It’s possible that this trip to New York City was just an excuse for me to go travel some more. But my intention was to treat my younger 17 year old brother to a weekend of travel in New York City, noisy hostel and all. On thursday night I told him,
“Hey lets go to NYC tomorrow for the weekend”
On friday afternoon our Dad drove us into Philadelphia where we caught a $10 bus
for a short two hour ride to New York City. The bus dropped us off close to Times Square so we found ourselves admiring the Gumball 3000
I wanted this weekend to be something neither of us would forget. That attitude lent itself well to spur of the moment decisions, which is why we ate dinner in a fancy steakhouse.
We walked some more after dinner and finally took a cab to check into out hostel
around 11Pm for $30/night per person for a bed in the dorms. The 104 Hostel is alright, i guess. It’s not the nicest or even in the most convenient area, East Harlem, but it was enough.
I tend not to wake up early but this morning we left by 9AM with a few new friends from France and Australia for a “free” tour of the city. The four of us caught a short cab ride from a talkative Gambian driver to another hostel to meet the tour group.
By the time we arrived it seemed the tour had already left so we struggled for a bit to figure out the next step. I found the guide’s phone number and by the time I called him he was right outside. Phew!
Another young traveler from Russia guide and our really awesome guide from Mexico appeared and we began our long, long walk. We first took the subway to a stop near the brooklyn bridge where we walked across and then back.
Soon I started chatting with the Russian, mostly because I really haven’t ever had a conversation with someone from that country. All I used to hear is that Russians rarely smile and aren’t so much fun. That can’t be right.
He was actually a really nice guy and he did smile. Although he speaks little English he wants to travel a bit and then find a summer job at a beach, only to eventually end his travels with a long roadtip across the country. At the time I had no plans to visit Ukraine but if I had known I probably would have wanted to ask him many questions about Russia, which is as close a country to Ukraine that i could possibly find.
Another stop was a ferry ride to Staten Island and then back. Our knowledgeable guide took us down below to the front with the best views of the city. Only when I got back to the hostel did I find out that the ferry actually crashed into the dock an hour earlier, injuring some people. Close call.
Near the ferry we continued to Ground Zero, a famous church, and finally Wall Street. Its good luck to touch the famous bull’s balls and that is what we did.
Token Asian Tourists
Our guide suggested my brother and I walk around Union Square later that night since we can’t really do anything else since he’s underage. Union Square was pretty neat but the highlight of the night was passing Max Brenner’s, a dessert cafe recommended by my Israeli friend Mark. He explained in Colombia that when in Israel he would always take his dates to that place because even if the date sucked, at least he would eat some delicious chocolate.
I was psyched to see this Israeli cafe has made its way to America.
We returned to the hostel for an authentic hostel experience. My younger brother was fortunate enough to experience drunk Germans dancing around the room, stumbling. Even though they made a ton of obnoxious noise I have a rule that on the weekend its alright and something I expect. But I had to cut them off when a few of them were determined to be sneaky and have sex in their bed a few feet from my brother. They went to the bathroom instead.
We took the subway to the bus stop on Sunday morning for the bus ride back to Philadelphia. The ride was uneventful but the weekend was everything I could have hoped for myself, and I hope my brother appreciated it too.