A week in the USA

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August 7th 2019
Published: August 7th 2019
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It was October 2017, my 5th visit to the United States of America and my second visit to New York City. My first visit to the city and the country was in May 2006. "The city that never sleeps" is the largest city of the USA with roughly 20 million inhabitants. Also known as the "Big Apple", it is a very lively city with something for everyone! This visit was part of a type of "apprenticeship" for a small travel agency in Curaçao in order to be able to travel as a travel-coordinator with their groups. Of course I am not the kind of person who would book such tours, but for others it is an easy and comfortable way to travel. This tour was one week and is a pretty active one because you'll move from place to place often and sleep at different hotels. The group consisted of 12 travellers and 1 coordinator (Henry), whom I had to learn from. Being a part of the group, there was a schedule which of course I couldn't deviate from so I wasn't able to do things on my own like I usually do. I wanted to go see a Yankees baseball game so bad, but I couldn't.

We flew through Miami, where you have to go through migration, grab your luggage and check-in again. This whole process took too much time and we missed our connection flight. The start of the trip couldn't have been better. It took a lot of time to arrange everything at the airline in order to get accommodation and food-vouchers. By the time we reached the hotel in Miami Beach it was already 1am and around 3:30am we had to be out to go back to the airport, since we had a very early flight. We finally landed at New York JFK Airport in the morning and made our way to the hotel. Everyone was tired of course. Later in the early afternoon we visited a mall, the favourite place for most Curaçaoans visiting the USA. I also needed to buy a few things so I took advantage. Then I let the others take my stuff to the hotel because I had to accompany two of the clients to Manhattan. They had tickets for a musical in Broadway so I figured out how to get there. We first took a taxi to the nearest subway station, from there it was one line straight into Manhattan, getting off at 42 Street Port Authority station and walked to the theatre. While they went inside, I wandered around Times Square for a bit to kill time. The famous square is completely covered with big, bright advertisement signs and a lot of neon lights. It is definitely a nice sight and it was very busy, since it's a magnet for tourists and a "must" when in the city. I see the whole Times Square as a good example of consumerism and capitalism at their best. Just sit down or stand somewhere for a while and just look around, you'll see all kinds of people.

The next day we went to explore the city a little bit, even though the weather was cloudy and rain was looming. We went all the way to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, from where we took the boat to Liberty Island. We visited the famous Statue of Liberty, a copper statue which was a gift from France to the USA in 1886. The boat continued to Ellis Island but we did not get off there. In 2006 I did visit the Ellis Island and its Immigration Museum. Back then I did not plan to visit the museum but I found it so interesting, that spent about 4 hours there. Many immigrants to the USA, especially from Europe, arrived through Ellis Island late 19th and early 20th century. Back at Battery Park it was raining a lot! We had some lunch not very far from there and then continued towards the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center used to be. As you all know, both where destroyed after a terrorist attack in 11 September 2001 when two aircrafts flew into the structures. After this we did a tour on the so-called "hop-on hop-off" bus through the city and in the evening it was a night tour with the same kind of bus. The tour passed by sites such as Brooklyn Bridge, United Nations, Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Earlier this day we lost a lot of time waiting on the bus, not knowing that some of the bus-stops were cancelled due to the Columbus Day Parade and the bus-company did not communicate this to us. This fact together with the rain, made us lose too much time and they day didn't go as planned. In 2006 I also visited places such as the Central Park, I saw a baseball game in the old Yankee Stadium when the Yankees won 15-4 of Kansas City Royals; I went up the Empire State Building with an excellent view over Manhattan island, China Town, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Seaport Historic District and I did an NBC Studio Tour. New York City is a city full of life and worth a visit! You get to see many places you often see in movies and I even got to see a part of the filming of Spider Man III in 2006.

The next day we drove towards Philadelphia for a short stop. We visited the "Independence Hall", where the United States Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776. On the other side of the road there is a small museum where you find the "Liberty Bell" with a big crack in it, The Liberty Bell was one of the bells that supposedly rung a few days after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
We had lunch and continued towards the capital city of the USA, Washington D.C, where we spent the rest of the day. It was one of the American cities I always wanted to visit and even though it was a short visit, it was a nice one! Washington D.C has around 700.000 inhabitants and many of its main attractions and sites of interest are relatively close to each other. The Capitol Building, where the US Congress is seated, dates back to 1800. Nearby you'll find the Smithsonian Museum of American History and Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It was very interesting, especially the parts of the museum dedicated to the history of aviation and space travel. Many old planes where showed, also spacecrafts and cockpits of bigger jets. Too bad we did not have too much time since I really wanted to stay longer since the museum is pretty big. Not far from there, we continued towards the Washington Monument, which is an obelisk that reflects nicely in the water. The obelisk is 169m high and was completed late 19th century. Also nearby we went to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, dedicated to the American president who abolished slavery in the country. At the memorial there is tall statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a chair. Of course we also went towards the White House, Donald Trump's official residence and office. Obviously you cannot get too close to the fence, for safety reasons I'd say. Later we made a boat-trip on the Potomac River which I did not like that much, since I didn't find it to be that exciting. It wasn't like those boat-trips you take on rivers which go directly through the city centre.

We left Washington D.C early evening and drove towards Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where we stayed overnight. The next day we continued the journey towards the north and stopped at the town of Corning, with about 10.000 inhabitants. Here we visited a nice and particular factory/museum called "The Corning Museum of Glass". Here they obviously make a lot of things out of glass; beautiful and colourful things such as plates, vases and many other types of ceramics and some are particularly stunning!
Later in the afternoon we finally reached Niagara Falls and we stayed overnight there. These impressive waterfalls are located at the border between Canada and the USA, as part of the Niagara River which connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario. After arriving at the hotel, we went for a walk along a part of the falls. It was near dusk and the falls were nicely lit. The falls are definitely impressive, no doubt. The one thing I did not like that much about these falls, comparing to several other falls I've seen, is that the area around it is too built up thus not natural. The next day we took a boat tour on the "Maid of the Mist" which brings you very close to the falls. Prepare yourself, take a raincoat because you will get wet. It was worth getting so close, hearing the rush of the water and see all its force, wow!

In the afternoon we started our long drive back to New York City and the next day we flew to Miami where we stay overnight. I met there with Rani, friend of Mickey. I Mickey hosted back in 2012 in Curaçao and I had already met Rani in Curaçao in 2016 when he visited with friends and I showed them around. He picked me up at the hotel and we first went to Wall-Mart, where I had to buy just a few things. Then we went to Miami Beach for a while. It's always great to have contacts, friends and acquaintances over the world, isn't it?
The next day we flew back to Curaçao, where I flew about 4 hours later than the travellers of the group and the coordinator. The airline was overbooked and was looking for people to stay longer in Miami and fly later. I got a voucher which I used on one of my trips in 2018 with the same airline; I couldn't be happier!

More travels in the next blog-entry!

Additional photos below
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10th August 2019

A busy week
You saw a lot in one week!
11th August 2019

hahah yes, it was quite a rush :-)
20th August 2019
Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C

Smithonian Air and Space Museum - the best in the world?
I would rank the Air and Space Museum one of the best museums in the world. It was so cool to go around there and see all those legendary aircrafts. If I even come to Philadelphia the Rocky Steps and the Rocky statue are a must. We also plan to run the exercise run Rocky ran in Rocky 2 I think. When you take all the clips from the run in the film and trace out a route in Philly it is actually around 40 km long. We'll do it just for the fun of it. It's take a day though. /Ake
23rd August 2019
Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C

I loved the museum too. It was unexpected since I was as a part of a group on this journey and I did not know about the museum. Philadelphia we stayed very short, will need to search about the Rocky Steps and Rocky Statue.

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