#ETLUSA Adventure: New York, Boston, Philadelphia & Atlantic City

As many of you who read my blog or follow me on Twitter will know, I am currently on a an adventure around the USA and Central America.

This blog post is a quick round up of my experience so far since we landed in NYC after a brilliant 8 hour flight with American Airlines. 

First Stop: New York City (Manhattan) 

After taking the subway train into the city, we were instantly greeted by extreme heat and instant sweat as we carried our backpacks and changed at 3 subway stations to get to out hotel/hostel. (This is the only negative thing I have to say about the trip, so I'll get this out the way) The NYC underground is CRAZY hot in the Summer time and with a backpack it's extremely uncomfortable, but once you get to your location it's all worth it.

So to the good stuff...our hotel/hostel was perfect, quiet and clean. Located off 101st and Broadway, most days we walked 45-60 minutes to mid-down town Manhattan to explore the famous sites of NYC. 

We stayed in NYC for 5 days and whilst there we embarked on a number of adventures.

First we took the Staten Island Ferry (free) and saw great views of lower Manhattan and also the beautiful Statue of Liberty. Then we spent time exploring and shopping in Times Square. Personally, I would recommend heading to Times Square in the evening time, as it seems more magical when lit up with the bright lights.

The second day we spent an entire day walking top-to-bottom of Central Park which was one of my favourite moments as there are lots of hidden treasures in here. From John Lennons "Imagine" mosaic to hidden boating lakes, there's always something new and beautiful to see.

Our next NYC site was to the MoMA gallery on the Friday (which is free from 4-8pm) where we saw a range of Warhol, Monet and Picasso paintings. Definitely worth a trip! I'm a huge art geek and so I was in my element.

Our next day consisted of trips to Rockefeller Centre and two of the most beautiful NYC landmarks for me...the NYC Public Library and Grand Central Station. When visiting Grand Central I highly recommend going to the magical whispering arches (Google them if you're unsure on what they are, it's a great experience). 

On one of our final days in NYC we headed down to mid-lower Manhattan and visited the idyllic Washington Square Park. We sat and had lunch and soaked up the NYU atmosphere as all the freshers had arrived and were chanting fun songs whilst dancing in the fountain. 

On this day we also made a trip to 64 Perry Street...for some of you this may mean nothing, but to passionate Sex and the City fans, this is the "home" of Carrie Bradshaw! Standing outside her stoop was amazing and made me think of my amazing best friends back home :) 

Second Stop: Boston 
We took a YO Bus from Chinatown in NYC to Boston for $15 return and it was great. There's a little hustle and bustle at the beginning as there are no reserved seats on the bus. But once on board it's an air conditioned coach with free wifi and a restroom. After a 5 hour coach ride (usually 4 hours but we got caught in traffic) we arrived at the bus station in Boston. 

From here we took the subway to our hostel, 40 Berkeley, where we dropped off our backpacks, freshened up and headed out for a few beers in Boston. 

The great thing about Boston is that everything is so close compared to NYC, our hostel was a 15 minute walk into the center of Boston. 

Note: A lesson to be learned for UK travellers, is that you need to take your passport with you when going to bars. A compliment to my mid twenties self, however it's a little annoying when you have to be turned away. 

So, after being turned away by bars for looking "too young", we headed for our first Wendy's fast food experience and tucked into one their "old fashioned burgers", then headed home for the night. 

The next day (prepared with passports) we headed up to Harvard University to explore around the historical campus. 

From here we then took the train and headed to McGreevys bar and a few others along and off Newbury Street. 

Sitting at the bar, we chatted to the bartender and watched our first MBL game of the Boston Red Sox vs. the Chicago White Sox. Whilst enjoying pitchers of Miller beer we then tucked into a large bowl of nachos and cheese and I was challenged to eat the chilli on top...big mistake! 

Day three quickly arrived and we headed to the visitor centre in downtown Boston to follow the Freedom Trail. Starting in the Boston Common we followed the red line through the city and headed down to the market where we found the Cheers bar which was also good fun! 

After a long day of walking, we then headed back to our hostel for a chilled evening of beers and movies before we headed back to NYC for our stay in Brooklyn.

Stop Three: New York City (Brooklyn) 
After taking the Yo Bus back from Boston, we jumped on the subway train and headed to Brooklyn to stay in the trendy neighbourhood of Williamsburg for 3 days.

We stayed at the New York Lofts, in a shared dorm with another traveller from England who was exploring the US for 2 weeks. Our first night was spent watching our first live baseball game at Yankee Stadium. 

You can take the 4 line up to the Bronx for $2.50 and get off right outside the stadium. We managed to swindle free tickets thanks to a lovely American couple who had two spare. But usually they range from $20-300.

When in the stadium we purchased ourselves a large novelty cup soda and two pretzels (getting into the baseball spirit). After finding our seats we sat down to watch the 3 hour game of baseball. 

In the end the Yankees won against the Chicago White Sox and I really enjoyed myself at the game! A lot of people who I speak to find baseball really boring but I loved all the live cam breaks and the overall game.

The next day we headed into Williamsburg to explore around and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. This was a brilliant experience and it has breath taking views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. After this we then headed back into Brooklyn to take part in the infamous Brooklyn Brewery tour! (Read the full Brooklyn Brewery Tour here

The tour was great fun and we got chatting to a group of Norwegian people who we continued drinking with and got some yummy food with at a bar called Teddys in Williamsburg.

Our final day in Brooklyn was spent relaxing in a park near to the Williamsburg bridge and looking around at all the artistic graffiti on the walls. 

In the late afternoon we took the train over to downtown Manhattan, paid a visit to China Town, grabbed a slice of pizza in Little Italy and then headed to the 9/11 Memorial which was so sad, but also so moving at the same time. 

Stop Four: Philadelphia 
I had heard mixed reviews about Philadelphia. Some good, some bad and some just average. This time round we took a Mega bus for $2 for the 90 minute journey to Philadelphia. When arriving at 30th Street Station, we took a taxi to our first Air BnB experience and stayed for 2 nights with a lovely lady called Kristine in her Philadelphia home about 15-20 minutes walk out of the city. 

After a hectic few week in New York and Boston, we decided that our first day would be simply to relax, eat some good food and explore the small neighbourhood around Kristine's home. We bought some great steak and made our own version of the Philly Cheese Steak for our first night.

The next morning, after a recommendation from Kristine, we took the stunning river walk towards the Philadelphia art museum and ran up the famous Rocky steps...like true tourists. 

From here we headed into downtown Philadelphia and enjoyed our lunch at the Logan Circle Fountain. We then decided to head further down town and pay a visit to the Love Fountain, Liberty Bell (free) and the Constitution Centre.

Step Five: Atlantic City
We took the train from Philadelphia for $10 and it took us 90 minutes to get to Atlantic City. Once out of the station you have two options, to take the Jitny Bus $2.25 or take a taxi cab $10-$15 (depending on your hotel location).

We were staying at the Golden Nugget, just off the marina and about a 5-10 drive  from the boardwalk and beach. Our time in Atlantic City was mainly spent eating good food, having a cheeky gamble on the roulette tables and relaxing by the pool and in the hot tubs at the Golden Nugget. Our room was fantastic and had a great view of the pool and the harbour. 

We arrived on the Sunday and it seems that the weekends are the busiest here. We really enjoyed our first day at the Golden Nugget as there were live DJ's playing, which gave a great atmosphere at the pool / H20 Bar area. 

On our second day we decided to explore the boardwalk and so we took the Jitny bus from our hotel into town. Walking along the boardwalk was really nice as it reminded me of the seaside towns in England. Unfortunately, the pier was closed, but we did get to see the beautiful beaches and the bright lights of the casinos. 

After stopping for lunch, we then headed to the Tanger shopping mall and had a look around the stores to pick out a birthday gift for me...but I actually didn't want anything there :O it must be my old age...

The final day, my birthday, was spent doing nothing but sunbathing by the pool and it was perfect. The hottest day yet (30c) and we were relaxing in the sunshine whilst listening to chillout dance music by the pool! Later in the evening we went for a meal at one of the hotel restaurants and then headed for one final game on the roulette table. 

So that's been my first two weeks in the USA. It may not sound like a lot but it's been amazingly chaotic and I've loved every minute.

Our next stop...Washington DC.
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