Here We Go Again
New York City, New York
September 6 to September 20, 2012
2 hours 30 minutes (ATL -> LGA)
My first time in New York. What do do? How to get out of the airport?
Über was running a promo of $20 off their new summon-a-taxi service, so I used that to get from LaGuardia (which has no subway access) into Manhattan. LaGuardia does have local bus service which connects to the subway, but I had two bags of luggage plus my backpack and it would have been unwieldy on packed busses and trains.
New York is expensive. Hotel rooms go for $300 to $500 per night for a tiny room. I picked Hostelling International New York City (HI NYC) because their rates were about $50 per night and it had great reviews online.
HI NYC is located in the Upper West Side at 103rd St (for reference, Times Square is at 42nd St and Wall St is around -23rd St if street numbers went that low). HI NYC is a five to ten minute walk away from Central Park, a two minute walk to a subway entrance, and on a street with plenty of food shops in addition to being close to a Whole Foods. There’s a Trader Joe’s down at 72nd Street too.
I picked the cheapest room option they had, and they put me in a 16 person room. 16 people in one room. 8 bunk beds. It sounds crazy, but it works. Each bed has a huge locker fitting your entire backpack. The bathrooms are in the hallway with private door-closing shower stalls.
HI NYC has seven or eight different common areas including an in-building cafe that’s open until midnight, a couch and TV room in the basement, a large kitchen with seating, an outdoor patio, a music lounge area, and a presentation space for hosting events.
People say New York has great food. Those people have lots of disposable income. If you’re looking for cheap food, you can cook at the hostel and stock up on groceries at local shops. If you’re looking for cheap eateries, there are cheap chains around and omnipresent food trucks you have to be kinda adventurous to try. Just grab Yelp and Seamless to look around.
The first thing you should do after checking in and un-luggaging yourself is crawl to a subway entrance and buy your MetroCard. Each time you enter the subway, you get $2.75 deducted from your card. You can also use your MetroCard on busses, trips to JFK (+$5.00 for the “AirTrain”), and on PATH (a NY to NJ train for $2.50 each entrance).
Now you’ve got your MetroCard. Now take trip. Just hop on something going Downtown and exit when it looks interesting. Times Square/42nd St is always exciting for tourists. Just be sure you remember where you’re staying so you can get back there. The subway runs 24 hours, so you’ll never be stranded.
Things to Do
It’s New York. If you’re bored it’s your own damn fault. Walk around Times Square until you feel like screaming at every slow moving family of large Americans in front of you. Visit the SoHo Apple Store and take in a celebrity meet-and-greet or a free concert they offer. Walk around Central Park (6 miles for the full loop). Get lost walking around Central Park (take your phone). Eat at a Bareburger and order a great shake too. Eat at Spice. Don’t eat at Red Lobster in Times Square because, wtf? Visit High Line Park. Visit the library. Walk Hudson River Park. Visit the American Museum of Natural History and say hi to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Visit Harlem. Visit another handful of museums. Visit the boring WTC memorial site. Visit the boring Wall St anti-terrorist barriers. Eat half a dozen cupcakes from Crumbs (then walk around central park twice). Visit Prospect Park. Visit Park Slope. Visit Astoria. Visit Hell’s Kitchen. Walk around SoHo. Walk around Union Square.
Things to Not Do
Do not walk and then just stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look at your phone. You are in the way. Move.
If you are with a group, do not walk standing shoulder to shoulder sweeping down the entire sidewalk.
Do not use spray deodorant or cologne or perfume anywhere ever. You are in a shared room and your spray will stickup the entire room. Europeans seems especially about using spray deodorant without regard to whoever else is around, thereby getting it in eyes, ears, and mouths. Just use normal solid roller deodorant. Don’t be a jerk.
If you snore like a locomotive, do not stay in shared rooms.
If you have strange body problems or need to apply smelly creams to your entire body twice a day, do not stay in shared rooms.
This time, leaving is not the reverse of arriving. I’m flying out of EWR in New Jersey, so there’s no local bus or subway going out there. I scheduled a shared airport van to pick me up at the hostel and take me out to EWR. It worked.