The first time I did, I rode Northwest Airlines . It was my first flight out of the country… EVER. We stopped over at Narita and the airline was offering a free flight (aside from the one we took), hotel accommodation for the night and some cash if we delay our trip for a day. As usual, they were overbooked (which I think is the norm in the airline industry). I, a child and was so excited, didn’t want to do that. Dad looked at me and asked me if I wanted to give in. The trip would already overlap with my first three days of school so I decided not to.
Lo and behold, that excitement went away, rather quickly. The long ride traumatized the kid with an undiagnosed (but highly suspected) ADHD in me. The farthest I have gone traveling before that was Baguio which was less than 6 hours ride. I felt so tired after the flight, I remember entering our hotel room and just aiming for the bed. When I opened my eyes, it was the morning after.
I rode with the same airline just a year ago. I must say, the flight was pleasant though it was still painfully long (Manila-Nagoya-Detroit-JFK). None of those old jumbo 747s which was good, everything felt clean and new. Don’t ask me about plane food though because all of them are the same to me = not food. I often just eat the roll with unsalted butter. I managed to survive it though because I just slept the entire time.
I took Virgin America not too long ago. The rate was rather cheap, I might say. It was just a little bit over $300 LAX-JFK-LAX. I flew alone. It took me about 6 hours or so. I booked everything online before leaving Manila. I printed everything, and was amazed as it was the first time I was able to choose my own seat in the plane through the internet. There was an outline of the inside of the plane and you can select your preferred seat. You’ll have to pay extra though if you want to get the seat on the exit rows.
I was amazed at how hi-tech their plane was. I would say they are targeting the youth to be flying with them. The lighting inside the plane changed from light pink to dark blue. It was like the atmosphere of a modern Japanese restaurant. However, it was still a no-frills flight, so food was not included in the fare and must be bought in case you get hungry. To do that, you have to select food from your own monitor and just swipe your credit card. The stewardess will bring your food to your seat. If by any chance, you are separated from your company in a flight, don’t fret. You can chat with whoever is inside that flight through the monitor and the joystick provided. Cool huh?
To add to that, the plane is equipped with up-to-date movies and very modern selections of music. They also have an outlet for each seat where you can plug-in your electronics. They have a LAN and USB port per reclining leather seat. That my friend is entertainment at its best.
Long ride it was, indeed. I got to tinker with all the features in less than thirty minutes and went on to doing what I always do in planes, sleep.
Where to stay:
Okay, I haven’t stayed at any hostels anywhere so I am not going to pretend I know anything about it. But as I often hear that they are the best ones to go for as they tend to be really cheaper than staying in hotels. I might want to do that when I go backpacking in Europe (someday! =P).
I understand how staying in Manhattan can be so expensive. This I tell you, I haven’t seen a decent hotel to stay in for under $100 a night. If you have relatives living nearby, take advantage of it. Doesn’t matter how far it is from Manhattan, so as long as you are near a subway station, you are just going to be fine.
If that does not work, then hotels are what you are left with. I have stayed in Skyline Hotel before though I can’t remember any subway station near the area (It was more than ten years ago). I visited their website and the nearest one is two blocks away (10th Avenue to 8th Avenue). This is not very convenient unless you want a morning walk as blocks between avenues tend to give you quite a long walk. Also, the rooms are pretty pricey if you ask me. Check them out here.
A year ago, I stayed at Day’s Inn on 94th and Broadway. This was pretty convenient. The hotel is located at the Upper West Side and a subway station is just right across. There are some shops and eateries beside the hotel so it is really convenient. We paid around $170 for a room with one king-size bed. It was roomy enough for three tiny persons with huge luggages.
We booked a tour to explore more of the East USA so we were in NYC for four days, went around the East for eight, went back and stayed in NYC for four more days. This time, we checked in at Hotel 91. It was right at Chinatown. It actually is still convenient though the subway station was not one of the main ones. F train stops there, if I remember it right, but it gets pretty scary at night. We booked a room with 2 queen-size beds, however, there was miscommunication between the hotel and from where we booked so we ended up with 2 rooms with one full-size bed each. Not bad at all.
The staff are very friendly and accommodating. The room was modern. It came with yellow lightings, a tiny study and a small flat screen TV. If you’re staying alone, it actually is a good place… except for the noise. I used to catch a glimpse of trailers of Home Along the Riles when I was younger and staying in this hotel made me remember all about that. I can hear the subway trains come and go every two minutes. No kidding. If you are the type who cannot sleep very deeply, I advise you not to stay here. You won’t be able to have a quiet time. Other than that, it’s a good enough place to stay, especially at $130 a night.
I have no other suggestions but to take the SUBWAY. It is the most amazing thing about this city.
It’s cheap, it’s fast and it’s very convenient. Of course, it is far from perfect. The tracks are filthy, the trains are old and people sometimes are slightly intimidating. Just be aware of your surroundings. I have ridden the train past midnight and I survived.
At times that the weather is really cold, it has become my sanctuary. Seriously. I gave out a sigh of relief once I was at the bottom of a flight of stairs and no longer feel the cold that NYC sometimes gives. I also love observing people taking the subway. The city indeed is a melting pot. Remember not to stare too much though, it might get you into trouble.
The crazy map (found here) may be daunting for the first timers but you will get the hang of it. Remember to bring a map with you at all times. Take note of the train that you are suppose to take as well as the first and last stop of that train line as that will determine which train you are supposed to ride and which direction to take. Have a companion to guide you for your first few tries and then manage from there. Reminder though, be alert. The trains have the tendency to change stops and directions especially during weekends so make sure to listen. If you do not know what else to do, it sure pays to ask questions to the people around you. I once ended up in Brooklyn without realizing it until the train was no longer underground and actually crossed the river.
The rates for the unlimited pass for a week increased from $25 to $27 now. I always get this if I am spending more than four days in the city. They have a day, week, 14-day, and a month pass. See the rates here.
I hope you get to enjoy New York City as much as I did and I hope you get to love it as much as I do. The city is so alive that I never run out of things to do and anticipate the next time I come back. I hope it will be soon though. I’m leaving you with a song that I love. It might be quite dark but it reminds me of those early mornings I spent in the city when it was rainy and all I wanted was to have a cup of hot chocolate as I sit down and stare at the nothingness outside the window.
Wake Up in New York