Who says you can't have an inexpensive vacation in NYC? I'm here to tell you that you CAN!
by wanderer 2005 on June 17, 2009
What can I say about Central Park? Gosh…it’s such a wonderful place to relax or jog, or just lounge on the grass and enjoy your day off.This park is huge and there is something for everyone.We started at the end with the zoo and ended up walking past the reservoir, looking for Belvedere Castle (how DO you hide a castle?).The great lawn is a wide open space with baseball diamonds and other sports related areas. My favorite part, are the trails that wind all around…kind of like your own private jungle. There are bridges and twisty trails and hills and lawns and jogging trails and so much more!The park has made appearances in many movies including, Home Alone 2, Elf, The out of Towners, Annie Hall and many more. Most recently, Bride Wars and one movie dating all the way back to 1908 in the movie Father gets in the game. The park is over 150 years old, spans 843 acres and is 100% man-made. There are 17 restrooms throughout the grounds, 21 playgrounds, a zoo, 7 outdoor eating establishments, a turtle pond, a castle, an amphitheater, 7 bodies of water, 9000 benches, 36 bridges, a recreation center, a gift shop and an homage to John Lennon.We were here in the spring and it was a beautiful day to take a stroll. We entered the park by the zoo and continued west to Strawberry Fields and then north to the reservoir.There are hot dog carts scattered throughout and that’s what we opted for….I love a good street dog.Just bring your walking shoes. There’s a ton of area to cover, so perhaps a picnic lunch would be great, too! You can view and print a map online at www.centralparknyc.orgPark hours are 6am-1am 7 days a week.
by wanderer 2005 on May 22, 2009
On September 11, 2001, the Brooklyn Bridge became an escape route out of Manhattan, for people who witnessed the World Trade Center disaster.Measuring 6,016 feet (just over a mile) across and at a cost of $15.1 million, the bridge is a symbol of strength and longevity. In 1855, John Roebling, the owner of a wire rope company and a famous bridge designer, proposed a suspension bridge over the East River after getting frustrated with the Atlantic Avenue-Fulton Street Ferry, the only mode of transportation between Manhattan and Brooklyn.In 1867, a group of prominent leaders formed the New York Bridge Company "for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a bridge across the East River." Two years later, in June 1869, the New York City Council approved Roebling's design. In July that same year, John got his foot crushed on a pier by an incoming ferry. He died from tetanus poisoning resulting from that injury on July 22, 1869. With help from his wife, Mary the construction continued and ground was finally broken in January 1870, and the foundations took 3 years to construct. Through worker deaths and minor complications, the bridge was finished on May 23, 1883. That day, 150,300 people crossed the bridge.Now a great place to take a walk or jog, The Brooklyn Bridge graces the skyline. This is a beautiful piece of architecture and a truly historic place. You can also get great pix of the NYC skyline from the bridge. The cars are below the walkway, which keeps you from getting blown around when the cars speed by...Walk to or from Brooklyn, or better yet........do BOTH!Please stay to the right, when heading TO Brooklyn, or on the left when coming FROM Brooklyn as the other side is for bikes or runners. Keep in mind, people WILL yell at you if you’re wandering in the bike lane. It IS marked, but I saw plenty of people just standing in the bike lane.Just be aware of the people around you.When you get across into Brooklyn, take a left after you get off the stairs and head down to DUMBO (down under the Manhattan bridge overpass) for a bite to eat or to check out an art gallery.
by wanderer 2005 on May 20, 2009
Les Halles is famous for a famous chef by the name of Anthony Bourdain who spent many years in the kitchen of the Park Ave location. If you like French cooking, then this is the place for you. I have been wanting to eat here for a couple years now, so when I was in NYC, I jumped at the chance to have dinner here.Le Halles, which means market in French, is a bistro type place with 2 locations in the city.We met some friends at the downtown location, near Ground Zero.I had been studying the menu online, deciding what I wanted and I was ready to go!I had a reservation for 4 and we arrived right on time. We sat at a table in the back of the restaurant, near the kitchen.We started off with an order of escargot, which was heavenly.Hubby had coq au vin, I ordered the moules Portugues, Goretti had the Cassoulet and her hubby had the pork tenderloin.Let me just say that excited isn’t enough to explain how I felt being here. We were brought a basket of bread and butter that we enjoyed along with our snails. Not too many restaurants offer escargot anymore, so when I see it…I order it!My mussels were fabulous, with slices of chorizo, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes and white wine and served with fries….it was yummy! (see my picture)Hubby’s rooster was delicate and tasty. The cassoulet was the big surprise…it was really great. The beans were cooked to perfection and the big pieces of ham and duck were seasoned perfectly.The pork loin was tender and served with mashed potatoes and garlic confit.We didn’t have room for dessert, but our meal was fantastic!If you get a chance to have dinner here, I recommend it. It may not be the BEST restaurant in town, but it’s consistent, the prices are reasonable and the food is yummy.You really can't go wrong here.www.leshalles.com
by wanderer 2005 on May 19, 2009
The Affinia Gardens touts itself as a tranquil suite hotel. I can attest that it is anything BUT tranquil.Located on the upper east side, the location is great, the rooms themselves are great and the free tea making facilities are great. What bothered me so much, was the thinness of the walls, the slamming of the room doors and the echoes in the hallway.I was nowhere near the elevator and I could hear the beep everytime the doors opened at our floor. You could hear every word from the hallway and the room doors close automatically, thus slamming at all hours of the day and night…..especially in the early am, when the maids are busy. IMPOSSIBLE to sleep late. You can hear the phone ring in the room next door as well as the toilet flushing next door.While we were here, the air conditioner was broken and being replaced, so it was very stuffy and hot in the room. Opening the window was nice, but we were on the second floor, so leaving it open at night isn’t a good idea..in any city.The lobby was modern and quiet. There is a tranquility lounge where you can make tea 24hrs a day, at no cost.Our room was a junior suite with a king size bed. The kitchen had a sink, microwave, stove, coffeemaker and utensils.The main room was huge and consisted of a work desk with WIFI ($13.95 for 24hrs) a lighted makeup station, king size bed, sofabed couch, dresser with flat screen tv, alarm clock and dual line phones.There is a separate dressing/closet area and nice big bathroom with Aveda products and plenty of storage space underneath the sink.The bed was nice and comfy and the tv reception was great, because the other 2 hotels we stayed at, we had problems with getting stations.The staff were very pleasant and we felt welcome, my only issue was the noise. They only offer a continental breakfast in the mornings, which you can have delivered to your room, for $9.95 a person.Affinia Hotels offer a pillow menu with 6 different kinds of piloows that are avilable, at no cost to you. They also offer travel amenities like yoga mats and such. Some of those things cost, some dont. Just check the website.The location was awesome…right off of 3rd ave…a 20 minute walk to central park, with Bloomingdales right around the corner and the 5th ave shops not far away. There is an eye and throat institute across the street and the area is very residential. There is a great Chinese restaurant right down the street, called China Fun.Would I stay here again? Maybe on a different floor…perhaps that would help, but who knows.If the noise issues were fixed, this would be a great place to get some rest......www.affinia.com
The Kimberly is a boutique style hotel on midtown Manhattans east side. They offer suites as well as standard guest rooms.We had a 1 bedroom suite with a small kitchen and balcony that was perfect for us. We loved our room but had some issues with tv reception and were disappointed with the restaurant breakfast selection...they only have a buffet, no menu items.When you walk into the room, the living room was large, with a flat screen tv, a small dining table, work desk and pull out sofa bed with chairs and coffee table. There was a small closet with umbrellas to use and hangers for jackets. There is WIFI and wired internet as well as a fax machine on the desk.The small kitchen had a full size fridge, toaster, coffeemaker, and microwave. It was also stocked with dishes and utensils to use as well.The bedroom was large and had a dresser with mirror, flat screen tv, nightstands on either side of the bed, alarm clock and large closet.The bed was WONDERFUL and I wanted to stay in it all day long. It had plenty of goose down pillows and some extra long ones that you can use as a body pillow…which I LOVE. There was even an electric shoeshine machine.The bathroom and sink area were small, but there is plenty of storage for your toiletries in the medicine cabinets behind the mirror. The hotel supplies Neutrogena products, lotion, soap, shampoo and conditioner plus a hairdryer and lighted makeup mirror.Across from the bedroom was another large closet with shelving, a safe and extra bedding for the sofa bed.We really enjoyed our balcony. We would have a glass of wine at night and just listen to the traffic below.When we were here, they were adding another elevator, but we never heard a peep.When we checked in, they gave us a coupon for $10 off any food purchase in their restaurant, Ferros. We went down for breakfast one morning and all they offer is a breakfast buffet. No menu service at all, which is my only real complaint.The hotel is in a great location and there’s a coffee shop next door, as well as a sushi place right down the street. St. Patricks Cathedral is a short walk away as well.We really liked the Kimberly and would definitely stay here again. The coffeemaker was great in the morning and the fridge was great for our leftovers from various places we ate at along the way.The balcony was an added plus and just made the room that much better.
by wanderer 2005 on May 14, 2009
The best and cheapest way to get around the city, is by subway. The old wives tales of muggings and murders in the subway are long gone. NYC is actually very friendly and safe.They don’t use tokens anymore, they have changed to cards that you can purchase in any station. You can get a daily, a weekly or a monthly pass, either from an attendant or from the machine.It’s very easy to get the metro card and easy to figure out the subway lines.Don’t bother with expensive taxi cabs. You can get there faster on the train, cuz there’s no traffic. Some of the older subway cars are still in rotation but the newer ones have nice, digital maps of the stations visited on that particular route….which helps out tremendously.We asked passersby if we were getting on the right train, and they were always willing to help.You might get lucky in some stations with musicians or performers of some kind. Those are always a treat.As with any city in the world, just be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep your belongings close to you and you’ll be fine.The only time we took a cab was when we switched hotels because we had quite a bit of luggage and most stations don’t have elevators.
We all know Katz’s Deli is an institution and a must visit while in NYC, and I found out why. The food is wonderful (but not cheap) and the atmosphere is unlike no other.If you’re down on the LES of Manhattan and you’re HUNGRY, make a stop here to get yourself so full, that you won’t need to eat dinner….ever again……….When you enter the deli, you’ll be given a ticket. DON’T LOSE THAT TICKET….even if you don’t order anything, you need to turn that ticket in before you leave. If you do not have a ticket when you leave, I believe the charge is 15bucks, or something like that. So DON’T lose it.You’ll get in line and wait for someone to call you over to their station, where you’ll order. Now the guys that you order from and that make your sandwiches are real characters. We had a guy named Adam and he was super nice. Here’s a tip, if you slip a dollar bill into the cup with your guys name on it, you’ll get to taste the meat before he puts in your sandwich.And these sandwiches are HUGE!The pastrami is all the rage as is the corned beef…two of my favorites!Get a bowl of the Matzo ball soup to help wash that sandwich down.My favorite part of Katz’s, is the pickles. They make their own, and they are wonderful! They’re served with all the sandwiches.Granted the food is big, but I think $15 for a sandwich is a little much, but this IS NY and this is Katz’s, so......On your way out, you’ll pay your tab at the desk by the door. Note....the amount on your green ticket does not include tax, so don’t be shocked when your told a different total when you go to pay.Go to katzdeli.com
The banh mi craze is all over the country and if you like overstuffed sandwiches with an asian flair, then this your place.And of course….they’re inexpensive.In NYC’s Chinatown is a small jewelry store/bakery that serves wonderful sandwiches that will fill you up and not break the bank.Try the pork with all the fixins’ for $3.75 or get crazy and try the sardine sandwich with all the fixins’ for $3.75. That’s for a footlong sandwich stuffed to the gills with stuff! The best deal in Chinatown. The papaya and shrimp salad is a bargain at $5.50. Get your sandwich spicy, for an extra taste explosion.The sandwich fixins include, pickeled daikon and carrots, cilantro, jalapeno slices, mayo and soy sauce. It may sound strange, but they make for an amazing sandwich.This little place does not have any tables, only benches, so we took ours outside and found a place to sit down. You can always call ahead to have it ready, as service is a bit slow and they don’t speak a ton of English and it can get really crowded in there at times.If you’re in Chinatown, do yourself a favor and try one of these sandwiches.
If you’re looking for great tasting street food at a great price, the Halal cart on 53rd St. and 6th ave is a dream come true!These guys have it right. Yummy gyro lamb with pita bread and rice or shredded chicken and rice with pita bread for a whopping 6 bucks!It’s the best deal in the city and the food is really phenomenal.It’s across the street from the Hilton New York and they only operate from 730pm to 4am, 7 days a week. You can spot them by the yellow shirts they wear and the yellow bags they use. There is always a line at this cart and for good reason. Locals know good food and a good deal when they see it.These guys have a grill and cook everything fresh. If you choose to eat it there, there are sauces to top your plate with, on one side of the cart. If you take it go, sauces come on the side. But buyer beware…the hot sauce is really hot, so be careful with that stuff!We had a lamb plate and a chicken plate. I thought the lamb was very tasty and the chicken wasn’t dry at all…even after carrying it 10 blocks to the hotel. The white sauce that comes with the meal, looks and tastes almost like a watered down ranch dressing, but it’s really good. Top it off sparingly with the hot sauce and you have a wonderful meal. The cart that’s there during daylight hours is not affiliated with the evening guys in any way.They do offer a website, www.53rdand6th.comWhen you get tired of paying inflated prices for dinner, you’ll give them a try. And you won’t be disappointed. Promise…..If you don't see the yellow shirts, it's not the same guys.....
by wanderer 2005 on May 7, 2009
I had read really good things about Dial 7, so I decided to give them a try. I was happily surprised and will definitely use them again! I reserved a sedan to pick us up from La Guardia airport to take us to our hotel, then back to the airport, a few days later.I could have just taken a yellow cab into the city, but I wanted a nice car for my husband and I, so I made my reservations via their website.Having lived in NYC, I knew that anything was possible, I mean the guy could have showed up in a beat-up, old VW bus, so I was a tad bit nervous.My email confirmation said to call the toll free number after we retrieved our luggage, and the girl I spoke to gave me the number of my car and said he would be there in 5 minutes.You have to cross over to the next curb and look for your driver holding a sign in his hand, out his window with the car number on it. He pulled right up, put our luggage in the trunk, confirmed where we were going and we were off. The car was a fairly new, nice, black Lincoln sedan. The driver was really nice and professional and we arrived at the hotel in about 30 minutes…not too bad in rush hour traffic.The rate was a flat rate of $36.00 not including tolls or gratuity, which is a great rate so That’s why I reserved it. There was another car service that wanted to charge $85.00 oneway for the same kind of car, and a cab would have been about $35-$40, so I felt I was doing good.Like I said, I was a little nervous about the shape the car would be in, because the cars are usually privately owned by the driver and not by the car service, so you never know, but I was pleasantly surprised in both instances.When we were picked up at our hotel for the ride back to the airport, the driver was on time and the company even called me to make sure my car had arrived. VERY NICE.The car on the way back was a cream colored Lincoln and not AS nice as the first one, but nicer than a cab.At any rate, I absolutely recommend them to anyone wanting a nice ride to or from the airport.www.dial7.com
This tiny hotel served its purpose, but my room was the smallest room I have ever been in…even in Europe.Room 1111 was right behind the elevator, but thankfully, I never heard a peep, but the king size bed took up the entire space, with little room to move around. Thank god it was only for 1 night…I would have gone insane if I had to spend a couple days there.There wasn’t a proper closet, just an armoire, with a TV, a couple drawers and some hangers. There was about 6 inches between the bed and the armoire, and on either side of the bed was about 2 feet. It was almost claustrophobic. Plus, with no closet, our luggage was on the floor, ready for us to trip over. There was a small desk next to the armoire, in the corner, so we could at least put 1 suitcase on top of it. The bathroom was tiny as well, with almost no counter space, but it worked.The property has free wireless internet which is a HUGE plus.There wasn’t a safe in the room, which would have been an issue for us if we had been staying longer, for our ipods and laptop.The main surprise was the free breakfast in the lobby each morning. There were hot biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled egg patties (for lack of a better word), sausage patties, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, apple, orange and cranberry juices, coffee, tea, bread for toasting, bagels, cream cheese, Danish, fresh, yummy, cinnamon rolls and fruit.I was impressed with the temperature of the food. The hot items were piping hot and the cold items were kept cold. The sausage gravy was really tasty and was my favorite, besides the cinnamon rolls.The location was really good as well. We were right around the corner from MSG and Penn Station. The Tick Tock Diner is down the street on 8th ave, as well a White Castle, a HUGE Duane Reed store and Grey’s Papaya, for you hot dog lovers.If you are a Priority Club member, you can have breakfast delivered to you room, but the menu only consists of continental breakfast type items, IE: no hot eggs, or sausage or biscuits and gravy. I have heard that the breakfast area gets really packed in the morning around 730 or so, but we were down there at 645, so it was pretty empty. Breakfast is only served from 6:30 to 9:30 am.All in all, it served its purpose for the 1 night we were there. If the room had been larger and there was a safe in the room, it may have been good for more than 1 night.
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