A Travellerspoint blog

Nashville, Tennessee

Honky Tonks and Jack Daniels!

rain 20 °C

We had another early start getting up at 4.30am to get our greyhound bus from Macon to Nashville. Unfortunately the bus was quite busy so we didn’t get to sit together but it was only for a couple of hours before we had to get off in Atlanta and transfer to another bus to get to Nashville. During the journey I checked my phone to see the time and realised that we had crossed a time zone which meant that actually added an extra hour to our journey than we thought so that sucked! Once we got to Nashville we checked in at our hostel and we were in the Elvis Presley room - apart from the bunk beds the room was pretty bare and didn’t have any sort of Elvis theme to it though! It turned out that a couple of guys called Ryan and Tom who had been on our bus were not only staying in the same hostel but were actually in the same room as us as well so we got to talking to them for a bit before heading out to get some food. We checked out all the Honky Tonks and shops selling cowboy boots and hats down Broadway and ended up eating massive bacon cheeseburgers and fries at Honky Tonk Central whilst listening to a live band playing country music it was so cool! It was only about 4pm on a Monday but there was live music playing at almost every place that we walked past! We went back to the hostel pretty exhausted due to being on a bus for most of the day and sorted out booking stuff for Memphis and attempted to get some things organised for Texas which led to me having a mini meltdown because it was so stressful trying to decide what we should do and not spend too much money!

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The next morning we decided to rent a car with Ryan and Tom and drive out to Lynchburg to go to the Jack Daniels Distillery. Ryan was driving and he had never driven an automatic car or driven in America before so after a few practice laps around the car park we set off armed with nothing but a map and some vague directions from the guy at the rental place (they had run out of sat-navs!). It took a few attempts to get onto the right freeway but then it was pretty straight forward just following the signs which also led us through a town called Shelbyville (only fans of the Simpsons will appreciate that fact!). I fell asleep for some of the journey but it took about an hour and a half to get there. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great, it pretty much rained from Sunday afternoon in Macon all the way through our time in Nashville and we didn't see the sun again until arriving in Memphis! The Jack Daniels Distillery tour was free but half of it was outside so we were quite glad we had brought our raincoats! It was an interesting tour but unfortunately some of the machines used in the process were not on because they were shut down for maintenance and we also didn’t get any free samples of whiskey! We also weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the buildings. Afterwards we drove into the local town of Lynchburg which was literally just a tiny little town square and we checked out the official gift shop which sells Jack Daniels everything except the drink! This is because as strange as it may seem, the distillery and the town are located in Moore County which is one of the few remaining “dry” counties in Tennessee meaning it is illegal to sell alcohol! We decided to head back in the car, again we had a bit of trouble finding our way back on to the freeway and we almost got run off the road by a massive truck and we also had a bit of a hard time finding the rental place once we had got off the freeway but other than that it was ok! Unfortunately by the time we had got back into Nashville it was too late in the day to go and check out the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum which we had planned on doing. We checked out the Music City Walk of Fame instead and we also went to this big candy store that sold every flavour of soda you could possibly think of – including really weird flavours like “bacon” and “peanut butter and jelly”! Then went back to the hostel because we were so tired. We managed to actually make some decisions and got stuff booked up for Texas but it took ages so after that we just chilled out before going to bed.

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Our time in Nashville has been short but sweet; it may have been good to have another day here but we’re more excited about going to Memphis!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 15:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Macon, Georgia

The armpit of nowhere...

overcast 24 °C

We had to get up at 3.30am to be ready for our taxi at 4.30am to get our Greyhound bus at 5.45am from Orlando to Macon, Georgia arriving at 2pm. We had decided to make a stopover in Macon in order to break up the long journey between Orlando and Nashville – when we did some research to see if there would be anything interesting to do whilst in Macon we read that there was going to be a local BBQ competition with live music at the park called Levee Festival so we were really looking forward to going to that and experiencing something really American off the tourist track. That’s why we decided to get the early bus so that we would have enough time to check it out once we got there – the other bus wouldn’t have got us in until 7.30pm. The bus station was in the middle of nowhere but luckily we managed to get a taxi and our hotel wasn’t too far away. We booked our hotel when we had our rest day in Orlando – there aren’t any hostels in Macon so we looked at the budget hotels but they had the most seriously horrendous reviews on tripadvisor including “avoid at all costs”, “building looks derelict, windows were broken, really bad neighbourhood”, and “a man died in a room” so we thought we’d better spend a bit of extra money in order not to get murdered in our sleep! The only mid-range priced hotel was completely fully booked so… we’ve ended up at the Hilton Garden Inn! Everyone needs a bit of “flashpacking” on their travels so I guess this is ours! Its right next to the Mercer University but it’s on the outskirts of the main town. After our long bus journey we checked in to a room of absolute bliss. It’s so much nicer than the hotel we stayed at in Orlando – it doesn’t stink of smoke first of all! There is a desk and chair so we can sit comfortably doing stuff on the laptop (and is currently where I am sitting right now typing this blog!), a sofa and chair with a TV making up a lounge area, a fridge, microwave and coffee maker, ensuite, a huge comfortable bed that has a mattress you can adjust to be as soft or firm as you want and another TV! How spoilt are we?! Now for the bad news; we got the laptop out and went online to figure out how to get to the park and I thought I’d have another quick look on the Levee Festival website to look at the schedule of events taking place only to discover that “it is with great regret that Levee Fest 2012 has been cancelled” – we were so gutted, we’d really been looking forward to it! But never mind, at least we were staying in a lush hotel! The hotel also has laundry facilities so we did a massive load of laundry and it also has a pool but the weather is a bit overcast so we haven’t used it. There is also a “pantry” at the hotel reception selling snack food and even microwave meals to have in your room – the only thing is that none of it is labelled with prices so we figured that meant they would be charging more than a local store would (we have come to learn this in America - anything with no price on it is going to cost more than it’s worth!) and they also didn’t have any sort of breakfast foods so we decided to venture out and find a local store. We’ve had to spend more money than we wanted on our accommodation so to make up for it we aren’t going to eat in the hotel restaurant ($8.95 each for breakfast!). We left the fancy grounds of the hotel and university and took a rather unpleasant walk on cracked pavements along the main road past a few derelict buildings and broken down cars and eventually found a store selling some fresh food including seafood which basically meant the whole shop smelled like fish. We got some milk and a small box of cereal to eat for our breakfasts (only about $3 in total so definitely saving money there!) and got a few microwave meals and some snacks and then walked back. We came to the conclusion that those reviews were most likely very accurate and we didn’t have much of a desire to explore the town seeing as it wasn’t very walkable and we didn’t want to spend money on transport. So that evening we had our microwave meals and watched some American TV before falling asleep in our huge comfy bed. Today we have pretty much just been chilling out and recharging our batteries, sorting out photos, me doing my blog, and watching TV!

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It’s been quite nice just taking this time out to rest but we’ll be on the go again straight away – our bus tomorrow is at 6.10am so another early start and then it’s going to be a busy week in Nashville and Memphis!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 14:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Orlando, Florida

Disney World and Universal Studios!

sunny 31 °C

In our original plans we were going to get the Greyhound bus from Washington to Orlando but it was a 19hr journey so to save our sanity we decided to pay a bit extra and get a 17hr sleeper train instead so that we could have our own little cabin and be able to get some sleep in beds instead of coach seats. We caught the train at 7.30pm and didn’t arrive in Orlando until 12.55pm the next day. When we got on the train we found our “viewliner roomette” and oh my goodness it was super tiny as you will see from the pictures below – we had been looking forward to having our own toilet and not having to share with everyone else on the train, but we didn’t realise that it would literally be all in one room! Mine and Jonny’s relationship was taken to a new level during this experience…! The two seats folded down to one bed and then the other bed was above like a bunk but it could be lowered down. I found the bed to be surprisingly comfy and although there was obviously a lot of noise and movement throughout the night I actually slept really well! We went to the dining car the next morning and had a hot breakfast that was included in our ticket. We had to sit with an eldery couple but they were very friendly and interesting, they were Americans who live in Florida but have lived all over America and a few other countries too because the guy had been in the military (19 moves in 20 years!) and they were equally fascinated with our travels. They asked us if we were honeymooning haha but we are discovering that it’s a common question for Americans to ask us! We got off the train in Orlando and the heat and humidity outside hit us like when you open the oven door! We got a taxi to the hotel and we were a bit early for check in so we went on the computer in the lobby to sort out our next bus journey and then the hotel staff very kindly arranged for housekeeping to get our room clean so that we could check in early. They also helped us out with lots of questions about facilities and shuttles to the theme parks and booking us a taxi for when we check out etc. When we went up to our room we realised that they had put us in a smoking room instead of non-smoking which we had specified when booking. The staff downstairs had been so helpful that we didn’t feel right going down and complaining but after a day or so the smoky smell in the room started getting to us and we wish we had complained but it was too late! We got a really good deal though, it was very cheap so we figured we’d put up with it, at least the place was clean! We had lots of space too; there was a sitting area so we were able to spread out all our stuff for once and there was also a TV. We also had free breakfast although the selection wasn’t great and it was all served on disposable plates and cutlery and the seating area was so small that we had to take our breakfast up to our room to eat it by which time the toast had gone cold! We soon got used to it though! So on the Sunday afternoon that we checked in we just chilled out and I gave myself a little pampering session with a facial and pedicure! We went to a local store to stock up with some food (we had a fridge and microwave in our room) and then went to Chili’s for dinner later on.

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On Monday we headed to Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom on a shuttle bus that dropped us off at Epcot so we then had to get the Disney Monorail and the Ferry over to the Magic Kingdom – from leaving our hotel and actually getting into the park it took us two hours! But it was worth it, I got all excited like a little kid, I just think no matter how old you are Disney is still so magical! I won’t bore you with details of all the rides that we went on but we did all the usual ones and only had to queue for 30mins or less at each one. We had chosen to get the 8pm shuttle back although we’d need to give ourselves an hour to get back to it but we had pretty much done everything we’d wanted to do by about 5pm so we just wandered through every gift shop they have and gasped at the prices of everything and looked around at all the people who had spent their money on silly hats they’ll never wear again and lots of families with matching t-shirts! We resisted buying anything and got the shuttle back to the hotel where Jonny decided to go for a dip in the pool.

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The next day we did Disney’s Hollywood Studios so we got the shuttle again but this time it was only another shuttle bus from Epcot to Hollywood studios which only took about 20mins. We saw the Indiana Jones stunt show and got some pizza at Pizza Planet like in Toy Story which was quite cool and then saw the Muppets 3D show and did the Hollywood Studios backlot tour. By then it was mid-afternoon and we had decided to get the 6pm shuttle this time so we thought we’d get the fastpass ticket for the Aerosmith Rock’n’Rollercoaster but when we got there the next time slot for returning with the fastpass was around the time we’d need to be heading off to get the shuttle bus. The queue time said 40 mins so we got a fastpass for the Tower of Terror instead and then joined the queue for the Rock’n’Rollercoaster. They lied! It was not a 40min wait but in fact was just over an hour so we were not too pleased, especially because most of the queuing was outside in the 30c heat even in the shade! So after waiting for so long we enjoyed the less-than-two-minute roller coaster and ran to the Tower of Terror to make our time slot for the fastpass queue only to discover that there was no one queuing for this ride at all so not only did we walk straight on it but we were completely by ourselves on the ride! Ridiculous! After that we got the shuttle back to the hotel.

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On Wednesday we had a much needed “rest day” after trekking through theme parks for two days! We had a very lazy morning but did get lots of things booked for the next leg of the journey and in the afternoon we went down to the pool and we were the only ones there which was nice – we sunbathed for a bit but it was stupidly hot and there was no shade so we didn’t last long before jumping in the pool to cool off! We went to Denny’s for dinner so that’s another typical American eatery ticked off the list!

On Thursday we headed to Universal Studios which is a lot closer to our hotel than Disney so it didn’t take very long to get there but it was a different shuttle and the earliest one coming back was at 7.30pm so it was going to be a long day. Most of the rides are more like simulators and special effects or stunts but we had a good time. We walked past the E.T. ride and Jonny is absolutely terrified of E.T. so he refused to go on it because he gets so freaked out by him but I didn’t mind because I’m not a fan of the film anyway. I did make him go in to the gift shop though (E.T.’s toy closet!) and took this picture of him looking scared by the shelves of E.T. toys! We’d pretty much done everything we wanted to do by 3.30pm so we had a lot of time to kill before the shuttle bus. We inadvertently walked in to a magic show which Jonny enjoyed so much that he bought a levitation magic kit afterwards! Outside the Universal theme parks is the Universal City Walk which is full of shops and restaurants so we wandered around there killing some time and decided to have dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp! It was so cool inside with lots of Forrest Gump stuff everywhere! Our waiter gave us a pop quiz on Forrest Gump film trivia and we got all but one right so we got free refills on our drinks for the evening! We shared a shrimp starter as we figured we couldn’t really come here without eating some shrimp but our main courses we ridiculously huge and quite expensive – we probably could have got by with just the starter and a side of chips but never mind it was good experience!

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On Friday we went to Universal Islands of Adventure – we saved the best for last as this is the park that has the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I was soooo excited, we made a bee-line straight for that section and ran around taking pictures of everything it was just so cool! We walked straight on to the Dragon Challenge ride which is two dragon rollercoasters but each dragon is a completely different ride so we went on the Chinese Fireball first and then came out and walked straight through again to go on the Hungarian Horntail. We were really lucky that it wasn’t that busy, it took 5mins to walk from the entrance to the ride and all the isles they have set aside for queuing is ridiculous! There was lots of cool stuff to look at on the way though! Then we went on the Hogwarts ride which was awesome, it was a cross between a rollercoaster, a simulator and special effects so it was quite different. We had a look around the shops in Hogsmeade and then decided to go to the Jurassic Park section of the park. We went on a ride and then Jonny decided he wanted to go on a really wet ride – I could see people coming off it completely drenched and I didn’t want to be soaked through even though it was really hot so I waited for him! We went on a few more rides around the park and then went back to Harry Potter world and got some butterbeer and pumpkin juice – unfortunately neither of them tasted particularly nice and they were quite expensive but it had to be done! We had another look around the shops and I got myself a Harry Potter t-shirt – 3 days at theme parks and I had resisted buying anything from the gift shops but I knew I’d want to buy something from Harry Potter World! Once again we had time to kill before the shuttle bus so we wandered around the City Walk and ended up buying a t-shirt each in the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant – but they were both on sale! When we got back we had to get our bags all packed for an extremely early start the next day.

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Overall Orlando has been pretty exhausting – the weather has been around 30c but was quite pleasant on Monday and Tuesday at Disney but then the humidity got higher so the two days at Universal were almost unbearably hot and sticky! It has also been really expensive so we’re going to need to start being savvy with our money again!

Next stop – Macon, Georgia (half way point between Orlando and Nashville –we didn’t fancy a 16 hour bus journey and there was no sleeper-train-alternative for this leg!)

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 12:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Washington DC

Lots of buildings, memorials, and museums!

sunny 25 °C

Our bus journey to Washington DC from New York was only about 4 hours so in comparison to the last bus journey which was 12 hours, this one went really quite quickly! We checked straight in to our hostel which is a nice one again but even better than New York: we’re in a spacious 6 bed dorm and the bathrooms are good although this time they are more in a locker room sort of style but they are nice and clean! There are much more facilities at this hostel – a kitchen and dining area, laundry room, TV room and a lounge area. Free Wifi is available in the lounge and dining areas and we get a free breakfast every morning! It was pouring down with rain all afternoon so we got soaked (I wore my raincoat but my leggings were not covered by it!) popping to the corner store market to stock up on some food to cook our meals for the next few days in the hostel kitchen which is also clean and well equipped. After cooking up some food we chilled out and read for a bit in our room since it was still raining but when it stopped we ventured out to get a drink. We went in to the Hard Rock Café only to be turned away because apparently a UK drivers licence is not valid I.D. in the states of Virginia or Maryland (which was confusing because technically we’re in the District of Columbia?!) so we went to a bar down the road instead who were much more accommodating so we managed to get a drink in there instead of traipsing back to the hostel to get our passports!

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The next day we set off quite early to do some sightseeing – too early in fact because when we reached the museum of American history at 9.20am we realised it didn’t open until 10am! So instead we walked past the Washington Monument, carried on to the World War 2 Memorial and then the reflection pool and the Lincoln Memorial. We took lots of pictures and once we reached the Lincoln Memorial and turned around to see the reflection pool with the Washington Monument at the end we also did a video re-enactment (well, just voices really) of the Forrest Gump scene that took place in that spot (you know, when Jenny and Forrest run into the reflection pool and everyone cheers when they embrace?) which was very amusing for us but we probably won’t be putting that video up because it’s very geeky and embarrassing! After that we walked round to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial which then brought us back to where we’d started and we were pretty knackered! We decided to head to the aquarium as I love them and unfortunately it seems to be the only attraction in Washington that isn’t free but it was only about $10 so we went in anyway and enjoyed watching all the sea life swimming around – there was even an octopus which was awesome, we watched it for ages it was so fascinating! We headed back to the hostel and chilled out for a bit before heading out in the evening to Hooters! It was quite amusing, the girls all had the traditional big breasts, tiny t-shirts and hotpants on and we even got a picture with a few of them! We ate the famous chicken wings and curly fries and enjoyed an alcoholic beverage before heading back to the hostel. In the lobby at the hostel there is a pool table and a piano and Jonny really wanted to have a go on the piano and for me to teach him something so we had a little play on that before calling it a night!

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The next morning we headed straight to the White House – it looked a lot smaller than it does in the movies but that could have been because we were just looking through a fence that is really far away from it! After that we headed to the museum of American History which I found really interesting since we never learnt anything about it at school. I found the section on slavery fascinating; did you know that although Thomas Jefferson often spoke about and proposed to abolish slavery, he himself owned 600 slaves throughout his lifetime? And after his wife died he even had an affair with one of them and fathered her 5 children but it wasn’t discovered publicly until years later! Jonny really enjoyed the War section and after that we went back to the hostel to do some washing and get some things done on the laptop. Then we had a skype call with Jonny’s parents which was nice and after that we chilled out for a bit and made some dinner before heading to a sports bar to take advantage of happy hour and watch the New York Giants vs Carolina Panthers game (I think we have inadvertently become Giants fans since seeing them play in New York!). This time I really wanted to try and make sense of the game and understand what was going on, but not being used to the huge measures of alcohol in America I got a bit drunk in happy hour so by the time the game came on it was too much effort to concentrate! The drinks had got the better of us and we were pretty tired by half time so we went back to the hostel.

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This morning we got up, got ready, had some breakfast, and then… went back to bed because we were feeling pretty crappy! It may have had a little to do with the drinks last night but mostly I think we’re just starting to get a bit run down from our hectic schedule so far! After having a power nap we set off in to the city again and walked to the Capitol Building. Next we went to the museum of the American Indian and then the Air and Space museum, they were both very interesting. Then we decided that we wanted to see the Pentagon which meant getting the Metro underground system so after much confusion buying tickets from the machine (the man in the booth was extremely unhelpful, he just pointed to the machine without saying a word!) we got the Metro to the Pentagon. The building itself was pretty boring but we went and saw the 9/11 memorial which was nice and I’m quite glad we got to see it since we missed ground zero in New York. We were going to head to the cemetery but by this point we were starting to feel crappy again and both had headaches so we jumped back on to the Metro and headed back to the hostel. We had another lie down and then made some dinner and just chilled out for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow we’ll be checking out of the hostel but then hanging around because our overnight train to Orlando isn’t until 7pm.

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Next stop is Olrando Florida – Disney and Universal Studios (including Harry Potter World YAY!)

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 18:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York, New York

The Big Apple!

sunny 25 °C

Getting to New York involved getting a 12 hour Greyhound bus from Toronto and crossing the Canada/America border. We’d heard a lot of things about the Greyhound buses before travelling, some good and some bad but everyone on our bus seemed pretty normal apart from one middle aged guy who was a bit odd – he was wearing a huge black “flashers” mac that seemed to be bulging with items including a book sticking out of one pocket and he went to the toilet so many times throughout the whole journey that I literally lost count. During the second half of the journey he changed out of the mac and into a leather jacket with matching leather gloves that he appeared to keep on at all times! It was very strange and made us not want to use the on board toilet even more… we managed to go without using it (there were a couple of rest stops along the way) thank god because the smell coming from it even half way down the bus was making us gag! The border crossing was a bit of a hassle, we had got our ESTA visa’s before leaving England which cost us money only to find out from the customs officer that the ESTA’s are only valid when you land in America by plane, not for a land border crossing so we had to fill out all of our information again on a form and pay $6 each when really they could have just scanned our passports grrrr… but never mind! We also had to give our finger prints at the border which was quite funny, you had to keep your fingers together but Jonny spread his out and the customs officer called him chicken foot! The 12 hour journey we had been dreading actually went quite quickly, the seats were quite comfy and there was lots of leg room too. We passed the time listening to our ipods, talking, and watching the film 21 Jump Street (great recommendation Ben Cook!) and several episodes of the Inbetweeners on the lap top. It started to get dark and we looked out of the window in anticipation of the views of the city and we weren’t disappointed! It was so surreal seeing Manhattan all lit up and we couldn’t quite believe we were in New York City! When we arrived at Port Authority Bus Terminal we got a yellow cab to our hostel on East 34th Street.

This time around our hostel is nice and clean yay! We have a basic private twin room which somehow had worked out cheaper than a big dorm and we soon discovered why – it’s teeny tiny! As soon as you step in the door the bunk is right in front of you and there’s hardly any room to move around, especially once we had dumped our bags and unpacked a few things! On the plus side we do have an air conditioning unit and a TV in the room. We checked out the bathrooms which look good and most importantly clean but I soon realised that whilst there were 4 mens rooms on our floor (all with toilets and 2 with showers) there was only one ladies room with a toilet and shower! A little bit odd but not complaining after the last hostel! Unfortunately there is no kitchen or laundry room in this hostel which means spending more money on eating out, but we always knew that New York was going to be our most expensive stop.

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On Friday we got ready and headed out for breakfast to a little café we found and had egg and bacon bagels. We walked past the Empire State Building and then walked up 5th Avenue past the New York Public Library and up to Times Square where we got very excited about seeing the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant and had a browse in the gift shop. Then we went round the corner to the Rockefeller Center and went up to the observation deck known as “The Top of The Rock” where the views of the city were amazing. I think most people just go up the Empire State Building but then of course they don’t get to see the Empire State Building in the views and it’s really the most prominent feature of the Manhattan sky line so that’s why we decided to do the top of the rock instead (and it was also a little bit cheaper, it would have been too expensive to do both!). After that we carried on walking up 5th Avenue and went in to Tiffany’s (but quite obviously didn’t buy anything!) and then a little bit further up was the F.A.O Schwarz toy store so we went in there and ran around like little kids looking at everything – the floor piano from the movie BIG was in there too which was really cool! The store was on the corner of Central Park so we walked in to the park and enjoyed the scenery in the sunshine and walked all the way through to the Dakota Building where John Lennon lived (and Yoko Ono still lives). It was really sad seeing the place where John had been shot and killed and there were so many people there taking pictures like us and we had no doubt that this was probably the case every single day as there were two guards by the gates and lots of signs saying to keep the drive clear and vehicles will be fined for slowing down and idling their engines on the road going past the building. The floor surrounded by the black railings is the whole floor that John owned and Yoko still lives in. The two windows on the end facing the park were the white room with the white piano and apparently every night at 11.15pm Yoko or someone else lights a candle at the window. We went back in to the park to see the Imagine mosaic on the ground and sat down on a bench next to it for a while watching people come and go. After that we headed to the Museum of Natural History which was up the road and went in there for a couple of hours – it was a bit confusing inside, we kept getting lost trying to figure out what section we were in and where we were and there seemed to be a gift shop around every bloody corner! By the time we came out we were exhausted, our feet were hurting and we were getting hungry as we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. We couldn’t quite figure out the Subway from where we were and didn’t want to pay for a cab so we carried on walking… we ended up having dinner at Applebees just off Times Square which was yummy and I also had a big white peach sangria cocktail and Jonny had a beer and a Jack Daniels and coke! It was a long walk back to the hostel and we figured out that we had walked just over 90 blocks today!

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On Saturday we dropped off some laundry at a nearby Laundromat to pick up later and got a McDonalds breakfast before going down to the Subway determined to figure it out this time! We had to ask the guy selling tickets for some advice and he was quite helpful. So we got the Subway from 33rd Street and we were going to Bowling Green but then we realised that the stop before that was Wall St so we decided to get off there instead. We took some pictures of the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall National Memorial before heading down to the Bowling Green Bull which was completely surrounded by tourists so we couldn’t get a clear shot of it but we did manage to squeeze our way through and get some pictures of it with various Chinese tourists standing next to it! Then we caught the Staten Island Ferry and took pictures as we went right past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Once we got to Staten Island we realised we didn’t know anything about it or any good places to go so we just sat on a bench outside enjoying the views of Manhattan and Brooklyn for half an hour before catching another Ferry back! Then we walked up towards Brooklyn Bridge and took some pictures – we had been planning to walk across it but we were pretty tired and our feet were still aching from the day before so we decided to just sit in the sun for a bit instead! Then we headed back to Wall St and caught the subway back to 33rd St, picked up our laundry and went back to the hostel for a bit. Later on we headed out to Sparks Steak House to get a New York steak that we had been really looking forward to. It was too posh inside to be taking pictures of our steaks but they were amazing! Jonny had his medium-rare and I had mine medium – we both had them with bordelaise sauce and sautéed onions and a glass of Merlot. They were really juicy and delicious and we really enjoyed the meal which is good as it cost us a bloody fortune! That was our one big treat meal in America, it’s going to be fast food and hostel kitchen cooking from now on! We saw the Chrysler building all lit up on the way back, it took some effort to get good photos of it though!

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On Sunday we stopped off at a diner near our hostel and got a “weekend brunch” which consisted of a glass of orange juice, tea/coffee, a fruit salad, and for me an omelette with some sort of potato thing on the side and two slices of toast and for Jonny some huge slices of French toast with two eggs and sausages. Needless to say it was a struggle to finish it all but we knew it would keep us going! We headed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch a bus to the Metlife Stadium where we had tickets for the New York Giants vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game. It only took about 10-15mins to get there and it was quite a sight that greeted us! There were hundreds of vehicles in the huge stadium car park but out the back of most of them people were barbequing food and sitting on camping chairs and under gazebo’s! It was crazy and the further in we walked the more elaborate it all became - there were people who had long buffet tables full of food and massive coolers full of beers, people who had come in massive RV’s and had TV’s fixed to the side of them, people playing this game where you have to throw mini bean bags through a hole, people throwing footballs around, and there was even a small stage set up with a band! We wandered around looking at everybody and everything in amazement as we’d never expected to see something like this, it looked like a local fair or something except that everybody was wearing blue Giants t-shirts! We soon discovered that this activity is called a tailgate party and is very common at sporting event stadiums in America. We thought it was brilliant! We had got there really early so we spent about an hour walking around taking it all in before heading in to the stadium and finding our seats – we were in area 103, row 16, seats 5 & 6. We sat down and watched the stadium slowly fill up around us. We were sitting directly in the sun and it was a hot day – we’d put sun cream on in the morning but forgot to bring it with us to top up, luckily we were ok but I got a bit burnt on my chest where my shoulder bag must have rubbed off some of my sun cream  . There were some guys sitting in front of us and a man next to Jonny who were obviously all season ticket holders as they all seemed to kind of know each other. The atmosphere was just buzzing and we took plenty of photos and videos (I can't upload the videos on my blog at the moment but they are on facebook so check them out there - I promise it's worth it!) to try and capture it. I had no idea what was going on in the game and I really couldn’t figure it out so I just had to go by everyone’s reactions and the score boards! The Giants started well but soon the Buccaneers got way ahead in points and all the Giants fans started getting annoyed and angry and disappointed! By half time the score was 13 – 27 to the Buccaneers and morale was low amongst the Giants fans! Things didn’t pick up until the last quarter when the Giants suddenly made a comeback and caught up to a tie and then took the lead – it was brilliant to see the fans going wild and the guys in front of us got so excited they were jumping around and high-fiving everyone including us! Unfortunately we had to leave before the game finished to make sure that we didn’t miss our bus back – they were only running for half an hour after the game was finishing and we weren’t sure where we had to go to catch it and we didn’t want to get caught up in all the crowds leaving at the same time. As we were walking to the bus (we had to ask someone where to go to get it!) we heard two massive cheers from inside the stadium and I think the game finished just as we got on to the bus – The Giants won 41 – 34! We were pretty exhausted when we got back to the hostel (we’d spent a total of 5 hours at the stadium, and most of it in the sun!) and I now have the most ridiculous tan lines on my legs – I was wearing shorts so the tops of my thighs were in the blazing sun whilst my shins were shaded by the seat in front of me, this is not a good look! We went out a bit later to get some nachos at a nearby Mexican restaurant and I got a strawberry daiquiri and Jonny had a couple of beers.

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On Monday, our last day in New York, we had a pretty lazy morning catching up with things on the laptop and by the time we headed out it was lunch time so we picked up some food on the walk up to 59th & 5th which is where the meeting point is for the Sex and the City Hotspots Tour we had booked and also on the corner of Central Park where we had been the other day. Originally we wanted to do the tour in the morning as we had reserved passes for Ground Zero at 4pm but unfortunately the morning tour was sold out so the only other option was 3pm. The passes for Ground Zero were free so there is no financial loss and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see it but Jonny said he wasn’t too bothered and I figured it would be quite depressing in comparison to the SATC tour so call us shallow, but we did that instead! If we’d been a bit more organised we might have been able to get places on the morning tour or we could have at least walked over to Ground Zero without passes when we were in the financial district on Saturday but never mind, you can’t do it all! I enjoyed the tour (not too sure if Jonny did or not though!) but I did think it was very over-priced for what you get and you do need to be a hard-core fan to care enough about the spots that you see – but I am a big fan so that’s good! I didn’t really take many photos as it’s more about watching the clip from the show and seeing the location out of the window at the same time – I reckoned photos would just look a bit boring plus a lot of the locations now look different to how they were in the show! The tour finished at around 6.30pm and we walked back to the hostel and printed off our Greyhound tickets for the next day (only a 4 ½ hour journey this time!) and then made a start on packing our bags and uploaded lots of photos on to facebook for you all to see!

Next stop – Washington DC!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 20:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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