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Thursday, April 7, 2016

How we Spent 24 hours in NYC

Gabrian, his Dad (Leo), and I had to take a quick trip to NYC this past February. We had a morning appointment with the Chilean consulate so we knew we needed to head down the night before. We found out about the appointment about 48 hours ahead of time (so there was some frantic researching going on to make sure we could stay on a budget). 

After comparing cars, planes, trains, and buses we decided that the best solution for us was to drive to Greenwich, CT and take the train into the city using the Metro North.  I personally wanted to take the bus down from Boston. I found tickets for $99 for the three of us round trip. It would have been an overnight bus and we would have arrived early and could have taken a late bus out to get the most out of the day. Leo had offered to pay for the trip and really wanted to let Gabrian experience a night in the city so I was outvoted and we drove.

Gabrian and I drove to Lynn, Massachussets after I had worked a half day to meet up with Leo. If everything had gone according to plan we should have been able to take the 8:30 pm train and would have arrived in the city by 9:30. Spoiler alert...nothing went to plan that night. Leo showed up on time but wasn't able to have someone drop him off  like he had planned and disappeared for about 45 minutes trying to find somewhere to park. We finally got on the road and made it about 2 exits down when he realized he had forgotten his passport at his house. If looks could have killed he would be dead right now. We had to head back to his house and than back to the highway which added on another 45 minutes.

We finally made it on the road but the rain quickly turned to snow! It was the most stressful drive but we had to continue on. During the drive we tried to find alternate train stations to cut down on the drive time to get off the snowy ride but none of the train times worked out for us. We persevered onto the Greenwich station. 

We made it to the station and found the parking lot (just before the entrance to the station). It was a little confusing trying to figure out how to pay for the parking. The spots are numbered and they have an automated pay station. What we didn't realize when we first arrived there was that we were there during their free period and wouldn't be able to pay for the parking until after midnight. We were able to download the app for our phone and later that night we were able to pay. It was only $5 for parking, so a pretty decent rate.

We hit a snafu when we got to the train tracks. We were there on time for the 10:30 train and wanted to pay for the tickets before getting on because they were quite a bit more expensive to purchase them on the train ($19 on the train for adults versus $13 at the station and $6.50 for Gabrian versus $1 if purchased beforehand). Leo started the purchase but within a couple of minutes the train pulled up. I tried to get Leo to just give up and get on the train but he ignored me and within 30 seconds the doors were closing and the train left without us! Another death glare and a call to my mother loudly complaining about the fact that we now needed to wait another hour for the next train (did I mention that we haven't had dinner yet?). On top of this, I found out that Leo managed to pay the peak prices for the tickets and for the same price we could have purchased them on the train...we were totally not speaking at this point.

We got on the 11:30 train and we were finally on our way. A short hour later we were at Grand Central Station. Our hotel was technically close enough to have walked but at that point we were all about the cab. Fortunately there was no line at the cab station and we got right into one. With tip the ride only cost $10 and well worth it at that point of the night. Gabrian was completely in awe of the taxi because there was a tv with a touchscreen in the back seat.

We stayed at the Quality Inn and it was so wonderful finally arriving. The Front Desk Clerk was amazing and had us checked in before we knew it. We got a great deal on Expedia for the room and with tax it only cost $91 and this included breakfast. 

Our hotel man gave us some suggestions of food options that were still open. Leo and I absolutely love how in NYC it just never sleeps and it was no big deal showing up at 1 am to get dinner (and we were not the only ones in the deli). We were able to take some delicious sandwiches and cupcakes back to our room. It was just what we needed to finally let some of the tension go that was building up from our trip there. We relaxed in the room and before we knew it we were heading to bed.

After a delicious breakfast at the hotel we were on our way out to the Chilean Consulate. We had to walk to a staples a couple of blocks away and then needed to find a taxi to get us the rest of the way. We probably could have walked it but it was raining and we didn't want to be late for the appointment. We were slightly novice at getting a taxi in NYC so we went to a nearby hotel and asked one of the doormen to call a taxi over. A quick whistle blow later we were loading into the taxi. I slipped the doorman $5, I have no idea if that was expected but it seemed like the right thing to do.

We had a successful trip at the Consulate and in fact were quite pleased to be inside while the rain was coming down it's hardest. While there, Leo discovered his passport had expired and since he had a trip planned back to Chile in the near future, he was quite lucky to find out when he did to get a new one.

Once we left the appointment, we were ready for lunch. We hadn't done much research beforehand and we were just looking for something nearby that wasn't too pricey. We had originally spotted a Chinese restaurant but they had no tables available. Fortunately Sushi Time was right next to them and we were able to get their last table. We had a fantastic lunch there and I had fun pretending I was an office worker on my lunch break (no need to point out how pathetic I am...already know!). 

We had plans afterwards to check out a museum but by the time lunch was over, we were done with walking in the rain. We walked back to the train station and managed to buy the tickets at the correct price this time around. We didn't get on the train before I managed to drop the equivalent of my weekly grocery bill at a bakery (maybe a slight exaggeration) and Gabrian managed to find the toy store and con his Dad into buying him a helicopter.

We made it back to Greenwich and started our way back North. The drive home was uneventful other than the fact at some point I picked up a nail in my tire that of course was not repairable. So here is the thing, AWD sounds amazing when you are buying the car. Driving through the snow, you feel superior other drivers. However, when you damage one tire you realize you are a smuck. Why are you a smuck? Well, with an AWD vehicle, you cannot replace just one have to replace all four. As you have probably guessed, that's not cheap to do (so much for a budget trip).

Even though this was a zany trip with lots of lows (and some highs), it was still an amazing trip because Gabrian had a fantastic time. All he cared about was that his divorced parents spent 24 hours with him at the same time. He had such a great time he has requested to go back for his birthday instead of having a birthday party. This time we will be going with Grandma instead of his Dad but I am sure it will be just as great of a time (and probably even better for me!).