I had to wait for my brother to come visit me to finally take some time to travel outside DC. In seven days I spent 19 hours in a bus and I now have an overall opinion about the major cities of the East Coast: New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
1) Skiing in New York
Everybody loves New York. It’s “the greatest city of the world” a wise man once said (when I think about it, it may just have been Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother). Since I am not a very adventurous tourist, I went to see the Statue of Liberty, the Public Library, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge and all those things you can see on postcards.
Everything was great I admit. Yet, it’s in New York that I found the one place I never want to go back to ever again: Time Square. You never find the appropriate pace to walk at there. Either you try to go fast and someone brutally stops in front of you or you walk slowly and everybody runs around you. The last time I felt this way was when I went skying in France. You have people coming in every direction, going faster or slower than you and when you stop you have strange expensive shops all around you.
I also got the chance to see a musical: Memphis. A good experience to realize that musicals can actually be an impressive show when they have enough money. I should bring that lesson back to France.
Delicious chocolate: “Chocolate Café” (near the Flatiron)
Shopping: Brooklyn industries in Williamsburg
2) Living in the shoes of a leprechaun in Boston
My brother reserved rooms for us via “airbnb”. That’s how I discovered it was better to be 2-inch tall to live in Boston. I had seen on the pictures that in our apartment everything was close to each other. What I did not know was that all the furniture were also small and that the apartment was under the level of the ground… Strange city.
Yet, Boston was great, not gigantic like New York. People were extremely nice, which is strange for a Parisian. We had only arrived in Boston for ten minutes when a middle-aged man asked us what we were looking for and walked us there.
Like everybody we went to Harvard. I touched the left foot of John Harvard and sunbathed on the grass. I personally found the place a little bit oppressive but it may because it was Spring Break and not a lot of people were there. Still, it’s worth going there, at least to take a picture of yourself in front of the library (or, truly, any building) and send it to your parents.
Shopping: Gooring Bros (to buy hats) in Cambridge
Must-see: The Shoah memorial
3) Looking for one-dollar bills in Philly
Philadelphia, its history … and its metro. I personally think that not only the constitution was signed in Philadelphia but the first metro was also created there. This was the beta version of the metro systems. They saw that it did not work and they decided never to do that ever again. Let me explain. It works with coins called “tokens”. You have to buy tokens – $3.10 dollars for two tokens – but only machines sell tokens and there aren’t machines at every station. When there is no machine you have to give 2 dollars to the person who works at this station. Yet, and this is where it becomes tricky, the person doesn’t give change back (even though she/he must have thousands of 1-dollar bills). So you must have one-dollar bills with you all the time. Sometimes, there is a machine but it doesn’t take coins. It will ask you 4 dollars and give you 90 cents back… so the machine gives you coins but doesn’t take them. And if you managed to survive all this and stay calm you can enjoy a very complicated metro map and express lines that don’t indicate where they don’t stop.
In spite of the metro, Philly was nice. You can download Rocky’s soundtrack and run in front of the Museum of Arts and, the next hour, learn about the founding fathers and American history: two activities you rarely compile in one day.
Everybody told me you could see Philadelphia in one day. I think a couple of days might be better if you want to do everything and not just go to the main tourist places. In one day we saw the Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Korean War Memorial and we walked around the city. Yet, it’s true that we spent half of the day eating French Toast stuffed with maple at Sam’s Glory Dinner.
Delicious cheesecake: Darling’s Coffeehouse (South Street and 20th)
Must-do: take a picture with Rocky at the Museum of Arts