiday trip.
See ya later
It’s never a good-bye, but always a see ya later. It was time to return to Spain and give our hugs and thanks to Grandma Linda. She really made this a magical Christmas and New Years Holiday to remember for a lifetime. I am sure I missed things here and there in the summary, but the entire time was full of love, friends, family, good times, great food and pure joy.
Our Gallery of photos!
I will admit, I was taking a break from photo logging our every move and just enjoying our time. Now, I regret that a bit, as I don’t have many photos of what we did. I did enjoy the break though!