Taking the ferry to Brooklyn but ending up at IKEA – Weekend off in NYC #2.1

We started our second weekend off with a nice dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I definitely fell in love with this restaurant, and to be honest, I think I’ve already tried at least seven of their Cheesecakes last summer. However, I had the best salad I’ve ever had with a lot of Guacamole!

Cheesecake Factory

As you might have read in my previous Weekend off – Post, we usually spent our time off in NYC, since the train ride from our city in Long Island to Penn Station was only an hour long. Our goal for this weekend was to take a ferry to Brooklyn and walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan and to visit Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and certain Museums (I’m gonna tackle the Museum part in a separate post).
Well, it turned out that not everything went as planned…

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Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Saturday morning, we already had breakfast at camp and arrived around eleven at Penn Station and took a subway to Ground Zero. I was in desperate need of a good black coffee (coffee at camp was usually just instant coffee which is not really delicious if you like to have your coffee black) so I went to Starbucks, ordered coffee and literally paid almost $3 for a small bottle of water.

NYC Art

NYC Art

I was really surprised how much street art we saw around Ground Zero, I didn’t remember it to be that much from my last trip to New York City in 2015.
The World Trade Center Memorial is very impressive, I really like that they mentioned all the names of the victims of the 9/11 attack.
However, I was not completely sure if I liked that so many people took pictures in front of the memorial, especially people who made instagram stories or uploaded pictures of themselves, smiling into the camera with all the victim’s names in the background.
Personally I feel like it is not particularly respectful to take those kinds of pictures in front of a memorial that reminds us of the deaths of almost 3000 people.
What is your opinion on this topic?

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Can you spot the Statue of Liberty?

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After our stop at the World Trade Center Site, we walked down Greenwich Street to Battery Park where we were considering doing a boat tour. Unfortunately we discovered an at least 400m long queue of people waiting to buy tickets, hence we decided to skip the tour and just chilled out a bit at the boardwalk.
Admiring the Statue of Liberty, which is still always a surprise because of its small size, we took some pictures before continuing our sightseeing stroll.
I mean, honestly! As a child I always imagined it to be humongous and visible from almost any part of Lower Manhattan, consequently I was a bit disappointed when I first came to NYC but I could not help but smile about it :)!

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IKEA is always a good idea

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Already feeling a bit hungry we planned to take a taxi boat to Brooklyn and to walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan later in the afternoon.
Accordingly, we were super pleased when we found out that we only had to wait a couple of minutes for the next ferry. The so called „New York Water Taxi“ was yellow and rather had the appearance of a speed boat like the one I took in Bali when I went to Nusa Lembongan.
As already said, we could not wait to have our late lunch and therefore were happy to finally sit down, and hopefully find a nice restaurant ASAP :D…
The ferry or the slow speed boat honked and left the dock and started to drive to the right, even though Brooklyn Bridge was to our left.
We were slightly confused but still confident that we would soon arrive at our destination.

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However, even after five minutes the ferry was still driving to the wrong direction and after having passed Governors Island we began to laugh despite growling stomaches and were open for another adventure, maybe we would eventually end up somewhere in New Jersey – nobody knows!
It took another twenty minutes till the boat approached a bay and we bursted out laughing when the ferry finally docked and spotted people waiting at the dock with big dark blue plastic bags with „IKEA“ written in bold yellow letters on it, waiting to take the Taxi Boat.

NYC IKEA

Yes, we accidentally took a ferry to IKEA instead of a ferry to Brooklyn. I did not even know that there is actually a ferry from Manhattan to IKEA.
Anyway, we therefore still ended up doing a boat trip, even though it was not particularly the one we expected to do.

Wall Street Stock Exchange

Still very hungry, we headed back to Manhattan and took a stroll to Wall Street in order to take a subway to Brooklyn and have lunch. Of course we could not miss out on taking a picture in front of the New York Stock Exchange!

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Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO)

Eventually, we made it to Brooklyn but it turned out that the search for food would not be as easy as thought. The restaurants at the promenade had big queues in front of them, I guess it would have taken us at least half an hour to be seated.

Subway

Brooklyn Bridge

We consequently decided to head to the famous „Gossip Girl Viewpoint“ first, where you can see the Manhattan Bridge from Washington Street. I had a salad at a great salad place called „Sweetgreen„, my friend hat a slice of Pizza at „Front Street Pizza“ and we stocked up on water at a small shop called Peas & Pickles.
I really enjoyed all the great salad bars in NYC since you were able to pick your own greens and stuff or enjoy one of their amazingly creative creations.

Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan

After we had filled up on our energy levels, we went to the promenade where you have a great view of the Manhattan skyline.

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DUMBO was pretty great, many young people, great bars and restaurants and we met some other counsellors from camp at the boardwalk. It is amazing how you can actually meet people you know on accident in such a huge city. Also, I got a call from my friend from Germany who has also been a counsellor at another camp that summer. She told me that she had seen my snap and that she was also in the city, watching a musical on Broadway, what a coincidence!

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Donuts

We had spent another great day in Manhattan and Brooklyn and after at least ten hours of running around, we found ourselves at a Dunkin Donuts store near Penn Station and enjoyed some sweet Donuts. My absolute favourite that summer was probably the chocolate one with these kind of sprinkles which was filled with some kind of coconut cream – so delicious!

I hope you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for more USA posts!
xx, Sophie

This post is not sponsored. All restaurants, shops, places etc. mentioned in this post are my personal recommendations.

 

 

 

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How I fulfilled my Dream and went to Yosemite National Park, CA

I’ve been waiting for this for years. Yosemite National Park has been one of the greatest travel destinations for me since I got in touch with the work of Ansel Adams, a landscape photographer who shot many great landscape photographs.

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Half Dome, on my way to the campground

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I think it was in 2012 when my mother told me about Ansel Adams‘ work. I was thirteen years old and became really interested in photography and cameras when she introduced me to his photographs.
It didn’t take me long to find out about the National Park in his pictures.
Big granite monoliths, rocks so high your neck will hurt the longer you watch their summit, but definitely worth it!

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Half Dome

For years, Yosemite National Park has just been an unapproachable-seeming dream, until the day my Ballet teacher wore a Shirt from Yosemite in class and I almost couldn’t believe her when she told me she went there. That was in 2016 and since then I knew:
One day I will go there, one day I will see Half Dome, El Capitan and the Tunnel View with my own eyes.

Two years later, I applied for the Camp America program, got hired as a camp counsellor and decided to travel to San Francisco and Yosemite, even if I had to do it alone.
So I booked a campground, deciding I would travel there, no matter what.

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My preparation mainly included bringing a tent, which was far too big since I was hoping I would find people in my summer camp who want to join me, and a sleeping bag.
When it turned out that nobody would join me on my little four-day-adventure, I got a bit scared, since you need to take a subway, a train and a bus to the park and my campground was not in Yosemite Valley, but a 30 minute bus drive away.
To be honest, I almost quit, since I was by myself and I had to carry everything by myself and didn’t know where to leave my luggage in San Francisco.
However, I was too committed and decided that these little travel issues would not let me wait another three years till I would come back and try again.

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So I got up at six in the morning, took the subway, took the train, took the bus, waited three hours in Yosemite Valley for the bus to take me to the camp ground and finally arrived around six at Crane Flat Gasstation.

The camp ground was a five minute walk from the gas station and when I walked down the road, I realised that this campground was not really supposed for people without a car. The ranger at the entrance was a lovely woman who was obviously amused that a 19 year old girl with only one Carry-On back pack (my tent was inside, as well as my sleeping bag so I was actually just carrying one backpack) was checking in.
She asked me if I would, at any point, have a car and I answered I wouldn’t.
Smiling, she handed me my paper hanger with my booking number, showed me on a map where my camp space was and added „You don’t need to take the map, it’s probably annoying to carry around, you will find the spot without it“ and I just thought: ‚That lady clearly understood my packing issues :D!‘

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-day of arrival-
to be continued…

 

PS: Some of these pictures where taken during the bus drive to the campground, which explains why some of them are a bit blurry and have reflections in them. Additionally, I was not able to take the pictures with my reflex camera since it broke at the beginning of the summer. I took most of the photos with a bridge camera and also used my phone.

Home again

Hello lovely readers out there,

it’s been a very long time since we’ve heard from each other but it’s a pleasure for me to announce that I’m finally back! My last post was published August 26th and a lot of things happened since then.
Actually, I can’t believe that I managed to prepare at least 14 posts to be published during my time in the United States, but I didn’t manage to write a single one since I came home in September.

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On a temple market in Bali (October 2017)

Here is a quick update, just that you know what to expect the next weeks or months.
Ten days after I returned from New York, I started my studies in Economics in a foreign country! Yes, I am lucky enough to be able to study abroad, even though I am still living at home. Ironic, isn’t it?
However, I travel 4 hours each day in order to educate myself but I love it! This is something I’ve missed the past 18 months: going to an institution where inspiringly  intelligent people share their knowledge with you.
To be honest, I really missed studying. 😀
Don’t get me wrong, travelling enriched my life and my general knowledge to such a huge extent. Taking a Gap Year was, without question, the best decision I’ve made so far in my life.
Those who know me personally, will probably confirm that I am a pretty talkative person and very interested in meeting people.
Now imagine how many different faces you see each day when you’re exploring the big cities of this world, or the great conversations you can have with inspiring people (while desperately trying to solve the common travel problems like accommodation, food or transport :D). I spend my money on memories that will always have an impact on my life.

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Me in my garden, pretending to be somewhere else.

I learned so many things about living, human behaviour, society, gratitude, standards and – about myself.
Wow, that was deep. One important lesson I’ve learned is, you can’t just leave, explore the world, come back and continue as you are used to do.
Your life will be different and it is pretty unlikely that you will be „satisfied“ with what you’ve just seen.
A very kind woman from Ireland I met in Langkawi (click) on my first evening in Malaysia told me, that once the travel bug has bitten you, you will want more!
She was right.

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Rice Terrace in Bali (October 2017)

After coming back from South East Asia and Australia, I was very happy and still so thrilled by what I’ve experienced.
However, I got used to my old life really quickly and I started working again straight away. But the „travel-bug-bite“ started itching again and three months later I was, almost unexpectedly, back on the road. Or to be more specific, on the plane to Long Island, NY.
As you may know, I worked as a camp counsellor in a Summer Camp and it was a very rewarding experience. I will certainly publish a separate review of my camp experience any time soon.

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco – August 2018

Alright, turns out this „quick update“ is not as short as originally planned, but after not having written a single thing in two months, it feels good to be finally producing content again. Sadly, I won’t be travelling a lot the next few months, but I really hope that I will travel next summer. I am very tempted to go to South East Asia again and maybe spend some weeks in my Surf Camp in Bali.
For now, University is my priority and I still have some time to make the decision and to save some money for the next trip.
Content-wise, I still have some destinations and photographs up my sleeve that I haven’t shared with you yet- so stay tuned!

Thank you very much for reading, I wish you a lovely weekend!

Sophie

 

PS: The header picture shows the current, foggy, autumn weather in Germany. Time for cozy socks, hot tea and pumpkin soup!

Camping with Kangaroos |Crowdy Bay National Park

When I think of our road trip in Australia, the first thing coming to my mind is the kangaroos in Crowdy Bay National Park. We camped in the park for two nights and were surrounded by kangaroos all the time. They came so close and sat two meters in front of our tent, they even turned their backs on us. It was great!

Well, as you can probably imagine, I took tons of pictures of these funny, cute creatures. They usually are really friendly but don’t get too close, they can kick you! The red kangaroos in central Australia are even able to kill you. These ones were not that dangerous, fortunately 😄

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I hope you enjoyed looking at these pictures.

Have a great week!

Sophie

What we ate in Australia Part #2

Hey there!

This is the second part of my „What we ate in Australia“ series. Some pictures were still taken in Darwin but the other half of the meals are the ones we cooked while we were travelling down the east coast. Problem was that you can’t carry to many groceries while travelling. Additionally we were on a tighter budget and consequently had a lot of pasta. (ca. 1$ per meal) 😁

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Self-made christmas cookies in Darwin, while it was 35 degrees celsius outside…
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Asian inspired soup with a poached egg
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Nachos with guacamole in a mall
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Our last dinner in Darwin with avocado sushi…this dinner was so expensive since we had salted caramel chocolate as well 😅
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Couscous with cucumber and tomatoes
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Rice cake with banana and peanut butter for breakfast
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Pasta with cheese and tomato sauce
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This is a not so good looking potato-egg-capsicum salad
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The aesthetically least pleasing meal we cooked – rice with Indian chick pea sauce
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Vegan and gluten free pancakes in Rainbow Beach for breakfast
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This salad was so delicious! Rice, corn, cucumber, onions, lemon and spices
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We always carried lime juice, Italian dressing, salt and pepper with us while we were travelling the east coast

What do you eat on your travels?

xx, Sophie

Nine Weeks of Summer Camp in Long Island, NY

Camp is officially over- and I am officially sad. I had such a great summer here in Long Island, I met great women and made many friends. Last year in December when I was in Australia, I made the decision to apply for Camp America and turned down an internship in Berlin for it. At that time, I wasn’t really sure if that was the right decision and I feared I could regret it. Looking back now, it was the best thing to do to end my gap year.

My camp is a camp for underprivileged children from Long Island and the board works the whole year to set up the camp. They do a lot of fund raising, they run a thrift shop and more in order to give children in need the opportunity to spend two weeks in a free summer camp.

Camp America has many different camps in their program and some private camps are really „exclusive“ and only quite wealthy people can afford a placement at a summer camp for their kids in those camps. Since the gap between rich and poor is growing in Long Island and everywhere else, I really appreciated the work in my camp because I feel like I’ve done something good.

Working with children can be exhausting, but very rewarding at the same time. I loved all the kids I had in my cabins and even though there are always some issues with some campers, you still learn to worship the work with kids and you learn from every problem you’ve dealt with. I had so much fun this summer and now I am laying in my bed, realising that this will be the last night I’m sleeping in a wood cabin with nets instead of windows and bunk beds. I can’t believe it and I don’t want to leave….

However, we had lots of fun in Long Island, it is such a great place with so much to do. I will definitely write a post about the area where I stayed. If you ever come to NYC, take a LIRR Train from Penn Station to Long Island- it’s definitely worth it!

The last picture in this post shows the little beach near our camp, where I occasionally went for a run in the morning- it was so beautiful!! The beach pictures were taken on a beach festival at Long Beach where we went on our first off weekend. It was such a great experience because we sat in the sand at the beach right next to the ocean, listening to live music and eating food truck-food. There was also a firework above the water at night and it was literally the best firework I’ve ever seen! We loved it ♥️

I had a great time, but life must go on. I will fly to California tomorrow and I am super excited. We’ll see…♥️

Thanks for reading!

xx, Sophie

What we ate in Australia Part #1

The What we ate series shall be continued, this time I will share the food we cooked in Australia. All the foods in this post are „self-cooked“ in Darwin.
Since we had access to a kitchen in our apartment, we were able to buy more groceries and store them in a fridge. Hope you enjoy!

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Banana Porridge for breakfast
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Banana porridge with greek yoghurt and cinnamon for breakfast
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Baked beans and veggies for our wraps
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We loved making wraps since it is rather a cold dish and it gets very hot in Darwin!
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Porridge with berries, not for Instagram 😹
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Couscous with eggs, tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese
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Apple porridge with cottage cheese and cinnamon
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Wholegrain bread with cottage cheese, avocado, cucumber and an apple – gosh we ate a lot 😹
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Roasted veggies with egg and avocado
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Pasta with baby spinach, salt and pepper
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Homemade pizza, cut with a scissor 😹
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The healthier pizza
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Veggies and chick peas

We usually had loads of veggies and cooking was really fun! We also occasionally bought some Lindt dark chocolate, so delicious!

Have a good week!

xx, Sophie