Airports and Their Lost Magic

When I was little, I loved flying. I loved the airports with their magical moving walkways, the planes with their brightly dressed flight attendants and, most importantly, the little pair of plastic wings I used to be given which basically made me the captain of the flight. Unfortunately, with many repeated years of traveling, the novelty and magic I used to find in airports has almost vanished entirely. I still like the moving walkways (there’s something so satisfying about moving fast with practically no effort) but the big cushy plane seats I remember from my childhood have been replaced with narrow seats that give absolutely no room for my legs. I am no longer given any plastic wings, so it has been years since I’ve been a captain, and I now must carry my own baggage (except when my lovely father does it for me). I know, it’s gotten pretty rough.

With all that being said, however, my seven hour flight from Chicago to Dublin (my final stop before Madrid), was pretty A-O.K. There was a variety of in-flight entertainment and the irish accents of the flight crew were a delight to listen to. Thus, even though my stomach is currently full of cramps (quick shout out to all the ladies who can relate), I’ve had a pretty painless day.

As for Spain, I must admit that I’m a little nervous. The settings of my brain are firmly on ‘English’, and although I tried to review all my spanish books on the flight, it’s clear that I have a long way to go. Thus, dear friends, my subsequent blogs about Spain will always begin with a few paragraphs in Spanish. If you know Spanish, kudos to you and please look kindly upon my mistakes (corrections are always appreciated!!!) If you are not familiar with that particular romance language, not to fear, I will also have paragraphs in English at the bottom. I will note, however, that while I hope I can convey similar stories and ideas in both languages, it will be hard to find perfect translations of each other!

So bye for now! The next time I compose a blog, I imagine I will be sitting in a small cafe in Madrid or Oviedo, thinking in Spanish and sipping coffee out of my very stylish mug, that’s the plan anyway.

Really quick—if any of you have any suggestions on places I should visit please let me know!

A new development has just occurred. As I am not officially out of the Spain airport yet, I think I’m still allowed to write in English. It turns out that the exceptionally good flight came at the cost of an exceptionally painful baggage mix-up. My luggage, I am told, is still somewhere near Dublin and should arrive in a couple days (if I’m lucky). The whole thing is pretty inconvenient but at least I now have an excuse to spend a fortune on cute European clothes. Hurray for baggage troubles! But seriously, If any of you could send me lucky vibes so I don’t have to spend my whole time here replacing what I lost, that would be awesome.

New York, Baby!

I thought my years of living in Chicago would have prepared me for New York City, and yet, I was still surprised. It wasn’t that New York is that much different from Chicago on an individual street level, it’s just that it’s so much bigger. Chicago city ends, it has boundaries; if you walk for a good hour in any direction from the center of the city, you’ll be out of the jungle of buildings. The concrete and metal of New York, on the other hand, seem infinite. Even when we reached Central Park, a beautiful grass oasis in a sea of metal, I knew that we were still surrounded by the city.

Pensé que mis años viviendo en la ciudad de Chicago me habrían preparado para la ciudad de Nueva York, y aún así, me sorprendió. No es que Nueva York sea tan diferente de Chicago a nivel de calle individual, es sólo que es mucho más grande. La ciudad de Chicago termina, tiene límites; si caminas por una buena hora en cualquier dirección desde el centro de la ciudad, estarás fuera de la selva de edificios. El hormigón y el metal de Nueva York, por otro lado, parecen infinitos. Incluso cuando llegamos a Central Park, un hermoso oasis de hierba en un mar de metal, sabía que todavía estábamos rodeados por la ciudad.

IMG_9062 The only time the city faded a little into the background was when we headed down to the southern tip of Manhattan to see Governors Island and the statue of Liberty. There I felt more of a balance between man-made structures and nature. 

La única vez que la ciudad se desvanecía un poco en el fondo era cuando fuimos al extremo sur de Manhattan para ver la Isla de los Gobernadores y La Estatua de la Libertad. Allí sentí más un equilibrio entre las estructuras hechas por el hombre y la naturaleza


Although I had been a little overwhelmed by the city in the daylight, that was nothing compared to the city at night. Following my younger brother’s desire, we decided to visit Times Square after the sun went down. When we got there, the lights from the advertisements were so bright that it didn’t feel like nighttime anymore. My ears were bombarded with sounds ranging from car horns and blaring music to laughter and shouts. There were so many different and interesting people that I could have watched the commotion for a century and never have gotten bored.

Aunque había sido un poco abrumada por la ciudad durante el día, eso no fue nada en comparación con la ciudad en la noche. Siguiendo el deseo de mi hermanito, visitamos Times Square después del atardecer. Cuando llegamos, las luces de los anuncios eran tan brillantes que no parecía que fuera de noche. Mis orejas fueron bombardeados con ruidos de bocinas de coche y musica, risas y gritos. Había tanta gente interesante que podría haber visto la conmoción durante un siglo sin ser aburrida nunca. 

IMG_9403Every twenty feet there was a new street performer or artist showcasing themselves and their work to the world. Crossing the street was like a game. A crowd would gather at the edge of the pavement and when we got big enough, one person would brave the street. As soon as their feet touched the tarmac, everyone else scrambled to follow. It was like a small human dam breaking. No one wanted to be left alone when the cars came, blaring their horns.

Cada viente pasos había un nuevo artista callejero mostrando sus obras al mundo. Cruzando la calle era un juego. Un grupo de personas se reunía y cuando el grupo sea lo suficientemente grande, una persona empezaba cruzar. Tan pronto como sus pies tocan el asfalto, el resto del grupo luchó para seguir, como una represa de agua rompiendo. Nadie quería ser el último. 

The noise, the smells, the people, the bustle, the pulsing lights, were all utterly overwhelming. My brain kept switching between wistfully thinking of a quiet, dark room and jumping in delight when I saw something really cool or unique. It was hard to keep following my family. My brain kept focusing on street performers and vendors and somehow my body would take me there of its own accord. I often found myself watching a performance or asking the price of food with my family nowhere in sight (thank goodness for cell phones).

Los ruidos, los olores, la gente, las luces, todo era tan abrumador. Mi cerebro seguía cambiando entre el deseo de silencio y paz, y la emoción cuando veía algo realmente genial o único. Era difícil seguir mi familia. A veces me encontraba viendo una obra o pidiendo el precio de la comida sin la minima idea de donde estaba mi familia. Gracias a Dios que tenia mi celular! 

After staying for no more than two hours, we left for Penn Station. Even after leaving the lights of Times Square, I could still feel their pulsing glow, like it had been imprinted on the insides of my eyelids. The entire train ride back to Long Island (where we were staying with relatives) I desired nothing more than darkness, silence and contact solution.

Después de quedarnos ahí, no más de un par de horas, salimos para Penn Station. Incluso después de salir las lucas de Times Square, podia sentir el brillo pulsante, como que había sido impreso en el interior de mis párpados. Durante el viaje en tren, regresando a Long Island (donde estábamos visitando familiares) yo no quería nada mas que oscuridad, silencio, y solución para mis lentillas del ojo. 

Overall, my experience of New York City was wonderful. In my limited time interacting with it, the city felt like it was the crazy, fun uncle to Chicago. It was bigger and more intense, great for a short visit but I would think rather maddening after a long while. New York City is a loud, screeching, bustling, diverse, beautiful jungle of madness that I hope to return to someday.

En total, mi experiencia en Nueva York fue increíble. En mi tiempo limitado interactuando con la cuidad, llego a la conclusion de que Nueva York es el tío loco y divertido de Chicago. Es más grande, más intenso, perfecto para un viaje corto, pero probablemente un poco excesivo después de mucho tiempo. Nueva York es una jungla ruidosa, diversa, bulliciosa, y hermosa y espero volver algún dia.