Where off to after several years of studying at University? I would like to get out of town one last time, before the tough working life begins. After some days of consideration, my destination of choice was the USA. I have seen parts of the US before, but as a child – impressions and interests do tend to change with time.
The first destination of my 5-week trip was New York. Before leaving, people were concerned where I would be staying in NYC – I had booked a room in the Bubba and Bean Guesthome in East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem. Harlem – by many Europeans considered a tough place to be, with crime and murder in the streets. Once I arrived, I learned that it was quite the opposite. People are open-minded and friendly and the food was excellent.
Central Park was within ten minutes walking distance from my hotel, the Chrysler building or Rockefeller Centre were 10-20 minutes by cab – depending on the traffic. The subway was just outside the door. By the way, I recommend the view from the Rockefeller Centre over the city rather than going to the Empire State Building, as one has a beautiful view of Central Park, and the Empire State Building of course.
After five days in urban NYC, i visited the US Virgin Island St.John. In strong contrast to New York the weather was warm, no crowds – only beaches and nature reserves. A perfect place to go snorkeling and relax before I was off to my next point of interest.
Miami might not be the capital of culture and arts, but the beach and the nightlife are exquisite. During the day, Miami seems sleepy, at night the city comes to life! The clubs and pubs are extremely recommendable, if you feel a little homesick as a German, you may enter the authentic German “Kneipe“ in Lincoln Road in South Beach. If you are looking for a good time, you should go see a sports game in one of the many pubs – I watched the domestic basketball team, Miami Heat, a team full of extraordinary players and stars. I also tried watching baseball and American football, but I never entirely understood the rules. Some die-hard fans tried their best to excite me, but it was not easy to convince me.
The next stop of my trip was Las Vegas. This city has a different set of laws and rules. Where you would suffer severe punishment by police in other cities (I witnessed people being arrested for drinking in public), however life in Las Vegas is different. Three nights were probably enough to experience the city. If you are going to visit Las Vegas there is one thing you should watch out for – the casinos are built in such a special way, that it is not easy to find the exit. It tends to happen that one spends many more hours in a casino than you were intending to – even if your orientation is considered above average.
The Grand Canyon is a very special sight to see – and easily accessible from Las Vegas. Some people might be able to afford a helicopter but I on the other hand took the bus at 6 am. Seeing the Grand Canyon was one of the greatest things I have witnessed – an experience like no other. For those of you who seek a little thrill, I recommend the „Skywalk“ on the western end of the canyon. For some it is a rather expensive and shocking experience; a glass-floored walk over the deep canyon. I would say that I am generally not afraid of heights, but even I had to hold on to the railing for the first few minutes.
I was reminded of Scott McKenzies hit “Be sure to wear flowers in your hair“ in San Francisco. On some corners you still see people in a flower power mood, dressing as such and behaving accordingly. After making some acquaintances in my hotel near Union Square, we ended on a hill overseeing parts of San Francisco and the bay. The next day I took a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and back – one should not fool themselves; nearly everyone takes the ferry back. And so did I. It is not hard for one to fall in love with San Francisco; the people are nice, the food is good and the cocktails were among the best I have ever tried. Some people claim that San Francisco is the most European city outside of Europe.
Exploring Hollywood did not take more than a day. Hollywood Boulevard, The Chinese Theatre – I even sat in a café where stars supposedly drink their chai latte – but I was not lucky on that day. So I left for my last stop of my trip, Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The remaining days i spent enjoying the sun and the joyful people on the beach and in the bars.