I’d been to New York City in the fall (and by New York City I mean the inside of Columbia’s gym), New York City in the winter (again, inside of Columbia’s gym), and had the chance to actually explore the city my senior spring in college, but even that was fairly strictly supervised by a guy we knew who worked there after college. So this was my first time planning a trip there, first time there in the summer, and the first visit for Joel and the girls. As such, we naturally got off to arguably the worst start possible. It all started with taking the afternoon bus- the college had two buses going to NYC each day, with one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The girls finished up camp mid-morning, so we stuck around campus for a while and hopped on around 2:00. When I’d taken the morning bus before, we’d made it to the city in about 5 hours. Unfortunately, the afternoon bus got us there in terrible traffic, turning the last few miles into a 2 hour trip and making the trip in all about six and a half hours. We were going to be rushed for our dinner reservations at Ninja, a restaurant where there are literally ninjas performing around you while you eat, but I thought we could still make it there in time. We hopped in an Uber and started to our AirBnB.
I’d done quite a bit of research around the AirBnB’s and had tried to avoid bad neighborhoods while still not having to pay an arm and a leg. I had found this one in Brooklyn where pictures looked great, and while the property itself didn’t have any reviews (RED FLAG), the owner did for some other properties and had lots of glowing remarks. I figured this would be more of the same and that it was just a newer property for him. Needless to say, I was wrong. First tip off was probably when Joel asked our Uber driver what the neighborhood we were going to was like and he said not to walk outside too late at night. When we arrived, we were definitely in an “unsafe” neighborhood, at least by the standards of four people from Montana. While I struggled to figure out the lock box (the code had changed from the one I’d seen on the profile the week before when I was finalizing everything before we left), another tenant of the building thankfully came upon us and let the girls in with the luggage so they could feel somewhat safer. He then proceeded to inform us that the AirBnB owner was illegally renting out this apartment and that we shouldn’t be surprised if the police show up. Joy. After trying and failing to reach the owner, I finally figured out that he’d changed the lockbox code and got the key. I then went to the door only to find that there was in fact no door handle. Instead, the was a deadbolt above a screw sticking out where the handle should be. Upon entering, I was surprised to see that it looked absolutely nothing like the pictures on the profile. The “curtains” on the windows were actually just large strips of paper, similar to the ones cheerleaders use to make signs for pep rallies. The promised “second bed” was a small, dusty futon, and the unflushed toilet was somehow more appetizing than the bathtub filled with bugs. And to top it all off, it was unbearably warm in there. If it had just been Joel and I, I might have roughed it out- I’ve stayed in my fair share of crappy hotels and it wasn’t like we were going to be spending much time there anyways- but the girls were visibly upset so we knew we had to figure something out. We found a hotel nearby for the night and decided to Uber there and figure out the rest of our plans from the shelter of an undersized hotel room. Eventually, I found a hotel in Manhattan (where I should have just tried to have us stay all along) and booked it for the rest of our time there. I finally got a hold of the owner and he was understanding (although I have to question someone who would put that out for rent in the first place) and gave us our refund. Unfortunately, you don’t get the AirBnB fees back, so it wasn’t a complete refund (not even close, actually) but better than nothing and we didn’t have to stay there.
By the time we made it to the hotel, we had definitely missed our reservation, so we just tried to find anywhere nearby that was open. We went to this little dive bar and had some food. We were all exhausted but had at least started to find the humor in the situation and had a decent dinner.
The next day, we were meeting up with a friend of mine from college who was visiting her sister who lived in Brooklyn. Thankfully, her sister let us store our luggage in her apartment during the day since we weren’t able to check in to the Manhattan apartment until later. We awkwardly lugged our huge bags in the subway and to her apartment and left to go to The Museum of Natural History. I was excited to see place that “Night at the Museum” is based on and excited to forget about the night before. I had been worried about the subway system, but between me and my friend, we were confident we were getting on the right train taking us in the right direction. It did take us in the right direction, but unfortunately, we had hopped on an Express train that skipped stops and took us well beyond where we needed to get off. Once we finally got on the right train going back, we made it to the stop, which takes you right up to the museum. The line was super long to get in, but thankfully, I had purchased our tickets ahead of time, so we were able to move through more quickly. My first observation was that it was nothing like the movie. Granted, having a ton of people in there when it’s normally empty in the movie probably didn’t help, but there are quite a few things that they changed. Still, we got to see some of the cool pieces from the movie along with some other stuff, like the whole dinosaur exhibit, which was Joel’s favorite part. We could have spent hours and hours there exploring everything, but everyone except Joel lost interest after hour 2 and needed food.
There were tons of places to eat near the museum, but we decided to go with Shake Shack. It was unbelievably busy and didn’t have a ton of seating, but we lucked upon a spot in their downstairs eating area and enjoyed an average meal. The cheese fries weren’t anything to write home about and the burger was about the same, but it wasn’t too expensive, and the girls got shakes, which they enjoyed.
We parted ways with Alissa and started the trek to the new hotel. Thankfully, this one was much closer to the subway station. In fact, it was close to a lot of helpful things- a CVS, the subway station, and this little pizza spot that also had other food items we could buy as snacks. The hotel was old, but you could tell it had been top of the line at some point and anything was better than the AirBnB, so we were content, especially when we felt how cool the room was! We got settled and got ready for our night activity, which was the first game of the Red Sox- Yankees series!
This game was our “mid-level” game in terms of seat prices, but in any other stadium, these seats would probably have been pretty cheap. We were a couple of levels up on the 3rd base line. Tickets (and life in general) in New York City are pretty expensive, and when the Red Sox come to town, they’re going to be even more expensive. But we had a great view of the game and the scoreboard, and our section was pretty chill- the only people around us that I remember were some investment banker bros that were zero percent invested in the game. I was worried about wearing Red Sox stuff into Yankee Stadium, but we didn’t deal with any harassment beyond a few lighthearted jabs. Granted, the Yankees weren’t great, so maybe no one cared.
I bought the tickets off of a site called “Yankee Ticket Exchange” which from what I can tell is a site dedicated to season ticket holders trying to sell their seats. It was definitely the cheapest ticket options (compared to other secondary markets), and I ended up getting the seats for all 3 games off there.
We got to see Steven Wright pitch this game, and he tossed another gem. He had a no hitter going through five, and although he got roughed up a bit late, the Red Sox closed it out for the win. On our trip we were 4 for 4 on Red Sox wins and the trip sweep we were rooting for was almost in sight!
After the Shake Shack for lunch, we were pretty full and decided to just eat at the game. Thankfully, Yankee Stadium is humongous and has tons of food options. You can get anything from chicken strips and nachos in a replica helmet to sushi and ramen. I went with ramen this night, while Joel went for the chicken strips. Both were pretty dang tasty and expensive, just like you’d expect.
The stadium has a subway stop right across the street from the front entrance, so it’s pretty easily accessible. Just be aware that after the game, it’s going to be packed. Like getting other peoples sweat on you packed.
This is one stadium where we passed on the stadium tour. The list of stuff you got to see and the reviews weren’t very enticing, and also I hate the Yankees. But as much as I hate to admit it, the stadium is super nice. Definitely doesn’t have the charm of a Fenway, but what it lacks there it makes up for in sheer size. They have their own Victoria’s Secret store full of Pink Baseball gear in there, for goodness sake! I never made it to Old Yankee Stadium, but they seem to have tried to pay homage to it while making major upgrades. The worst part of the whole stadium experience though was when the game ended and they played “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. It was catchy as hell and I struggled to not sing along. Again, not quite the “Dirty Water” by the Dropkick Murphy’s at Fenway, but I’ll give it to the Yanks. They are a worthy rival.
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Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.