By Ján Kartusek, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar

Ján is a Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar, from Slovakia, who was in the United States for his third time. In this blog post, he shares about his travel adventures in Vancouver, Seattle, and New York City. 

During my summer, I thought a lot about where I wanted to go when I’m done working. I thought about cruising the Caribbean or Bahamas. My friends went onto discover Alaska, but it was getting pretty cold and rainy, so I decided to travel somewhere I haven’t been before. I bought a plane ticket to Seattle and I got lucky. The weather couldn’t have been any better, and I felt like it was the start of the summer. First I booked a hostel, and then I went on to buy a ferry ticket for a ride to the nearby Bainbridge Island. It was really charming there. Then I went on to discover Seattle. I visited the famous Pike Place Market with lots of seafood and a vibrant downtown center.

The next day, I took a bus to Vancouver, which is maybe a 4-hour trip north of Seattle. I had never been to Canada before and I could see the differences in architecture between Vancouver and other American cities. All the buildings were made of glass and the cleanliness of the city was just amazing. I hung out with my friend from Slovakia and he showed me local spots and landmarks of this great city. The weather was, again, beautiful, and they accepted United States dollars for purchase. The downtown area is one of the most beautiful urban areas I’ve seen. There are also a lot of natural beauties like mountains and beaches nearby, for example, the famous Stanley Park. The next day, it got a little rainy, but I explored Granville Island, which is a huge public market with a lot of great food and activities to do.

Later that day, I arrived back to Seattle. I slept for a night, and in the morning I was ready to discover other parts of this great city. For me, it was probably the best city that I have visited so far in the U.S. I went to Space Needle – the famous landmark of the city. The city has a great museum with a lot of Nirvana memoirs (Curt Cobain used to live in Seattle). Then, I went to Kerry Park, which allowed me to see Seattle in its full beauty. Later, I visited the public library and also the Columbia Center, which is the highest building in Seattle. It was only $9 to get to the 74th floor. The view from the top floor was breathtaking.

The next day I packed and left for the airport. I flew to Newark. After a 5-hour flight, I arrived to the Newark International Airport and I took the train right to the Penn Station in Manhattan. I had a hotel booked in Manhattan for two nights. In the morning, I went to the Highline Park -a famous walking site in NYC. Then, I walked by the river so I could see New Jersey and the new World Trade Center in the distance. I tried to visit the Apple store because the new I-phone 6 was just starting to sell, but the line was longer than any I have seen in my life. So, I gave that up. I went to Chinatown and Little Italy. There was some kind of Italian public event there. I also visited Washington Square Park where there are a lot of local artists and to a nearby street where a lot of comedy clubs are located. I ate a lot of pizza slices on my way (so cheap; only $ 1 for a slice), and later I went to Madison Square Garden. Then, I visited the UN building and then I went to the hotel. The next day, I decided to go to the top of the Rock, but when I got there, the security guy told me that there is a fog up there, which meant I would not see anything. So I visited the Rockefeller Center. While I was walking on 6th avenue, policemen cleared everybody off the street,  and I didn’t know what is going on. They said that the whole avenue was closing due to some protest. Later, I found out that the protest was called World March. There were about half a million people marching through the streets of New York demanding a change in the climate debate that was taking place that day in UN building. I have never seen so many people on one place. Before I left, I visited Times Square, and then I went back to the Penn Station, where I waited for a train that took me to the airport. I had a direct flight from New York to Vienna, which is only a few miles away from the Slovak capital of Bratislava.