USA - in summary
Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
21Trip End Aug 20, 2010
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Cities - A lot of people (travelers) avoid most US cities except New York & LA because they think they're all the same. Well they aren't. New York & LA are 2 cases in point. LA isn't good for travelers because it's so spread out, and it's hard to reach lots of the good bits, and often it's the only part of America that backpackers see, which is a shame, because there are loads of better places. New York on the other hand has about a billion things to do in Manhattan, and you can walk between them all easily. It is however much more expensive than anywhere else. Most US cities tend to be in the middle of the two, and neither NY or LA really give an accurate impression of the USA because they are so over the top. Anyways, on to our top 5 cities...
1) Boston, MA. Old, Historic, scenic, vibrant, passionate, the entire city is super cool. It feels a bit European but is definitely American. Its sister town of Cambridge, and Harvard university are equally amazing. We were lucky to have stayed with a local person (Flo's cousin) so we saw the cool places and loved it even more.
2) Washington DC. Iconic buildings are everywhere, there's enough sights to spend 2 weeks exploring, the weather in summer is lush, and the President lives there! What more do you need?! Well, apart from all that, 99% of things to do are free!! It's the nation's capital for a reason. We guarantee if you go you won't be bored.
3) San Diego, CA. Why more people don't go here we don't really understand. Awesome beaches, fantastic weather for most of the year, multicultural, lots of good bars & restaurants, Day trips to Mexico, we loved the hostel we stayed in, partly because it was a cool building that wasn't too busy and we got free pancakes for brekkie, partly because the people we met there were cool. SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo are 2 of the best and most entertaining we've been to on our trip. Much better than LA.
4) San Francisco, CA. Speaking of better than LA, San Fran is way better. It's so laid back, the police just stood and watched people smoke lots of illegal drugs. There is tonnage to see and do and we spent lots of time just walking around the streets and sitting watching people.
5) New York City, NY. Only no. 5?! Yep. We'd both been before, which took some of the shine off, but it was still awesome. Some of the sights 2nd time around weren't really as good as first time (Empire State for example) but some of the stuff i didn't do first time made up for it (Brooklyn Bridge, Rockafeller Centre, Central Park Zoo) if you've been before, think about going somewhere else next time (see no's 1-4)
Some places we didn't like as much, well, just Miami really. It was a great first stop to relax on a beach, but that's it. All there is. It's always packed too, and doing anything strenuous results in a giant pool of sweat. 2 days is more than enough.
Activities - Obviously there was a lot to do. We went up like 10 tall towers, which are a great way to see the cities, but can be a bit repetitive (Sears tower & Rockafeller Centre were the best). Our top 5 things to do...
1) Cycle the Golden Gate Bridge. Superb. do it.
2) Niagara Falls Maid-of-the-Mist tour. Town is rubbish, falls are excellent.
3) San Diego Zoo. Best zoo in the world. fact.
4) The Grand Canyon. Even snow couldn't stop us from loving it.
5) Harvard tour. The free student tour. brilliant.
A quick last note about the food. If you go to the US hungry and thin, you'll come back fat, and, well, hungry for even MORE!! My fave (Simon) was the Burritos and Mexican food. In the UK Chiquito and make-your-own Old El Paso kits are about as Mexican as anyone ever gets. In the US, and especially California, Taquerias and Mexican fast-food joints are everywhere, and it's mega cheap (like £2 for a Burrito bigger than a footlong subway) and generally amazing. Pizza, burgers, steaks, ice cream, Cheesesteaks(!). I think i'm about 10 stone heavier than when we started!
Go to America. God Bless it.