New York City | Day 1 | 17 August 2021

It felt wonderful taking Amtrak again! It felt wonderful waiting for the train in Philadelphia to head to New York. My trip was free; since I am a travel bug, I had enough points for a free trip. I have four more trips coming to me for free, plus two free passenger rides. I want to talk my parents into taking a day trip for me. We all can travel free. It pays to have perks. Anyway, my train left at 9:58 and I had to take a travel selfie before I left.

My train ride was only 80 minutes, as I approached NYC, I became ecstatic. NYC is my favourite US city and I loved seeing the skyline.

After I hopped off the train and made my way through Penn Station, once I was outside in Manhattan and beginning my trek to Herald Square to catch the B to Brighton Beach, I was greeted by the Fashion Ave. sign. I asked another tourist if she wouldn’t mind taking a photo of me underneath the sign.

I made it to Herald Square and only had to wait five minutes or so for the B train to Brighton Beach. As I waited, you know what that meant!

Once the B pulled in, I found my seat and sat near a Polish woman, who later hopped off at Sheepshead Bay.

The ride was pretty uneventful until a punk looking gal hopped on at Prospect Park. She was antsy and she looked dazed, nervous energy. As we approached Avenue M, she wanted the door to open and as soon as the door opened, she puked. That explained her behaviour, she was probably drinking or taking something and felt sick. I moved to another section of the train. I tend to puke if someone else pukes and I wanted to avoid that. I also didn’t want to get vomit projectile on my luggage. Welcome to Brooklyn!

Fortunately, it was a quick ride to Brighton Beach from there and the vomit didn’t roll down to the section I moved to. I was able to avoid hopping out of the B train onto the Brighton Beach platform.

I pulled up the directions to my Air BNB and as I descended the stairs, it felt like I died and went to Russia. Or at least I visited Moscow instead of Brighton Beach, no passport required! Since last time I didn’t take photos of the scenery, now was my chance. Dad thought Brighton Beach sounded neat and I sent him a few photos of the Russian signs.

I continued on my journey to the Air BNB. I did get a little lost and Natalyia, my host, messaged me to say to call her if I did get lost. I ended up at a condo, which she lives in, and when I called her to say I was outside and needed to be let in, we laughed because it was the wrong condo. She would get me.

Five minutes later, she called and didn’t see me. I told her where I was and she had no idea. I put in the address again and this time Google guided me further. I was 6 minutes away, and no wonder why Natalyia said she’s a bit hard to find. Her condo is hidden down a path and I wouldn’t have guessed this hideaway had condos.

Natalyia’s condo felt like a location in a fairytale. Her condo was gorgeous too! 2021 was a much better experience than when I stayed with Alex in 2019. His apartment reminded me of something from Law & Order. Not this time!

I dropped off my luggage, put on some sunscreen and headed to the beach.

The waves were rougher than July 2019 and it almost reminded me when I first visited Brighton Beach/Coney Island on the last day of winter in March 2019. The water was cold as well. Polar plunge in August!

I was sitting next to a Jewish young man and brought stale matzo to feed to the pigeons and gulls. Next year before Passover, I might have to take a trip to Brighton Beach and get rid of all my (gluten-free) chametz that way.

I also watched a girl dive a few times into the ocean, so I decided to do that as well. It was a great way to break up the laps I was swimming.

I stayed at the beach until 4:30, then walked back to my Air BNB, to get ready for dinner at Skovoroda and the comedy show in Brooklyn later.

Skovoroda was a great experience and this Russian restaurant had many gluten-free options! I messaged them before I even planned my trip and they assured and reassured me of the gluten-free options. I’m happy to say it was a wonderful experience.

I ordered two shots of Russian vodka.

Waiter: “In Russian, we say, ‘skovorodka’ which means cheers.”

Me: “Oh, like the restaurant’s name! I like to say, ‘L’chaim!”

Waiter and Jessica: “L’chaim!” We both laugh.

The Cornish game hen and the mashed potatoes were wonderful! I finished at 7:30 and then I ran up to the B train to catch the trains I needed to catch to get to Broadway Ave in Brooklyn for the comedy show. I had to take the B to Fleet St. and Willoughby, then catch the A to Atlantic to catch the J to go to Broadway Ave.

I made it to the Tiny Cupboard at 8:26 PM. I made it early and the show didn’t start until 8:40. The view from the rooftop was gorgeous and I had to take some photos. I asked the gal I was sitting next to if she wouldn’t mind taking a few photos of me, then she agreed to a selfie.

The moon was gorgeous too. As soon as the show started, someone in the distance started shooting fireworks. The show was amazing and it was only $1. I found it on Air BNB Experiences and it was such a great time. All of the comedians were hilarious. Alex Payne and Farooq had to be my favourites.

Alex asked if anyone believed in conspiracy theories. I called out that I did. He said, “that sounds like a white girl voice. Who called out?” I giggled, raised my hand, and he asked me if I worked at Trader Joe’s or something. I replied, “Nah, I work at a library.” “Oh, so you read a lot! Makes sense!” I like being heckled, it was fun.

Farooq was after him and he continued to heckle me, all in good fun. He was funny and I liked laughing at myself too.

The last act, a comedian named Eddie, was pretty funny too. He talked a lot about anxiety and I could relate. I guess that is why I found him funny because I have had similar jabs at my anxious self and it felt good to laugh along with someone else who gets it.

At the end of the show, I had the opportunity to meet Farooq and the comedian in the Dodgers uniform. Both loved my energy and they were happy I was chuckling along with them. They were sweet to talk to and Farooq gave me his Instagram screen name, then they both agreed to selfies. Before we parted ways, both gave me big bear hugs. Such a fun evening!

Before I caught the J to the A, then the A to the Q back to my Air BNB in Brighton Beach, I went to my first bodega! I wish I got a photo of the experience, but it was a neat experience. I bought two bottles of apple juice – one for that evening (I was thirsty) and one to save for Friday and some water. My first New York bodega! šŸ˜€

At least I took a photo of this cool mural located next to the bodega.

I made it back to the Air BNB at midnight. I took some Melatonin and had sweet dreams that carried me into Day 2.

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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

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