This month I visited the Big Apple, and even though I only had a few days to explore the city, I tried to pack in as much as I could. Here's how it all went down. Budget: I live in the middle of nowhere: Lexington, Kentucky. Still, through Skyscanner and some research I managed to get two one-way tickets for about $100 each. Uber rides to and from the airports were another $80 and a nice Airbnb setup for me and my friend only cost me $100 for three nights. For my time there I guessed I would spend about $300.
I know what you're probably thinking, that's a lot of money to spend on a weekend. (And it is.) But, New York City isn't really the place for being thrifty. If you're planning a trip, be prepared to pay. That's enough talk about money, let's get into...
After some Chinese food, our first stop was Times Square, a place I really misjudged. I went in expecting a flashy tourist nightmare, but instead I was surrounded by people from all around the world mesmerized by the iconography. We stayed there for about an hour and watched the crowds. One nice, but very cold walk through central park later and we ended up on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History. Something a lot of outsiders don't know is most of the museums in New York are free, they only suggest that you pay $20 or $30 because they can. I paid $5. It's a huge building full of wildlife, but the massive fossils were undeniably the highlight.
On our way to the movies our subway train stopped abruptly. Outside my window were firemen crawling underneath the train. Someone had been hit. After a while we were escorted off by police and above ground there was a flood of firetrucks and ambulances. Only two thoughts were in my head: 1. I hope they're okay. 2. We're gonna be late for our movie.
We quickly signaled a taxi and rushed to the East Village Cinema to see "The Hateful 8" in 70mm. Including the intermission, it was over 3 hours long, but man was it worth it. My friend and I both agreed it was the best movie experience we had ever had. We headed back up to our Airbnb in Harlem and ate some Popeye’s.
While Day 1 had a pretty strict schedule, the second was a lot more open. So, we started it with authentic New York pizza. It was fine. Maybe we overhyped it a bit too much. As we walked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art it started to snow. Ticket price? Free. But, I paid $5. I expected world class art and it absolutely delivered. Except for the Louvre in Paris, the Met is probably the best art museum on Earth. We stayed there for a long time as the snow began to pile up.
Advice: Don't take your backpack inside, they make you wear it on your front so you don't accidentally break anything. It’s a good idea, but after a few hours you really regret not just leaving it with the front office.
While we were in the museum the weather really changed, we needed to find somewhere to ride out the storm. My friend noticed a cafe across the street. Casimir & Co. was the name. I had black coffee. An hour passed by and we thought walking around the Manhattan Mall would be neat. I bought a hat. The night was still young and we both wanted a meal. A really good meal. Not Chinese, or Popeye’s… a New York steak. We headed back north, oddly enough, to the second floor of Casimir & Co. to have one of the best dinners of our lives.
Because I had a plane to catch a little after 6pm, day 3 didn’t last very long. We hopped on the red line and took it all the way down to the World Trade Center. Which reminds me...
Advice: Save a map of the nyc metro to your phone so you can look at it without Internet; it's a lifesaver. This is the one I used.
The memorial is a must-see. We stopped off for a bite to eat at Bill’s Bar & Burger and made our way across the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re into photography, I definitely recommend the walk. The views are incredible. We wandered around a bit and eventually stumbled upon another small café. And that was it, that was New York. It was everything I thought it would be. A big thanks to Atli for all the fun. I'll see you soon.
Advice (Really, these will save you time and money.)
Most museums are free, the Met, the MoMA, and the AMNH are for sure.
Buy the unlimited metro pass, it’s worth it.
Start every day with a list of sights to see, even if you don’t end up seeing any.
Don’t avoid the tourist spots entirely.
Ask locals what they like to do; it’s the best way to find unique experiences.
Carry some cash, a lot of restaurants won’t accept anything else.
Be flexible, you’re going to be surrounded by 9 million other people just trying to get where they're going.
Relax, in such a big city nobody's paying attention to you.