My 20 Day United States Itinerary

I wanted to go for sixty days initially, then one month, but in the end around three weeks was the most workable solution with work and life being how it was.

I booked my flight from New York to London first, because I didn’t know how long I would be able to spend in the states, and booked my flight from London to Los Angeles later. Both flights were with Norwegian Airlines. My itinerary covered California, New York and Massachusetts, ticking off places and things I’ve alway wanted to do!

London to Los Angeles: 11 hours with Norwegian Air

A long, exhausting flight made worse by the fact if you don’t pre-pay and pre-book your meals, you will have to pay in flight or starve. I starved on principle.

IMG_3336.JPG

2nd – 5th July: Los Angeles and Venice Beach

I spent two nights in a hostel in Hollywood, and one night in a hostel on Venice boulevard about five minutes from the beach. 

<Greyhound bus>

IMG_3802.JPG

5th – 6th July: Santa Barbara 

A brief stop to see the pretty Spanish influenced town of Santa Barbara on the pacific coast

<Amtrak>

IMG_4160.JPG

6th-9th July: Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey and Big Sur

Arriving in the evening of the 6th allowed me a day and a half in Carmel and one day exploring Big Sur and Monterey

<Amtrak>

img_3519

9th-12th July: San Francisco

A few days around the time of my birthday to stroll through landmarks, hilly streets, historical neighbourhoods for gay rights and wonderful bookshops

<Delta Airlines flight>

IMG_4731

12th – 16th: New York City

Museums, bookshops, markets, seeing friends, eating lots of food and spontaneously attending a street party in Brooklyn!

IMG_5127.JPG

<Greyhound bus>

16th – 18th: Boston, Massachusetts

Visiting the pretty and quaint city of Boston, and Cambridge for the prestigious Harvard College.

IMG_5231.JPG

<Peter Pan Bus>

18th – 19th: Falmouth, Massachusetts

A very quick visit to the coastal town along Cape Cod

IMG_5607.JPG

<Peter Pan Bus>

19th – 21st New York City

Back to New York for my flight home: time for museums, Coney Island, Chelsea and more Brooklyn adventures!

Advertisements

5 Big Ol’ Myths About Travelling Across America

Many of us would love to travel across the States but there’s always a reason not to. My advice is to just book your flights as soon as you have the capacity to do so, and you’ll soon find the solutions for any issues you expected to come up against.

Here are some common misconceptions that I found to be completely workable when I was in the States.

IMG_4092.JPG

It’s not possible to do it without a car!

Not true. I never learned to drive, but the United States has a very decent bus and train network. You can buy Amtrak passes and Greyhound bus tickets or multi-stop passes. Many cities have public transit, uber is popular and it’s perfectly acceptable to use your legs to cycle and walk too!

IMG_3318.JPG

It’s going to be so expensive.

It’s probably going to be pricier than staying in Western Europe and if you’ve travelled in Asia or South America you might sense that you are literally just burning away money in comparison to how cheap the cost of living is.

Finding a place to stay isn’t cheap, but Couchsurfing is a possibility. Flights and getting around may cost you. But my biggest expenditure on the daily was things like gifts, shopping and paying to get into museums – all optionals. By eating at delis, markets and grocery stores my food budget was often around $15-$20 a day.

IMG_4061.JPG

I need someone to go with.

No, you don’t! Going to the States was my first solo female travel trip. I wanted to go alone, but even if I wanted a companion no one was available to go with me at the time.

I rarely felt like I was alone because everyone was so chatty and friendly wherever I went. People would ask to accompany me round cities, I met people in the hostels, got invited on dates (polite blushing) so you really don’t feel that absence at all!

And for every other situation, you can befriend someone’s dog!

IMG_3600.JPG

Many places are quite dangerous, aren’t they?

If you’re going to be caught up in a criminal incident, the only thing that needs to happen is that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It therefore means that in the middle of the safest place on Earth, you could come up against an issue.

Everyone warned me about this and that place. Here isn’t safe and there isn’t safe. Poverty, homelessness and drug abuse are serious issues in big cities and there are some very desperate people in desperate situations. Do your research, be aware of your surroundings and be sensible. As a woman alone without insurance, I made sure to be back before it got too late into the night in a few cities – but it’s not always a necessary precaution and in many places I was out roaming until late and felt completely safe.

IMG_4051.JPG

Hmmm… Now is just not the right time. Maybe I’ll book for next year.

Next year will not be the right time either! You’ll always find the reason not to! Find a cheap flight, close your eyes and press “book”!

Right now, we’re here in Boston

When I last visited Boston, Massachusetts, I was with my Mum. She much preferred the charm and clean Boston to the hustle and bustle of the Lower East Side of New York and I really liked it too. I vowed to return, and I had a few things firmly on my agenda.


I arrived from New York using Greyhound, and the journey took around 4 hours. My plug outlets refused to work, but otherwise the journey was fine.

My hotel is in Chinatown, and Boston is a fairly walkable city. My plan was to walk to Faneuil Hall and get food, then go for a stroll to the common. On my walk, I was approached by a man.

“Sorry miss, I just see that you’re a beautiful lady. Do you mind if I walk with you?”

I hesitated. I wasn’t really planning on company, but at the same time, I really did need to take a daily portrait… 

I let him walk with me, and despite him touching my shoulder to steer me, an erratic tendency to switch sides when he walked and calling me “baby”, he was pleasant enough. He was from the projects in Roxbury and had a tough upbringing, but now he sells tobacco for a company. He walked me to Faneuil Hall, but even I could see it was touristy and I lost interest. Instead we went to North End, then had to leave pretty abruptly but I took his email for if I want to meet for dinner (I didn’t).


I was grateful for this diversion. North End was very quaint and beautiful. Everything had been preserved from how it originally was. 


It was a nice walk, which took me to the Boston Common where I took a lemonade and sat out in the sun taking selfies.


From there I was beginning to feel a little hungry, so I searched for food and found a little food court in Downtown Crossing. I took a Louisiana blackened chicken with rice, and I continue to be defeated by the portion sizes in the states. I couldn’t finish it at all! My dinner concluded my day so that I could launder my very dirty clothes.

The next day I decided to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and check visiting Harvard off my bucket list.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum comes so highly recommended by me that it has its own blog post here. An actual first on this blog!


Harvard is accessible by the MBTA, you can take the red line heading to Alewife, and get off at the easily named “Harvard” stop. Once you leave the station, Harvard yard is waiting right there for you. 

In the Harvard Yard you’ll find lots to see – the statue of John Harvard, the memorial library and church and the opportunity to walk around saying you can “pahk ya cah in the hahvid yahd”. 



I found it interesting to walk a little further down Massachusetts Avenue and look at the Law School because I am a massive fan of Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde: The Musical (also a few very important real life people went there too. But mostly Elle Woods). There are a few museums such as the Peabody Museum, and the Semitic Museum which I would have particularly liked to see, but I spent too long at the ISGM and arrived thirty minutes after it closed.


There are a few cafés and restaurants to eat in, I took a huge ciabatta panini from a deli with a few continental foods and a fresh lemonade from shake shack then I headed home.


With big players like Washington DC and the mighty New York City so nearby, I think Boston often gets overlooked. One of my favourite songs is about this city, so it will always carry a special place in my heart. There is so much history and so much beauty, I hope European visitors don’t overlook it for much longer!

Favourite sights: North End, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Hostel: HI Boston Hostel

Positive: Really clean, great rooms, in a great location with lots of activities, a nice breakfast and a really nice, communal atmosphere

Negative: only that the wifi can be a bit patchy, which is fine because you’re on holiday BUT it did also affect the laundry card machine.

UNMISSABLE BOSTON: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum


The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is up there with some of the greatest museums I have ever been in, in my life. In ways that were completely unexpected, that museum
was beyond words exceptional.

You can get to the museum from the Museum of Fine Arts subway stop, and the address is here. If you visit the museum within two days of the MFA, you can access discounts, as well as if it’s your birthday or you are named Isabella. None applied to me, so my entrance was $15.

Who was Isabella Stewart Gardner? 


Gardner was a collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. She inherited quite clearly a shitton of money from her Dad, which enabled her to curate this incredible collection of art, furniture, fabrics and much more. 

What can I expect from the museum?


This museum is unlike anything I have ever experienced. If you enjoy art, interiors, decor, history and culture, you will love this museum. It is designed around a spectacular courtyard, with themed rooms circling around the green, landscaped centrepiece. The life of Isabella, her personality and passions seep through the museum. You can really feel this personal touch, it tells a story but encourages you to develop your own opinions and foster your own creativity as you go around. The placing of objects invites you to make your own connections and understanding. In short, the whole museum is a gallery.

What did you love about this museum?

Isabella was a lover of the renaissance era and Venetian art and furniture. She was an Italophile like me, who collected things rich in Italian history. Her collection also includes Arabic, Indian and Dutch pieces too, with an entire Dutch room and a Chinese Loggia.


My favourite rooms were the Veronese room with its beautiful mirror piece, the Titian room and its connections to the centrepiece Europa running through the entire room and the grand Gothic Room on the third floor.


On the second floor I was in love with the early Italian room and the adorable little salon. 


Finally, the courtyard is breathtaking.


The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is unlike anywhere I have been and I cannot recommend it enough. I don’t think you will find a similar experience anywhere else.