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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Price

Big Apple Holiday

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

Happy New Year to all our blog readers and followers!! Today's blog brings us to "The Big Apple", an extraordinary city to visit especially around the holiday's. So much history, art, style, ambiance and yes.......HORN HONKING!! Christmas week 2021 brought Bitchin Outdoors Daddy Edition/ Daddy Outdoors to Manhattan, New York for a week of wondering this spectacular island of skyscrapers, holiday décor galore and dining at some of the most authentic and historic establishments on the East Coast. This trip marked our third visit to Manhattan. While we did not visit the most popular tourist attractions, we took this visit in stride, 40 plus miles on foot stride that is, and found ourselves revisiting some favorite landmarks and trying a couple new activities.

Our adventure started with an early morning departure on board Delta One, Delta Airlines first class travel accommodation. Prior to our race across the friendly skies, we were privileged to spend our pre flight time in the lavishly appointed Sky Club complete with a gingerbread house. We nestled into our roomy seats and ascended with hopes of catching a glimpse of that jolly old guy and his trusty reindeer.

We arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport just in time for the LOOOONNG baggage claim wait and Monday commute into the city. Our first five nights were spent at The Lexington, a part of town we had not lodged at during our previous visits. We were greeted by an authentic New York doorman complete with top hat who grabbed our bags and pointed us to the lobby check in. With in five minutes we had our keys and an invite to help ourselves to complimentary bottled water during our stay. Nice touch!! We made our way through the beautifully decorated lobby and whisked up to our corner room on the 24th floor. If you have ever stayed in a NY hotel, you know that most average rooms are the size of a cracker box where you find yourself bumping into your spouse on the way to the bathroom the size of a postage stamp. This room however, was adequately spacious.

Time to see what's for dinner!! We set out walking towards Time Square and popped into Virgil's Real Barbecue. I will start by saying that it's very hard to please the pallets of a competition BBQ team like ourselves. We always give any BBQ establishment a fair chance but unfortunately, Virgil's did not quite hit the marks. The pulled pork and couple burnt ends were the only items on our shared plate worthy of a mention. On our journey back to the hotel, a glimpse of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Radio City Music Hall completed our day.

Grand Central Station was just a hop, skip and jump from our hotel, so we headed there to grab our subway MetroCard for the week. I must say, being able to spend the week NOT DRIVING is always a plus. We left the terminal and headed a few short blocks toward Bryant Park where every holiday season small businesses from around the area set up shop at the Bryant Park Holiday Market and Bank of America Winter Village which offered free admission ice skating. As we started wondering back to our hotel, what did we see come into view right on 5th Ave?!?!? The ORVIS retail store, two stories filled with fishing gear galore for my fly fishing enthusiast.

Jason and I love to partake in guided tours whenever we visit cities that boast extensive historic value. New York is packed with it so we booked an evening food tour, Retired NYPD Guided Gangster, Crime and Food Walk operated by and led by a retired New York police officer. This tour not only fed us but took us on a journey back in time to the mafia underworld. We stopped at landmarks and locations dating back to the escapades of Lucky Luciano and Crazy Joe Gallo. We met our tour guide along with nine other travelers at John's on 12th, an East Village establishment since 1908. Here, we were served spaghetti and a huge meatball.

Second stop found us standing outside Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta on 11th Street. While we were not able to go inside this iconic spot since 1908, due to COVID limitations, our guide brought each of us the biggest ball of mozzarella I have ever seen.

Onward to our third stop down Mulberry Street, a staple of "Little Italy", Benito One. If you are a Sopranos fan, this street is where the San Gennaro Feast takes place. While we felt bad that the tour operator had us sitting practically on top of already seated dining guests, our sampling of Eggplant Parmesan and meatball was delectable.

A food tour, an Italian one at that, would not be complete without ending it on a sweet note!! I bet you can guess what our dessert was?? YUP!! Yummy cannoli!! I neglected to get a shot of the best cannoli I have had but just imagine a light mint cream wrapped in a chocolate covered cannoli shell. Jason chose the original flavor cannoli from La Bella Ferrara Bakery, another Mulberry St gem since 1892. After devouring our sweet treats, our guide made sure we made it to the right subway train heading uptown so we could warm up and end our evening.

If you know Jason, your know he LOVES a good sandwich!! A tour guide on our very first trip to New York back in 2017 brought us to a classic shop in the Bronx, Joe's Italian Deli where we visit each time we are in NY, until this trip. We hopped on the train from Grand Central and walked the several blocks from Fordham station to our favorite deli only to find a sign on the door. Because it was Christmas week, all the locals would be gathering all their holiday meal staples, add COVID to the mix, we found small businesses limiting capacity and Joe's not serving sandwiches or hot food during this busy time for them. We were disappointed but understood. We wondered down Arthur Ave. to the next best thing in NY and picked up a few slices from Full Moon Pizza.

We headed back to Manhattan and had to visit Macy's on 34th Street. The décor was of course over the top and the original 1902 wooden escalator always amazes me.

We walked what seemed like 100 blocks, and arrived for our dinner reservation at Old Homestead for a steak dinner. Absolutely loved the ambiance of this century old eatery. We ended this evening with a nice cigar and drinks at Club Macanudo.

After sleeping in on day four, we found lunch at yet another New York relic, Sarge's Delicatessen Restaurant, serving the tastiest pastrami since 1964. Alongside our piled high sandwich we enjoyed the onion ring tower.

With not much on our schedule, we decided to checkout a free exhibit we had heard about at the New York Public Library, Treasures. Here, we were given the opportunity to view some of our histories greatest and oldest marks in time like the original lyrics to Bob Dylan's "The Changing of the Guard" or the First edition of our National Anthem "The Star Spangled Banner". Some other significant documents on display were Thomas Jefferson's hand written copy of the Declaration of Independence and Charles Dickens copy of "A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost story of Christmas" from 1849.

Along our path back to the hotel, we stopped to view the Saks 5th Avenue Holiday light display (see video)

While we didn't actually step foot onto Liberty Island, we thought we would just pay Lady Liberty a visit from afar, a symbol of freedom and democracy. Not far from Battery Park where we viewed the statue, was the Wall Street Charging Bull, seen as a symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity.

I think we should have coined our trip "the sandwich tour" because guess what our stop for lunch this day was?!?!? Yes, another pretty famous sandwich shop and one that we viewed as a Greenwich Village treasure by those that are local, Faicco's Italian Specialty Shop. We were greeted by the owner and prepared a phenomenal sandwich stuffed with loads of Italian meats and loaded with peppers!!

On Christmas Day, we deserted out digs at The Lexington and moved to a suite at JW Marriot Essex House on Central Park South. Check out the video of the Manhattan Suite on the 38th floor.

We had a partial view of the park and a room three times the size of our initial hotel room.

It was a bit wet outside to start, so while we waited for our room to be ready, we grabbed some breakfast at Carnegie Diner & Café and took a short stroll through Central Park passing by the ice skaters on a chilly Christmas morning.

To celebrate the Holiday, later that evening, we hopped in an UBER and rode over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn to have dinner at one our our all time favorite steakhouses on the East Coast, Peter Luger Steak House. This American classic and Michelin Star recipient never disappoints with their hand selected USDA prime cuts served by their efficient staff that has been there for years. After a yummy Old Fashioned and scrumptious wedge salad topped with their famous extra thick cut bacon, our steak for two arrived with a little sizzling song and dance!! (clip blow)


The final day of our Big Apple Holiday was spent watching the New York Jets vs. Jacksonville Jaguars throw around the pig skin at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, just one subway and two train rides from our Central Park lodging. While we are 49er Faithfull's, and yes, we wore our faithful red, and yes, I was asked if I was aware of what game I was attending from the seat usher, we cheered the Jets to victory with a final score of 26-21 over the Jaguars. It was interesting to be in another stadium and see the fans do their thing!!

Even though it wasn't cold enough for a white Christmas in NY, we had a fabulous time and hope you get the chance to visit some of these iconic and historic East Coast spots.

Until our next big adventure....KEEP IT REEL BITCHIN!!


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Hi, thanks for dropping by!

Hope you enjoy the pictures and blogs as I bring you my many adventures of the outdoors and beyond.  Along with my wife and close friends from Bitchin' Outdoors, we are always looking for the next great adventure from a trip to a new city or destination to the best fishing hole or stream.  

Sit back and relax as I bring our travels to life and hopefully spark your desire to get out and be bitchin!!

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