Hello to all the ForTravelAdviceLovers community, my name is Gaia and I have recently returned from a wonderful trip to the United States and I would like to share with you my, indeed our wonderful experience.
In all, our journey lasted 2 settimane (25/08 / 14-07 / 09/14), we purchased a flight from Milan-Linate to New York-JFK with a stopover in Dublin with the company Aer Lingus, which we would like to recommend for its cheap prices and excellent service (punctual flights and friendly and helpful staff).
- East Coast Trip: 1 week in New York
- New York: day 1
- New York: day 2
- New York: day 3
- New York: day 4
- New York: day 5
- From New York to Baltimore
- 3 days in Washington DC
- Washington and surrounding area: Great Falls and Annapolis
- Philadelphia in 1 day
- Atlantic City and back to New York
- Overall review of this East Coast trip
East Coast Trip: 1 week in New York
The first week of our trip we spent in New York, we stayed in Brooklyn in the Brooklyn Museum area, a part of the city that I hadn't had the opportunity to explore on my previous trip to NYC and that we absolutely enjoyed. Away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, but at the same time excellently connected to the island (in 10 minutes by MTA Express Train we were at Canal St.).
We were also a stone's throw from Williamsburg, where we took a few laps in the evening, among its hipster clubs and Hindie music, in particular we would like to recommend the "Crown Victoria" a really good restaurant-pub: beer and American cuisine with a pinch of pepper, just a few blocks from Williamsburg Bridge.
New York is New York and you can't do anything other than live it to the full from early morning to late night, we moved mainly by subway and before departure we bought the New York Pass, which includes so many attractions and which we tried to to make the most of it.
New York: day 1
Thanks to the jet-lag, the first day we woke up around 5,30 in the morning, but we didn't regret it, in the city that never sleeps in the morning it really has gold in its mouth. We took advantage of this early wake up time to walk towards the brooklyn bridge and crossing it at dawn, a wonderful sight: in the solitary company of running fanatics and some police officers, we walked the bridge watching the sun rise on Manhattan, still sleepy and free of the usual smog.
After a breakfast at the inevitable street carts in the area Wall St., we visited the 86th floor of the famous Empire State Building. After the vertigo of the skyscraper we gave ourselves to "sport" and visited the Madison Sq. Garden as our New York Passes included the All Access Tour of the structure, which is beautiful, but if the visit had not been included we would not have never "wasted" money like this.
We quickly had lunch at Lindy's (not much, but prices more than affordable) then we stopped in Union Square and from there we walked in the beautiful neighborhood of Greenwich Village, between NYU students and street performers. Being based in Brooklyn (Park Slope area), in the evening we headed to Williamsburg, the realm of hipster, we liked it a lot, especially because we felt very safe even though it was not recommended; we had dinner in the garden of an organic pub (Crown Victoria).
New York: day 2
The second day we toured the area of Wall St. and the Wall Trade Center well, visiting the Reflection Pools and the 9/11 museum, moving and truly devastating from an emotional point of view. Before embarking on the boats to Liberty Island and Ellys Island we took a nice walking tour for Battery Park. In about 3 hours we visited both islands, then we returned to Manhattan and dedicated a bit to shopping in the downtown area: Century 21, Fulton St. and Water St.
In the Sea Port area we were lucky enough to find ourselves in the midst of a party of unspecified foods, so we took advantage of it by eating everything that came within reach (so much for us it was all new!). After taking the subway, we got off at Times Square, took a short walk to the Hard Rock Cafè and, just before the evening closing, we managed to climb the skyscraper of the Rock Feller Center.
If the Empire offers the highest view of the city (just for a little while!), Top of The Rock at night is an incredible and truly breathtaking spectacle: a 360 degree view of the city of lights, it almost felt like we could touch the flagpole of the Empire, a must do (watch out for the lift which goes over 60 floors in about 40 seconds and is not for the faint of heart!).
New York: day 3
Day number three, we spent between the natural history museum (beautiful, but you really have to be very interested in the subject or the children), Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum, of which we naturally visited an infinitesimal part. We recommend a burger or a nice fresh salad at the Boat House in Central Park, the context is obviously magnificent, the prices are modest and in the sultry days of August you are from God.
Since we had some time left before dinner, we threw ourselves into 5th Ave. and between a super cool shop and the other, we visited the St. Patrik Cathedral, the NY Library and, arrived at 42nd St. with a scenographic sunset on the mirrored windows of the skyscrapers, we diverted to Time Sq. and visited Madame Toussaud. After a tasty dinner at Ruby Tuesday, we took the subway to the coveted bed.
New York: day 4
The fourth day we inaugurated it with a breakfast worthy of the American TV series in a place between 7th St. and Park Ave., all good, but they really plucked us (after all, we were the chickens who wanted to have breakfast in places by jocks!). After the morning bloodletting, we rented the bikes (4h of rent included in New York Pass) and we walked the length and breadth of Central Park, discovering a magnificent swimming pool in the north (too bad we didn't have a bathing suit!).
Still on the bike, we wandered around the streets of Harlem and we made a short visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is truly gigantic. A stone's throw from the cathedral is the Columbia campus and so we went to visit it, taking the opportunity to have lunch with the students (it was the week of welcoming new students). Riding our bikes, from Harlem we traveled the 5th Ave. or Museum Mile to the Solomon R. Guggenheim (entrance included in the New York Pass), which in the period we were there was hosting an exhibition of Italian futurists.
Returning the bikes to the rental in Park Ave./6th St., as we still had strength in our legs, we headed to the Lincoln Center (I'm a ballet fanatic and I couldn't miss the Giuliard School and the NYCB theater ). So we took the subway and got off at Canal St., here we saw the madness of China Town and the remains of the historic district of Little Italy. We then ended up in Nolita and still walking to Soho, then we head for dinner at a Diner in Greenwich Village (Cozy - Soup 'n Burger, we recommend it: friendly staff, moderate prices, decent food and plenty of it).
New York: day 5
On the morning of the fifth day we headed to Chelsea, where we found a folkloristic flea market where all kinds of trinkets hid real jewels (like the art deco style earrings that I bought for the modest sum of $ 1 a pair !! - real bargain). So we went for a quick visit to Grand Central and from there to MoMA (included in the New York Pass). After leaving one of the most beautiful museums in the world, we visited the Rockettes of Radio City Hall (the tour of the theater was included in the New York City Pass).
We then returned to Brooklyn and found it was the day of West Indian Carnival, wild Caribbean and typical food on every street corner. We passed in front of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Library and went for a walk in the gigantic Prospect Park. We don't quite know how, but we managed to get out in a convenient area for the subway and, after a lucky trip to a local garage sale where we infiltrated, we took the train to Coney Island. The weather wasn't the best, but Coney Island it has a charm all its own, and while it might look a little run down, it's nostalgic and romantic at the same time.
From New York to Baltimore
On the last day we went back to the airport early in the morning (it was Labor Day weekend so the trains were narrow gauge and it took us some time) to take the car we had hired. Around 10 we were on I-95 towards Baltimore.
It should be noted that we had read that American roads are almost always free from the hateful toll: true, but every now and then you pay for a bridge (very salty) or a tunnel, so if you happen to drive around, always have cash and if possible let yourself be found with the right money, because credit card payments are not allowed but only electronic with a kind of telepass (there are some sites that allow you to calculate the toll even for interstate sections).
After a brief stop in a sort of gigantic multi-brand Autogrill, we arrived in Baltimore for 1. Our hotel was a little out of the way, but it provided a shuttle service to downtown, which is the inner harbor area. Baltimore seemed very quiet to us, we walked through the canals of the port, not knowing what to visit and where to go, we wandered for a while, thanks to the rain we went into the shops of the port and bought some souvenirs of the Maryland.
We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant, because the places that offered the famous blue crabs did not inspire us too much cleanliness, but perhaps we are a bit too demanding from this point of view!
3 days in Washington DC
After the night spent a Baltimore, the following morning we left for Washington DC which is less than an hour away. We were staying in the beautiful neighborhood of Capitol Hill and as soon as we arrived we headed to Union Station and the Mall. Starting at the Capitol, we walked the entire length of the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, stopping at a few museums from time to time (the Smithsonian Foundation museums are all free).
In particular, we went to the Air & Space Museum and the Museum of American History. The walk lasted from noon until evening and we could see a breathtaking sunset from the Lincoln Monument on the Potomac River. We had dinner in a local restaurant in the area Georgetown, among the students and their fraternities, it was called Farmers and offered really good organic food.
The next day in Washington we rented the bikes at the Capitol Bikeshare points, a bike sharing service not very clear in the rates and not even very cheap (but obviously we realized it later). Washington it is a city that can be easily explored (albeit with some climbs) by bicycle, above all because there are really fewer cars than in New York and therefore you feel more peaceful and safe, the only problem is that in summer there really is an infernal heat (we come from the Po Valley and we thought we knew about it, but we were amazed by the humidity and 40 degrees of DC).
Thanks to the bike we were able to see the rest of the mausoleums, then the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, FDRoosvelt Memorial, the Arlington cemetery (beautiful and very touching), the Iwo Jima mausoleum and the monuments of the Korean wars. In the afternoon, as we were really hot, we slipped inside the Crime Museum, which is a bit expensive, but a lot of fun. We finally had dinner in a place on H Ave. which was called H & Pizza, where they make pizza with different doughs and with the toppings chosen by the customers on the spot.
Washington and surrounding area: Great Falls and Annapolis
The next day, our last day in Washington DC, we took the car and drove to the National Park Great Falls of the Potomac River: already the road to get there, scattered in the middle of the hills and scattered with large colonial houses with horses and white fences, is a fantastic sight… the Great Falls are even more so. We left the nature park and headed out to sea in Annapolis.
We arrived in the town of the naval academy around lunchtime and we stopped to eat in a sort of pub where we were welcomed in perfect Southern style: very kind and easy-going staff. Annapolis is a very livable and enchanting town, with delightful homes and buildings and above all on a human scale, we felt light years away from the skyscrapers of New York. If you're stationed in Washington DC, a trip to this beautiful, friendly town is a must.
Returning to Washington, we passed the DC United stadium where the Copa Centroamericana was being played, we couldn't get in, but we got to see some football anyway: the DC United training ground right next to the stadium.
The next day we left Washington to go up to Philadelphia which is about 2 hours and a half. In Philly we were staying a little outside (airport area), so we took a comfortable train that takes you to Market East station in about 20-30 minutes.
Philadelphia in 1 day
In Philadelphia we did the canonical tour of the Liberty Bell, Chestnut and Walnut St. and then up towards China Town. After a ride to freshen up a bit at the City Hall fountains, we admired the lizard-green fountain at the time of our visit with R. Indiana's LOVE sculpture, so we walked, walked and walked along B. Franklin Pkwy up to the legendary Rocky staircase, right next to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts.
We firmly believe that Philadelphia is a beautiful city and has a lot to offer, however, perhaps because we were there for a short time, we didn't like it at all and we didn't feel very safe walking around on the street.
Atlantic City and back to New York
On our penultimate day in the US, we went to Atlantic City. Be avaricious, we stayed in one of the hotels with a casino attached (the Golden Nugget-AC) right next to the marina. We arrived around 12 and, after spending a few pleasant hours in the hotel's rooftop pools, we headed towards the Boardwalk. We took a (short but intense) bath in the ocean and then strolled on the boardwalk which is exactly what we expected from the show: a decadent charm.
By around nine o'clock in the evening, the waterfront had completely emptied as all visitors to Atlantic City were in the casinos. So we went to our hotel, feeling a bit uncomfortable both because we had no money to spend (we had to keep the cash absolutely for the return trip tolls !!) and because the average age of the patrons was 75 -80 years.
Overall review of this East Coast trip
The next morning we unfortunately returned to the JFK (about 3h from Atlantic City) and we finally left the East Coast and took the plane to Spain.
- Overall rating of the holiday 9.5 (if it had lasted a month, it would have been 10!)
- Budget: all inclusive (insurance, flight, hotel, food, tolls and various routes) just under 4000 euros (for two people).
- Top five: NYC (always MAGNIFICENT), Washington, driving to the interstate, Great Falls and swimming in the ocean
- Flop: Philadelphia and Atlantic City emptying at sunset.
- Upcoming travel plans: a road trip from Chicago to LA on the trail of Route 66 and a car tour of Florida.