New York: June 13, Wednesday

In this series, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the New York trip I made with my bf last summer. I swear, this time, I won’t wait ’til after 6 months to update because I actually wrote every night on this trip.

Before we flew out, I started writing travel details on this brown notebook. I had time, at the time. 😉 I wrote the following:

First section/page: Flight dates, numbers, AirBnb accommodation details

Second section: What’s free and when? This is a list of places in New York that are free to visit on certain days. Start your search here: Free in NYC.

Third section: Dedicate a page for each day. If you found something later in your research, like a Shakespearean play on a Wednesday, for example, there’s space on the Wednesday page for it.

I happen to have extra tabs, from being a regular student. So, I used that to easily open the page for that day if I needed to take a quick look. I only used one tab and moved it to the next page when the day was over. This notebook has a backpocket. I used this to keep tickets for museum admission/shows.

I know keeping notes like this makes me sound like a perfectionist, but I wanted to make sure that we won’t be wandering aimlessly in the city. I never liked researching on the go. I’m the kind of person who has always liked the view from the window of a running bus. There’s no point in traveling if you’re on your phone all the time.

I didn’t have to plan down to the tiniest detail. I just needed direction. In fact, we maximized our experience because we had an idea on where we wanted to be. If we didn’t get the exact experience we wanted to have, we found equally fun things to do in the same area. In fact, we changed our plans as we went along.

This notebook means a lot to me now. It’s become a special souvenir from that time.


June 13, Wednesday

We arrived in New York at LaGuardia. First order of business, get a SIM card to get around. Electronics shops inside the airport will have it. Second order of business, get a week’s worth of MetroCard. It’s only $32USD. Some general stores inside the airport might have it, if you can’t find the machine that dispenses it.

We transferred trains several times from LaGuardia to our AirBnB. We underestimated the amount of effort it took to get from the airport to Bushwick (in Brooklyn). If your budget allows it, get an Uber/Lyft/cab.

Bushwick has a significant Hispanic and African-American population. It’s a very quiet area, except when the neighbour does the occasional music blast.

We were hungry when we arrived. So, we consulted our New York Food list on Google Maps and located the nearest food stop. But, before I talk about food, let’s talk about Google Maps first, because it is a very useful tool. On Google Maps, you can search for a restaurant and save it to a list. To access your list, go back to Google Maps, select Your Places, select Saved, and it should show all the lists you’ve made. If, like me, you won’t have data, try saving the NYC map as an offline map before you arrive.

We took a bus from our AirBnB to La Loncheria. My bf wanted tortas so bad, he got excited that La Loncheria was just a bus ride away. If you don’t know what a torta is, it’s a type of sandwich. Once inside, we ordered a La Niña Popov and a Ven Mí. We were underwhelmed, which was surprising considering the place has at least 4 stars on Yelp, Google Maps, and TripAdvisor.

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The meat on La Niña Popov, which is similar to corned beef, was a bit gamey. I had to manually remove the fat to make it less gamey. The meat on Ven Mí has flavour but it was a little dry. Pretty place but that’s about it.

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I read a blog post about graffiti on Morgan Avenue. Brooklyn is known for its vibrant arts scene. I thought, yeah, this might lift our spirits up. But, while we were following the directions on this blog post, the streets looked sketchier. I should have expected that since we’re talking about a post-industrial neighbourhood. Then, I realized, I had a sanitized version of Brooklyn in my mind, the Instagrammable kind. I wasn’t really looking at the place as it really is. I only wanted to see what I can brag about on social media.

Lesson? Fuck expectations. If I want real experience, I should just let this place reveal itself to me, in its own way. Did you think I was gonna say “Fuck Instagram?” LOL, not this time. Not yet.

The area looked sketchy, alright. But, we loitered long enough to find a couple gems along Thames and Bogart.

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Definitely not Instagrammable but perfect starter for a spirited conversation.

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We don’t like showing our faces. 🙂

We picked up a few essentials on our way home. If there’s one thing I noticed about Bushwick, it’s that every other corner has a deli+grocer. And each grocer has a fridge full of alcohol. Tonight, we’re having a couple of bottles of Modelo Especial. We’ve had it before and we’re having it now because it’s one of the best beers around (fight me).

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