My recent sojourn to NYC was my longest – seven nights. How did I decide on seven nights? I left San Antonio on Wednesday, the 19th day of September, because Southwest Airlines has its cheapest departures from San Antonio on that day. I wanted to stay at least through the weekend, and then I learned that Southwest Airlines had its cheapest LaGuardia departures on Wednesday, the 26th day of September. Case closed.
In searching the internet for my residence of choice – hostels – I learned that one of the largest hostels in NYC has private rooms for only $80 (taxes included). Although this is twice as expensive as typical dormitory-style rooms in hostels, I decided to splurge because I wanted the luxury of some privacy – day or night. Plus, the stock market’s been surging, so I felt richer.
The Chelsea International hostel is located near 8th Avenue and 20th Street (Chelsea neighborhood). It is reasonably close to the subway – the A, C, and E train can be caught at 8th and 23rd Street. In addition to being reasonably clean, it has upscale international residents (passport required) and provides a free continental breakfast along with an indoor/outdoor common area with WiFi but no TV.
In addition to arranging my flight and accommodations, the other three items of trip infrastructure were the purchase of a seven-day subway pass ($27), a seven-day membership in a local gym ($75 – David Barton Gym at Astoria), and a seven-day New York Pass ($180).
Each of these seven-day passes is an outstanding bargain in its own way. I am continually on the move, yet my total cost of transportation was a mere $27, much less than $1 a trip. I go to the up-scale gym at least once a day for yoga and some light weights. That amounts to less than $10 a session and has the fringe benefit of exposing me to a genuine, non-touristy NYC experience.
Last, but not least, is my New York Pass, which entitles me to see 70 NYC attractions. Because a person can’t come close to doing 70 attractions in a week, especially when I blocked out time for two Yankees’ games, daily yoga, Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Coney Island, I picked only 20 attractions:
- The Beast – a 45-mph speed boat that does some hot-rodding in the Harbor (by selecting The Beast, I had to pass on the 3-hour slow cruise around Manhattan)
- Intrepid – battleship and museum
- Blazing Saddles – a 24-hour bike rental
- Central Park bike rental –three-hour bike rental
- Bike and Roll – four-hour bike rental
- New York Water Taxi – a harbor cruise to multiple locations that allows you to get off and on.
- CitySightseeing Cruise – 90-minute cruise into the Harbor
- Manhattan by Sail
- Clipper City Tall Ship Cruises
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not (surprisingly lame)
- Madame Tussaud’s (surprisingly enjoyable, especially because it is next door to the boring Ripley’s exhibit)
- Yankee Stadium tour (not much to see and out-of-the-way, but good quality)
- NBC Tour
- Top of the Rock (my first time)
- Empire State Building (been here before; nostalgic)
- New York Skyride (got me a bit nauseous; too early in the morning, perhaps)
- Museum of Modern Art (gotta love MoMA)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Guggenheim Museum
Ultimately, I found time to see all of the attractions except two – the CitySightseeing Cruise and the Whitney Museum.
In addition to the New York Pass, the greatest surprise from this trip was to learn how bicycle-friendly NYC has become. On my first bike rental, I went from Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge on the northern end – about 20 miles along the Hudson River with virtually no interference with vehicular traffic. During that ride, I also made a side-trip to my gym near NYU and was amazed at how easily I was able to cover the mile. Bike lanes were easy to find, and cross-town traffic has few intersections. What seemed like a long-haul on foot is an easy jaunt on bike.
Action-oriented vacations are totally dependent on your health, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my artificial knee was wonderful. Despite my repeated use of the subway, there is an unbelievable amount of walking getting to the subway. Halfway through the week, I suddenly realized that I was walking unbelievable distances, and the only side-effect was some sore feet. I hadn’t noticed my new knee because it was working perfectly. Although my feet were sore, I was able to ameliorate that by shifting from boat shoes to tennis shoes to flip-flops. I don’t care if only two other males in NYC are wearing flips; my feet need to breathe from time to time.
In hindsight, I’m happy with the way the week played out. Next time, I will probably add a Broadway show if I am a little richer. And if I read a bit more about art, perhaps I will be able to get more enjoyment from the City’s museums.