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12 years ago…

The Danish Tour Guide 2006
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Yesterday was my 12 year anniversary. I “celebrated” by going to Souplantation with my family, in Las Vegas where I live now.

September 26, 2006 I traveled to the USA for the first time. I went to New York City. Even though I didn’t expect the trip to be more than just a trip across the Atlantic it totally changed my life.

In what way?

I fell in love. I’ve tried to explain to people over the years how it felt. How come I knew “it was just right” after only visiting for a week … nevertheless that’s what it was. I was in love with New York City!

During those twelve years I traveled back and forth to the city as a tourists thirteen times. I spent 4.5 months in an internship with Manhattan Walking Tour, as a part of my education in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Copenhagen Hospitality College in Denmark. Before I graduated from that program I had already applied to City University of New York – City Tech in Brooklyn and was accepted. July 1, 2011 I officially traveled across the Atlantic for the last time as a ‘visitor’ and I found a nice little studio apartment in Forest Hills, NY. That’s a wonderful, family-oriented neighborhood in Queens. It has everything you need, it’s cozy and quiet and safe. And just 25-30 minute train ride with the subway to Midtown Manhattan.

I lived in Forest Hills for just about seven years (and six months in Elmhurst, NY) before leaving the City behind and settling in Las Vegas. Motivated by a desire to expand the business and create a different lifestyle for my son and myself.

It doesn’t change the fact that New York City is my home and probably will feel that way for a very long time. That’s also a part of the reason I continue building and caring for the business I’ve built over the years while living in NY. It allows me to travel back once in a while and help tourists “get under the skin” of the City. It’s a motivating job and I appreciate being able to do it still!

Here’s a snippet of a post I wrote after my first vacation as a tourist in New York, in 2006. Hope you enjoy – and I’m looking forward to showing you why I loved NYC so much:

“September 26, 2006.

It was an early morning, didn’t sleep all night. My bags were almost packed and all I had to do was get as much coffee down without puking – I was a nervous wreck.

I didn’t blame anybody but myself. I thought I could handle this but when the day finally arrived I had no idea why I’d decided to put myself through this.

An hour later I was in a bus with my suitcase in front of me wondering if I would even make it on time. The bus wasn’t moving because we had to wait for the bridge to go down. — Later, I was late for my train. The train I got on didn’t go all the way. Had to transfer at Copenhagen Central Station. Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes later than expected I arrived in Copenhagen Airport.

My best friend awaited me. As always he knew exactly how to treat me and made sure I got to relax a bit. I got checked-in! Got my first $$ and was just about to hit the escalator when it hit me again – “What in the world am I doing?”

I was almost tearing up as was my friend. I thought to myself: “Too selfish a decision, why am I so immature?” – Five seconds later I couldn’t see him anymore and I had no choice but to move on.

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Through my first security. Found my way to the gate. Got on board, found my seat, sat down, heavily breathing. Not only was this my first time in an airplane. This was also my first time to go away on holiday without my family. And the first time to leave Europe.

I called my mother – back then I didn’t realize that you’re not suppose to use your phone while on the plane. But it was somewhat comforting to hear her voice as we were taking off the runway. It was very emotional – and then – she was gone!

8 hours and some later I arrived in Newark Airport. A danish architect, Troels, doing an internship in New York helped me get to Manhattan. To this day I haven’t forgot his help.

A few hours later I sat foot on 42nd street, Port Authority, Times Square around the corner. I remember the smell of that day. And for the very first second I was disappointed. Finally I was in New York and then what? I realized it wasn’t just about traveling to a new place – it was a psychological escape from a world I didn’t appreciate and a way of proving myself.

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The danish architect followed me to Columbus Circle where he wished me a good holiday and then he left me through the park. There I was – a pale, chubby Dane – alone on the streets of Manhattan without a clue of what I was doing. I tried to mimic what I’ve seen in the movies; hailing a cab. Apparently it worked and I arrived at my hotel on 71st street.

The room was fine, the TV was showing commercials. My body was aching and I blame the jet-lag for the moving walls.

I heard the ambulances, the police sirens, the traffic. I heard people yelling on the streets.

That night I fell a sleep not knowing that the very next morning I would fall in love!”

Let me show you ‘MY’ New York City: