• Joaynna Cook

The Concrete Jungle

Initially, we booked flights to New York because we wanted to get cheaper international flights. It was cheaper to fly to NYC and then to Germany rather than flying out of Detriot. Once deciding this was our path, we wanted to make it worthwhile and see most of the city. Cale had never been to New York, so it was fun to show him around and explore more than I got to in previous trips. This trip was scheduled four days before we were going to leave for Europe, and it was honestly the best thing we could have done (at least emotionally for me, haha). Being in New York gave me a buffer between "Okay, I'm leaving home for three months" and "Oh my, I'm leaving home, and I'm moving across the world." It gave me time to settle into the idea of traveling while still having some comfort and familiarity. In New York, we saw just about everything you could in only three days. Day one was a tour of Brooklyn, DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge, Photoville Photography Festival, and the 9/11 Memorial. DUMBO is a park that sits under the Brooklyn and Manhatten Bridges. Hence... [D]own [U]nder the [M]anhattan [B]ridge [O]verpass.

It's an elegant spot with lots to see and do right by the water. It's a little quieter and less overwhelming than the big city. DUMBO is perfect for a day that you want to get out but not be in Manhattan. Photoville was something we stumbled upon entirely by accident in DUMBO. It was an exhibit of a photographer using their skills for social change. Each photographer had a shipping container that they decorated and designed to show off there work. The whole Photoville was built up of the shipping containers stacked on top of each other. I was super excited to take a look at the different photographers, and we ended up spending quite a bit of time here. After walking through each of the shipping containers, we had worked up an appetite and decided to stop for some good ole New York Style Pizza.

After stuffing our faces, we grabbed a couple of Citi bikes and trekked our way across the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, I am not much of a bike fanatic, so this part of the trip was not my idea. Cale has insisted on us riding bikes in big cities every time we travel together, and I agree every time. If you are even a little bit nervous about biking on the Brooklyn Bridge... don't. There are lots of people and bikes and its hectic. If you can't tell already, this was my least favorite part of the trip. Once, making it across the bridge (alive, thank god), we realized we were not far from the 9/11 memorial, which was on the top of both of our lists.

We took a detour from our "Brooklyn Only" day to observe the memorial. And honestly, I don't know how to write about this. The truth is, I have no memory of that day. I do know I have been to a lot of memorials in a lot of cities...yet something feels different about this one. Most of the sites that you visit are for war or leaders of our country. Not many memorials I have seen are honoring innocent lives lost. It was hard to read the names carved into stone, knowing that those people got up that morning, thinking it was just another day at work or that they were flying home. It was first for me being at a memorial that genuinely got me worked up. There was a knot in my throat that wouldn't go away. It's a powerful piece of art, and I suggest that everyone goes to witness. Following that, we made out way through Manhattan to head back to Brooklyn. After a pretty long day, we spent the evening at Abby's place and organized some of our bags because life was just messy. Day two, we set out in the morning to walk central park, through the central park we walked to the National History Museum this is where we spent most of our day. I had never been to the museum and I did not realize that it is HUGE! It took us hours to get through what we saw and it wasn't all of it. We didn't spend considerable time in any of the exhibits, so this could take you all day if you wanted. We purchased the tickets that got us one special exhibit, and we went to the planetarium. It was a cool show, and it was a nice break from running around the museum. Once we got done with that, we set out on the mission to see all the characters from the Night in Meusam movie so that we could make hilarious movie references. This game was just our way of getting to see everything in a couple of hours without feeling like missing out. One of the best exhibits was the dinosaur exhibit; it was incredible to see skeletons that stretched out one room and through another.

After hitting all the main spots at the National History Measuam, we hopped on the subway to head to Grand Central Station for a quick stop and some pictures. Then we hopped back on the train to Highline Park for sunset. Highline Park is an old Highline railroad tracks that went years without use. Once the city wanted to tear it down, people started an initiative to create a park out of the space. This is a cool place, super eclectic, and stretches for miles. We only walked a portion of it over Hudson Yards then sat to see the sunset. The park closes right after sunset, so the park rangers came around and hustled us out, so we didn't get to walk a lot of it. After sunset, we headed back to Brooklyn and had dinner in with Abby and Chris.

Day three, after two pretty big days, we were both exhausted and battling the beginnings of a cold. We slept in and headed out in the afternoon to the seaport area. We picked up tickets for the broadway show, Tootsie. Then walked through Seaport to the Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island ferry is the best and easiest way to see the statue of liberty. On the boat, you can grab a seat on the outer deck and then watch as you float right by Lady Liberty. It takes about an hour because you have to get off the ferry on the Staten Island side and then reboard the ship. You get pretty close to the statue, and you get to do it with minimal crowds. You can also get better pictures.

After the ferry, we got back on the train to change for the show and eat a quick dinner. We dashed out of Brooklyn and headed to the show, arriving just as it began. We had incredible seats in row 9, center section on the aisle. Huge shout out goes to my cousin Johnny who gave me the pro tip of using TKTS to get broadway tickets. TKTS gets discounted tickets the day of the show and sells them at there box office hours before the show. You can get amazing tickets for cheappppp (and it totally worked!!).

Tootsie was a hilarious and fantastic show! I would recommend it to anyone. If you can't get to see Tootsie, seeing any Broadway show is a must in NYC. After the show, we walked Times Square to see it in all of its glory. Times Square is a little overrated, but seeing it at night is something incredible. You don't need to spend a long time but walkthrough, cause even at 2 am it feels like noon. Then, we got tickets to get to the top of the Rockefeller Center to see the New York City skyline at night. The Rockefeller is #1- cheaper than going to the empire state building and #2- you get to see the empire state building in all its glory from the top of the rock. I would say that this was my favorite day, with the show and the head of rock being top of my list.

Our last day was spent collecting our things, packing up, and resting before heading to Europe. Overall, NYC was a great time. It was awesome to spend time with my cousin and experience the city with Cale. It was a fantastic kick-off for the next three months of travel.

Check out the gallery below for highlight photos of our trip.

You can view them and if you fall in love, you can order them online for print.

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