new york city: 3 days, $200, a lot of pizza
3 days in New York City for $200. Can it be done? Definitely.
A sights-stacked, jam-packed, delicious food and drink-laden 3 days in New York City for $200? Well, that’s a different beast…
The facts: this price tag includes transportation but does not include lodging. In fact, those facts makes me antsy and fidgety and awkward. Is $200 for 3 nights without hotel in the city that never sleeps truly frugal, even if it does include transportation? Help me decide.
My college roommate, former DC roommate, and most recently, New Yorker, Ellie, issued me an open invitation to visit and stay with her and her boyfriend. The words were still in her mouth when I booked a trip on Megabus to see her new digs and experience the city. I compared prices between Amtrak ($160+!), Megabus, Bolt Bus and DC2NY buses. After toying with dates and times, my roundtrip ticket came to $35. Sold.
I arrived in New York on Thursday night – time: 11:00pm, mood: famished. The 4.5 hour scheduled bus ride had turned into 5+. The bus driver ‘ran out of driving time’and was forced to pull into a desolate petrol station to wait for another driver to resume the trip. On the plus side, Megabus has power outlets, some of which work.
I got my first taste of New York pizza sooner than expected. Ellie and I stopped into Cavallo’s – a narrow, late-night pizza joint steps from the bus stop with some interesting specialty slices but little else to commit to memory. At $7 for two slices, though, it satisfied my hunger and budget.
I spent Friday morning and afternoon working remotely in Ellie and Andy’s small, efficient one-bedroom (if I learned nothing else in New York – housing there is even more expensive than DC, a truly mindblowing concept). It’s cozy and homey, filled with remnants of the two years Ellie and I lived together in DC. Invigorated with a sense of new found belonging, I wandered out for lunch, determined to find Brooklyn’s best tacos.
Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos in Bushwick – a neighborhood that has thus far escaped gentrification, was not the direction I walked. In fact, the subway wasn’t the direction I walked, either. Me, lost, you say?! No way! After a good mile of aimless wandering, I hailed a cab (I’m so New York now!). Twenty seconds later, I realized he wasn’t metered or marked (oops). He wanted to charge me $8/mile. I threatened to get out, most likely by Bond-style dive and rolling, and his tune changed. I got a lecture on karma, a strong cautioning against being in Bushwick alone and a detailed story of how he – my cabby, twice beat the world tae kwon do champion. Dubious times.
At long last, and a heavily haggled $10 later, I arrived at my perfect hole-in-the-wall. Homemade tortillas, fresh salsa and the smell of sizzling chorizo greeted me. The cash register dinged $7.75 for three tacos.
I found my way back on the subway this time, and Ellie, Andy and I headed into Manhattan.
They say drinking in Manhattan is expensive. And eating. And breathing. It’s an expensive city. Or is it?
We ambled about the charming main strip of East Village until we found Ten Degrees, an upscale wine bar with a penchant for low brow hip hop. You haven’t quite experienced all New York has to offer until you’ve drank good wine in a low-lit establishment while chair dancing and trying not to sing – out loud, “lick my neck, my back…”
Ten Degrees’s happy hour is from 12:00-8 and is 2-4-1. It’s a buy one drink, get one drink per person for eight hours. And it includes bottles! Callie, my closest girlfriend from my days doing the JET program, met us there, and the four of us split two bottles of wine for the grand total of $45, with tip.
We indulged in another round of drinks at the Belgian Room next door to Ten Degrees – where our drinks were half off for their happy hour. We couldn’t resist ordering their famed pommes frites. Total: $30.
(Still) hungry and tipsy we headed to East Village’s must-eat spot: Artichoke Basille, the pizza of the gods. That’s my tagline, not theirs. We devoured a small artichoke pizza and breadsticks, and Andy got a beer – a really, really giant beer – for $40, including tip. Artichoke isn’t traditional New York style pizza, but it doesn’t need to be. Andy gave it two thumbs up. We concur.
Our tour of East Village wouldn’t be complete without a nightcap. Fortunately, my old college editor-in-chief and personal buddy – and current Mashable entertainment writer, Brian (@BAHjournalist), lives nearby and howed us to Destination. It’s a fun bar with a lively crowd – and best yet, a wall of various phone chargers. That should mandatory in bars… by law! Ellie and I were fading fast (lightweights!) but managed one more drink each ($9).
The trek back to Brooklyn was painful, with a 40-minute wait for a train. I’m thankful to have been in the company of friends, who didn’t judge me (out loud) for seriously considering napping on a subway floor……. and who saved me from doing it!
By Friday night (okay, Saturday at 2:30am), my grand New York City weekend total came to $119.75. Did I make it through Saturday & Sunday seeing some sights, drinking some beer and continuing to eat great food without surpassing my $200 limit? That’ll be in the next post, because this one is 900 words. Are you still reading? Yes? I have a reader!