(Trip date: December, 2011-January, 2012)
We started our adventure in New York City – a perfectly planned day and a half stopover. It was right before Christmas so the city was lit up with coloured displays, festive decorations, and street-corner musicians playing holiday songs on every corner. The streets were packed with people in high spirits for the holidays and there was a special feeling of energy and excitement in the air. To top it off, it was an unusually mild and perfectly sunny two days just for us!
Our New York City experience started off in a stereotypical New York way – we walked out of the airport and onto a local bus crowded with angry, yelling people who were NOT happy about the extra space our backpacks required (um, we’re coming from the airport, is it really surprising we have luggage?) We quickly realized we were not in Canada anymore! I also didn’t quite know what to say to the guy who asked me if I had a Canadian flag on my backpack so people wouldn’t think I was American, not sure what he thought I’d say considering I was on a bus full of Americans? I quickly responded that I was just very patriotic – which is the truth!
After getting lost and ending up on the scenic route through Harlem, we finally made it to our hostel - Jazz on Amsterdam. Since New York City is a pretty expensive place to visit we decided to stay at a hostel to save money for the rest of our trip. It was simple and clean and our two-person bunk bed room was perfect for us (especially since the walls were painted bright pink, our favourite colour!)
We walked for hours and hours and visited all the regular tourist spots including Times Square, Rockefeller Centre, Central Park, F.A.O. Schwartz, 5th Ave, Brooklyn Bridge, Highline Park, the Meatpacking District and more. It was a whirlwind of a tour but we savoured every moment! From New York style pizza to (rather pricey) martinis in the Meatpacking district, we excitedly walked through the bustling streets of New York City knowing we still had a one-month adventure ahead of us, who wouldn’t be in the best of moods?
I can’t forget to mention the interesting people we encountered, like the two brothers we met at a bar – one being a professional boxer and the other being a diagnosed alcoholic who claimed to be part of the mob. Even our waitress returned to our table a little more than normal to make sure we were ok! They were definitely interesting – especially the story the boxer told us about how he got stabbed with a fork, and then continued to show us the fork scar - a unique addition to our New York experience!
After our jam-packed day and a half in New York City, it was an early morning flight and an exhausting 24 hours of travel (that’s what you get when you travel on a budget) until we made it to our next destination: Bogota, Colombia!