A Travellerspoint blog

March 2013

Washington D.C.

Home of the White House

sunny

I went on a two week trip with two of my friends around America in June 2012. In the two weeks we went to Washington, New York, Boston and Chicago.

First stop: Washington D.C. When I first arrived here after a horrific flight (I was delayed for hours and hours and flew separate from my two friends and had no way of contacting them - stressful!) it was a relief to be in a taxi heading for bed. But even better than this, the taxi driver we had also turned into our tour guide and pointed out a lot of cool and interesting things, including the place the plane crashed into after the 9/11 attacks. He was a brilliant start to our trip and despite our jet-lag and tiredness he got us rather excited for the oncoming days.

There is so much to do in Washington. So many historic sights and museums, quite frankly it was hard to decide which was the better thing for us to do. We wanted to get in as many of the famous monuments and memorials as we could, then slide in a museum or two in any spare time that we had. And to be fair to us, we did manage to get a lot done.

I won't go into detail on each memorial that we saw, as there were just to many! They were the Lincoln memorial, Jefferson memorial, Korean War Veterans memorial, Roosevelt memorial, Vietnam Veterans memorial, Washington monument, Martin Luther King Jnr memorial and the World War 2 memorial. The ones that stood out the most to me were the Martin Luther King Jnr memorial (it is a HUGE statue carved into one side of a big rock over looking water), the Roosevelt memorial (it is a walk-through park with lots of quotes and features and information - very pretty) and the Lincoln memorial (this was the one I was most looking forward to - especially after watching Planet of the Apes before I went!).

Another obvious thing to visit when in Washington is the White House. We did go to see it on our second day there and, although it was amazing in the fact of what it represents and how pretty it was, I felt it was too far away to get a real feel for it. Luckily, the next day when we were heading back to our hostel we accidentally passed it again but this time, instead of passing it from the front, we passed it from behind, and it was actually a lot closer and the view was miles better! So if you do plan on going to see it, I would suggest going to the back (there is a lot less people here too!).

We also went to visit the Botanical Gardens which, for someone who admires flowers but knows nothing about them or does not have any keen interest, was really good. It is separated into different areas of the world with different climates and these change as you walk through it. It is rather cool!

Overall, Washington is an interesting city full of history and information - do be warned, there is a lot to do and an awful lot of walking around involved! Well worth it though.

Posted by LaurenF3 15:17 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Berlin

rain

After talking for a while about how we needed to do a sight-seeing city break instead of the usual messy pissed-up week abroad seeing as how we are now all so mature (yeah right - who are we kidding?!), my friends and I finally took a weekend off and went to visit Germany's capital, Berlin.

Seeing as how we were only there for four nights we managed to fit an awful lot into the few days. Beforehand we hand made a list of everything we wanted to try and see whilst we were in the city, condensed it to the most important few and off we went.

When we first arrived we went straight to our apartment. From the outside the building looked dated and slightly shabby, making the stark whiteness and modern decor of the inside so astonishing; we were made up with it! Granted, when on a city break you do not plan on spending much time inside, but it was a relief to find ourselves staying in somewhere that was so nice, it made us feel classy and sophisticated!

One of the most obvious sights that we went to see was the Berlin Wall. I must admit when I first saw it (which, granted, was from a distance) I was slightly underwhelmed by it. But as I got next to it and started making my way down it I became more and more moved and interested in it. The wall is split into segments and each one is painted by a different artist - people from all over the world. Some pictures are funny and comical whereas others are serious, intense and moving; It is truly amazing how each picture is so unique and different from the rest, yet each one has the same underlying meaning. It is definitely something that you have to go and see if you are in Berlin - the hardest part is deciding which parts to have your photo next to!

Another sight that we visited worth mentioning is the Reichstag building. It is Germany's parliament building and the only one that allows the public access. Although you are not let loose in the building, you do have access to the roof terrace and the dome. The large glass dome offers you a 360degrees view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. You can also pick up an audio guide on your way in which gives you a guided tour of Berlin - it's pretty cool and you do learn a lot! We stopped for lunch at the roof terrace restaurant and, although it was a hell of a lot more expensive than what we were expecting, it was one of the nicest meals I have ever had!

Other sites that we visited were the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust memorial, the radio tower (it has a revolving restaurant on the top and happy hour every day at 5!), the Nazi museum, the Saturday morning German markets and Checkpoint Charlie (you can pay 5euros and actually get your passport stamped here!) All are worth going to see - each one interesting in their own way and very insightful.

One thing I do feel obliged to pre-warn anyone wanting to visit Berlin... we did go on one night out when we were there. On this night out, the first THREE bars we went to were gay bars. I did not realise before I went that Berlin was a hugely homosexual city! Although in a few places we were made to feel slightly uncomfortable for being there, generally everyone was fine and overall we had a really fun night! It even ended up in some tiny strip club....

There is so much to do in Berlin and everything is worthwhile, the best advice I could give is before going make sure you have a list of everything you want to see, or at least the main things, then work out what is near what then go from there. Fit in as much as you can and you will have a brilliant time - guaranteed!

Posted by LaurenF3 15:45 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Jamaica

No problem man....

sunny

Jamaica... home to Caribbean Rum and Jerk Chicken, two things that you will be sure to indulgent in once you get there! Jamaica is on a whole new level when it comes to experiences. Although it does boast the typical Caribbean island expectancies ( addictive sun-rays, beautiful sands and the pampered resort-life ), something about the place does set it aside, if not above, from the rest.

The thing you need to embrace most about Jamaica is its unique character, the inherent 'African-ness' of its population, if you will. The whole place is just bursting and buzzing with personality and atmosphere that you cannot get anywhere else.

One recommendation that does have to be made (and if it is the only trip that you do there then make sure it is this one!) is the visit to Nine Mile: Bob Marley's house and final resting place. It is amazing to see what and where he comes from and, even as someone who knew very little about the famous man, it is so interesting. The funniest part was on arrival being directed to the small hole in the wall in which several men sold several different types of weed out of! You get the chance to learn a lot about Marley and see where he came from. It does make you see what a truly talented and down-right cool guy he was. And you also realise what a huge impact and positive effect he had on his community - he is truly worshiped! Definitely worth a visit. Although you will be listening/chanting/singing/humming/whistling his songs for the entire time in Jamaica!

'ONE LOVE'

Another recommended trip is to the Dunn's River Falls. It is a huge waterfall that is the most popular in the Caribbean islands and Jamaica's most top-grossing tourist attraction. Starting at the bottom you form a daisy-chain with around twenty people (at first holding hands with randomers is awkward but once you get going you certainly appreciate them being there!) You then make your way up the huge waterfall which has a series of cascades and pools, making it hard to believe that it is a natural wonder. One of the best parts is falling down what can only be described as a slide and landing in a deep pool of freezing cold but seriously refreshing water! It does take some time to get up there and you are guaranteed to get wet, but it is not something that you could do anywhere else and is a truly amazing experience.

The last trip that I took was to Dolphin Cove. It has been a dream of mine for a long time now to swim with dolphins; a dream that finally came true! It was fantastic too...the only downside being it went far too quick. You get to interact with the dolphins, as well as touch them and let them take you for a ride on their fins! It really is something that should be experienced by everyone. The park also includes a lot of other things to see and do. I swam with and held huge sting rays, had a parrot perch on my head and even saw/sat in one of the original toboggans from Cool Runnings! Another thing I did which was really cool was go into the love bird cage. Its a large cage with about forty different colored love birds flying around. The park keeper who was in there kindly gave me some bird feed and within seconds I was swamped with lots of little birds perching on me. The cheeky man even put some feed on my head without me noticing (funny until I thought one had 'relieved itself' on me!) Again it is something you don't often get the chance to do and was a fun experience.

Overall, Jamaica has a cool, fun vibe to it. The island is full of things to do and see and you could never get bored there! It is also so relaxing and very nice and hot! The people go out of their way to be nice and ooze such coolness its hard not to be in awe of them! Definitely someone I would recommend visiting.

Posted by LaurenF3 14:28 Archived in Jamaica Comments (0)

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