At the Drive In

Over the years, I’ve learned that one of my favorite things to do is drive into a new city. So today (but actually way late/early in the day) I’ll write a post about a few cities I’ve driven into recently. You can also think of this as my first entry in a series of posts about my recent travels. 

San Francisco: I flew into SF and that created its own situations, but I also took the train and bus into the part of the city I’d be staying in. The flight in promised breathtaking views of the city and landscape and the Bay Area didn’t disappoint. The train + bus ride to my hostel was pretty uneventful but I got plopped in the middle of the downtown/financial area so that was pretty hectic. It was chaotic and lively and pretty fun. Since I grade lots of things on this blog, I’ll grade the ride in at a B+. 

Tokyo: I got into Tokyo at night so I can’t really speak to the view of the city I had. I can talk about the overall feeling though. When I first got to Tokyo I was super tired and ready to sleep at any moment. The trip was longer than I expected but the people were pretty nice and helpful. The thing about it is that I never really got a feel for the city. Tokyo is/was just too big for me to digest on a dark train but I do recall being surprised by how familiar it felt. 

Grade: B

Nikko, Japan: I went to Nikko one day based on the recommendation of a friend. The ride in was pretty epic. Nikko is only a couple hours from Tokyo but I still had to take a train to get there. I remember looking out the window and seeing Mt. Fuji behind me (I love mountains, so this was pretty great for me). The Japanese countryside wasn’t spectacular but it was very calming. So good job Nikko. 

Grade: B+

Istanbul: Oh my goodness Istanbul was amazing. It was vibrant and exciting and hot and wonderful all at the same time. Driving in I could see the water and the people and everything that makes a city great. I can’t think of any negatives to be honest. 

Grade: A+

Naples, Italy: This was a rough entrance. The bus from the airport was bad enough but the walk from one side of the bay to the other was the worst kind of icing on the cake. When you drive into Naples you can’t see any of its beauty, just the parts of the city that people usually try to hide away. Overall, pretty underwhelming. 

Grade: C+

Rome: My first entry into Rome was actually overhead on my way to Naples. Rome was gorgeous from up top. I could see the Tiber and I immediately thought of canceling the trip to Naples and just staying the extra night in Rome. I didn’t – because I’m not rich – but that’s how impressive the city is just from an airplane. I later took a train to Rome from Naples and I appreciated the hills and greenery of the Italian countryside. So good job Rome. 

Grade: A/A+

Venice: Venice is pretty legit. The city is sinking and the train ride in is surrounded by the marsh that is the sea which surrounds Venice. It’s a pretty crazy place. As cool as it was, Venice is docked a few points for the fact that you can’t actually even see the city when you’re traveling into it. All you see is water. 

Grade: B+

London: Sleepy, gray, left-sided London. The bus ride from the airport to the city center was pretty lackluster. In many ways, it felt like driving along the interstate. There wasn’t much to see (as far as I can tell London doesn’t have much of a skyline) so it was a pretty run-of-the-mill trip. 

Grade: B-

New York: Coming back to New York after almost a month away was supposed to be awesome and amazing. It wasn’t really. I ended up on the wrong train headed to Far Rockaway and didn’t get back to my apartment until 1AM. There are many exciting ways to enter NYC. This wasn’t one. 

Grade: C

Albany: As I write this, I’m at my friend’s place in Troy. But to get to Troy I had to drive past Albany first. Albany had a really impressive skyline and some beautiful buildings to round it out. Plus, I’ve never seen the Hudson look so good. I was immediately struck by how much Albany didn’t care to compare itself to NYC. Living in the city for long enough, you can sometimes start to just exude NYC pretension and superiority. Albany immediately struck me because I was impressed by it, but it didn’t feel like the city needed my opinion to continue to be cool. That actually makes the idea of grading it dumb but I still will. 

Grade: A-

Maybe next week I’ll edit this (or write another post) about the drive into Philly. That’s one of my favorite drives. Okay, good night homies. 

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