Exactly two years ago, I hopped a Megabus to visit NYC for the first time. It took me over 22 years to visit The Big Apple, but it was well worth the wait — and I’ve since returned a few times, having made the eight-hour journey five times in the past two years. (That doesn’t include a bus layover in NYC on the way back from DC, either.)
Each visit, I’ve tried to see at least one new thing; I know there are a great variety of things to do and see in NYC, and though I haven’t been since September 2014, I know I’ll return someday soon. Either way, I’ll always cherish some of the best memories I have from my NYC trips of the past.
Today, I thought it’d be neat to look back at some of my past NYC trips and pick out five of my best memories from those great adventures:
Just the other day, I read a “travel tips” article that talked about how to be a traveler, rather than a tourist, and tips for how to best experience a new place. I can’t find the article now (of course), but one of the tips was something like “Get to the highest point possible — after all, you want the first photo you share on social media to be a great landscape, and it’s a great way to get a scope of the land.” Anyway, I’ve seen multiple “travel tips” articles like this and I thought perhaps it’d be nice to do one of my own, based on my travel experiences.
Here’s the thing: it’s great to be a traveler, but it’s also great to be a tourist sometimes. There’s a reason that certain attractions are popular; often, they’re a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you shouldn’t so easily pass up just to avoid seeming like a tourist. So I’m not sure I buy into the whole “be a traveler, not a tourist” thing — that’s really just going off the negative connotations of the word “tourist,” and I’m pretty meh about that.
Alas, without further ado… my traveler/tourist (how about both?!) tips:
Prompt: Like a Tourist – As the weather gets warmer, more and more people are getting outdoors to do some sightseeing. After all, with the trees budding and flowers perfuming the cool breeze, how could anyone resist a little adventure? This week, write about being a tourist. Think of a specific trip you took. Where were you? What did it feel like to be a visitor there? Do you enjoy being a tourist? If not, how come?
To respond to this prompt, I’m going to go back to mid-March, when my mother, aunt and I visited Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C. for a few days. It was my first trip to those places, and I certainly felt like a tourist, but it was an amazing trip. We got to see all the major sites: the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Memorial, even the White House. We saw Arlington National Cemetery, walked by the Washington Monument, visited the Newseum, went to a Capitals game at the Verizon Center, and even had dinner at Georgetown University.
It was an incredible trip, and to be able to see all of those things in such a short amount of time was amazing. Naturally, I had several moments where it hit me that I was a visitor, and that people actually lived in that city and saw those things on a daily basis. I wonder if they feel the same sense of wonder and amazement that I did during my visit; I’d assume after a while, you just get used to it and it doesn’t even cross your mind as a big deal anymore. That’s not to say that DC locals don’t appreciate those sights; I’m certain they do. I just wonder if they have a different perspective on it since they’ve got the opportunity to walk by these things every day.
It’s like myself living so close to Niagara Falls. People come from literally all over the world to spend even a day at the Falls, and yet it’s so easy for me to get there. I never fail to see the wonder in it, but I’m sure there are those times when it’s hot and I’m just like “It’s really just a big waterfall.”
A lot of the sites we visited in DC were definitely prime tourist spots, but others were a mix of tourists and simply people who live there on a daily basis. For instance, the Capitol is a great example of this. There’s loads of tourists and schoolkids waiting for tours of the Rotunda, etc., but there’s also businessmen (and women) walking around in suits on their way to an important meeting. It’s strange to be in that mix, but at the same time, I didn’t feel like I was in the way.
So I do enjoy being a tourist. I love getting little glimpses of a place while also having the realization that while many people there are tourists, others call it home every day. While my mother and I were both astounded at standing in front of the Capitol, there are people who walk by it every day just to get to work. And I think that’s incredible; to know that everyone has a different experience there, and this place is home for some but for others, it’s a point on a map that you pass through. To know that I may only be there an hour, a day, or a week, but there are people who don’t leave, who make a life there and who ground themselves in that exact spot where I simply walk by.