In May 2010 I decided to leave my job in Australia and travel around the world before moving to the USA. This journey ended up involving travelling in 18 countries on 4 continents (North America, Europe, Asia and Australia) and taking me around the world 1.5 times over a 12 month period! I wrote a number of travel emails from that trip and I thought it would be fun to revisit them with some additional info and photos. The following blog is Part 3 of that journey (USA – Pennsylvania and New York).
May 25th, 2010
Everything is going well on my trip, other than a crazy occurrence today…more on that shortly….
The last few days have been spent in Philadelphia. The nation’s capital from 1790-1800, it is a cool place with lots of historic places to explore and a great indoor market for delicious food treats (good Philly Cheese Steaks).
The key place to visit is Independence Hall (constructed 1732-1756) where many significant events occurred in US history: George Washington was appointed Commander of the Continental Army in 1775; the Declaration of Independence July 4th, 1776 and the US Constitution 1787 were debated and signed here and the design for the American stars and stripes flag was approved in 1777.
The Liberty Bell is another important site to visit (a lot smaller than I thought!). The bell has an inscription on it that conveys a message of liberty. The bell was toured around the country in the late 1800’s to heal the divisions created by the US Civil War. The bell acted as a reminder of when the country united to fight for Independence from the British. The crack in the bell was an ongoing thing. The first bell cracked upon arrival from England in the 1700’s, it was recast in 1753 using metal from the previous bell, but it cracked again in 1846! It was repaired again and rung for George Washington’s birthday that same year. It cracked again and has never been rung again!
I also went to the steps of the art museum made famous in the classic boxing movie Rocky (1976). Cheesy photos were taken by many including me of the Rocky pose on the steps and at the Rocky Statue! Great fun!
An unexpected highlight was the house of Edgar Allan Poe the famous writer – The Raven, Black Cat etc. Not much to see inside, but the Park Ranger who did the tour was really passionate about the subject and made it a great experience.
Another cool site was the Eastern State Penitentiary – the first purpose built penitentiary in the world (opened in 1829), that used isolation cells to reform people – probably didn’t work as they closed it down in 1971! The place went to almost ruins until opened for tourism only a few years ago. Cells were very spartan, except one that had a carpet, comfortable chair, paintings, a cabinet radio etc…this was for the one and only Al “Scarface” Capone…..special treatment, wonder why….hmmmm (being a mob boss paid off apparently)? Capone was arrested for carrying a concealed deadly weapon. This was his first prison sentence (he was there for 8 months from 1829-1830).
So today I arrived in New York City, by bus – found my hostel up in Spanish Harlem, couldn’t check in as it was too early, so i left my bag there and headed for Times Square to get a cheap ticket to “Rock of Ages” on Broadway – set in the 1980s, a rock comedy with lots of classic 80’s rock tunes – Foreigner, Twisted Sister, Journey, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi etc. Then caught the subway back up to the Hostel……..then everything went crazy!
There was a sign on the door saying the building was closed by local authorities and all tenants must leave…what the???
I go in, and there are bags and people everywhere – there had been some incident and they were clearing floors etc. No one knew what was going on…I was meant to stay there 6 nights, accommodation is scarce in NYC for that many nights at the moment! They said they were going to put us into a hotel for one night then we were on our own (all guests) – but it may take until midnight to sort out! Stuff that – I found a place for 3 nights and got the hell out of there, didn’t want to miss the show!
“Rock of Ages” was awesome by the way, a great crowd sing along, just like a rock concert but with comedy thrown in….now I just have to find somewhere to stay for the other 3 nights…….