Our last and final stop was Philadelphia - which happens to be where our good friend from work here in Germany is orgionally from. We were really lucky, that she was home for the whole summer and could hang out with us while we came to her city. Philadelphia is really really cool! We saw the liberty bell, and did a really cool tour of Independence hall - where I collected all sorts of
cool trading cards! We had a good time, and went to the new museum which houses the Constitution - which turned out to be very large, but with a really great theatre show! And then we finished off our time in the city with a free visit to the Mint - to learn where money was made! I loved that place the best! It was great to see all these places I have seen in National Treasure! Afterwards, we headed back to Steph's parents' house to try some traditional scraple, and dinner followed by a quick trip to get some water ice!
We had our lunch at the Native American museum - which I was glad to know was just as good as I remembered! It was such a hot day - it was much too hot to be walking out and about in D.C. But since we had come all the way to see David, it seemed weird to hang around his house all day otherwise.
The World War Two memorial is one of my favourite memorials - but it really is quite a trek out there! I was really pleased to have discovered this black and white dress in the back of my closet - the same one I wore when I visited Rachel way back in 2010! It was literally the cutest picture ever!
While we were in DC, we hadn't visited the Air and Space museum, (although we did grab lunch at the Native American musueum), we did want to visit the Discovery
Space Shuttle - which, while owned by the Air and Space Museum is in their museum a bit out of town. It has its own section at this aviation museum - and really that is all I wanted to see there. It was so big, it was a bit like the Acropolis, hard to even get it all in one picture!
After we said goodbye to Bekah, and made it very, very carefully out of New York traffic - we headed down to see David in Virginia. He lives really close to Josh's friend Ben and his wife Jacey. We spent the weekend with them, and their amazing hypoallergenic cats, and hung out with them for the weekend. It was really nice to be relaxed, and not do too much! In the morning,
Jacey showed us around on a tour of the Pentagon - which is where she works. It was really the coolest tour - it felt so important, everywhere! After, we headed to Arlington, the national cemetery. We really didn't spend much time there because it was so,so, so hot - so I snapped a few pictures before we went back to meet David at Steak and Shake!
I was really dissapointed that everything in New York City was so expensive for tourists. It really just must make a fortune. It was tough for me to decide if I wanted to go up the Empire State building or the Rockerfeller Center, but they are both about 50 dollars! Because Josh has been to New York before,
he didn't wanna do these observatories - but I so did. I had kind of convinced myself not to go up there - mainly because I was scared. But while we were in the Rockerfeller Center basement, at some of the shops, we ran into some girls who knew Bekah - and they really recommended the Top of the Rock observatory. I booked my ticket, and then from there, it was really great! You go up a lift, and then there were two more escalators up. The first level was super great, but the top one was the best! It really was
such a beautiful view over Central Park on one side and you could see the Empire State Building! I took lots of selfies, before I worked up some courage to ask someone to take my picture. I chose the security guard, and it turns out he was pretty good at taking photos, becasue everyone asks him to do that!
We did get one day to explore New York by ourselves - and it felt a little weird to be out and about without someone to guide us! We decided that was the morning to go and see the Statue of Liberty. You can pay, and take a ferry to the visitor centre that is on Ellis island, pay a whole bunch and then go through security, and then another ferry to see Lady Liberty - but since EVERYTHING in New York seemed to be absolutely extoritionate we decided to head for the cheaper option - the Staten Island
Ferry. The Ferry is FREE (I have no clue how!?) and goes back and forth a lot more regularily. So in the morning, we headed over there - and it wasn't too hard to find the ferry. It was really big, and we got a nice shaded seat on the outside of the ferry. It was so amazing
as you left the city to see the whole skyline and the beautiful sky scrapers. I feel like that is the coolest thing about New York is the amazing skyscrapers. They are just so big, and so....shiny! About half way through the ferry journey, you pass the Statue of Liberty - it's pretty far away - but, hey, it's free!
I sometimes get Facebook envy, and since a few JET friends of mine from Japan had recently visited the Brooklyn bridge - and so I reallllllly wanted to go there. I had never realised that the bridge was more of a walking/ bike riding bridge and the actual bridge
for the cars went under it. It was super busy on the bridge - and there was a side for bikes and a side for pedestrians - and oh boy, were the bikes agressive! We took some great pictures, and I really enjoyed it the whole time - it was nice and sunny and we got such nice views of the city!
While Times Square was a bit of a dissapointment, Central Park was certainly not. I hadn't looked forward to Times Square, but Central Park, I so, so had. It's probably because of all the movies and crime shows
I watch that are all set there. And I have heard it is massive - so it was really quite high on my list! Josh's friend Elisa happens to live in New York too, so we met up with her to explore Central Park. It was really just so so big. We walked all through the bottom end of it - and across these pretty bridges with the coolest skyscrapers in the background! I took so, so many pictures. We walked all the way up to the part where the boats were
- but we decided in the end it wasn't worth it, and instead we headed to Chinatown for some so-so dimsum, but followed it up with some awesome, awesome desserts in Little Italy! Josh even got to try New York's best canoli as voted by the public!
I seriously did not like Times Square - it was super, super busy, and a bit crazy - full of lots of street performers and people trying to sell you Broadway tickets. Josh and Bekah waited in line to get us Broadway tickets to see Act of God with Jim Parsons, and on top of the TKTS office is like these huge stair/platforms - so we were up high enough to get a great photo!
I hadn't got much of an impression of New York before we went there - we were mainly there to visit Bekah, who moved there right after our wedding. We got some time with Bekah, and so we walked all around the city, it felt like! I really had wanted to visit Grand Central Station - I'm not sure why - it's just in so many movies and it was really busy - like Tokyo Station. Underneath, there are some great little delis, and we got some yummy pastrami knishs!
We did a lot of subway riding - and boy was it weird. First - it is super dirty. And the ticket system is just seriously not easy. There were a lot of people taking advantage of the gates, and entering through the exits to avoid the costs. But I did like the photo I took while we waited (forever!) for one of our rides.
New York has these big, wide sidewalks, which were great for tourists! I loved doing some shopping at the giant, giant UNIQLO, and exploring all the cool places around the Rockerfeller Center!
Our next stop was NYC! New York hasn't really been on my to do list until Josh's little sister Rebekah moved there. It was so exciting! She moved there just after our wedding, and so it was really exciting to see her! Her apartment in Harlem was quite big actually, and she knows her way around so well! I was really not prepared for how difficult the subway was there! The good news is, you could just ask anyone! The first night, we mananged to catch up with Josh's cousin for Indian food, and then the next day, when Bekah had to go to work,
we headed for the subway. It wasn't super easy to even find the train station - although we did find the most run down Mcdonalds restaurant ever - but we made it into town. One of our first stops was a random deli, followed by the 9/11 memorial. I don't think it is possible to imagine how horrible it was or how big it was. It was weird. It feels too much like a tourist place and not enough like hallowed ground. But the way they have done it is lovely, with beautiful fountains and the names - there are just so many. And it hits you hard. And there are people and children in this world that have no clue what life was like before 9/11. We didn't do the museum - or the observatory - but I am glad we went.
After we left Race Point, and our unsuccessful walk to the dunes - we headed to the cutest little town - Sandwhich. We did some research and found the place that won the best sandwhich in Sandwhich to have lunch at! It was super yummy! And then we visited the lovely little glass factory and saw some glass blowing there. We got a funny little purple glass hen for Josh's mum there too.
It just so happens that the town is twinned with Sandwhich in Kent, England! There was this grain mill that was super photogenic there. Another American food I have discovered that I really like is Cape Cod Chips, and since we were there, we had to check out the factory. The factory wasn't anything super exciting, but we did get free chips, and some really great flavours that we hadn't had anywhere else!
We decided that while we were in Cape Cod, it would be good to go and see one of the the awesome lighthouses that they are famous for. However, it was really, really expensive to park and walk to some of the lighthouses. We just couldn't justify going and paying that much for it. So we did find an off national park area, and decided to walk to the lighthouse. On Google maps it didn't look too far....so we got out and started walking. It was really hot, and quite a nice walk, but it was getting sandier and sandier.
The park rangers drove up, and came to check on us - we felt so silly! They were concerned that we didn't have enough sunscreen or enough water. I think we would have been fine, but it did make us quite nervous! So we went to the beginning of the same dunes - and took some pictures and then headed back!
We drove past Plymouth up to Cape Cod, where Caitlyn's grandparents live. I have always wanted to visit Cape Cod. I don't know why- although it probably does have something to do with Disney Sea's cute little Cape Cod replica! So many of the houses up there are beautiful, with
pretty siding and lovely hydrangeas all over. It is just so picture perfect. We went to a couple little towns, where we visited some antique taffy candy shops, and the Jack Wills, before we drove up to Provincetown. I didn't know, but it is the gay capital of America! There were lots of gay people, and lots of gay pride there! We walked around, and tried the cool Lobster restaurants, followed by some really unique flavoured ice cream.
They had lots of cute shops, which we went into, and we even went down to the water. The pier has all sorts of lovely little shacks on them, where you can sign up for boat trips, but the coolest thing was this awesome bench surrounded by old bouys!
We left Boston, and headed for Cape Cod, but decided to make a side trip to Plymouth. I know everyone said that Plymouth Rock was rubbish, but we did stop and have tacos in town, and then headed to the Plantation. It was a reenactment village place, which I should have loved, but I did feel a little uncomfortable being there. I'm not sure why, but either way, it was a nice side trip!
After our walk through Harvard Yard, and being very envious of all the students who get to go there. American colleges always do that to me! So anyway, we headed on the subway into town, right to the centre of Boston, where we started a little on the Freedom trail by ourselves, before meeting up with our friend from Japan, Caitlyn. We started at the state house, and made our way all along important stops in History. We headed over to Quincy Market, where they have a
UniQlo ( with a cool, Purikura style machine) to get some lunch. It was something Josh had been raving and raving about since he was a kid apparently, so we went there. I also found time to get a giant elephant ear thing with sugar and cinnamon - it was amazing!
We headed back after walking all around the city, so that we could spend time with Josh's family. We went to his aunt's house, and she hosted everyone. We had a nice backyard dinner and hung out and played frisbee and then the kids and I played with rocks. It was just a nice time and I know Josh wished they lived a little closer!
Our next stop on our big American road trip was Boston, where we were staying with Josh's aunt Debbie. I was really nervous to meet all his family again, but it was nice because I hadn't gotten to speak to them all much at the wedding. It was super fun,
but on the road up to Boston, we stopped at all of the rest stops in each state (or at least the Welcome centers) and recreated all the photos Josh had taken with his brother and sisters when they were kids. It was good, and kept us busy on the way up. In the morning, we headed to drive into town, and we got a flat tire. Josh was amazing, and he changed it in no
time flat! It was a bit nerve wracking, but we made it and it ended up being the only issue on our trip! We hadn't expected his aunt to live in Harvard, and it was convenient that we use her university spot. Before we headed into town, we took a littlw walk around the campus, which was great! They have a beautiful church and a library and it was very majestic!
We landed back from Santorini, and thought we had just one day before heading to America, but it turns out we were wrong, and we had to spend a whole 'nother day in Frankfurt. Which just sucked! But we headed to Florida and hung around for a few days before starting out on our big summer road trip. Our first stop was Disney - and we left really early in the morning to arrive at the hotel. We changed our tickets to Magic Kingdom tickets and off we went! It was nice and empty, and we had signed up for all our fast passes online, so we ended up riding everything, having lunch and ....well....being done. We had swapped some pins, eaten a Dole Whip, and rideden all the big rides! So we went to the great outlet mall, before heading back to our cute Disney hotel. I just love staying at Disney hotels - we got takeaway from this great grocery store and brought it back to our room to eat while watching a movie. It was pretty much the perfect day!
I wont lie - I was pretty obsessed with seeing Donkeys in Santorini. I had heard they were in Oia to take people who arrive by boat up to the town, but I hadn't seen any and I was super sad! You see donkey themed memorabilia everywhere in Oia! So finally we asked, and while Mum and Dad enjoyed a snack, we headed down the stairs to the port. I had seen it was a bunch of dusty, grotty stairs, but it was 60 flights. But once we started,
we had to just keep going. Josh was such a good sport, just to go all the way down to see some donkeys and take some photos of them....and then to walk all the way up 60 flights again. By the time we made it back up to the restaurant, had a drink and settled down again, we were ready to move on back to the car. As we stepped out of the restaurant, bam, there were a ton of donkeys heading down to the port. It was THE path the donkeys headed down - and I got great photos of them!
We were so fortunate, that on our last day in Athens, I got a message from Mikaly, my friend from Japan who was in town. We headed over to his hotel to catch up with him. In the morning, we caught a very early flight to Santorini. Santorini was my pick, and was actually the top of my bucketlist.
I had had a hard time choosing between Mykonos and Santorini, but now, I am so happy with my decision! As soon as we got into the taxi from the airport, I saw a blue roof, and a donkey and I was so, so excited! I hadn't had much say in where we stayed, so I really wasn't sure how we were going to get around the island. Mummy had chosen us a cute, cute hotel which only has 3 hotel suites, but it wasn't avaliable for us to check in for several, several hours. We were all pretty tired, but Daddy agreed to
rent a car and we could drive over to Oia. It seemed that without a car, or renting an ATV, it was pretty difficult. I was so glad he just agreed on the spot to rent a car! Compared to our great map in Athens, the maps in Santorini were so vague! We did make it to Oia, and after finding a parking space, and wandering around wondering where the town was, we made it to the town. And it really was every photographer's dream! We got there super early, and there weren't many people around yet.
We heard from some of the shop owners that the morning was the best time to visit before all the tour boats and buses arrived. We had such a nice time exploring the town, especially climbing up on the roofs, and following little alley ways to get the best view of the blue domes.
I was searching for the perfect photo spots! On a postcard, I had seen that there was a windmill somewhere on the island, and after getting directions, we headed over towards that part of town. It was a little cheaper there, and much more touristy, but we did find the windmill which was great! Santorini is full of lovely villas, that look over on top of one another, private pools and super cute, fancy restaurants. We had a really lovely time exploring all over. After a spot of tea,
we headed back into the car and drove to a couple little towns that some people had reccomended to us. It happened to be the cute little town that "Sisterhood of the travelling pants" was filmed in. It was a super quiet town, with barely any people around, but it was super cute! We even had a chance to stop in a bakery (mainly to use their loo in the basement!) but everyone was super lovely!
I think the main draw in Santorini really was the pretty blue and white houses. You can really see how much effort must go in to maintain it all! It really was exactly what I had expected and wanted to experience!
Our trip in Athens was basically to see everything on the city map - and that is how we ended up at the Dionysis theatre - where it was remarkably intact and we could wander all over the ruins! We even got this timed family photo!