Monday, 29 August 2016

USA and Canada 2016 | Washington DC and Virginia

We spent the last days of our holiday staying with family in Reston, Virginia - just outside of DC. It was lovely and hot and we spent most of the time there just catching up with our family (including our new 5-month-old baby cousin) and relaxing, we did lots of shopping and had some great dinners. I won't go through each day in detail, but below are some of the highlights. 

Whilst we were there we went into DC a couple of times. We woke up super early one morning to head in for sunrise at the Lincoln memorial. It was the most amazing view and I took hundreds of photo, I would highly recommend heading into DC at that time as it was so quiet and we were able to head around some of the memorials before crowds were there.

One evening we drove to Wolf Trap - near my Auntie's house - to watch Kristin Chenoweth perform. It is such a beautiful national park! It is the only performing arts national park in the USA and it was such a lovely experience as although you are under shelter, the walls of the auditorium are open so you can hear the noises from the trees outside. 

Another place we visited in DC was the Newseum, it did cost entry but you get two days worth of tickets. They have some really interesting exhibits, we spent ages in the FBI investigates exhibit which was horrifying but interesting.

We visited Lake Anne which is a lovely lake surrounded by restaurants, it is lovely to sit around and relax. 

We ate at Good Stuff Burgers in Arlington where I had one of the best burgers I had ever eaten in my life.

While in Virginia, we also travelled into Maryland and visited a County Fair. It was so much fun, there were loads of stalls and animals. There were shows and lots of places to get food and souvenirs. I didn't realise what a big thing county fairs were in the area! It was a really popular event with fairground rides and monster trucks. 

We had such an amazing holiday, looking forward to my next trip back to the USA.

USA and Canada 2016 | Pennsylvania

We got up early to get ready to cross the border, it was actually really easy to cross in the morning. We were through the border crossing in 10 minutes and into the USA. We walked through Niagara town on the NY side and found a taxi to take us to our car hire. We had breakfast across the road as we were way too early for our car hire, and soon as it was time to get the car we drove off to Pennsylvania. It took around 6 hours and obviously we stopped for authentic american cuisine on the way (McDonald's) and then carried on our journey. 

We stayed in the Days Inn in Lancaster, it was near the Amish town of Bird in Hand. We arrived around 8pm but most restaurants were closed, although we did manage to find an Olive Garden. Early in the morning we went on an Amish Buggy Tour with Abe's Amish Buggy tour company. It was a really insightful trip, I didn't take many photos but the above photo is my view from the back of the buggy. We had an hour journey through the lovely, peaceful town. We then continued to Gettysburg. 

Once in Gettysburg, we visited the National Military Park. We didn't go into the museum, but we did see the cemetery despite the heat. We had found out lots about the war and the park itself previously and it was really interesting to see in person. We found the place where Lincoln did his famous address. 

We didn't spend much time at the park because it was so hot, but I am glad we stopped there. After Gettysburg we drove straight to Reston, VA for the last part of our trip. 

USA and Canada 2016 | Niagara Falls

It was really easy to get from Toronto to Niagara on the Greyhound bus. It was really cheap and only took around one hour and a half. It was easy to get from the bus station to our hotel (Travelodge by the Falls) which was quite reasonably priced and a good location within walking distance of everywhere. 

I was really surprised about the Niagara area, I wasn't picturing it at all similar to how it is; I would compare it to a Vegas for kids! It's loud, there is lots of neon and bright colours and it is full of activities (mini golf, countless wax work museums and haunted houses). We walked down towards the falls after dropping out suitcases, and got Starbucks and Wendy's before queuing up for the Hornblower boat. It looked like a long queue but it really didn't take long to get on the boat. The actual trip was around 20 minutes but we had booked in advance for $45 for the day time and night time cruise. We got absolutely soaked but it was so worth it, and obviously with the heat we dried off quickly. We grabbed milkshakes and went back to the hotel.

We had dinner and walked back to the boat for our evening cruise. We had an amazing view of the fireworks over head. I would definitely recommend joining the queue as late as possible as people were in the line for an hour standing up and they hadn't let anyone on the boat. 

USA and Canada 2016 | 24 hours in Toronto

This year we have headed out on another family road trip, this time starting in Canada and driving down to DC. We left the UK in the morning and arrived in Canada and set straight out for the CN tower. We stayed on Jarvis Street at a Quality Inn, which was ok for us as we didn't mind the walk yet it was quite far away from the centre. We spent our evening going up the CN tower, watching the sun set and taking in the views, and then we found a pizza restaurant (JZ's) with views of the tower and spent the rest of the evening there. 

We got up early and managed to fit in a quick gym session (our only one of the whole holiday - we started off so optimistically!) and got our free breakfast. We headed into the centre, despite it pouring with rain, and we wandered to the Eaton Centre. We had a long lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then went to find  the 'Toronto' sign and even had to go and get sunglasses as it had got so sunny after the rain. We went to the Market Gallery and saw the Beatles exhibit which was great to see. Afterwards we walked to the harbour and waited for a boat to centre island, it was really sunny by the time we got there and it has the most amazing views of the skyline. The island was so quiet and peaceful, we went over to the beach and saw the fairground. As we were travelling to Niagara the next day, we got Tim Hortons for dinner and went back to the hotel for an early night.

It was a really quick stop over in Toronto but we managed to see quite a lot of it in a short space of time. However I definitely don't think we managed to taste as much of the amazing food as I have heard about, so I will have to head back at some point. It was a lovely place for a first look at Canada, but there are so so many more places in Canada I would love to visit.