The Grand Tour of America 1

It’s hard to believe that we’ve actually been back from the US for 3 whole weeks already, but I guess it’s good that I’ve been so busy I hadn’t noticed right?

We had an absolutely amazing time, and managed to see a lot in the 2 weeks we had. It was quite tiring because there was so much travelling around being done, but it was totally worth it to see so much of the states. So here’s a brief summary of where we went, and a gallery of photos to enjoy.

Miami, FL > Orlando, FL > Savannah, GA > Nashville, TN > Atlanta, GA > Jacksonville, FL > Miami, FL > Baltimore, MD > Washington DC > New York!

I don’t want to bore you with too much detail; but there are a few things that I want to say about the experience:

  • I’d been told before I went (several times actually) that America is big and that everything is much more spread out than in the UK. And I thought I understood that, but it is impossible to really ‘get’ it until you see it. Miami in particular seemed to have block after endless block of pointless buildings in between all the places you might actually want to go.
  • However, if you happen to find yourself at Miami Beach (North) then you could do much worse than going for a burger here. We were swayed by a guy walking past who simply said; ‘you should go there, it’s good’. Everything fresh, onion rings you could wear as bracelets, soooo much flavour. Delicious.
  • I don’t have much to say about Orlando. It’s probably great if you are/have kids. Every 500 yards there is a store selling ‘Disney’ merchandise. We didn’t go to any of the theme parks because it’s just not really our thing. We did however, have good smoke-house BBQ food not far from our motel, and discovered that Texas toast is basically bad garlic bread. Collard greens however; are yummy. If I can figure out what they actually are, I would make them in the UK.
  • Savannah is underrated. It’s an old city in American terms, and actually old enough for us Brits with our proper history to appreciate. It’s pretty and unlike a lot of America it has a city centre and a lovely river front with lots for tourists to look at. If you’re going to visit, try to make sure the place you are staying is in the Historic district, otherwise you’ll have to drive in and find parking like we did.
  • Nashville is not really how I imagined it, it’s actually quite commercialised and touristy. Expect to see a lot of stag and hen parties. In an odd way, the brashness and all the tourists becomes part of it’s charm. It’s a city known for it’s country music, music that’s all about telling it how it is, but the city itself has the feeling of artifice, like a huge, elaborate stage. Enjoy walking around Broadway and have a drink or two in the Honky Tonks. Admire all the folks in their Stetsons and cowboy boots, but stay too long and you find yourself wondering where the locals are all hiding out because those folk in the Stetsons sure aren’t from round here.
  • Atlanta is a long drive from Nashville. Actually, Nashville is a long drive from Savannah too. Allow more time on your road trip than you think you need.
  • It was late on Sunday by the time we arrived in Jacksonville. Most things were closed by the time we got there.
  • Walmart is quite an experience. There are about 20 varieties of Pop-Tart, and somewhere between 30-40 different choices of bottled water.
  • Sandwiches in the US contain more meat than my Sunday Roasts usually do. Unless it’s a vegetarian sandwich, of course.
  • Jo-Ann, whoever you are/were, I love you and the fabric mecca you have created.
  • Washington DC is really quite flat. Probably only because it’s getting compared to other US cities, but still.
  • And they sure do love their monuments.
  • New York when you first arrive is a bit bewildering, and there tend to be a lot of homeless folk around the bus station and subway entrances. This is actually quite good though as they are very helpful and will give good directions for a bit of pocket change. I like this; you don’t see the bums in London trying to earn a little loose change very often.
  • The Subway has express trains and local trains, so figure out the system before you arrive otherwise you might find yourself watching the stop you wanted whizzing past you because you got on the express by accident. Hypothetically speaking of course.
  • I don’t care where you’re staying in New York, get your butt over to the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company for a bagel for breakfast/lunch. They have 16 varieties and come in two sizes and are made fresh daily.
  • For the best aerial views of New York, forget the Empire State Building; go to Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center. My top tip is to arrive around an hour before sunset, take some photos in the lovely golden hour light, then bag a great spot to get some shots as the sun sets and the city lights up. It will get super busy around this time so you need to be committed to get the shot you want, but I think it’s worth it.
  • Definitely make time in your schedule for a beach day. Coney Island is a lot of fun, and most people know about the rollercoasters and fairground rides, but it also has a really nice beach. I think the beach at Coney Island was better than the beach in Miami. *shock* There I said it, and I’m not taking it back.

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