Almost ten months after we started planning our trip, it was coming to an end in New York. This was hands down one of my favourite places that we visited (and we visited a lot!) and one of the few that I feel I could just keep going back to and always see more. After our ferry from Provincetown to Boston, we then caught the Megabus to New York. Our quest for relatively central, reasonably priced accommodation led us to Airbnb; our host was fantastic and the listing was incredible. Central Manhattan is easy to navigate, due largely to the grid street plan and twenty-four hour subway system. If you’re staying in New York for a week (or more) and plan on using the subway frequently, I’d recommend getting a MetroCard when you arrive. If it’s your first visit to the Big Apple, and you plan on doing lots of the typical tourist attractions, it’s worth considering the New York CityPASS; we found it saved us a lot of money! Here are the highlights from our trip to New York . . .
Extending out into the Atlantic Ocean, the curved peninsula of Cape Cod is a treasure trove for maritime, animal and beach enthusiasts. It’s only a ninety-minute ferry ride from Boston, which means that if you were pushed for time, it would be possible to visit Provincetown, the Cape’s largest town, just for a day. We spent two days in Provincetown; whilst there we stayed at Gifford House Inn, which is in a great location but I wouldn’t recommend it to light sleepers due to the noise which invariably escapes from the club beneath it. Here’s a short selection of things to explore, see and munch when in Provincetown . . .
Nearing the end of our trip, we visited one of America’s oldest cities: Boston. From Philadelphia, it was about a seven hour bus journey, with a change in New York. The dirt cheap ticket ($12.50 per person) came at a price on this journey: putting up with the guy across from us blasting (awful) music out of his headphones at full volume, not exactly great when all we wanted to do was sleep after getting up at 4 am. Unluckily for us, we also ended up with the exact same guy doing the exact same thing on our return journey to New York, where we ended our trip.
Following our three jam-packed days in Washington D.C., we set off to conquer Philadelphia: home of the long-silenced Liberty Bell, full of cheese steak-seeking tourists and the American city with the closest resemblance to home.
*Alternatively known as melting whilst trying to squeeze in every feasible monument/museum/insert attraction as applicable into three short days.
A few months beforehand, our meticulous planning led us to believe that a red-eye flight would be the ideal way to save some money and maximise our time in the nation’s capital. When we arrived, we realised exactly how these flights got their nickname: try arriving in D.C. at 6 am D.C. time (which is 3 am San Francisco time) and you’ll soon discover why too. Add this sleep-deprived state to the ridiculous heat wave, and it was a miracle how we managed to see as much as we did that first day.
After much itinerary-tweaking, San Francisco ended up being our only destination on the USA’s west coast; at the insistence of my boyfriend, unlike LA and San Diego, this city wasn’t scrapped from our initial list. Before visiting San Francisco, any visions I had of the city were based on scenes from The Princess Diaries (it exceeded my expectations of just how hilly it was) and Escape from Alcatraz (which actually painted a very accurate picture of “The Rock”).
Chicago: the USA’s third most populous city, filled with stunning architecture, birthplace of the deep-pan pizza and home to Anish Kapoor’s iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (more affectionately referred to as “the bean”). After enviously seeing my dad’s photographs of Chicago (accumulated on business trips over the past eight years), having a friend emigrate there and making friends with another Chi-town resident whilst on my year abroad, it was amazing to finally get there! Having agreed on three full days in Chicago, based on recommendations from friends and the basis that the city centre is considered to be relatively compact, we set upon figuring out the logistics of seeing everything we possibly could in the time we had.
After a fleeting visit to Hamilton – spent largely discovering the surrounding nature trails and not the town itself – we moved on to our next stop: Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is an easy day trip from Toronto; Megabus runs a cheap service between the two. We stayed at Kings Inn Near the Falls, a cheap and cheerful motel which was only a short walk from the falls themselves; if you’re travelling on a budget, it’s a reliable option. We stayed on the Canadian side (avoiding any border control related hassle), so all information in this post relates to activities on that side of the border.
After Montréal, our next stop (following a six hour ride on the Megabus) was Toronto, Canada’s most populous city. After the je ne sais quoi somewhat European feeling of Montréal’s outer neighbourhoods and Québec City itself, Toronto was the stereotypical North American city.
Pendant notre semaine à Montréal, on a visité la capitale du Canada. Ottawa est une ville bilingue; elle se situe sur la frontière de deux provinces: l’Ontario et le Québec. La rivière des Outaouais sépare les deux provinces, et aussi les deux villes: Ottawa (en Ontario) et Gatineau (en Québec). Ottawa a été choisie comme la capitale car au passé elle occupait un lieu stratégique près d’une fleuve et loin de la frontière des États-Unis. Ottawa est à 2 heures 45 minutes (à peu près) du Montréal, en bus. Le centre-ville est assez petit, néanmoins il y a quelques endroits d’intérêt . . .