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Trip Report A great two weeks in New York, New England and Boston

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My husband and I are Australian, though live in London at present, and have just had a two week holiday in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I picked up so many helpful ideas from this forum so thank you all. We’ve visited the USA many times and think it’s a terrific place for a holiday.

Our trip in a nutshell:

Flew London to New York.

One night at Newark airport then five nights in Manhattan.

Hired a car for 6 days and drove to Boston, stopping for two nights each in -
New Midland, CT
Middletown, RI
Provincetown, MA

Dropped off our car at Boston Logan airport and had 2 nights in Boston.

Flew back to London.

ACCOMMODATION

Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott – opposite the airport but ridiculously awkward to walk to. You can walk across or wait for the shuttle bus. The bus takes longer than walking. Nice, big hotel, not our usual type of place but very convenient.

Beacon Hotel, New York (Upper West Side) – we liked the hotel, liked the area, loads of places to eat and shop nearby. Fantastic Fairway Supermarket opposite. Rooms have small kitchenettes – not that well equipped but we managed. Each time we used the toaster it set off the smoke alarm. We occasionally saw a dog with its owner in the lift which made us smile.

Rocky River Motel, New Milford – a bit of a strange place. It looked like an older motel set back off the road but the room we had was quite plush. They had older rooms that were cheaper (the one we saw smelt horrible). It was run by an Indian woman who could have done with lessons in customer service. You have to drive to get anything, no breakfast and no shops nearby.

Econo-Lodge, Middletown – what we expected, a cheaper motel near Newport. We chose this as Newport was pricey. It was OK, noisy with the balcony doors open as it’s on the main highway.

Chicago House, Provincetown – run by two friendly guys who had two dogs, an old cat and a lovely parrot. The place had loads of character and felt a bit like you were staying at the seaside at an elderly aunt’s place. Nothing flash but central.

Harborside Inn, Boston – great hotel, great location. I was going to book a hotel near Copley Square and was so glad I didn’t. This was so central, very quick and easy to get to the airport via subway/shuttle and had good amenities. Only downside was no real daylight or fresh air as our room looked on to an internal stairwell.

We realise now we’re home again that we tried to cram too much in and really didn’t have any downtime. We do like holidays where we see and do things, rather than sitting around, but a little more relaxing would have been good.

Against all advice on this forum, we ended up staying our first night at the Marriott at Newark airport. I agonised over this but it turned out to be the best thing for us. We flew out Friday night so were tired from work and it meant when we arrived at midnight, we could just travel across the airport carpark to a bed – heaven!

The next morning we were rested before we hopped on the bus into Manhattan. I had checked on the subway stops and how to reach our hotel and had also found out that the public loos at Bryant Park had won an award for the best public toilets in New York, so that was a no-brainer, we’d get off there! I’m the sort of person who always needs the loo (such a pain) so I even checked www.thebathroomdiaries.com before leaving home.

NEW YORK
We loved New York, it was the best part of the trip. Such a lively, vibrant city. We were on the go every day, walked and walked till our feet were ready to drop off. We used the subway every day and managed it quite well but found the signage on the platforms and on the trains quite poor, nowhere near as good as the tube system in London. It was airconditioned though which was nice on a warm day. (The tube in London is stifling in summer.) We didn't feel the need to catch any taxis on our trip but did find it amusing watching people standing in the middle of the road, trying to flag one down. We were surprised they didn't get run over.

Impressions of New York were that it was very tall, we were craning our necks to see the tops of buildings. London (and Melbourne where we used to live) are very different. We were surprised and pleased to see that people genuinely want to help, whether it’s the guy packing your groceries or someone offering to help you with the train on the subway. So nice, so refreshing. We noticed Americans talk very loudly – on a scale of 1 to 10, the English would be a 1 and the Americans a 10.

One of the best things I did was to print off detailed Google maps and mark each place I thought we might visit on the maps. I ended up with about 5 maps for New York, for different areas and we tried to pick one area each day. It made it much easier to know what was in each area and saved a lot of backtracking and time. I did the same for Boston.

We did lots and lots in New York including – shopping, Central Park (what a fantastic park!), walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, had Dim Sum in Chinatown, caught the Staten Island Ferry, visited the Top of the Rock, walked through Times Square with necks swivelling left and right, admired the many, many dogs out with their owners in New York, walked along the High Line Park, took photos of the Flatiron Building, Chrysler Building, explored some of Greenwich Village and admired Washington Square Park, etc.

We were concerned about driving in New York but we picked up our hire car on West 77th Street and within minutes were on the road heading north and out of New York. The only hairy moment was pulling into the one-way street outside Hertz and realising there was a broken down fire engine at the end of the street. My husband had to reverse down the street and into the intersection. So glad it was not me!

CONNECTICUT
We spent a day meandering through the Litchfield Hills, stopping by two covered bridges at West Cornwall and Bulls Bridge and seeing small towns like Kent and Litchfield. A pretty area.

RHODE ISLAND
Next on to Newport, Rhode Island, to see the ‘cottages’ (ha ha). Those mansions are pretty amazing. We stopped for lunch at a tiny spot called Noank where we found a great seafood shack. Visited The Breakers and Marble House, both owned by the Vanderbilts. All I can say is they had tons of money but no taste. The seaviews from The Breakers were spectacular though. We didn’t see a lot of Newport itself as parking was a nightmare and very expensive. We also stayed out at Middletown as it was cheaper. Wouldn’t rush back there but I’m glad I’ve seen some of the mansions.

MASSACHUSETTS
Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, was our next stop. We’d been in the small town for about 10 minutes and I knew I’d like it there. It reminded us of Key West and Lahaina, very touristy but laidback and fun. We explored, climbed the Pilgrim Tower, checked out the museum, had cocktails, people watched and relaxed.

Boston was our last stop. We only had two nights but had time to get a feel for the city. It seemed very walkable though we did use the ‘T’ once or twice. We visited the Skywalk at Prudential for good views over Boston (every city has a colour and Boston is brown), loved Quincy Market and the lively area surrounding it, had dinner in the Italian district and saw Paul Revere’s house, went into the beautiful old library with it’s vast domed ceiling and walked through Boston Common.

We find the whole tipping culture quite strange as when we grew up in Australia, tipping did not exist at all. I made sure to read up on who gets tipped what so hope we didn’t make any major faux pas. It certainly makes the service fantastic, unlike in the UK where usually it is indifferent or poor.

One other thing I should mention for anyone travelling to the USA is that you have to fill in the electronic ESTA before travel these days but we also had to fill in the same information on the plane, on the usual green forms. I felt quite annoyed as I was under the impression that the new electronic system would do away with the old system. Now they have both!

Any questions, happy to help.

Kay

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