Saturday, 30 June 2018

We took the train from Union Station in Washington, D.C., crossing Philadelphia and finally reaching our next destination; the Big Apple. We had amazing weather at D.C. but the climate during our New York visit took an extremely cold turn. The train journey was around 3 hours long and it was a ride in constant waterworks. To make matters worse, as soon as we stepped out of Pennsylvania Station, we felt a gush of wind pushing us; luggage and all. The weather was to be extremely windy with rainy intervals throughout our stay here. Nonetheless, we were in one of the most talked about cities in the world so we double-coated ourselves and headed out to explore this concrete jungle where dreams are made of!    

          Our first reaction was, "My God, the buildings are tall!" Almost unnecessarily tall! But then again, that's the whole appeal of the place, it really is like no other. Our first stop was Times Square which felt like a much bigger version of Leicester Square. Enormous digital screens and billboards were advertising and sharing almost everything, including a birthday message for a Korean pop artist. The classic yellow cabs ran busy through every street and steam rose from underneath the pavements, just like how they're portrayed in American movies. I looked up into this and it turns out that New York has a steam heating system which carries station-generated steam under Manhattan's streets to heat buildings. And Joey from the famous sitcom, Friends, was right. GAP really is in every corner!

Our hotel was in Hell's Kitchen near Central Park but the weather was so cold and windy that we were actually advised to avoid the park grounds. So, taking shelter from building to building, we lunged our way to Lower Manhattan followed by the World Trade Center. The 9/11 Memorial site touches you quite deeply and reflects a message of unity. However, personally, I did find it a bit awkward to see an enormous shopping mall right next door.

We took a lot of videos around Rockefeller Center which have been posted in our Instagram account. Do check them out if you would like to follow up on where we've been.

We then headed towards Brooklyn, a place where although we didn't spend much time in, I ended up falling in love with.

The bridge is iconic and very impressive in every possible way. My view may be biased as I had never crossed a bridge this huge on foot before. Once you reach mid-way, you can see Manhattan on one side and Brooklyn on the other. Landscape wise, there is clearly a structural division between the two places. However, a stroll down Brooklyn and you will notice less differences, definitely in terms of prices, which we were told was a result of gentrification. Overall, our trip to NYC was great despite the weather. We enjoyed a lot of good food which are featured in our Insta. Prices in New York are very similar to that in London. Food may initially appear cheaper but it's the tipping that'll equate it to London dining. I will now be passing the typing baton over to Damber who will cover our trip in the West Coast; California and Nevada!

Manhattan Bridge

Man in Manhattan; Damber poses in front of Brooklyn Bridge

by Sarah

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The first thing you think about when someone mentions the capital of the United States of America is either the White House, the President or a US memorial. If not, then you've probably already been exposed to the more relaxed side of the city. Just 7 miles south of the city lies Alexandria, which is also referred to as Old Town. This town technically is a part of Virginia and it is full of character; almost new European, with boutiques, bistros and antique shops. Think Covent Garden, London without the roof. What's most amazing about this place are the scenic views of the Potomac river.   

We were lucky to have such good weather during our stay there, that too in February! It was unusually warm so, we made the most of the trip by spending the evenings outdoors. 

The capital centre seemed very bureaucratic indeed. We were surrounded by what felt like a never-ending series of government buildings. Although for museum fanatics, this place is a haven of American history and even some Renaissance art. One of our favourites was the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Unlike many quiet museums, this one immediately grabbed our attention as soon as we walked in through the help of some very good jazz music.

The exterior of the National Museum of African American History & Culture with Washington Monument near the site.

D.C. is also filled with rental bikes to make your sightseeing plans easier.

Another must visit place, a favourite of mine, is the area surrounding Georgetown University. The town reminds me a little bit of Oxford and a little bit of Shoreditch. The Waterfront Park is very beautiful with a relaxing vibe but unfortunately, we forgot our dslr camera for the day so couldn't take as many photographs from our phones. These next pictures around Lincoln Memorial were taken using our mobile phone cameras.

Views from and in Lincoln Memorial, where Captain America was seen running around.

Lastly, on food, we ate a lot. A lot lot. I remember drinking almost every night followed by eating out as well as in, all thanks to our super hosts, my ohana in D.C. There is also a Korea Town nearby so we had an absolutely amazing Korean BBQ meal along with my sister's fabulous feasts. Her cheese omelettes are delish~ I also got to try American Chinese takeout that come in pagoda boxes. I haven't come across one in the UK yet so that was another treat. Again, we were very lucky with the weather, it got to almost 27 degree Celsius which was bizarre following how cold it was is New York, where my next post will be about! Fin. 👋

by Sarah