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I don’t know what it was about New York City, but something sparked inside of me. My first thought upon arrival was “there’ll be some great sites and stuff, but I know I’m going to get sick of all the people and the loudness of the city.” That was, to my surprise, certainly not the case. In fact, I was positively surprised by the fact that it did not bother me that I was surrounded by thousands of people at all times; whether it be on the subway underground, on street level in Times Square, or on top of the 52nd story of a skyscraper among many other tall buildings with thousands of other people. And to my most surprise there were quiet parks scattered around the city. Lots of them. Even the most famous park in the world, Central Park, I found an oasis in…from my hammock.

I mean, can you believe there is a secluded, wooded area in the middle of the city?!

Four fantastic days were spent in New York City, so I’ll try my best to keep this brief. Three out of four were spent cycling my way to all the sites, two out of four were spent enjoying world-renown yoga studios, Lyon’s Den and Laughing Lotus, and one out of four was spent taking a hammock nap amidst all the hustle and bustle in the city. All the days were spent devouring amazing food, clearly.

Day 1: By the grace of Danny’s good friends, Bret and Bre, we had a brown stone home in Brooklyn to lay our heads down in as we arrive around midnight. Not letting it be possible to sleep in on my first day in the city, I persuaded Danny to do the same. We, of course, got on our bikes to go across the historic Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. It wasn’t all that it’s lived up to; I mean, it was a Sunday in the summer, after all. Every tourist possible shared the bridge with us, and instead of taking in the sites, we took in every idiotic way you can block a bike lane. Still, we stopped for a picture, and no one could defeat my excitement for arriving in the city I’ve been dreaming of.

After crossing the bridge, we reach the National 9/11 Memorial because I knew that was something I needed to see. I got very emotional, and didn’t even expect to. There was something so sacred about that ground, and knowing that’s where thousands of innocent American lives were lost, and that realization hit me hard. They did a beautiful job creating the Ground Zero Memorial, but I was not emotionally prepared for the museum, so we made it to our next venture…FOOD.

My first meal in NYC was a bratwurst plate at The Standard Biergarten. The Euro Cup Soccer was playing on all the TVs, which made the dining hall crowded to no end. With our happy bellies full, we walk it off on the high line, a historic above ground subway line that is now turned into a walking path with gardens, very scenic. Finding our bikes, we ride north on the Riverside bike path. Our plan was to make it all the way to Danny’s old stomping grounds, Columbia University, but we decided to save that for another day, and instead, take a hammock nap in Central Park. Groggy, although rejuvenated, we somehow ride our bikes from 53rd to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, to freshen up and meet up with friends for dinner.

Day 2: Biking everywhere…20 miles to be exact. We use the Riverside bike path along the Hudson as our main drag, and today take it up to Columbia. We first made a pit stop in a place I so regretted the second we arrived…Times Square. “Let’s get my picture, and then go” was the source of reasoning for going. I think it was a matter of 7 minutes we spent before the stimulation was over bearing. Danny was determined to show me all over the city in one day’s time, I honestly had no idea how we did it. West Village to Columbia Univerisity, The MET to Bryant Park and so many more places and sights. Once we reached the evening, there was one part of town in particular that I yet to experience. It was the part of town that until I went there I didn’t feel like I was really in NYC.

The moment I reached Rockerfeller Plaza, all of my childhood ambitions flooded back to me. Radio City Music Hall, where the Today Show is filmed, the ice skating rink, which in the summer is turned into an actual plaza with a restaurant. Although the entire day was magical, nothing topped what the evening would bring. I was determined to find a rooftop view of the city, and not pay $32 dollars for it. So no Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, but a rooftop bar called 52 was the perfect getaway. With a glass of wine and a 360 view of my dream city, it was an evening unlike any other.

Day 3: Worn out from not only two full days in NYC, but over 10 days of road tripping, Danny and I decided it was in our health’s best interest to take a “rest” day, which we spent the majority of at a coffee shop called Coco Bar in Brooklyn. We read, wrote and rested with a matcha latte, and caught up on the mundane parts of life we’ve been avoiding, such as phone calls, laundry, etc. That evening we took a yoga class at a fellow Baptiste studio called Lyon’s Den, and enjoyed a flow led by  a fellow Houstonian now in NYC, Katie Richey. While in the West side we met up with our roommates for the week at one of their favorite restaurants in the city called Fish. Needless to say it was some of the best food I’ve eaten in a while. After a fun dinner and a few drinks, the four of us loaded on to the subway to go back home. Public transportation is brilliant in this city.

Day 4: Final day in the city was spent on my own for the first half. While Danny took some time to catch up with old friends, I took the train (by myself for the first time) to Laughing Lotus for a yoga class. I “took myself on a date” I like to descibe it. After the class I spent some time walking the streets, and maybe getting a little lost a time or two. I really felt anonymous among millions of other anonymous people with pasts and futures, just trying to make it in the city just like I was. There was something about walking the streets and taking the train alone that made me feel like I was a part of something, as strange as that sounds.

I arrive back to the Brooklyn brown stone, had a moment to relax a little, and then met up with Danny to make our way to our next source of entertainment. My friend, also Stephanie, leads bike rides in the city with the Social Cycling NYC group. We rode from the South end of Central Park to Queens! We made a lap on Randall Island, an island between Manhattan and Queens I never even knew existed, and ended up at a skate park in Queens. By that time it was getting late so Danny and I rode back across the massive bridge to catch a subway.

We could have, and should have just rode our bikes back to Brooklyn, because little did we know it would take up two hours to get back. Taking the 2 train we were just sitting minding our own business, and then suddenly at the 14th Street station, our train comes to a sudden stop. The conductor comes on over the intercom and tells us to hang tight while they’re doing an “investigation,” whatever that could possibly mean. Minutes later the conductor tells everyone that can to exit the train immediately. Thankfully, we were on the second car and were able to get out, many others must have been trapped in the tunnel.

We got out of the station safely to find out that a girl had fallen onto to the tracks and hit by OUR train. Who knew that the last night of my first time in the city and I would be on the train that hit someone. Thank goodness she was not killed, but later found out that her legs were amputated and she was in critical condition. We hopped on the F train to make it back to Brooklyn, just in time to see the end of the final 4 game and have a couple of drinks with some friends.

What a way to go out on our last evening…until next time NYC.

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