New York City was our first visit to the United States just 4 years ago when Paul took me as a lovely birthday gift one freezing cold February. What is staggering to me is that in the 4 years since we’ve spent 5 months travelling around this great country and no matter how much of it we’ve seen, there is nowhere in this vast land quite like the Big Apple.
In our first visit we tried to cram in as much as possible, rushing around with wide eyes, marveling at all the places we’d seen on countless movies and TV shows. The second time around couldn’t have been more different.
Just last week we very coincidentally received news that we both had new jobs, and the best part was we had some free time before they started.
The old us would have used the time to get a few things organised etc. but the new us immediately thought that we could use the time to escape somewhere for a few days.
I started looking into last minute deals into Europe and was fairly shocked that it was almost the same price to go to places like Rome and Paris as it was to head to New York.
And so it happened that we booked flights on the Monday night and by the Wednesday evening we were sitting in Madison Square Park eating a Shake Shack and watching the Empire State building twinkling up on 5th Ave.
This time we did very little planning and instead decided to make a few missions out of the 4 day trip.
First off, we would spend leisurely time exploring around more of the neighborhoods of the city.
Second, we would eat as many of our favourite foods as possible and third, we would try and do as many of the free activities on offer as was possible.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it was wandering around in the sunshine after months of dreary winter. Some cities you just have an immediate affinity with and New York is one of those for us.
We love the noise, the smells and the variety you can find just by walking a couple of blocks in any direction. For such a populated area the number of green spaces and quiet places is incredible.
I felt so much more relaxed and confident this time around, most of the aspects of American culture we’d gawked at are now second nature to us and we felt much more able to just appreciate the little details.
We walked the beautiful High Line and meandered through the Meat Packing District, West Village and Chelsea.
We covered every corner of Central Park, catching a subway up to Harlem and making our way back down. We wandered around Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo and found love for a borough that we’d only touched on previously.
I fell in love with the NYC Public Library and reacquainted myself with the beautiful Grand Central Terminal.
I felt royally sick after eating an entire piece of Juniors delicious cheesecake by myself, not to mention the many breakfasts, hots dogs and pizza joints. You only live once, right?
Our February #Take12Trips was supposed to be something much more sedate and far closer to home but we have to take chances when they present themselves. In a few days a chapter of our lives comes to and end and we take on the next challenge.
One of the most important things we’ve learned from travelling is the value of time.
Should we have stayed at home for a week before starting a new job? Probably. Are we glad we used that precious time to do the thing we love? Absolutely.
In a couple of days I’ll be posting about the realities of affording a lifestyle of travel but as a pre-curser to that I’d like to cover some info about this trip.
How we did a last minute trip to New York on the cheap
- I spent hours scouring various flight and last minute websites and monitoring the price trends. The deal I booked jumped up in price by £100pp 10 minutes after I booked it.
- We took flights that most people would turn their nose up at. Granted our return flight ended up being the delay from hell, but even if it had run on time it was the last Europe bound flight out of JFK for the evening and was a fairly horrific red-eye with a 4 hour layover.
- We stayed in a hotel that was incredibly old and quirky – it didn’t have many amenities, the heating was either scorching or freezing and I had to take a cold shower on our last day because the water had run out. BUT it was in a fantastic location, was clean, the staff were friendly and the rates were incredibly low because they were remodeling and the construction noise was upsetting a lot of people.
- We dragged our belongings around the subway for 90 minutes each way to and from the airport which cost us $30 rather than $130 in cab fares.
- We didn’t spend money on a single activity. We walked and walked, spent time in parks and took the Staten Island Ferry. The weather was so incredible for every day but one that it seemed a waste to venture inside. On the one rainy afternoon we explored the New York City Public Library and Grand Central Terminal.
- We spent a lot of time eating but this was in diners, pizza joints and from street carts.
It is possible to find deals, even during half term from school for all you parents out there that suffer from unfair price hikes. One day we’ll go back in late spring and take trips to Coney Island, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
New York is a state with so much to offer and this city is undoubtedly one of the greatest in the world. As our friend Steph said, the perfect place to go out with a bang!
Never Miss a Post!
Subscribe to our mailing list to get updates straight to your inbox.