Planes, trains, and automobiles is the perfect tagline of my latest adventure. On Friday, I drove to Detroit, woke up early on Saturday to fly to NYC, and then pick up a car in Staten Island, and drive back to Michigan, alone. This may have been one of the most adventurous expeditions yet – I was going to a city I had never been to, by myself, after buying a car I had never test driven…the most I could do was hope for the best and well, it worked out!
I purchased a $75 ticket direct from DTW to LGA via Spirit. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to bring more than a small backpack, so unfortunately, I had to leave my DSLR at home and survive with my iPhone 4S camera. Luckily, it did me well and I captured some amazing shots (like the one above). So, the weekend started out rough. My plans in Detroit got turned around and I ended up having to get a hotel. Luckily, the Marriott gave me a “distressed traveler” rate and I only paid $65.99 for the night, which included a free shuttle to the airport – perfect! So, 4:30am, rise and shine, and get on the grind – I headed out with my backpack, phone, and a notebook with some advice I had written down about traveling NYC.
On the airline, I met a fellow Michigander and less-than-24-hours-in-NYC-er. She was recording a track with an electronic music artist and we instantly clicked. She eased my anxiety about visiting this city. I shared with her a dream I had the previous night…I was going about an average day in my life, and piece by piece, my phone kept falling apart. At the end of the dream, my phone was completely shattered and all I had left was my “home” button. We interpreted this together. At first, I thought it was signifying my anxieties towards this trip and that at the end of it, I’d just be happy to get home. Rhonda changed me view. She pointed out that maybe, despite all my anxiety about this, that at the end of the trip, I’d realize that “home” was wherever I was doing what I love to do – travel, explore, experience. Little did I know, she couldn’t have been more right. So by the end of our hour and a half flight, I was excited and couldn’t help but turn on my phone to capture this beautiful image.
We landed in NYC and said our goodbyes. I headed out to the ground transportation area and grabbed a taxi. When the cab driver asked where I was going, I said “Brooklyn? The Brooklyn Bridge please”, as the only thing I had planned for the day was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. And after a $36 cab ride, I was dropped off in the middle of the street and was told, “that’s where they walk”. So I jumped out and started my next adventure. And I walked. And I stopped and took pictures.
And then I arrived in Manhattan, sat down on a bench, and decided what to do next. I wandered around City Hall, Broadway St, and St. Paul’s Chapel.
Then I headed underground to navigate the subway. I’ve been on subways before so I felt comfortable here, and well, it was great. I headed up to Grand Central Station and then wandered down Park St to find Central Park. I felt like a tourist, at this point, because I was walking along Park St and noticing things I’d read about in Gossip Girls. I felt like I was on a tour of the city – seeing St. Barts, and apartment buildings with doormen who said hello, and all the accents and languages I heard on the streets. It was fantastic. And in to Central Park I went. I felt blessed that I was able to see the park in autumn, because well, it just took my breath away
If this was my backyard, I doubt I’d ever go on a vacation. The Fountain on the Lake.
Reflections of San Remo over the lake. Talk about colorful.
And my brunch: Challah Bread French Toast w/ Banana Compote. A divine meal at the Loeb Boathouse on the Lake.
After this meal, I wandered out of the park and to a coffee shop on the Upper East Side. Instantly, I could tell I didn’t “fit in” here. I was rockin’ around my Dakine backpack, with a North Face beanie, a bright blue maxi skirt, and an owl crop top. I wasn’t dressed in the nicest clothes, wearing diamonds, and looking put together with my blowout and professional makeup. I looked tired, dirty, and out of place. Without letting that bother me, I sat down and enjoyed an Americano at an overpriced coffee shop. I sat and listened to the people coming in and out. Everyone ordered their drink with skim. When I ordered mine, I asked for cream…I received steamed skim. Some places are lucky to get any kind of milk…and these Upper East Sider’s probably would have cried if they received 2% with their coffee. The disparity just shines through in NYC. Especially compared to where I headed next.
I headed uptown to Washington Heights to visit a friend from Kalamazoo. The subway ride took about an hour, but only cost $2.50 – such a great value! I was surrounded by people of all cultures and I loved it. Sometimes I forget how nice it is to see and hear people who aren’t just like you. Sometimes I forget that the Midwest isn’t as cultured as other places, but well, New York was a quick and persistent reminder. I caught up with my friend, Gabby, and we enjoyed sharing stories and experiences that we’ve had over the past year. She was celebrating a year of living in NYC – so I was glad that I could be there to tell her how awesome she is!
Just down the road from her apartment – a lovely view of the George Washington Bridge.
After saying goodbye, I headed straight down to the Staten Island Ferry stop. I kept thinking about all the things I had seen in just 6 hours. I’d gone from the richy-rich Upper East Side to the lower-class Bronx. I had seen Queens, Brooklyn, the Financial District, Park Ave, Central Park. I had heard more languages than I could count. I saw people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I felt at home. I felt so comfortable that I started to regret that I didn’t have more time there. My car was waiting for me at the last stop on the Staten Island Rail, and I wanted to get it before dark.
I took the Staten Island Ferry to get to the last burrough – Staten Island. This was free of cost and offered an amazing view. I stayed in the front/back of the boat so I had the view of the city.
After arriving in Staten Island, I headed off the ferry and towards the last train of the trip. I took the Staten Island Rail all the way to the end, where I walked a mile to get to my car. The sun was sinking quickly and I started to wish that I had a companion with me. I was attempting to drive this car (a 1993 Ford Bronco) to Syracuse before I fell asleep. I drove through the night. Knowing I was missing the prettiest part of the drive…
And well, I did that, and a bit further. I ended up getting all the way to the Niagara Falls and staying at an Embassy Suites in Canada. They hooked me up with a suite, facing the falls, with a jacuzzi suite, and free parking for $99.00. I think they could tell I’d had a rough day, and oh, was I tired. I woke up after 4 hours of sleep to this view.
Unfortunately, by the time I had soaked in the tub and had breakfast, it was 10am and I wanted to hit the road and get home. I didn’t go explore the falls any more, so I’ll definitely have to get back there soon. I headed in to Canada with no phone service and just printed directions, driving my new truck. Five hours later and I was crossing the bridge in to Detroit. How much do I love Detroit?
THIS much! So happy to arrive.
It had been a crazy adventure and I still had 3 hours left. I stopped in Detroit for food, to see my friend, and to watch the sunset…and off I went, back to my reality. A bittersweet end to an amazing weekend! I can’t wait to get back!