Wednesday, 10 August 2011

USA HoneyJune


Right after our wedding in early June, we departed on the 6th of June for this 3-week honeymoon in the United States. We went from the West Coast where we visited San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, Las Vegas in Nevada, and Grand Canyon in Arizona, to Florida in the southeast where we spent around a week in Miami and Orlando, and finally to the capital Washington and New York City in the East. It was a wonderful journey, not only were we extra happy being newly wedded, we were also impressed by the diversity of this giant country that would give different surprises. Among all those cities we both liked Las Vegas the most while we might want to use the word dislike for Washington for a particular reason. Grand Canyon as part of the beautiful nature was my favorite too.


San Francisco



It’s a bit cool there in San Francisco in June, especially for us travelers coming from a hot region. Since the Golden Gate Bridge was known as one of the most internationally recognized symbols of the city, we headed to the Fisherman’s Wharf, first of all, to purchase a ticket for Golden Gate Bay Cruise that cost 24 dollars per person. We didn’t find the experience extraordinary as it’s simply a crowded boat with open seating, nor did the Bridge appear more impressive in close shot. On the contrary, driving past the Bridge might be an alternative best option. Back at Fisherman’s Wharf, we spent an afternoon at Pier 39, a shopping center and popular tourist attraction built on a pier located at the edge of the Wharf. We were seated by the window in a seafood restaurant from which a bunch of sea lions resting on wooden platforms was clearly seen. On the next day we toured around the city by hopping on and off tour buses. Muir Woods National Monument was the last destination of our 3-day stay. Also on this last day we rented a car and started a coastal journey towards Los Angeles.



Los Angeles



On the way between the two cities we didn’t see any big attractions, but several scenic viewpoints and nice clean beaches along the Pacific coast. Upon arrival in L.A. the first destination was Beverly Hills, an affluent city as well as home to the shopping district Rodeo Drive. We also visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame nearby. Both were lively districts full of tourists engaged in sightseeing, shopping, watching street performances, etc. On the 14th we had lots of fun in Universal Studios, the last but best spot throughout our stay in California. Simulation of earthquake and King Kong movie scene were one of my favorites. This movie studio and theme park entertained visitors of all ages due to its great diversity. We were glad we arrived and started the day at its opening time at 10:00, because we wouldn’t have been able to tour around the whole park before it closed. On the next day we returned the car at the airport and departed for Las Vegas.



Las Vegas



Flying from LAX to LAS there was a transition from autumn to burning summer all of a sudden in one hour, regardless of proximity between California and Nevada. Known as The Entertainment Capital of the World famous for its consolidated casino-hotels and associated entertainment, it’s not surprising to see slot machines everywhere right at the airport on the way to baggage claim. We went on a shuttle that brought us to Bellagio Hotel, which was a perfect choice. Through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in our guest room we had a magnificent view of the center of this resort city. What we loved most was the dynamic performance from the Fountains of Bellagio both in daytime and at night, and also the marvelous Cirque de l'Eau held in the theater of Bellagio. We spent two full days on experiencing this internationally renowned city of gambling, shopping and fine dining. 



Grand Canyon



On the 16th we were brought from Bellagio by a limousine to a Grand Canyon’s point of departure where we boarded a helicopter. The whole thing was costly, but it proved worthwhile because there were the most stunning views on the way to the Canyon on the helicopter. The package also included a short boat trip. From the river we could see the Canyon in a different angle. Everything was good, except that the free time allowed at the site was too limited. We needed to be on time to catch the same helicopter that flew us back to Las Vegas. All those times spent in Nevada were great, but it’s extremely hot. You might need to be well equipped with sunglasses, hats, powerful sunscreens, shorts and vests for this trip.


Miami



On the 17th we left West Coast for Florida. After settling in a hotel in a renowned coastal resort city called Miami Beach, we spent the rest of this day at the nearby South Beach. It’s a nice day lying on the fine sand and swimming in the clear water. For the 18th we’d booked a tour of a remote location called Key West mainly for underwater activities. In the early morning we got on a tour bus that needed to detour around the area to pick up everyone. That’s the problem of travelling in group. Worst of all, it took 3.5 hours to reach the destination and another 3.5 to come back. We passed most of the day on the bus, but only a very short time on the cruise ship that brought us to snorkel offshore in perfect clear water, and in the lively city center where there were Key West Museum of Art and History, various kinds of shops and restaurants. Like lots of places in Florida, Key West is beautiful, but you might want a 2-night stay instead of a 1-day trip. Also beware when you need to join any tour. All those tours never specify travelling time to and from a destination.


Disney World



On the 19th we flew from Miami to Orlando where shuttles were right there at the airport to pick up guests of Disney World Resorts. We’d booked a 4-night stay in Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, which we would now be happy to recommend to others. The rest of this first day we toured around Downtown Disney which was nothing inferior to those four theme parks. From the 20th to 22nd we visited Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For us it’s more about sightseeing than entertainment. Disney World is a wonderland for kids after all. This Hollywood Studios was interesting, but not as much as the one in L.A. We had very happy times in Orlando, except that it’s a bit too hot.


Washington



We went from Southeast up to East Coast where we landed in Washington, D.C., the capital of United States. On the 24th we went sightseeing in the city by means of subway. U.S. Capitol, White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, etc. were all nice places to see. This one of the largest metropolitan areas of the U.S. fell short of our expectations, however, as we saw the police going after a group of criminals right in front of us at a train platform. We were shocked. We were there for only two days. Were similar scenes easily seen every two days in Washington?


New York



Last four days of our honeymoon we had lots of fun exploring New York City, the most populous city in the United States known for its status as a financial and cultural center, the largest gateway for immigration to the country, and also as a choice of destination for many foreign visitors. Once again we travelled by means of subway. Even though the subway system in New York was so old, it’s very well developed, extensive, and efficient. I was just a little annoyed at one point when we needed to go out of the gate up to the ground and cross the street to take another line in the same station. We went up the Empire State Building that overlooked Midtown Manhattan, walked around Wall Street, visited the Statue of Liberty, shopped at Times Square, strolled into Central Park, etc. We also had some nice meals at Manhattan Chinatown, the biggest Chinatown I’d ever seen. By the way, we were quite satisfied with our stay in Grand Hyatt New York, a quality hotel located just over Grand Central Station.


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