A Travellerspoint blog

Where it all began (almost)

But arriving by train, not the Mayflower!

sunny 30 °C
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My train journey wasnt too bad once we got on our way. I was sat next to two women who seemed really friendly.

I have noticed the further north I get how the accent is changing, I cant tell the difference between them but can tell they are different, although New York stands out a little more than the rest.

The view leaving new york was quite cool, seeing it from a toally different angle and seeing the outskirts was interesting. Once you got past some of the houses it was all quite industrial.

I spent a lot of my time working out what to do in Boston when I got there and managed a bit of sleep (although I think it was only about 20 minutes).

Travelling through New York state, Conniticut and Massachusetts was pretty beautiful. So green and lots ofwater. Travelling on the train was better than the bus, you see so much more. On the bus you tend just to see roads and highways which isnt half as interesting.

I'm quite looking forward to my trip here, I have wanted to come for quite a long time. I guess since I was supposed to Au Pair here in my gap year when I was 18. It was about the same time as the Louise Woodward trial and so I decided not to bother in the end.

I arrived at Back Bay station. Again no escalators, my back will not be happy! A man starts talking to me and asks why I didnt use the elevator, if only Id seen it! ?He then starts telling me about the mines that were here (god knows why)! He seems nice enough though. At first I think he might be homeless but he seems too well kept.

I get the metro to Science Park and then start walking the last 5-10 minutes to the hotel. It seems quiet and laid back. It is baking hot and I cant wait to lay down as Im really tired. My feet have recovered slightly since I bought trainers, but I dont think they will get over it until I am at least on my trip, although I may rest in Chicago a bit because I will be there for two days.

I am stopped having to wait for the swing bridge to let a boat througth before I can get over it and I eventually reach the hotel.

I have alsonoticed how fit people seem to be. There arnt that many fat people and so many are being active. I've seen just about every activity in the last 5 days (yoga, skateboarding, baseball, tennis, cycling, walking, running). maybe if I was going to Texas it would be different!!!

The hotel is lovely and the staff are over the top friendly although it seems natural. There are even bowls and treats for dogs by the entrance (I later find out that you can stay with dogs and cats and they can get pampered too)!. It seems like a tribute to Phileas Fogg, but it is quite opilent, everything is bold reds and blues and gold everwhere. My room is very big and comfortable (much better than New York), it even has a phone in the bathroom. And joy of joys Aveda shampoo and conditioner, yes please! But no wi-fi. Proof that you can'[t have everythhing!!!

I decide to chill for a little while before going off to explore.

Posted by Sarlou 05:42 Archived in USA Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

I stayed awake all night for this!?!?!

Sitting on the floor in Penn Street station

sunny 23 °C
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So I leave the prisoner cell hotel room and stress as I left late due to case packing problems and had to get 3 metros to Penn Street station. I all went quite well and Im getting stronger because it seems easier and lighter to carry. Anyway, I arrive waiting for my track number to be announced...
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!!!DELAYED!!! due to signalling issues, the word on the floor is about an hour. Don't they know I don't have long in Boston, Im flying to Toronto tomorrow!!! I paid $49 for this pleasure. You wouldnt get this on the $1 Megabus!!!

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Maybe Boston was not a good idea as the map I have has neither my train station or hotel on it, I will have to check google maps!

The journey is about 4 hours (which I always thought the two were much closer), maybe I will sleep, although I should read or watch films as I havnt done that yet considering I have about 15 films and 5 books to carry. Im going to send some stuff I dont need back home tomorrow, I cant be bothered having baggage issues at the airport, the lighter the better!

I love the motto for Trains/metro "If you see something, say something and stay safe" sweetful :o)

It seems this place is always busy, suppose you would expect it for NY. There are all kinds of travellers though and thats the difference. There were lots of business types heading to Washington, but there are all walks. I guess being from UK people are quite narrow minded and dont step out of the box, their area (as a general rule, I consider myself and lots of my friends to be different), but I guess because America is so big, its no big deal for people to jump on a bus, train or plane to somewhere. I think thats the main difference.

Oh and I just head an English person...they do exist here!!!

So Im on the train now, waiting to go, gonna get some sleep I think...

Posted by Sarlou 00:16 Archived in USA Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

Revisiting my fave spots again

Now I really do feel like Carrie Bradshaw!

sunny 30 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

Firstly I can't believe so many people are reading my blog, nice to know but I don't understand how I have over 200 hits for some entries, who are ya?

I have had another crazy busy day and am totally paying the price for it now, my back and feet are killing me and I'm not sure how I'm going to manage in Boston tomrrow, maybe it can be a little more chilled as there probably isn't as much to do.

So after sorting myself out and scaring the cleaning woman this morning (she waas in my room and I came in wrapped in only a towel and I have since realised that I left my shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in there which is now awol and they were practically full! :o( ). Before I left, I went up onto the roof of my hotel and took a few pictures, although couldnt really see a great deal as most of the buildings are really tall. I didn't have a plan so set off 'winging' it.
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I started on Lexington and to the Chrysler building and then over the road into Grand Central station. I had forgotton how fab this building is. The pictures dont do it justice. Its such a busy place, but its very elegant and I had forgotton about the star formations painted on the ceiling.
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After that I took the metro to 86th street to get cultured at the Guggenheim. I didn't know what to expect, but the architecture of the building alone was impressive. I quickly got a hot dog from a sidewalk stand and went inside. The inside is as good as the outside. The lighting was difficult to get good pictures. You can't take photos of the exhibitions, but I loved it. The main exhibition was called Haunted and was really good, definitely my kind of thing. Most of the other stuff was good too. There were some older style pieces by people like Kandinsky, Picasso, Gogh and Monet, I wasnt bothered about these but wandered round anyway. I was there about 2 hours, but could have spent a lot more if I didnt have to fit so much in!
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After that I spoke to Rich who has booked the girls in for diving by lying about Georges age...he always get it wrong anyway!!! But they are having a good time still and Rich is OK which Im happy about. I kind of wish I was there, seems so funny to be so far apart that their day begins when my previous one begins. Be even worse in a few days when I move accross more time zones, although thats about the time they will be heading home, so will probably work out about the same.
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I then dipped into Central park and walked around Jackie Onassis resevoir, its absolutly huge but tiny compared to the size of Central Park, I'd forgotton just how big it is. I then headed to Madison Avenue in search of Agnes B in case I could find something nice for Rich...it was Femme only. Now Rich can be pretty feminine when it comes to fasion, but no! So I turned park and headed past the MOMA and back into central park.

Its a whole different place in the summer. Last time I was here it was cold and quiet. This time its sunny and there are lots of different activities going on...frisbee, baseball, boats on the lake, chilling on the grass and of course, cycling and jogging. I think the funniest thing I saw was too blokes walking chatting...not funny, but then they both had Ipads and were using them, only in New York!!! There are also lots of groups of kids from community clubs etc, they all seem to be having a good time and I love the little black kids, theyre so sweet and funny. There are also two girls dressed in big fairytale gowns. It looks like some kind of wedding dress photoshoot as there are other dresses there too. I dont know how they will get picyures of just them because everyone is stopping to look at them and take their own pictures (myself included). I make my way around past Alice and Wonderland statue, boathouse, littery walk and up to Strawberry fields when there is the 'Imagine' tribute to John Lennon who was killed just round the corner.
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I then get the metro to 5th Avenue to take in some of the shops. I get the metro to the Rockerfeller center and have a look in the shops and re-fuel at Pret.IMG_0703

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IMG_0730 There is a Ben and Jerrysshop, but I resist andmight come back later if I head to 'the top of the rock'. There are quite a few designers such as Gucci and Prada and of course Tiffanys. I wander in to have a peak at the silver jewellery as I am hoping I might find something to catch my eye, it is my 30th next week afterall. I have a look at the diamonds (a girl can dream afterall) and then head for the silver section (more my price range). I am looking for a ring but there arn't many and the one I find looks expensive and I am too scared to ask how much it is so take a pic to check it out online. Just as well really as it is $1950 (although online iits white gold) and looks rather like an engagement ring, so not to scare my bank balance or Rich, I dont think I will be going back!

IMG_0730 There is a Ben and Jerrysshop, but I resist andmight come back later if I head to 'the top of the rock'. There are quite a few designers such as Gucci and Prada and of course Tiffanys. I wander in to have a peak at the silver jewellery as I am hoping I might find something to catch my eye, it is my 30th next week afterall. I have a look at the diamonds (a girl can dream afterall) and then head for the silver section (more my price range). I am looking for a ring but there arn't many and the one I find looks expensive and I am too scared to ask how much it is so take a pic to check it out online. Just as well really as it is $1950 (although online iits white gold) and looks rather like an engagement ring, so not to scare my bank balance or Rich, I dont think I will be going back!

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By this point my feet are screaming out so I head to Nike Town and buy some trainers. Just as well really because the bottom of my shoes both have cracks in them (no wonder my feet hurt)! I then take a quick peak in Bloomingdales but I'm done shopping!

So off to Battery Park I head on the metro to get the ferry to liberty island. I arrive to find that the times in my guide book were wrong and I just missed the last one. Im really annoyed. There is a water taxi soon after (again, the last one), but its 90 minutes return and if I don that I will not be able to do all the other stuff, so I decide to not bother and resort to definitely doing it next time (3rd time lucky)!

I then go to ground zero. Last time I was here (in 2003), it was all underground and you could see where the concourse underneath had been. They have actually started building something here now and so it is less of a shrine than it was. It just looks like a normal building site which I wasn't expecting.
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After, I walk down Wall street and past the stock exchange and then get the metro up to Brooklyn bridge. Last time I came here I decided it was one of my favorite places. Again, I am not disappointed and feel myself getting excited as I get closer and closer. I can't describe why, but I really love it, I get some amazing pics so I am happy.
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Its starting to get dark so I get the metro to 23rd street to Madison square garden, where i find people doing yoga and past the Flatiron building (once the tallest building in NY) and then up 5th to the Empire State building. The queues arn't too bad, but still takes a while to get to the 86th floor, which I am anxious about because I want to get some pics before and after it gets dark.
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When I eventually get to the top it is bordering on dusk so I wizz round getting pictures from each side. Its quite busy, so I find a spot and relax and watch lower manhatten fall into darkness. Last time I was at Empire state it was daytime and light. Its even more amazing at night. Again, the pictures don't do it justice, so I spend at least an hour just chilling and relaxing after my crazy day rushing around. An American guy starts talking to me. I find it so weird when I speak as I'm getting so used to the American accent that when I speak I expect it to be the same. It takes me by suprise when my weird English tones come out and I over pronouce everything, really quite strange. And speaking of English, I have heard all sorts of nationalities since arriving 5 days ago, but have not heard any English at all...where are all the Brits?!?!

Ater that I stop to get some food from a mexican fast food type place called Chipottle. The menu makes me laugh as its menu is on the wall like in BK/Macdonalds, except after everything it tells you its calories...but there still are fat people in America?!?!?

I've been a bit too snap happy today as its the first time I've had to change my camera battery, pretty good going, my new camera is awesome!

Then I take a leisurely stroll to Times square. I didnt see this by night last time and I dont remember it being quite this big. Its all lights and so busy even though its 11 at night. I guess this is a tiny tiny taster in preperation for Vegas in about 12 days time! Theres a man selling 'Obama' condoms and shouting "Be cool, Protect your tool"...mental!
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By now Im ready to drop, and my feet and back really are hurting. A couple of times Ive bent down or coughed and my back has snapped. Im hoping if I take it easy in Boston tomorrow it will calm down, but I will need to take some tablets. As for my feet. Wearing trainers half the day has kicked off my Athletes foot again. Will it end!!! At least I might loose some weight with all the walking I've been doing. I did about 14 hours on my feet today, its no wonder they are sore!

Anyway, I arrive back at the hotel (making a slight detour past Radio City) and can't remember my number. After trying 301, I suceed with my second guess 201!

I have a shower (as my dress has been stuck to me all day, although its not as hot as Philly, its very humid and stuffy) and think about packing and write this. It's now 3.30 and I'm getting the train at 6.55 so seems pointless in going to sleep at all, think I will have a power nap though! Seemed like a good idea when I booked the ticket, although its 4 hours so I can get some more sleep then.

Not sure how my body is going to cope, not even a quarter of the way in, its such a long time till I'm home, every day feels like a week, I can't believe this time last week I was in Middlesbrough, it seems like months ago!

Again, I have seen so much patriotism today. Its so weird how it seems to be steeped in their blood, you get nothing like it in England.

I kind of wish Rich was in New York with me today. We've both talked about the things we havn't managed to do before and I still havn't. But its the kind of place I would come back to again and again and do the same stuff, I just love it, except I would love to come for a long weekend so that I can do it at a leaisurely pace and do stuff like a show and watch a Yankees game. I just know Rich would have loved to be here to share today and so I miss him if only for that reason.

In a nutshell...I love New York!...

PS has anyone noticed that some of my pictures seem to be on a slant (right side is top heavy)? I dont know if its the camera or me!?!?!

Posted by Sarlou 20:39 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

The city that never sleeps

Thats because the air con is so bloody noisy and doesnt work!

sunny 28 °C
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Just woke up and need to get ready and out and about.

Just thinking how I am not missing anyone or anything at home. Its a bit weird but I think I'm just too busy and then tired and having such an amazing time!

Ive got ttan lines from yesterday, good job I had my sun cream on I say.

Going to brave the communal shower and then hit all the usual spots and try again to buy some trainers, my heels are sore...

Posted by Sarlou 01:52 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Fun in the sun

A very eventful day

sunny 20 °C
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God I have so much to tell you, its been a long and eventful day and I packed everything in with hours to spare!

After sorting myself out having a shower, I went for breakfast. The staff in the hotel were just lovely. I had a toasted bagel with some cheese and ham. Sang along to Simon and Garfunkel and Olivia Newton John (Hoplessly devoted to youuuuu!), then I had a local hot breakfast which consisted of potato wedges, 'something' (I cant remember) skillet (scrambled egg with minced beef and onion with melted cheese on the top) and bacon (well I say bacon the meat to fat ratio was about 30:70). I chilled for a while and then went back to pack my bag. Within minutes my stomach wasnt happy with its new contents and I had to take a few tablets!

Packing my bag was easier said than done, its contents seemed to have grown overnight and I couldnt get it closed. But then I remembered that it has an additional zip to allow for it to extend so I unzipped it and called it a chunk!

I checked out at about 9.00am and headed off for my days adventure.

First stop Rittenhouse square, a chilled park which is the kind you can spend the day people watching in the sunshine. There a 4 downtown one in each corner of the original town set up by Penn when he first landed. There is also one in the middle which is where the city hall is.
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I then headed towards the Art Museum passing Logan Square and lot of museums along the way (and a 7-11 for some plasters for my blisters). The water feature at Logan square seemed so inviting, i was baking and it was only about 10.00!
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When I got to the Art museum, Iresisted the urge to run up the steps Rocky style. These are the famous steps he ran up in the film, me...Im more lazy so a stroll sufficed! I was looking forward to the museum asthere is an Andy Warhol exhibition....closed on Mondays grrrrrrrrrrrrr! Oh well!
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I then walked through Fairmount park to watch the boats and have a rest and some water. Watched the ducks and some girls in boats on Schuylkill River. I wasn't up for the walk back so decided to get the Phlash (aaaaaaaah) bus back into town.
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I headed for Liberty place for a spot of retail therapy. I bought a new bag as the one i brought when full is killing my poor shoulders as the straps are rubbing and with my sensitive skin it is getting quite painful :o(

I headed past the City Hall where some kind of demonstration was going on (or finishing) when this woman thrust a leaflet at me saying "Hiroshima and Nagasaki", when i said no thanks she yelled "Don't want to remember!!!", I didn't think she was gonna start attacking me! In the last few days I've had random people saying "God bless you" as I've walked past...Ying and Yang!

Next stop JFK Plaza and the Love statue, not as big in real life as I thought it would be.
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After that I headed for Reading Terminal Market. This place is huge and amazing. It sells every kind of fast food and every kind of fresh food, the is a chefs paradise. It had everything, meat, cheese, fruit and veg, live lobsters!!! This is the kind of place I could imagine Jamie Oliver coming to if he was in the neighbourhood!IMG_0464

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Then I walked towards the old city through Chinatown and via Franklin square (which had a fab carousel), where I stopped for another drink.
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I had a wander in the Liberty bell center and saw the bell itself and then passed independence hall on to Penns landing. I sat on the wall for a bit (after burning my bum) looking over the Delaware river before heading back towards town. I stopped again in the shade for a while as all this walking in 33 degrees is tough going and it seems to get hottest at about 3.30 and it was getting close to this time.
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After Washington square I wandered down Jewellers row. I was expecting this to be quite exclusive, but it was quite cheap and naff looking. Most of the shops had 100s of diamonds in the windows...A girl can dream...!!!

I realised by this point I had pretty mush seen everything I had wanted to so I headed for Macys as I think my feet deserve some comfier shoes! I found some other shops and then Macys. I didnt find any shoes, but I did start my xmas shopping ha ha

I then wanted to see the Kimmel center, so headed off to find it when Rich called. Funny to think he was almost in tomorrow when I was just mid afternoon and baking. They seem to be having a good time so Im really happy. At that point a policeman went past on a Segway, amazing!

Thinking its only day 3 and 20 to go is mad mad mad. I feel like Ive been away for such a long time. Only 5 days ago I was 'up north'!

I headed back to the hotel but decided to stop for something to drink and eat in the Irish bar. The waitress Alison was really friendly (I liked her instantly when she ID'd me) and asking about my travels lots (I left her a big tip). I had a pint of Guiness and a Cheesesteak (a Philly speciality, basically a steak sandwick with cheese on). I really wanted to stay for Choc brownie and guiness ice cream, but I only had about 45 minutes to catch my bus!
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I got to the hotel to pick up my luggage. The man at the desk was so camp and asking me about LA, he was making me laugh and then I ordered a taxi to the bus station as after yesterdays nightmare on the SEPTA, I wasnt getting the metro with my bag. I got 7 tokens for the metro and only used one, nevermind.

The taxi driver was speaking to me loads, his spoken English wasnt very good although he seemed to understand me. But he was friendly nevertheless. When I got out to pay him $14 (my fare was about $12 plus tip), he gave me the $4 back and wished me a good journey, bless.

So I found myself on the Megabus again. This time a double decker! And two seats as it wasnt very busy. Again with power and wi-fi, again costing $1 for a 2 hour trip. I could travel the whole of the US for the cost of getting from Bristol to Middlesbrough on the Train!!! I spend most of the time sorting out my photos on facebook whilst listening to random tunes on the Ipod. Robert Miles - Children was definitely a weird one.

And so I arrive in New York for two night, which is cool because it means I dont have to carry much stuff aroun d tomorrow and dont have to plan my day so madly, although I am leaving early-ish on Wednesday morning, but I still have timeto do the main sights.

It took me a while navigating the Metro through Times Square and Grand Central to my hotel 'The Pod'. The lobby is really funky, but I forgot just how small the rooms are and that they have shared toilets and showers. As the name suggests, it is a little pod of a room. Its only for sleeping in I guess,although it is a little claustrophobic and sooooo hot even though I've put the air con on max. It'll be OK though and is just a base for two nights.

I think I kight get sorted and go see a few sights by night...

Posted by Sarlou 19:29 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

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