From Washington, I travelled to the City of Boston. Boston is a very interesting place; it is rich in history and revolutions as well as known for its lobster and chowder.
History has always been one of my weaker subjects and what pops into my head when Boston is mentioned is the Boston Tea Party. This obviously changed since exploring the city.
Here are some interesting pictures.
Click here for more photos and here for food.
1. It is highly walkable and armed with a good guidebook or research done. You can see everything by foot and public transport.
2. If you are with family and elders, opt for the Duck Trolley Tours. One whole round takes 2.5 hours and covers more stuff and local insights then a book or the Freedom Trail would give you. It is better value in the summer as $36 per person gives you a free harbour cruise as well.
3. The Freedom Trail should be the first point of action. It gives a good and brief guide to the history and brings you through streets that you normally wouldn't venture to. Gives good insight to the feel of the neighbourhoods. Try not to do this on a Monday as a number of sights are closed.
4. Free tours of Harvard Square are at 10am, 12pm and 2pm starting at the visitor information kiosk.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Day 2 & 3 found me headed to The National Mall where most of the Smithsonian museums are located.
Did you know that the Smithsonian museum was founded by a British who has never been to the US?
First stop was the Museum of American History where I spent loads of time at the Julia Child section. Julia Child is such an icon and even though they were showing shows that were aired like 20-30 years ago, I was still equally mesmerised. I was equally fascinated with all her kitchen gadgets too!
I can see how Americans who watch her show grew up with her as she was still on TV at a very old age. Super hugs to her husband who was there for her for all things big and small which was mentioned.
I literally had to tear myself away to check out the other exhibitions. The biggest draw is the Star Spangled Banner. Very interesting story to this one. It was originally but now there is only left as the custodian was giving away snippets of it as keepsakes to people.
The whole place is really inspiring.
Next stop was the natural history museum. I can't believe how cool and awesome this place is. Seriously, both kids and adults will be mesmerised. The whole place is so well planned and the exhibitions are so engaging and well designed. You have to go to see for yourself. By far the best I've seen.
Next stop was the air and space museum. I know that this has over million visitors in a year but the ventilation wasn't that great and I was feeling hot and stuffy and this is in the winter. The place feels a little dated too. Still, manage to catch the highlights such as the Amelia Earhart plane and the Wrights Brothers.
That was enough walking for me and I went off to head for dinner at a famous landmark which even has its own gift shop.
The next day arrived and I headed for The Capitol and Library of Congress. I totally didn't realise that they are not open on a Sunday. Duh!! So tip for travellers, head there on a Saturday and the museums on a Sunday.
So off I went to check out the Eastern Markets instead. I decided to head there by foot which allowed me to walk through residential areas and immersing myself even if it was just for those few moments in what life is like here.
It feels great to watch people going about their daily lives. I see people with groceries, families heading for Sunday church, a child having an argument with his dad.
I arrived at the markets and it was quite interesting.
My earlier mistake meant that had more time to visit the Natural History museum which I did. I even went to the Freer Gallery to check out the Peacock Room.
Ventured into the Visitor Centre after and managed to catch an introduction video. Lesson learnt, the FIRST thing that you should do is head to the Visitor Centre and watch this video. It is so inspiring and told more about the museums than my guidebook did.
I headed to try the famous Mitsitam cafe in the African American museum after. Hey, if they can even have their own cookbook, it should be worth checking out.
My last stop was the National Portrait Gallery to view all the Presidents portraits.
That's all for Washington on my 2.5 day trip. There is still so much more to see if you like museums and history, you can easily spend 5 days here including checking out neighbouring Georgetown and heading to the Kennedy centre for some free evening entertainment. There were also other places like madam tussahs, spy museums and many more.
I did manage to squeeze in a foreign film movie.
For more photos, click here.
I decided to take a train rather than by air from New York to Washington. Leaving the hotel when the sun is still asleep is no fun as I made my way to Penn station to take the Acela Express.
While walking into the station, I was greeted by a homeless man who was clearly drunk and this was at 6 in the morning. I walked silently away only to have him follow me into the lift. Luckily there was another Guy in there who told him off saying that he is holding up the lift. Drunken man tapped me on the shoulder and said I'll talk to you later, I Nodded and said ok and then....*scurried away*.
What a way to start my journey to Washington. The train ride was really pleasant and they even have wifi!
Washington South Station
With half a day left to explore, I went off in search of some lunch which took to me to Georgetown University. Pit stop breaks for some lunch. From there it was a 6 blocks walk to Lincoln memorial.
Washington reminds me a little of Canberra. Large open spaces, no sky rises and lined with government buildings. It was a really nice sunny day considering that it was winter and it was just so peaceful. Bar the regular interruption of ambulance and police sirens.
Managed to visit the WWII memorial, White house and finished with the national archives. There is so much history and the whole place just amazes you. Seeing the White House, the much revered Declaration of Independence and Constitution was just amazing.
I was so sad that the FBI have temporarily closed their visitor’s tour. That would have been really interesting. Needless to say, I was really tired by this point as I walked everywhere!
Last stop was Chinatown for dinner. Washington's Chinatown is only manned by about 20 plus shops and restaurant which is quite dismal. What did I eat? Click here.
That's it for day 1 as I walked back to my hotel from Chinatown.
I HAD to spend a few days in NY as part of my US trip, there is an inexplicable vibe that hangs in the air and whether it is the unrelenting freeze of winter or sunny summer, you will still fall in love with the place.
There is just so much to see and if you have been watching a lot of US shows, it feels like a movie set wherever you walk and start recognising buildings and pavements for the first time. I love the grandeur of the Grand Central Terminal, the awe of the skyline from the Rockefeller centre and not to mention the delightful desserts and huge food portions.
I did not do as much sightseeing as my last trip which I know is way overdue. This time it was more catching up with friends, eating and shopping.
I definitely ate a LOT which you can catch it all here. Some of my favourites include the awesome Gua Bao or steamed buns, mouth watering ribs rendang and amazing texture in a poached egg just to name a few.
Shopping was....... Let's just say I was feeling shopped out and my credit cards have a very big hole in it now. US is a great place to shop for American brands especially at their outlet stores.
In NY, there are four options in addition to the myriad of shopping centres like Macy's, Sephora and Bergdorf Goodman. I went to all of them and here is a quick guide on each.
There is at least one store in every state and works similar to TK Maxx and Century 21. They sell a huge selection of mid to high end brands at discounted prices. You definitely need time and patience to dig out the bargains. It gets especially crazy when they go on sale, the ladies go crazy and manic mayhem occurs in the wedding dresses department.
Century 21 is similar to Filene's Basement but you can't beat their huge selection of mid range to couture shoes available. I grabbed many a shoe bargains here. Not to mention accessories and clothings. If you are tight for time and can't head to an outlet, I'll say head here as it is a micro version of the outlets with a taste of selections, variety and prices.
This takes half an hour by coach from the Port Authority Terminal and runs every half hour. Buy your ticket at the machines which costs $13 and head to gate 202. Jersey Gardens have mainly low to mid range brands with some having additional sales.
Lastly, you have Woodbury Commons Outlet which is an hour coach ride from Port Authority Bus Terminal. The ticket cost $42 which comes with a voucher book with additional discounts at participating stores. It is expensive for a coach ride and if you have more than three of you heading there, renting a car and driving there on your own might be a more economical option.
I say the price is worth it as the bargains are fantastic. As with outlets, sometimes you get great bargains and sometimes you don't. WC houses most of the mid range brands that can be found in Jersey Gardens as well as designer brands. Think
Of all of them, my favourite is WC followed by Century 21. Having been all four places in one trip, I am seriously shopped out!
The New York stop was pretty much catching up with friends through food and shopping this time round.
Please click here for more photos