Amuse Your Bouche in the USA!
Today I’m taking a short break from my usual recipes to share a few photos from my recent trip around the US. Feel free to skip this post if you’re not interested in other people’s holiday photos! I can’t say I blame you – I imagine it’s much the same as other people’s pet photos and other people’s baby photos, i.e. sometimes not all that interesting.
For those of you who are interested, my husband and I spent two weeks driving from New Orleans to Memphis and Nashville and back again, in a big loop. Then my husband had to head back to the UK for work, but since I’m lucky enough to be my own boss I decided to stay for an extra week, and headed up to New York on my own. In a three week trip, you better believe I took hundreds of photos, but I’ve restrained myself for this post and have narrowed them down to 10 favourites.
First up, New Orleans!
We managed to time our trip so that we were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras – because if you’re going to fly about 4,600 miles, you may as well go at a time when the whole city is getting in the party spirit, right? We made sure to join in as much as we could, including drinking Bloody Marys at 10am, loading our necks up with strings of beads, and sampling New Orleans’ crazy hand grenade cocktails (which are delicious but crazily strong!).
Mardi Gras was amazing fun, I’d love to go back. Just so much happiness and fun all around!
The only downside to Mardi Gras is the mess it creates – beads and plastic cups all over the floor! At least they clear it all up the next day, even if it does require a few diggers…
Another highlight of New Orleans was taking a swamp trip on an airboat like this one (this was the boat next to ours in the dock, but it was exactly the same).
These things go fast! So much fun. Despite the cold winter and the fact that most alligators in the area were burrowed in the mud to keep warm, we did manage to see an alligator poking its head out of the bank, so that was cool!
After a few days in New Orleans, we got on the road and started to head north.
I’m super impressed with myself for driving in the US, by the way. Not only is everything backwards (sitting on the opposite side of the car, driving on the opposite side of the road…), it was also really disconcerting driving an automatic car when I’m so used to driving a manual. It definitely felt bizarre not having anything to do with my left foot!
At least we had a sat nav though, which made things a lot easier and more relaxing. The lovely people at Tep lent me a wireless device for my trip, which is basically a portable wifi router, and meant we could use Google Maps on the road rather than having to use data roaming on our phones (which can get to be seriously expensive!). A Tep device is going to be a must-have item for any future trips I take abroad, as it just made everything so much easier.
I thought the above photo was funny – 200 miles until the next instruction! I imagine this is pretty normal in the US, but in the UK you’d never see this. I rarely drive more than 200 miles at a time – and even when I do, there are always plenty of junctions on the way!
With Tep’s help, we made it to Memphis in one piece, and for us, the highlight of our few days there was the Civil Rights Museum, which is built into the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was killed back in 1968. Really, really interesting and a really well done museum. We also visited Elvis Presley’s Graceland, because it seemed like the sort of thing one should do when in Memphis!
Next up was Nashville! I’m a closet country music fan, so I made sure we booked tickets to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. If you’re not familiar, it’s the longest running radio show in the US, having been broadcast weekly since 1925. It’s now a huge stage show, but it’s still broadcast over the radio, so that was interesting to see. It’s basically a variety show, with each act just singing one or two songs. We discovered some cool new artists (along with a few we’ll never listen to again…!). There were cowboy hats and boots, fringed jackets, banjos… definitely something I’d recommend doing in Nashville if you get the chance!
We spent four nights in Nashville, then drove back down to New Orleans, stopping overnight in a couple of other towns on the way (distances between cities are huge in the US!). We made sure we nipped into Florida for a night, mostly just so we could tick another state off the list, and to enjoy one last little bit of sunshine before my husband had to fly home.
Rather than flying up to New York, I decided to take the Amtrak – because when else would I have the opportunity to take a train across America? It was a 19 hour train ride up to Chicago (don’t worry, I had a little cabin – I could never last 19 hours sat in one seat), where I spent one day.
The main highlight:
Chicago pizza! Unbelievably good, and unbelievably cheesy. As you can imagine, I did not finish this pizza, much as I would have loved to.
Another 19 hour train ride took me to New York! I’d never been before, so I spent a few very happy days pottering round the city (and by ‘pottering’ I mean ‘walking about ten miles a day’). There’s so much to do there. One of my favourites was the Natural History Museum – I could have spent all day in there.
Rather than spending my evenings sitting alone in a bar (which would almost certainly be a bit weird), I booked tickets to a few awesome shows. I saw Wicked for the first time (amazing!), Les Miserables for the second time (I was in the fifth row – basically just wept for three hours straight), aaaaand I saw the Knicks at Madison Square Garden!
(that beer cost $11. Eleven dollars!!!)
I know absolutely zero about basketball (in fact when I booked the ticket I had to Google the Knicks just to double check what sport I was actually going to see), but it turns out it was as much about the entertainment as the actual sport. T-shirt cannons, dancers, a live band, two marriage proposals, on-screen entertainment, a shootout where a guy from the crowd won $750… there was barely time to watch the actual game. Anyway, it was fun either way!
My holiday ended with a trip up the Rockerfeller Centre. You can’t argue with this view…
The sun was shining for me and everything. A great end to my trip!
Whereabouts in the US should I visit next time?!
Disclosure: I received the Tep device free of charge for the duration of my trip, but all opinions are my own. I will definitely use it again on future trips.