My I grew up knowing how New York looks like, from the television to the big screen. We saw how people fell in love in New York, how New York was destroyed by the aliens or the super villains, how New York was saved by Spiderman and how women fight for their dream wedding at Central Park. Carrie Bradshaw brought to us New York and Gigi Van Tranh wished she will be taken there.
Truly, New York is in our mind. It’s a dream destination for many, which includes me. I have been very vocal about going to New York and the dream of going there brought me to the embassy. And now, it came to reality. I could not be any happier that my employer sent me to the U.S. to do temporary work and with that, I made sure that I get to visit one of my favorite places in the world.
Check how I applied for a visa here.
I was already in Texas when I started planning for my trip to the big apple. Of course, I need to check the flight fares. But since I am in Central and I need to get the cheapest fare, I have to settle in taking connecting flights. A flight from San Antonio – New York (via Southwest) cost me around $180 (or Php9,000). Yes, that’s already a budget fare to the Maldives from the Philippines. But I am in America so I have to go for it. Here’s my flight itinerary:
Southwest Airlines: San Antonio – Charlotte – New York
United Airlines: New York – Denver – San Antonio
Overall, I spent $380 for a round-trip fare.
Hotels in Manhattan are way expensive, thank god AirBnB exists! I booked a room in Brooklyn for $40 a night (private room, shared bathroom, no AC but it was pretty cold so it was okay). That was the cheapest I could find in a safe neighborhood.
The Main Trip
Thankfully, I have a friend in New York (who is also an Ilonggo) who toured me around the city. He was too kind to show me around for a couple of days, leaving his appointments to make sure that I get to see my favorite sites and eat the New Yorker way.
Food in New York is cheap – as long as you know where to find them. The Halal Guys can fill up your belly for $10. Sandwiches can go as low at $5 and they still taste good. And as you know, the NYC population is a mixture of all races from the different parts of the globe so expect that you will not be deprived from the food that you find comfortable eating with.
Although there were also some did-not-meet my expectations moment – like when we had desserts at Serendipity 3. Desserts were in huge servings and they just taste “okay”.
I have also experienced a surprisingly better-than-the-other-restaurant moment like Shake Shack. At first I thought it was just another ordinary burger joint. But when I took my first bite, I was brought to a different level of burger happiness. Imagine this: Cheesy with yummy meaty patty in a Dunkin’ Donuts’ texture-like bun (only Filipinos can relate to this) is a total joy!
Most notable dish I tried was the Artichoke Pizza. Can’t explain it but it was THE BEST PIZZA EXPERIENCE, EVER!!!
Travel around NYC
New York is a safe place (i think), especially in Manhattan. But when you step outside of the district, be extra careful. I had a bad experience in Utica subway station (which for the others is quite normal) where a guy attacked me for no reason.
NY Subway trains are way older that the trains in Singapore, Thailand or Japan. But it’s got character. The in-train performances that you see in videos happen all the time and I have seen a lot of it. And riding the NY Subway train reminds you of the movie scenes where they were shot in the train. When I rode it, it reminded me of Spiderman train fight scene (and Keannu Reeves).
For unlimited bus and train rides, purchase an MTA card for $31 good for 7 days!
For short trips in New York, never miss to do the following cheap/free activities:
1. Walk around Central Park
2. Walking along Park and Madison Avenues
3. Visit the MET (The metropolitan museum of art)
4. Times Square (of course!)
5. One World Trade Center
6. Brooklyn Bridge
Check out my expenses! As you know, New York is an expensive city. So get ready to shell out some huge bucks if you plan to go there.
Next time, I will definitely spend more time in New York!