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22 October 2011 @ 09:47 pm
I've been back for two weeks now and I thought I would take some time to write about my trip ! It was just amazing. This is one of the best things I've ever done ! No matter how much I love to travel, I always get terribly homesick when I'm abroad and I didn't feel homesick once there. There was just this one time after I left my group and was back in New York where I just wanted a hug but I still wanted to be in New York. It was so great being on my own. I met so many fantastic people and I know it wouldn't have been the same experience if I had been there with my family or with a friend from France. It was so great leaving the hostel in the morning and walking to the subway. I still remember the feeling !
Williamsburg was safe. I once walked back to the hostel at 1.30 in the morning and it was really crowded. I never felt in danger and I don't think I ever was. That was my main concern.

My flight to New York went really well. I never noticed how many people travel on their own. I didn't feel out of place. There was a cute boy sitting next to me which was quite nice ! From the moment I left my mother at the airport I think I just felt disconnected to everything I am used to and just started to see things differently. I'm such a nervous person but I felt fine ! No panic attack. I just decided to face everything step by step. First, the boarding, next the flight, next the subway to the hostel, etc. I think I can say I was really lucky the whole time. From beginning to end, nothing went wrong. I think I should have foreseen that when I saw that The Office started to play on the plane ! 

The subway ride to my hostel was probably the most terrifying moment of my trip (which is not too bad since I stayed there 2 weeks). I felt like everyone was staring at me with my huge suitcase and I saw tourists, families and couples together. Also, I started to see more than JFK airport and noticed the American flags on the typical houses. On the top of that, I was scared the subway I was on wouldn't stop where I wanted. 
My hostel was fantastic. gauloise recommended it to me and I couldn't be more grateful. Later, when people from my group asked me where I was staying in New York and I said Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they were surprised and wondered why I wasn't staying in Manhattan. Honestly, my hostel was really comfortable and clean that I'm so glad I stuck to that one and didn't look any further. The area is great : lots of bohemians young people. The buildings are lower. And it was only one stop away from Manhattan.
It was boiling in New York ! So hot and humid. It felt like some sort of tropical weather. I was so surprised ! I hadn't packed for that kind of weather. After a shower and some unpacking (and still no panicking), I met gauloise for the first time ! My hair was still in a towel and I wasn't wearing my glasses but I recognised her right away. She was staying in the same hostel and sleeping in the bed under mine. She was exactly like I had imagined. I feel so grateful to her for being there with me the first few days. I knew she was going to be there and I think that's the reason why I felt relaxed. She was so friendly and welcoming. I loved her right away (I already did but you know what I mean !). 
By that time, it was around 6 in New York but around midnight in France. I suppose I didn't feel tired at all because of the adrenaline ! Maeve and I decided to go out and we went to Washington Square for a drink. It was a great first night (I started to panic when my subway pass decided not to work which made me realise that I was getting a bit nervous : I realised where I was as it was getting dark).

I was meeting my tour group on Sunday morning so I had 2 full days in New York. I met a long-time Flickr friend there. Her name is Pres and I love her ! We had such a great time together (and then again when I came back to New York). It felt to me like I was seeing a very old friend. That definitely made me feel better and I didn't feel lonely one second. Maeve and I watched The Vampire Diaries together on the computer at the hostel (shame on us !), she took me to The Strand (no other place compete to that place! it's the king of all the bookstores), we had dinner with her lovely friend Claire, we walked down the Brooklyn bridge (one of my favourite places in New York !) and saw the 9/11 memorial. Maeve and Claire are Irish (and then later on I met Paul (British) and 4 Australians and 1 American from California (more on that later)) so I can say it was a great English class for me. The best one ! Love the accents !

New York was much more than I expected. People said I would feel very small and insignificant there but I felt quite at home. That means that I managed to enjoy it from the first day there. I felt a bit under the weather on my first morning there. I don't know where that came from. Maybe the stress (or maybe the relief that I was finally there and that I had made it!) or maybe the food (American food is different). I'm glad Maeve was there. I must have been so annoying ! Yet, she went back to the hostel with me and sat down for a while (it was pouring outside!).
I think I never realised where I was. I was always looking around me and never thought "oh this is New York". I just didn't realise or see things that way. I decided I would take it easy and not run all the time. My favourite place to start the day was Union Square ! My routine was : breakfast at Whole Food (BAGELS WITH SESAME SEEDS ! Why don't we make those in France ?) with Donna Tartt and The Secret History. Then, a look at The Strand. And I was finally ready to start the day.
My favourite things from those first days : Brooklyn bridge, lovely Brooklyn houses, Madison Avenue, best pizza ever in a small place.

I was supposed to meet up with my group on Saturday night in a hostel in Manhattan but as we found out later, there's something happening in New York right now : some hostels are being closed for safety reasons. I got an e-mail and found out that I had to go to a hotel in... New Jersey ! Long story short : worst journey of my life. I wanted to cry. At one point, I thought I would have to ask the bus driver for a place to sleep. I did get there but it ended up being a running joke with my friends from the group. We were all traumatized ! The hotel was in the middle of nowhere (near Secaucus, NJ) but quite nice. I had a large bed for myself. I was to share the room with a girl from my group. She was already in bed, ready to sleep when I arrived. Her name is Kerry, she's 30 and she's Australian. We became very good friends. Everyone from the group was special and incredibly nice. I loved them all ! We were only 6 : Kerry, Paul (30, England), Donna (50, Australia) and Carole and Herman (60) from Australia. Kerry and I were always together (except when we got lost in the Air & Space museum in Washington DC !). Donna and Paul stayed with us the whole time too. Carole and Herman usually had breakfast and diner with us but they would spend the rest of the day together as they didn't want to go as fast as we did. Our leader was Brendan from California. He was from Morgan Hill, CA. I know that because he said that would be his way to remember my name at first ! I think our group was really great. I'm shy but I quickly felt very comfortable with everyone. Kerry was so lovely. We were very much alike which is great when you travel together. We always wanted to see the same things. We got up around 7 am and were really exhausted every night ! We would have a nice diner and go to bed around midnight. It was perfect for me. Donna was so much fun ! She felt so young to me ! She was very proud of her three sons and always had great stories to tell. She knows how to tell a good story ! I told Paul he reminded me of Tim from The Office (UK) because of his accent ! I loved his English accent. Sometimes I would sort of close my eyes / look away and hear him. That's like music to me ! Anyway, I felt really well and I loved our little group. I felt like hugging them most of the time.

I will try to sum it up. From New Jersey, we drove to Washington DC. It was the perfect start. What a lovely city ! I feel like I know it quite well now. We saw everything when we got there in the afternoon and then one again at night the following day. We went to the National Gallery (where I saw a painting by Edward Hopper !) and then to the Air and Space museum which I really didn't expect to like that much. Random thought : there are the best signs in the museums in the United States. For example, there was one there which said something like : Shirt required / No Food / No Guns. That's quite something ! In the morning we went to the Arlington cemetery which was awesome. It's huge ! My favourite moment in Washington was our second and last dinner there. We stopped to have some French fries in a family restaurant. It was quite late and we were just relaxing with Donna and Kerry. Then, we realised Paul was inside the bar having a drink so he joined us. We were outdoors, it was really nice. I realised there was a Barnes & Nobles on the other side of the street and I had been looking for one that day !

From Washington DC, we drove to The Finger Lakes. We stopped in Pennsylvania to have lunch in the best diner on earth. We tasted some wine in a winery. It was really beautiful. We were near Ithaca, NY (and Cornell (which made me think of Andy Bernard and traversant!) I never thought I would love that part of our itinerary that much. Seriously, I almost always think about Upstate New York and how much I want to go back to see more. The small towns are all so beautiful. It feels like I was in a film or in a book. That was amazing. We stopped at a supermarket to buy some food from breakfast and lunch. I didn't think I would enjoy being part of a group that much. It felt like I had all the pros and none of the cons. We all had to buy one or two things from the grocery list. When I'm abroad, I love going to a grocery store and looking at the products ! I was in charge of the baguettes of course !
That night (and the following night), we were sleeping in a cabins. I have to be honest : I thought I would hate it ! I've never been camping before and I need my comfort. I really did love it, though ! In a way, it was much better than sleeping in the hostels. My sleeping bag was quite comfortable. Kerry, Donna and I shared a cabin. The first night, Kerry and I took a 3am - ish walk to the toilets under the rain. That was quite an adventure ! I loved every second.

We saw more of the Finger Lakes (still gorgeous !) and drove to Niagara Falls. Once again, I didn't think I would find it that exciting. I loved the boat ride ! It was so amusing and surreal. It was quite impressive. Canadian Niagara is some sort of Las Vegas made of only 3 streets. That's adorable in a way ! I had the best veggie burger there. At that point, we were all obsessed with diners and eating in small family restaurants. I was always hungry and felt stuffed most of the time because I was eating way too much, way too fast ! I'm ridiculous.

I may be confused but I think that's the day we drove near Scranton, PA ! That was quite a moment for me !

And then, here it comes : Boston ! Beautiful Boston ! I don't know where to begin. The thought of Boston fills me with excitement. Charlestown and Beacon Hill were my favourite parts. In the morning, we went to Harvard which was awesome. I can't believe some people are so lucky ! (I wish they could take a look at my old and grey university !) We wanted to take a tour and we found out after 10 minutes that it was a tour for the future students ! Not for tourists ! It was quite interesting, though ! I know everything about how to get into Harvard, student loans, classes, dorms... That was really cool. Around lunch time we started the Freedom trail which we completed around 4. Basically, Boston is made of beautiful gardens, old graveyards randomly scattered across the city, 18th century churches next to glass buildings, Donkin Donuts and other objects of marvel. We spotted Fenway Park ! I bought my Red Sox baseball cap (I can cross off that of my list of things to do before I die, I'm silly like that...). We walked to MIT (explored MIT (and got lost in) MIT to be precise but I'm not sure we were allowed to !) and walked down the Harvard bridge at night. The Charles river bridge is one of my favourite things there ! So beautiful ! We also walked the 294 steps of the Bunker Hill monument !
Unfortunately, sullypants and I missed each other because of my stupid phone. I got her texts two days later when I was already back in New York !

We drove back to New York. We passed near Hartford (Gilmore Girls !) and Yale. I still had three days in the city. As I said earlier, it was really sad to leave the protection and comfort of the group. Kerry and I spent every remaining days together though as she was also staying in New York three more days (I shared my time between her and Pres to be precise). We went to see a Broadway show together ! Mamma Mia ! I'm so, so glad we did. It was such a great experience. I went to the MoMA (amazing collection of photography !), I rode the Staten Island Ferry, I spent one morning in Central Park (even better than what I thought !), I saw the Flat Iron building (also one of my favourite things in New York), I saw the students of NYU and went to its very cool bookshop . I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of things but I'm sure everyone has stopped reading by that point so I will make this quick. The two nights I spent on my own, I decided to go see a movie as it was pouring rain outside.

I should probably stop there. I'm sure I forgot many things. I'm so sorry, this is very long ! You can see the pictures on my Flickr page. I'm still not done posting them but you can see the pictures from my first days in New York, Washington, upstate New York and Niagara Falls. I will post the rest very soon !
I feel very nostalgic and I'm dying to go back. Everything I read or see seems to remind me of places I went to. Kerry and I were always listing the films we have to see again now that we've been there.
Thanks for reading if you made it that far !

Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn bridge
allie calls me the Sasstress.: boston legal; flamingos!sullypants on October 22nd, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
where I just wanted a hug

OMG! This is how I get homesick too! If I avoid thinking about family and the fact that they're not with me and I can't hug them etc, I'm usually okay while traveling, but as soon as I get on the phone with them I get super sad. To this day my mother is convinced that I spent every waking moment in Europe homesick and miserable because I would always be melancholy as soon as I got on the phone/skype with her. Obviously I was having tons of fun.

I didn't know that you were traveling alone--I've always thought that to travel alone would be so freeing. I almost went to Krakow by myself in 2009, but my plans fell through/conflicted with group plans to go to Ireland. Also, I know for a fact that my mother would freak out if I were to travel alone internationally, or even domestically (even though I went back and forth from Boston to London alone, and went to Ireland alone, and went from Barcelona to London alone too. I consider myself capable). Not that this will ever stop me. My mother is prone to worry.

Shirt required / No Food / No Guns

LOL--I am always amused by these too. It's like that joke on Community: "Vaughn doesn't ever wear shoes or a shirt. How has he not died from a lack of service?" XD

When I'm abroad, I love going to a grocery store and looking at the products !

Isn't this so much fun? I love going into grocery stores when I travel, too. It's fascinating.

I know everything about how to get into Harvard, student loans, classes, dorms...

asdfghjk It amuses me so much that you took the prospective students' tour. Love it :o)

People from Massachusetts like to joke that you can be standing on almost any public corner and will be able to see an ATM, a Dunkin Donuts, and a church at all times. I am still sad that our phones and Blackberry plotted against us! But you like Boston so much and I'm such a fan of France that we'll obviously get to hang out sometime in the future :o)

I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest of your photos! I should really post the photos I took at my sister's wedding two weeks ago.
Morganereveparisien on November 5th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
Traveling on my own was awesome ! I felt so independent. I'm so glad I got to take this trip which was my dream trip on my own. I took notice of everything. I was really observant. I didn't speak French for two weeks (except with the few French I randomly met here and there) ! How exciting ! My tongue felt so tired at the end of the day :) I got to spend hours at The Strand bookstore and then again some more hours at Barnes & Nobles. That might sound silly (I'm sure it doesn't sound silly to you, though) but those were the experiences I was the most looking forward to ! Also, for example, I got to do some funny thing. Like, for example, I went to Staples, just because we don't have it in France and they're the big company that Dunder Mifflin (The Office) compete with !
Very often, I would think "if my Mom knew where I was right now..." meaning on the subway at midnight or on the subway in the middle of Brooklyn (on my way to JFK). She would have freaked out ! The worst was that she would be asleep when I was awake. It was a bit scary because if anything were to happen to me, she would be sleeping ! My Mom is very much prone to worry to so I can relate. On my way to Boston, I had to call her on my cell phone because she was freaking out. Apparently she hadn't heard from me for hours ! I was just sleeping ! lol

I miss American grocery stores ! I miss bagels so very much ! Also, we bought a brand of crackers and they were delicious ! I can't find them in France :(

Dunkin Donuts ! I had a chocolate donut from DD before leaving Boston :) I had to ! By the way, have you ever been to that place : http://phopasteurboston.net/ ? That's where my friends took me after finding out I never had any real Vietnamese food before.

It's your turn to come to France now !

YOUR SISTER GOT MARRIED ? That's so great ! Congrats ! Does that mean you went to Chicago again ? I really want to see the pictures you know !
Kelle: smilekels450 on October 23rd, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
Welcome back, love! And thank you so much for posting this, aw, i enjoyed reading it all. It sounds like you had a wonderful time...i'm so jealous!! It just all sounds amazing. And you saw SO MUCH!!! Aah, what a brilliant trip. So pleased for you, love.

Hope you're doing well! ♥
Morganereveparisien on November 5th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Hello Dear ! Thank you !! It was the best trip ever ! It couldn't have been any more perfect ! I'm so glad I got to visit a few cities besides New York. It feels like I know the area well, you know ? Besides, we were travelling in a van so I got to see a lot of landscapes and we stopped at rest stops and got to talk with some people from very small towns. That was really cool ! Now, I just want to be back :)
I hope you're well ! This is a bit of a depressing weekend for me as it feels like autumn (grey sky!) and I have too much studying to do :( But it makes me feel better to think about the United States !
★ Jen  ★: Travel [ Rainbow Plane ]traversant on October 23rd, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
Sounds so amazing, I'm so happy to hear you had such a great time!!!!!!!! :D :D
Morganereveparisien on November 5th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's too bad you couldn't make it to New York ! :)
a very interesting mixture of poetry and meanness: you can't fight city hallhostile17girl on October 25th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
When I'm abroad, I love going to a grocery store and looking at the products !
YES, I love this too! I went to England in 2008 and one of my favorite things was wandering around Tesco or Sainsbury's looking at all of the different foods and things.

We spotted Fenway Park !
I went to school at Boston University and lived right down the street from Fenway for three years! I'm not a baseball fan in the slightest, but it was sort of exciting to sometimes hear the cheering crowds from my dorm room.

I absolutely love how enchanted you seemed to be with your time in America. The way you've rhapsodized about everything and how you were so open to new sights and experiences reminds me of how Americans describe their European travels. I hardly ever see this perspective of America, it's refreshing! Perspective, that's what it is.

I love your Flickr photos! I anxiously await the rest!
Morganereveparisien on November 5th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
I love Tesco and Sainsbury's too ! British products are great to look at.

You did ? Oh my god, that's amazing ! How do you feel about Boston now ? Did you like it there ? (Also, I'm interested : what did you study there ?) It sounds like you were really close to Fenway ! How exciting ! You know, I wouldn't say I'm a baseball fan either but the Red Sox are just part of the Boston mythology (like Ben Affleck, Dunkin Donut or Harvard are (even though, not technically in Boston!)). I'm sure I would love baseball if I got the chance to watch a match, though. We don't have baseball in France. You live in Seattle, now, right ? Do you like it there ? I really, really want to visit someday !

Thanks ! I'm glad you like the pictures !!

Ps : I finally bought Wildwood ! Still tempted about The Night Circus but... not sure. I don't like circus. I was taken there when I was a child even though I didn't like it. Do you think I could still enjoy it ? Because it sounds good and I'm ready to like circus for it ! Also, the cover is pretty !
a very interesting mixture of poetry and meanness: scouse of distinctionhostile17girl on November 17th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
I studied scenic design at BU (I lost interest halfway through but finished because I didn't know what major to switch to. And that's why I now push books around for a living). Theatre basically swallowed my entire life for those four years, so I subsequently don't have a lot of feelings about Boston other than how unhappy school made me. Recently I've been thinking that I'd like to visit again someday and maybe I'll end up feeling some fondness for the city.

Yes, I live in Seattle! I actually grew up in a town about an hour south of Seattle (it was small and boring) and I definitely prefer Seattle. I don't get a chance to explore the city very often, but I like that it's not overwhelmingly exciting like the few times I've been to New York. I don't feel pressured to be going out and having fun all the time here, which I appreciate.

Ohhhh I hope you haven't bought The Night Circus. I liked the setting and all of the descriptions of the circus itself (see, I like the circus and I have ever since I was a child) much better than the plot and the characters, which is kind of a problem when the plot and the characters are what you SHOULD be focusing on in any novel. Try borrowing it from someone? Or the library? It's not a keeper, at least not for me. But then again, I am notoriously picky...
t_writes on October 30th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
Hi Morgane. Looks like you had a great experience. It was so cool reading your favorite places and comments about the trip. I made a little list from your tips to my future (I hope!) travel to NYC and Boston. Here it goes:

1. The Strand (bookshop)
2. breakfast at Whole Foods
3. go to a grocery store to look the products (genious!)
4. eat a veggie burguer
5. MoMa
6. one morning in Central Park
7. the very cool NYU bookshop
8. list the films to see again after been there (awesome)

Thank you. : )
I identified immediately with your way of travel and it always good seeing the perpective of a very cool french girl.
Morganereveparisien on November 5th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
Re: great.
Hi! Thanks ! I'm so glad this wasn't too boring :) I really hope you'll go to NY and Boston very soon. This is the dream ! The list you made is perfect ! Also, add : walk Brooklyn bridge and you're all set !
Thank you ! You're very sweet :)
found LOVE in cape town: Lightsfoundloveincpt on November 19th, 2011 11:42 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading your entry and looking at all your photos on Flickr ! :) One can really feel that you had an wonderful time there.

found LOVE in cape townfoundloveincpt on November 19th, 2011 11:42 am (UTC)
*a wonderful time -- of course.
Morganereveparisien on December 3rd, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you !! Everyday I wish I were back there :)
I hope you had an amazing time in South Africa as well ! We were away at the same time I think !