Holidays in NYC

New York City comes alive, even more than usual, during the holidays. Throngs of shoppers flow like a river down 5th Avenue. Revelry is in the air and tourists are on the ice (rinks, that is). Our family always enjoys going in during the holidays, so I thought I’d share some of our favorite things, for your next holiday trip to Gotham!
While there are many areas of NYC that are hip, for the holidays, I love the traditions you’ll find in Midtown and the Upper East Side.
The perfect place to visit with children, after you’ve braved the crowds at F.A.O. Schwarz, is Bemelman’s Bar at The Carlyle. The enchanting murals by Madeline author, Ludwig Bemelman, will charm adults and children alike.
I always find the UNICEF Snowflake, hung above the intersection of 57th St. and 5th Avenue simply magical. Not to be missed.
Earlier in the day, I would make a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where you can see current exhibits and the annual Neapolitan Creche, which dates back to the early 18th century. The creche will be in place by Nov 26th.
After you’ve gotten a little culture, stroll down 5th Avenue, along Central Park and check out the holiday windows at the famed Bergdorf Goodman. Even if you feel their merchandise is a little pricey for you, the inspiration is free and that is why I believe in “window shopping”! No one, and I mean no one, does it better than Bergies! The windows will be unveiled on Nov 19th.
While you’re there, it is worth your time to take the elevator up to the 7th floor, which is full of holiday decor. BG, the restaurant on this floor is also worth a stop for lunch. Make a reservation and ask if you can be seated in the Kelly Wearstler chairs by the window.
When I lived and worked in the city (before I had children), my husband and I loved having drinks at the King Cole Bar  at the St. Regis Hotel. The bar is a total throwback and recently refurbished.  The perfect place to sip champagne after an afternoon of shopping.
We always have to walk down to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree….it is enormous and a beacon of joy to all who see it. 
The ice rink is tiny….but it’s really fun to skate under this iconic Christmas tree. We also love Wollman Rink in Central Park. The ice rink at Bryant Park is free and if you have dinner at The Standard (another amazing spot), you can take a spin on their private ice rink. Cocoa anyone?
I think everyone should experience NYC during the holidays, if just once. Pack your patience as well as your hat, gloves and comfortable shoes and you’ll be set for a memorable trip!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Travel to Great Britain: Blenheim, Oxford & Windsor

Of all the things we did on our trip to London, one of the most satisfying was a day trip out to the Cotswolds to see Blenheim Palace, Oxford and then Windsor Castle. We could not have done all 3 in one day without an excellent guide. He was the same one who toured us through London, making sure that we got a front row view of the changing of the guards. I’ll share his contact info at the end of the post.

In the meantime, enjoy the views. First up, Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Winston Churchill), which was fun for us because our King Charles Cavalier, Molly, is a “Blenheim”. The gardens and grounds are spectacular and were created by the renown landscape designer, “Capability” Brown.

I am lucky to have at least one son who loves having his picture taken. My 8 year old, Ty.
Next up was the famed town with over 30 colleges that comprise Oxford. The town is quaint and full of literary nuances….Lewis Carroll (the pen name for Charles Dodgson) was inspired by the daughter of Dean Liddell, of Christ Church, Oxford. Her name was Alice and you know the story as, Alice in Wonderland. We also toured the Great Hall, which is still used for dining by students…and was replicated as the dining hall at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. 

Finally, we were off to Windsor, which feels so appropriate given that the newest Windsor is set to arrive in just a few weeks. The Royal Standard was flying, which means that the Queen was there. She grew up at the castle and was known as Lilibet by her grandfather, King George V. We were told it is here that she enjoys being the most and that she sees Buckingham Palace as her “work residence”.

If you are headed to London, I definitely recommend this day trip. And, for those of you who would like the name of my guide and how to reach him, here you go! He was FANTASTIC!!

Bryan Gorin
bryan.gorin@btinternet.com
www.bluebadgetaxitours.com
0208 302 2348


Now, I’m already thinking about a taking another family trip in 2014…to Florence and Rome. Anyone have any suggestions?