Boston was our next stop. There was only really one thing to do on memorial day weekend in Boston, and that was go and watch the Redsox at Fenway Park! We didn’t have tickets as it was apparently sold out but we had heard that if you arrive a little earlier and stand in a queue for a little while you can still get tickets. We did and ended up with great seats right near the front! They played a great game against the L.A. Angels, winning 6-1. There were lots of huge home runs and even a couple of snapped bats! The place was packed and the atmosphere for the home team was great.
The baseball took up most of the day so the next day we decided to explore Boston through the Freedom trail. This is a walk through Boston that shows America’s history of the Revolutionary War which gave independence to America from Great Britain.
We started at Boston Common, America’s oldest public park, where there was a memorial of 37,000 small American flags dedicated to each person from the state of Massachusetts that has died in war. After that we followed the route through the city and saw the site of the Boston massacre, graveyards where the people who were responsible for America’s independence were buried as well as lots of churches and meeting places where important events took place in America’s history.
For the extended weekend there was also a lot of street theatre going on. We managed to watch a few including a guy from Sydney who balanced on a really tall pole while juggling machetes! He was quite good but his humour was lost on the crowd which was a shame as he was actually pretty funny.
We had some really great weather while we were in Boston. On one of the days we were treated to a show by the Blue Angel jets who were flying over the harbour for a while. There was also a lot of helicopters about. Something must have been going on but weren’t sure what! After that we decided to go and visit Harvard, just to be nosey. It was kind of a bad idea as there was a graduation taking place so it was extremely busy. We did manage to have a wander round the campus though and see all the pretty buildings and the clever graduates in their robes. We also saw MIT further down the road. The neighbourhoods in this area were really nice to walk around and the streets felt very American.
It felt like we’d only just arrived in Boston and we were already leaving. The last few weeks of the trip are flying by. Our next stop was a long bus journey to Buffalo for one reason only… Niagara Falls. As we arrived in Niagara we could see the mist of the Falls from miles away. We headed straight for the Maid of the Mist when we arrived and boarded the boat in the famous blue ponchos. First we sailed past America Falls which was huge and had lots of boulders at the bottom. Then we got to the main attraction, Horseshoe Falls. The boats engine remained on full power though we stopped moving because of the enormous currents. The boat stayed at the base of the falls for a while and allowed us to get some great photos. The boat then span around, edging closer to the falls, which soaked us in the process! All good fun!
After the boat ride we walked along the top of the falls and got a great view of a rainbow that had formed inside American Falls. From the top you could see the real speed of the water flow. It’s crazy to think people have gone over the edge and survived!
Considering we were doing everything cliché during our time in Buffalo we decided to finish off our time there with original buffalo wings from the very place they were created. A little place called Anchor Bar shares the story of how the owner’s son’s friends all came the bar starving one day so instead of using the chicken wings for the owner’s soup, she decided to serve them to the friends. And they were a success! We decided to share a plate between us but some people were ordering plates of 50!
The next day soon arrived and it time to make our last trip to a new place. Arguably we saved the best til last and at 8pm we arrived in New York City. We tried to blend in and not look like tourists by getting on the subway. We were doing great until Danny’s bag got stuck in the door and caused a little drama. We dropped our bags off in the Upper West Side where we were staying and headed straight back out to Times Square for some exploring. As expected it was heaving but in some way this added to what we expected New York to be like. After a few hours of exploring we called it a night, ready for tomorrow!!
With Central Park being so close to our apartment we decided to start the day there with an iced coffee (something that has become a favourite of ours whilst travelling). We walked around the park, past the reservoir, past Alice in Wonderland and untoward the Wolloman Rink, which is being used as a small fairground in the summer months. The park was filled with huge pieces of bedrock which was really cool to see. There was also a lot of amateur baseball games going on.
After the park we ended up doing much more exploring than we expected. We headed to the Rockefeller Centre and went up to the top for amazing views! It was a little misty out towards the harbour but this seemed to add to the overall experience. You could still see so much of the boroughs, lower Manhattan and Central Park looked enormous!
We also strolled up and down 5th Avenue looking in all the shops! We visited the Apple Store and FAO Swartz which is the toyshop off the film Big. We saw people playing on the big piano but decided against it ourselves. The sweet section of the store was amazing with everything from Bertie Botts every flavour beans to giant jelly bears!
We also took the subway south to Greenwich Village. Just at the top of the subway steps on W4th Street there was a basketball match happening so we hung around for a bit and watched that. From what we saw it was a good game and when we walked past later another game was in the 100’s for scoring! Not far away from the basketball we visited a few famous building from TV shows. First we saw the Friends building used for exterior shots of their apartment. It’s weird to think that none of Friends was actually shot in New York but at least you can imagine by seeing the building! We also saw Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and the City.
While we were in the area we decided to see quite a few other sights that we wanted to see. We did a little loop walk around and ended up visiting Washington Square, the Flat Iron building and Union Square. After we headed back to Times Square as we had been told about Manhattan Henge that was supposed to be happening that evening. Manhattan Henge is when the sun aligns directly with the city grid so the sun lights up both the north and south sides of the street. It only happens a couple of times a year. Unfortunately the clouds ruined it for us, and many others. Maybe next time?
Another morning, another walk through Central Park. This time past the Swedish Cottage and up to the lake. Here we saw the famous Bow Bridge and the steps and the fountain. Unfortunately (again), the bridge was under construction so didn’t look as great as we’d thought! With it being a lovely sunny day we decided to go onto the lake in a rowing boat. The lake was quite big and was filled with tortoises on rocks and swimming through the water. An hour soon past and then we headed to Grand Central Station. The building was spectacular! Why isn’t Poulton like this? We even found the whispering corner where is you both stand at each end of an arch you can talk quietly to each other and it can be heard in the other corner. It was very strange but there were lots of people testing it out!
That evening we had tickets to go and see Ed Sheeran in Brooklyn. We also had been told about a food festival that was happening on Pier 5 In Brooklyn called Smorgasberg. We decided to try it out and when had short rib nachos and the fanciest chorizo scotch egg! However while we were enjoying our food a thunderstorm started…. and it did not stop. We huddled under a small cover next to a food hut but we needed to get to the arena. Without and jackets or umbrellas and a walk away from the subway we just had to run for it! We stopped at every cover we could but still got absolutely soaked! Luckily when we got to the tube it took us right to the Barclay’s Centre where we needed to be. When we finally arrived we treated ourselves to some fancy frozen cocktails and enjoyed watched Foy Vance and then Ed Sheeran. He was so good and put on a great show, definitely worth braving the rain for.
The next morning it was stillll raining. We couldn’t let this stop us though. As has become a tradition, we started our day off with a walk. This time along the High Line in Chelsea. This is an abandoned train line which has been turned into a raised garden. It was a long boardwalk consisting of flowers growing all around the unused railway line. At the end we were quite near a few famous places so we had a look at Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building. We decided not to go up as we’d been up the top of the rock.
That afternoon we visited Brooklyn again and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge in the misty weather. We happened to go back to Times Square later on and we saw that there was a food festival on called Taste Times Square. You had to buy tickets then you could around each stall and exchange the tickets for small amounts of food from each place. We decided to give it a go and had a great time experiencing all the different food. Surprisingly, the most well-known places tasted the worse!
Following another recommendation, our next day began with brunch at Jacob’s Pickles. Here we had breakfast biscuits and French toast with strawberries. The food was amazing and the portions were that huge that we struggled to finish! After brunch we headed to Wall St where we saw the stock exchange, the charging bull and even Zuccotti Park where Occupy Wall Street took place.
Still raining we headed to the 9/11 memorial for the evening. First we saw the memorial pools which were a really fitting tribute to 9/11. When we eventually got in we watched a short film with George W Bush and Tony Blair speaking of the day it happened. After that we looked through the museum which was a timeline of the day. It had first hand accounts of the day from the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and New York. There were hundreds of pieces of display including NYPD and FDNY hats and tool etc. There were also fire trucks and ambulance remains that had been crushed in the collapse. The saddest part of the experience has to be listening to a man’s answerphone message to his wife from a hijacked plane. The calmness in his voice brought instant tears to our eyes and is something we’ll never forget. There was also a great section dedicated to each person that had lost their life and also a film showing the recovery and rebuild process. The whole museum was done very well but it was an extremely sad experience and we left feeling very upset.
Our final full day was soon upon us. Can’t believe it!! For lunch we had proper New York pizza, however we underestimated the size of the slices and struggled to finish! We had decided to save some of the major New York touristy things to do until the last day so we had a few things planned. Firstly we got the boat to the Statue of Liberty. Luckily we were stood on the right side of the boat and as we sailed past the statue to dock we got some great photos of the statue and the Manhattan skyline in the background! When we arrived we did a little audio tour that explained about the importance of the statue to immigrants. It also included real experiences from people who had come to America. They recalled the first time they saw the statue and the emotions they felt. We had decided to treat ourselves when we booked the tickets and bought the ones which allow you to go up the pedestal of the statue. Unfortunately we couldn’t go right to the top as it was sold out until September! The pedestal was great though but it was a strange seeing the statue from the angle beneath.
After we finished at Liberty Island we got the boat to Ellis Island. This is where immigration into the US was controlled and where all arriving people had to undergo medical and criminal examinations. Here we had another audio tour and learnt about the early settlers of the US. If you are American you can also trace your ancestors here, with about 40% of American being able to trace somebody related to them.
For our final evening we watched the sunset along the shoreline before heading to World Trade Centre One, the new World Trade Centre. Once we had been checked by security we arrived in a lobby to see that we were the 48,783 visitor. It only opened a week ago! We then walked through fake bedrock and into amazing lifts which have animated screens on them (won’t ruin the surprise for anyone else that visits). The lift travels at 53mph but it doesn’t even feel like you’re moving! At the top, the views are as amazing as you would expect. It was good to see New York at night after seeing it in the day light from the top of the rock. High above Manhattan you could see the Empire State, the Brooklyn Bridge and the flashing lights of Broadway.
And that is about it. Our last few hours in New York were spent getting last minute bits and bobs to take home. Can’t quite believe that after 158 days our travels have come to an end and now it is time to go back to reality. We are so looking forward to seeing family and friends but we are very grateful of the experiences that we have had. Hopefully we can continue this blog on another adventure…
Danny & Susie