I’ve been wanting to do some sort of when you’re there, please go and visit this (because I thought it to be awesome) blog, mainly in pictures, because even though some times it might be hard to capture the essence of what makes a park, town or city spectacular, it may be enough to persuade others to go and see the place as well. Some tips and extra information are given with each and every photo. Photos are taken by either travelling companies (mentioned if so) or myself during one of my many trips to all kinds of destinations. In this blog I want to feature USA’s National parks, monuments and some of its State Parks I have visited.
Starting on the east coast going north to south I will make my way to the west coast.
NEW YORK, NY – As I have mentioned before, the story that is represented by Lady Liberty, Liberty and Ellis Island, is one that gives hope to everyone who has to start over again for whatever reason. It makes you feel sad because of what people had to go through in the past to get a better life (and in a few of the cases, being sent back to where they came from). It makes you feel lucky, that you can be there on the island. That you have the freedom and the expenses to travel to New York to experience and see the Statue of Liberty for yourself, to learn about its past and present and what it stands for. It’s overwhelming to listen to these stories.
I would go there again in a heart beat. The view all the way up in the crown is amazing! It might not be the best of ideas to go there when you’re claustrophobic, but if you do want to go up, make sure you buy your tickets months in advance, especially when you’re going there during the summer.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – I might be biased, but after seeing the National Treasure movies, I felt compelled to go to Philadelphia, PA to see all these beautiful locations and learn more about US history. I reckon that compared to the average tourist, I might know a bit more about this subject due to the fact that I had to take US history in university. But the two combined made this experience visiting not only Hall of Independence but also the Liberty Bell and for example Betsy Ross’ house more entertaining, because all these bits and pieces of information fell into place. It’s not easy to phantom that fifty or so people actually signed the Declaration of Independence (and later on also the Constitution) in the Hall of Independence and therefore making the first steps forward in developing to a country that we now know as the United States of America. That some of the ground rules in US legislation, morals and laws are decided on in that specific building a bit more than 200 years ago.
Entrance is free, you just need to get your tickets early during the day/morning (depending on when you’re visiting) in the visitor’s center.
BALTIMORE, MD – Fort McHenry is just like Hall of Independence; it was key in one of the turning points in US history. During the War of 1812, it was here that they held off the British from successfully invading the country. The battle between the Americans and the British inspired Francis Scott Key to write a beautiful poem, that now is best known as the US National anthem, Star Spangled Banner. During my visit in December, I was one of the few who was visiting the Fort at the time. In its visitor’s center they have beautiful displays explaining Fort McHenry’s part in the War of 1812 and how the battle was won. You can wander over the ground and visit several parts of the Fort as well. Definitely worth visiting if you’re interested in US history.
WASHINGTON DC – One of the reasons I am in love with Washington DC is the beautiful monuments and memorials they have built to honour those who served their country. Whether it’s the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial or as pictured above, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, they are magnificent architectural structures that make you want to learn more about these people and what they did for the USA. And if you get lucky as well, you get these amazing sunsets to portray these terrific buildings with such an ease.
Please note that the subway in DC is pretty expensive compared to other major cities in the USA. Make sure you bring some comfortable boots, dot down the things you want to see, and plan a route. DC is walkable if you are willing to do some homework in advance. I walked from the Pentagon to Arlington, to the Lincoln Memorial and Union Station via the White House in one day. It’s about 14 KMs (9 miles), but it’s do-able.
Another place in DC that makes me want to go back to this city badly, is the Reflecting Pool. When it isn’t too windy, and the water is calm, you understand why it is called the reflecting pool. It’s like a mirror and depending on which side of the pool you are, it either reflects the Washington Monument (above) or the Abraham Lincoln Memorial (down) beautifully.
Entrance to all these buildings is free. If you want to go up the Washington Monument, you have to be a very early bird to get your hands on a ticket. A limited amount of tickets can be gotten in the Visitor’s Center for free or you can buy tickets in advance on their website. Currently it’s closed due to replacement of its elevator. It’s unknown when it will be open again for the public.
Abraham Lincoln has always spiked my interest during the Civil War classes of US history. Even though it wasn’t in his first intentions, he abolished slavery in the Union, modernized the economy and brought the Union back together. It cost him his life. He was assassinated on 14 April 1865 by John Wilkes Booth in the Ford’s Theater. Lincoln made some important decisions with the government during his terms that directed and formed the Union and later on the United States to the country that it is today.
ARLINGTON, VA – Arlington National Cementry is impressive. Whether you look left or right, there are these little white tomb stones everywhere and it is then that you realize how many people died to make sure this world becomes a better place. That people are fighting to make sure that other don’t have to. These brave people gave their lives to defend a country that they called home, not matter their believes. Besides the approximately 400,000 graves, you can also pay your respects to John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie, who are buried in Arlington with family. On the other side of the premises, there is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a place where they honour all soldiers who died during the World War I and II, the Korean War and the War in Vietnam.
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, FL – If there is one species of animals that I dislike with all my being, it’s crocodiles and alligators (okay, and sharks and snakes). So visiting Everglades NP made me feel uneasy at times. I’d like to think that as long as I leave them be, they won’t harm me and hey, there are tours cruising those waters every day. I have to admit I am glad I did visit a small bit of this park. So much that, the Keys and the Everglades are the only reason I will ever return to Miami. Because Miami itself, it is not my cup of tea.
The boat ride itself is worth the money. We got lucky we got to see some crocs in the wild as well. But it’s definitely a bit of nature I want to see again and to be honest… the temperature in December in Florida isn’t too bad either.
Coming soon: National Park, Monuments etc – West coast version!