As an island girl, I have always been told that the streets of New York were paved with gold and everything there was glamorous and exotic. We were told stories about New York all our lives and the relatives which migrated to this state often made it seem like the only state worth visiting. Imagine my surprise when I was finally able to afford a plane ticket, much less a ticket to the destination I have been dreaming about all my life. I was just in my late teens at the time, but I remember every aspect of my trip like it was yesterday.
This was my very first flight and I was hoping it would be an unforgettable experience as well. I soon discovered that I was not a fan of airports, long lines, or immigration. I was in the line for what felt like the greater part on an hour and then I was most displeased to discover that there were even more lines ahead. Seeing as I would have been staying with relatives, I was forced to spend the rest of the time searching for all their island favorites in the airport gift shops. When I finally boarded the plane, I was too tired to be apprehensive and fell asleep within minutes of being airborne.
As the plane descended into JFK, I eagerly looked around trying to get my first glimpse of this very strange new city. I must admit that I was not pleased when I discovered that I had to join a few more lines before finally being reunited with my Aunt. I also found that everything moved a lot quicker since we arrived on one of those early morning lights. I was already in full tourist mode as I boarded one of the iconic yellow taxis I had seen on TV a million times. My aunt laughed as I giddily chatted up the driver and asked him far too many questions about his life on the road. In between sentences, I was constantly gazing up at the many skyscrapers that seemed to go on forever and at all the people rushing here and there on the street. That was the moment it hit me that I was finally in New York and this was going to be one very unforgettable experience.
Having slept on the three-hour plane ride, I was ready to get started with my vacation right away. I dumped my suitcase in the apartment and I dragged my Aunt out the door. Reluctantly, she decided to take me on a tour of downtown Brooklyn. Riding the train was another experience I found all too fascinating. Having lived all my life on an island where buses popped at random and being forced to chase taxis during peak hours, I was beyond impressed when I discovered that there was a train every 15 minutes. The train ride was only 20 minutes but I had already seen people from more ethnic groups and religions that I had seen all my life.
I spent the rest of the afternoon blowing through my shopping allowance because I had never seen so many stores in one place. I still have no regrets. It was one of the best shopping experiences ever because the fourth of July sales were in full swing and everything was very reasonably priced. We stopped to eat at McDonald’s, another one of my silly dreams, and the cashier and I shared a hearty laugh because I bought one of everything of the dollar menu. I returned to my Aunt’s home with heavy bags and high expectations for the days to come.
Another highlight of the trip was visiting Times Square! It was much bigger than I expected and there was far too much to take in all at once. It was quite an experience visiting the Hello Kitty store and seeing eerily lifelike mannequins of all the famous celebrities in one day. I also saw naked cowboys, a few very talented flash mobs, and larger than life models of all the Transformers. What a day it was! Again, I was not ashamed to be in tourist mode and I took pictures of everything and selfies with everyone.
One the fourth day of my trip, we took a ferry to Staten Island and I saw the Statue of Liberty along the way. It was much colder than I had expected but I enjoyed it nonetheless. When I was able to take a break from my shopping, I also toured the Guggenheim and a number of other iconic museums. I was never really a fan of art but I was fascinated by the paintings which were able to capture the emotions of the muse so well and had no discernable brush strokes. I also got to explore Central Park and I searched like a mad woman until I found a fountain that resembled the one from the series F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
All in all, it was a great trip. New York was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I tried strange cuisines, ate far too much and I loved every minute of it. There are tons of restaurants, lots of attractions and far too much to do. Best of all, New York is the fashion capital of the world and is a great place to get all your shopping done. I hope to return there someday soon.