Hi everyone! I hope that you all had an enjoyable winter break and that this new semester will be even more fun than the last one. This week, I was asked to write about my winter travels: that is quite an arduous task as I did travel a lot through the USA during the break, from the empty spaces of the Arizona desert to the vibrant buzz of the crowd in New York City. I will however attempt to recount my experience in a concise way, focusing on the things that impressed me most and changed some of my perspectives on America.
I started my trip on the East Coast with a lot of expectations. Indeed, I had always wanted to visit NY, which I saw as the most mythical city in the entire world. The Big Apple, as they call it, evokes so many things that it is hard not to feel attracted to it. Well, the least I can say is that I was not disappointed at all; New York is an interesting city for sure! From my arrival, dizzy and tired after a long bus ride trying to find one of my friends at a random address in Manhattan which nobody could really point to, to my departure, even more exhausted and full of impressions on the city, every single minute of my stay was quite an experience!
I can start with the places I visited: The MET, Greenwich Village, Times Square, MoMA, Soho, Brooklyn, etc. There are just too many to name and every single one of them has its own charm. Many people will dismiss Times Square as being too touristy, but I think you need to go there to fully comprehend how insanely big and crazy New York is. I have been to cities that are more populated that New York, but being surrounded by so many sky scrapers, people, noises and flashing lights makes you feel the city pulse with life. If you’re looking for shopping places, entertainment or simply want to feel the frenzy of a big city, this is the place to be. Of course, it would be extremely reductive to limit my description of New York to the, sometimes almost excessively, animated hot spots of the city. A walk in the Village or Brooklyn will remind you that New York is a ‘real’ city, one in which actual people (rich people, I have to agree, but still actual people) live, go to work, shop, go drink a coffee… Taking the ferry to Staten Island, having a walk in Central Park, visiting the museums, going to a concert, enjoying a nice meal… the possibilities in New York seem endless as new things appear every single day in this ever changing city. I talked to a New Yorker who told me that he could not recognize some places anymore because they had been modified so much in a really short period of time. Finally, the diversity of people certainly adds to what makes New York such an interesting city: the poor live next to the rich, Asians and Africans mix with Caucasians and Latinos, businessmen take the subway with social misfits and all of this in only one place. It is really like the whole world decided to gather in New York and the American notion of melting pot becomes an obvious reality once you get there!
During the second part of my vacation, a friend and I decided –almost on a whim- to drive down to Arizona through Idaho and Utah before coming back to Oregon through California. Needless to say this was a very long drive (especially because I was the only driver), but what a drive! We passed a lot of amazing places, among which included Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Los Angeles and San Francisco: a real taste of the American West. I especially recommend Road 89 between Utah and Arizona for its incredible scenic power; driving in those landscapes that could be the perfect setting for a grandiose Western is quite the experience. And after the craziness and frenzy of the East Coast cities, the emptiness and beauty of the desert offered me a completely different aspect of the United States. If you like the road, then the American West should appeal to you like few other places can!
All in all, my travels through the USA really helped to get a different perspective on this country and made me even more aware of how diverse it is.