Weekend in NYC! Part 1: Getting There and Day 1 in Queens

This past weekend, my husband and I visited the Big Apple.  NYC.  New York.  THE City.  Is it obvious yet that New York is my absolute favorite city?  I’ve been about 5 times before this trip, and I would go again in a heartbeat. (Anyone want to buy me a plane ticket for next weekend….?)

A few weeks ago I was looking up cheap airline tickets, just for fun.  David and I had been hoping to do something for spring break, but all of our other plans had fallen through, and besides, we had different breaks (mine was last week and his is this week).  I looked just out of boredom, hoping to get an idea of what we could do for our next trip.  The site required me to put in dates, a departing airport, and a destination.  I picked our local airport and NYC, any airport, just to get an idea of the price point.  For 2 people, round trip, 2 weeks in advance it was $420, including fees.  We booked it 2 days later.

We were going to New York!! I was giddy for the two weeks while we last-minute planned our long weekend.  We booked an Airbnb for Friday-Monday, I asked off work for Monday, and we got in touch with friends and family in the area.  We each made a list of things we wanted to do/see and tried to match them up the best we could, knowing we would barely be able to get a taste of NYC in a single weekend, albeit a long one.  Our flights were early Friday morning and late Monday evening, giving us *almost* 4 full days.

NYC-Day1-Airport

Friday morning we woke up at 3:30AM to get to the airport by 4:30 for our 5:50AM flight with a layover in DC.  Unfortunately, even in the urban areas of central NC there are a grand total of ZERO Ubers or Lyfts at 4AM on a Friday morning.  ZERO.  We scrambled to drive to the airport, knowing we’d have to pay out the ass to park at the airport all weekend, also knowing we had no choice.

So we threw our backpacks in the car and drove to the airport.  We got through the surprisingly long line at security and to our gate, boarding exactly on time.  We then waited in the plane for two hours for American Airlines to get themselves together.  We finally took off, late, and arrived right when our connecting flight was leaving Ronald Reagan for LaGuardia.  Fabulous. 21 people on our flight were supposed to be on that connection and I must say American did nothing to help us other than quietly assign us to a new flight, which no one could access full information on.  The full story is a different story for a different day, but lemme just say #DisappointedAmericanAirlines

We finally got on the right plane, took off, and arrived at LaGuardia.  NEW YORK CITY, BABY!!

NYC at 9AM on a Friday is crawling with Lyfts and Ubers, so we had no problem getting a Lyft from the airport to the Airbnb to drop off our bags.  Then it was on to the adventure.  We weren’t quite ready to brave the NYC subway system, so we took an Uber (Uber has shared rides in NYC, which are cheaper.  Bring that to NC please!) to Jackson Heights, Queens, where there is a South Asian neighborhood and an AMAZING dosa restaurant, Dosa Delight.  I knew about the place because 4 or 5 summers ago I went there with my cousin, Holly.  We walked around the neighborhood for about 30-45 minutes, taking in the atmosphere and the culture.  Different languages swirled around us, and different people surrounded us on the streets.  We visited a couple of shops, just window shopping and killing time until the restaurant opened for lunch.

NYC-Day1-Dosa

We split an order of samosas, followed by different kinds of dosa.  David, of course, ordered like a pro, having spent last summer in India.  I stumbled through ordering something that I hoped wasn’t ridiculously spicy, but would still be authentic.  The samosas and dosa were amazing, and I would absolutely go back a third (and fourth and fifth…) time.

We ubered back to the Airbnb and crashed (we’d been up since 3:30AM!) until dinner time.  We were sick of paying for ubers and lyfts, and weren’t quite ready to brave the subway system at night, so we looked for food near us.  We were in Astoria, Queens, in a mostly residential area, but there were a few restaurants near us.  We found a pub in walking distance that looked reasonably priced and headed out, already starving again.

Dillingers Pub and Grill was about a block away.  It had a nice casual atmosphere, especially at 6PM.  They were playing pop music from about 2000-2010, so I knew basically every song.  It was a nice, nostalgic pick.  The food was great pub food; David had a burger while I enjoyed a buffalo chicken sandwich.  He got a beer and I had their rum punch, which was on special for $5.  The whole experience was very enjoyable, and we went home full and happy, but totally ready to shower and go to bed early.  We knew we had a big day ahead of us in Manhattan and Brooklyn!

NYC-Day1-RumPunch

Look out for future posts on the rest of our trip!  I can’t wait to share the full story with you.  (5/20/18 update: the whole story has been posted!  See part 2, part 3part 4, part 5, and part 6 now!) Have you been to NYC? What were your experiences there?  What’s your favorite city in the US?  The world?  Let me know in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.

How I fell In Love with Traveling

My family doesn’t have a lot of money. When I was a kid our family vacations were a long weekend away to the beach or mountains, not more than 4 or 5 hours from home. At 12 years old I had visited 4 states (including the one I lived in) and had never been on a plane. I had no idea that that year I would been given a life-changing opportunity.

I grew up in a small town in central North Carolina. My parents grew up in central North Carolina, and so did their parents. This is how things are in small town, USA: people don’t really leave. When I was 10, I moved from the small town I grew up in (that my dad grew up in, and his parents, and their parents…) to the middle of nowhere about 20 minutes away. We didn’t even leave the county. Neither of my parents had been abroad (now my dad has visited Mexico once on a day trip, before passports were required for US citizens) and my grandfather was stationed in Guam with the Army Air Corps in WWII, but that about sums up international travel in my family. Basically, we are small-town folks.

One day, when I was in 7th grade, I got a letter in the mail. I had been offered an opportunity to be a student ambassador with the People to People program, founded by President Dwight D Eisenhower in 1956. The program I was invited to participate in took 12-14 year-olds to England, Ireland, and Wales for 20 days over the summer. My parents were ecstatic. After a brief (and terrifying; I have suffered from social anxiety for a long time) interview process I was accepted into the program.

Over the course of about 9 months, I attended monthly meetings with the other kids participating in the program, and our parents, of course. We learned about cultural differences, what we would get to experience in the program, etc. We were also encouraged to fundraise–while the program was government-run it was not free. I did my best, but begging for money has never been something I’m good at, so my parents ended up taking on most of the cost (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

In June after 7th grade, I packed my bags and my parents drove me to the airport. Security was pretty tight as this was only a few years after 9/11, so we said goodbye outside of security. And I was on my way to another continent with 4 adults and about 20 other kids, none of whom I really knew.

After an overnight flight that I was way too excited to sleep on, we landed around 7-8am GMT and hit the ground running. The whole first day was spent sightseeing, with no time to rest. Despite not drinking coffee, I was wide awake all day. Everything was so similar to life at home in North Carolina, but so different. At times I’d forget I was on another continent, then I’d see another castle (we just don’t have those in the US) or a building twice as old as my homeland. Obviously everyone in England speaks English, so that wasn’t a barrier, but there are diffences nonetheless.

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While I did get more sleep than the first day, the rest of the trip was just as fast-paced and exciting as the first. We spent the first few days in England, the next few in Wales, a week in Ireland, then reversed: back to Wales, and to England again. It was a whirlwind. I think I called my parents once (this was before smart phones!). I had found the thing I loved more than anything else. And about 11 years later I still haven’t found anything that tops traveling in my book.

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The UK wowed me with castles and culture, Ireland blew me away with endless green scenery (and more castles), but my favorite part of my trip were the last few days, which were spent in London. I had never been to a city even close to that size, and the fast pace, the culture, the diversity of a big city thrilled me. We saw the tower of London, Big Ben, rode the London Eye, took in a show, but the best part was just absorbing everything. Even in July the rain made it chilly enough everyone stopped for hot drinks midday (okay, mine was hot chocolate, I still don’t like coffee or tea). I loved just watching everyday people going about their everyday lives, whose lives were different than mine.

I still love it. After that trip, I decided I was going to move to Ireland one day. And while my dreams have gotten less specific, I still plan to live abroad. Maybe it will be Ireland, maybe it will be Stokholm, or Lucknow, or Rio de Janeiro. Maybe it will be all of those places and more. I’ll let you know when I get there.

What made you fall in love with traveling? Tell me about it in the comments below! Did you enjoy this post? Share via Facebook or Twitter, and as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.