With application deadlines and entry exam stress finally behind me I can now take a moment to reflect on some adventures I took last year. Luckily I was able to experience these adventures with incredible friends.
Before my move to New York, I went on a road trip with my cousin and some of her friends to my old hometown Atlanta, Georgia. This was my first road trip out of North Carolina with a group of friends and I did not have to plan. My cousin took the planning reins and did an amazing job! We left North Carolina early in the morning and spent the afternoon at Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park. Going to Six Flags brought back so many childhood memories of all my favorite rides. The amusement park is designed for any age. I’ve always loved the superhero rides such as Batman and the Superman that makes you feel like you are flying! After spending the day at Six Flags we made our way downtown to our hotel, the Marriott Courtyard. Splitting the bill four ways made the luxurious double queen bedroom very affordable. The view of downtown from the room was priceless!
The next day we checked out of the hotel and went shopping at Lenox and Perimeter Mall. We were all hoping to run into a celebrity at Lenox Mall, which is known for celebrity shopping. Unfortunately, we did not spot any celebrities. On our journey back to North Carolina, the GPS decided to take us through the Great Smokey Mountains. My friends and I ended the trip with a memorable view of the rolling mountains all the way home.
In October I had another fun group experience. I finally got the chance to go hiking. After some research, I found a trail to Anthony’s Nose peak. I rounded up some of my New York buddies and planned our hike on Anthony’s Nose trail. Fifteen minutes into the hike, I realized how out of shape I was and regret planning the hike. The trail was a staircase made of huge rocks and tree roots. After we climbed the "staircase" we reached the peak overlooking the Hudson Valley. The view made the painful knees and tight chest experience worth it! We all enjoyed lunch at the top and soaked in the beautiful autumn scenery. Although the hike was not easy, we all had some great bonding time.
During Halloween weekend I took a trip to Philadelphia to visit a college friend who I’ll call DC throughout my blog. I was able to take advantage of an Amtrak round trip deal from NYC to Philly for $50 ($25 each way). When I arrived at the city of brotherly love, I checked into Apple Hostels Philadelphia. A two-night stay in the female dorm cost $60 ($30 a night). I highly recommend booking a room in a hostel for affordable traveling. Hostels are also great for group trips. This was the first American hostel I stayed in and I was very impressed. Everything was clean and the staff was very friendly. While I waited for DC to get off work I explored Old City. The hostel was right around the corner from Benjamin Franklin’s printing shop and a few blocks from the Liberty Bell. The perfect location for a history junky like myself!
When I met with DC we headed to Chinatown and enjoyed some Chinese food at David's Mai Lai Wah restaurant. The food was fresh and very well priced. Next, we topped off the good meal with fresh baked cookies from Insomnia Cookies. The next day was a long one! We started the day off volunteering at the YMCA Halloween kids bash. After helping kids with pumpkin crafts, I explored the Philadelphia City Hall area and stumbled upon Readings Terminal Market. After some independent exploring and some really good English toffee Bassett’s ice cream, I met up with my personal tour guide again.
Before getting ready for some Halloween fun we ate at Greek Lady on 40th street near Walnut St. and U. Penn campus. I ordered the Philly cheese-steak and DC ordered the baked chicken. As I bit into my first real cheese-steak the freshly carved steak and provolone cheese melted in my mouth accompanied with the crunch of the sautéed green peppers and buttery sub roll. Just thinking about it makes me want to hop on a train and go back to Philly. After eating we walked from Greek Lady to the Philadelphia Art Museum. The closer we got to the museum the louder I sang the Rocky theme song. We ran halfway up the steps while singing and ended up walking the other half (another out of shape experience). Once at the top of the steps, I did my best Rocky celebration dance and we enjoyed the beautiful view of Philly.
After more sightseeing, we got ready for a couple Halloween gatherings. DC wore a super broke college student costume and I was Wonder Woman.
With the help of my roommate, I designed my own costume. I purchased tulle and elastic for the skirt, yellow duct tape for the Wonder Woman emblem, the tank top was $2 at Old Navy and the socks were a souvenir from my trip to Six Flags. I met some more cool people at the Halloween parties we went to hosted by DC’s friends. Overall, I really loved my time in Philly. It is always a plus to have a friend to show you around!
At the end of the trip DC, and I promised to not let another three years go by without seeing each other. Three weeks later we kept that promise and I had the pleasure of being DC’s personal tour guide around New York City!
Having travel buddies makes traveling more affordable and most importantly fun. Being able to make lifelong memories with people you love in new places is priceless. If you have a friend or family member that has a wanderlust heart, hop in the car with them or take a train or plane to see and learn about another part of the world you’ve never seen before!