With her bright city lights, energy, crowds, food, and symbolism, New York City is a destination for tourists and Americans alike. So, after living in Europe for nine months and traveling a bit, I thought it was time I visited the place where it all started—literally my family arrived in America via Ellis Island in 1902—and pay the iconic city a visit. Conveniently, my younger sister Mariana decided to enroll in a pre-college program in NYC this summer, which provided me with an excuse to pay the city a visit. So, in early July my mom, dad, two sisters, my niece, nephew and I headed to the city that never sleeps.
Time with family, especially fourteen-hour car drives, is unique and special in a few ways. In fact, when reminiscing childhood vacations, the memories that occur in the car on the way to our destination are often the ones that stick. Why is that? Well, drive across country with over ten people in the car and you will find out! Our road trip was not so bad though, even with a two and a half year old and a baby. Surprisingly, they were the least of our worries. With heated political and religious conversations, children’s songs, prayers, and bantering, there was a lot of chaos! Amongst the disorder of it all, there was still a sense of peace and relaxation, one that only a road tripping family can possibly understand.
Before our time in NYC, we stopped in Washington DC to visit my family. While in DC, we visited Georgetown Cupcakes (they have yummy vegan options), the Smithsonian and the National Mall. At the Natural History museum there was an incredible Iceland exhibit. It made me want to visit the country!
After a few days in DC, we headed to New York City, leaving my older sister and her two children behind for obvious reasons. My aunt and uncle came along for the city visit, which was great. We stayed at an Airbnb in Bushwick, in an area that turned out to be undergoing re-gentrification, which was an adventure in itself! Staying near Brooklyn was great, as I loved window-shopping, farmers market going, and people watching. Brooklyn is an absolutely wonderful area, it feels urban yet eclectic and whimsical. I loved the vegan restaurants, jewelry shops, street art, flowers, and its overall energy.
After feeling a bit claustrophobic in the busy city, Central Park was a wonderful stop. While in Central Park, we happened to run into a celebrity! Her name is Roxie and she is an adorable little Yorkie (search “Roxie in the City” on Facebook).
We were also able to see both my cousin (who works in Manhattan) and distant Puerto Rican relatives. Sitting around the dinner table and enjoying the company of family and friends is something I will always cherish.
One of my favorite memories from our trip was surprisingly in Times Square, not because I liked Times Square, but rather, I enjoyed my father’s reaction to the famous New York icon. Right as entered Times Square my father, with his socks, sandals, and baseball cap walked around excitedly and said, “Well…Time to check this one off the bucket list, now I just need a pretzel with cheese…” He then proceeded to buy a pretzel and walk aimlessly through the crowds of people as he stared up at the bright lights and advertisements. I, of course, did nothing but laugh and follow him, watching his reactions, enjoying every moment of it! It’s moments like those that I will always remember. So, I made it to New York City. No, I did not eat a hot dog (I’m vegan) or even buy a “I heart NYC” t-shirt, but I did have a wonderful time with my family and I made memories that I will always treasure.
Stay true, live justly, and always travel one. Peace and love.