Roman Malanke

Travels Are More Fun When Shared

A few days ago my wife and I returned from an amazing trip to the United States. Now when the effects of the jet lag have almost worn off and before I get completely sucked up by working routine, it is a perfect moment to make a quick record of my impressions from this travel.

This was my sixth time to the US and on my prior visits I’ve been to all three cities we covered this time — New York City, Washington DC, and San Francisco. As such, there weren’t many new places for me to see. Nevertheless, this time I enjoyed the same sights in a deeper way and had a lot of new experiences. This is partially because of my grown understanding of the US culture and overall maturity as a traveler, but also to a large degree because of a wonderful travel companion I had in the person of my wife. It’s so much better to share the traveler’s excitement and to be able to say to someone you care about: “Wow! Isn’t that amazing?”, rather than just thinking that in one’s own head.

Our first destination — New York City — met us with a wonderful weather. During the five days there we were completely charged with the city’s cosmopolitan energy. Our hotel location couldn’t have been better, as it was 5 min jogging from the Central Park, 10 minutes metro ride from Times Square, and 1 block away from an amazing strip of restaurants on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side. This last gastronomic element was probably the most impressive of all. For some really modest prices we enjoyed authentic Thai, Korean, Indian, Mexican, and Peruvian dinners. The second biggest excitement, especially for my wife, was shopping. But even I was super happy to get a few pairs of Levi’s jeans for $19 each, for which in my home town I would have to pay no less than $100 on a sale.

A four hour bus ride on a Monday morning took us to our next destination — Washington. The capital wasn’t nearly as kind to us as NYC in terms of weather and met us with heavy clouds and rain. But that was actually good in a way, since I could concentrate on work-related activities for a few days, while my wife enjoyed the interiors of countless local museums, and, of course, some shopping malls too. One of the nights we went out with my colleagues to party till dawn, which was a lot of fun.

Our time in our third and final destination — San Francisco — started not on the best possible note, as the hotel we booked slightly disappointed us with its facilities. But we quickly figured out that we should concentrate on the positive and took advantage of hotel’s great location to see the best of the city. On the very first day we made a few circles on a hop-on hop-off bus where we met a great couple of Italian-born Swiss young people. That gave us a chance to take some nice pictures together, a rare pleasure when traveling in couples. After that I took advantage of being in the area and went to work for a day in each of the two local offices of my company — in San Jose and in San Francisco. But definitely the most interesting day in the Bay Area was toward the end of our stay when we rented a Mini Cooper and went on a road trip north of SF. On our way we enjoyed an amazing natural beauty of Muir Woods Park and some wonderful views around the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

One important achievement of this trip was that I re-photographed sewer hatches in NYC and SF for my collection with my feet on them (since on my prior visit to these places I haven’t yet been doing it like that).

And lastly, I can’t resist to share the curious incident that happened with my cellphone (yeah, I’ve been uber-old-school still carrying around an ancient Nokia E51). On one of the last days in San Francisco a few keys on the keyboard stopped working for no apparent reason. One of those keys was the one that unlocks the phone. I struggled for a while and then literally disassembled the device to be able to answer a text message. Desperately trying to assemble it back I realized that it must have been a sign from above that the time has come for me to upgrade. That was especially symbolic because it happened just a few blocks away from the flagship Apple store on Stockton Street. Without thinking much I went directly there and bought an iPhone. So now I’m back on the wave of progress.

Okay, that makes a quick summary of the travel. Now it’s time to concentrate on work for two weeks and then more travels await. Shared travels, of course! ;-)