National Railway Museum

Where is the largest railway museum in the world? Where would a train enthusiast be on cloud nine? The location I am speaking of is the National Railway Museum in York, England.

What’s There

To say this museum is large is an understatement. It has over 6,000 objects on display including signage, model trains, posters, tickets, nameplates, clocks, furniture and other items. Signage catches my eye, so I will include images of some of these items. The museum is massive and I think its best to not spoil it too much.

Seating for one of the locations in the museum that serves food.

There are over 100 locomotives or rolling stock on display with other stock held elsewhere. It has the largest collection of train cars and locomotives held in what formally was the North York Locomotive Depot. On display are Queen Victoria’s railway carriage and other trains such as one used by Queen Elizabeth II. They also have international holdings such as a Japanese Bullet train and a Chinese locomotive. Train displays vary and they rotate displays with other museums.

Front of one of the Royal Trains
Inside of a Post Office sorting carriage
Visiting

They are open daily through out the year including bank holidays with the exception of 24-26 of December. Their hours are from 10-5 (10:00-17:00) most of the year, however, during the summer months they are open 10-6 (10:00-18:00).

If you are a train enthusiast, you could easily spend a blissful day at this museum. If you fancy trains, this museum should be on your bucket list. The historical aspect will appeal to others as well.

Newport Lighthouse

How easy is it to view New England lighthouses? I found it is not as easy to get a peak was you would think.

There are many reasons they are difficult to view. Some are on islands off shore. A few I tried to get near in Massachusetts or Rhode Island are on private land or rich people own the land with the best views of them. You have to get permission from the landowner or try to find a spot to view them from a distance. In one area of Massachusetts the roads were private in these areas of mega mansions. You were allowed to drive on some of those roads, but you were not allowed to park on them or walk in the parks in their neighborhood, which most likely gave you a good view of a certain lighthouse.

This lighthouse is on private land near Newport, Rhode Island and I asked permission to walk to it on an island. They allowed access starting around 7 a.m. That happened to be good timing sky and light wise.

This lighthouse was decorated for Christmas, which made it all the more special.

I am glad they do allow access to this one if you ask during certain hours but I wish more were accessible to view. If you get to Newport, Rhode Island, check this one out, but ask permission first.

Rockport New England Christmas

Most small towns have their Christmas celebrations in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With the exceptions of some church services, there is not much going on Christmas week in most small towns. I drove around Rockport on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and found out they were the exception.

I was surprised many businesses and restaurants were closed December 24th as I was traveling in Massachusetts. From locals that sounds typical. For many stores and restaurants in New York December 24th is important and they stay open at least part of the day. I found that some Rockport businesses were open on December 24th.

Santa arriving in the back of a vintage Chevy truck.

I also discovered that Santa arrives to visit the townspeople by the tree on Christmas morning. He arrives in vintage Chevy pick-up and passes out bags of fruit and candy to everyone. He even poses for a picture. I was told this is a favorite yearly tradition.

People in Rockport welcomed Santa on Christmas.
Santa gave out bags filled with fruit and candy.
Santa’s helper
People and their pets arrived in festive attire.
This dog has his own Instagram-Whatnorthseas. He is a very friendly border collie.

No businesses were open on Christmas as expected, except one, a coffee shop. The owner would not accept payment. Coffee, tea, and a pastry was free that morning while she was open. Many were leaving tips in the jar regardless.

The shop that had free coffee, tea and pastries. I believe this was Helmut’s Strudel.
Most painted building

Rockport is a wonderful little coastal town. It has many shops with a vibrant art community. One fishing stage in the harbor is said to be the most painted building in art classes in the United States.

It was fun walking and driving around town looking at holiday wreaths and decorations. Some used local plants or shells.

Many visit Rockport in summer. It is also a nice destination in winter, especially during Christmas.

French Christmas Market in NYC

New York City has several Holiday/ Christmas Markets that are currently running, but did you know this year there is one straight from France? It’s the Christmas Market of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse. This was the first year this market was held in the city.

Each stall was in a little chalet style hut.

This market was sponsored by the cities of Strasbourg, Colmar, and Mulhouse. The Alsatian tourist board set up the market that included 30 chalets brought over from the French region of Alsace. The city of Strasbourg actually holds the oldest Christmas market in France.

Location

This market was located in Bowling Green Park in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan at Broadway and Whitehall Streets.

What Was Available

This market had a variety of foods and crafts from the Alsatian region of France. Unfortunately today was the last day. It ran from December 5-22nd. Drinks included mulled wine and other alcoholic drinks such as champagne. Other food items included jams, chocolates, pastries, chestnuts, soup, and tarte flambé among other things.

Some of the handcrafted items for sale. Other craft items included ornaments and pottery.
Jams- some of which I was told include the ingredients commonly found in fruit cakes.

Tarte flambé is an iconic Alsatian dish. It had a very thin crust with a mixture of cream and soft, smooth cheese. You could choose to have onions and bacon on it or cinnamon apples. This was wood fire grilled in an outdoor oven. Everyone who bought it seemed to be very pleased with this offering. This booth had a long line.

Tarte flambé with cinnamon and apples.

Santa was available in a tent. Most of the people I saw posing with him were adults. Most of the items in the market were geared towards adults, however, I did see some families with children who seemed to be able to go outside the box on food choices.

Posing with a French Santa , Father Christmas or Papa Noel

They did have a seating area near where the alcoholic drinks were served with tables.

Payment

This market only accepted credit cards. That was a disappointment for me as I like to pay cash. I feel others need to be aware of that.

This market was a nice way to have access to another culture and its offerings. It was a good way to experience a European Christmas market on a small scale. Let’s hope this one returns or another region from Europe brings in their own products and experiences next year. For those of us who have always wanted to experience the European Christmas markets, but are unable to go, this was a nice introduction.

People of New York- Holiday Spirit

The residents of New York get the reputation of being rude. Are they all Grinches at Christmas time? I saw plenty of locals in the holiday spirit.

This couple sells Christmas trees on 8th Avenue. They are from London, England, but now call New York home.
This is part of their stand on 8th Avenue.
This is the doorman at the Playwright Tavern- a pub on 49th Street. They have a great vegetable curry. He is a very friendly chap. I had a nice conversation with him and plan to return. Incidentally this pub has four TVs playing different games. If you are visiting NY and want to catch your game, this may be the right spot.
This fellow is an actor on a tour bus. The tour is called The Ride. It is an interactive tour.
This gentlemen I caught near Rockefeller Center. He was full of holiday cheer. He has lived in Manhattan most of his life.

Sometimes New Yorkers get a bad wrap. Manhattan is one of the best places to get some holiday spirit and the locals contribute to that.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Did you know there were holiday markets outside Europe? Where can you find holiday markets in New York City? One location is at the southwest corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle.

Hours

Monday- Saturday 10-8 Sunday 10-7

Items

More than 100 vendors sell hand crafted items and specialty foods. Some items are environmentally friendly. There is a food court area with vendors and tables to sit at. In other areas vendors sell hot drinks and other food items as well.

Clocks were made of various vintage books.
Chocolate covered soft meringues- Italian
Lanterns of many colors
Meditating Santa

If you are interested in buying a unique handmade item, head over to Columbus Circle- 59th Street and Central Park West by December 24th. You may be surprised what catches your eye.

Broadway Christmas

Are you in the holiday spirit? Do you want to know where to look for holiday or winter sites in New York City? They are easy to find in the tourist areas such as Broadway.

This year they have three snow globes representing Broadway shows on Broadway. I could only get two of them without people in front.

The Lion King

Life is like a snow globe. Its at its prettiest when it has been turned upside down.- Author unknown

The snow globes of Broadway are just one of the many Christmas/winter sites to view in New York.