Hey from The Big Apple
I started my adventure in the Big Apple sitting in a park in Brooklyn on a Saturday morning watching small kids and grown-ups playing football – yes, as a European, this is what I call the game where someone kicks a round ball with their feet.
I’m waiting to meet up with my friend Scott Gurian. Even though we’d never met prior, we do consider each other friends.
Scott is a fellow veteran travel podcaster and one of the best in the business. He’s the guy from the Far from Home podcast you must have heard me talk about many times here on the Radio Vagabond travel podcast.
Scott planned to spend his Saturday with me in Brooklyn, Queens, and New York showing me around some interesting places in his hood while we chatted and got to know each other. Scott lives in nearby Jersey, just across the Hudson River, so we’re Close to Home for Scott today.
FAR FROM HOME
Scott participated in the Mongol Rally and drove a tiny, beaten out Nissan Micra stick shift across Europe and Asia about five years ago for an epic 18,000 mile (29,000 km). He did this crazy adventure from the UK to Mongolia with his brother and two friends – and after that, he decided to drive back in the same car.
The first season of Far from Home is outstanding and got me hooked on the podcast long before we knew each other. I highly recommend listening to it if you haven’t already. Also, watch a few clips of his journey to experience the trials and tribulations first-hand.
Naturally, he has so many memorable stories and anecdotes from that trip, so I wanted to find out which stand out most in his memory.
“Oh, so many. Driving across Iran with my brother and two friends (as Americans and Brits) was amazing; the friendliness of the people was memorable. Also, travelling through ‘untouched’ countries in central Asia like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc., was excellent.
Seeing Cappadocia in Turkey with its hot air balloons was also amazing. And, of course, Mongolia is incredible with its vast open spaces and extraordinary scenery. It took us about seven weeks to travel from the UK to Mongolia, so as you can imagine, I have many incredible memories from that trip.”
Scott wanted to see more of the world, so instead of flying back to Europe (like any sane human would), he decided to drive back to explore more countries and regions, like Siberia in Russia.
“Russia is such an enormous country with so many different regions home to vastly different cultures. Tuva was a 12 hour journey out the way to visit and it is so unique. It is close to Mongolia, so the Tuvans look very similar to Mongolians.”
HALLUCINATING ON AYAHUASCA IN PERU
In another episode, he meets a medicine man who invited him to attend a hallucinogenic healing ceremony where he drank ayahuasca. All while holding his microphone. Have a listen to the episode by clicking here.
CLOSE TO HOME
Due to the pandemic, Scott hasn’t been able to travel overseas. But he is content as he tells me that living in Jersey, there is a lot of adventure that awaits in and around New York. He started cooking and even home-brewing to keep his itchy travel feet scratched.
Scott was due to meet me at AfricaBurn – the South African Burning Man just outside Cape Town when lockdown hit. Scott stayed in Jersey, and I was stuck in Cape Town for a while (so be sure to listen to my Radio Vagabond South African travel adventures). We were supposed to travel a bit of South Africa together, but alas, it was not meant to be.
SCOTT GURIAN’S NEW YORK TRAVEL GUIDE
One of the cool things about making friends worldwide is that they can show you places you usually wouldn’t visit. Because I had visited New York several times before, Scott wanted to take me to places few tourists would know about.
Here is a list of Scott’s unusual but must-visit places in New York Scott took me to:
A part of Brooklyn is called DUMBO aka “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” is a trendy neighbourhood to walk through Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT MUSEUM
In an old subway station, you can visit the New York City Transit Museum. Move further down and see some 100-year-old subway cars.
QUEENS MUSEUM OF ART
Next to where they hosted the World Fair, you find Queens Museum of Art, where the Panorama is now housed – a scaled model of every borough in the greater New York area in the 1960’s.
THE CITY RELIQUARY
It’s really cool and weird – and connects visitors to both the past and present of New York.
ICONIC INSTAGRAM SPOT
Then visited a place with a lot of food trucks called Smorgesburg. As far as I know, this word comes from the Danish smørrebrød, and then Americans started saying it like the Swedish Chef from Muppet Show.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find any Danish smørrebrød at Smorgesburg. Another thing we couldn’t find after that was… Scott’s car.
After a slight ordeal trying to locate his car, we eventually found it after getting help from the police. Even locals can get lost in New York. Go figure 🙂
Our polite encounter with the NYPD reminded me of Scott’s experience with the local police in Tajikistan on his trip. I asked him to talk about his experience.
“There is a lot of corruption in central Asian countries like Tajikistan. Our British friends in another Nissan Micra got pulled over by some traffic cops who actually aimed their radar gun at another car, and then tried to say it was them who was speeding. My brother’s and I stopped too and heard that they demanded $100 which was a month salary here and crazy. Specially since they weren’t speeding. It was clearly a scam, and we didn’t want to give in to the bribe/corruption stigma. After a long time, we eventually settled on handing over a bottle of vodka, and we were back on the road.”
Scott secretly recorded the entire encounter that you can listen to in its entirety in Episode 16 of Far from Home, Season 1.
Scott tells about more traffic cop encounters he had in central Asia. Most of the time, the cops were polite and never gave them any unnecessary issues. We exchanged stories about the amazing people we get to meet on the road. Scott paid particular mention to the wonderful Iranian popularity he experienced.
Thanks to Scott for taking me around the New York area on a beautiful Saturday. I hope to team up with him soon to do some travelling together and collaborate on future episodes of both our podcasts.
My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving.
COVID-19 TRAVEL and TOURISM RULES FOR NEW YORK (OCT 2021)
This episode was from the end of August 2021, when New York was open for travel if you (like me) didn’t travel to the country from Europe. Please visit New York City’s official website for the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and tourist regulations. Make sure New York is open for tourism before booking your trip.
Either way, I would love to hear from you. It’s so nice to know who’s on the other end of this.
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