So from the 25th of July til the 13 of August I embarked on one of the biggest adventures of my life, and one of the best things I have ever done; I went to the United States of America, more specifically the East Coast.
Over the next few hundred/thousand/million words I am going to attempt to go through the highs and lows of my trip, and hopefully keep some of you entertained to the end, which, let’s be honest probably won’t happen. If you skip out half way, I will still be happy.
Let’s make this clear from the get-go. I have only been over seas once (to Fiji) and that was when I was alot younger, so this was a big deal for me. The first challenge was actually MAKING it to America, which many though would be a task too daunting in itself. But in a big “screw you” to my friends and family, I made it safe to Miami, after catching a flight from Australia at 7am, then arriving in LA at 7am. Confusing much? I really wanted to say “I’m from the future” to whoever I saw when I got off the plane, but the combination of around two hours sleep, and me being super scared I was gunna mess something up, I kept my mouth shut.
Once I arrived in Miami, some 20 odd hours later, and after crossing through multiple time zones, the first thing I realised was how stinkin’ hot it was. Even late at night, it was still so hot and humid, but it’s alot better than the Canberra weather I had been used to.
I tried to spark up some meaningful conversation with my taxi driver from the airport, but he wouldn’t have a bar of it, so I undertipped him (not on purpose though). That’s one weird thing about America that takes a bit of getting used to- you have to trip EVERYWHERE. Taxi’s, car hire people, restaurants, etc, so you always have to take that into account when you are buying something.
Another thing that was very weird and hard to get used to was the left hand drive. Turning out of a t-intersection was probably the most confusing thing in the world, and I wasn’t even driving!
So I got to Miami, went and met my girlfriend Nicole and her best friend Ella at this cool Spanish bar/restaurant, had a beer and felt like I could have fallen asleep on the spot. We wondered up to our hostel, which was conveniently located on the main strip in Miami, facing the beach, and crashed. And by crashed, I mean I tried to sleep, probably mananged a grand total of 2 hours, and was wide awake at 7am in the morning, much to my girlfriends dismay.
One thing about Miami is, it is exactly like on the movies. Everyone dresses as extravagantly as possible, and it’s like one big show of people walking past. You could spend hours just sitting having some drinks watching the characters walk past, and even girls in bikinis, stilettos and riding scooters. I was only in Miami for one full day, which we spend sunbaking at the beach, getting very sun burnt and visiting an erotic art museum, which was an experience in itself. The water at the beach was around 500 degrees, so the Australian way of jumping in the water to cool off really didn’t work here.
On our last night there, or my second night there, we decided to have some drinks at the bar we went to on the first night, so we went upstairs and found a seat, and ordered some drinks. Next thing you know, these Spanish dancers come runnig out and start dancing on the bar. It was insane, once they finished, a new bunch of people, including the waiters and bar staff, would jump on the stage and dance to some Spanish salsa music, and other types of dancing which yours truly isn’t across with.
Turns out, we have stumbled our way into a show night, which now had a huge line waiting at the door, and cost 10 bucks to get in, and most people had to book seats. We stayed and watched for a few hours, and I actually really enjoyed the dancing!
Next stop, Orlando.
Orlando was much like Miami; stinkin’ hot. Actually, that is where the similarities probably ended. Basically, Orlando has theme parks, and that’s. We some how manged to nab a nice-ish hotel within walking distance of Universal Studios and Harry Potter world, which was pretty sweet.
The first day we went to a place called Islands of Adventure, which included Harry Potter world, Dr. Zeus land, Spiderman World and a few others. Basically, Harry Potter world was amazing, they have a whole village based on Hogsmead, the village in HP, with everything from a butterbeer stall, to a wand shop, to an owl post. It was very cool, and some of the rides were amazing, including a 3D adventure through the grounds of the school, which was amazing. For the record, butterbeer tastes amazing! It’s like creaming soda mixed with butter and icecream, kind of like a spider I guess.
Second day was a little thing called Warped Tour. Since I was a teenager, I have been dreaming about attending this legendary festival in America. For those of you who are uneducated, it is basically I punk-rock-hardcore festival that tours America over the summer, and has become an institution in bands making it big in America.
One thing that I have noticed about America is that things a bit more laid back, especially at this festival. First of all, it cost a mere 30 bucks to attend, as opposed to 150 plus to attend the Australian equivalent Soundwave, and many of the stages were not fenced off, meaning if anyone wanted to run around the side of the stage and join the band, they could because most of the time there wasn’t even a security guard standing there.
This day was probably one of my favourites, but also one of the hardest. It was around the 40 degree mark the whole day, and I have honestly never sweated so much in my life. We also went through so much water and lemonade, another amazing American beverage that I fell in love with (Basically it is just like freshly squeezed lemonade that is sold everywhere and tastes amazing).
Another strange thing that we found is the heat doesn’t fade later in the day, it actually get’s hotter around the 4pm mark, which is very frustrating when you think some relief may be in sight. But all in all, Warped Tour was brilliant and amazing, and everything I could have imagined it to be. Highlights of the day included Enter Shikari, A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada and D.R.U.G.S.
We bid goodbye to Ella, and got a plane to Washington DC. Now, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this place, all I knew about it was the political and historical aspects so I wasn’t sure if I would just be bored the whole time. Turns out, it was a pretty cool place. In one day we went and saw all the monuments, the White House and some free Smithsonian Museums, which were interesting but not my cup of tea. One of the strangest things that happened that day was when we got to the White House, we walked around to the back and got hastily pushed out of the park by security guards and police, while they said the park is closed. Turns out, Mr. Obama himself was making an appearance there, so we waiting around for an hour or so in the hope of catching a glimpse of his car, then gave up. If nothing at all, it meant the usually packed lawns were free for some good photo opportunities, like this one:
We were staying at this really strange hostel at this stage, with a guy who ran the place like a big family. He basically wanted everyone to be hanging out, and was always trying to help you do things, to the point of annoyingly helpful. But he did give us some good advice about travelling, and helped with everything so props for that.
The next day I did my nerdy work for the trip, and visited the Newseum. It was very cool, three stories all dedicated to journalists, and you could even try your hand at reading the news. I didn’t though, because I didn’t want to show up all the little kids with my superior skills and knowledge of camera techniques. Probably the coolest part about the museum was the 9/11 section, which had real stories and photos and even a piece of metal from the Twin Towers. There was also a pretty moving memorial to all journalists that lost their lives pursuing news and stories, plus many quotes around the place. One of my favouries was this one:
We also went to a Holocaust museum, which was really interesting as well. It basically gave a big overview from start to finish of the Nazi regime, and I actually learnt some things!
One other thing about Washington that I really wasn’t aware of was the large population of African Americans. It was honestly seperated into tourists and African Americans, which was a big change up from what I am used to hear in Australia! Not that it was a bad thing, our hostel manager was also African American and he was one of the nicest people we met on our trip.
But it was time to move on once again, and Atlantic City was our next time. I had been told it was just like a smaller Vegas, so I was pretty excited to see what it had to offer, and also a bit nervous that the casino’s would steal all my money.
We stayed at this reasonably nice hotel about 10 minutes out of town, and by out of town I mean OUT OF TOWN. It was like they just plopped a whole bunch of high rise hotels and casinos in the middle of a beach, and apart from that there was nothing in the town. Once you get out of the city, it was just a highway of hotels and places to stay when you are gambling, and nothing else. The good news was there was a free bus running every day into the city from our casino, which saved us heaps of money in taxi and bus rides which was nice. And as a bonus they gave us 5 dollars free slot play (pokies) for every trip, so long as we used it at one particular casino. It was strange how they did this though, when the bus stopped they locked all the doors, and people couldn’t leave until they recieved their free slot play. Very strange.
So Atlantic City has an apparently world famous boardwalk, and it was very nice looking. Here is a photo sports fans!
Pretty nice, hey!
So basically for four days, Nicole and I spent the day in our hotel hanging by the pool then would catch the 3pm bus into the city, get some dinner, have a few drinks and gamble some money. One of the coolest things was if you were gambling on a table or at a pokie machine, you received “complimentary” drinks. Which was awesome, except it took us two nights of being there to realise what was happening! Also, the 1 dollar blackjack tables were alot of fun, even though you spent a good half an hour there with 20 bucks only to loose it in the end anyway.
All in all, Atlantic City was a pretty cool place to stay, I am glad we went there but apart from the boardwalk and casino’s there wasn’t much happening in the area, but hey I was definitely cool with that.
After a 2 hour bus ride, we arrived in New York.
First thing I noticed about NY was the huge amount of bridges. Driving into the city I saw countless bridges, over and under lapping and criss-crossing it was really strange. Our first night we spend wandering Times Square, which was one of the more intense things we did on our trip, there was literally hundreds of people just wandering around even at 11pm at night. Here is a photo so I can half describe what it was actually like.
Just to the right of the picture there were around 20 scalpers selling tickets to Broadway musicals and comedy shows, so we spent a good hour walking around talking to people as they sold us stuff. The most interesting people were the ones who picked Nicole and I straight away as being Aussie, without even talking to us. (Apparently it was my hair that gave it away, and the shape of my face, however that works)
One of these guys actually sold us a ticket to a show, which we went to a couple of nights later which I will get to.
Our second day we spend venturing to watch Blink 182, which was towards to coast, and meant we had to catch the LIR train route, which we caught from Maddison Square Garden, which was awesome to see that place, even though it was freakin’ huge.
The concert was amazing, and even though it poured with rain half way through Blink’s set, I thoughouly enjoyed one of my favourite bands from my childhood, and they played a need-fautless set even in the pouring rain. The venue of the concert was pretty amazing, the stage backed out over what they called a beach, which was really just a pretty small lake.
We spend the next few days sight seeing with Nicole’s sister and her boyfriend, doing all the touristy things which I hated, mostly due to my irrational hate towards Canberra people ruining my beaches back home every Christmas. OK, the sight seeing wasn’t actually bad, infact it was actually very enjoyable. We did the Rockafella building during the day, got some awesome pictures, went to the Empire State building at night, went to the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial site, Wall Street, Central Park, plus a few other places I can’t remember right now.
We did a cool tour of Central Park and learnt about the history of the place, and about how many movies have been filmed there which was basically every movie ever. My favourite part was the bridge where the dude from Home Alone met the Pigeon Lady.
Pretty nifty, eh?
We spent one night at a comedy show, which was hilarious and really intimate which was cool, and another night we spend up the Empire State Building which was amazing at night, with the view of the lights and the city line.
We also tried out quite a few restaurants and pubs, which was really cool.
But like all good things, my amazing trip had to come to an end. It was one of those trips that felt like it was over before it started, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I learnt some valuable life lessons, like be grateful that we don’t have to tip everything in Australia and we don’t have to add on our taxes for everything we buy, I will also never complain about the water at a beach being cold again, because nothing is better than that refreshing feeling of diving into icy cold water on a boiling hot day, not diving into a bath like the beaches in America.
But until next time, thanks for listening