New York City, USA (Photo creds: me)
For the most part, I was never much of a city girl. I was never a fan of LA, I actually dislike Los Angeles quite a lot. But New York City was different. The first time I went was on a school trip in 8th grade. I don’t remember much from that trip, and it was only for a few days. Fast forward…. 7 years? There’s 20 year old me, having just gotten home from my first real traveling experience – my birthright trip to Israel – and already craving being somewhere outside of California. Spontaneous thinking brought me the idea to go visit my cousin in New York. He used to live in the suburbs further outside of the city, but he’d been in the city ever since he started at his university. So I booked my flight to spend 3 weeks with my cousin, and then I waited.
I absolutely fell in love with the city. I honestly can’t even think of a way to describe it, it was just so alluring to me. Always something going on, always something new to see, and all of it was so different from what I’m used to in little Laguna Hills. I grew up in such a bubble, the OC Bubble we called it, that being somewhere like New York City made me feel like I was experiencing the real world. I loved the looks of the buildings and skyscrapers, and snowy fog surrounding me. In 3 weeks, you can do a lot. I purchased the New York City Pass so that I could save money on all the places I wanted to see (for future reference, if you’re ever visiting New York, or any other major city in California or the United States, search and buy the City Pass… saves you a lot of money on the tourist destinations you’ll definitely be going to). Check out the New York City Pass here.
Although the tourist-y spots are a must see (Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, The Metropolitan Museum, etc) and they did provide for gorgeous views and great photo ops, I enjoyed even more when I did things that made me feel like I was part of the city. Walking through Central Park on a cold, snowy day. Riding the subway and seeing all the people in their everyday lives. Whenever I’m somewhere as a traveler, it always hits me that this new place and way of life that I’m so new to is someone else’s day to day, it’s their reality. And my life of beaches and sun, that I’m so used to, is somebody else’s vacation. I think i’m just obsessed with being places that are different and unusual to me.
I loved all of it, New York City is absolutely amazing. But my favorite places?… Central Park, Brooklyn (and DELICIOUS Grimaldi’s Pizza), the Guggenheim and MOMA, and the Upper East Side. New York City definitely satisfies my high school obsession with Gossip Girl. But I guess once is not enough. Once is never enough. Because in one month, I’m flying back to New York City to spend a week with my cousin again. Unfortunately for me, I’m in school this year, which really limits how much time I can spend there, but a week will still give me a small taste of travel while I wait to be back in Europe. A small taste is better than nothing, especially if it means that I get to spend another winter in my favorite city, another winter with my awesome cousin, and another winter exploring a place that isn’t my home.
• Buy the City Pass.
• Don’t waste money on taxi’s. Ride the subway. It’s an experience of its own.
• Download the app NYC Embark on your smart phone for help with getting from place to place on the subway.
• Download the app City Maps2Go on your smart phone and download the New York City map within the application for better directions while walking through the city. (Especially helpful for foreigners and people who don’t have data on their cell phones. Once you’ve downloaded the map within the application, you can use it for directions without any cellular service or wifi).
• Take the time and go to Brooklyn.
• Get lost in Central Park.