New York City


If I could sum up this weekend in one word it would be: Absolutely Amazing. Ok, maybe that's two words but it's absolutely necessary to have "absolutely" :-)

To begin, I was very wary of the idea of going to New York solo. I knew that I was going on the bus with some friends, but the thought of finding my hostel and sleeping there alone scared me. At the same time, I knew it was going to be quite the experience and very memorable. Our bus left at about 10:15 am on Friday morning which is a story in it of itself. After boarding the bus, Andrea and I decided to get some food since we had 10 minutes to spare before the bus was going to leave. We decided to go to Cosi across the street to get some sandwiches and drinks. I don't know if you have ever experienced this, but when you're in a hurry, the workers seem to move extremely slow. Well, this was not our imagination. In fact, they did it deliberately. After a few minutes of listening to the workers gossip, Andrea asked them if there was any way to get our food quicker because our bus was about to leave in 3 minutes. They looked at us, continued to talk and moved very slowly to get our food and finish the transaction. I have no problem with slow movers but if it is a deliberate decision to be this rude, I throw a fit. I was livid by their nerve and attitude. By the time we finally got the food, we ran across the street and the bus started to leave! We had to run after it and hit the door for it to stop...the driver stopped and shaken up, we boarded the bus.

After 4 hours of sleeping on the bus, I woke up to the New York City skyline. It was surreal to see it in person. We had about 30 minutes until arriving at Penn Station. In the meantime, Mark's dad, Tom, called me and gave me very specific directions for the subway and such. Then, Kaylen, Mark's sister, called to make sure everything was alright. Upon my arrival, I took a cab to my hostel, settled in and freshened up a bit, and was off to meet the Ratto's for some good 'ol Korean food. I felt a bit overwhelmed at first by the hustle and bustle of things, but seeing familiar faces in a very foreign city was so heartwarming and comforting. The food was so good. I wish I had taken a picture to show you just how amazing it was. Tom gave me the responsibility of ordering everything so I ordered: kimchi chigae, bul go gi, neng myung, soon to bu and bi bim bap. IT WAS SO TASTY!

(Me and Kaylen Ratto)
(From left: Tom, Kaylen, Martin [Kaylen's bf] and me)

After dinner, we headed over to Union Square and on a whim, saw the show Fuerzabruta. It was so artistic and creative and so much fun. There's no way to explain it, but it was not traditional in any sense. To start, it was an interactive show so the audience never sits down. They stand and move around and become part of the show. A lot of it was in the air, with people and props hanging from the ceiling. Again, there's no way to put it in words...the only thing I can say is that I had so much fun seeing it.

When the show was over, Kaylen and I decided to hang out and catch up as we walked through Little Italy and West Village. The night was very relaxing and a great way to assimilate into the city.

Soon, it was time to put my wonderful first night to a close. I headed back to my hostel and slept in the 12-bedroom female dorm with only one toilet, one sink and one shower. It actually wasn't bad at all. The hostel was pretty clean and in a great location. The only time it got a little complicated was in the mornings when all the girls wanted to take showers and we only had one bathroom. I didn't really meet anyone...most didn't speak English or had friends with them. Plus, it served its purpose well--it provided me with a bed and a safe place to sleep for 2 nights.

Saturday morning at 9 am, I got breakfast with Tom at a little Parisian cafe. Then, we rode bikes through Central Park and down 5th Ave. I didn't have my camera because it would be very difficult to juggle that with riding bikes. Nonetheless, I took a mental picture of how breathtakingly beautiful Central Park is. Once you step in, it's as if you have just walked into a fantasy world. Everything is so green and lush; it's very easy to forget you're in the middle of the city. We rode around the perimeter which is 5 miles total. The weather was a little humid but all in all, the ride was just gorgeous. Then, on a whim, we rode down 5th Ave which was probably the craziest thing I've ever done. Weaving in and out of taxis and buses, I thought I was going to die. As you know, I did not...I'm alive and well and very excited to have done so. It was quite the adrenaline rush, but at the same time, a wonderful story to tell :-) At the end of our ride down 5th, the rain clouds began to roll in so I decided to make my way over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Kaylen which is in indoors.

That was a lot of fun! The Met is enormous so I knew there was no way to see the entire museum; however, what we did see was so awesome. We went through the Egyptian section, photography exhibit and their temporary superhero exhibit.

(The actual costume that Christian Bale wore in "The Dark Knight")

(The actual costume that Robert Downey Jr. wore in "Iron Man")

After a couple of hours at the Met, we left and walked around for a bit; we came across this beautiful street where the sun was hitting the perfect places. After the rain cleared, it turned out to be such a beautiful afternoon :-)

Kaylen had plans that night as did I, so we parted our ways. I met up with Emma and her 2 best friends at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Can I just say that Times Square is absolutely NUTS! There were so many people and so much chaos, I thought I was going to have have a heart attack. By this time, I had gotten over the initial intimidation of the city because of the Ratto's generous directions and advice. In fact, I was feeling pretty comfortable. So by the time I reached Times Square, I was just annoyed with so many people and slow walkers. Those tourists ;-) Anyway, the girls were at the top of the hotel, which provided a beautiful view of the city at sunset. They were done with dinner by that time, so we decided to make our way back to the hostels to get ready for a night out. Along with Emma and her besties, we met up with Andrea and made our way to the very trendy Meat Packing District (yes, where Samantha from Sex and the City lived). It was a lot of fun and a great way to spend a Saturday night in NYC. We ended up at the top of the Gansevoort Hotel, overlooking the city. The view was breathtaking and I knew I was making a memory as I lived in it.

Sunday morning I got breakfast with Tom, Kaylen, Martin, their Aunt Sue and cousin Kyle. Then, Kaylen, myself and Aunt Sue walked around SoHo to do some shopping before I had to leave. The day was wonderful with California weather and I was sad it was coming to a close. At about 3 pm, I bade them farewell and made my way to Penn Station.

There's no way I can show or communicate just how thankful/grateful I am of the Ratto's. They adopted me for the weekend and made my trip more than I ever imagined. I was blessed to experience a family weekend so far from home. They were absolutely amazing and such a life-saver. Now, I feel readier than ever to come back in a few weeks when Mark visits. The city has so much personality and humor, which is one important characteristic DC lacks. As much as I love DC, the lack of personality can be hard at times. Therefore, you can understand just how refreshing it was to be in NYC with such loving people.

This last weekend will be one for the books as I reminisce on the beauty of NYC...

Until next time...ciao ;-)

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