The second time I visited NYC was back in December 2011. We went there just before my birthday to see ‘the city that never sleeps’ at the most wonderful time of the year.
And it certainly was magical – ice skating in Central Park, xmas decs lining the streets, Starbucks was full of wonderfully Christmassy flavours and we even saw Lady Gaga casually walking down the street. Amazing scenes indeed!
Of course we travelled here on a little bit of a budget. Both still being students back then, we reached NYC with a little assistance from our student loans and part time jobs. So here I’ll talk you through our trip, and the way we managed to see the city on a tight purse string.
We booked our hols through Expedia, because if you save enough money to pay it all off in one go, you really do save money overall! Not only that, booking your flights and hotel together gives you a massive discount, as well as landing you in some right fancy pants hotels. We ended up staying in a little Hilton boutique hotel on East 42nd street. The room was ‘cosy’ and clean, the food was great, and the staff were lovely and friendly. Oh, and not to mention that when you walked out of the front door, the Empire State Building was staring you in the face.
Central Park is by far my favourite place to visit! Forget the expensive attractions, Central Park makes you feel like you’ve stepped right into a movie. We spent hours walking through the park, taking pictures and when we needed something to eat (being on a budget), we just bought a pretzel off a stand and sat on a bench with it. With so many things to see from the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial, Belvedere Castle and the Alice in Wonderland feature – you can not get bored! There is of course the option to ride on some of the horse and carriages, but seeing the misery of the horses really put me off. Perhaps before you take a ride check out this website.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty of course has a small admission charge but it’s well worth it. To save money we caught the subway there – might I add, as a girl who is used to the clean London tube line, it is not an experience I want to do ever again. We then walked all the way back to save some more money! We were shattered but we saw much more of New York this way. Just to give you an idea, check out on Google Maps the distance from the Statue of Liberty to East 42nd Street…. thank god for the easy American block system.
The only downside to our Statue of Liberty trip, was that as we were eating on a budget once again – hot dog from a street vendor – a seagull swooped down and stole my hot dog. I’m still waiting for this mortifying moment to appear on YouTube. So the moral of this story being, if you find yourself on Liberty Island with a hot dog, look out for hungry seagulls.
The ferry from Liberty Island stops at Ellis Island on the way back. The first time I went to New York I opted out of visiting, and I must have been mad. This place was full of impressive history and a must for anyone who is interested in American history.
Although we saved a lot of money in New York, Rockefeller Centre was one thing we didn’t skimp on. We paid the 60 dollars (approx. for both of us) to visit the ‘Top of the Rock’ and it was amazing. Amazing, however I’m terrified of heights so nearly had several mini heart attacks. Nonetheless the views were spectacular – so if you’re going to splash a little extra on anything, make sure it’s this. When you get to the bottom again and look up to how high you’ve been, you’ll still feel dizzy!
Times Square is another one of those free places to visit. The only problem is the sheer amount of people, and how busy it is. You really do feel like cattle being shuffled around. Times Square was more stressful than a dream come true for us! However it is home to some really cool shops, notably the Disney and M&M stores.
Bryant Park was just a hop from our hotel and it was full of quirky little market stalls. It’s another free spot to visit, and of course because we visited at Christmas time it was buzzing with activity. There was plenty of artist types showcasing their talents, therefore it was a great place to go for something different. Also, the Xmas we visited it had free ice skating – yey!
This is just a must if you need free wifi and to contact home. There’s one every few yards, so if you need a wifi fix and a hot chocolate (like me) do not fret!
We only stayed for 4 days in December, and arguably we missed out on a lot of touristy things. But we were visiting on a budget, and it was amazing just being in such an exciting place. So if you’re thinking you won’t enjoy somewhere due to lack of spending money, that’s madness! There’s so many free things that can make your holiday just as great – no need to splash the cash!
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