From a southern city skyline to the Big City, spring has sprung and the weather warms across a country still facing a pandemic. Photo by Carina Noyola Beltran.
By Carina Noyola Beltran, Lifestyle Editor & Multimedia Coordinator
You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take California out of the girl. Spring break 2021 is one like no other. I know what you’re thinking, drinks on a beach somewhere in paradise. Or maybe even quarantine in your living room? Nope. Try concrete jungle, city of dreams, the Big Apple, New York City, the blue state with a mask.
California is working its way towards normalcy more and more each day, with cases at an all-time low and California being on track to reopen on June 15, according to California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom’s tweet, the greater Los Angeles area seems to be as normal as it can get these days.
Seeing the situation around me, my sister and I, who both graduated as class of 2020, my cousin, who is graduating this year, and my mom who is celebrating a birthday, decided after the milestones we’ve accomplished, it was time to treat ourselves. What better place to visit than the city of dreams, the only place that has ever made me feel like I was invincible: New York City.
I want to preface this by saying, before quarantine, I was a college senior focusing on graduating and getting out of my mom’s house. Needless to say, I was quarantined at home, saving money and doing homework before I was forced to be at home saving money and doing homework.
Fast forward to today, I was way past the patience of bearing another spring break at home. I’ve graduated, I’m fully vaccinated, and still living at home, but that’s a story for another time (give me a break, it’s a global pandemic).
Being that I lived in downtown Manhattan in the summer of 2019 just before the pandemic hit the United States, I went on this trip with little to no research on things to do and where to stay. Since I knew the island of Manhattan pretty well, I didn’t feel the need to be prepared – so much so, that it was a last minute trip entirely. I booked the flight and hotel a little over two weeks before the trip, checked the weather, packed a sweater and an absurd amount of masks and the rest was history.
We stayed in the heart of downtown, which is famously known for Wall Street head honchos and busy works days. But, to my surprise, our 4 p.m. arrival to the city was somewhat short of anything I recognized from when I lived there. The streets were dead, no one was out, restaurants were closed and bars were nearly non-existent. The city I once knew was nowhere to be found.
Our first stop, Sticky’s Chicken, a fried chicken joint, and of course, Joe’s Pizza, what some call, a New York Staple to the traditional slice. To our surprise, we tried to take a bite of our food, and were welcomed by a slightly bitter exclamation to not eat indoors by both places. We quickly realized that even though the shops were open for takeout, unlike LA, indoor eating was not permitted.
As the week went on, it seemed like the regulations around us were slowly changing. By the end of the week, not only were we allowed to take a bite of our pizza’s indoors, but we were also allowed to eat outdoors in designated outdoor dining areas. The start of our trip was a weird transition from what we were used to back home in LA. It was difficult to imagine a city like NY that was naturally filled with so many people as empty as it was on my first few nights. As the week went on, and regulations loosened, mid-week sought us out with a sunny day in Central Park filled with the life I knew this city was capable of. A bike ride in the park, kids playing outside, people walking their dogs, and picnics in the park – the city came alive, and New York welcomed me once more.