A German on The Jersey Turnpike

In 2014 I spent the summer working at a camp in New York with staff from all over the world. The camp was about two hours from NYC and was structured so that all staff got a week off in the middle of the summer. Basically they forced us off camp for a week with nowhere to go, so we made the best of it and chose to live it up during our week without evil children. I had made a few really great friends, so a few of us made random last minute plans for the week, starting with a few days in NYC. I planned the week trip with my best friend from Germany, let’s call her Elsa. Our other friend, let’s call her Candy, planned to be with us for the first half of the trip.

So Candy drove us from camp to the city where we had booked a hotel on the edge of Brooklyn (with free parking!) just a few hours ago. We’re great planners. Anyways, we had fun being tourists in the city and hanging on our roof at night looking at Manhattan. We left after two nights for Philadelphia, with our friend Oliver joining this leg of the trip. We were going to drive Candy’s car to the house of someone I connected with on Couchsurfing. However, Candy was a bit under the weather and really needed to sleep in the car. I didn’t have a license, and Oliver only had a NY limited permit. That left Elsa, who had a German license but had never driven in America before. Elsa was very hesitant, as she had only been in the US for a month and was a bit frazzled from being with demon children during that time. But after a bit of convincing, Elsa agreed because Candy was already falling asleep.

So Candy took a nap in the front seat while Oliver and I squeezed into the back among all of the luggage, promising Elsa we’d help her navigate. She was nervous but we promised she’d only have to drive on this one road – The Jersey Turnpike. I mean, we were a bit nervous as well, but we knew the worst outcome would end with us not returning to camp, and in our hearts we accepted that and left it up to fate. Somewhere in Jersey the GPS voice lulled me to sleep, and I was only vaguely conscious when we stopped at a toll. I woke up and Candy soon followed. However, we had unknowingly lied to Elsa, as we made her navigate the way into Philly so we could eat lunch. The lunch was meh. Candy took over driving in Philly and to DC later on. Elsa may or may not have been permanently scarred by this event.

We all lived through this experience and “Elsa” and I are planning to meet up this summer. But no worries, she’ll be taking the train, not driving.

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Celina’s Weird Travel Adventures – To and From NYC

There are many different ways to travel in these fifty nifty states. There are planes, buses, and trains. I have done all three in my travels to and from the Big Apple.

Before I was officially offered a job at a summer camp in upstate NY, I looked at flights. And I actually found a reasonably priced first class ticket. I have flown a decent amount in my life, but have never flown first class. I wanted to book it, but I had to wait until I was offered the job.

Well, literally the next day I was offered the job.

So, I went online to book my ticket…and, of course, it was gone.

I ended up flying with a really cheap company which I will not name. It pretty much sucked. I had to pay extra for everything. However, I got a window seat and the middle seat was empty, so I got to talk to the old lady in the aisle seat when I got bored of my music and magazines. She was a nice old lady visiting her daughter.

I loaned her a magazine because she was THAT nice.

That’s pretty much it for my trip to NYC. Oh, and by the way, Laguardia is very strangely shaped. It’s basically a long skinny line. And it’s old and dirty. But there are many nice people in vests that help you.

Now, my ride back was just cray. I had to leave camp early due to school, which forced me to make some weird travel arrangements. I was broke at the time because I was waiting for a paycheck, so my options were extremely limited. It was either a sketchy Chinatown bus or the more expensive train and bus combo. So I chose the bus.

And immediately regretted it.

I was so freaked out that I started asking the campers if they had ever been on one and whether I would die if I rode one. At one point I almost bought the train ticket, but then I stopped because, oh yeah, I’m poor. Even though I was sure that I would die all by myself in NYC traveling via bus, I decided to buck up and do it.

The day comes for me to leave camp. Luckily, my favorite Australian friend came with me (to ensure I wouldn’t die). We took a train to the city (which was pretty nice, but more expensive than I thought) and then took the subway to Chinatown. We proceeded to find somewhat good food and then Dunkin Donuts. Because who doesn’t love Dunkin, especially up North? We finally get to the bus station and wait. Finally, an elderly woman says my bus is leaving, so we all follow her as she runs and yells at us in a language that is not English. We all run across the street and miraculously don’t get hit by oncoming cars. We arrive at the bus, which is ready to go. I shove my suitcases in the luggage thing and say a teary goodbye (good day?) to my bestie from down under and head onto the bus. This nice old lady lets me have the window seat! There are so many nice old ladies in the world.

Anyhow, we drive for a bit and then stop for gas. I go get a drink and return. Then the nice old lady offers me fruit! Can you believe it? Strawberries AND grapes. Some might say it’s risky to take fruit from a stranger, but I was already on a sketchy bus, so what the hay! I couldn’t sleep the whole time, so I got to see the beautiful and boring countryside of Delaware and Maryland. Oh, and the ocean.

When we finally got to my destination, my family was waiting for me and freaking out because the area wasn’t the best in town. I laughed because of the sketchiness I had been through.

This is not a complaint post, because I do not regret traveling the way I did. However, if you have the funds, I’d say first class all the way. If not, Chinatown buses really aren’t that bad, even when there is a crying baby. Bring a good book and ride it out. Trains are also fun, and less expensive than planes for shorter distances. And budget airlines are okay if you either want to bring very little or are prepared to pay extra…lots of extra. So here’s to happy traveling! Stay tuned for more of my weird adventures!