In a New York minute

Jayde Atchison (she/her) // Opinions & Columns Editor

In April 2022, my sister got to her final September of her undergrad and we knew we wanted to get out of town and go somewhere that sparked immense joy. After discovering there were no dates at Disneyland for the foreseeable six months, we decided we were going to live out our Gossip Girl (the original series) fantasy in New York. However, we were not about to spend the kind of money that Blair or Serena did while in the city – we had a strictly Jenny Humphrey budget for this vacation. 

When you travel with someone, it doesn’t matter if you’re related, friends, acquaintances, there is always going to be a mix of interests or must-sees when travelling. Luckily, for this trip my sister and I had 23 years to figure each other out. We knew our quirks, our interests and we had a good relationship established where we had no qualms being brutally honest with each other. Before we took our trip to the other side of the continent, I suggested we each make a list of our must-sees in the city that never sleeps. We compared notes, and were able to plan out our days so they included something for each of us. 

We landed in the big apple, and driving into Times Square sent shivers down my spine. It was like every movie, television show, and music video I had ever seen. It was night and the scenery made me want to sing all the songs dedicated to New York. We put our stuff in our room at the Hotel Edison, an art deco hotel from 1931, and decided we needed to stuff our faces with a real slice of NY pizza.  By some divine planning (because I am certainly not this organized), the night we landed was also the night of the MET Gala. 

My sister and I have an equal obsession with Blake Lively, so we made the 40 minute walk to take a chance on sighting one of the outrageous outfits walking the red carpet. If you ever find yourself around the infamous gala in May, apparently you need to set up camp within the museums surrounding blocks first thing in the morning because we couldn’t get within two blocks of the action. I got a few shots of the entrance way, and heard clapping from afar but we didn’t spot any A, B or even Z list celebrities on our journey. 

What’s a trip to New York without going to a drag show? We were going to look online for a show near us, but in another twist of fate we were walking along 8th Ave and strutting down the street behind us was a gorgeous drag queen in a satin pink dress and hair bigger than Dolly Parton’s. I said hello, said she looked incredible and asked where we might find some good shows during our stay. It turns out that two blocks to the right, and an hour later there was a free show happening. The unplanned evening had us laughing and happier than ever for my ability to speak to strangers on the street. 

Going with the flow and trusting that your days will turn out wonderfully usually brings the most exciting experiences. However, that being said when we did plan our events they ended up being equally as memorable. The MET was an incredible museum and I could have spent days exploring all the rooms and exhibits more thoroughly. While the museums, tourist attractions and dining prices started to add up, we still found free and affordable things to do while in the city. When you are in a city that looks like a movie set, every stroll down a beautiful neighbourhood can turn into a photo opportunity, great people watching and endless entertainment. The Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 memorial and Central Park are free to visit and were significant parts of our trip. 

When you go to New York, you can accrue a lot of expenses but if you think on a budget, you can stretch out your dollars and invest in experiences that spark more joy. Don’t be fooled by the pressure to buy everything in advance for New York – especially Broadway shows. Right in the middle of Times Square there is a ticket centre that allows for discounted Broadway ticket prices for same day shows. We had a wide selection of shows happening each night, chose a day to line up first thing in the morning and got affordable tickets to Beetlejuice. 

This left a bit more in the budget for the highlight of our vacation: The Museum of Sex. A friend of mine had recommended it without letting me know what to expect. I asked my sister if she was in, and we had the most expected hilarious time. After three floors of exhibits and educational sections, you enter a dark room and discover Superfunland. My sister and I are friends as well as siblings, so the themed arcade games were not awkward – we just gave a wide berth to the couple-oriented games and laughed at how ridiculous and funny the place was. While the tickets were on the pricier side, the prizes were high quality and it was an unforgettable evening. 

New York truly is the city of dreams – if you walk into it with an open mind, a willingness to adapt and a sense of curiosity. Taylor Swift, Frank Sinatra, Alicia Keys and countless others wrote about this city for a reason, but it’s up to you to discover it yourself. 

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