California to New York
(May 24th – June 8th, 2015)
Because I am absolutely horrible at posting new blogs in a timely manner, today I am doing a #TBT post (how appropriate considering it is Thursday). But in my defense, at the time I did not even have a blog, so obviously I did not post this adventure. Anywho, enough chitter-chatter, let’s jump right in!
Many a moons ago, I decided to make the spontaneous decision of buying a plane ticket to New York! Well, to be completely honest it was not all that spontaneous. Obviously I did tons of research on when the best time to buy was (3pm about 5-6 weeks before the departure date), what day was the best to fly out (Tuesday or Wednesday), and I was joining my cousins who had already purchased their tickets several weeks before me so I had accommodations.
This was the very first time I have ever flown anywhere by myself, so I was extremely nervous. Oxie and Lillie were accompanying me to the airport; during our excitement and whatever intriguing conversation we were having, Oxie missed the exit to the airport… and we didn’t notice for quite some time. The consequence? I missed my flight by three minutes and had to be put on a different flight–the following morning. My cousins who were punctual would be getting to Buffalo, New York in the morning, and I was now arriving late in the evening. Therefore I had to miss our first excursion: Niagara Falls. Sad, I know. But it just gives me a reason to return, so chin up buttercup!
The next morning, we woke up extra early and made sure to arrive two hours before my plane took off. Once I was finally boarded, it was official, I was going up, up into the heavens and making my way to the other side of the country. The actual flying might have been my favorite part of the entire trip. I love the feeling of taking off and landing, and there is something about going by yourself and (successfully) maneuvering through four different airports that makes you feel independent and, dare I say it, like an actual adult!
After several hours I finally landed in Buffalo where my exhausted cousins were patiently waiting for me (sorry!). We were picked up by my other cousins who live in Syracuse, New York, as they would be taking us in for the next two weeks. The two hour drive from Buffalo to Syracuse was a great opportunity to bond with my New York cousins whom, to be honest, I was not very familiar with. But, after two weeks, I came to learn that my east coast relatives were pretty “wicked”.
First official day there (when we were all wide awake and not suffering from traveling exhaustion) we spent having family time at my aunt’s house. Huge family, plus a couple California members (my other cousins and myself), all stuffed in medium sized house: it was chaos. But a good kind of chaos. The kind where you’re overwhelmed by scents from the kitchen, sounds of laughter and multiple simultaneous conversations; it felt like Christmas even though it was in the middle of summer.
The real adventures started the following day when we piled into their large fourteen or so seater van and headed off to the Corning Museum of Glass. If museums are your cup of tea, I suggest taking a detour and stopping by. I could go on and on about how cool their exhibits are, but I will just let the photos do the talking because I don’t have the room, time, or energy to write a million words.
After our morning spent wandering the glass maze, we headed off to our next destination: Watkins Glen waterfalls. I am not kidding, nor exaggerating, when I say the hike makes you feel like you stepped into a mythical world. Pools of water between caves and cliffs, waterfalls below and above you, moss and other vegetation growing on the slippery surface of the rock walls, and rainbows from water overspray. My only regret was that I didn’t walk even slower, than I already did, to take it all in and just admire the fact that I was in one of the most beautiful parks in the United States of America. I suggest you add these waterfalls to your bucket list if it’s not on there already.
Also, in case you didn’t notice, we took every opportunity we could to stop and eat ice cream. Regardless of the fact that it was always cloudy and raining, it was in the middle of summer, I was on vacation, and I was going to live my life to the fullest!
The following day we went to the beautiful city of Skaneateles in the Finger Lakes Region. Basically, if you want to see the most adorable town perched on the edge of a crystal clear lake, you should stop by Skaneateles. Shout out to my cousins for introducing me to this beautiful town, because I immediately fell in love. Even though it was gloomy, wet from the rain, and starkingly cold (in comparison to the California summer I was normally used to), the charm of the shops and houses was not dulled. If anything it was accentuated because we bought hot chocolate to keep us warm as we explored the streets.
Also, big thank you to my cousin Alina for modeling for me and (sometimes) doing silly things!
June was finally upon us and we spent the day at the local mall just doing some shopping. Afterwards, we came back to my cousins house so I could pack for my next adventure: New York City! I was going to take the bus alone on a six hour ride to the Big Apple because I had a flight the next morning to Florida. Originally my cousins were supposed to come with me and spend that day in New York City; but because of the weather and their lack of enthusiasm for traveling and exploring I decided to go by myself. I got on the very crowded Greyhound bus (at two in the morning) with just a backpack and an ounce of energy, and found the last available seat (it was available because it was wobbly); within a few minutes we were on our way to the city everyone dreams about.
At around seven in the morning, I found myself in a near empty Times Square. I had officially turned twenty and was standing amongst larger than life skyscrapers, billboards, and flashing screens; feeling incredibly small and insignificant in the best way. The paved streets glistened from the reflection of the flashing advertisements, taxi cars whizzed by, and yet it was still fairly calm and quiet for NYC. After taking a few seconds to take everything in, I began to make my way through Manhattan to the airport. Shoutout to Google maps for helping me navigate the subway and streets of a city I have never been in. For someone as directionally challenged as myself, I think think I did quite well and actually made it to my destination regardless of the fact that it was freezing and pouring rain. For the next couple of days I would be in Florida, which you can read about here.
Upon my return from Florida, I got a couple extra hours to explore Manhattan and I obviously seized the opportunity. I checked off as many places as I could possible walk to. I made it to the Grand Central Station, Chrysler Building, Times Square, Bryant Park, the Library, and lastly a little corner in Central Park where I rested my poor tired feet and opted to people watch from a sedentary position (lots of couples making out in case you were curious). Fast forward another six hour bus ride and I was back in Syracuse with my cousins.
The day before we flew back to California, we all went on one last excursion: a boat tour of the St. Lawrence River as well as the Thousand Islands. The tour was about two hours long and we got to see all of the magnificent islands with mansions along the river. It was a very relaxing way to end the trip and help us all wind down before heading home.
Fast forward a couple hours, several layovers, and drastic changes in temperature (and time) I was back in my beloved home state. New York was great, but California is where my heart will always want to be.
xoxo Ollie ❤