Finally a post about our US road trip – you’ve all been waiting for this right? RIGHT? Ok, thought so! Here we go – hotel reviews, tips and oddities!
Before we go on our tour, we need to enter the US. Here is my advice:
- If you have any food allergies, tell the airline beforehand! I did not and had to learn that every single dish on the plane contained celery. So I had to survive on two bananas and two yoghurts that the flight assistant probably took from her own supplies.
- US immigration officers are generally grumpy and not very nice. Make sure you know your travelling dates, make sure you know your first address. Make sure you know the person you claim to travel with 🙂 Prepare to have your fingertips pressed on an item that thousands of passengers have touched before you and have your fingerprints taken. Don’t joke about bombs.
New York City
New York, New York! Everybody who has been there told me how great it is. I was sceptical, to be honest. I don’t like crowds and expected the skyscrapers to just cave in on me. But what can I say, I loved it! We stayed at the Days Inn Hotel Broadway in Uptown Manhattan. As the name suggests, it is right on Broadway, close to the subway stop “96th Street”. The hotel is really ok. It’s not fancy, it would need some restauration, but for the budget we had it was alright! It was my first time ever to sleep with earplugs though – not because of the busy streets, but because of the AC that were really loud!
There are bazillions of posts on NYC, so I won’t go into all the sights and stuff to do. You find that elsewhere. But I have got a few tips for those who only have very few days in this city:
- Walk as much as you can! Especially in Manhattan, you just run into all the things that you have seen in movies before. Walk down Broadway, and you get a great overview of Manhattan!
- Don’t fall for the Statue of Liberty tours that cost you a lot of money. Go to Battery Park and ride the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free and passes the Statue of Liberty! Have dinner on the island and enjoy the view of the NYC skyline!
- Do go to Brooklyn, but – unlike us – bring a map and plan where you want to go. Otherwise you are just lost! Don’t use Brooklyn Bridge, but walk over Manhattan Bridge and see Brooklyn Bridge from there! Manhattan bridge also lets you look at China town from above. You also get a good view on what’s going on on NYC roofs!
- Buy election socks. That’s right. Oh, how I wish we had Angela Merkel socks in our stores 😀
Niagara Falls, NY and Canada
We left New York City and started our road trip. We decided to make a detour and pay a visit to Woodstock. Yes, THE Woodstock. There is not much to see, but it meant so much to me! Finally I can imagine what it was like for all those people to travel to that festival! We got a first idea of nature and wildlife when we almost hit a deer on the way!
We stayed at the Days Inn & Suites in Buffalo, NY. The proximity to the Niagara Falls is really the only reason to stay in Buffalo. There is nothing else to do! The motel was decent and had the best beds I have ever encountered in a hotel. At night, we sat by the outdoor pool and watched the flickering motel lights – if you like “Bates’ Motel”, you will like it there! They offer free breakfast facilities in the morning – you can bake your own waffles, and I tasted maple sirup for the first time in my life. I obviously brought a bottle home with me!
The Niagara Falls were different from what I expected. For some reason, I had thought they would be in a National Park of sorts, but in fact, they are in the middle of town! We saw the American Falls first and I remember thinking “What is all the fuss about?” But then, we saw the Canadian Falls / Horseshoe Falls. Just wow! So. Much. Water! So…
- Do empty your wallet and go on the Maid of the Mist – they try to get as close to the falls as possible – the view is breathtaking!
- Walk on Rainbow Bridge to Canada. Canadian immigration officers are nice. The view is stunning. But be prepared – you have to get back into the US. See the beginning of the post for re-immigrating!
Oh, Vermont! Definitely my favourite part of the tour! We stayed in the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes. Kellerman’s in Dirty Dancing, anybody? I was expecting Johnny to come out of one of the lodges any minute! Yeah, that’s right. They have different lodges there – we stayed in “Pinecrest”, my little girl’s dream came true! How cute it was, and we had a lovely view on Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains! The name giver of Lake Champlain saw the mountains, saw that they were green and named them Green Mountains. What a story 😀 The hotel has a beautiful outdoor pool, a golf course and a super splendid breakfast buffet (25$, worth every penny).
- Got to Burlington. It is a college city, pretty hippie-ish, and you will see every 90s college movie character you can think of: nerds, goth girls, hippies….
- Have dinner in Park Squeeze – I highly recommend their Cornmeal Crusted Catfish, served with kale – heaven!
- When you come back from dinner and find a note on your car saying “I am very sorry, I bumped into your car”, call the rental car company immediately. In case you need to dial 9+1 on your hotel phone in order to make an outside call, make sure the number you dial does not start with a 1. In this hypothetical case you might get a hectic call asking why you called 911 😀
- Pray that you have additional insurance on your rental car when you inspect the damage the next morning.
The drive to Maine was nothing but beautiful. Huge forests, impressive lakes, young foxes in danger of being run over to your car! We drove through the White Mountains National Park – beauty!
We stayed at the Fireside Inn & Suites in Belfast. Every room has a sea view and a balcony. The staff there is pretty grumpy, but they make up for it with a jacuzzi and a fantastic restaurant!
- Go on a whale-watching tour. Even though we did not see any whales, Boothbay Harbor and the boat ride were worth the visit! And we saw dolphins!
- Visit Stephen King’s house in Bangor. You’ll feel the atmosphere of the books for sure, and the house is impressive!
- Go to the Amish farm in Unity. If you’re a guy, don’t try to talk to the Amish ladies in the shop. They will cast down their eyes and make you feel uncomfortable – ask Mr. Betterhalf!
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
We had imagined our drive to Cape Cod on a romantic coastal road, but we were mistaken. There is no such thing. And here is a strong advice:
- Do set your GPS on “avoid interstate” at all times, BUT when you travel from Maine to Cape Cod!!!
Unfortunately, nobody advised us on this, and so we ended up in the middle of Boston during rush hour. This was my worst nightmare coming true. There are cars everywhere, coming from all directions. After an hour in the traffic, we took the wrong turn and were led into a tunnel. When we emerged from it, we were at the exact same spot where we started. We set the GPS on “Interstate”, but had to do it all again… and then, I found myself stuck in a tunnel under water. It was a nightmare! The trip which would have taken 5 hours turned into 11 hours instead and we arrived in our hotel in South Yarmouth in a state of total exhaustion.
We stayed at the Riviera Beach Resort in South Yarmouth. It is really ok off-season. It has outdoor and indoor pools and is right by the beach. After the Boston nightmare we decided to cancel our stay in Boston and to just enjoy our last days in the US on the beach!
Our 15 days in the States went by so fast! On the plane back, I watched the Clinton-Trump debate and then tried to fathom all the impressions we gathered during our trip. I am still not done! But I do have some more tips for those of you who go to USA for the first time:
- Get used to small talk. Prepare to respond to various “How are you this morning?”s before you even leave the hotel! It is nice, it makes you feel good!
- Have your passport with you if you want to buy booze! They do not accept foreign driving licenses or national IDs. Even though you seem to look old enough to be called “Sir” or “Ma’am”, they will not sell you alcohol unless you can prove your age. This was weird! I think the last time someone asked for my ID when I wanted to buy booze in Germany was at the age of 27….
- Have dollar notes for tips available. I forgot to leave a few notes for the cleaning lady in Vergennes, and I am still heartbroken over that!
- If you are, like me, allergic to wheat, prepare! The bread selection is rather limited, toast is the bread of choice in all supermarkets!
- Don’t expect to find lunch in the countryside. Buy stuff at a supermarket and have your lunch breaks out of your car boot!
The US will surely see me again! I had a fantastic time, and I learned once again that Mr. Betterhalf is the best travelling partner in the world! I could not ask for more!