Friday, July 12, 2013

New York City, United States

A three day mid-week getaway to the "Big Apple", New York City for me, and a nine day US trip for my two noonas from Seoul. It had been six years since my last visit to NYC, so I was excited to visit and be not only a tourist but also a guide to the (North) American way of life as opposed to the culture in Korea. So I booked my stand-by flight to Newark (EWR) with Porter Airlines and we booked our stay at two hostels in Manhattan.

For their first visit to America, the culture shock was apparently there from the start. Our meeting point and time was for Wednesday morning, but their flight arrived from Seoul on Tuesday night. Their slow and odor-filled subway ride from JFK and their sights of countless homeless people could have already scared them away from this adventure, but they were fine after some reassurance by myself that its just the way of life here. There were also many firsts for myself as well: Getting around NYC without a car or coach bus, understanding how the subway lines work, and staying at hostels.

Getting to Manhattan from Newark International Airport was quite easy; going back to the airport from the city, now that's another story. After taking the airport train to the NJ Transit Station, the ride to Penn Station was $12.50, a direct train ride with easy to read signs and announcements. The return trip...well, no signs or indications of which trains from Penn Station would get me to the airport. After some assistance by some nice passengers, I was told I would still be able to get to the airport on that train but I would need to make a transfer.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

A shot of the Toronto skyline while lining up to take-off
So I finally found some time after working everyday consecutively for the past three months to have a short getaway outside of Toronto and use my travel benefits with Porter Airlines. Initially the plan was to go to New York City, but the holiday flight hours during the Easter weekend and still having to work that weekend made it difficult to plan. Therefore, the best alternative was to just visit Montreal, as Porter Airlines flies to that destination most often.

It was my first time flying stand-by, but we booked the earliest flight out, and the latest flight back on the same day- to save on cost because I didn't really wanted to spend too much money in Montreal- being there numerous times in the past, but the last time being in 2010 with my little cousins. Our plan was simple, purchase a metro day pass which is $8 and includes all buses and subways including the 747bus from the Montreal Airport to Downtown Montreal in around 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.

So the first stop was the L'Avenue Restaurant near Mont Royal Station for some of their highly acclaimed brunch menu, but unfortunately a long line up ensued, and had to give up on that dream. So we just proceeded to the farmer's market- Marche Jean Talon at the Jean Talon interchange metro station.

There was so much fresh fruits, meat, cheeses, wine, pastries, and even sea food in this market which is one of the more popular ones in Montreal. There we settled for a turkey quiche panini at the bakery, tried some apple cider ice wine, and ended the meal with a chocolate banana crepe at their famous creperie. We then ended our trip by making it back to Mont Royal for some Montreal bagels, and we passed by the L'Avenue again and still there was a long line up outside.

Anyways, it was nice being in Montreal again, but New York in 2 weeks time!