I have quite a few friends in metropolitan cities that I wanted to visit while we are traveling through the East. However, Mike is not quite a fan of big crowds so as you can imagine he was not in love with the idea of going to some of the largest cities the East Coast has to offer. Soooo…. This week was a solo adventure for me! The original plan was to have Mike hike some of the Appalachian Trail while I visited my friends, but the ol’ struggle bus had a part she needed to get fixed so Mike actually stayed in Maine for a bit at my aunt and uncles house. Don’t worry about him though, he still got some outdoor fun time while he was there.
Mike took me to Boston for a quick few hours with my friend Brianna. I met Bri when we were teaching English in South Korea. She’s actually from Seattle but had just moved to Boston a week prior to start a new scholarly adventure. I knew I wouldn’t get too much time with her sadly, but I know how hard it is to move to a brand new place without knowing anyone so I hoped that a friendly familiar face would be appreciated, even for a little bit.
She met me at the Boston YMCA, which was the first Y in the United States! It was recently renovated but it is stunning! The entrance lounge area feels more like an old world library with its dark wood and high ceilings.
She and I did a mini walking tour of the city; through various Boston Parks, perused an African festival, looked at some beautiful historical buildings and neighborhoods and then ended at the Cheers bar, where they did not know our names.
Early next morning, Mike took me to the train station and dropped me off for my adventure! He was a little nervous, as I don’t always show how well I can read maps and be self sufficient without others help…. but when’s he’s around, he just does it, soooo I don’t really need to show those skills. However, after I assured him that I’d be fine and reminded him that I’ve traveled plenty, I hopped on the train to the bus station where I got on the Greyhound to NYC!
Many hours later, I arrived. My friend Hali met me at the station. I had met this sweet thing at Jumers Casino, where I worked briefly in the Quad Cities, when I was still new to the area and hadn’t made any non-camp friends yet. Hali has just graduated with her license in counseling and is beginning a grown up job in a couple weeks so she had lots of time to play with me.
We had a quick slice (Michael Scott recommends Sbarro if you’re in New York City), and explored around Times Square. We headed over to the Empire State Building, but then we did not go up because I am
cheap on a budget. It would have been fun, but I’ve done it before and how many times do I really need to look at a big city from above? If you’ve never done it though, it’s worth the money.
Later that evening, I met up with an old college friend, Pam. Pam is an up and coming stand up comic. I’m willing to bet that in a couple years, you’ll all know who she is! We met for wings and beers at Mel’s Burger Bar, which was a sweet deal on Monday’s ($4 drafts and 50 cent wings!), and just caught up with our lives and laughed about college memories.
The next morning I walked around Central Park until I met up with another chingu (Korean for friend), Cindy! She also taught English in Korea and is now an ESL teacher in Brooklyn. We obviously went to Koreatown for Korean BBQ and stuffed ourselves on deliciousness while catching up. Cindy is also my treat fiend friend so we went for dessert afterwards too. Yolo. (That’s not a thing anymore, is it?)
Hali treated me like a real lady that night and took me to a show; Waitress! I’ve never seen the movie or anything either so it was phenomenal. The theater was across from a BWW so we slammed a beer before the show, and then went back afterwards for more drinks and fried goodness. A little embarrassed on some of my food choices while in New York. But….when in Rome, do as the poor, drunk girls need to do.
The next morning, I headed to Philadelphia! I took the Megabus which at times felt like I was on the Knights Bus from Harry Potter. It was awful, in the greatest way. I met up with my friend Laura from home who lives here now. Laura and I grew up together, in almost all the same classes since 7th grade. I met her at her work, this beautiful and extremely charitable church.
While in Philly, I earned my junior ranger badge at Independence National Historic Park by visiting and learning more about the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Congress Hall. The rest of the time, I mostly spent my time eating and drinking everything around me with Laura. I even went to my first speakeasy; Hop Sing Laundromat. Another HP reference but it reminded me of the bar in Fantastic Beasts and I loved it! We also went to Macs Tavern because I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but it was underwhelming…. let’s be honest, unless the actors were actually there hanging out, I was doomed to be disappointed.
A quick bus ride to Baltimore to hang out with one of my favorite families. My best friends from home, his sister lives there now and their parents were visiting her too. While I didn’t actually see anything in Baltimore, it was well worth the time to see my surrogate family.
After the most wonderful week, and seeing so many wonderful humans, I’m reunited with my lover face and we’re off to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia!
Below are some helpful tips should you find yourself traveling solo!
- Wanderu is an incredible app for bus deals. When I was looking at trains and busses before, it easily would have been hundreds of dollars of travel for me. The three busses that I took totaled $42! Helluva a steal.
- Lyft and Uber pool rides in the city were sometimes cheaper than the subway! Definitely worth a look and compare.
- Sometimes I felt like I shoulddd go doing certain touristy things. But you’ll enjoy it more if you stop thinking like that. Make the trip your own. Don’t worry about what you’ve read on travel blogs. You do you.
- Share your location frequently with your partner or significant person. It never hurts to be cautious. I keep my location on my iPhone and my husband can look Find My Friends to see my live location.