The Big Apple…The City that Never Sleeps…NEW YORK CITY…As a West Coaster who’s spent all 18 years of his life in the cozy, rainy confines of Seattle, getting the chance to go to New York with my floor mates during fall break was a can’t miss opportunity. One of my floor mates is from New York City, and one day, she casually offered everyone in our little corner of AMR 1 Royce (Best hall by far) the chance to come to NYC over fall break, stay at her place, and explore the city. While I never thought it would actually happen, there we were, two weeks later, tickets booked, baggage in hand, ready to embark on the four hour bus ride that would take us to the magical city I’d heard so much about. As a kid, I’d been to New York once when my family decided to take a 2-week long siesta to the east coast, but the only thing I remember was the Statue of Liberty and eating dollar pizza on the side of the street. Now I’d get the opportunity to see everything I’d missed, REMEMBER the sights and sounds of the city, and best of all, do it with some of my closest friends at Hopkins.
We boarded the bus at 3 pm on a Friday, and after a four hour bus ride throughout the seemingly never-ending east coast highway system we arrived in the city. Now, I knew nothing about New York, but when we were dropped off in the middle of the street surrounded by nothing other than office buildings and food trucks, I knew something was wrong. When I turned and asked one of my floor mates where our host’s house was, my jaw dropped as the words “30 blocks away” came out of their mouth. She was located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and we were currently situated on the southern portion of the island. All the transportation options to get us to her apartment quickly rushed through my head. Uber/Taxi, too expensive. Bikes, impractical. Bus, nonexistent. Walking it was. As I got ready to embark on our mini-marathon of a journey across New York, an experience truly augmented by the fact that I was carrying an excessively heavy duffel bag (tip #1: pack light), I heard the most magical words ever I could’ve imagined. “Let’s catch the subway guys”.
See what I’d forgotten was, what New York lacked in viable everyday transportation options, like a bus system, it made up for with one of the most extensive, affordable, underground subway networks I’d ever seen.
While we got lost in the subway at least 3 times, and the fear of getting on the wrong one or missing our stop happened at least once every time we rode it, the subway was honestly our savior on this trip, and in this scenario my back couldn’t have been more grateful (Tip #2: I repeat, pack light). We eventually made it to our host’s apartment, and after settling in, we all decided to go explore the city.
Being located in the upper west side, we were literally right across the street from Central Park, and so naturally, our first activity had to be a late-night stroll around arguably the most famous park in the US. We walked round the park, saw all the pretty views and all the greenery, and ran around all the long pathways and water fountains. After leaving the park, we walked through the streets of Manhattan, until we came upon Times Square. That place was magical…. all the lights, sights, sounds, it all made the experience so otherworldly, and coming from a place where flashy meant that the Space Needle had been painted a different color, I could barely process what was happening. After being mesmerized by the charm of times square, my friends and I were craving something to eat, and so we decided to go to the most unique, hard to find, New York specialty restaurant we could find, McDonalds. It was in this fine dining establishment, where, as were chowing down on only the finest of hamburgers, filet o’ fish, and McChickens, we met other Hopkins students. We talked to them for a while, and then afterwards we continued our aimless stroll around the city. We went into malls, gift shops, and flea market type establishments, and we even made it out to a Greek Food stand called Halal Guys, which I’d heard sold the best halal food anywhere in the world. After waiting in line for what seemed like an eternity, I finally got to try the living legend that was Halal Guys, and boy was I in for a treat. The food somehow surpassed the hype it was given, and even though I was sick and could barely feel my mouth because it was so cold (tip #3: pack warm clothing), it was delicious (Tip #4: Douse your food in White Sauce).
The next day we decided to once again, venture out into Central Park, though this time we took pictures
and got to explore the parts we hadn’t seen. We went up into a tower that overlooked a large part of Manhattan, and afterwards the went into the MET (The Metropolitan Art Museum). The museum was amazing, and even though everything was beyond my scope of comprehension or true, appreciation, all I knew was that the statues were amazing and the paintings absolutely gorgeous.Upon leaving the MET we grabbed some desert at an upscale bakery called Lady M, and afterwards we took the subway over to Little Italy, where we trudged our way through flea markets and grabbed dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant (tip#6: Little Italy and Chinatown are really cool, check them out if you can). The night finished when we came back to the apartment and played Settlers of Catan and talked until 5 AM.
The next morning it was time to leave, and after slowly getting up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast (I never mentioned this but we woke up at 2 pm every day so breakfast was really a late lunch), we realized that we’d somehow all forgotten to buy return tickets. As we panicked to find the cheapest bus as fast as possible, half of our credit cards were declined, and we ended up getting all of our tickets for a 5 pm bus booked at 4. As we sprinted out of the apartment and into the subway station, we frantically flipped through our phones to make sure we had the route down right and weren’t heading the wrong way 30 minutes before our bus left. When we eventually emerged from the subway station at 4:54 pm, we looked like something out of a movie chase scene, full on sprinting through the streets, luggage in tow, searching for the 5 pm Rockledge bus to take us back to home sweet Baltimore. We somehow caught the bus right before it was about to leave, and to the chagrin of the driver and bus operator we were boarded and ready to go at 5:05.
After the long, four hour journey back, our weekend trip to New York had concluded, and with it being a Sunday night, the reality of classes, exams, and boatloads of homework once again set in. That being said, it was really nice to spend some time with my friends in such a magical city that weekend. The bonds we formed will never be broken, the memories never forgotten, and the experiences forever cherished.