It’s Christmastime in the City!
After spending a month in jolly ol’ England, I found the best souvenir to bring home with me: MY BOYFRIEND! So, we booked him a ticket on my return flight and started planning an amazing visit including a traditional American Thanksgiving, visiting our friends who are currently working on the NEWEST cruise ship in the world, and best of all, a few days in one of our favorite cities: New York, New York!
I’ve been to NYC dozens of times and each time truly is a new and unique experience depending on where you stay, what you do, and the time of year. My boyfriend and I are pretty spontaneous when we travel and like to make discoveries on our own (true explorers!). Last time we were in the city, we stayed in Brooklyn. It was Spring, so the weather allowed us to really do some exploring and our trip included a picnic in Central Park, a visit to Ground 0, a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a journey to the top of the Rockefeller Center, and a stroll down the celebrated Highline (an old elevated train track converted into a garden/walk path that runs from downtown to midtown). With so much success last time, we couldn’t wait to see what the city had in store for us this time around! Here’s how you do NY around the holidays on a limited budget:
1. The Jane Hotel: We knew we wanted to stay right in Manhattan and the options on airbnb (our usual go-to when it comes to accommodations) were either unavailable or kinda shady looking. We went to the next best option: hostels. We were looking for something in an amazing location, with clean/safe rooms, and under $100 a night …. and we found all of that and more in the beautiful Jane Hotel in Greenwhich Village. The location is UNBEATABLE (right on the water, two blocks from the highline and subway with dozens of great restaurants nearby). In the early 1900’s, the Jane was mainly a hotel for sailors and the rooms definitely reflect the seafaring style. Our room was TINY being modeled after a ship cabin but, having worked on cruise ships for 3 years, we felt right at home! (They do have regular rooms with ensuites, but for cost reasons we settled for a standard cabin with a shared bathroom in the hall). The rooms were clean and comfy with secure locks and safes, flat screen TVs, bottled water, and robes & slippers – perfect! There is a nightclub in the basement that waives the cover-charge for guests of the hotel. The atmosphere was unbeatable! The hotel retains it’s 1920’s feel with antique furniture, bellhops, and big old fashion room keys. I absolutely fell in love with the retro-chic decor and my love was sealed when I found out that the survivors of the Titanic were brought here after the night of the sinking!
2. The Meat Packing District: Sounds pretty bleak, but this is probably one of the nicest and most expensive parts of the city. We not only found an affordable place to stay here, we also found some great sights and places to eat. My friend gave us a beautiful walking tour the night we arrived and I was in awe of the cobblestone streets, quaint little parks, and fantastic night life. I couldn’t help but notice that the streets seemed oddly familiar, “This looks like where Carrie Bradshaw lives,” I said to my friend. “Oh, that’s because they filmed the scenes outside her apartment right on the next block.” Of course, I had to go for a picture:
As per recommendations from my friend, we found AMAZING Mexican food at Tortilla Flats (try the chimichangas, you’ll thank me later!) and we ate breakfast every day at La Bonbonniere (not much to look at on the outside but AMAZING food, FAST service, and definitely the cheapest breakfast in the area!).
3. Tree-Lighting at the Rockefeller Center: All of my New-Yorker friends warned us to not even attempt to see the tree-lighting. “You’ll get MOBBED!” they insisted. We decided to risk it. The ceremonies started around 7pm so we headed to the Rockefeller Center around 6pm. You needed tickets to get onto the street where you can actually see the tree and we spent about 30 minutes walking up and down the blocks trying to get closer, but all the streets were closed off. Just as we were about to head home, a nearby police officer opened one of the streets and we began to flood down it with the crowd. I worried we would get trapped by the oncoming people so we were about to retreat when they suddenly closed off the street. We found ourselves on a whole empty street with a great view of a massive screen where live footage was being projected. We danced around to Mariah Carrie and Idina Mendzel and Lady Gaga while watching the ceremonies from our private street next to the Rock. Not bad for a free show 🙂
4. The Sex Museum: On a rainy day with little money to spend, we searched and searched for something interesting to occupy our time. Boy, did we find it at The Museum of Sex on Fifth Avenue! Kinda cheesy and DEFINITELY over priced at $18 a person, but the museum/shop was interesting enough to keep us busy for the afternoon. It included several floors of sex and porn related exhibits and also some fun interactive rooms like a boob balloon bounce, a “grope” rock climbing wall made of rocks shaped like body parts, and (my personal fave) a fun-house/maze through which you ventured to find the illusive clitoris!
5. Broadway: Ah yes, old faithful. I went to school for theatre, so of course when I’m in NYC I love to take in a show or two if I can. The usual disadvantage is the price. Yes, there are some great ways to get affordable tickets like TKTS and Student Rush or just showing up early … but the downside of these tactics is that you spend a couple hours waiting in lines and fighting off crazy old ladies. In the end, we decided to just suck it up and pay full price and I’m so glad we did! We saw Matilda and we wrangled some AMAZING seats right in the center of the mezzanine. The show was adorable and definitely lived up to it’s amazing reviews. Bravo!
All said and done, it was another amazing trip to the big apple (or in this case, the big tree!). Three days and only a couple hundred spent for food, entertainment and accommodations! Not too shabby 🙂 Until next time New York!