So this past weekend, I went to New York to visit a college friend. New York is basically my second home. Ever since we moved to the East Coast and I started having a stable and reliable income, I have found every opportunity to travel. The Color Purple is on Broadway…yes, please. A restaurant from DDD (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) is in New York…I am on my way. Basically, I will travel for anything.
If you think you have to have a lot of money to travel, you are wrong. All of my trips have been on a tight budget, and I have enjoyed all of them. You just have to know where to look for good deals. I have traveled to New York quite a few times, and each time I go, I take the Megabus. And as a creature of habit, I will continue to travel with them unless I have a really terrible experience. I like taking the Megabus because it is affordable and I do not have to drive to my destination.
For this trip, I only paid $8 roundtrip including having reserved seats each way. With the Megabus, you can choose to pay $1 extra to reserve a seat on the bus. I would highly recommend doing this, especially if you are traveling in a group or are always running late (like myself). I got an email from Megabus in July that they were making tickets available for the fall. When I went on the website, I found tickets starting at $1! I booked my trip right on the spot; you cannot get a better deal than that.
When trying to travel on a budget, it is best to try and plan ahead as much as possible. Our first stop on my day trip was the Statue of Liberty. For major touristy spots, you need to book your tickets in advance. Like the Statue of Liberty tour, some touristy spots do not allow individuals to purchase same-day tickets. So to avoid missing out experiencing something, just book it ahead if possible. We arrived early because we were unsure of how long it would take to board the boat. Surprisingly, it did not take long for us to go through security and then get on the boat. As we sailed across the Hudson River, we ate our bagel breakfast and basked in the sun as we approached Lady Liberty.
It was not until we got onto the island, that I was able to fully comprehend the size of the statue. Our tickets were only to view the statue from the grounds, and not within the crown or on the pedestal. However, we still learned so much about the statue and had a great experience. They offer a FREE audio tour for visitors that explain the history behind the creation of the statue. It was fascinating to learn that her fingernail is the size of my forearm. We also learned that women were prohibited to attend the dedication ceremony (which was quite ironic). So they rented boats and sailed around the island, protesting during the dedication ceremony.
After we finished touring the island, we sailed back to Manhattan to eat lunch. On our way to the train station, we spotted the Bull located on Wall Street. I opted to take a picture in the front of the Bull, for a more appealing picture. Unfortunately, the station where we planned to catch the train was closed, so we walked a while to find the nearest station.
It did not matter to me because we were going to a restaurant that I had been waiting to try for months. Somehow I found out that Marcus Samuelsson, a guest judge on Chopped, had a restaurant in New York called Red Rooster Harlem. I saw how good his food looked and knew I had to eat there. So that is where we were heading, to a soul food restaurant in Harlem. I had never been to Harlem before, but it definitely was not what I had expected. Gentrification was really evident there, but that is a discussion for another day.
Even though we did not make a reservation in advance (silly of me), we were able to get a table within 30 minutes. During that time, we walked around to get a brief glimpse of Harlem. One day I would love to go back and visit a jazz club at night. I had such a hard time deciding what to eat, I was stuck between four dishes. I finally decided to try their Hot Honey Yardbird because they were known for their fried chicken. I do not regret this decision at all.
Halfway through my meal, I realized that I had not talked to my friend since the food arrived at the table. The skin of the chicken was crispy, the meat inside was so juicy and tender; the greens and yams were good as well. The dinner entrees started at $20, but it is so worth it (cue Fifth Harmony). I was completely stuffed after I finished the entire dish.
After walking to the train station and burning a few calories, my friend wanted to take me to get gelato. We ended up going to a place called Eatly in Flatiron. I got the Crema (Vanilla with Bourbon) gelato; it was really rich. By this time, it was getting late and I needed to grab a taxi to get back on the Megabus. For five minutes, it seemed as though every taxi we tried to wave down had a passenger in it. Finally, we were able to hail a taxi and get to the Megabus stop five minutes prior to its departure. This is why I highly recommend reserving your seat, nearly everyone was already on the bus when I got there. I said my goodbyes to my friend and loaded the bus. Satisfied with a great day trip, I relaxed as the bus pulled away into the night.
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