Sunday, 5 July 2015

New York & San Francisco

New York, New York

Leaving South America after 7 wonderful months was a challenge. So many beautiful memories, amazing scenery, experiences, and wonderful people is what I recall when look back in time.

On the 19th of February,  we took a flight from Bogota and arrived at Newark Airport at midnight. Thankfully, my brother, Alp, who lives in New Jersey picked us up, as the weather was around -5 degrees Celsius with snow and ice everywhere. It was definitely a big shock after many months in the warm climate of South America.

Upon arriving at my brother’s house, we were unexpectedly welcomed by my parents. They flew over from Turkey to surprise us at the end of our trip. It was a great surprise to see them again after 8 months. 

Family time
Our week in New Jersey was all about family time, sharing our travel experiences and connecting. After being on the road for such a long time, this was an excellent opportunity to enjoy the warm family environment and rejuvenate.  

It was great to see my niece, Lara, whom I  don't get to see very often due to distance. We played a lot, took her to ice-skating, listened to her stories. It was fun to act like a kid again with her. In fact, this week gave us a good opportunity to reunite as a family.  

Alex and Lara at ice-skating
We visited Manhattan a couple of times. In one of those days, Alex and I walked for 6 hours in downtown. We were absolutely freezing at the end of the day as  New York was having one of the worst winters in history. It is a charming city to however, in winter it can become a freezer. Timing is important!

We visited a few outlet shopping centres and managed to get some good bargains. After more than a year on the road, we needed to replace most of our clothes and this visit was perfect for that. It was surprising to see how cheap the prices were in the US compared to Australia.  

We enjoyed my sister-in-law’s, Esra, and my mother’s delicious cooking. It was a perfect way to relax and recover our energies. We were very well looked after. A big thank you Alp and Esra for their excellent hospitality and to my parents for making the effort to come to U.S. to see us. I am grateful to have such a caring family. A week passed really quickly and once again it was time to say goodbye without knowing when we would meet again.

On the 1st of March 2014, we caught a flight to San Francisco to visit a dear friend from high school, Aycan, and his family. After a long flight, we were welcomed by a much warmer weather and a big hug from Aycan. 

Aycan and his wife, Bahar, live in Sunnyvale which is an hour away from San Francisco. It is in middle of exciting and multicultural Silicon Valley. During our time, we visited the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Muir Woods National Park, Half Moon Bay. We also did the magnificent Big Sur scenic drive. Aycan and his wife, Bahar were excellent hosts and did their best to make us feel welcome.

It was the first time we were meeting their two year old daughter, Ela. She is adorable but didn’t quite like us at the beginning. She would scream and cry every time we tried to communicate with her. Luckily, she warmed up to us slowly during our stay and we became good friends at the end.

One of my best moments in San Francisco was a night organised by Aycan. He invited one of my primary school friends, Burak, whom I haven’t seen for more than 20 years and another dear friend, Murat, from high school. It was fantastic to see them and meet their families. Lots of memories were discussed with laughter and joy. It is lovely to have friends all around the world.  

After 10 beautiful days in the Bay Area, it was time to leave our dear friends and catch our flight back to our second home, Bali. A big thank you to Bahar and Aycan for their hospitality and friendship. Although, we hadn't planned to go back to Bali when we started our journey, we definitely needed some time to integrate our experiences before heading back to Australia.       

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