We never really considered New York. Health insurances are expensive and, in Filipe’s case, would be absurd. Besides that, we always try to avoid mass tourism, and rather go where it is not so touristic instead.
We must say that we’ve been such fools for the last 30 years. New York is a city to die for, and we want to put it on our list of cities to visit again with more time.
How to get there?
We bought the tickets through the Portuguese airline, TAP, which we paid 350€ both ways, and we came back through Toronto. Guilherme, who was less than two years old at the time, only paid a few taxes. We flew from Lisbon to John F. Kennedy Airport, and the flight took around 7h30m.
The most affordable way to get to the center is with the Air Tren to Howard Beach or Sutphin Blvd and after, get one of the metro lines to Manhattan. Everything is about 7,5€.
Considering we had Guilherme and a lot of luggage, we booked a transfer before our departure and paid 57€ for the three of us. The transfer was with a shared van, and the luggage was all included, but notice this, don’t expect a driver to welcome you with your name on a tag. You must go to one of the information desks with your voucher, and it’s only after that they call your driver, and you are taken to your destination.
The airport is about one hour distance by car. You can take a taxi but it is by far the most expensive option (counting out helicopters of course).
How to get a visa? Is the entrance guaranteed?
You can ask for your visa in advance, but the entrance is not guaranteed. When you get there, it is like a random screening, you must go through the emigration process, as in any country outside of Europe.
You have to request ESTA directly on https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/est/
website, and it costs 14$ per person. You also need to request a visa for babies. It takes less than a week to get the authorization, but it’s better to do it with plenty of time. You may need to change some information or, in case of rejection, to send a new request.
How to get around?
You can buy the MetroCard in any machine inside the metro stations, and it allows you to ride the metro and bus. There are two ways to use the card: Pay-per-ride or Unlimited Ride Metrocard.
You can recharge your Pay-per-ride card with a single journey (3$) or, if you recharge it with more than 5,50$, you’ll get an 11% discount. You can use it for 120 minutes after validation.
The Unlimited Ride Metrocard costs between 12$ and 32$ per 7 days, and you can use it as much as you want.
For comfort, we picked a taxi or Uber. Facing the fact we were traveling with a small baby, the negative temperatures, and we walked a lot, Uber was the most comfortable way to get around. Only an idea of prices, by Uber, from the 7th Av to the Brooklyn Bridge, we paid 18$ (around 4 km), by taxi, from the Brooklyn Bridge to Pier 6, we paid 8$ (around 1,5 km).
Where to stay?
We stayed at Moxy Hotel on the 7th Av, which was a perfect location, and once again, we loved the experience. We could walk everywhere, and there’s restaurants, shops, cafes, on every single door. We recommend you to stay in the center, there’s where everything happens. The 5th Av ends up being cheaper since it is afar from Timesquare.
How to change your money?
We checked all the options. We didn’t want to go to the currency exchange places, where you lose money due to the high transaction taxes. We made a simulation in Portugal, and, with the currency rate at that moment, to get 100$ we would lose 11$. We also verified with our bank, and if we had bought dollars there, the taxes were very low, so that is the most advantageous option. Always check your bank before you leave. In New York, we decide that we would pay directly with debit card or withdraw money from the ATM.
We also recommend the Revolut card. Check it on the internet. It is a card with which you don’t pay taxes accordingly to your monthly withdraws (for basic cards). At that time, we didn’t have it, but we are going to use it soon, on our trip around the world.
When to visit?
We were going to Toronto, and wanted to see snow, so it was very cold. In January perhaps it’s one of the coldest months but it’s also when you have the opportunity to watch the snow.
The best time to go is, May and June or September and October when it’s hot but not extremely hot.
It is important to notice that, in several places, the plugs can be different. We forgot about that small detail so we ran from store to store trying to get an adapter to charge our cellphones, cameras, and so on. The electric grid works at 110-120 Volts at 60Hz. The type of plug is flat.