Friday, October 21, 2011

Free things to do in NYC

You know me: I'm a cheapskate. Have always been. I readily admit it. Had I not, I wouldn't have retired at age 54 and travel the world the way I do. It's all about maximizing opportunities and being shrewd about how you allocate (financial and other) resources.

New York is by no means a cheap place. As a matter of fact, it is usually listed together with London and Paris as one of the top-three most expensive cities this side of the Delta Quadrant. So, knowing that, I used the remaining balance of a Barnes & Noble gift card (a X-mas present from a few years ago) to arm myself with the most befitting guidebook to NY that I could find: NYC–Free & Dirt Cheap. I can see you chuckle...
Yes, Frommer's

Anyhow, this guidebook was definitely worth the investment as it told me about stuff that otherwise I wouldn't have partaken in. How else would I have found out about the walking tours that are being offered by the various neighborhoods' Business Improvement Districts? If you were to travel to NY in the summer, you'd have a much larger selection of tours than in October, when things wind down; weekends are better than weekdays. Nevertheless, the tours that I joined (small groups led by locals who live there!) were informative and educational—and free. (BTW, there is a commercial outfit called Big Onion Walking Tours that offers similar tours on a variety of topics year-round, with a cost of between $15 to $20.)
As seen in Greenwich Village

Then there is a whole section dedicated to museums, not only the free ones but also the "established" ones that offer free entry on particular days, during particular hours. At $20 entry fees to the well-known museums that can add up. Liz and I had thought about hitting MOMA, but once I told her about the free galleries in Chelsea, we decided to give that a whirl. Wow, how cool! You can go from one gallery to the next, wonder what the hell the artist may have been on when they took the undercarriage of a Chrysler Imperial and embedded it in part of another 25 tons of molten iron, and ask yourself, what do all these good-looking young women who work in the galleries' offices do all day? It's a veritable smorgasbord of art, in small bites, and all free.
Liz contemplates the meaning of life (the life of a Chrysler Imperial, that is)

Definitely some bizarre stuff
Another cool freebie mentioned in the book (although I knew about it beforehand) is the free ferry trip on the Staten Island ferry. On Monday afternoon, after Liz had finished up all her seminar stuff, we took the ferry while the sun was setting over Ellis Island. Why spend $20 to go up close to Lady Liberty (and brave hour-long lines) when the Staten Island ferry gives you the same great view? And it's not only the Statue that you see, but the entire Manhattan skyline and all those pretty bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a Guinness on the island we returned, with all of New York in full evening regalia. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening, warm enough not to freeze off our fannies.
Leaving Manhattan ...

... on the way to Staten Island ...
... and returning
Not all is free, of course. Liz treated us to a mesmerizing evening at Lincoln Center, where we saw Warhorse, a five-time Tony winner. What an evening! Neither of us (and Liz is more erudite in these affairs than I am) had ever witnessed a performance like this. Words cannot express how real those horses that really were nothing but transparent  wooden skeletons with actors (call them puppeteers if you will) inside of them became. We saw these props, but what we really believed we saw were living, breathing animals. Amazing. If you get a chance to see Warhorse in person, do so. Or at least check out this short video:
A file photo from the official Warhorse website
And that's all for today, folks, as I have to run off to mark the route for tomorrow's JAMjam here in Lubbock. Busy, busy, busy....


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