On my way to Cayman Islands from my visit in the province of Québec, it was inevitable that I stop in New York, at least for a quick glance at this famous ”City That Never Sleeps.”
Like many of us, I always dreamt of walking the streets of the Big City. Flights in and out of New York are so affordable and it was just a few hours and a few bucks to get me in the Big Apple. I met up with my friend Lisa, with whom I volunteered with a year ago in Morocco. She flew from Michigan, also a very short and affordable flight. There was many AirbNb options, but the best deal I found for our short stay was at the Savoy Hotel, located only a few footsteps from Times Squares. We shared a small room double occupancy in the heart of the action. For New York, it seemed like a pretty sweet deal (and cheaper than most AirbNb and YMCA). Hotel in Times Square: Park Savoy Hotel: $120/night= $60/night/pp DAY 1 I met Lisa at the airport. We took a shuttle that drove us through the cluttered roads, all the way to the doors of our hotel. We quickly unpacked and walked to Times Square. Transportation from JFK to Manhattan: Super Shuttle Roundtrip Ticket= $40/pp The illuminating signs took over dawn. The square was hustling, as expected, and we quickly learnt how to walk firmly through the people maze. No wonder why they call it the Crossroads of the World, with some 360,000 people walking through each day. As we were on the lookout for a nice place to eat, a policeman allowed himself to suggest us the way to Restaurant Row. “There you’ll find 16 privately-owned restaurants, for every taste, ” he said. “It is only a couple of blocks this way.”We thanked him for his genuine help and followed his directions. Located on West 46th, between 8th and 9th Ave in the Theatre District of Manhattan, and only a few minutes walking distance from Times Square, Restaurant Row is a one block stretch that offers cuisines from all around the world. Here you can sample foods from celebrity chefs and glimpse at Broadway Stars enjoying their favourite meals. Our ears were attracted by music notes flowing through the bustle. At the entrance of an illuminated door, a man in a black tuxedo hosted our way inside. Past a bar, we entered a room where a large band played in the back. He sat us at the best table. Jazz, food and wine. I’m the happiest girl!
At the entr’acte, they invited patrons to hit the dance floor for some swing lessons. I instantly regretted I wore my hunter gum boots. We were definitely the youngest ”couple” in the place, but the energy was young and frivoulous and everyone tapped their feet, head wobbling, hips twisting on the sounds of jazz music. Dinner in Manhattan: Swing 46 (appetizer, 2 meals, 1 bottle of wine, 1 show)= $60/pp. On our walk back to Times Square, we stopped and played paparrazi at the exit of Richard Rogers Theatre, waiting on actress Idina Menzal (?) to walk the red carpet back to her limousine. We finished our first night at a pub, for a couple. This is when our unplanned trip got planned by the bartender.
Drinks in Times Square: Rosie O’Grady’s= $20/each DAY 2 It’s a chilly day of October, but the sun arches across the blue sky, making it the ideal day to explore Manhattan. After a quick breakfast in Times Square, we took the subway, line 2, and got off on Fulton St. We walked through the World Trade Center, encounting the sad truths of 9/11.
Breakfast in Times Square:(can’t remember the place, wasn’t worth it)=$15/pp Get around:MTA Subway Train Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard= $5/pp It wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without having a glimpse at the Statue of Liberty. We trotted a few blocks and reached the water. We jumped aboard a vessel and cruised along Manhattan, marveling at world-famous landmarks such as the Brooklyn bridge, the Empire State Building, Governors Island, and of course, the Statue of Liberty.
Cruise Manhattan: NY WaterTaxi Cruise= $30/pp Once we jumped off the boat, and with the help of two friendly policemen, we walked towards the district of Chinatown, right on time for happy hour.
Happy Hour in Chinatown: Asia Roma (appies, 3 drinks each)= $20/pp Since Little Italy was just around the corner, we decided to go there for dinner.
Dinner in Little Italy: Da Gennaro (appies, 2 homemade pasta meals, 1 bottle of wine, 2 espresso martinis)= $70/pp My friend DJ from Cayman now manages a lounge in lower Manhattan. We walked a few blocks and arrived at the Grey Lady where we patronized the bar and socialized with New Yorkers. We continued the night at the Avenue Club where we danced until 4am. And since we haven’t walked enough, we ventured through Times Square in the early hours of the AM, assisting a morning TV show broadcasting live at the red steps of TKTS booth. Drinks and night out with friends= priceless (it also helps when you have friends that work in the industry). DAY 3 I was sore. My whole lower body was so sore. But it was Halloween day and we needed to get back outside. We grabbed a tea and walked to Central Park, just steps away from our hotel.
We walked the entire park, through the magical colours of fall. Sometimes a zombie would limp on the path, moaning death and spitting blood.
Walk in the park= free Snacks: Tea= $2 /Pretzel= $2 As we were too exhausted from the night before, we skipped our plans for a Halloween ball party. We chose to take the subway back to lower Manhattan and experience the haunted house everyone talked about. We ate cheap but delicious food in Chinatown, and waited in line for our haunted experience. Scary. Spooky. Screamy. I hope this was the first and last time I get lock in a dark closet with a corpulent dead man, then get my hair pulled by 2 mentally-challenged girls and have a black sac over my head, screaming for my dear life. Dinner in Chinatown: Pho Vietnam= $15/pp Haunted House: Nightmare Haunted House= $30/pp We took the subway back to Times Square, along with ninjas, assassins and zombie princesses. We only had a few hours sleep until our shuttle picked us up from our hotel, back to the airport. It was a very short stay, yet we managed to explore some of Manhattan’s best spots, without suffering our wallet (only our feet and legs). CONCLUSION During my 3 night stay in New York City, I spent approximately $550, excluding airfares. I stayed in a hotel in Times Square, and at the entrance of Central Park. Sometimes I ate cheap, but I did splurge on 2 nice meals (it’s New York after all). I watched a jazz show, encountered a celebrity and watched a live morning TV show. I explored Manhattan, mostly by foot, and all Central Park for free. I saw some of the world-famous landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty. I drank at great establishments, and danced the night away at a famous club. I didn’t do any shopping, but I am very satisfied with all I did, and happy with the money I spent. Despite being known as one of the most expensive cities in the world, I believe anyone can visit New York on a budget, without sacrificing enjoyment. I know I did.