This was my first trip to New York. All I knew about New York was what I had seen from TV shows and movies, so my assumptions were that everyone was just the average, relatable working class Joe looking to get laid on a regular basis, and it is the prime place for aliens to start invading.
I flew into JFK via JetBlue, since I had credits leftover that I needed to use. After having flown on Delta to Salt Lake City, I will say that JetBlue is much roomier, even for the regular economy seats. We got drinks and chips, as well as a “sleeping kit” which consisted of a sleeping mask and earplugs, and free wifi. The only annoyance was that JetBlue flies out of the international terminal, while my travel mates were all in the domestic terminal for American Airlines.
Ode to TSA Pre-check
I arrived at SFO around 8PM, with my flight departure time at 9PM, but I wasn’t freaking out like I normally do about being on time because 1) I didn’t have any bags to check in, and 2) I had TSA PRE-check. The former is all nice and good, but the latter is an absolute time saver and I would recommend it to anyone, assuming you have $100 to spare. The TSA pre-check application is $85, but Global Entry (which includes TSA pre-check) is $100, well worth shelling out the extra $15 in my opinion. I will talk about it more in a separate post.
It took five hours to get to JFK from SFO, and counting the 25 minute traffic delay that prevented us from taking off in the first place, it worked out perfectly so that I met up with my friends at baggage claim right when they were getting their bags. JetBlue is at terminal 5, while American Airlines is terminal 8, so I had to take the SkyTrain to get over there (it’s free, thank goodness).
Uber to Airbnb
We decided that at 6:30AM morning, it would be cheaper to Uber than take the Yellow Cab, especially considering one of us had the refer-a-friend discount. We had no problem calling a driver over and having him pick us up in the normal passenger pickup area at the departures area. I also believe we didn’t pay a flat rate; it came out to about $8 per person with four girls total, destination Williamsburg, heavy freeway traffic once we exited the airport.
NY Metro (Subway?)
After leaving our bags in the common area of our AirBnB, we set out to have our first New York experience: bagel time. We each purchased a 7-Day Unlimited Pass for $32 at the local metro station before boarding. Completely worth it by the way, just knowing you can take the subway as many times as you want, and factoring in going into the wrong station, makes it a steal.
We went to Essa Bagel around 8:30AM, quite the popular spot. We didn’t have much of a wait, but right after we sat down with our bagels, we looked up and there was quite a wait. It’s a bit expensive for bread and cream cheese, and they’re VERY generous with their cream cheese. You can split the spread between two bagels and it would still be a lot. I got the scallion cream cheese with a sesame bagel, delicious. Make sure you point out that you’d like the bagel toasted, this is not something they will automatically do for you.
After enjoying a fantastic bagel, my friends decided to go to a small coffee shop inside a large building. It had a fantastic lobby area that seemed open to the public, just a scattering of chairs, so we gratefully took a seat and sipped on our coffees, a nice reprieve from the dreary weather. I gave in and ate the other half of the bagel I had been so determined to save for when I got really hungry. Wait time: 10 minutes.
Museum of Natural History
Our next stop was the museum; we figured that it wouldn’t be too bad getting in, and we went by way of the metro station. To our chagrin, there was quite the line to get in, despite it being a weekday and our belief that everything should work in our favor and according to our time.
And since the museum is right across from Central Park, we of course needed to take some really pensive and Instagram-worthy photos.
We rewarded ourselves for walking through the rain and dreary weather with steaming bowls of ramen at… some ramen place that wasn’t famous but still good.
Magnolia Bakery by the Rockefeller Center
Then, when one is in New York, one must enjoy banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.
We shivered and watched people skating in the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza. After an hour we could not stand enjoying the sight anymore in cold socks and clutching cold cold desserts, so we skedaddled to the subway and tucked ourselves in for the night.