A Travellerspoint blog

July 2014

USA - New York, New York!

sunny 27 °C

New York has to be the most talked about city of all time. Despite our inhibitions, thinking surely one city can't live up to be as amazing as it sounds, I'm pleased to say we adored our time in this magical place. We could list off everything we did, but really there's too much we packed into our five days and instead I think you should just go!


We stayed in a spacious apartment in Upper Manhattan and had a short ride on the steaming hot subway to get into the downtown hub. The ferry to Staten Island was a great (free) way to see the Statue of Liberty. The 9/11 Museum has just opened, which has been built below the memorial sites from the two world trade towers - it's an extensive and worthwhile place to visit. We popped up the Empire State Building to watch sunset over the city and the lights come on! And loved the change in Time Square from day to night.


We enjoyed a afternoon bike ride through Central Park and some authentic New York Cheesecake at a small bakery called 'Two Little Red Hens' tucked into a suburb nearby. (Delicious!) The newly developed High Line was great. It's an old rail line suspended above the city which was no longer needed. Instead of tearing it down they elected to create green space, and have made it a walking spot full of plants, greenery and some pop up stores. Strolling along it in the evening we could see the lights of Jersey City over the Hudson River.


We couldn't leave without sampling some of the New York staples; pretzels, bagels, hot dogs and a pastrami sandwich. We drove out through Brooklyn, which seemed like a great area with a nice farmers market down by the water. Oh and yes that is Lady Gaga in the photo above. We became groupies as we stumbled across a large crowd of people and asked what was going on. (She'd just performed on the Today show). It really is a must see city, and allow at least a week!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

sunny 29 °C

Philadelphia is another fantastic US city we could move to. We found it had a livable yet gritty feel to it! Our host Tiffany (through Airbnb) was fantastic and full of tips and suggestions of things to do and... importantly, eat!

We cycled into downtown from West Philly where we were staying. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is on a hill, with a great view down to the City Hall in downtown, the road is adorned with international flags. Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States while Washington D.C. was being built, and has the original Capitol building in downtown. We visited the Reading Terminal Market for lunch - a foodies dream! A large indoor market with an array of food choices, and a buzzing atmosphere with business people popping in on their lunch breaks and friends sharing meals over counter tops.


We cycled around the city for the afternoon, and loved the Spruce Street Harbor Park , which has a gorgeous waterfront public space, decorated with shipping container eateries and hammocks! The smaller busy streets of South Street were nice to weave through and Philadelphia's Magic Garden, decorated with walls of mosaic art looked like an interesting place to pop into for a drink.


We couldn't leave Philadelphia without trying the famous Philadelphia Cheesesteak - a sub full of thin steak strips and smothered with melted cheese. Ishkabibble’s was a great spot to pick up an authentic cheesesteak, and they had a vegetarian option too!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Washington DC

sunny 31 °C

We descended from the mountains and arrived in Washington DC. We stayed in the suburb of Hyattsville in a super Airbnb accommodation, just a few hundred meters over the Washington DC state border as it's such a small state!

Washington DC is a planned city, and has a generous strip of monuments and parkland. We took our bikes in to explore, which were perfect to cover the sprawling stretch of monuments. Spotting some food carts on our way, we couldn't resist stopping off for a bite to eat from the 15 carts clustered together....now we just had to choose one! We munched down lunch with the Capitol Building as our backdrop, and spent the afternoon exploring the shady monuments, which were a nice shelter from the heat of the day.


The Lincoln Memorial is impressively situated overlooking the National Mall strip and Washington Monument. Inside it houses a giant sculpture of Abraham Lincoln who saw the states through the Civil War and was ultimately assassinated for his attempt to abolish slavery and achieve equal rights. Two other monuments honor past presidents; The Washington Monument for the first president of America, George Washington, who chose the site where the capital of America would be built, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Before the day ended we made it to the well guarded White House, which permanently has two police cars pulled up at the front gate. We didn't manage spot President Obama - maybe next time!


The following day was an early start for our tour of the United States Capitol (although this is free, you need to book it in advance). It's a splendid building, and was great to visit the inside with a guide. After the tour we had the opportunity to sit in on the Senate and House of representatives as they were in session. (International visitors can pick up tickets on the day). The Library of Congress is another impressive building worth popping inside to check out, just over the road from the State Capitol.

Washington is full of museums, and many are founded by the Smithsonian Institution, making them free to enter. We passed a few hours very easily in the National Museum of American History and rubbed the nose of a giant bronze sculpture of Albert Einstein perched on a nearby street.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Blue Ridge Pkwy & Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

semi-overcast 26 °C

Time to hit the road again and say goodbye to our German friends. We drove inland to the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A long scenic drive winding it's way along the Appalachian Highlands through North Carolina and Virginia.

The route is dotted with walking tracks and campgrounds. We hiked up to humpback rock, a jagged precipice for some great views out across the mountains, which had a gorgeous blue tinge to them! Our campground for the first night was at the warmest point along the ridge, which meant it was buzzing with 'critters' - spiders, fogs, toads and snakes to name a few... Nothing like a spider hovering over you on a night time trip to the toilet!


The next day we drove further north into Shennandoah National Park for some more scenic views of green hilltops weaving their way across the horizon. We stopped off for some hikes as we wound our way north on the picturesque route. We pitched our tent at another great campground and a started a nice campfire to warm us up. It was a cold and foggy night, and we could hear deer rustling around our tent!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - New Bern, North Carolina

sunny 29 °C

We stopped in New Bern, North Carolina to visit a friend we met during our time in Vancouver. Ollie and his girlfriend from Germany were fantastic hosts and we really enjoyed our stay with them. New Bern was settled by Swiss immigrants, who named the town after Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Bern, meaning bear in English has led to the presence of multiple bears sculptures throughout the town, which are pretty cute. New Bern also lays claim to being the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola and has a small museum store in town, which was fun to check out.


On Friday evening we joined Ollie and his work colleagues at a beachouse for a night with the locals and had a great time. We were taken out on the water for some Friday night drinks as the sun went down on a friend's boat. After dinner and a night on the town we all jumped back on board to be ferried home again to the gorgeous beach house. The night was followed by brunch in a classic American diner, a bottomless jug of coffee and omelette, just what the doctor ordered! We felt like real Americans after our time in New Bern...


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Savannah, Georgia

semi-overcast 30 °C

Savannah is a gorgeous historic town, with many squares scattered throughout the lush, historic district. Known for its long and almost tropical summers it's a very popular tourist spot, with some nice beaches nearby. We camped outside of the town at Whispering Pines campground and had a chorus of insects singing us to sleep in the evenings! Being the oldest town in Georgia, ghost tours seemed to be the thing to do here - we spotted many different carriages, hursts and trolleys taking visitors around the haunted spots in Savannah.


Savannah is where the movie 'Forrest Gump' was set and filmed. We checked out Chippewa Square which is where the park bench was in the famous scene "life is like a box of chocolates....", but is has recently been removed due to vandalism! Nearby Tybee Island was also very nice, with the best beaches in the area although the weather wasn't ideal!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Pensacola, Florida

sunny 33 °C

This was the first beach we visited on the USA's southern coast. It was beautiful, with extremely white sand and warm clear blue water. Fort Pickens (old fort built in 1829 ) is in the National Parkland on the tip of the peninsula, and after exploring this in the heat we went for a dip in the Gulf of Mexico - very refreshing in the warm water! We really wanted to camp in the National Park here, but had to hit the road to get over to the east coast…America’s a big country!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - New Orleans, Louisiana

sunny 34 °C

The drive in on stilted roads high over the wetlands set the mood, with lightning and thunder clapping overhead as we arrived in this crazy, interesting city. Ruled over by the French and Spanish, and more recently devastated by hurricanes, the worst being Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which flooded the city when levees failed and water reached 7-8 meters high in some areas, causing massive destruction and many fatalities. The city is still recovering, outside of the touristic ‘French Quarter’ which is bringing some money back into the New Orleans.


We did not feel like we were in America during our time in New Orleans! It’s a hot and tropical city frequented by a daily storm, with music pouring onto the street. We loved Frenchmen Street, The Spotted Cat music bar, and the way you can walk the streets with a drink in your hand, how civilised! Our experience was even more enriched by catching up with a friend from Australia who lives here - a big thanks to Yanti and Alex who were amazing hosts and took us to some great local spots!!


On our last day we visited 9th Ward which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and didn't get nearly enough government support in the aftermath. One of the residents Ronald Lewis decided to setup his own tribute to the event with a museum on his property called the 'House of Dance and Feathers'. It also shares information about the vibrant New Orleans culture. The nearby wetlands was another must see, buzzing with wildlife, it felt as though we’d stepped into a jungle. Massive spiders, lizards, and even alligators were visible in the swamp water which the boardwalks passed over, a little too close for comfort!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Houston, Texas

34 °C

Our next stop was Houston, mainly so we could check out NASA's famed Johnson Space Centre which is located nearby. We spent the day learning about the space program from the early years, the missions to the moon and current activities such as the International Space Station and the Mars exploration. It's well worth seeing with loads of interactive exhibits, films and plenty of actual articles used in their missions. We were even able to touch some moon rock!


Tours to mission control, a visit to the facilities that are producing future space equipment and viewing the actual Saturn rocket from the 1960's was fascinating. The Saturn rocket was massive and the robots that are being engineered to be sent on the next exploratory mission to Mars were very cool.

The following day, we checked out downtown before heading further west towards New Orleans.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Austin, Texas

semi-overcast 35 °C

A night stop over in Austin gave us a great feel for the city. Again it was very hot and humid, but we enjoyed sussing out 6th Street which is packed full of music venues and tattooed musicians! We heard some great blues improv at Friends café and had a ridiculously giant pizza in a spot nearby…I guess we’ve arrived in the ‘supersize me’ part of the states…no complaints from Paul!


Austin is the State Capitol and we visited the Texas Capitol building the following day. It’s an impressive building, and celebrates the six nations which have ruled over Texas – Spain, France, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, The Confederate States of America and finally The United States of America.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Dallas, Texas

semi-overcast 37 °C

After spending the last few weeks camping it was a welcome relief to stay with some family friends in Dallas, Texas. A massive thank you to Celia and Anthony who made us feel like we were at home in their beautiful house. We spent 4th of July at a BBQ with friends of theirs, where we had rooftop views of the downtown fireworks celebration!


We were expecting Texas to be dry, but the climate was very humid. We made our way into downtown along a great shady bike path called the Katy Trail. The 6th floor museum covered all the details of the shooting of President John F. Kennedy, which happened in Dallas in 1963, supposedly from the level where the museum is now housed. It was a great insight into 1960's America at the time of the assassination and an interesting spot to visit. Downtown was pretty quiet on the weekend, although there are a few neighborhoods dotted around outside of downtown with artisan cafes and shopping strips. We enjoyed the Dallas Heritage Village, a living museum housing 19th century homes which gave us an insight into what life was like in Texas over 100 years ago.

We couldn't leave Texas without going to a Rodeo and visited the Mesquite Rodeo in Dallas on our final evening. It was really interesting to see and forms such a big part of the farming/cowboy life in this part of America. However, Paul and I couldn't help but cringe at some of the things the animals had to endure, and I guess being a vegetarian doesn't help!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Denver & Manitou Springs, Colorado

overcast 25 °C

We left Yellowstone driving south and spent our first night at a truck stop (!) before driving onto Denver the following day. The truck stops are set up for the long-haul truck drivers, but welcome camper vans. It was well set up with a salad bar, access to toilets, showers and other facilities which made it quite comfortable.

After our night with the truckies, we had to get our car fixed as we’d had a problem with the heater core. It took a lot of phone calls to find somewhere available with the approaching 4th of July holiday weekend! Luckily we found a good mechanic who was able to fix it for us in a day, and we headed into Denver in the late afternoon. There was a lot going on, and it seemed like a cool city to spend some time. We loved the sculpture of the giant blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center!


The following day we drove south to Manitou Springs, a cute touristy spot filled with cafes and shops, which was shrouded in mist during our visit! Nestled in the base of the Southern Rocky Mountains, Manitou Springs has 11 spring water pumps dotted around the streets providing access to the natural spring water under the ground. The town also boasts a red cog train which climbs its way up to 4,300 meters to the summit of Pikes Peak.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 15 of 16) Page [1] 2 » Next