Carrying on from my 1,000th Blog Post and my reminiscing of Toronto, Canada on my last trip to North America got me thinking again. Do you know that I haven’t written about the USA for a few years?! In fact some people who follow my blog didn’t even realise I had been stateside yet – I’ve actually been 3 times but not at all in the last 6 years…so I’ll give a backpackers impression of New York for the first time. Which at the time I wrote “it’s just like York [in England] only more recent”. But I was doing New York on the cheap…
OK it might have been 2007 when I last visited the USA but my girlfriend just got a US visa confirmed so I’m heading back soon. The last time I was there George Bush was running the show, Obama was waiting for his big chance and I was a backpacker on a real budget! I did a whole week in New York on the cheap and I even had nights out on the beer for cheap too. I’m convinced the prices of things will have rocketed by now…but here’s my guide to doing New York on the cheap…well back in 2007, but a lot of these will hopefully still apply! It’s nice to see how 6 years changes the value of things…
And before you comment and by the way…these are only a quick 10 things I did – I did other stuff as well and missed some key sights too – New York City is awesome and we all do different things, don’t forget to check my post because this is my journey!
1. FREE Ferry to Staten Island
Explore Staten Island for FREE. The ferry is completely free – love stuff like this on my travels. To compensate though we ended up buying a beer or two on Staten Island itself but got home to the hostel yet again for FREE! I just checked again and yes the ferry won’t cost you anything.
2. A Night Out for $10 ALL You Can Drink!
Oh really?! Yes at the Aces and Eights Saloon in New York City we found an all you can drink bar for $10 US Dollars. The bad news for you is it’s now closed so you’ll have to find another bar for a similar deal…
SO I rounded up a decent group of lads from 7-8 different countries and off we went! We had 3 hours to take advantage of the offer, we drank them dry, had an international pool competition and I don’t remember getting home! This is still one of the best nights ever from my travels! And you thought you couldn’t drink in New York on the cheap!
3. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for FREE
This was free in 2007 to walk across and well worth doing. It’s a marvellous bridge.
We took our time and enjoyed the Skyline and the traffic. A shout out to Nina from Germany and Cassiano from Brazil, my two travel buddies. It was amazing to meet you guys!
4. Lower Manhattan Walking Tour
Walk round at leisure on your own and take it all in – Ground Zero, Wall Street…a city of endless walking. I visited the chilling Ground Zero and had a numbing experience. I wrote about it: WTC Path.
5. Central Park
Relax in the mid-day sun in Central Park. They can’t charge you entry to a park! Bring a lunch with you and a book. I do have photos of it, but this post is photo heavy at the moment!
6. Washington Gardens
Washington Gardens is a decent garden park to relax in and even dip your toes into the fountain.
7. Mini Marts and 7 11s
Buy cheap food at the Mini Marts, Kwik E Marts and 7 11s – they even have cheap hot food. I admit I didn’t eat too much when I was backpacking in New York and even called into McDonalds a few times (I know, I know…) but the money I saved on that allowed me to go to the top of the Empire State Building, do the Circle Line cruise and have some beer at night.
8. Hostel it!
Don’t do anything ridiculous like go to New York and stay in a hotel. Go cheap and hostel it – look at the money you’ll save. I stayed in the Hostelling International on Amsterdam Avenue. It was average but cheap enough. Next time I’ll find an even cheaper place though.
9. Strawberry Fields
Yes it’s the famous Imagine Gardens, Strawberry Fields. If you’re a Beatles fan tick this one off. I was there on Ringo Starr’s birthday and ended up drinking free wine with some Beatles fans!! I even had my sunglasses on. Met a couple of really cool US girls too – I remember there names Cia and Kylie Salazar!
10. The Dakota Building
And just opposite Strawberry Fields is the Dakota Building. Yes, outside this building in December 1980 Mark Chapman shot dead John Lennon. I pondered for a moment taking it all in. What a sad loss. A poignant visit.
And the two not so cheap things that I treated myself to…and loved
1. NOT CHEAP: Empire State Building
It had been something I wanted to do all my life so I paid the fee and went up to the top. I don’t want to check the price again or try to remember how much it cost me because IT WAS WORTH IT. If you want to do it, then go there and do it – pay the money and go to the top. Yes you can do it at the Rockafeller Centre too, but it was the ESB for me and I LOVED it. Great memories!
2. NOT CHEAP: Circle Line Cruise
OK so this was also not totally cheap but I wanted to do a cruise round Manhattan – again a childhood dream so I researched the best one and got on the boat with Malachy Murray as he knows New York inside out. Malachy is an author – check out his Unique New York book and yes, the Circle Line Cruise was fantastic. Bring your own food and drink and relax.
You’ll be wanting a load more information I know as New York is colossal and I am certain I will write more about it and the US at some point, but before it passes me by totally I loved writing this post. Visa details and things are something you’ll need to sort out. I contemplated working in New York for a while and to be honest, as a nomad I’d still LOVE to do that, a few decent links for you:
My First Ever Blog Post on New York (for old times sake)
With thanks to Cassiano, Nina, Neil and Simon for the memories of New York!
And some of my Videos from New York City as a younger backpacker in 2007:
Circle Line Cruise:
Imagine Gardens, Central Park: