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23 September The Big Apple

So yes, I made it to New York in one piece on the 23 September. I arrived at Brussels airport 3 hours early, checked my bags in and got an exit seat. It was great, it was right next to the entrance door so there was no chair in front of me, thus I had a lot of leg room, but no fold down table, just a little version of it. The aircraft was a 787, which was tiny tiny. The passengers were like, "is that it"? I didn't expect that for an international flight either, but it is what it was. 

I was going to stay with some friends from camp in NYC and getting there was no biggie. Some other friends from camp also came over to say hi and as all of us were in to food we spend an hour searching for the perfect restaurant. We went there and had a great meal. Lamb gyro which is Lamb kebab but they call it gyro for some reason. While we were talking about summer camp we made the plan to go back there the next day. The camp went bankrupt after my third summer there so it has not been in use for a while and it's still waiting for a buyer. As the evening continued the plan had changed a bit as that we would travel to South-Norwalk by train this evening. Me and the guy from New York city crashed at the guys from Norwalk and went to camp early in the morning the next day.

On day two, before we left for camp, we had breakfast. OMFG I ordered a stuffed French toast. I didn't know what it was but it was amazing! It were 2 thick (2 cm) French toast with raspberries and blueberries and some sauce in between. That was the best breakfast I ever had hence the notation about it in this blog.

On the way to camp, which was an hour’s drive, it brought back good memories. Once there we found the buildings were trashed. Someone shot a shotgun and it was just messed up. All those memories that were created there are still with me so that'll never go away but it's still sad to see how it ended up. It was nice to say a final goodbye and to have seen it one more time. Now it's a chapter that can be completely closed off but never forgotten.

On the way back to the city I found out that Isaac's brother had two more couch surfers staying over and that we are going to meet them at an Indian restaurant. Sashia from Bulgaria and Micky from Hungary. Those two boys from the big apple know their food. Once again it was confirmed, the food was heavenly!

On the third day we all went to explore the city and the only thing I needed to see was the 9/11 memorial and the new WTC. Before we went there the guys wanted to take us to a place called Eatalies. A huge indoor market store for high quality food. We wanted to go there to get some cheap focaccia and they were delicious. We ate them outside at some park with a lot of squirrels. Isaac had to go home so we said our "it's not goodbye, it's see you later" thing.

We then continued to the 9/11 memorial. Isaac's brother Aaron said that we needed free tickets to get in. The ticket box however was located on the other side of downtown. Don't ask me why but they were. For people who want to visit it, you can also print those tickets out at home. We decided to take a little detour so we walked passed Wallstreet as well. Once we got the tickets we had to walk back to the WTC and there we had to line up and go through security that is the same as at the airport. The memorial was very peacefully because of the cascading water that was continuously flowing. I'd recommend anyone to go there if you have the time. Because visitors passes were required it is not overly crowded and this also creates an air of peace around it. Aaron, who lived in Brooklyn when it happened, sketched an image of how he experienced it that gave me goose bumps.

After the WTC we made the plan to take the Staten Island ferry to get a good overview of the city's skyline. I had never done this before and so it was another unique experience and it goes to show that New York city has so many things up its sleeve that you can go back every time and explore new things. The ferry was free and sailed past the Statue of Liberty. The boat moored and we took the first available transfer back to the city. It was then time to head back home and we decided to get Mexican food. In the evening the surfers went out on their own and I got a history lesson about the US and Kahn/Mongolian empire from Aaron. Who knew that the USA was bought for the most part? 33% was acquired by a transfer between the Spanish called the Louisiana purchase. The western states were captured from Mexico and the US became really united after the civil war.

When I woke up from my double air mattress I only had half a day left in NYC. I decided I would spend my last few hours alone and so I went into the city myself with the first stop @ the Apple store near central park and 5th Avenue followed by a train ride to 2nd avenue to get to Katz's deli. A famous deli that makes very good pastrami. I watched someone order the sandwich and was not that impressed, especially when you know that the sandwich was 16 USD, about 14 euro! That wasn't worth it to me so I left and on my way home made a stop at Union station. There was a farmers market going on and I had a quick look around before going back home to find Aaron chillexing at his place. I took a shower, got my shit together and we left for Penn station to catch the Amtrak train to Chicago.

I wanted to check in my bag but it was 5 pounds overweight. I didn't even know there was a weight limit, so we went to the side and opened the suitcase to get some heavy books into my carry on luggage. Then the guy sees what is in my bag and tells me that checked luggage can only contain cloths and toiletries. Yes I know. It is ridiculous but what can you do. The guy said that there is plenty of room to take the bag on as a carry on. After a short cream cheese hunt I said "see you later" to Aaron and thanked him for his hospitality! Thanks Aaron! Being on a budget as I am I got some bagels, tuna salad and cream cheese for the trip. It was then time to board the train and luckily the guys at the checked baggage desk was right, plenty room for luggage! I wrote a letter and now I'm writing this entry. There is a 110 V outlet at every seat so it's very convenient. At the Albany stop the transfer time was an hour. I had a direct train so I didn't had to transfer, just had to wait for an hour. This was a good time to taste bagels for the first time in like 2-3 years. They were delish!

Good morning everyone! I'm about 1 hour from Chicago right now and it's a good time for a little addition to this entry. After the bagels I studied a bit for the pilot license and then around midnight it was off to sleep. The chairs in the train can recline pretty far back and there is a leg rest that comes up. For people with not so tall legs it's great because they can stretch their legs all the way. I however couldn't do that. The neck pillow I brought was worth it weight in gold here! You get like a little crappy pillow from Amtrak, which is good for between your head and the window but the neck pillow makes things a lot more comfy. I woke up a few times because I was cold, so I decided to put my jacket on and that was much better. Around 7 am, it was time for my last bagel and by now the sun was coming up and the countryside flew by. It was not that interesting, just some towns and trees and farmland. The real gorgeous scenery is expected after Chicago, so if I had to do it again I'd fly from NYC to Chicago and take the train from there. Chicago has a -1 hour difference with New York time so the trip takes 19 hours and the train runs around 95 km/hours. Okay so this is it for now. Time for some more studying.