Philly, NYC, & Boston: Spring Break

It’s the first Monday after spring break, which means I’m back in Blacksburg, returning to my normal schedule of classes and work.

When I’m forced to prioritize sleep against work, play, and travel, it usually gets bumped to the end of the list (no surprise there). The past week was exhausting… but I’m thankful for that. It means that my days didn’t go wasted and I packed as many activities into 12-hour days as possible.

A friend and I decided to make the ambitious 6-day tour along the northeastern coast of the country. We kicked off break early on Thursday afternoon (yay for no Friday classes!) and stayed one night in NoVA (Northern Virginia) before catching an 8 a.m. bus to Philly from Union Station.

Philly was our first stop en route to New York. It was a random yet convenient stop, but proved to be busier than expected. Despite one of our most anticipated destinations being closed for renovation (LOVE Park), we stumbled across a miniature statue tucked away in UPenn’s campus. Of course, we stopped for an iconic Philly cheesesteak and dessert after. Admittedly I’m not the most experienced rolled ice cream expert, but I had the best egg waffle-rolled ice cream in Chinatown. We also looked around Reading Terminal Market (so. much. food!) and the Institute of Contemporary Art at UPenn. After dinner, we packed up for a 3-hour ride to New York. Only drawback of the day was lugging around a backpack and suitcase through the city.

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UPenn

Next up was New York. We were lucky enough to stay with my friend’s cousin in downtown Brooklyn apartment from Friday night until Monday afternoon. After an hour-long detour of getting lost on the subway, we hit Joe’s Shanghai for their raved-about soup dumplings (actually bomb) and Taiyaki (overhyped), and stopped by the Brooklyn Bridge and Oculus on the way to Koreatown for dinner. Even though I’m (kind of) recently from Orange County, the H-Mart in Koreatown had snacks and packaging straight from Korea! Like Hot Cheetos, “치토스.” We ate the spiciest 떡볶이 ever at Yupdduk, which is apparently known even in Korea for being one of spiciest (I ate like 5 pieces).

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Taiyaki

After church, we stopped by Shake Shack to eat. I’m not really a burger person, but it was really good! Even though Shake Shacks aren’t hard to find in NoVA, it was my first time at the burger joint. We strolled through parks at DUMBO and headed to Chelsea Market for a taco, and nearby Amorino gelato for dessert. After so many meals eaten out, it was nice to enjoy home-cooked 보쌈 at the apartment, thanks to her cousin’s friend.

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Chelsea Market

The ride from Boston to New York wasn’t too bad, but only slightly disappointing since outside was a rare good weather day and most of our day was spent inside the bus. For two people completely unfamiliar with Boston, we lucked out with our Air bnb. Our place was nestled on Newbury Street, a cute, bustling street in Back Bay, full of shops, boutiques and little cafes and restaurants. Everything was walking distance, which was perfect: the Prudential Center, Boston Public Library, shopping and more. Our food tour continued with plenty of coffee and Insta-worthy places to eat.

Day one in Boston was unexpectedly drizzly for the earlier part of the day. We continued our couple-style meals by splitting everything, starting with Japanese BBQ (such tender meat!) and taking an Uber to MIT and Harvard. Harvard Square had lots of cute shops and was actually surprisingly lit (especially compared to MIT’s campus). We did some shopping and lunch on our last day, and wrapped up with Boston Public Library and by CHLOE. for dinner, which was possibly my favorite meal in Boston… I didn’t expect vegan, healthy food to taste so good (and expensive). Boston was surprisingly my favorite stop on our city tour, with a heavy bias because we lucked out with beautiful walking weather.

Would not recommend taking a bus from Boston to D.C. It was a sleepless 10-hour ride… once in D.C., we grabbed Burredo and Momofuku before taking our final bus to Newport News to stay with my friend’s family for the last few days of break.

We made the hike back to Blacksburg, but not before stopping by Richmond (boba, donuts and piercings) and Charlottesville (poke bowl) on the way.

We planned our routes beforehand and days the night before. Everything worked out really well, despite below-30 degree days and  high winds. It was basically a giant food tour with plenty of shopping and looking around in between. It wasn’t my first time in any of the cities… but it’s funny how every time you visit a place, everything seems new. I love wandering through cities and eating good food, and even just people-watching and window shopping. It was a great spring break and a much needed change of pace from quiet Blacksburg… and after a couple of days to recuperate, I’m ready to hit the road again.

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DUMBO