Bustin’ Open Boston – Day 31 & 32

New York to Boston – Day 31

Today I kick off my second bus tour of the trip, this time with Contiki. It’s lucky that I like early morning wake up calls because we had to meet the bus at 7:00 am.

Departing NYC the tour director gave us a 2 hour speech on the rules of the bus. No alcohol, no fire works on the bus, no drug use or you’re off the tour. Funny story, we had all of these on our last tour but no one really complained.

We had two stops on the way to Boston. First was at the prestigious Yale University. I’m not going to lie, these universities make my university look pretty poor. The buildings, parks and coffee shops alone make me envious.

Later we stopped for lunch at a food court of a shopping centre in Providence. The thing about these tours is that usually we stop at places where the most amount of people will be pleased. Boring! On the way out of Providence the tour director told us that the oldest burger joint in the United States was in Providence. Well it would have been nice to go there…

Sometimes on these types of bus trips we end up staying in places so far out of town it almost defeats the purpose of staying there. In Boston we stayed about 20 minutes drive and 30 minutes on the train out of town. The accommodation was decent but I’d be happy to stay in lesser quality places but have a better location.

For dinner we ate at this rambunctious restaurant named, Dicks Last Resort. The wait staff here are unlike anything else I’ve encountered. They call you names, laugh at you, make you hats with stupid saying on them, and even force bibs on you. It’s a strange experience that I’d probably not relive.

Boston – Day 32

Starting off the morning we took a private tour though Harvard University. That’s two unis in two days. You already know what I think about American universities compared to mine so I won’t say anymore then that.

Ending he tour in downtown town Boston we took off into the historic streets. Wandering around we must have looked lost because an old Boston man came up and asked us if we needed help. His accent was thick yet I don’t think there is much different between theirs and our own. Similar to the Aussie accent they don’t pronounce their Ts or their Rs.

Beacon Hill is an area of Boston that is offensively perfect. Small streets and lanes branch off the main boulevards. This end of town is a little different to the other end of town. Historic shop fronts filled with small businesses fill in the gaps where franchises and fast food restaurants usually would. Adding to this, to the south of Beacon Hill is a massive park, that was designed by the same bloke who designed Central Park in NYC. We ate pizza and Boston cream buns in that park.

For most of this trip it probably sounds like I’ve just eaten my way across America. This is mainly true yet there was a solid amount of walking in between all the eating. Today imma guess we walked give or take 15 km just around Boston.

At the climax of all that walking we ended up in the North End of town, the Italian district. Boston is known for two types of food, Italian food and sea food. Pre dinner food was cannoli filled with ricotta, a Boston specialty. For dinner I mixed together some sea food and pasta to produce shrimp and prawn linguini.

Boston was a great town drenched in history and flavoured with centuries of different cultures. I’m still not 100% why prawns are called shrimp here in the USA…

Cya Later New York – Day 30

Last full day in New York so why not visit some places that we haven’t been yet?

SoHo was our first stop. It’s this curious area filled with expensive, high brand fashion shops, and trend revolting, ironic hipsters. It all culminates around the luscious and vibrant Washington Square Park. Taking a moment to forget that we are tourists, we sat and listened to some street performers. When the rain started falling we took that as a sign to move on.

Similar to Dumbo, SoHo has narrow cobblestone streets dripping with history. If you’re feeling brave just throw your map away, you’ll be fine I promise, and get lost. In doing this we found the passionate district of Little Italy. We decided to eat some lunch at a little panini shop where the waiter only spoke Italian. Not only did he only speak Italian but half the customers only spoke Italian.

For my last few hours in NYC the best friends gang decided we’d get a bit fully sick and party it down at Coney Island. After a train ride through Brooklyn we arrived at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. At his point it hit me. I’ve travelled from the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi, and now finally I stood at the beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

On Coney Island we ate hot dogs and corn dogs, rode roller coasters, laughed at the kiddie rides, and tried deep fried Oreos. After spending 5 full days in the busy heart of NYC it was nice to escape to the quieter part of the city for a night.

On the train ride home it was a short and sweet cya later to my new favourite newly wed couple, they took first place away from Kim & Kanye. Later that night the best friends gang was well and truly split up when Steph and I went our separate ways. The best thing about meeting people from across the world and Australia is that I can now scab a nights accommodation off them if I’m ever in town.

New York was a great experience. There was so much to do, maybe too much. Next time I probably take two weeks to do it all. It went by at such a speed.

We Went to the Theatre – Day 29

This morning started off a little reflective. We started at the Ground Zero of the World Trade Centre. Walking around the massive fountains that have replaced the buildings the air is heavy. On each of the massive fountains the names of those who perished on that fateful day in 2001. This is a place for reflection, for healing, and for mourning.

Next to the memorial fountains is a newly created museum for the World Trade Centres. It is a curious place because they hold tributes to all the people who died in the terrorist attacks, as well as try to educate people about the attacks. There is so much content within the museum that it becomes tedious. Maybe it’s because I was so young when the attacks happened, maybe it’s because I’m Australian and geographically I’m so distanced from any terrorist attack, but I feel disconnected from these attacks. I can reflect and understand that this was a horrible day for humanity and was a gross and deliberate attack on the world. But I can reflect on this with or without the use of this museum. This is a place for education, tribute, and recovery.

To perk up our day we wandered around Wall Street and then over the East River via the sprawling and impressive Brooklyn Bridge. The thing about wandering over the Brooklyn Bridge is that there is only one path over and back, as well as this you have to share the path with bike riders and venders. It’s little congested but the views are well worth the hike.

On the other side of the East River is a suburb called Dumbo. This area is traditionally a historic one. I suspect that it was an old dock yard (not much wifi means not much research). You can get some very nice shots of lower Manhattan from Dumbo. We spent maybe an hour or two wandering around. We had to leave Dumbo late afternoon because we were off to the theatre.

Long story short, the Book of Mormon is a musical by the writers of South Park. It’s sold out every session for the last 3 years. So we decided to head on up to the ticket office to suss out the situation. Too our luck they had two seats free at a very decent price. So we go to see Book of Mormon. Hilariously funny, grossly obscene, aggressively sacrilegious, and very catchy. Let’s hope it can get to Australia sometime soon.

Live from Central Park – Day 28

The last couple days have been wet and wild but this morning the thunderstorms have cleared. Deciding to make the most of the good weather Steph and I took off up to Central Park. I’m not 100% sure what the exact dimensions of Central Park is but I’m going to guess its about 6 km long and about 1 or 2 km wide. Central Park could be best described as an oasis amongst the crazy. Trees make way for sprawling fields, prehistoric looking rock formations hid sun backer and children playing, it is a strange sight, yet something heat you can truly get lost in.

Across the road from Central Park is one of the most visited museums in the world (remember I’m not a fan of hyperbole). The Museum of Natural History was first kick started by naturalist, and President, Theodore Roosevelt back around the turn of the 20th century. One of the first exhibits that you find yourself lost in is the African Mammals room. Around the sides of the walls you have dioramas with taxidermied animals from Africa. In the centre of the room is a family of 8 elephants. Wandering further through exhibits you can find mammals from all the populated continents, relics and dioramas or traditional cultures (including aboriginals), and even a massive life sized blue whale (which I’m still confused as to whether or not it’s real or not).

One of the things that I really wanted to do whilst in New York was to see the Late Show with David Letterman be recorded. I had to wait around a pay phone to call the producer for tickets, but I got in! It was pretty surreal to see this man that I’ve watched for years on my TV at 12:30 at night.

Some people frown upon the type of tourist who goes on holidays and visits all the generic tourist places. But oi nah you’re on holidays bro! You’ve got to do all the tourist crap! For dinner we went to this diner very near Time Square called, Ellen’s Stardust. Imagine this for me dear reader, a diner where professionally trained broadway singers and dancers perform show tunes for you whilst you wait and eat your dinner. It is far from tacky. If I’d suggest one place for anyone to eat a meal whilst in NYC, Ellen’s Stardust would be it!

So Much Cake – Day 27

Spending the morning wandering around midtown I found the NYC essential, Magnolia Bakery. If you’re unaware as to what Magnolia Bakery is, they specialise in serving small cupcakes with excessive amounts of icing. For some it might sound off putting but trust me it was amazing! I’m not going to lie, I lined up for an hour just for a couple cup cakes and it might have taken a chunk of my time but oi it was worth it!

To let the cupcakes digest I decided to go for a walk up and down Madison and Park avenue. This is the shopping and business end of town. Super expensive shops line the streets as beautiful people parade up and down in search of items that will in theory make them more beautiful.

I have an update on my passport situation. If you remember I washed out my passport in Austin. In NYC I received my new emergency passport. The only problem with the emergency passport is that I can’t receive an electronic visa with it, because it doesn’t have an electronic chip in it. Getting a new/ updated visa into the US has become horribly hard and seriously shouldn’t be this painful.

Today had a lot of food featured in it. For dinner we met up at a night market filled with food trucks. One of my favourite foods that I’ve been eating is blue corn chips. Blue corn (yep that’s a real thing) is turned into corn chips. Because they’re already a sweet vegetable they don’t need any flavouring. For dinner I had blue corn chip nachos, and they nailed it!

The last few days have been plagued by thunderstorms mainly around late afternoon and into the night. Yet that didn’t stop us from climbing to the top of the Empire State Building. At the top the clouds hovered around us and often swallowed the building. Thunder echoed around us as we watched lighting crack out to the distance. The cities lights shone through the rain as the lights of Time Square stood most prominent.

Before we said good bye to some of our last Topdeck buddies we ate a delicious dish of desserts from the infamous Cake Boss. In my opinion this dude knows how to make his cakes look brilliant beyond all belief, but they’re nothing too fancy to eat. They had this strange looking Cake Boss life sized bobble head in the corner of the shop… It was very odd. Just because you can make yourself a life sized Cake Boss doesn’t mean that you should make yourself a life sized bobble head Cake Boss.

Islands & Games – Day 26

I’ll offer some advice for anyone who calls themselves a traveller, or anyone who wishes to call themselves a traveller in the future. Make the most of the sunlight. Wake up early and enjoy all the time that you have. I only had 6 days in New York, and that wasn’t enough for me to see everything I wanted to see.

Starting out early we took the impeccable subway service downtown to Battery Park. Battery Park extends along the bottom of Manhattan Island me up the western side. At the southern end of park is the Staten Island ferry terminal. Jumping onto a ferry we took off across the Hudson towards Liberty Island.

#FunFact. Liberty wasn’t originally the colour she is today. The copper she’s made out of has oxidised to the green we see today.

On Liberty we wandered around the Island taking lots of selfies. It started raining so the selfies turned into poncho selfies. In the rain we walked around the Island avoiding tourists taking photos. I seriously think that there ought to be a walking lane for people who want to take photos and another for those who want to leisurely meander around.

Heading back to Manhattan we first stopped off at Ellis Island. Once upon a time ago, millions of immigrants from hundreds of countries across the world travelled through the immigration processing centres on Ellis Island. They’d undergo health checks, luggage inspections, and passport checks, before they’d be allowed into America.

One of the good things about travelling alone is that you can find people who travel alone, and then you can travel together. On my Topdeck tour I found a few people who have similar travelling styles as me. In particular I found a new travelling companion, her name was Steph. A black and white blooded New Zealander, who wanted to see the stuff I wanted to see in NYC.

Steph and I went back to mainland Manhattan. From there we caught the train out to Flushing to CitiFields. We met some more travel buddies at a Mets baseball game. The game had an exciting and constant atmosphere. Similar to cricket there’s lots of change over time in baseball. In this time there is entertainment in the form of roving reporters. The roving reporters part is a little tedious but what was entertaining was the t shirt cannons. Girls in tight t shirts fire a bazooka filled with t shirts into the crowd. People went crazy for these bloody t shirts!

Back on Manhattan Island we decided we needed to do more touristy stuff. For dinner we went to Carnage Deli, one of the most famous and popular Delis in New York. Between four of us we ordered two Reuben sandwiches. A Reuben sandwich is a sandwich filled with pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. These Reubens were open top and seriously massive. For dessert we decide to eat some of their cheese cake. One slice between four was more than enough. Portions in the USA are totally out of wack! No wonder Americans are so big!