[NOTE: If you landed on this page after clicking a link on the Trans-MongolAsian Trek page – you did not get lost! My trip to Russia actually began with an overnight bus to New York City. It was from the Big Apple that I flew to Russia. Welcome to the journey!]
June 7, 2017
After boarding the bus to New York City last night, my goal was to get some sleep on the long ride. Well, that didn’t quite happen! After working on some things on my iPad for a bit while listening to music on my iPod, we ended up at not only the pickup in State College, but at the rest stop not long afterwards. So I abandoned the attempt to sleep until after the stop – though having coffee then might not have been too wise!
After we began on our way again, I did doze off for a bit. But as one can imagine, sleeping while sitting upright on a bus is not the easiest or deepest sleep. Alas, by the time the sun was rising, I was awake though feeling tired. Traffic was backed up on our way into the city – however we arrived close to our scheduled arrival time!
Now, go figure that the MegaBus New York City stop is right in front of the Fashion Institute of Technology! I had to laugh at that – the Nomadic Costumer starts his journey while being dropped off at F.I.T. At this point I zipped my two-part backpack together and began wearing it all as I explored the local area and fashion district.
My mind was actually set on one thing initially – finding somewhere that printed one-hour photos. I had the mindset to print some pictures of home and family to take along with me and share – but I forgot that the photo counter at Walmart isn’t open 24/7. Oops! Well, since I now had the rest of the morning and early afternoon open in New York City – why not try printing them again?
After walking for a couple blocks, I ended up in Times Square – which happened to have a three-story Walgreens! Thankfully, I was able to print my photos and they even printed right at the machine so I didn’t have to wait an hour. Awesome!
Now, it was time to explore New York City!
Being right in Times Square, I decided to go looking for some theaters – partly because I saw the marquee for Hello Dolly just up the road. Surprisingly, right next door is the Broadhurst Theater – the home of Anastasia. I HAD to snap a few pictures, slightly disappointed I couldn’t see the show on this trip – but I knew Ernie would get a kick out of seeing me attempting to take selfies outside the marquee!
From there, I actually stopped at McDonalds for a quick (and cheap!) breakfast with some coffee. While relaxing at the table, I realized that it would take almost an hour to get from Manhattan to JFK Airport, as well as wanted to get there a few hours before my flight left. I was left with a short amount of time, and some limited options. In addition, not only were tickets to the Statue of Liberty sold out, but tickets to the top of the Empire State building were quite expensive for just an elevator ride… So, I ended up visiting where I really wanted anyways – the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was not only a quick subway ride further into Manhattan, but it also got me closer to the airport!
The memorial site was, to put it simply – profound and moving. It is a simple and beautiful reminder of what happened that disastrous day. Though, I could do without the new World Trade Center Tower. I understand the need to replace the office space lost, in addition to the symbolism of building a taller single building from the ashes of tragedy – but it’s another skyscraper. It was a solemn place around the memorial and museum, though what I couldn’t get were the people taking selfies! Unless you’re a family member of a lost loved one visiting the memorial, I think it’s just tacky to take a selfie.
Since I had my large backpack with me, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to visit inside the museum – especially as you go through security to get in! Thankfully though, the ticketing agent said that it wasn’t a problem and that I could leave my bag at the coat check downstairs – whew!
If the memorial was moving, then there is almost no words for the museum itself. The museum is actually built below ground, around the two fountains which are in the former footprints of the two towers. There are exhibits regarding the initial building of the twin towers, but the focal point of the museum is the actual 9/11 exhibit itself. They do not allow photos inside – rightfully so, however there is no need. The main exhibit is powerful and moving, especially having lived through that day and being old enough to recall what the events. The museum recollects that day well, enough to encapsulate the memories for those who thankfully were unable to remember. If you get the opportunity to visit either the site or the memorial – do it!
After taking my time in the museum, I realized that seeing anything else would be out of my way. Instead, I started my long subway ride out to JFK Airport. When I finally got to my terminal, I was early enough that they didn’t know yet which gate I would be leaving from! The goal of my backpack was to be able to carry the main bag on with the smaller bag as my personal item – thankfully, I passed through security with little hassle!
Once through security, I went off to not only find my gate, but to see what restaurants were nearby so I could enjoy some dinner before leaving. Ironically, my last meal in the US for a couple of months was no other than the American classic – Buffalo Wild Wings, complete with a good Sam Adams Summer Ale!
Before long, they started boarding our flight. As we were flying direct to Moscow, they were checking visas at the gate prior to boarding. Once approved, I got a stamp on my boarding pass. When we actually started to board, many didn’t hear or didn’t understand they needed their visa approved in advance so that held the line up some. Before long, I was on board with my bag stowed (they didn’t even ask me to check the size – yes!) and ready for take off. Next stop – Russia!