A Travellerspoint blog

USA

New York, New York

Anything can happen in a New York minute!

sunny

Lucky me - I have returned to the Big Apple! Before going, I was curious as to how I would find New York the second time around. Having done all the major sites during my first trip I was not sure if it could be as fantastic the second time around, however, I was wrong - it was great! I made an effort to do and see different things and the things I did repeat we did in a different way and it resulted in another great adventure in the US of A and a great few days in this magical city.

On our first day, we arrived at the hotel at around 3pm and after dropping our bags off in the room we headed straight out for Times Square. My personal recollection of Times Square is that it is a magical place that completely wowed me on my first visit. Although I did not get quite the same feeling when I saw it again, it is certainly still an amazing place that is unlike anywhere else in the world. I loved just sitting on the iconic steps and looking around, watching everything that was going on and taking it all in. What a great place!

Our next stop for the day was to the Empire State. Again, in an effort to do things differently, we went up in the day (previously I had gone up at night time). When I last went up at night the queues were horrendous – so long! – and it took hours to do the whole thing. Much to my surprise, this time in the day it was straight in and straight up, I couldn’t believe it! I was convinced it would take forever but within twenty minutes of walking through the doors we were at the top. What a view! It really is quite remarkable and I still cannot get my head around the fact that people actually built something so high up. It is great to see the city from up high and shows how big and build up NYC really is. It is something else to be so high that the sky-scrapers around seem small!

On our second day the first thing we did was get up and find a proper American diner for breakfast. Of course, I had pancakes! It was great to get that all-American experience and I really enjoyed it. Our next stop for the day was Central Park. When I last went, we walked in and had a little walk around, a little sit down and then moved on. This time we decided to do it all – on bikes! It was very reasonable to hire bikes and we actually got discount off a card our hotel had given to us so it was even better. We hired them for three hours and literally cycled the whole way around Central Park. It is such a beautiful place and it is really amazing to be in a place so green but when you look out you are surrounded by sky-scrapers. The bike hire came with locks so we could leave them here and there and have a little walk around/explore, so we got to go and see Strawberry Fields (I am a big Beatles fan ?) before heading back and dropping the bikes back. It was a great way to see a lot of Central Park without taking up a whole day to do so.

Next, we visited the Rockefeller centre. It was really cool to see the front of the building where the ice rink goes at Christmas, only at this time of year it was a bar/restaurant area. Next to the centre was a massive Lego store that Adam insisted on going on (desperate for a Millennium Falcon) and then we had a wonder around this area before heading back to the hotel.

That afternoon we headed to La Bronx and to my first ever baseball game to watch the New York Yankees. We headed down a few hours before the game had started so that we could have a wonder around Yankee Stadium, which is huge! The food selections were amazing and during our walk around we picked out what we would be getting later (steak sandwiches and garlic fries, yes GARLIC FRIES! Insanely good!) We saw the Yankees warming up and the old kiss cam was making the rounds which was fun to watch. Baseball is not a sport I know too much about but I soon picked it up and found myself enjoying it more than thought I would (perhaps because it reminds me of Rounders!). It was a great experience and I am glad Adam wanted to go as I doubt I would ever have gone otherwise.

The next day was a busy one and we did so much! We had booked a hop-on hop-off bus as a way to get around and to make sure we saw everything that we wanted to. We got on this and stayed on for quite a while, taking in the city from a new perspective and got off near Brooklyn bridge. From here, we first walked to Ground Zero and the 9/11 memorial and museum. This had changed a lot since I last visited – for starters the new World Trade Centre is complete! When I came last it was only half way up. Also, the museum is now completely different. We went into here and spent a good couple of hours walking around and taking it all in. It had quite an impact on both Adam and I and at the end we were feeling very sad about the whole tragic event.

After visiting 9/11, we walked back on ourselves and went to Brooklyn bridge where we walked half way across. The view from the bridge of the city was impressive and it was great to experience this. Plus, the bridge itself was lovely! We got back on the bus after this and headed down to the harbour. We were getting on a ferry to go and see the Statue of Liberty. There had been quite a buzz around the city and we could see roads getting closed down and once on waiting for the ferry we found out why – Trump was coming to town! Not only that, his helicopter was due to land on the jetty right next to ours. We could see several large, black suburban cars, police cars, an ambulance and fire engine all there waiting. We had been told that they were not sure when he was due but if he came in the next hour then the water would be on lock down for two hours, causing massive delays! Half of me wanted to see him despite the delays it would cause (I am not his biggest fan but he is still the President of the United States!) and the other half just wanted to get on the boat and go. The boat ended up coming before Trump did and we went across the Hudson to see the Statue. Last time I went, we got on the Staten Island ferry and saw her that way. This time, we got a lot closer and it was great to see her a lot more clearly! She is rather impressive. I was also chuffed to be on the Hudson after not long ago watching Sully (great film!).

After we got back to Times Square we decided to go out for our one and only proper sit-down meal. I absolutely love Red Lobster (my family live in Arizona and we always go here when I visit) and I wanted Adam to try it so to Red Lobster we went. We had a lovely meal it really was great, however, it was so expensive! We paid over £120 for two starters, two mains and two drinks, which I think was rather a lot but hey that is New York! We then decided to jump on the night bus and do a tour of the city and Brooklyn at night. It was great to see the city at night but I was unprepared for this and therefore freezing cold! Spent most of the trip huddled up trying to keep warm! Coming back over the bridge and seeing Manhattan all lit up looking fantastic was a great view and made the cold worthwhile.

The next day (which was our last full day) was not what we expected – it absolutely poured down! I think it may have been the heaviest rain I had ever seen, there were even flood warnings issued. This did affect things but we still got out and about (just not for as long!) We decided to get the underground today instead of walking and got off at Bleecker Street. This was a big thing for me as I am a huge Paolo Nutini fan and he sings about Bleecker Street in his song Better Man, so I was very excited and got the appropriate photo under the sign. From here, we went to Katz Deli, famous for being in several films (most famously When Harry Met Sally). It was a very unusual place and we had sandwiches which were overflowing with meat! From here we went to the Cookie Dough Café. I saw a post about this place on Facebook a few months ago and knew then that I just had to go! It was great – a very cool and unique place with so much cookie dough! I ordered rather a lot (so I had enough to take some home for my sisters) and tucked in. It was lovely but could not eat it all at once due to it getting quite sickly quite quickly. This meant that I had enough for the rest of the holiday which was great. From here, we went back to the hotel to dry off and see if the rain eased off, which it didn’t. However, it just so happened that the new Guardians of the Galaxy film was released that day so to the cinema we went. Cinemas in America are huge and the seats are all like our premium ones so it was great. Also, I love how involved everyone gets! Every time there was a really good joke people were laughing out loud and clapping, it was brilliant. We finished our day off with a pizza from John’s Pizzeria (we had been advised that this was the best place for pizza in NYC) and chilled out.

Our last day in NYC was a short one with having to get off to the airport in the afternoon but we did manage to fit some more stuff in. One thing I wanted to do was go to Stardust café – a café where all the waiters/waitresses sing constantly. This is my idea of heaven, but Adam’s of hell. There was a huge queue to get in but we decided to wait and as soon as we got in Adam was desperate to get out, so we ate and left but it was still good fun! After this and after a spot of shopping we met up with a couple who we had met on our holiday in Italy last year who were from New York. Ruth actually works inside the Rockefeller Centre and kindly took us up for free, which was great. It was another spectacular view and it was cool to see the Empire State up high also. We went for a few drinks with them and then had to head off to catch our flight.

Even though it was my second trip to New York, I enjoyed it just as much as the first time and saw so many new things – it is such a great city!

Posted by LaurenF3 06:02 Archived in USA Tagged new york usa nyc traveller travelling siteseeing Comments (0)

Chicago

Although traveling around the world is fun and exciting, the reality of it is that things can go wrong. When I arrived in Chicago is a perfect example of what can happen.... as once I got off the plane and waited for my backpack to arrive, it was nowhere to be seen! The woman who worked for the airline that I flew with was quite helpful, but when I left the airport with no bag, it was not a satisfying feeling. The best thing you can do - do not let it put a damper on your trip. I just had to let myself realise that I was in Chicago and the sun was shining and there could be a lot worse things going on. Luckily, I was traveling with two girls so that did help, although there is nothing more satisfying than your own clothes! (I did eventually get my bag back, two days later)

Chicago is a lovely city. It literally has something for everyone. The skyline is very beautiful too. We decided it would be a great idea to go along the majority of this, and what better way to do it than by bike, right? Wrong. Now, don't get me wrong here, we did enjoy the bike ride and when we first rented them we were all more than excited (it had been a while since any of us had got on a bike!) But after two hours or so we began to get tired, plus the fact that you are getting charged by the minute. We had looked up beforehand on the information where we could deposit our bikes, but could not for the life of us find this place, or any of the others it stated. We carried on for a little bit further and eventually decided to turn around and look again. We got over halfway back before we found somewhere. Thank god we had a map! It was still a great experience seeing it all by bike but the whole stressfulness of finding somewhere to return this did put a little damper on the trip.

I've been to a fair few aquariums in my time, but none of them come close to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. It really was fantastic; there was so much to see in there! The best bit by far had to be the jellyfish display they had. There were so many different ones, different shapes and sizes and colours. Some even had lights in them. It was so cool. We saw the shows as well which were okay, not great. But you can't beat watching dolphins jumping out of water. It really was a fun place and 100% worth a visit.

On the other hand, Lincoln Park Zoo was not such a good experience. Although I do feel bad for caged-up animals, I am generally a sucker for a zoo. But never have I been to one that has made me feel so depressed. The cages and enclosures are smaller than any other zoo's, and the animals are either moping around in a depressed manner, or nowhere to be seen at all! My heart really did go out to them. The zoo is actually free, so it does make me wonder if this is why. Either way, if you are against animal cruelty I would suggest giving this one a miss.

Millennium Park is a brilliant way to kill an afternoon. Being outside with the sun shining down on you is great, but also there is a lot to see. The best and most famous attraction has to be The Bean, also known as The Cloud Gate. It's such an unusual thing but is really cool. And you can see the majority of the city reflected in it! Another cool feature is The Crown Fountain. It features two giant block columns with video screens that display over 1000 different faces of Chicago residents. The face changes every five minutes and, with water spouting out of puckered lips, can keep you entertained for ages!

As with all major cities in America, there is a skyscraper just waiting to be climbed. In fact, in Chicago, there are two! The Sears tower and The John Hancock buildings are both worth a visit, offering spectacular views across the whole of Chicago. Some do prefer The John Hancock as opposed to the more famous Sears tower, mainly due to the reduced queues! At the top there is an observatory deck which is glass that you can step out on to, and it doesn't half scare you! Got to be done though.

Magnificent Mile is also worth a visit, if you can be strong-willed enough not to spend all your money there!

Posted by LaurenF3 02:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Boston

The best thing about Boston...the accent! My word I love it so much. It certainly makes being and walking around in Boston so much more entertaining.

One thing that must be done when in Boston is going to visit Fenway Par, home of the Boston Red Sox. We went to the park but didn't actually go inside, but as it was a game day the atmosphere surrounding it was electric. I can only imagine how buzzing it would be inside the park. There was hundreds of people around with stalls and shops everywhere. It really was so much fun.

When we were in Boston we did not have a lot of time so one thing that we did do was get on one of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. It was a great way to see as much as Boston as possible in such a little time. We went all around and got off at the pier where we had a beautiful lunch. We were all pretty hungover from the previous night's antics so the bus tour was the perfect way to not waste any time with as little effort as possible! We even got to see the famous [i]Cheers[i]bar!

We did venture on a night out in Boston. We went to a preppy American bar and it was so much fun. The Boston Celtics were playing when we first got there so the atmosphere was one again very enjoyable. And the night ended with us walking back to the hostel. On this journey back we had to walk past the Boston Fire Department, where we got talking to a few of the firemen outside. This then resulted in us spending a good two hours taking hundreds of photos of us in/on the fire engines, wearing the helmets and jackets, with the firemen and even with their mascot dog! It was so much fun and the guys were so accommodating. A fantastic end to a great night!

Another thing we did was go to see Harvard and MIT. I was expecting to be a lot more overwhelmed I must admit, but even so they were still fantastic buildings and if anyone was lucky enough to go to University there you would be so grateful. The buildings are very pretty and nice.

After the recent Boston Marathon Bombings my heart goes out to all those that we affected or injured, and my support for those who lost someone is endless. It is a horrendous thing that happened, and having one stood where the bombs went off makes it feel even closer to home for me.

One last point to leave you on if you are thinking of going to Boston - everybody (and I mean everybody) jogs. Some topless. And damn, do they look good. Enjoy :)

Posted by LaurenF3 03:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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)

Tombstone, Arizona

Living in the Past. . .

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View Around the World Trip on LaurenF3's travel map.

Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States. Life in the 1800's was tough and this town thrives because the residents in 2011 are just as tough as the pioneers over 100 years ago. Tombstone is a fun town and the effort residents have made to keep it as authentic as possible goes a long way.

The main 3/4 blocks of the town are cut of from traffic, so a stroll down the middle of the street is easy and educational (there are placards with historical information dotted everywhere). The minute you step on it you feel like you have been transported to the 1880's, with characters dressed as Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and ladies of the night are commonly seen talking with drivers of the old stage coaches and a re-enactment of the famous gun-fight at the O.K Corral breaking out daily.

There is a lot of history to the town, more than just the expected gun-fight. The old Court House is full of facts and interesting objects, such as the gallows out back. Although the town is living in the past, they are making a living out of it - so enjoy it, it is a tourist trap now and, after all, you are a tourist!

The biggest highlight for myself personally was the fact that, yes, people (or should I say 'cowboys') DO ride their horses to the local pub. Amazing.

Is it a bit cheesy and touristy? Yes, of course, but that's just part of the charm. Be prepared for lots of dust, cigarette,pipe smoke and knowledge.

Posted by LaurenF3 08:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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