An Eastern Escapade

Boston

I may have originally picked Padres/Yankees as my team(s) (check the baseball references – and I lied about staying loyal… Go Red Sox!) but Boston is BRILLIANT.

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I felt like I’d landed in London in some parts. A clean, friendly and warm version… Filled with fellow Italian and Irish blooded folks with excellent taste in both music and food.

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Its one of the oldest cities in America so the architecture is stunning. The parks and fountains give her such a European feel. We walked from one end to the other a couple of times in our four days there and it was such a great way to get around.

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When we first arrived we stayed in China Town so naturally stuffed our faces with local cuisine. This was our first share room but our roomies were great and that staff at the hostel were next level. Jess loved it when I debated the merits of Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy by comparison to Suicide Squad previews with our darling receptionist. He also told me I have a name that sounds like it’s out of a Steinbeck novel. Way to win my heart!!

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We started our Contiki on day three in Boston and what a group we had! Twenty odd of the most friendly, mellow kids out. We felt right at home. Our first day was spent with a tour of the one and only Harvard.

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Our tour guide was definitely a Ravenclaw.

For dinner we finally experienced somewhere I’ve been avoiding like the plague, Dick’s Last Resort. Named appropriately!

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It says ‘fake blonde, real dumb’. Way harsh.

Walking Boston at night was one of my favourite experiences. It’s just so alive and interesting. There were so many beautiful little Irish pubs with live bands playing and dancing groups of street performers. Lush.

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Next we were on to the one and only…

New York City

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To to be completely honest I had really low expectations of NYC. We had been told over and over how unfriendly people are and how dirty it is. I’m glad because it made our love of it a complete surprise.

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Of all the places we have been, I would say I felt almost the safest in Manhattan. There were so many people around so you didn’t really have to worry about people bothering you, the service standard was excellent, the food was delicious… Speaking of which, I did a food cart tour.

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My hangover was loving it. It was really interesting to learn about the pride the vendors take in their hard earned businesses. It’s no easy feat getting a license so they ensure their food speaks for itself. Some of them are family businesses running for 20+ years!

The night life was impeccable as expected. We even made it to the top of the One World Observation Tower. I just closed my eyes in the lift. It’s all good.

Two big nights later we hitched a ride to my number one bucket list item spot:

Philadelphia

Those close to me know of my love for the Rocky franchise and slight obsession with Sylvester Stallone. Running up the Rocky steps like my hero absolutely made my life. I went completely prepared. Ultimate fan girl mode engaged.

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During our city tour we got rather rained on but I can’t wait to head back and explore more of what Philly has on offer.

After our one night Philly stand we popped in to an Amish village for a little tour. Quite the eye opener! They live without electricity and as independent from the outside world as possible.  The families usually have 7/8 kids who leave school at 14 to work. The men grow moustache-less beards to signify that they are married and single ladies wear a certain type of dress to all special occasions to let the fellas know they’re available. I should get me one of those.

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Fascinating but I won’t be converting any time soon. They have one mirror in the house for hair brushing, they aren’t allowed cosmetics of any kind and they only have four dresses. Four. I could dress seven seperate communities with my dress collection alone. No thanks.

A quick stop in Baltimore for lunch, home of Hairspray and riots, before reaching the nation’s capitol…

Washington DC

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Canberra on steroids.

First we honoured those who have fought for the US in the last century. The sight seeing in DC was next level. As were the food carts.

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As were the alcoholic beverages.

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There was so much more to see and do there than I had expected. I actually really loved the place and would definitely go back!

With banging hangovers we made our way to one of the most important sites from the Civil War, Gettsburg. Suddenly life didn’t seem to bad!

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Ive really enjoyed learning more about American history. British has always held my heart but it’s very interesting to compare the different versions of events. It’s safe to say the Yanks and the Limes didn’t share much love back in the day.

On the Wild Western I was lucky enough to meet another soul operating completely on my nerdy wave length, Will. As we rolled in to his home town I was blown away by the beauty.

Pittsburgh is just… Wow.

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See what I mean?

I got a totally VIP behind the scenes tour of the best spots, including where they filmed the big Bane vs Batman scene for Dark Knight Rises. Talk about breathtaking!

It was so absolutely wonderful to see him again. Summer in Switzerland with our Martina next time.

Niagara Falls

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I’m about to drop a bombshell for anyone who hasn’t been, but you know what Niagara Falls is? It’s Vegas for nine year olds (thanks Phil). There’s tourist attractions everywhere, from the usual wax museums and haunted houses to lights out on to the falls at night.

So of course, I loved it.

Freshly crowned boat captains the squad hit the the waters appropriately dressed and ready for a soaking. The view from the bottom really was something else.

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That night we had dinner with a spectacular outlook and topped it off with a wild time at the karaoke.

Toronto

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Toronto was a spectacular blur. Our first night we checked out a comedy club and though a lot of the Canada themed jokes went straight over my head I was wetting myself at the Trump and America piss takes. I feel Canadians and Aussies have a similar sense of humour.

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The next day was a very liquidated one. We went to Steam Whistle brewery and I don’t remember much else. Good job I took photos!

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Montreal

Our final and most memorable destination was Montreal, located in Quebec French is their first language. It was fun to try crack that out again!

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Its an absolutely beautiful city. The views spoke for themselves.

Our first night out featured $2.50 drinks so we were buying four at a time. I ran in to some old friends from the big Tiki and it was wonderful. I’ll never forget this place.

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The next day I was reunited with the love of my life, the ocean. We went jet boating in level 4 rapids and I’ve never been more soaked or laughed so hard. Goodbye hangover!

Je vais vous voir l’année prochaine. Thank you for being a perfect ending.

~

The drive back to Boston was heartbreaking. Of all the group tours I have done, I’ve never met a bunch of people who blended so well and laughed so much. Sometimes I felt like we were on an episode of Geordie Shore, then we’d spend afternoons lying in the sun catching up on events. We shopped, gossiped, laughed, danced and created memories that will last a lifetime. I know I’ll be seeing you guys again little squad. Thank you for being the most incredible family ever. #contikiphil #phillikes….

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Inside jokes galore.

After a very long long long bus ride Jessie and I arrived in New York for the second time. On the agenda: Shake the Contiki cough, picnic in Central Park, Empire State Building, musicals. Mission accomplished?

Well Jessie managed to rip our Empire State tickets, but we did have a view of it from our bedroom window.

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I’d much rather see it from the ground anyway…

Our hotel was the most beautiful old boutique ever and we found a stairwell to play on.

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Aladdin was sold out for our days but I did manage a beautiful picnic reunion with the one and only TORZAAA!

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It was a romantic afternoon of giggling at couples as they made out, gossiping about men and being general dickheads. The hotdogs went down a treat!

We didn’t want to move from the warm sunny spot but we figured we should probably cover a few more things before we got on to the beverages, so off to Times Square we dallied.

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That night was messy and wild just like the three of us and though most of it is a bourbon blur I do remember: having beautiful chats with my soul brother Philly, another nomad heart who feels the pain of travelling to live/living to travel, several spinnings of the Cupid Shuffle and the Wobble so we had one final chance to show off our anthem routines of the trip and of course, a big greasy slice of New York pizza.

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Cant wait to see you when I pop over to Melbs my darling girl.

This trip has been next level. I can’t compare it to others that have done because for the last 10 weeks we have lived and breathed American life. We learnt about their history, culture and political issues. We met locals and spent time getting to know how they live. We partied hard. We drove a lot. We laughed and cried and danced and sang. We fought over stupid things. We ate a lot.

I thought after this time I would feel quite done with America, at least for a while. I was wrong. I can’t wait to come back. I want to do the Grand Northern and add more to the 21 states we visited this time round. I want to see Chicago. I want to go back to Boston. I want to go back to Key West. I want to do a big Caribbean cruise.

With Brisbane, New Zealand, Melbourne and Thailand coming up and my unwavering desire to spend a month in Japan I know it won’t be soon that I return, but I absolutely will. Probably next summer!

America cannot be summed up in words. Everywhere you go is so completely different, everyone you meet has a story to tell. I will forever admire their diversity. I hope one day Australia can embrace the same.

If anyone wants to have a chat about their own plans to go and is willing to listen to me ramble for hours, you know where to find me.

Thank you for following my latest adventure. There are many, many more to come 😊❤️

 

Harleigh Q

xo

 

 

 

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