Giving in to the Travel Bug (14-16 Nov)

A cute scenery on the side of the freeway/highway just outside of Norwalk, Connecticut.

The Megabus. Top: the sunroof. Bottom: the awkwardly numbered seats.

Saturday, 14 Nov

It’s been a while since I’ve been traveling and I’ve been getting pretty antsy. Conveniently, my friend suggested we hang out one more time before she flies back to the West Coast. I figured why not?! So I booked a ticket to meet her in New York City (NYC) for a weekend. Today is the day I set off on this lovely adventure!

Choice of transportation: bus.
Company of choice: Megabus!.
Boarding time: 12pm
Expected arrival time: 4pm
ACTUAL arrival time: 6pm

I thought LA traffic was bad. Boy oh boy is NYC traffic so much worse. Sure, not all of the delay was about the NYC traffic but rather how ever so slow our driver was driving (she kept driving in the far right lane and was traveling at the minimum speed allowable on a freeway/highway). But OH MY GOSH, there was stop-and-go traffic rather comparable to the San Francisco bridge traffic where we couldn’t move for a good 10-15 minutes sometimes! At least in LA, you’re inching forward every so often and it’s only in specifically congested areas.

A lovely view of Hartford, Connecticut along the freeway to New York.

Either way, I still enjoyed my slow crawl to NYC. The Megabus bus was a double decker bus. WOOOO!!! Double decker buses! Not to mention, it has a FULL sunroof on the top deck of the bus (too bad for the people who didn’t want that much sun). Not only that, but I go a seat in the front right corner and got to see a pretty good view of the landscape we were traversing through. It was beautiful seeing the various places we were passing by (i.e. Hartford, New Haven and Norwalk, Connecticut). It got hot towards the afternoon after we had been on the bus for about 5 hours, but otherwise it was grand.

Traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel from 5-6pm.

However, as we were nearing the city, the traffic got worse and our driver took a route different than the route that would have been a shorter distance to the city due to the fact that traffic on that route was — probably — intensely/absurdly much worse than what we endured entering from the Lincoln Tunnel, which goes under the Hudson River, from Weehawken, New Jersey (yes, that is a weird city name, I agree).We got on to the entrance to the tunnel and we didn’t move for a good 15-30 minutes. It was about here that people began getting antsy. Then, a few blocks from our drop-off point, people got REALLY antsy and decided to disregard the driver’s opening remark of NOT going down the front set of stairs while the bus was in motion — as a sudden stop could potentially send you FLYING through the front windshield and/or cause serious damage otherwise.

When we finally got off, I was tired of traveling, but it was good  to see my friend again. We were originally going to enjoy the city for the afternoon, as our arrival time was supposed to be at 4pm, but alas to no avail. We ended up having a night in and watched Philomena, which was quite the movie.

Our delicious table of dim sum in Flushing.

Sunday, 15 Nov

Today is my first morning and only full day in NYC. What to do? What to DO?! Okay, okay, yes I should go do the touristy things, but I’m not really all for that. Plus, the sad reality is that I’m running a high fever today and a nasty cough — and my poor travel partner has to deal with it. So, I popped some ibuprofen pills and went about my day trying to inhale just enough water to keep my cough down.

Our cute little mango pudding fish with sesame eyes! HE’S SO ADORABLE! ❤

What else? I did what I always do when I visit a place: visit with friends. Shortly before I decided to come to NYC, one of my longer-term friends had just started a PhD program at Columbia University. So, I hit her up. My NYC friend, originally from Connecticut, ended up inviting us to have some dim sum in a city/town/area in NYC known as Flushing — Flushing, right?! What kinda name is that?! — which has approximately a 70% Asian population. Oh my was that dim sum DELICIOUS!

Afterwards, my travel partner and I followed my NYC friend and her friends around for the day. It was quite a sight. We were three girls (my travel partner, myself and my NYC friend) following three guys for a good deal of the day. It was rather….amusing, if you will. Us girls had no cares in the world where we were. We just wanted to spend some time together and hang out. The guys on the other hand, they wanted to go shopping for some food at the Chinese market in Flushing, so we went there, and then go return — then shop in the area, funnily enough — some items at Uniqlo, and we followed them there too. This was how the majority of the day was spent: following guys doing whatever they fancied. It was an experience in itself.

My gorgeous panorama of the Columbia University courtyard at night.

At the end of the day, the three of us girls settled down at the Columbia University campus. My NYC friend took us to the nice picturesque courtyard — she said it was the only thing worth seeing on the campus — and sat in the area for a while just enjoying the night, while I did my thing and took a panoramic of the yard. Afterwards, we went and grabbed two nice, HUGE slice of pizza between three of us girls at Koronet Pizza. No joke, go to Yelp and search for Koronet Pizza in Morningside Heights, where Columbia University is, and look at the customer photos — these slices are HUGE. It was somewhat pricey for “a slice” of cheese pizza ($3.00) with each topping costing you a hefty $2.50, especially if you didn’t know that the HUGE slices in the pictures you see are considered “a small slice of pizza” at the place. It was crazy, but one slice is essentially a personal pizza — though I do wonder how that measure up mathematically.

Monday, 16 Nov

You know, I often hear people say, “What a small world!” When they meet someone who knows someone they also know. I think it’s funny, especially when they live in what I’d consider a close proximity. But what happens when you meet someone that looks like you, or like someone you know — or as some of us call it a doppelgänger?

Okay, so, I didn’t personally see anyone’s doppelgänger — or my own, for that matter. However, I did meet a pair of mugs in the apartment I was staying at, via Airbnb, that looked strangely familiar. They looked strikingly similar to the pair of identical mugs I had seen around my apartment — no, they didn’t just magically appear, they’re my roommate’s. The funny thing is, they aren’t signed the same way on the bottom so I wondered where the ones in New York came from, if not from the original artist or what the story is behind that. Oh the mysteries and curiosities of life! ❤

These similar-looking Italian mugs. Top: from the apartment I was staying at in NYC. Bottom: one of the identical mugs my roommate got from his parents’ trip to Italy.

*Update: Upon a little Google research, it seems like the set from New York might be older, as Larce Orvieto is listed as an “antique artist.” However, the terms “Pascal Ravello Italy” turned up a ceramics location in Ravello, Italy called Ceramiche d’Arte, which states that pieces bought there are made by the resident artist Pasquale Sorrentino.Then, while pursuing the Ceramiche d’Arte website, I stumbled upon a few pieces that had the human-headed dragon found on both the NYC and home set of mugs; it was labelled “Raffaellesco”. So Googling that turned up this site, it explains Raffeallesco to be a diety “brought to life” by the Renaissance painter Raphael and that this image of him is often associated with the the popular “motif” seen on many pieces of Italian artwork today.

“Today” I Learned

  • New York City is more south than Boston (yes, I’m American and yes, I suck at geography and thought otherwise).
  • I had only recently  learned — within the past few years — that the infamous Yale University is located on the East Coast of the United State. In addition to this, I add to my knowledge bank that it is in New Haven, Connecticut.
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