The first emergence of summer appears in the the big apple and its time for a very unlazy Sunday.
Recovering slightly from a heavy night on Saturday you make your way to Syvlia’s in Harlem for some match needed Southern carbs, the fried chicken is the one for me. Whilst there you sip on some energising Sweet Tea (and I mean sweet) and take in the electric live gospel music.
When you finally tear yourself away from the tunes you head down to Central Park. Exploring the first blooms of summer you work your way through the park. You stumble on one of the many baseball games in motion and absorb the competitive excitement.
When you finally emerge back into the concrete jungle its time to embrace the wild, of course its time to hit China or Korea town depending on your preference. Go round the many little shops for some souvenirs and eat dumplings or drink bubble tea. Then there is only one course of action a little power nap before exploring the NYC night life.
Waking up refreshed you head over to emerge yourself in the electricity of Times Square at night. Exploring the lights and sounds absorbing the atmosphere. Of course a trip to times square isn’t complete with a much needed visit to Hershey Chocolate shop. Then once you are chocolate filled, its time to head to West village for one of the many great Jazz bars such as Arthurs Tavern.
Then its time to stumble home for some much needed sleep.
So I recently travelled around the USA and had a great time, but found a few unexpected observations that I wanted to share.
- Its impossible to know how much anything costs!- different states have different tax on different items, if there taxed at all. So good luck budgeting.
- American’s are lovely- I found American’s surprisingly friendly (with the exemption of New Yorkers on the subway).
- ID- so everyone gets ID’d at bars, even if you are an old man like me. Also some states don’t accept foreign drivers licences, so you have to bring your passport.
- Bag searches- the amount of security in museums is insane, so get ready to have your bag searched, all your jewellery removed and scanned to an inch of your life.
Just as expected Washington was going to be a very interesting city as a Capital that grew from a swamp. However I wasn’t expecting it being such a cheap visit. With reasonable accommodation options, free sights/ museums and good food at cheap prices.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable producing a guide as there is such great information online. However I picked up a few tips that I wanted to share.
Avoid the Crowd-all the main sights e.g. Lincoln statute, White House etc are along a L strip called the National Mall. However they get seriously crowded. So visit around 6:30pm, the crowds are gone and the buildings look even better at dusk.
Be forever moved by the Holocaust Museum– as you would expect the holocaust is going to be a moving experience, however this museum truly helps you understand the horrors, and personally made me think about today’s society. I would suggest are leaders should go and then take a hard look at national policy. However setting aside the politics you need a ticket (free) for the main exhibits so make sure to go early.
Cheap eats-need filling food at a great price then check out ‘we the pizza’- a massive slize of fresh homemade pizza for 3 dollars. It is so good I went three days in a row.
Take your time– planning to do Washington in a day or two then think again. I spent four days here and still could spend another three just seeing the main sights.
I got to Atlanta and thought what a shit hole. Its grey with concrete everywhere. However the quote don’t judge a book by its cover should be the motto of this city. In short I loved Atlanta, its has some amazing gems and lovely people.
Must do’s in Atlanta
Civil and Human Rights Centre– without doubt this is the most interesting museum. Its thought provoking, has activities to let you experience protests during the black civil rights movement and combines learning styles to make a truly unique experience.
Atlanta Historic Centre– this centre is very interesting as it has houses/farms in different time periods to let you devolve into periods of Atlanta history.
Martin Luther King JR Centre– for anyone interested in history, civil rights or generally what makes USA what it is today, then this Centre is for you.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room-want southern food that sticks to the ribs look no further. This places combines the best of southern hospitality, carby delicious dishes and great prices. Make sure to try the peanut butter pie with oreo crust its soooo good.
In conclusion if you are thinking of skipping Atlanta think again.
I had high hopes for New Orleans as my first mainland USA experience and it sure lived up to expectations. For a city its a real beauty, from the stunning French style mansions, glorious Jackson Square to the sound of jazz in the background.
As there is so much information on New Orleans I am not going to do a long guide but point out four essentials: food, culture, tour and most interesting street.
Coops Place-to experience New Orleans it has to be done via food and Coops is the place for a true experience. Order Coops special to try five Southern specialties.
Cabildo-a truly interesting musuem to understand the history of New Orleans. It really helps to set the story of how this truly multi-cultural city blends so beautiful…and maybe why its so sinful.
Ghost tour by free foot tours– New Orleans has some very shady history and if you are an American Horror Story Fan you are going to love, yes love this tour.
St Charles St through the Garden District– for some of the best architecture in new Orleans travel along this beautiful St.
Lets get straight to the good stuff, which I mean free.
Free activities– There are a few hikes (smallish) in the Honolulu area. Koko head was probably my favorite and basically its one giant staircase with great views on the top. This should be coupled with snorkeling at Hanuma bay which is opposite (7 dollars to get in-bring snorkeling gear as hire is expensive).
The other one worth visiting is Makuapu’u trial, what was good about this one is you can go off one of the side tracks to get to some awesome tide pools. Other free walks include Diamond head and Manoa Falls.
Free entertainment– On Waikiki beach there is a free Fireworks display on Friday. On Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday between 6:30-7:30 there is a free Luau, basically opposite McDonald’s. Also Pearl Habour is really interesting but make sure to get there by 8am if you want to visit the memorial.
Best Beach– Waimanalo.
Best Food– Gina’s BBQ. Be warned these are FAT men portions.
Top tip- Dont get a taxi or car as the bus network is super cheap and reliable.
Oaha north shore is a polar opposite of Honolulu. Honolulu you get lifeguard beaches, tower blocks and lots of happy hours, the north shore has wild surfing beaches, mad waves and food trucks. So which is for you? Personally unless your a very experienced surfer the Northshore is worth a visit but maybe not a stay.
Where to stay: Three main options; Pupeka for the best beaches, Halewi the historic town or Laie for the cultural centre. It doesn’t matter too much as a cheap bus goes from one end to the other in 30 mins.
What to do: You guessed it, go to the beach. Sunset beach is the main one for surfing (hosts the international surfing competition), Sharks Cove for snorkeling and Waimea to jump 35 meters of a massive rocks (so much fun). Other activities includes Waimea Valley and waterfall and the Polynesian cultural centre.
Don’t miss: The Polynesian cultural centre- it can be a little pricey but its worth spending the money to find out about the different tribes. Its split into 3 sections: 12-5pm explore the exhibitions/mini shows (about $60), 5-7pm buffet (prices vary), 7:30-8:45 breath of life show (about $40).
I am spending my time in Hawaii on the Island of Oaha. I have been Honolulu/Waikiki for the last 4 days and wanted to give my first impressions (part 2 will have the full guide). Well what’s the verdict? no surprise its pretty awesome.
However if you are an adrenaline junkie this area probably isn’t for you. What you get here is golden beaches, happy hour (WOOP WOOP), lots of great eateries and some unreal snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Don’t get me wrong they have what they call hikes but they are rather pathetic, but you do get amazing views.
Full guide next week.