Friday, 4 July 2014

Camp America & travelling the USA

So this blog post is about 10 months too late, but since I didn't have a blog back then.. this post will have all the benefits of hindsight ;).

Last summer on the 21st of June I packed my bags and headed off to the sunny US of A for 3 months. I had applied to do Camp America and was lucky enough to have been quickly offered a place at a camp for children with Special Needs in New Jersey, about an hour on the bus from the bright lights of New York City! 

First off, for anyone thinking about doing Camp America my advice would definitely be DO IT! I will be honest and say it isn't all fun and games - by the end of the 10 weeks I was practically collapsing with tiredness, the close-knit environment is sadly prone to being a bit gossipy and bitchy, and I basically didn't feel clean for 2 months. But the pro's so, so outweigh the cons. You get to spend every day in the sun, make some amazing memories with some amazing kids, and gain a bunch of best friends you get to hang out with every day (I even met my boyfriend there and it'll be our first anniversary on Sunday, n'aww). 

Me & my friend on a Camp trip :)

A few of my best friends from Camp at our staff party (I'm the one 2nd from right)

After Camp finished, a group of us decided to go travelling round the States for a couple of weeks! I say that like we were really cool and just pitched up in different cities on a whim - we actually planned it with military precision about a month before, but shhhhhhh ;)

First off we hopped aboard a bus from NYC to Massachusetts for a few days. I LOVED me some Boston, it was so beautiful and really reminded me of being in England, especially with names like Cambridge! We went to Harvard which was amazing, it was early September when we were there so all the Freshman were being welcomed, I was so jealous. Literally everyone seemed to be arriving in glossy black 4x4s with tinted windows. We also checked out all the touristy stuff like a huuuuge aquarium, and of course Fenway Park where the Red Sox play. I know ZIP about baseball, but I absolutely loved the tour anyway so I'd definitely recommend it to anyone! We also went on a mad rampage for a Cheesecake Factory and got a taxi to the outskirts of Boston to satisfy our love for the red velvet ;). In fact, the only downside of the Boston experience was when we rang up 3 Dunkin' Donuts to see if they had any birthday cake donuts left, and NONE of them did... shame on you Boston (I STILL haven't had one!)

Obligatory selfie ;) (I'm the one in the middle)

New York
When we left Boston (sob) we headed back to New York and spent a few days in the Big Apple :) because Manhattan is seriously draining on the purse we stayed out in Brooklyn. It was about half an hour on the subway into the city, but we shared an iPod and had Lana Del Rey on repeat so that was fine ;). The area we stayed wasn't the most glam, but our hostel was awesome and we met some lovely people there. Aside from being big Sex and the City ladies and shopping on 5th Avenue ;) we made sure we did the touristy things too! Ground zero was really moving, and the ferry to Staten Island was cracking. But my favourite experiences were quite ordinary, getting slices of pizza in Times Square. I'd wanted to go to NYC ever since I first saw Friends, and it definitely didn't disappoint!


Coney Island, this place is SERIOUSLY cool, any city that has a beach gets a thumbs up from me - especally one with a wonder wheel ;)



Phantom of the Opera on Broadway!!! It was INCREDIBLE

Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful :)

Houston, Texas
After New York we met up with some more friends at the airport and headed on down to Texas! It was so so hot, my fair English skin didn't know what to think. We stayed in a really cute little area, and it was definitely our favourite hostel experience. We did LOADS in just a few days: the main priority was naturally NASA (the geek in me thought this was the main priority anyway) which was unbelievable and I'm so glad I've seen it. We went to a zoo and took selfies with meercats, went to a baseball game (not the Yankees admittedly, but there WAS an onscreen proposal so that was unbeatable) and went to the famous Sundance cinema. Everyone was so friendly in Texas, and it was actually my favourite place we went by far. My only criticism would be that we ended up having to spend a small fortune in taxis, as Houston isn't really built for the pedestrian visitor and public transport wasn't fantastic - but luckily our hostel was so cheap that it didn't matter quite so much.


New Orleans
Our last stop was New Orleans! I was only able to stay a couple of nights and only really got one full day here, as sadly I had to jet home to start Uni :( but we definitely made the most of our day! In the morning we headed out to see some alligators. My favourite was called Brokejaw Betty because she likes to get into lots of scrapes, I figured she had some character ;) the bus we got out to the swamps was good because the driver almost acted as a tour guide, pointing out the site where there was a voodoo graveyard. Apparently if you go there you can curse people, naughty naughty. He also recommended the best places for bread and butter pudding in town, if only I liked the stuff :(.
In the evening we headed out to Bourbon street where all the jazz music was. The bars were all amazing, and the music was so good! I didn't even think I LIKED jazz until I went there. If only I could have stayed for longer!

SO, that concludes my brief reminisce of my travels last year :).
I would recommend going round the States to ANYONE, it was so much fun and I had the best 2 weeks I think I have ever had. I think if I'm ever lucky enough to go back I'd love to go round the west coast, and see San Francisco and LA, and of course the grand canyon :).

Has anyone else been travelling round the USA to the same places, or got any tips for travelling the West Coast? I'd love to hear them!