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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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

Fraser Island – Our Tour Around The Island

Dear readers and travellers out there,

this article is for everyone who loves starry nights, long and lonely beaches, a lot of nature and camping. As some of you know, I went to Australia a couple of months ago and travelled the east coast. On of my highlights has definitely been Fraser Island, a 120km long sand island, actually the biggest on earth.

You need special permits to go on the island, or you join a camping tour, like wee did. We booked a two nights camping tour with four wheel drive cars with the Dingo’s hostel. All of the Fraser tours start in Rainbow Beach, a small town in Queensland. I can really recommend the Dingo’s hostel, since they serve vegan and gluten free pancakes every morning and oh my gosh, they were so good! We even spent Christmas in Rainbow Beach by the way and it was a great experience to be at the beach on Christmas Eve (and a little bit weird as well).

However, we started our tour on December 20th and came back on the 22nd. We shared a car with to Danish and two Irish guys, as well as with two Swiss girls. Our tourguide was a ‚typical‘ Aussie and he was so fun and knew so much! I don’t even want to tell you too much about the tour itself, hoping that you will do it yourself one day.

There are many lakes and pretty beaches and viewpoints on Fraser Island and we visited a beautiful, blue lake named Lake McKenzie, a tea-tree-oil-lake, the green Lake Wabby and we went to the Champagne pool, a ‚pool‘ that is connected to the sea and sparkles like champagne because of the waves crashing in. We also visited different viewpoints and even a shipwreck (stay tuned!!!).

We spent the nights in tents on a campground and cooked for ourselves with the food they packed together for us. The food was really good and healthy! Oh and by the way, you are not allowed two whistle on Fraser Island because it is an Aboriginal owned island and they believe that it attracts evil spirits!

Additionally, I saw the most beautiful night sky in Fraser, I’ve never seen so many stars in one night! I can’t stop talking about this wonderful island and I get quite Fraser homesick writing this. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

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Champagne Pool

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Lake Wabby

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Dolphins on our way back to the ferry

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Ps: we even saw wild dolphins on our way back- isn’t that amazing?!?

Xx, Sophie

Quick Update: Camp and New York City

Hello everybody,

I hope you are enjoying your summer at the moment and that the weather is good. In Long Island the weather great, even though it gets quite humid here and we sometimes have a 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) which is a lot when you are running around the whole day and do activities with the kids.

My third week in the United States has just begun (this blogpost will probably be published a bit later) and it is great so far. We had orientation for one week and the campers arrived the second week. We are a small camp in comparison to other camps in the United States, some of them have up to 7000 campers each summer. During orientation we prepared everything for the campers, for example we planned activities, games and different sessions, but we also had First Aid and CPR lessons. Additionally, we talked a lot about child behaviour and how to cope with difficulty situations, trust me – there will be difficult situations. It might depend in what kind of camp you are, just be prepared.

However, I can already tell that working with kids is an amazingly rewarding experience. One moment you think you are too strict and then suddenly they hug you, or draw you something and tell you that you are their favourite councellor. At the moment I feel like I am in a bubble because I don’t really feel like I am on earth right now. I am somewhere else, a save place that only exists to create great summer memories. It is amazing.

Yes, I am also exhausted sometimes. Coping with difficulties is sometimes really hard and sometimes I worry that I am not good enough for this job. But this is fortunately not often the case and when it happens I try to turn my thoughts on standby and focus on the kids, I am responsible and I want them to have a great time. Camp is about the campers, they are the most important piece in this great puzzle and it’s amazing to see how they change during that time. Kids who are bullied in school suddenly smile and laugh a lot. Introverted children suddenly become the loudest. It is a great community and I get up every morning with a smile on my face and am excited for the new day.

However, we also have off weekends when one sessions ends and the other is about to begin. On those weekends people go visit other places, which we did on our first day off. We took a train to Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan and spend our day in NYC. I know it sounds so stupid but it felt like coming home. There is no city like New York City. People from all around the world walk on these streets, it is always busy and overwhelming. This day we ran around a lot and visited some tourist attractions and even went to a thrift store in Soho. It was great! We don’t really have nice thrift stores in my town but the ones I visited in Amsterdam, London and NYC were amazing! Our day off was nice 😊

However, something happened: my camera broke. After six years of picture taking, something in the body is not working, and nobody can tell me what it is. I will have to wait till I’m home and figure something out for my time in the states. It’s sad but it can happen. We will see…

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy my NYC iPhone pictures 😊

Have a good week!

Sophie

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is a beautiful island next to Townsville in Queensland, Australia.
You need to take a ferry in order to visit „Maggie“ and they have busses on the island which means you can get from A to B quite easily.
The island’s actual name is Yunbenun but when James Cook explored Australia, his compass didn’t work properly and that’s why he called it „Magnetic Island“, or „Maggie“. The reason we wanted to go to Magnetic Island is, apart from the beautiful national park, the Bungalow Bay Koala Village.

This is a Koala Sanctuary where you can meet Koalas and other animals like big lizards, crocs and even snakes and wombats. I am still not sure if I really like the idea of carrying a Koala or a snake (animal rights -wise) but they follow a set of regulations in order to protect the animals. All in all, it was a great experience and Koalas really smell like eucalyptus!!!

Maggie also has many beautiful beaches and snorkeling routes. Make sure to feed the Rock Wallabies in the evening near Geoffrey Bay. You can get appropriate Wallaby food at your hostel and spend your evening with these cute creatures!

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Thanks for reading, have a great week!

xx, Sophie

Bangkok, Thailand – experiencing a contrast

Bangkok, the capital of beautiful Thailand in the northern part of the country with 8.281 million residents (wikipedia). But can you imagine this city to be an empty, silent ghost town? I couldn’t, but I’ve experienced it.

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We left Bali on Wednesday the 25th of October 2017 and took a plane to Bangkok. At the airport in Denpasar I had my first Mac’n’Cheese and it was delicious, even though the idea of cooking pasta in milk and cheese does not flatter me.
After having arrived quite late in Thailand, we took a taxi to our hostel for 450 Bath.
The hostel was quite nice but the air in the dorms was not fresh at all but we didn’t care – it’s only a hostel and we were so excited to be in Bangkok!

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The next morning we decided to walk around and get some water and were really confused since the streets reminded us of a ghost town. We always expected BKK to be a bubbly and active city with lots of traffic jams, millions of people running around and street food everywhere. It was the opposite: no people on the streets, no cars, all Thai people dressed in black.
We went back to the hostel and the scells fell from our eyes: it was the anniversary of the death of the beloved King Bhumibol and the day of his funeral.
Walking around, a police officer even yelled at me because I took pictures of the streets… well I get it, it was a bit rude…

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However, we talked to a travel office and booked some flights and a night train to Chiang Mai. The next day we were supposed to leave in the evening and spend the day in the mall. The Siam malls are a big mall complex with different buildings and stores, those malls are amazing! There are so many different shops and all kinds of food – we had lunch at a backery 😄
We later went to the Lumphini Park, a big park in the heart of BKK were many people do sports during the day. The park itself was really beautiful, but again, no people around. Only a turtle on the pedestrian walk and monitor lizards in the pond instead of ducks.
In the evening we were happy to be able to finally take the night train to Chiang Mai, it felt inappropriate to be in a city where everyone grieved for a good king.

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– Three weeks later –

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The Grand Palace

At the end of our travels in Thailand, we returned to Bangkok in order to spend another day in the city and then fly to Australia. This time we booked a very cheap hostel at Khaosan Road, well it was the worst we had (besides the 16 bed dorm in Brisbane). But we weren’t surprised, I mean we paid 3,50€ per night which is cheaper than buying one kilogram of apples in Australia.

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Khaosan Road is an amazing street – very busy, many people, a lot of delicious street food stands and loads of cars and taxis driving around the neighborhood.
By the way, here are two tips for your BKK experience:

  • Someone told me that it is more secure to buy street food from women rather than from men. Women usually care more for hygiene which means that you can reduce the risk of getting sick
  • If you want to cross one of the busy roads in BKK, wait for a native to cross the street and simply follow him/her
  • If you want to take a taxi with a taximeter, make sure that you track where the driver is taking you because they often take a longer way round which will lead to higher costs for you. Also make sure to negotiate a fixed price when taking a Tuk Tuk or a usual taxi. Basically, everything under 100 Bath is totally fine.

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We spend the last 36 hours in Thailand exploring the (now bubbly) city and went to the Grand Palace and took a Tuk Tuk. Unfortunately, we failed to visit other temples, since I fell asleep in the taxi and the driver drove us to the other side of the city and there was no time left to visit Wat Pho 😐
The day we left Thailand was a total mess, we had booked a transfer to the wrong airport and consequently had to take a very slow bus to the other airport… nevertheless, we made it 😊!

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Hope you enjoyed reading!

Have a good day!
xx

Yee Peng Festival #1

It’s the second of November 2017, we are in Chiang Mai and excited for the annual Yee Peng (or Yi Peng) and Loy Krathong Festival. We met a Scottish and an American guy in our hostel (Gonkaew Hostel Chiang Mai, very nice place with free tea, coffee and toast the whole day, they even have free breakfast) and spent the day with them.

During Loy Krathong, people build small floating boats and release them on the river. I even made one myself in our hostel, they taught us how to build these little boats out of a trunk of a banana tree, banana leafs, flowers, joss sticks and candles. The women at our hostel told me that adding a hair to your boat is supposed to save you from bad luck.

Yee Peng is the famous lantern festival where thousands of people release floating lanterns into the night sky. It is magical! There are actually two different „kinds“ of Lantern Festivals, one is celebrated in the city and the other one is at Mae Jo University.
The second one is especially for tourists they told me and it costs about 80-100$. The festival we attended in the city, was completely free (besides the lanterns of course).

We went to a ceremony with lots of lanterns in the city and later went to the East Gate of the city, in order to get to the bridge across the river, where most people release their lanterns. It was magical to see all the lights rising into the sky and thousands of people celebrating.
In this post I am sharing with you the pictures I took at our first stop, in the second post, I will finally show you the other pictures I took at the bridge.
Hope you enjoy ♥️

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