Ticket to Ride

June 27 was a crazy day for me. Most importantly, I made my way to the Polish Consulate in New York City. Here is a look at how I went from Syracuse to New York City to Pennsylvania in 24 hours!

12:50am: I arrive at the Syracuse Regional Transportation center. After asking a worker there which gate my bus will be at, I discover that the Megabus actually picks up outside, in front of the building. Kind of weird, but I head out front regardless. My bus is due at 1:35am.

1:35am: No sign of a bus yet (ugh), but I pass the time by talking to two friendly women that are also taking the bus to NYC. At this point I’m crossing my fingers for a electrical plug to charge my phone and a window seat.

1:50am: The bus finally arrives. Now I am oh so ready to go to sleep until we arrive. As the bus pulls up, I see that it is filled to the brim and is weirdly a double-decker bus. I quickly find a seat (unfortunately not a window seat, boo), plug in my phone (but there are electrical plugs, yay!) and get ready to knock out for the ride.

Next, the bus driver gets on the intercom to announce that we will be stopping at the next exit to take a 30 minute rest stop (seriously?). We finally get moving again at 2:30am.

Megabus - view from my seat
Megabus – the exciting view from my seat

5:00am: I’ve been able to catch an hour or two of sleep. The Megabus is incredibly uncomfortable. All I want is a foot rest (take note, Megabus workers). We stop again for another rest break. I’m starting to get anxious as I check my phone’s gps and realize we’re still 2.5 hours away from the city. At this rate we won’t be there until ~7:45am (as opposed to the advertised 6:35am arrival time). Thankfully, my appointment at the consulate is not until 8:30am.

Double Decker Megabus - just arrived in NYC
Double Decker Megabus – just arrived in NYC

7:40am: I have arrived in New York City (only a little more than an hour late)! I couldn’t wait to get off the bus. As soon as I make it down the stairs I start to book it in the wrong direction, I was so ready to start moving. I walk for about 5 minutes, before realizing I was walking in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. I hastily reorient the map in my head and begin working my way in the right direction. In no time I make it to the gorgeous Polish Consulate.

Not the best picture - But my first view of the Consulate!
Not the best picture – But my first view of the Consulate!

8:25am: Despite arriving at the consulate at 8:05am, the doors do not open until 8:25am. To pass the time I talk to two other women who are waiting to get schengen (short term) visas. Upon entering the consulate, I am stopped by a buff Polish security guard. He asks me why I am there and goes through my bags.

Apparently I am not a threat as he hands me a ticket with a number on it and tells me to take a seat. The room is relatively small, with a single TV (broadcasting Polish news), a “Poland Springs” water cooler and 3 windows. The women in the windows ring a bell and a screen above the window appears with a number to tell you who to go to and when.

I am the second person to enter, so a woman in front of me gets her visa work taken care of. After a few minutes I hear a bell, foolishly assuming the second bell would be for me, I head up to the window. An older woman asks me what I need, when I tell her I’m there for a visa, she looks at me confused. It’s at this moment that a voice behind me speaks up, “Uh I think she has the wrong number…” Oops. Apparently I should pay more attention to what I’m doing. While I was number D401, this guy was number A100. Completely different. I go back to my seat with flushed cheeks.

After another 5 minutes or so, my actual number is called. I am lightly questioned about my reasons for going to Poland by a younger woman. I guess I convinced her that I have no malicious intentions as she scans my student ID, takes my passport and money, and lets me go on my way.

As I exit the consulate, I run into my friend Madeline, her mom and her friend Jenny and we make plans to meet up after she works out her visa stuff.

Upon exiting, I realize I’m not sure where I want to go. I decide to walk down Park Avenue towards Central Park. On my there I see Grand Central Station and decide to stop there mostly because I really have to pee

Grand Central Station!
Grand Central Station!

9:35am: It doesn’t take me long to find a bathroom in Grand Central Station, thankfully (although the first one I found was closed – causing an outrageous line at the one I ended up at). Grand Central Station is HUGE and crazy beautiful. I spend a fair amount of time watching an older woman expertly play the violin. After exploring  a little bit, I begin to head out.

On my way out of the station, I see an art exhibit by the exit. Although, I think it was more of an interesting form of advertising. Called “Eat the Art” (sponsored by Castello Cheese), they had several pieces of cheese based paintings hung on makeshift walls with real life replicas next to them. Now here’s the cool part, you had the opportunity to try the cheese in each real life replica. What a weirdly awesome thing to do. I feel like Jason Deal would especially appreciate this.

Cheesy Art
Edible art!
Art and Cheese
Real cheese and the painting it’s based off of

10:05am: As I actually leave Grand Central Station, I get a text from Madeline informing me that they are done at the consulate and are heading to Times Square.  I begin to walk in that direction.

I get to Times Square first, where some sort of martial arts competition is taking place. While waiting for Madeline, her mom, and Jenny I watch the martial arts, which turns out to be choreographed… and set to Pokemon battle music. Seriously.

When Madeline + crew arrive, we spend our time walking around Times Square. First we went into Toys R Us, and saw the full-size Barbie house and T-Rex. Silly, but fun. We also went to the Hershey store, where we shared a bag of mini Reese’s cups. Yum. 

Barbie's House
Barbie’s House

At this point, we chose to sit in the center of Times Square for a while to people watch and talk. There was one guy who was walking around giving people yellow and red cards (like soccer) for taking selfies. It was pretty entertaining to say the least. (UPDATE: The Ref guy was making a video and it ended up on Buzzfeed. Bonus points if you can find me in the background.)

Times Square
Times Square
Times Square Selfie (Me, Madeline and Jenny)
Times Square Selfie (Me, Madeline and Jenny)
A
A “Ref” giving a woman a yellow card

Random fact: The characters in Times Square are extremely creepy. Especially when they take their heads off. *shudders*

11:50am: We left Times Square and head towards Penn Station where we stop to eat at a Chipotle with Jenny’s cousin. I was surprised by the long line (not unlike the line at the Syracuse Chipotle during the school year), but remembered that it was a work day in the city. Eating feels wonderful, and I begin to feel the fatigue from barely sleeping since Wednesday night.

1:20pm: After lunch, it is decided that it’s a good time to head home. Thankfully, Madeline, her mom and Jenny are also leaving using the NJ Transit and we struggle through Penn Station together. Penn Station could really stand to have more signs and helpful people hanging around. I just miss the 1:29 train and have to wait until 2:51 for the next one. Madeline’s train leaves at 1:50 so we hug goodbye, with the realization that the next time we see each other will (probably) be in Lithuania. Crazy!

Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride

While waiting for my train, I walk around looking for a place to sit. My feet are exhausted. It takes a while, but I found a secluded seating area where you had to show an attendant your ticket in order to get it.

2:45pm: I am finally able to board my train! I was honestly surprised by just how nice the trains were. The Metra in Chicago could definitely take note. It’s only a short train ride to Montclair, where my roommate Morgan was waiting for me.

View on the train
Enjoying the view on the train

3:35pm: Morgan picked me up at the Upper Montclair train stop and we left straight from there for her lake house, where we were going to spend the night. The drive is beautiful, despite the traffic we ran into. A pit stop at Dairy Queen made the ride go a little quicker too.

Nothing but the open road!
Nothing but the open road! …and traffic

6:30pm: We arrive at Morgan’s lake house, a beautiful place with an outstanding view. It feels great to relax and enjoy the lake view. It’s crazy how I can start the day in one of the busiest places in the world and end the day on a serene lake.

Beautiful sunset on the lake
Beautiful sunset on the lake
Sunset lake selfie (Morgan and me)
Sunset lake selfie (Morgan and me)

While yesterday was insanely busy and contained three different kinds of transportation, I loved every second of it. I get more and more excited for Poland as each milestone (like this one) passes. 72 days!

Sunset on the lake
Sunset on the lake

KCO

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