When I’ve got friends visiting from out of town/state/country who are trying to see New York on a budget, these are the top things I recommend.
The View Lounge – Skip paying $27 for Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building. The lines are long and you’ll be cranky by the time you reach the top. Instead visit the View Lounge at the Mariott Marquis hotel. The lounge revolves, so you get 360-degree view of the city. Go as soon as the lounge opens (at 5:00pm most days) and you won’t feel rushed or squashed by a crowd. For the price of a cocktail, you get to sit, relax, and look out at a spectacular view.
Governor’s Island – Governor’s Island is only open from Memorial Day until the last weekend in September. Last year it became one of my favorite places to go to get away from the insanity of the city. There is a short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan to the island for $2. It used to be free, but they are going to begin charging in 2014.
View from Governor’s Island
Besides having great views of the city and a lot of green space to have a picnic, Governor’s Island is home to a fort built prior to the War of 1812, Castle Williams, which is free to explore. There are quite a few events that take place on the island over the summer:
This is a subject I’ve been reluctant to talk about and even more reluctant to write about. Thinking about the experience gives me a little twinge of frustration, regret and embarrassment.
I’ll start at the beginning.
I once ran away from home to be a nanny in Istanbul. I was tired of college. I was bored and looking for an adventure.
I was not looking to go to Istanbul, but this particular family found me on an au pair website and we began to discuss the possibility of me moving there for the summer. My stepfather did a background check on the family. I video chatted with the parents and their two seemingly-delightful girls: ages six and ten.
“We’ll treat you like our own daughter,” they said.
“We will pick you up at the airport and show you around Istanbul,” they promised.
These were lies.
Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling
I went to Edinburgh with my roommate to visit her friend who lived there during spring break my sophomore year. I’ll be honest, I had to look back at pictures to jog my memory about this trip. And not because it wasn’t fun.
It was perhaps a little too much fun.
I’ll tell you this: Whenever I picture picturesque Edinburgh in my mind, I can still taste vodka and Redbull.
Traveling to Istanbul was my first attempt at running away.
I didn’t like college. In fact, I hadn’t really wanted to go at all, but I felt pressured by my friends and by my family to go. I am now grateful that I have a degree, but at the time, I was kicking and screaming.
After my sophomore year, I took a hiatus from college and took off to Istanbul to work as an au pair for a family that was pretty insane. I was there for six weeks when I got food poisoning, realized how crazy the family was (they still expected me to watch their monster children even though I was sprawled out on the bathroom floor with my head against the toilet bowl) and decided to get out.
Despite working for a crazy and inconsiderate family, I loved Istanbul. I loved the food, the ferry rides across the Bosphorus, and spending my one day off a week in a hookah bar with my new friend, Kimberly.
I came home feeling defeated, but it wouldn’t be long until I was looking to escape again.
My freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to travel to Paris with a class I was taking. It was my first taste of real traveling freedom since my professor only had us check in about once a day.
We even got to take an excursion to London (where I could go to the Globe Theater and totally reenact that scene from Doctor Who.)
The truth was, I wasn’t really interested in seeing Paris ever. I just wanted another excuse to travel abroad again. I didn’t want to love Paris, because loving Paris was too cliché. But, it was futile. I fell hard and fast for the City of Light and even went back with my mother two years later.
My first trip out of America wasn’t until 2007, the year I graduated from high school. That August, my grandfather decided to take my extended family (over 25 of us) to Ireland.
It was not the trip of a lifetime I’d been hoping for.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be on Broadway. Even with very minimal talent and no training, somehow I found myself onstage on the Great White Way.
Okay…maybe not onstage exactly. No, not even backstage.
I am a lowly Broadway usher. Living the dream. Also, my six-year-old self is totally peeing her pants in excitement.
New York is an expensive city. There is not much getting around the cost of a hotel and the price of a decent sit-down meal. But with a little patience and flexibility, you can see a Broadway (or off-Broadway) show, without seeing the bottom of your piggy bank.