If I could choose just one place on earth that I wanted to spend a night ..that was NYC. All my life, the little girl in me longed to walk along the 5th avenue and check out Prada and Gucci … Tiffany’s and Hermes. Setting my feet on the moon or Saks Fifth Avenue would have been the same.
PLANNING AND BOOKING
It took almost a month of virtual hotel hunting to zero down on Jolly Madison Hotel. Newyork is sooo expensive. I looked around for options on both AirBnB and the other hotel booking sites. There weren’t many options for less than $ 250 a night, wish I had a companion to share the room with.Being a Solo female traveler has its disadvantages. Interestingly, there are hotels with star ratings and shared bathrooms targeted at backpackers or singles traveling, and that’s not something I wanted to try. From Booking to Agoda ..Trivago to Hotels..every site showed the same rate. Airbnb locations were cheaper, but required at least 20 minutes of train ride from the CBD, and were at either Queens or at Brooklyn. Since NYC was an unknown territory for me, decided to choose a hotel room in instead of AirBnB, and booked a room in Jolly Madison. Had very lil expectation from the place since this was the only room in the entire New York CBD that I could find in my budget. It’s always better to be in the city center even if that costs a few dollars extra, that way you need not spend money on the local commute and saves a lot of time. Time = Money for a Solo Traveller.
FROM HOME TO HOTEL
After 18 hrs of long and toiling journey from Bangalore to New York, the 30 minutes of air train from Newark, Airport to Penn Station felt like a relief. My heart was beating fast, there were a hundred questions in my mind. What do I do after I reach the station…which exit to take, go left or right, should I ask someone or pretend not to be a tourist. Train was not moving very fast and the three guys sitting across me looked like WWF wrestlers with tattoos all over. I was literally sitting at the edge of the seat, holding my breath. They were busy planning their evening, especially about where to drink and dine. Suddenly one guy asked me if I could click a pic for them and I happily obliged. That broke the ice, and we started chatting and they asked me where I was going … “This is my first time in the US …and first day in New York.” What happened next was a scene from the movies….the entire compartment shouted in a chorus “Welcome to New York” !!!! Couldn’t have asked for a better welcome to the city that I had always loved and adored.
When the taxi driver who I met at Penn Station said he knew the hotel, it felt like a big a relief. A grumpy old man, he had a Punjabi newspaper next to his seat. We didn’t talk much or maybe I was too busy absorbing the sights outside. Hotel was just 2 blocks away from the 5th avenue. It was unbelievable, just around the corner. I could not contain my excitement. Didn’t know to call it the day of my life or night of my life ! Check-in was quick as it was pre-paid, the room was far better than I had imagined. Small but comfortable, decor was slightly old but good enough for a short stay. This place is ideal for Solo female travelers, so close to the 5th avenue, safe and secure.
Days are longer in NY, with the sun setting at around 9 pm in summer, which is great because you get 3 extra hours to do sight seeing. 3 days is NYC was all I could afford for the maiden trip. And I had to cover everything within those few hours. Next question on the mind…where to start from??
The section of Fifth Avenue that crosses midtown Manhattan especially between 49th and 60th street, is lined with prestigious shops and is consistently ranked among the most expensive shopping streets in the world and that’s where I wanted to start from. Item one on my agenda was to do WINDOW SHOPPING at Louis Vuitton & Tiffany’s, Gucci’s & Prada’s of the world and a quick peep into Bottega Veneta or Armani or Fendi. This turned out to be one of the best evenings of my life. What a delight to be let free on “Girls Heaven and Guy’s Hell” ( if the guy has to pay, I mean ). Walked all the way up to Empire State Building and by then realized that it’s not possible in my mightiest dream to shop here.
But I do wanna shop.All of my friends who had visited NYC earlier had recommended Macy’s as the place to shop. The little app called ”Visit a city” that I had downloaded was very handy in navigation. It showed “Macy” just around the corner from Empire State.
Herald Square where the “World’s largest Store”