Qian Hua’s Staycation

E0 teacher, Qian Hua visited some local sites in NYC, such as Times Square, the M&M store and Grand Central.  She tells us about her experience and shares some of her photos. Enjoy her story and pictures and then take the quiz to test your understanding. Thanks for sharing Qian Hua.

Staycation in New York City

I decided to spend the Christmas and New York break as a staycation and explore local holiday attractions with a close friend.  To my surprise, the Big Apple has a lot of impressive sites for a day trip.  We window shopped at Macy’s and took plenty of photos of the holiday display.  I found out I was a green M&M for the day in the Times Square M&M store; whereas, my friend was a brown one.

My most favorite spot at Times Square was its Museum and Visitor Center.  My friend and I chanced upon this little niche as we were walking in search of a restaurant.  The area was not huge, and you could walk around the whole place in less than five minutes.  As visitors entered the center, they first saw several costumes from Broadway shows on display.  In the back of the center, a movie screen showed images of New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout the history of New York City.  Collages of black and white as well as color images, many of which featured people kissing each other, told the ageless story of festivity and love.  The Times Square Ball that would be used for New Year’s Eve ball drop was housed in the middle of the center.  Visitors could get a glimpse of the ball’s LED lights before the big event Monday night.  The ball’s triangular crystals flashed in a variety of colors every few minutes.  An old security guard patiently helped visitors take pictures and encouraged them to touch the crystals.  The most fun activity for me was to make a wish on the New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall, which located right next to the Times Square Ball.  I took part in a 109-year-old tradition by pinning a small piece of yellow confetti paper among an array of dizzying colors and wishes.  My friend wished for world peace, love, and prosperity.  As for my wishes, they are a secret.  It was so exciting to envision two tons of confetti falling from the sky as the clock struck at midnight in 2013, knowing that my New Year’s wishes would be among them.  I wonder if anyone actually read our wishes.

Another memorable destination of my day trip was the Grand Central Terminal.  Although I have transferred at the Grand Central station many times, I have never given it a second thought until one day I saw an ad on the subway about the Grand Central Terminal Centennial Celebration.  The Grand Central Terminal is turning one hundred on February 1, 2013!  As a result, the terminal got on my list of local landmarks to visit during the holiday.  The main concourse demonstrated the grandeur of this historic transit hub with its lustrous marble floors, staircases, and chandeliers.  The ceiling overhead was a pleasant surprise to my friend and me.  On the dark green background was an astronomical picture using lights to represent the stars of each zodiac.  This ceiling was restored to its original glory in 1998 after twelve years of renovation.  As I stood there among the hasty commuters, I hoped they would all stop for a moment and notice the beauty and complexity of this hundred-year-old building.  Aside from its 68 shops (including 35 dining options) that can quench every commuter’s thirst for delicacy, the Grand Central Terminal also sells New York City transit memorabilia in its New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store.  This little gift shop was a perfect place to bring one’s kids to see a bit of transit history in action.  The New York Transit Museum’s 11th Annual Holiday Train Show was on until February 10, 2013.  This year’s exhibit was a miniature Grand Central complete with the statues on top of the buildings, model Metro-North and New York trains departing the stations.  The details of this miniature model were amazing.  Model trains stopped at red lights and automatically restarted as the lights turned green.  Visitors could see transit workers repairing rail tracks.  Young children in the shop screamed and laughed and lights on cameras kept flashing when model trains passed by.  We simply couldn’t take our eyes off this marvel.

Not everyone has the luxury to travel out of town during the holiday season.  But it is worth your time to discover the attractions close to you to lighten up the holidays.  So, when the next Christmas or New Year comes around, try out what New York has to offer!


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