new york, travel, usa

New York Minute

December 21, 2015

No, this isn’t a recap of that fabulous film with Mary-Kate and Ashley (and Simple Plan for some reason). This is the story of how me and my friend, Emily, found ourselves in New York City with little money and little time to spare and how we somehow made it out of there alive.

The story starts in 2012. I’d just received my A level results and was planning on going to university. Unfortunately I missed out on living in halls of residence so had to look at online forums for somewhere to live. This is where I found my first year housemates. I’ve heard horror stories from others who decide to move in with strangers, but for me it was a good decision as I made three of my best friends there.

Long story short: Jess, one of the housemates, is American. And me and Emily (another housemate) went to stay with her over the summer. Oh, the benefits of having friends in other countries.

We were staying at Jess’s Grandparent’s house in Connecticut and Emily and I decided to have a day trip to New York. Here’s where the story gets confusing so pay attention. We ran out of dollars earlier on in the trip so we had to do a quick little shuffle with our expenses which resulted in Jess having all our money (in a bank) and me and Emily having roughly $40 each until she made the cash withdrawal.

Again, where is this story going? Why am I telling you this? Bank transfers and cash withdrawals don’t make for interesting tales, so let me cut to the chase.Emily and I decided to take the train to New York, leaving Jess and all our money behind. It might not have been the best decision we ever made, but who cares? We were heading to New York!We hoped off the train at Grand Central Station and found ourselves roaming the streets in search for the usual things tourists do in New York. Times Square, Central Park, you get the drift.After getting harassed in Time Square by some Toy Story characters and a Gryffindor with a terrible English accent, we made our way to Central Park with no idea what was there or what to do.Once we sorted ourselves out from the madness, we picked ourselves back up and went in search for the Empire State Building.When we got there, we realised that between us, we could buy a ticket to get to the medium level and have $0s left or we could forget about it and keep the rest of our money just in case we missed our train home and had to buy a new ticket. I mean, is that even a dilemma? Of course we chose the empire state building!Oh my, what a good choice! The views from this place were outstanding. I don’t regret the decision to spend all our money here at all. My only regret is not bringing a little extra to make it to the top of the building.After that, we were struggling to make the most of our last hour in Manhattan so we went to the New York public Library because, hey, it’s free and then we eventually returned to Grand Central Station.The lady at the help desk, who before serving us looked as if she was dying from boredom, jumped out of her seat and screamed at us to run to our platform as the train was leaving in 30 seconds. We luckily did manage to hop on before the doors closed and that was how we survived New York City in less than six hours on $70 whilst still managing to tick off most of the major landmarks.

  • Empire State Building. Check.
  • Central Park. Check.
  • Grand Central Station. Check.
  • Times Square. Check.
  • Statue of Liberty. Of course not, silly. We were there for six hours.

Advice for anyone else looking to save money in New York City:

  • Do the free things! Times Square, Central Park, Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library.
  • When you get to Times Square, pretend you’re a local and do not let any of the dressed up people scam you into giving them money, because they can spot a tourist from miles away.
  • Don’t worry about spending money to do things you really want to do. The Empire State Building really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so go all out.

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