We met Caroline after breakfast & headed for Grand Central Station. We caught a train to Brooklyn and walked back into Manhattan across the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. It is about 2.5kms and gives a great view of Manhattan. It was pretty cold up there. A sign halfway along said it was -7 degrees Celsius. It felt like it! We could see the Manhattan Bridge on one side of us & the Statue of Liberty on the other. We were lucky to have sun & a blue sky.
The people of Manhattan wouldn't use the bridge when it first opened as there was a rumour it wasn't safe & they thought it would collapse. The city had to hire 22 elephants from a circus and walk them back & forward over it until the residents were convinced it was safe.
Once back in Manhattan we had lunch & headed down to Bryant Park. There are lots of little Christmas market stalls set up here as well as an ice skating rink. It was pretty busy down there but worth a look. We had a ride on the carousel and saw the restaurant we are booked into for dinner on Christmas Eve.
We had hoped to find a stall selling mulled wine and when we couldn't, we wandered down to Times Square & found a pub to have a drink. We each chose a different cocktail & they must have been the 3 worst cocktails ever invented. We didn't stay for a second.
We caught the train back to our hotel to pick up the tickets for our holiday lights tour. We had just enough time to have a complimentary glass of wine on level 2 before getting the train back to Times Square to meet the bus for our tour. The tour took us to Brooklyn. The first stop was Bay Ridge. This was an area full of beautiful mansions decorated for Christmas. Our guide told us most of the home owners don't do the decorations themselves. They hire professional Christmas decoration companies. One lady pays $20k to have her house decorated. Quite obscene considering they are only up for 6 weeks. The lights were beautiful - very tasteful with lights in the trees and huge wreaths on the doors or windows.
Next stop was Dyker Heights. This is the predominantly Italian area and the decorations were a lot tackier but very colourful. We had more time to wander around this neighbourhood. Some houses even had people dressed up as characters in their yard. We saw an Elmo, reindeer and snowman. The house with Elmo, asks for money to help with the electricity bill. If you donate, you get a candy cane. There were lots of inflatables in this area - not all of them Christmas related. My favourite house had 2 enormous toy soldiers against the columns at the front door, 2 carousels in the front yard and more smaller toy soldiers on a rotating platform.
The last stop was down by the water where we had great views of the Manhattan skyline & financial district. The Brooklyn Ice Cream company store was there & while some people from our tour got ice cream, we got hot chocolates to warm our frozen fingers. Someone needs to invent gloves that let you still use a camera!
Once back in Manhattan, we got off the bus near Rockefeller Square. We got our first view of the Christmas tree lit up. It look beautiful. But the most spectacular sight was the ligh show on the front of Saks Fifth Avenue. We had seen the decorations in the windows but the lights certain,t drew a crowd. Music played - I can't think what it is called but it is a famous classical piece played at Christmas - and the wall lit up with thousands of LED lights in the shape of a cathedral. Just beautiful.
Snow is forecast for tomorrow. There were winter weather warnings on road signs & we saw a snow plow on the road. Fingers crossed we wake up to snow!!!