New York City, Opera Night & Travelling while Pregnant

Hello again! I’m checking in from my second trimester, which has been an overall joy – more energy, more feeling like myself, and more breathing in a sigh of relief when I don’t have to suck in my stomach after a big dinner, because it’s socially acceptable for a pregnant woman’s stomach to protrude 🀰🏻🍱

About a month back, I came to my parents with a fun request: doing another US visit before the baby arrives, because afterwards it might be more difficult to pull off. We had applied for our visas a while back, and I was under the impression that if I didn’t squeeze one final long haul flight in now, it wouldn’t be able to for the next few years (travelling with a baby, I imagine is hard; and travelling without your baby, even harder πŸ’”). Being the champs that they are, mom and dad agreed!* All we had to do was get our tickets.

*We did ask my brother Jon to join us too, but he was busy with work and was already planning a US trip with friends.

We were pretty flexible with travel dates – our only preference was going somewhere “nearby” and with the fewest transfers possible – like the East Coast. After some research, and some great ticket deals with Turkish Airlines, we settled on New York City. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ—½ Years ago, when I was coming to America for my post-university traineeship with Siemens, the three of us had flown through New York as well. We had spent one day there, but other than that, this would be a new experience for all of us.

Travelling While Pregnant

Our major “concern” was getting me safely across the Atlantic Ocean and into the United States. I had already “tested” flying while pregnant to Berlin, but this was an 16 hour odyssey we were talking about. Nevertheless, the trip and being crammed in a seat for the 11 hours it took to get from Istanbul to New York City went much smoother than expected. It really wasn’t half as bad! I got up to walk around the aisles very frequently, and did little leg circles while in my seat. My main concern – in a funny way – was not being flagged as pregnant, as I was worried that would sound off alarms for both the airline staff and immigration authorities. But, at that point, no one could really tell I was pregnant 🀭

What I mean to say with all this is – dear reader, if you ever find yourself pregnant and get a travel itch, don’t let it hold you back. It’s really not that bad, and so long as your doctor clears you for travel, you will be more than fine! ✈️

New York City

New York City was very fun. We stayed in Times Square and moved around Manhattan’s neighbourhoods with a combination of mostly walking for kilometres at a time, subways and the occasional Uber. I would joke around that baby was walking inside its amnionic sac at the same pace as the rest of us. πŸ‘ΌπŸ»πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

We spent our days seeing the sights, trying to find good food (surprisingly difficult – I’ll get to that later), and doing a little bit of shopping. The weather was all over the place, but we still enjoyed ourselves very much. You will see from the pictures below, the one time we decided to take the subway to the Statue of Liberty viewing point, we got there only to realise it was very foggy. Oopsie!

Maybe I overanalysed New York while we were there, but I couldn’t help but compare it to other “metropolitan” hubs in Europe, like Berlin or Paris. Both European counterparts seem to have a very unique and vibrant “aura” within them: Berlin is full of environmentally conscious vegan hipsters who drink oat lattes and carry reusable everythings with them; Paris is full of stylish individuals who love to dine out in bistros with a glass of wine to the sound of cutlery clicking on plates. The people I was in New York seemed just … exhausted. I think I was expecting a little more of that “American freedom” aura, but I didn’t pick up on that. Everyone seemed less free and more a slave to some unique constrains of New York City: time, money, space. Everyone was rushing, everything was expensive, and everything felt just a little bit crammed.

In New York City’s defence, we did only see Manhattan – so maybe the more “aura-ey” areas are in the other boroughs like Brooklyn or Queens. Nevertheless, while I could’ve pictured myself living in either Berlin or Paris, I don’t think I could picture myself living in a place like New York City. Something about the way life unfolded there for people seemed to be very detached from what a “natural” life was supposed to be.

For example, one day when the weather was a little nicer, my mom and I tried to find a good spot to sit outside and enjoy some coffee at – something that is a classic routine for everyone in Kosovo. We walked and walked and couldn’t find a cafe with outdoor seats to save ourselves. In the end, we randomly got to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue and saw that there were some chairs and tables out there. I found us the nearest Starbucks and got some coffee and cake to go, while mom saved our seats and we could finally enjoy our simple ritual.

A Surprise: The Met Opera

I’ve gotten into this slightly toxic habit of pre-booking things I like to do for myself, for other people as well. For example, when my family was coming to Berlin, I warned them that I had pre-booked a little “adventure” for them, that they could not then say no to (in that case: an escape room experience). I might or might not have gone with the same approach this time around: as an employed adult, I wanted to surprise and treat my parents to a fun experience. And so, I booked us tickets for the opera – but they had no idea until we got there.

Of course there was some resistance to the idea of an unknown “surprise”. Mom was usually saying “I hope it’s not another escape room because you’re pregnant and shouldn’t jump around too much”, to which I would reply “As long as you wear comfortable gym clothes, and running shoes, you should be fine with the surprise”. You have to throw them off a little, ya know?

In any case, the surprise was much more relaxing than an escape room. Like I said, I booked us tickets to see the opera, which was a first time experience for all of us. The dates worked out for us to see Verdi’s La Traviata at the Met Opera.

The experience was absolutely amazing! It wasn’t allowed to take pictures during the show, but I have a few from before it started and afterwards. Qiki, of course, was with us as well, kicking away at the sound of music, which was very sweet to witness! Overall, a 10/10 would recommend experience! Grandma and grandpa loved it too!

Bonus Chapter: Cravings 🧁

Before I wrap this up, let’s take a moment to acknowledge some of my fun pregnancy cravings during this trip. For one, the snack I most enjoyed was an accidental … cough cough … 40 dollar cake trip to Starbucks Reserve with my mom. I say accidental, because I paid by card and didn’t bother looking at the prices beforehand. How much can two cakes and two espressos be? Anyways, it was delicious.

My other pregnancy craving throughout was pineapple. Oh my gosh, for all the lacklustre food that New York City had to offer, it sure has some juicy delicious pineapple options. We would get a big tub either at a Whole Foods or in a to-go container at “healthier” lunch spots. Too bad, apparently, you can’t have a lot of pineapple when you’re pregnant … in either case, I wish I had some with me right now (dry & crackly pineapple that makes your mouth sore, stay away! I don’t like you). 🍍

Last but not least, something else that keeps me up at night and makes me wonder why the heck I didn’t get more of is Krispy Kreme. 🍩 We had one very close to our hotel, and I only ended up going there once for two mini Original glazed donuts. But what can I say? I still dream about those donuts. Absolutely delicious. Upon further research, turns out Krispy Kreme isn’t even that wide spread around the world. Sigh … I guess it’ll be years before I can enjoy one again haha.

***

With that being said, that wraps up my New York blog. As always, thank you for reading!

Xoxo –

Rrita

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