I’ll be leaving for New York in just a few days now. Hard to believe it’s already here! When I booked the tickets back in January, it seemed like March was an aeon away. But I’m leaving Thursday night New Zealand time. It’s a 12-hour flight to Los Angeles, but I will be arriving in the morning before I left. In fact, I’ll make it to New York in time for a late dinner – right around the time I left Auckland. I love that – it’s like I get a whole extra day. Except that coming back, it takes two full days to get home, which I really hate.
Since this was an impromptu trip and I am going with my friend, Bindi, instead of my darling spouse – we’ve decided to do it as cheaply as possible.
Hooray for Roomorama! I found a gorgeous loft down by the Brooklyn Bridge for $200 a night ($100 for each of us). My sisters are organising a welcoming party for us in our own home on Saturday night! Take that Hotel Club, etc and your deep-discount Manhattan hotel rooms starting at $250/night each! Actually, booking it was a tiny bit nerve-racking. We booked for eight nights and had to pay up front. $1600 US is nearly a month’s wages with the shrinking kiwi dollar – what if the place was a scam? A couple of apartments I inquired about did feel a little ‘scammish’ but this one didn’t. Fortunately my sister was able to check it out for me and confirm I’d made a good choice.
But what will we do there? While the choices are endless, we want to do as many cheap and free things as possible. I got very organised – tracked down a couple hundred websites, cross referencing the ones that wanted me to pay for addresses with Google. Everything has gone into a spreadsheet – so much we couldn’t possibly do it all, but I like the idea of waking up in the morning with a menu of things to pick and choose from.
If I’m in the mood for a boat ride – there’s the free Staten Island Ferry – and we get to see the Statue of Liberty along the way. Feeling like a healthy walk to burn off some of the NY cheesecake? The Brooklyn Bridge is a couple blocks away. Check out local culture – how about a doggy fashion show or a watching a basketball game at the West 4th St basketball courts. For a little classical music, there’s free Opera at the New Yorker hotel, Bach at noon at Grace Church and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a to-die for ensemble in the atrium for the price of a glass of wine.
I hear some of the finest gospel in the US can be heard in any of a half dozen churches in Harlem and Brooklyn – they’re happy to have you and it’s free – but when the plate is passed I also hear they expect you to be generous.
Every museum has a free day and they’re not all on the same day, so we can go to as many as we want. And of course there are dozens of gallery openings – where the art is fabulous and if the wine isn’t properly cellared – there’s no charge. The Upright Citizens Brigade has two nights of free comedy, hundreds of clubs have live jazz or blues with no cover charge. There’s so much to do in the Big Apple that doesn’t cost a cent, I’m wondering why I haven’t done this before?
This will leave us money for a Broadway show (1/2 price at TKTS), a trip around Manhattan on the Circle Line (and maybe a discount limo ride home after.) Bindi wants to shop at Henri Bendel and I am looking forward to Macy’s on Herald Square. Fortunately we agree on Saks and street vendors – we love them both.
I’m looking forward to a slightly posh lunch at the Algonquin Hotel, where Bindi and I will bask in the lingering glow of Dorothy Parker and the Vicious Circle. We’ll gossip and say terrible things about the passersby. And we’ll also make a stop at The Chelsea Hotel, just because I’ve always wanted to go there, and considered staying there this trip – but it’s gotten a bit pricier than the days when Leonard Cohen and Sid Vicious stayed there (not at the same time…) I wonder if it’s it’s still cool.
We considered making a booking at a Michelin restaurant to have one ultra fabulous dinner – but nah – it would be out of place. This is about having fun and doing it in style, without breaking the bank. I figure our biggest expense will taxis and pizza. Mmmm New York pizza… Just a few more days and I’m there!