A flea market was always a dream place for me to go to. But since I grew up in a really small city, I didn’t have a chance to experience the beauty of not just shopping, but rather looking for interesting, viewy, extraordinary, peculiar and odd things.
Fortunately, I wound up in New York City a few days ago. And the first place I wanted to visit wasn’t Times Square or the Statue of Liberty. I went straight to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market.
1096 days, or 3 years ago I said goodbye to my dear friends and host family in Colorado, USA and came back to where it all started, my home country Russia.Yes, I was an exchange student once and spent 10 months in the States, living in the host family and going to the High School nearby.
Exactly 3 years have passed since then, and I still consider that year in the US as one of the best years in my life that completely changed me. It was the first time I travelled alone, the first time I visited America, the first time I celebrated Christmas and New Year without my family and friends, the first time I really missed my beloved ones… it was the first time I tried rice crispy and went to Starbucks for crying out loud!
I basically came nowhere because I didn’t know much about the country, the city I was going to live in. I didn’t know the family I was going to spend 10 months with. I had no friends there, no shoulder to cry on or someone to laugh with. It was just me. And that’s when I realized that sometimes in your life you wouldn’t be surrounded by the people that love you and care about you. Sometimes you would have to accept what’s going on in your life, even if you don’t like it; you would have to face it and deal with it. It took me several months to realize that and actually begin to enjoy my staying in the States.
When I arrived at the Denver International Airport in August, 2008 I wanted to come back home immediately. In May 2009 it was time to go back home, and I didn’t want to leave. But I had to. I said good bye to my host family, to my friends, not knowing when I would come back to the States to see them again. 3 years have passed. And I finally arrive at the Denver International Airport just like 3 years ago and I see those I dearly love and miss. Finally reunited. Pure happiness.
May 21, 2012
I believe that traveling alone is great. Yes, a road trip with your friends is a fantastic thing to do, but when you’re going to a place you’ve never been before, you’d better go on your own. Selfish? Maybe. But that way you get out of the safe harbor, free yourself and open to new experiences. It is only you and your emotions and feelings.
New York City welcomed me like no other city on a beautiful Sunday evening. It appeared as a gorgeous mass of steel and glass with a fast beating heart. It seemed monstrous outside, but incredibly ~soulful~ inside. I loved its chaotic lifestyle. It seemed perfect in its imperfections. Everything, absolutely everything was inspiring about New York. Busy and loud, it was creating a symphony. And it felt right being there. Have you ever had this feeling when you come to a new place and you immediately feel like this is the place where you’re supposed to be? That’s what I felt in NYC. Even its confusing subway that I read so many things about appeared to me extremely easy and right. But nothing really compares to the people that make New York what it is now. Without them, it would be just a huge park surrounded by skyscrapers. They shape the city and bring it to life.
I can go on and on about New York, but should I? There are SO many interesting posts, stories and videos about it. I would just suggest one thing: before reading those stories, come to New York first. Alone. Get lost in its inspiring madness. And simply walk and explore the city and let the city explore you.
As the sun was getting down on a warm Monday evening, I headed further to the West. To a place that I call my second home – Colorado.
May 5, 2012. Central Bus Station in Sofia, Bulgaria.
I arrived at the bus station with my close friend Alina from the little town called Blagoevgrad where I go to college. We only had a few hours together at the station before we would go our separate ways. Being incredibly hungry, we immediately caught a cab and went to the closest McDonalds.
And then, one hour later, we said goodbye.
I headed West – to Istanbul, Turkey. The bus ride took 9 hours. At 7 am next day I arrived at the bus station in Istanbul. My flight was gonna be in 5 hours, and I had no idea how to get from the bus station to the airport. Luckily for me, one guy in his 30s, who was on the bus with me, was going to the airport too. And he spoke Russian! He took me to the Turkish subway and together we arrived at the airport. I called my family, passed through security and was on the 11-hour flight to the Big Apple.
It’s been 3 years since my last visit to the US, and now I was going back. What an incredible feeling! My seatmate on the plane turned out to be a young Canadian girl that spoke both English and French. Thanks to her, 11 hours felt like 3. We talked, laughed and shared stories. In a blink of an eye, I was in New York, JFK.
Having no internet at the airport and being extremely tired, I didn’t take subway. It seemed too confusing. And besides, I didn’t know what train to take and what station to go to. A shuttle directly to the Hostel was a perfect and cheap option. I shared the van with a few people including an American from midwest and an old man from England exploring the US for the first time in his life. The shuttle dropped me off. I checked in, left my suitcase in the room and walked around the hostel for an hour. It was about 11 pm, so I didn’t go far. I just strolled in the streets, went to the nearest Deli, ate the best hamburger in my life, came back to the hostel and crashed in the bed. The most desirable dream that I had in 3 years finally came true – I was the USA again. In New York City. In the middle of Manhattan. What more could you wish for? Tomorrow I was going to fly to Denver, Colorado. Ahead of me was a peaceful night and a beautiful day in NYC and then – my second home, my friends and my family in the beautiful state of Colorado.
Soaking wet, we managed to get to the very top of the hill. While walking up, all we saw was mostly the ground and wet pavement. Finally, we stopped and turned around. At that moment, the clouded sky, the rain and our tiredness didn’t matter. Thessaloniki was in front of us in all its grace and glory. The sky, merged with the sea, was a splendid background for white houses contrasting with red roofs. We were in Ano Poli, or simply the Old Town.