You know the sort of holiday that everyone dreams of? The kind of holiday you have to save up years and years for and you know will be a once in a lifetime experience? Well this was one of them. I think I’m quite safe in saying I will never go on such a holiday ever again in my life (unless I win the lottery of course, in which case it will be ALL I do) but I honestly believe it’s something everyone should strive to do in their life: explore a country so much that you never feel the need to go back!
The holiday was a 25-day coach trip across America; starting at New York, driving through a little bit of Canada and ending in San Francisco and was by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I’ve wanted to go to America since I was little, always dreaming of the big cities, amazing food and variety of different accents. My friend Lauren and I had been talking about going to America for a few years and so in August 2015 we decided to take the plunge and book a trip. The actual holiday that we booked was with Virgin Holidays called The Great American Crossing and, word of warning, did come with pretty hefty price tag but, what do you expect with a 21 day holiday?! We also booked a couple extra days in New York before the tour started and a couple extra days in San Francisco once the tour had ended as we wanted to cram as much sight seeing in as we could while we were there! Some of you might be wondering why we went for such a massive holiday. It was a mix of not being able to choose one state to go to and wanting to make the most of flying over there as it is a pretty long flight!
I’ll start off with the flight, which, on the way there wasn’t too bad. I had never been on a long-haul flight before and so the thought of being on the plane for 8ish hours was exciting yet terrifying at the same time. Unfortunately my brain refuses to let me sleep anywhere other than a bed and so I didn’t get any shut eye for the whole journey but I did get a window seat so, silver linings 🙂
New York. How on earth am I going to describe this without rambling on for pages and pages?! The four days we spent there were possibly the busiest, longest four days of my life! There is sooooo much to do that I would thoroughly recommend staying for a week if you’re looking to go there on holiday but I think we managed to (somehow) cram everything in that we wanted to see. The first hotel we stayed at in New York was the Westin Times Square which we were really impressed with and had theeeee best location possible! Probably one of the best hotels we stayed in for the whole trip to be honest. In terms of what I would recommend doing while you’re there, here are my top 5 things to do:
- Of couuuuurse visit the Statue of Liberty but make sure you buy the tickets as far in advance as you possibly can, they sell out FAST! I realised this when I went to buy the tickets and it turned out the ‘Crown’ tickets had all sold out. However, in the end I feel like we didn’t miss out on anything by getting the ‘Pedestal’ tickets as we saw everything we wanted to see and the view from the pedestal was still amazing! The tickets that we bought included a trip to Ellis Island but we decided not to do this as we weren’t too fussed about seeing it and didnt really have time! I used this site to buy the tickets.
- This might shock you a little bit, but let me explain. I wouldn’t recommend going to the Empire State Building. To be fair, we probably didn’t go at the best time (I think we went at about 10pm after a very very long day walking around New York and I definitely wasn’t in the mood for any more standing around) but the queue was absolutlely in-s-a-n-e. This was the queue for people that already had tickets so I dread to think what it was for people who didn’t have tickets! The view was nice, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like the whole experience was ruined by how long we had to wait just to get in. A very suitable alternative is to go to the Top of the Rock instead which offers views that are just as amazing but without the massive queues. There was a great view of Central Park from one side! We bought the ‘RockPASS’ here which included a tour of the Rockefeller Centre too (it was nice but a little long-winded, depends how much you want to learn about the history of the Centre!).
- When you visit Central Park give yourself loads and loads of time! It’s so much bigger than you can even imagine and I would’ve loved to have explored all of it but we didn’t leave enough time (and it started raining!). There’s so many little things to do in the park you could quite easily spend all day there. Another little tip is to try your absolute best to not use the toilets in the Park, I can safely say they were the worst toilets I have ever had the experience of using!
- It’s a really good idea to try and get a hang of their street system before you go. Lauren and I got lost SO many times until one day the lovely security at our hotel showed us how to get around and it’s actually pretty simple! There are streets and there are avenues; streets run from east to west and avenues run from north to south and they all run in numerical order. Once you get the hang of it it makes travelling around so much easier! Have a chat with the any of the staff at your hotel and I’m sure they’ll be happy to show you how it all works!
- Lastly, make sure you visit the 9/11 Memorial site, it’s truly breathtaking. I’m so so glad I’ve had the chance to visit such a beautiful memorial that pays homage to those that were taken from us that day.
So there you go, New York summed up in a pretty big nutshell! I would love to know if any of you have been to New York and what your favourite experiences were? The next post will start with when we started our tour on the Great American Crossing so stay tuned for that 🙂