Last month, I visited my home state of North Carolina. It had been a while since I’d visited the state capital, Raleigh, so my brother and a few of my childhood friends decided to show me around. One of the best places they took me was the Wander Box: a mobile, solar-powered, 12-tap beer garden made from a shipping container.
The countdown has begun. I have six months until I will depart on the biggest adventure of my life: a year of continuous travel. I would say about 90% of the time I am very excited and the other 10% I am confused and terrified.
I have a bad habit of not thinking things through. This bad habit replaces my previous bad habit of thinking too much.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I even knew a public pool existed in Astoria. It is like big secret that only true Astorians know about. (Am I a true Astorian now?) But even after I found out the pool existed, I was not so into it.
A crowded, chlorine-loaded public pool in dirty New York City. Ew No, thank you.
After a brutal and unforgiving winter, I was in a bit of a rut. I didn’t write, I didn’t run, and I certainly did not clean my room. Even after the weather began to warm up, I couldn’t quite get myself off of the couch. I discovered the frozen yogurt shop less than a block away from my house and spent far too much time eating yogurt while watching Netflix. It was not pretty.
My friend, Dave, and I had discussed hiking in Cold Spring many times over the winter months while we polished off bottles of red wine. However, when we actually set a date, I became hesitant. After all, all of that hiking would definitely interfere with my cookies ‘n cream-flavored binge eating session. And, I was in the middle of watching Battlestar Galactica again, so…you know…I had had things to do.
Astoria, Queens is a little bit of suburbia right outside of the craziness of Manhattan. While I live off of an avenue filled with restaurants, bars, and shops, the street where my house sits is quiet and lined with trees. There are houses with front gardens. People hang themed wreaths on their doors to celebrate every holiday. There are Marys on the half shell in many yards, indicating that the Greek influence in the neighborhood still exists.
On warm weekend mornings I like to take walks down toward the water. I travel past the stores, past the butcher shops with whole lambs skinned and hanging in the windows (a sign out front reads: Baby Lamb Goat Pig), past the bakery filled with cakes and Italian cookies, and to the East River.
Usually I travel alone. It works out better for everyone this way. Yes, I do become a bit passive-aggressive when stuck with one person for too long (just ask my roommate). But, my best friend is getting married this year and as a last hurrah, we decided to take a 3-night cruise together.
I had never been on a cruise and wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to get seasick on the first day or have a shower so small that I couldn’t bend over to shave my legs. Not so good. I didn’t expect the pool to be filled with salt water. Amazing!
Drinks – the cost of drinks was one of my main concerns. I tend to drink…a lot. Especially on vacation. And maybe it is the New Yorker in me talking, but drinks were cheap. Cocktails were around $6.50 with an automatic gratuity they came to about $8.00 a piece. In New York, cocktails can easily be double that price! I was thrilled. Of course, cheap drinks did not stop me from wracking up over $100 in bar bills over the course of three days.
After our successful trip to Teufelsberg spy station, we still had enough daylight to travel to the Beelitz Hospital. Lars, a native German, his Russian girlfriend, and Andre, another Russian now residing in Tel Aviv, allowed me to tag along on another abandoned adventure.
Beelitz-Heilstätten is located very close to the train station. We were not sure how to get there, but we asked a local couple for help and they pointed us in the right direction. Through a path in the woods, we stumbled upon a building. My excitement set in. A creepy, possibly dangerous, abandoned hospital! What more could a girl ask for?!
In May of last year I took a two-week trip to Germany. My original plan was to stay in Berlin for just four days, but I fell in love so fast with the city that I ended up staying for double that time.
During that trip, I met two travelers from Tel Aviv, a couple—Yael and Andre—who I ended up spending most of my time with. One of their friends, Lars, was born in East Berlin before the wall came down. He offered to take us to an abandoned spy station or an abandoned hospital both of which were just outside of the city.
This winter, I have gotten a little…stuck. I moved to Queens, which is wonderful, but ever since I moved, I have not been interested in straying much outside of my neighborhood. It’s been a brutally cold few months and the spring does not feel like it will ever arrive. Over the winter, I didn’t have any interest in exploration of any kind. I preferred to get in my bed, watch a movie, and eat Nutella by the tablespoon.
But last weekend, my Israeli friend, Yael, who I met in Berlin last year, was in town with her friend. I—reluctantly—changed out of my sweatpants into some real clothes (my jeans barely button thanks to my Nutella consumption) and did my best to be a decent tour guide.
Through pouring rain (but thankfully no snow) we explored a bit of Williamsburg; they both wanted to browse through the antiques and crafts at the Brooklyn Flea.
Shopping isn’t usually my thing, but perusing the knickknacks at the Flea is like digging through gold to find a diamond. I wanted everything. I wanted the vintage patterned plates in my kitchen cabinets, I wanted the colorful stuffed owl on my bed, I wanted a big beaded costume bracelet that I would wear only once before deeming it impractical.