City: New York, New York
Technically the tour started in New Jersey so we got a bus from New York to New Jersey with no idea when to get off, when we did eventually guess (surprisingly correctly), we were dumped on the side of a road like in a movie. It was bizarre. Luckily a man gave us directions along the gravelled main road where we came to a Motel and finally called an uber to rescue us. The morning of the tour we nearly went off on the wrong tour altogether, down to Miami whilst Hurricane Irma was happening. Not the best start. But before all those misadventures we went to New York which quite frankly started out as a nightmare trip.
You know how you always have the thought in the back of your mind that the hotel won’t have you booking or the Airbnb won’t exist? Well, that actually happens. 11pm in the middle of The Bronx, two young women are wandering the streets trying to contact the owner of the accommodation they’re meant to be staying in and they get no reply. I don’t know whether it was the tiredness or just because everything was completely overwhelming but we both stayed relatively calm considering the situation. Thank god for smart phones and google is all I can say. We booked one night at a place nearer the centre which from the outside (and the inside come to think of it) looked like a prison but our room was decent. It had walls and a bed and that’s really all we cared about. We sorted accommodation for the rest of our stay which was in the theatre district and 2 minutes from Times Square so it actually worked out in our favour, despite the stress and money.
So, my highlights of New York are as follows:
The Rockefeller Center, or the top of the rock as it’s more casually known. Tickets have set times on them so if you know you want a particular time I would either book online or get there early, we tried to just saunter in and it doesn’t really work like that. Tickets are about $34 which is a bit steep but there’s a video of the history of the family and the building as you wait and once you’re up there the price becomes irrelevant because the view is indescribable. As with everything on this trip, I’ll never forget it.
Secondly, Broadway. It was on my bucket list to see a Broadway show and I had to persuade Ana, my travel companion, but as soon as we were there she was on board. We queued in Times Square to get the reduced tickets which worked out pretty well. We bagged seats in the stalls for Kinky Boots for about $75 each which when some seats go for $$$ it was a steal! I can’t rate a Kinky Boots highly enough, if it’s not on your list of shows to see, add it on now because you will be blown away. It has everything you need from a musical – a heartfelt storyline, fantastic musical numbers and costumes to match as well as plenty of laughs. The only thing that bothered us was the accent, being set in Northern England the American twang was a little hard to get used to but it was amusing rather than irritating. Ana loved the show so much she found a souvenir cup in the trash on the way out and took it back to the hotel with us and let me tell you, other souvenirs were sacrificed because this cup took up so much space in her bag.
My third highlight of New York is Times Square. The glitz and glamour of the lights, the amount of people and the atmosphere is exactly as you’d imagine and it was so surreal to be there.
Other highlights include: Grand Central Station, Central Library and of course, Central Park
City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Now Philadelphia wasn’t my favourite city it has to be said but if you’re into American history it’s definitely the place for you. We weren’t there long but we saw the Liberty Bell, ran up the “Rocky Steps” and saw many other historical landmarks. We also went to Reading Market where you can purchase the infamous Philly Cheesesteak.
City: Washington DC (apparently not part of any state but in between Maryland and Virginia)
Washington DC also wasn’t one of my favourites but it again, full of history and very interesting if you’re into presidents and parliament etc. We saw the Liberty Bell, which is so much smaller than you’d expect it to be it was almost disappointing, we also saw The White House which is also a lot smaller than you’d think. We went to the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed, saw the World War Two memorial, the Martin Luther King statue. The Lincoln statue was very surreal to see and its as imposing as you’d imagine. We visited the Air and Space museum which was really cool, and I’d highly recommend going because not only is it free but it’s actually really interesting. There are two “best things” about Washington though. First of all, the bars. I’ve never had drinks so strong and neither had Ana – as the pavement soon found out (no judgement Ana, my time would soon come too!). Secondly, we got the chance to go to a baseball game. A proper all-American baseball game with pizza and beer and the whole shebang. It was so cool, a definite movie-moment.
We passed through Virginia on our way from Washington DC to Nashville so we stopped off at Shenandoah National Park where the first of our group photos was taken. Virginia was our first time staying in a motel which was another movie moment, despite the murder vibes, but it was so nice being in a double bed rather than a single bunk bed. It’s the little things.