Usually the most important question the answer to each it is very hard to find on the Internet — how much money has been spent on the trip? Outset no matter how hard you try but America is an expensive country. Especially with regard to over continental flight and hotels in major cities.
Flight coasted $ 600. This is a direct flight from Moscow to New York and to the direct flight from Los Angeles to Moscow back. We flew Aeroflot and have no complaints about the airlines. I was booking on skyscanner.ru site in a few months before the trip.
There were 2 domestic flights as well. From New York to Chicago — $ 85. From Chicago to Las Vegas — $ 95. We flew Spirit Airlines as I understand this is the local lowcost airline. But the planes were in good condition and plus you can select a location. For luggage of course we had to pay extra and the restriction were up to 18 kg. If more then additional payment of $ 30. But in any case prices are still affordable.
We lived in Harlem and it turned out to be not scary at all. No nighttime chases and shootouts. But the hotel was probably the most hardcore of all — Harlem YMCA. The price for 7 nights for two people was about $ 600. For this money you get room 2 * 2 meters with a bunk bed, a small table with a TV set and air conditioning. Plus it was close to the underground. Shower and toilet are shared. In general the conditions are quite Spartan. The whole picture was completed by apparently living in the same room cockroach, but he took pity on us and came across only at first night. The saddest thing was that the hotel was occupying a couple of floors in the usual living house where regular people live. It was more or less okey for us to live like that for just a week but it is really horrible to live like that all the time.
How to get from JFK airport
There are 3 options:
1.Take a taxi — to Manhattan it will cost around $ 50.
2.Take the subway. When in the airport go to the Ait Train signs. It will take you to the Jamaica subway station. A trip on the Air Train costs $ 5 but the price will be charged when you enter the subway. Meaning you arrive at Jamaica station, buy 'Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard'card in the ticket machine and when you enter the subway the whole sum is charged- Air Train trip and 1 ride on the subway. Total $ 7.50.
The tickets 'Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard' is quite convenient and profitable — you just trace the balance and refill when it when necessary in any machine on subway stations. We spend about $ 40 on the public transport during one week.
3.There is another option — NYC Airporter Shuttle. The cost is $ 16. About 90 minutes ride. Bus stops are in Grand Central Station, Penn Station and the Port Authority. If a hotel somewhere in the area the bus may be more convenient.
There is a lot of Fast Food in New York. Almost every street corner there is a mini-van or tent where you can buy hamburgers, hot dogs or giant pretzels. I have to say pretzels are very tasteless and there is no desire to try a hot dog when looking at the sausage rotating in the grill seems like for years already.
But there is also a normal food that can be found. There are several chain stores such as for example Whole Foods where there are salad bars. There are hot and cold ones, so picking up a tasty and healthy lunch is not difficult. Or also food courts where one can always find not only burgers but also salads and even ordinary home cooking. Lunch for two coasted on average $ 20.
But what it is really worth trying are bagels especially those who like bakery more than chocolate. Very tasty especially when fresh. In Sturbucks they are heated on the grill and if you take a cream cheese it’s just mmmmm. It seems simple but so delicious.
At this point the imagination can only be limited by the budget. And prices in most cases are not small. Entrance to the observation platforms worth $ 34 each. Natural History Museum — 22$. If you want to go to a theater performance there are kiosks called 'TKTS' where you can buy tickets at a reduced price on the same day. One is on Times Square but there is usually a very long queue. So as an option there is one near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Hotel in Chicago compared to New York was a royal mansion. Despite the fact that it was a hostel — HI Chicago Hostel — it was very clean and neat. The room was 4 times of Harlem hole, spacious and clean. Shower and bathroom were shared by only 4 rooms so no queues and dirt. Location in the center of Downtown. The cost was twice less — about $ 260 for two people for 3 days. In general +1 to the level of comfort.
Here getting to the city from the airport 'O'Hara' is much easier – there is Blue Metro line going to the city from terminals 1,2 and 3. The fare is $ 5. Again at the entrance to the metro buy a ticket from the machine at the desired fare. We took the CTA 3-Day Pass for $ 20 — unlimited travel for 3 days. Actually it was the only payment for transport in here.
With food all the same as in New York City
Well enforcing the level of comfort gradually is not hard to imagine that in Las Vegas we plunged into the realm of luxury and elegant service. It should be noted that in Las Vegas hotel I was choosing one for a very long time because in 3-4 months before head the prices were very attractive. The final choice was the Stratosphere Hotel. Firstly because the price here for the same level of comfort as in the center is still less. And secondly the tower itself – for all guests free entrance. Price for 4 days for two was $ 350.
Be careful here! When reserving through Booking.com there price are without taxes and fees. But they will be included in the final price when arriving believe me. They may vary depending on the city and state but they are especially high in Las Vegas. It’s 12% tax and plus the so-called Resort fee per night. In the Stratosphere it was almost $ 30 per night. So consider all the hidden things and read carefully.
From the airport to the hotel we took ordinary bus 108 because it had a stop just near the hotle. Road was about 20 minutes. Once at the bus stop in the machine you can buy tickets. We took 3 days ticket for $ 20. Travel card is valid for all kinds of buses in the city.
Stratosphere Hotel is located at the beginning of the Strip in the north. It takes 10 minutes to reach the center by bus Deuce or Strip & Downtown Express (SDX). You can ask for a route map drivers or special employees at the stops. But transport there is not in a strong need because all hotels are very close to each other.
Here there are mountains of food. Almost every hotel has a so-called Buffet. We visited it only at first night and for us that was enough. The cost for one was $ 21. It is in the Stratosphere. In the central hotels it rises to $ 30-40. Somewhere I read that you can even buy a ticket to all buffets for a few days for $ 50-60. The food is certainly very diverse and all quite tasty. But the volumes that we needed so that not to feel hungry were not comparable with the price we paid. We ate a little and pay a lot. Plus in the near «Fashion Show» shopping center there is a food cour where you can again find something tasty and healthy and not expensive.
Not counting the $ 15 that was voluntarily spent in casino we ride the roller coaster at New York hotel for $ 11. Well that’s actually it. I really wanted to get to the Cirque du Soleil because it is exactly here you can see their main performances like 'O' or 'Ka'. But in those days they were not performing of course ... But here there are entertainments for all tastes.
In the process of driving throughout the country we stayed in 4 hotels. Some of them were really like from scary movie — in such hotels usually maniacs live in American films. But in fact they were all filled with the same travelers as we are.
1.Grand Canyon — Budget Host Inn Williams — hotel in the Williams town on that very road 66. We understood that only sometime later having bought at a gas station a sign with road 66 route. From here it is an hour's drive to the Grand Canyon. Costed $ 180 for 2 nights for two.
2.Before Death Valley — Longstreet Inn & Casino — this is generally the only hotel on a few hundred kilometers. It really is in the middle of the desert. Lonely standing near the road. But there is even a small lake and a swimming pool. Very interesting place. The rooms are spacious and clean. Costed $ 80 per night for two.
3.After the Death Valley - Rustic Oasis Motel — the most usual hotel of all. But $ 80 for one night is fine. A big plus – there was free cocoa and coffee. Although according to my mum’s words that coffee there basically sucks.
4.Yosemite park — The Pines Resort & Conference Center — there was not a room but a whole house. Such wooded one in the forest, with a balcony and a fireplace. It is like home. But the cost corresponded — $ 270 for two people for 2 days. Plus they charge a deposit of $ 50 for each day. From here to the Yosemite Valley it is 1 hour drive.
I did not understand where there is center in Los Angeles but the hotel was near Financial Center — Americas Best Value Inn Los Angeles- 7th Street. Room was clean, only the most required things. We gave $ 200 for 2 days for two. The main plus – subway is very close. There is parking as well.
In Los Angeles the road to the city was very catchy. First we returned the car and rode on the free shuttle bus to the airport. There there is a shuttle named FlyAway going to the city. Stops under the green sign. They go in different directions,so read carefully what is written on the bus:
-district Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley — $ 8
— Union Station (downtown) — $ 8
-district Westwood (University of California) — $ 10
-City of Santa Monica (the western part of the 2nd Street, north of Colorado Avenue) — $ 8
-Hollywood (Corner of Selma Avenue and Argyle Avenue, a block south of Hollywood Boulevard) — $ 8
Little Life-hacking. Payment is taken upon arrival to the destination point. There is a special person standing. Without payment you will not get your baggage back. But if you only have hand luggage, and you have already left the bus... Well you know what to do)
On the subway we paid for each trip separately — $1.75. For 1and a half day it was about $ 7 – 4 rides.
There we went to the Universal Studios park having given 115 $.
Total for 3 weeks (September 2016): flights + hotels + transport + car rental — about $ 2000 for 1 person.
In other things amounts may vary according your aims and desired. One could of course live in hostels for the minimum money but still from the experience a comfortable stay affects the overall impression of the trip.
Have a good day, MarrySav!)
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