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New York City - Part I

¡Libertad! (Freedom!)

sunny -25 °C

We were a bundle of nerves as we approached security in John F. Kennedy Airport. We had everything in order: negative PCR tests, passports visas (both of us had B1 visas, I also got the ESTA as B1 would expire soon), proof of accommodation, marriage application certificates etc. Yet, given the state of the world and the rejection we had already encountered (in our home countries, no less) we approached the kiosk with trepidation. We must have been quite the sight; a petite Asian girl and her tall, jittery (also, handsome) fiancé clutching nervously to a bunch of documents. We had jumped over all the hurdles so far, Abby had been delighted to board the plane; “I’ll only relax once I set foot outside JFK,” I told her.

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We had left Saudi Arabia to embark on our adventure here in the USA, at a time when international travel was not the easiest thing to do. People could not travel to the US from Ireland- good thing I had left from Saudi then. We had taken all the necessary COVID requirements, followed all the protocols (we always adhere to the rules of whatever governing body). I had many PCR tests, all negative; yet, here we stood in a massive line of people entering the States, barely any distance apart. Adhering to all the COVID requirements and then all of a sudden placed in a super- spreader event. Great. That being said, I was confident that pesky virus couldn’t penetrate my incredible immune system. “It doesn’t work like that,” said Abby, a qualified nurse. “Shush, rest your weary head,” I told her, putting a finger to her mouth. “Next!” Yelled the cop. We were up. We looked at each other nervously.

“Andrew Carlos… Irish?” said the cop quizzically, “And not… Spanish?”
“Well…” I began and then gave an abridged version of family history, Abby poking me in the ribs in an attempt to get me to stop.
“Ok, great. Reason for coming to the US?” asked the cop who resembled the comedic actor Craig Robinson (big fan).
“We’re getting married,” blurted Abby.
“We tried going to Ireland,” I quickly interjected.
“But they said no, wouldn’t let me enter as I’m non-EU,” said Abby.
“Despite the fact that she’s a fully vaccinated health care practitioner. Nuts, right?”
“And then we tried the Philippines,” continued Abby.
“But they said no to me,” I said, “But that was fair enough.”
“So we decided to come here to get married, in Las Vegas. We have the applications here.”
“We decided to come here, to the country of freedom, to the city of liberty! The greatest country in the world!” I enthused.
We pushed all the documents towards the bemused cop.
“It’s all legit, look. Look!” I asked, nay, demanded.

The cop laughed. “I believe you! Welcome to the United States and congratulations! Hope you enjoy your stay.” I wanted to hug the guy right there and then. We walked away and hugged, delighted we had been accepted to the US. Our adventure could now begin!
We got a taxi to our hotel, left our bags there, then made our way to the Meatpacking District. We went to a Mexican restaurant and bought a beer and some prosecco. We spoke wiuth my family and raised a glass: A libertad!! (To Freedom!!).

Food and drink:

Restaurant: Dos Caminos (Meatpacking District)
A chain of Mexican restaurant, the drinks were fine if a tad expensive (the food didn’t look great). Nice décor and ambience.
3/5

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Restaurant: Los Tacos No. 1 (Chelsea Market)
As a former resident of Mexico, I couldn’t believe this restaurant when I saw it: it looked like an authentic Mexican taqueria that you normally only find in Mexican! I was very excited to try the tacos out; I wasn’t disappointed. I got myself and Abby several tacos de adobada, my favourite. The tacos were delicious and were the closest thing I’ve had to true Mexican food outside of Mexico. The price was very reasonable as well (obviously more expensive than tacos in Mexico, which are super cheap, but that is to be expected). The Jamaica (water infused with dried flor de Jamaica, Hibiscus flowers; a Mexican delicacy) drink was on point also.
4.5/5

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Sights:

Landmark: Times Square
I was a little disappointed with Times Square. This is the famous visual you see in many a movie/ TV show, a place synonomous with New York City, the city that never sleeps. I found it very dirty (a horrible smell was present) and there were a fair few unsavory characters - to put it mildly! There was not much shopping to be done either. Manhattan has many fantastic sites to visit- this isn't one of them!
2/5

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Accomodation:

Hotel: The Jayne
Bunk beds! Not enough space to swing a cat, or even a hamster for that matter. Not the greatest room for a couple! That being said, the location was fantastic, ideally located beside the high line and in a clean, safe area of Manhattan. Also, inexpensive (which is important if you’re going to the US for over 5 weeks!).
3.5/5

Posted by elchicocarlito 10:29 Archived in USA Tagged food travel hotel newyork drink city ireland philippines accomodation usa asian europe asia irish tips european saudi newyorkcity covid saudiarabia

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