As a part-time film critic I feel like I spend half my life in America, swinging through the streets of NYC with Spider-man or uncovering the latest conspiracy in DC, one covert park bench meeting at a time. Until this year, however, I had never actually been.
Having now walked the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way together, and shared countless cinema trips in between, I booked six days on the East Coast of America with Paul Greenwood: four in New York and two in transit to and from Washington DC.
On day one we flew out to Newark, took the train to PENN Station and spent a spine-tingling afternoon in Central Park. The size of it was unbelievable, the park an apparently inexhaustible network of public places and hidden corners, but even it was dwarfed by the sprawl of Manhattan island. The skyscrapers saw to that.
We spent our second day in New York climbing every tower we could, sometimes twice, in order to get a sense of the city surrounding us. All this walking kept us pretty hungry, but with so many delis, diners and food trucks to choose from we were never short of something to eat. Sadly, Central Perk was nowhere to be found when we set out in search of the Friends apartment.
Risking repetitive strain injury if we kept craning our necks, we began day three with a boat tour of Ellis Island, stopping to explore Hell’s Kitchen, Brooklyn and Little Italy on our way back to Midtown. Much of the afternoon was spent at the American Museum of Natural History, visiting the Titanosaur exhibit and going on a vicarious tour of America’s National Parks thanks to Expedia’s National Parks Adventure.
After three days travelling together I was ready to branch off alone for a bit of solo exploration. After a morning at the Met I left Paul to his own devices and set off for a day of, well, whatever I felt like at the time. It was snowing, but that didn’t stop me strolling through Central Park, sight-seeing at the zoo and shopping for souvenirs. I knew I couldn’t leave New York without paying my respects at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, so I set aside a few hours in the afternoon before a scheduled tweet-up in the evening.
We rose early on day five for a crack-of-dawn train to Washington DC. As eager as I was to see New York I was desperate to visit Washington, and spent the entire journey itching to set foot on the National Mall. Unfortunately we still had the city’s mystifying Metro to contend with, but by noon we were standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument, looking out over the World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial. We also got to see a little bit of Virginia, with our hotel located over the river in Arlington.