Considering the fact that I grew up in Queens, attended college and began a career in Manhattan, and my children followed suit in Manhattan as well, I can’t believe 2016 was the first New Year’s Eve that I celebrated in the city.
Bringing in the new year in NYC was admonished by everyone I knew for the expense, crowds and traffic. Another cautionary tale was how hard it is to get a reservation, so I booked a hotel in January 2016. During the year, I bought tickets to a show and made dinner reservations. Unfortunately, my husband had to bow out at the last minute, so my millennial son agreed to be my New Year’s Eve date, and we had a blast!
We met at Grand Central Station and walk to the hotel, dropped our bags, and enjoyed a scrumptious Mexican lunch at Dos Caminos with mimosas and empanadas de platano. While the weary traveler who had been on an early a.m. flight went back to the hotel to gear up for the night, I walked for hours. Adorned in double layers and with the luck of mildly chilly weather, I trekked up to the blockades on Sixth Avenue, then to Rockefeller Center (wishing I had brought my ice skates when I saw the rink was open) around the blockaded Trump Tower (I know, don’t say it) to the GM building where I once occupied an office overlooking Central Park, then back to the east side where the crowds diminished. Did I mention the detour at Godiva Chocolate? I’m human after all.
Having walked off lunch, I was ready for dinner at Montibello Restaurant. In this upscale and spacious setting (unusual for NYC), we indulged in arugula salad covered with the thinnest slices of pecorino cheese, lobster ravioli and grilled salmon. Next stop was the East Village to see Blue Man Group, a unique and startling conjunction of music, lights and comedy, all without the performers saying one word. Oh yes, and there’s paint involved too, which is why you see the audience seated in the orchestra section covered in plastic.
We were seated in the mezzanine, but not free and clear. The blue men jumped into the audience and climbed over seats throughout the theater. It was an amazing experience. In the West Village, we walked around until we found the perfect pub, namely 124 Old Rabbit Club, a dimly-lit cellar with bizarre wall decor. So much fun!
We took a taxi to Union Square, but surprisingly didn’t find much going on, so we jumped on the subway back uptown and finished off the night with drinks at The Benjamin. Although unplanned, we were in the subway when the clock struck midnight, which worked out perfectly, escaping shouts and kisses from drunken party-goers. The train was almost empty. When the iPhone alarm announced the magic moment, we laughed, exchanged new year’s greetings with a stranger sitting across from us and took a selfie in front of the NYC subway map.
If you’re thinking about New Year’s Eve in NYC but deterred by naysayers, let me tell you it was the best ever. Walking among crowds with families, strollers, dogs and thousands of police, I felt secure and energized. Although I did overspend, that was my choice. There were less indulgent options. And even though I am a planner by nature and so much of the night was orchestrated, Manhattan always leaves room for spontaneity, which is usually the best part.
Without formal declaration, I guess you can say my first resolution for 2017 was to stop listening to people. I need to do more of that.