22 August 2009

A Charm of Its Own

New York, indeed, has a charm of its own.

After a pretty miserable experience trying to fly to New York, we finally made it. I won’t bore you with details (like missing the last flight of the night) about the troubles we had trying to get there… but trust me, it’s better that way. Getting to our hostel, which happened to be about a block away from Times Square, was pretty easy. I loved the hostel because it brought me back to the times when I was in Africa, where I had my first hostel experience.

After settling down, we started our trip with a really cool cruise around the New York Harbor and into the Hudson River. We left Battery Park just before sunset, which gave us the perfect setting to view the city for the first time. The sunset was ridiculously amazing. Here’s a picture of the infamous Statue of Liberty.

How beautiful is that?

Another great thing about this cruise was getting a breath taking view of the New York skylines! For those of you who know me, I love city skylines and would like to take picture of as many cities as I could before I die. Hopefully, that’s not anytime soon! Anyways, this place has tons of them. I couldn’t believe how many skyscrapers there were in New York. To capture the whole skyline, you would need to be in a helicopter. I could barely afford the boat cruise, so the helicopter tour needed to be postponed. Maybe next time? Hehe.

Here’s a picture of the Lower Manhattan skyline. This one was kind of eerie to look at. If you look towards the center of this particular picture, you will see some open space. That open space is where the World Trade Center Twin Towers were. Being there really made me realize how crazy that day must have been. When I really thought about it, I couldn’t even imagine how scary it was. The good thing is, it seems like they have made a tremendous amount of progress in the area’s recovery. People seem very optimistic with what is planned.

Another interesting activity we had organized was a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. I had an idea of how it would be, but didn’t expect it to be as fascinating. I was ecstatic to find out that there was a hall that displayed many African exhibits. Again, I was brought back to the first trip of my summer. We also visited other exhibits such as Space and Earth, Exhibits of Asia, and one of their most popular ones, the Fossil Series.

"A premier attractions in New York City is the Museum's series of fossil halls, including its two famed dinosaur halls. The Museum is home to the world's largest collection of vertebrate fossils, totaling nearly one million specimens. More than 600 of these specimens, nearly 85 percent of which are real fossils as opposed to casts, are on view."


Before heading to New York, a friend of mine told me I must walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Even it was extremely hot and humid, we did it! It was a great experience. Chryssa, my friend and travel buddy for New York, was just excited as I was. It was so fun that we decided to walk back across it. I remember walking and and not knowing what to think. I just couldn't believe i was in the middle of this amazing city. The views from each side of the bridge were just spectacular. I also couldn't believe how many bottles of water I drank during that walk alone. Every couple feet on the bridge, there were people who sold ice cold water bottles. I probably bought about five of them during the walk. Once we got to the other side (Brooklyn), we decided to rest a bit. We found this cute little park located right outside of the bridge entrance. There, we sat and watched a family with two kids ride their new bikes.

When you think New York, you must think Central Park. I don’t think everyone quite understands how big Central Park is. We spent a good five to six hours one day, only making it around half of it. We eventually went back to explore the rest, which was just as compelling. When you’re in central park, you don’t really hear the noise of the city, but at the same time, you don’t lose the feeling that you’re in one. Does that make sense? You need to be there to fully know what I’m talking about. Here are a few pictures I took.
Central Park from the Top of the Rockefellar Center
I was so ready to buy him a six pack of Dos Equis.

Sheeps Meadows, apprently the summer hangout spot!


On our last night, we walked to the Empire State Building and rode an elevator to the top of it. Since we had already gone to the top of the Rockefeller Center during the day, we thought it would be a good experience to check out the city from above during the night. It was a great choice. Seeing all the lights from the buildings and getting one last look at the city before we left, couldn’t have gone any better.

One of the many great views!


Throughout the trip, we also had some fun that didn’t require so much walking and looking around, but did require a lot of money. The nightlife was lively and food was delicious! I think that’s enough said about that. Let’s just say… I must admit, that’s where most of my money went. So, if you ever plan on going to New York, save up some extra cash and enjoy the great food... and drinks!

Meet Eddie and Mark. Two of the funniest and coolest bartenders in NYC. Check them out at the Hibernia Bar off of 50th (between 9th and 10th)


Overall, this trip was great! Met more amazing people, had some outstanding food, saw many sights, and spent the rest of my money--- but worth every penny. Everyone who has asked me how New York went, gets the same answer. I tell them it's a place of it's own and there's really nothing like it. It's a must see. Elysabeth's facebook comment to Chryssa's page was right... "There's a charm about it that you won't find anywhere else."

Lastly, I couldn’t have asked for a better travel partner. Thanks again, Chryssa!

What’s next? Looks like my summer has come to an end. Work has started (the day after I got back, which was hell) and school (my last semester of undergraduate studies) starts on Monday! My bank accounts are offically empty, but I have no regrets in anything I did. I must say, being broke isn't as bad as it sounds. Ok, maybe a little bit.

I do have plans of mini trips and exploring new things, so don't worry--- I will be updating my blog.

Thanks again for all your support. I really do appriciate it. Have a good day or night!

New York, I love you.

Until next time,


If you're interested in looking at the full set of photos I put up on Facebook. Click on this link, it should work for the public.


12 August 2009

Post Africa, Pre Apple... the BIG Apple.

Home Sweet Home.

So I’ve gotten numerous requests to do a “Post-Africa, Pre-New York Blog.” Not a bad idea, right?

It’s been a little less than a month since I’ve been home yet it feels like it has been only a few days. I still can’t believe how fast that trip went by. Coming home was definitely something. Aside from the dramatic change in weather, the extreme jetlag that lasted about a week and a half, I could honestly say the transition was not as bad as I expected. It’s nice to have the feeling of just being home and close to my family and friends again. I really missed my bed too. For the first couple of days home, I would literally sleep about fifteen hours a day because I was so exhausted from everything. I'm fully adjusted now, but then again, I have horrible sleeping habits... that's the what the summer is all about though.

I’ve probably said this so many times since coming home, but the trip really did change my life. Everyone I have talked to and had a deep conversation about what I did and went through, while in Africa, told me it was obvious that this trip impacted my life. There are just so many things that remind me of that place. One thing, for example... every time I notice the sky during sunset, it reminds me of the times I would be sitting out on my balcony with my roommates, just hanging out. You know, the times you don’t want to forget, but easily do. And man, those African sunsets were gorgeous, indescribably different from the ones in California. I miss them so much. I could write for days and day about how differently I look at things now, but let's not get into that.

All in all, the experiences of being there are only making my life here, in good ol’ America, much better. I am very appreciative of more things than I ever have been. We’re lucky to live in such a great, diverse, amazing, country. If I could preach one thing to all of you who read my blog, it would be to take advantage of being an American. Unlike many countries around the world, we have so many opportunities to travel. I remember talking to many of the locals I befriended in Africa, telling them to come visit me one day. It’s so much easier said than done for them. For them, as well as so many other countries, coming to America is probably one of the hardest things to do. But for us… get the cash, book the ticket, and you’re there. Where am I going with this? Take a break from working sometime, plan a trip, get some rest and relaxation… explore the world. It’s at your fingertips, why not?

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
- Nelson Mandela


So what’s next for Vino on a Voyage? (Cheesy, I know.)

New York, New York!

Photo by: =xxchange; deviantart.com

I really, honestly, shouldn’t even be going because I’m so broke, but I’m going anyways and I am extremely excited! This time, it has nothing to with school and I’m going with one of my best buddies, Chryssa. We’ve got a rough schedule of what we want to do, but who knows what will happen. For those of you interested, this is what we’ve got planned:

8/13: Depart from Orange County at 21:35

8/14: Check in to our hostel: 311 Times Square, Explore Times Square, New York Harbor Cruise @ 19:00

8/15: Rockafeller Center, Saint Patricks Cathedral, more city exploring

8/16: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, Little Italy/China Town, Possible Broadway Show!

8/17: Central Park Picnic, American Museum of Natural History, Ground Zero

8/18: Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, relax and hang around the city, last minutes shopping

8/19: Farewell lunch, depart to Orange County... Home!

Other than it being pretty expensive, I've heard so many good things about New York. I over-read, on a Facebook comment, that "NYC really is amazing... there's a charm about it that you won't find anywhere else." I guess I'll have to see for myself. Hopefully, I think the same.


Sorry Lys, I had to.

I just thought I'd take the time to say farewell and good luck to my buddy Elysabeth. She's leaving this Sunday to take on a four-month, full-immersion, study abroad program in Lyon, Fance. She's worked her bum off to make her trip possible and I can't express how excited and proud I am of her. Not only is she one of my best friends, she's the one who inspired me to start a blog... heck, she even helped me come up with my blog name. If you have the time, check hers out:


Anyways, good luck Rice Cake! You're going to have a blast out there! Just remember, don't get home sick, we'll all be here when you get back. Keep in touch though, ok!

I'll miss you.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading again, everyone. I'll have another post when I get back. So be ready!

Until next time,


PS. Shout-out to Western Michigan University! Thanks for reading my blog!