Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Day One: June 9, 2016
I arrived at the Albany Amtrak Train station well before my 7:15 PM Train. After working all day I had time to change and then head to the boarding area. It was quite a waiting room view- I was able to sit in a glass tunnel looking down at the tracks from above and I was able to see the Hudson River to my right. I used my waiting time to pull out my copy of The Devil Wears Prada, which seemed the appropriate literature for my trip to the city, and read until they called for my train to board. I l took my rolling luggage to the escalator and descended to the tracks and onto my train. I felt odd at this point because nobody had checked my ticket yet, but regardless I boarded and picked out a nice seat by the window facing the Hudson River.
As my train pulled away from the station I sat back in my spacious chair and gazed at the beautiful view I had out the window when I realized I had not eaten anything since 11:00 AM that morning and my train would not arrive until 9:50 PM. I got a little panicked thinking surely I would starve to death, but since I failed to bring any snacks I decided the best thing I could do was to read my book and hope for the best. A few minutes later someone finally checked my ticket after we had already begun moving, making me wonder what would happen if someone didn't have a ticket.
My own personal angel appeared around 9:00 saying, "Last call for food services. Last car all the way back" There was a food car?? How I wish I had known sooner but I got up and started making my way through the never ending cars, seriously there had to have been a dozen cars, towards the food car. They had a cheese and cracker tray and I was in heaven! I ordered my very over-priced cheese and a half bottle of Cabernet and headed back to my seat to enjoy the pure delight that was food. My $22 was well spent no matter what my friends or boyfriend say. After I had some food in my belly I sat back and relaxed until my train arrived in the station.
I walked off my train, up an escalator, and looked up the restaurant I was supposed to meet my friends at on my phone. Travel time walking: 1 hour and 37 minutes... I immediately started to panic because I had looked it up earlier and it was only a 28 minute walk from the Train Station. Then I noticed it was 9:45 and my train was supposed to arrive at 9:50 so I really started to panic and begun to think I had gotten off at the wrong station. Thankfully after a frantic phone call I got some encouragement to ask someone who worked there; I discovered I was in the right place and my phone just didn't have service yet. Tourist move..
After some sweet talking at the hotel I managed to get them to hold my bags for free until I returned from my "urgent dinner reservations" and I was on my way. I had a 1 mile walk to Ellen's Stardust Diner where I was meeting my two friends, Mollie and Katie. I decided the best way to take on this journey was to keep my head down and walk with purpose. Then, all of a sudden I hear my name. Thinking I was imagining things I almost didn't look up and then to my surprise I saw a friend from school who plays for the Jets. Small world, huh? Over 10 million people in New York City and I see someone I know within the first 30 minutes.
After a short wait, Katie, Mollie, and I were seated on the second floor of Ellen's and were able to see/hear some really awesome talent from the workers singing various Broadway tunes. If you need a fun place to eat and don't have a Broadway show on your itinerary it's a great place to go! Meals are going to be in the $16-$25 range. Since I had already eaten my cheese tray I ordered a side of mixed vegetables and a martini and mine was $20 plus tip. Definitely a good stop if you enjoy great singing and a fun atmosphere!
We had made it back through Time Square to our hotel when Katie informs me she accidentally booked a room with only one full bed and we'd have to order a cot. So, we got back to the hotel, waited on the cot, made plans for the next day, and passed out.
Day Two: June 10, 2016
My alarm went off bright and early as we had decided the night before that we would all be up and ready to leave by 7:30 so we could go to the Today's Show and see Nick Jonas. Well, after showering under what felt like a pressure washer I didn't feel well and got back in bed thinking they would get up and shower when their alarms went off. I thought wrong. Needless to say around 9:00 I finally turned on some music, opened the curtains, and made them get up and get ready!
We finally made it out of the hotel and started walking towards The Tea and Sympathy for afternoon tea. If you have never had afternoon tea, you are missing out. Katie and I started out with mimosas, and then Mollie and I decided to order "Tea for Two." We chose an Apple-Mango tea and a Peach tea to go with our food. Then arrived our beautiful arrangement of finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts on a three-tiered tower. I discovered later in the meal that both Katie and Mollie did not want to go to tea and thought it was dumb; however, after we finished they were huge fans. Afternoon tea prices vary depending on where you go. The Tea for Two was $66, so $33 per person plus tax and tip. This is a relatively affordable tea, but completely delicious. I highly recommend The Tea and Sympathy. They were kind and the food was incredible.
Mani-pedis came next. We just went in various nail salons to find the best price. We ended up somewhere where a regular mani-pedi was $23, and a gel manicure and regular pedicure was $45.
After taking my first subway trip we arrived at China Town. This was quite an experience. There are ladies who walk around asking you what you are looking for, they are there to help you. We ignored the first few and finally realized they would take us to the good stuff. So we paired up with one and she hooked us up. We looked at purses and sun glasses, you name it they had it. We were bargaining left and right and walked away with some good stuff. All in all, a great stop on our trip. I think I spent around $100 while we were at China Town, but it would have been easy to spend way more, or way less.
After taking the subway to Central Park we found a guy who pedals you around the park while you sit comfortably in the shade and hear about all the movie scenes filmed in the park. Definitely a lazy way to see Central Park, but on a time crunch and with aching feet it worked for us. It was $20 a person before tip. This is a great way to see a good chunk of the massive park if you don't have all day to walk around and sunbath like the locals.
Mollie caved and had to have a southern style sweet tea, so we did the next best thing and stopped at McDonald's so she could have her sugar fix. Not long after we got picked up for our "driving tour." This was one of the best parts of our trip. We got to see a lot of the city that a bus tour or just walking around aimlessly would have never taken us to. We went everywhere. Traveled over the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridge. Saw the beauty of Battery Park, stood in awe at Ground Zero, and gazed at the Statue of Liberty from afar. The sights were breath-taking.
We were able to meet up with a friend from school who was staying a few blocks away, and after walking her back to her hotel we attempted to make a new game plan for Saturday and then went to sleep.
Day Three: June 11, 2016
Again we all got up way later than we intended, but we finally made our way down to the lobby of the hotel fully packed and ready to take on the day! We had to pay $5 per bag this time for them to store our luggage. A small price to pay verses carrying all that junk with us all over the city!
We took the subway uptown and found a little cafe were we got some brunch. Ice hazelnut coffee, a chocolate cigar, and a cinnamon bun hit the spot. We finished up and headed to the car for another "driving tour" of the city to see even more cool stuff. After we drove around and saw the George Washington Bridge, Harlem, and all of 5th Ave we went to the Met.
We took our cliche Met steps picture and headed inside to the largest Art Museum in the world. So, the Met was originally started with the intent to be free of charge, of course now they ask for a donation as your entry fee, but you don't technically have to donate anything. Since working in New York I decided that they had received enough of my money in taxes that we didn't have to feel bad donating only $1 each. We did rationalize, though, that we only wanted to spend an hour in the museum which could easily be an entire day excursion. We saw the mummies and some European sculptures and then called it a day.
Once we saw Ground Zero in person, despite the warning that the 9/11 museum was depressing we couldn't stay away. It was fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the tragedy and honor those who lost their lives. Student tickets were $18 for just general admission and a guided tour was $38. We did the general admission which was good because we were able to go at our own pace and still make our 6:30 dinner reservations.
The saddest part about our dinner was that none of us know what our restaurant was called, but after seeing it on Friday when we walked through some of the Battery Park area we knew we had to have dinner there. The food and the view were exquisite. I honestly didn't even know what I was ordering but I crossed my fingers and was optimistic it would be good, and I was 100% correct. The bread, the fish, and the wine were all to die for. My ticket was $63 after tip, so if you go on a city trip it might sounds daunting but try to plan at least one very nice dinner because you will not be disappointed!
Following dinner we sat by the water for a little while watching the sun set behind the skyline of New Jersey and then we found a dessert shop where we ordered macaroons and other bite-sized desserts.
We hopped off our last subway, collected our bags from the luggage hold and went to Penn Station so I could take the train back the Albany and real life. My train left the city at 12:00 PM and arrived "home" at 2:30 AM.