New York, NY. If you can make it there…ahh…screw it.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been to the big apple.

Most of my travel keeps me clear of the northeast corridor, thank God. There’s not much I like about that region. So I wasn’t thrilled when the word came down NYC may be in my plans.

In the past, I’d take the shuttle from DC. This used to be easy as hell – show up, pop the card, get on the plane, and there were shuttles on the half hour so it was a commute, more or less. Leave the house normal time, get in NYC 9-ish, work all day, come home. Easy.

Last time, I had to drive. We had gear to collect. Still, not that bad although parking was atrocious. My recollection was it’s expensive, Cabs suck, and hotels were stupid expensive for the size. I had a room at a flagship Marriott in Manhattan once for $350/night that was, no lie, about the size of my walk-in closet in Texas. And, I generally don’t carry much cash, so cabs are anathema to me.

So let’s go into the particulars. I flew American. Why not? It’s a money-flight to LaGuardia. Leaves on time, lands on time. Funny thing here is when I booked the flight using the travel agency they heard “Newark, LaGuardia” instead of “New York, LaGuardia”, and booked me into Newark. This created a ruckus. The project manager for this gig lives in NY and assumed I wanted Newark, since this is an accepted way to hit NYC. I didn’t notice, since I’m a man, and I assumed they heard what I said and was only paying cursory attention as they babbled about flight times. And I generally don’t study the itinerary until the week or so before. So when I found out about the screw-up, I wanted none of it. I hate Newark airport with a flaming hot passion, and probably hate an hour on public transit (what it would take to get to Manhattan from there) even more. So I switched it. Money-Flight or not – I still had crap for legroom. AA is nothing if not consistent.

Luxurious Accommodations on American

I had few hotel choices. All the hotels fell into two categories – pay out the ass, but be a short walk to the office where I had to be, or pay a cheaper fee, then commute. All things being equal, it made sense to pay up, and have a short walk. Unlike in the past, my room at a Courtyard – not the most expensive by any means was an eye-popping $540 a night. It probably didn’t help to be in downtown Manhattan near Christmas. Still, that’s a chunk of dough.

Panoramic view from my luxury digs. Romantic.

The big thing  for me was Uber. My son is in IT, has to travel sometimes, but isn’t old enough to rent a car yet, so he Ubers. That’s how we hit the airport in DC, and how I got to and from here. OK, this is a disruptive technology. It’s stupid convenient. It’s cheap. It’s pleasant. Rides to and from LaGuardia from Manhattan cost me like $25. I got from the city to the airport in like 20 minutes, in a clean car, driven by a pleasant former school teacher driver. I’m a YUUGE! fan now, using it even for bar hopping at home.

What can I say about New York from the perspective of a person that would just as soon not  be there? Two words – “Stupid Expensive”. Maybe “Bad Value”. If the hotels were ridiculous, the restaurants were worse. I didn’t eat extravagantly, but I still clocked in 50-60 bucks a meal. And these meals were painfully pedestrian. I spent 25-30 bucks on entrees that would be in the $15 region anywhere else in the US. The money spent here would in most cities have you in a Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s, or some foodie place.

I hit McDonald’s because a $20 hotel breakfast, which is like $12 elsewhere, chaffed. The best meal? An Afghan street vendor – Kabobs, rice, veggies, and flatbread for $6.

I generally don’t hit touristy stuff when I travel for work. My wife told me it was insane not to size up Rockefeller plaza while I was there during Christmas. So I waddled down there. It was interesting enough but left me wondering why someone would travel across the country to see this stuff and spend that kind of dough?

Rockefeller Plaza

I’m writing this many months after my visit – long past expense report time. And as I reflect, this trip is up there with my most expensive. For instance, for what my company paid, I spent ten days in London – at a worse exchange rate than today. I went to the virgin islands – with dive trips. It was over double any of my trips to Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Denver, any other cool city. For what? Look at lights. If I were in DC, sure. It’s a day trip even still. Anywhere else? Why?

The upside of the story is, my expensive hotel stay earned me a craplot of points and I became an Uber fan.

Radio City. Wow. Looks like it does on TV.