New York City love! Yes, it was love at the first sight and it was totally unexpected. In total, I have been to NYC 10 times and I can’t stop coming back to it. “Why?” you ask. The reasons changed over time, and the love transformed.
The whole month of September, I will share 30 stories with you. One story each day. You will find out how I travelled, what countries I called home and how many times I repeated a travel in the same place. But most importantly, you will get to know my comfort zone stories. Would you share yours?
I feel like I should write a book about the love story between NYC and me. Maybe I will, but for now, let’s talk about my first time travelling to the Big Apple. It was October 2016. I was living in Iceland at the time. I have to mention getting there was easy at all.
As an European citizen (that’s not from a Schengen country), I had to apply for a tourist visa. It cost me a $160 non-refundable fee that I had to pay regardless if I was accepted or not. I had to provide proof of salary, give in detail information about my family and pass an interview at the US Embassy in Reykjavik. At the same time, I even had a recommendation letter from my boss. I remember like it was yesterday when I received my passport back with the 10-year valid visa for tourism. That was August of 2016. I immediately bought the tickets for October.
So there I was, all shaky and nervous in front of the officer looking through my passport. Everything had to be in order, so he could let me in. I was coming from a cold country, while in NYC was warm as heck. He asked me a few questions regarding where and how long I’m staying, and how much cash I have on me. And then he made a joke about how overdressed I am, he smiled and let me go.
The relief I felt then, was soon to be forgotten because, as you can imagine I got lost in the subway on my way to the hostel. I was staying at HI NYC Hostel in Upper West Side Manhattan. I felt so lost that I didn’t even know how to ask for help. A guy saw me upset and he offered to help. He was just about to get out of the subway, but he came with me to the right side of the track and finally told me where to go. It took me three hours to make it there (the whole flight was 5).
The rest of my days in NYC were everything I ever hoped for. I was so happy, words can’t quite describe it. I would freak out in enjoyment every time I’d see something ‘from the movies’. The whole city seemed to me nothing but a huge movie set because every single thing, in my mind, only existed in the movies. The hot dog stands, Central Park, USPS vans, bodegas, NYPD fence, and the school bus. Oh, and the perfect sunset seeing the famous skyline. If you love sunsets as much as I do, I am sharing some of the best ones with you, check out Alina’s Wonders Sunsets Around the World.
I even made it to one of Seth Meyer’s tapings of the Late Night Show and Good Morning, America. However, the most important one was Broadway. I went and saw Chicago and I cried half of the play, not because of the story, but because I made it happen. I can’t explain what it meant to me to be able to afford a trip to NYC, after living in Iceland, and realising my life is there for the taking.
And affording a trip to New York City I did. Quite a few times: October 2017 just before my South American backpacking trip. And that is when I went to the other TV shows: seeing Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah. To make it all cyclic, I returned to NYC in May of 2017 and I dipped my toe in dating. But then it didn’t take me long and in July 2018, I went back just for 5 days. And then in September 2018 I only went as an extended layover on my way to Toronto. I was moving out of Iceland and I wanted to say goodbye to the city.
The city seduced me in a way I never knew was possible and so I left heartbroken realising my life had to continue elsewhere. Little I knew the same city will heal my heart three years later when on a cold Thanksgiving morning in November 2019 I would find my life partner who was patiently waiting for us to start a life together. And now, New York City love has a whole new meaning.
I’ve returned to the city three times since then, in December 2020 and January 2022, and recently July 2022. And look for my October trip because hopefully, I will tell you a lot more about it soon. Oh, and in February 2019, I was living back in Romania, when I got accepted to the Anchor Podcast Lab. So I had to go back. Right? Especially since I got to record two interviews, this is one of them:
What would New York City love mean to you? Have you ever been to the city where everything is possible? Let me know in the comments below.
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