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February 17, 2017

New York on a Budget with a Baby; Part 2--Arriving in the City

In our previous post we described how we planned for our December trip to New York. Today we will tell you how the actual trip began. Unfortunately it didn't get off to a very good start.

Here's the TL;DR version:
Thursday:  Delayed flight due to high winds, chicken nuggets.
Friday:  Freezing cold, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (kind of), 9/11 Memorial, tiny hotel room, pizza, Central Park, star on live TV, MoMA, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, more pizza plus pastries, sleep.

As I mentioned last time, I was on the east coast for a business trip, so Chrissy had to fly by herself with Frugal Babe in order to meet me there. Her flight was scheduled for Thursday around noon but when she got to the airport with our baby, who doesn't like changes in her routine, the delays began. First an hour, then another, and another. Chrissy was able to sneak into the nursing room at LAX a couple times, but there were lots of other people who needed to use it too, so it was a brief respite, and our baby refuses to nap outside of her crib, so she got nice and cranky.

The delays were due to high winds in Newark, which I was enjoying first hand. Fortunately, the flight wasn't cancelled and they finally took off four hours late. Not a good start.

The flight itself went surprisingly smoothly. Frugal Babe refused to sleep, but she remained relatively calm and made friends with the pediatrician who happened to be sitting next to her.

When Chrissy finally got to Newark, I was waiting for her at the shuttle stop but she was pretty exasperated from a looooooong day of travel. Of course we just missed the previous shuttle so we had to wait half an hour for the next one. Mercifully, we were staying right next to the airport in my work-sponsored hotel room that night, so we didn't have to go far, although the route to actually get to the hotel was comically circuitous.
New Jersey's efficient roadways.
This hotel was able to provide us with a crib, so we didn't have to unpack the one I picked up earlier in the evening. We put the exhausted baby to bed and finally took a moment to relax and enjoy some chicken nuggets I also picked up earlier. Quick aside: Burger King's 10-piece nuggets for $1.49 is one of the best things to ever happen to fast food.

As usual, our rest didn't last long because we had to review and sign some paperwork regarding our new house. When that was done, we passed out.

The next morning, we enjoyed our complementary breakfast then I was able to get a very helpful hotel staffer to scan the paperwork we had filled out the night before and email them to me. By the time all that was done, it was time for Frugal Babe's first nap of the day, so we hung out a little while longer and got everything packed up. The highlight of this time was the handy carrying strap I made for the pack-n-play out of duct tape.
The biggest transportation challenge of the trip was deciding how to get from Newark to Manhattan. There are quite a few options, but I eventually came up with what I thought was a clever solution. I knew there was a ferry that went between Manhattan, Liberty Island, and New Jersey, so why not use that as transportation as well as sight seeing? We soon found out.

Once Frugal Baby woke up we summoned an Uber to take us to Liberty State Park, which is right next to Ellis Island and where you catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. After getting slightly lost, the Uber dropped us off and we made our way to the ferry landing. Unfortunately, we were greeted by a big sign informing us no luggage was allowed on the ferry. We asked someone if that rule was enforced and they confirmed our plan was shot. They did, however, inform us there was a "water taxi" nearby that would take us to Manhattan. We took a moment to get as good a view of Lady Liberty as possible and I came to grips with the fact that I would have to be happy with a somewhat distant view of her, which was still pretty cool.
You can kind of see Lady Liberty back there.
I should probably take a moment to mention Friday was bitterly cold and windy, with a maximum temperature of 27 degrees. It was not the best time to be aimlessly wandering around Liberty State Park, but you take what you can get when you visit New York in December.

By the time we headed toward the water taxi dock, it was almost the scheduled departure time, so I ran ahead to make sure it didn't leave without us. Once aboard, I was happy to learn it was only $7 for each adult, which was far cheaper than most of the other transportation options into the city.

After the quick ferry ride we were finally in the Big Apple and we headed straight into tourist central. The ferry landing is at the south end of the island, which was an easy walk to the 9/11 Memorial. The fountains were turned off due to the wind, but it was still an awe inspiring place, aside from all the oddly happy people taking selfies.

A long way down.
By this time, Frugal Babe was almost ready for another nap, so we made our way to the nearest subway station that would take us to our hotel. My coworker gave me a couple Metro cards before we left so we loaded $10 onto each one and we were all set. Once we were on the appropriate train, it was a quick ride to midtown and a short walk to the hotel. It wasn't quite check-in time, but I had called a couple days before to ask for early check-in, so they took care of us.

When checking-in we got a little warning from the staff that the rooms were "New York size," which was a little ominous, but we carried on. When we got to the room, we saw what they meant. This was the smallest hotel room I have ever seen. It made the Japanese hotel rooms I've stayed in seem like suites. The whole room was probably 15' x 8', with the bathroom being 5' x 8' of that. It barely fit the queen size bed, and we were just barely able to wedge the pack-n-plan into the small patch of open floor. It was definitely small, but it got the job done, and we were just relieved to finally put down all our luggage, because we had been schlepping it around all day.

After all the hustle and bustle, Frugal Babe was very ready for a nap, but we hadn't had lunch yet, so I walked around the corner to a pizza place while Chrissy put the baby down. When I returned with a large pizza, everyone's mood improved.

When we finished eating we were ready to venture out for some serious sight seeing. We got super bundled up and walked north toward Central Park. When we got there we found a pop-up craft market so we looked around a bit. After that we were consulting our map and looking confused when a man approached us and asked if we wanted to be on TV. We said sure, and promptly had a news camera from the local CBS station in our faces while the man gave the weather forecast. Apparently all the newscasters loved Frugal Babe. We didn't get to see the broadcast because it was live. We looked online to find the clip, but weren't able to locate it. Oh well.

From the craft market, we strolled through a mostly abandoned Central Park in the direction of MoMA. Part of our planning involved looking for deals on various attractions, and on Friday evenings for a couple hours, MoMA offers free admission, so this was the time to visit.

The museum was a bit of a zoo, as might be expected with free admission, but was still pretty cool. Some of the "modern art" was pretty ridiculous, but they had a Jaguar E-Type on display, which made up for everything else. We didn't actually stay too long because we were approaching bed time, but we did get to huddle on an out-of-the-way stairway to breastfeed the baby.
Rockefeller Plaza; skaters below.
On the way home from MoMA, we swung by Rockefeller Plaza, which was also a zoo, but it was a very beautiful zoo. They had a bunch of metallic flags flying and they looked amazing below the enormous Christmas tree on that windy day. It was quite a sight, but we couldn't linger, so we hurried back to the hotel, via the insanely illuminated Times Square, to but the baby down.
Times Square
As Chrissy put Frugal Babe to sleep I ran out to get some salad and pastries to go with our leftover pizza. I also stopped at a pharmacy and grabbed some milk and beer. You can't have pizza without beer, and you can't have pastries without milk. When I got back to the room, Chrissy and I squeezed into the bathroom to eat our dinner. That was the only way to avoid disturbing the baby.

After that crazy day, we passed out as soon as we finished eating. The trip was off to a good start.

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1 comment:

  1. Yesss to free breakfast (even though it's probably baked into the hotel rate somehow). I remember years ago when my wife and I went to all inclusive resorts the breakfast there was insane - everything from fruits and bagels to made to order omlettes and pancakes and waffles, OH MY. We'd wake up early like we were going to work to make sure we were at the buffet by 11:00am!