Washington D.C.
October 10, 2022

Anyone who says that Friday the 13th brings bad luck should know that for some people, this day is memorable. So it was for me September 13, 2019, the day I got one of my biggest dreams, to go to America.

I can’t explain why I wanted to go there so badly, but I always felt a tremendous attraction to this place and I told myself I had to visit it. So on the 13th, New York welcomed me with open arms and I fell hopelessly and permanently in love. I was to find out later that it was also on the 13th, except that in 1788, New York became the first capital of the United States.

I have to admit that although I had an imaginary list in my head of all the sights I wanted to see, I sat down for a month beforehand and read up, researched what to do there, what not to miss, where I really should eat, where to shop, everything you need to know when you get to a new place. I did my homework as it were and wrote it down neatly in my diary to make sure I ticked it all off.

 

An unforgettable holiday!

From the moment I stepped into the airport, it was like coming home.
I had heard so many stories that there was a possibility that the airport controllers might not take you in and send you back, that I had a thousand thoughts. However, luck was on my side and the customs officer greeted me with a big smile and then took me to questions: what I wanted to visit, how long I would stay in America, why I came there, where I would stay and many other details to which I answered enthusiastically. His last words were: I’m sure you’ll come back…and you did:
In December I returned to spend the New Year there, to feel the atmosphere of the winter holidays first hand.

Just as I thought, everything is fairytale around the holidays. For anyone who loves Christmas, New York is a must! Here you can see the most beautiful shops decked out in thousands of lights, garlands, houses dressed up for the holidays. Everywhere you go on the street, in every local, hotel there is a huge, beautifully decorated tree, the wowest being the famous tree in Rockefeller Square, which is a beautiful dream.
So I’ve formed an opinion of New York in both fall and winter. Autumn is a show of colors, when nature puts on a different colorful coat every day, and winter is a beautiful madness dressed up for the holidays (however, you have to take into account that it is very cold :))

Must see in New York!

The sights we visited first were the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where we arrived by ferry. And because we keep saying: “What a small world”, I was lucky enough, while standing in line to buy my ferry ticket, to have someone call my name! I was shocked to hear my name so many miles from home and yet very pleasantly surprised to find myself in the same place as a very old friend, with whom I had not spoken for a very long time. To our happiness, we spent the whole day together. On the principle of “home accounts don’t match the fair.”

I recommend taking this trip, especially to Ellis, which between 1892 and 1954 was the symbol of American immigration, the point of arrival for more than 12 million people. Today, their descendants (over 100 million) make up over 40% of the US population. In the museum there you can listen, if you pick up the installed receivers, to the first phone call people made to their families; it’s touching.

 

In my 2 weeks here, a few days were spent in New York, a few in Niagara Falls, and the rest in Washington.

A quick stop in Philadelphia…

On my way to Washington, I chose to pass through Philadelphia, where I visited the Historic District. Independence Hall (a UNESCO heritage site), the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center are located within the National Historic Park.
There is a great deal of history here, as Independence Hall is where the United States Constitution was signed on July 4, 1776 and independence was proclaimed.

For boxing lovers and Rocky Balboa fans, you’ll find that Philly is also home to Rocky’s famous stairs, which we see in the movie when he trains. Now, at the base of them is his statue.
You MUST, but NEVER…if you get the chance and end up in Philadelphia, you must stop at a diner and try their culinary specialty called the Cheesesteak – a sandwich with shredded meat and lots of melted cheese, to which you can add mushrooms or other ingredients. Goes great with a beer on the side :). What impressed me here were the layout of the houses, the quietness and cleanliness.

We walked many miles, many by car, metro and train. I wanted to try all means of public transport, so that I could make a comparison with what I had seen in Europe and because as Erol Ozan says: “You can’t understand a city until you use its public transport system”.

Tourist attractions in the City

Grand Central Terminal is a true work of art, being the largest railway station in the world, entered in the Book of Records since 2012. Truly grandiose, it’s well worth a run up to it, if only to admire it.

In addition to countless sights like Times Square, Central Park, Top of the World, Radio Hall, Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center and the site of the Twin Towers, Flatiron, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Vessel, MET and Public Library, where I went and admired each one in turn, I wanted to walk the backstreets through Chelsea, Soho and the West Village, where I saw both Carrie Bradsaw’s apartment from SexAndTheCity and the Friends’, and got a feel for the city just as it is: Noisy, imposing, where time flies by and everyone is rushing somewhere. And there, in all that madness, was me, just enjoying what I was given to see and feel.

Of the above, I really liked the Top of the Rock or Rockefeller Center, from where you can admire the whole city from above. You get to the top by elevator all 67 floors in a minute.
I recommend buying your ticket online to get rid of the lines, which are always huge here. The price of a ticket was around $30 and I got it here.

Also worth mentioning is Central Park, where you can escape for a few hours into nature, take a carriage ride, listen to singers show off their talent for a few dollars, and obviously, in winter, you can skate in the famous ice rink, which is full and will remind you of the movie Home Alone, which I’ve seen on TV at least 100 times.
Brooklyn Bridge is my favorite bridge. I’ve crossed it at least 4 times round trip for the vibe it gave me.

NY Public Library is the 4th largest in the world and the way it looks is wow. Even if you don’t love books, give it a chance and visit! You won’t be sorry.

The people who gave me the best energy there were the people: loud, smiling, concerned, hurried, kind. A beautiful, colourful, vibrant mix.

Food in New York

Since my favorite food is Italian, I couldn’t miss Little Italy, where I landed right on the Feast of St. Gennaro. Everything was a buzz there, where countless slices of pizza, pasta, cannoli, gellato, anything you could want were on display. A delight.
You have to know that food in New York is expensive. And on top of being expensive, you also have to leave a mandatory 20% tip of your order when you choose to eat at the restaurant. I’ve also tried some restaurant food, and fast food. I was curious about their famous doughnuts, which you always see in cop movies, the famous hot-dog at a street-side stand, and I really liked them, not being a fan of either doughnuts or hot-dogs. I’ve definitely developed a fondness for Dunkin Donuts.

Every city I go to in the world, I make a habit of going to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. I love their ribs. Of course, the rule has been confirmed here too. In terms of food, besides street food, fast food, I also wanted to try the famous Nusr-et restaurant, booking in advance, where I ordered oysters and burger. Both delicious. Other restaurants I tried were Two Hands, through Chinatown (where I couldn’t help myself and chose to stay for a massage after walking over 15km), Eataly – very good pasta, for fast food I recommend Five Guys, and for pancake lovers, take a trip to Flipper’s. The place is in SoHo and here you’ll find the famous Japanese pancake, soufflé.

What else you need to know about the food here is that the portions are huge. Anything you order and from anywhere is a lot. I could never finish everything on my plate.
A rooftop bar where you can admire the grandeur of New York City while sipping a Cosmopolitan is 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. From here you can see the Empire State Building and Chrysler Buildings in all their glory.

I’m a shopaholic!

Last but not least, what you can do in New York is shop. All the stores in the world are here, but the famous ones are Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, where you find everything you want…money to have. Even if you don’t have a lot, you can raid the outlet stores. Century 21 is famous and you can find designer clothing pieces at low prices. T.J.Maxx is yet another store where you can find interesting and cheap clothes.

My advice to shopaholics is to have money on you specifically for shopping. It pays to buy your clothes there; much better quality and much lower prices than you can find in Bucharest. I came back with an extra suitcase, for which I had to pay $200 in the airport, and still got it cheaper than if I had bought them in Romania.

So many sensations, so many memories that New York left me with and that I really want to relive.
I don’t know when, but I will definitely come back again to visit the city that has welcomed me with such kindness and joy every time.

I hope you enjoy my impressions of my vacation and I look forward to your recommendations for a future vacation..also in New York.

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See you next time,
Mada

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