We’ve been planning this trip to America for about a year now, if not longer, thanks to my brother studying for a year abroad in California. As our plans changed, we found out about a family reunion that happens every 10 years or so with our American family. Deciding this was too perfect an opportunity to miss, me and mum immediately agreed to go, and added in Niagara Falls and New York City (per my request) afterwards. My brother didn’t end up coming due to unforeseen circumstances, but this has been the best holiday I’ve ever had. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time, if ever!
Dunkirk/Fredonia, NY & Chautauqua
I had no idea what to expect from upstate New York, but let me tell you, this was by far the best part of the entire trip.
In large part thanks to my family and how wonderful, nice and funny they all are. 140 people is overwhelming for anyone, especially when you don’t know anyone there, but they were all so welcoming to me and I had some great chats with several people. It’s so reassuring to know you have a good family to fall back on, especially if you wanna go back and visit.
I managed to tick off a few items from my bucket list, and my America specific bucket list, as well as cram a lot into the few days I spent there. For starters, I’d never been in a limo so you can imagine my joy when I finally got to ride in one*. I’d also been intrigued by the party bus and I’m glad I did go on, just to say I’d experienced it. I also went into Walmart with my auntie and uncle because I’ve heard so many things about it. It was huge! I don’t know what I expected, but you could honestly buy everything there. Well… everything except alcohol, as we found out one day.
We visited a gorgeous place one day called Chautauqua and while the art stalls and cute notebook I bought were good, it wasn’t anything compared to the lake and gorgeous houses around. God, I adore American houses. The space, the wooden panelling, how they design it – SO much better than UK houses. I took a TON of pictures of them all because I couldn’t resist.
*Most people go in one for prom but because there wasn’t enough room for all of us, I never got the chance
When we stayed in Dunkirk/Fredonia, we happened to be near enough to the border between America and Canada, which conversely meant we were close enough to go to Niagara Falls. So we did. Me, mum, my auntie and my uncle went for a day trip up to Niagara Falls and had a lovely morning/afternoon getting wet and taking pictures of such an iconic sight. Admittedly, we couldn’t go over to the Canadian side so we stuck to the American side, but you could still get a stunning view of it. Definitely worth visiting.
I’ve been wanting to visit New York since I was a kid, so to finally tick this off my bucket list has definitely been a highlight. However, as much as I enjoyed New York, I did find the tourists annoying at times. But I adore the skyscrapers and the constant lights, especially in the night time. It fills me with inspiration to be whoever I wanna be.
We went through Central Park to get somewhere else, which I’ll write below, but we took detours and ended up taking longer than necessary. Central Park is cool because you see the stunning skyscrapers from the park and it’s just nice to see them from a distance. Plus, there’s natural boulders and rocks dotted around that you can climb (I would like to add it’s harder than it looks!) and little ponds that you can play with toy boats on and statues of famous people around.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met, as everyone calls it, was great when we finally arrived after our detour through Central Park. I fell in love with this stained glass and continued my love of marble statues. I’ve never really voiced it out loud except to mum but god I LOVE marble statues! They’re so soft and smooth and how they do get it so detailed? HOW??? It makes me want to start sculpting, but I know it’d take me a million years to be able to do what they do. Ugh. There were some cool American paintings too.
Empire State Building
I find cities so much more fascinating in the night. Sure, the city looks great in the daytime with all the pretty buildings dotted around and you can usually pick out the tourist attractions. However, in the night time, the buildings all twinkle and sparkle and it feels more magical. Like the city has finally woken up and come alive. The buildings don’t look as much the same (although, in a city like New York, that’s not a problem) and it just feels more… soft.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
It was so interesting to hear the history behind the Statue of Liberty. I never knew it was created by a French man! Nor that the virtues came from the French, although considering what they are, I should’ve done. It was so cool to hear how it was essentially funded by immigrants and how it was built, and where.
Ellis Island was a point of interest for us because our ancestors’ went through there to start a new life in America in the 1920s. Once the guided tour had ended and we’d eaten, we searched for our ancestors and managed to find six of them that had come over. But we couldn’t find anymore, which is odd considering more than six came over.
Someone at the family reunion told us about this ticket system to buy Broadway tickets on the day of the show for a discounted price. We decided, since this holiday was already costing a shit ton, why not end it with a musical? We’d looked through several shows and decided on Kinky Boots. I’d heard good things about it, but that’s mostly because Brendon Urie and Todrick Hall had been involved at one point. Anyway, we managed to get good seats for a reasonable price.
Kinky Boots was so good! The whole plot, the characterisation and the songs were spot on. I absolutely loved it. It had such a good message. Seeing drag queens represented too was awesome, because let me tell you, those drag queens slayed! They were stunning and incredible at dancing around.
- Rockefeller Centre – I wanted a picture so I walked over. It’s a cool building.
- Radio City & The Tonight Show – I saw while passing to get to the Rockefeller Centre
- The Late Show – we were staying in a hotel nearby
- McGee’s Pub – i.e. the pub that influenced the pub in How I Met Your Mother (the creators of the show used to go there after work, before HIMYM was even an idea)
- Macy’s & Target – two shops I’d heard about and I wanted to see what the fuss was about
Overall, this has been the best holiday ever. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time. Being with family and seeing the sights, as well as ticking things off my bucket list, really made this whole trip worthwhile.