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Fashionista Jun 12th, 2010 05:08 AM

The real America
When I see itineraries for England its always a variant of London-Stratford-York-Edinburgh. A sort of pseudo chocolate box version of England missing out on a vibrant interesting exciting Country.

I'm guessing my view of America is similarly biased.

So as I plan my trip, where should I go to understand what makes you all tick.?

My interests are history, modern art and fine art, architecture, physical geography, interesting but not necessarily famous people, oddities, poetry and literature. I love people watching, hand made crafts, fashion, and textiles.

I'm equally happy in sophisticated cities and wild open country.

In addition to locations, what should I listen to, read and watch? Really great local stations or newspapers.

Appreciate your help.

Aduchamp1 Jun 12th, 2010 05:57 AM

I will never understand why people think there is such an ideal as "real." Real has that connotation of not being of the city or being sophisticated. The people of New York and LA live as real lives as a farmer in Kansas.

There are no great local TV stations that I have seen. In fact as the years have progressed they are leading the charge in the dumbing down of America. It is over emotional provincial reporting at its worst, including the major cities.

The great newspapers of America include NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Scaramento Bee, and Berkshire Eagle. I am sure others will post their favortites.

New York is the center of art and there are hundreds of galleries. The Lower East Side is where the galleries are now mushrooming since many in the Chelsea went out of business. There are also many galleries with established and dead artists throughout Manhattan.

For people watching in NYC try Central Park and Washington Square Park. The architecture of New York has changed dramatically in the last ten years with the rise of glass commercial and residential structures. For residential architecture there are a number of areas including 9th-12th Streets from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Ave.

I would suggest you some how secure a copy of the AIA Guide to New York. It is a heavy and expensive paperrback that is hard to carry around but highly instructive.

120aks Jun 12th, 2010 07:04 AM

You pose an interesting question and I totally get it. I have traveled through several countries and it did seem like a " chocolate box version " meaning I saw a lot and experienced very little of the actual country.I am from the west coast ( California )but I feel that what you are looking for is more on the east coast.I don't know how much time you have or what time of the year you are considering but here are some thoughts. I would start in Maine, work down the coast to Boston, on to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C.into Virginia and finish up in Charleston and Savannah. This would give you beautiful country, great cities, revolutionary war and civil war experiences and a taste of the old south.

Ackislander Jun 12th, 2010 07:10 AM

How long do you have?

What season of the year?

Do you prefer staying in one place for a week or more or would you prefer to change residence every day or two?

How much time are you willing to spend getting from place to place?

To what extent is budget a factor?

Do you want to spend your time comparatively by looking at places that are comparable to your home and seeing the differences (say, London vs New York) or would you prefer to see things that are as far from your normal experience as possible and off the normal tourist routes (Columbus, Indiana, for example).

You have given important parameters, but your question -- and I absolutely don't mean to be snarky -- is slightly like an American asking where to see the real Europe. And you know that, of course.

So I suppose I would ask, would you prefer to stay in an area the size of the UK, the size of England, the size of Devon, the size of London, the size of Brighton, or the size of Lewes?

Are you interested in scope or depth?

wyatt92 Jun 12th, 2010 07:32 AM

For your interests, Boston, NYC, Santa Fe, NM and San Francisco/Wine Country.

montereybob Jun 12th, 2010 08:33 AM

America (USA) is so huge and diverse that there is no one place to go to see the "real America". It's like saying, I want to see the real Europe so which country should I go to. To see all the diversity of the real America, you would have to travel all 50 states and it would take a very long time. Remember: America IS vast diversity----that's what makes it so special. So pick a few places you have time to visit and realize you have only see a tiny percentage of what America is all about. Then come back again and again and each time see different pieces of the enormous tapestry of this country.

exiledprincess Jun 12th, 2010 08:35 AM

IMHO, it is comparing apples to oranges to compare the U.S. to the UK. Simply on the size factor alone, it probably would be more proper to compare the U.S. to 90% of all of Europe.

Even within the U.S., it is simply impossible to make comparisons. Texas as opposed to Vermont? Hawaii vs. South Carolina? Alaska compared to New Mexico? Different local cultures, to say the least.

Quite frankly, I feel the best that the U.S. has to offer to international visitors is its National Parks. Many of the most well-known (and largest) of these are normally found in the western states - although you do have a fair amount in the east, midwest and south (i.e., the Everglades).

There aren't many in close proximity to major metropolitan areas, which is where your interests tend to take you. Be prepared to travel, if you want to see the "real" America.

exiledprincess Jun 12th, 2010 08:37 AM

That's funny! Montereybob, couldn't agree with you more - as you can see above!

wildblueyonder Jun 12th, 2010 09:44 AM

I understand your question, Fashionista - I too wonder what on earth people think of the English when they only see castles, abbeys and crown jewels. However, there are plenty of visitors who seek out other parts of England - such as the Lake District, Westcountry etc. It depends what people want or expect, I think - and everything they see is the 'real' England, albeit the most popular tourist areas. So, I think you need to turn your question inward and ask yourself what you think of as 'real' America and the answer to that might help you with your question. It is such a vast country and so diverse, but each part is as 'real' as the next place. I've travelled quite extensively in the USA, but have only managed 18 states. I'd recommend both NYC and LA for great museums - the National Parks for wonderful scenery - Venice Beach or Central Park for people watching. But, at the end of the day, whether you take in a major league baseball game or watch little league in a small town in Minnesota - both are as American as the other.

dwooddon Jun 12th, 2010 10:08 AM

I've traveled to all 50 states and I have no idea what the "real" America is. As others have noted, our diversity is staggering in all areas - cultural, geographic, language, arts, and people. Even within a single small state, you would have to spend a few lifetimes to experience everything there is to see.

The east coast suggestions someone made earlier - Maine to South Carolina - will give you a snapshot of the Eastern US. The western National Parks would be a completely different look at what America is.

It is such a huge and diverse country that you are limited by only your time and budget.

Fashionista Jun 12th, 2010 10:12 AM

OK to clear some things up

1. This is a project not a single trip. So budget and time don't matter.

2. When I say real, I don't think there is one version. What I intended to convey was that I would like to see interesting places that are a truthful reflection of your country and culture. We see Hollywood plastic glitz, we see the underbelly of depravity but I'm sure neither of these are a truthful picture that many recognise as their America.

I'll give you some examples of the sort of quirky places that I enjoy.

I have a book called 'who's buried where' It just lists out by County, where famous and infamous are buried. I love to take a county, read up about fascinating people, then go on a hunt for them. Our churches have exquisite architecture and its an interesting day out to seek out the places listed.

Its fun to track down paintings and buildings mentioned in films and literature. So one of the places I may visit is the Church in American Gothic or maybe the place where Slash played out his stunning guitar solo from December Rain.

I'm wanting to be surprised, inspired and have my preconceptions challenged. I could find these places for myself but with such a vast and varied Country, I felt a little help from those on the ground would be a useful short cut.

Big wild out doors is fine by me. The more eccentric the better.

Fashionista Jun 12th, 2010 10:25 AM

PS With regard to 'The real Europe' I would be drawing you up a long list of places that reflect how people live. Just a small sample to give you some ideas:

So for Germany, Id put you on a mountain bike and tell you to cycle up to Frankenstein's castle (yes it exists)in Eberstadt about 10 miles from Frankfurt. On the way back Id send you to the ice cream shop in the town centre which is ambrosial.

For France, Id send you to a small farm just outside Camembert to sample their farm made cheese and drink the local cider. On the town square is a patisserie which sells their home made tart au citron which are the BEST I have ever eaten.

For England Id send you to The Crooked House pub in the Black Country or maybe The Pie Factory followed by a trip around the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and a quick trip over to the Custard Factory in Digbeth.

nytraveler Jun 12th, 2010 10:30 AM

The people of New York and LA are not only as real as people living on a farm in the middle of nowhere - there are way more of us.

The essence of American is diversity: that's how we started (the desire for religious freedom for all sorts of different sects), and that's how we grew (the desire of people from all over the world for the desire to practice religious, political and economic freedom). If that's your hallmark for the US the most divers part of the country is Queens county in New York - which has immigrants from more than 120 countries - living in primarily working class and lower middle class areas, many people working 2 jobs to support their kids and give them the type of education and opportunities they couldn;t get in many parts of the world.

To really understand the US you need to visit numerous places - including the remains of native american civilizations, the Freedom Trail in Boston, Philly to see the Liberty Bell, washington to see the Declaration of independence, Colonial Williamsburg, Spanish missions in California, old houses in upstate NY or Vermont that were part of the underground railroad helping escaped slaves reach Canada, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Tenement Museums in NYC as well as several key monuments in DC (Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and monuments of veterans of WWII among others). I personally believe that the Lincoln Memorial is the single most moving place in the entire country

Yes, there are families that settled the central plains by taking up the government offer of a free 40 acres -were very courageous and hardworking. But so was my great grandmother, who at the age of 16 left Ireland to come to New York, and get a job as a maid to support herself because it was no longer safe to live in her own home. There are many more families that stayed in cities around the county and are now 2nd, 3rd, 4th or more generation immigrants.

So certainly look at some of the middle, some small towns and farms - but do understand how broad the experience was - and how typically American New York is - in the best sense of the word.

carolyn Jun 12th, 2010 02:01 PM

Let me invite you to visit Kentucky. It was the first state west of the mountains (No. 15 in rank and the second to be admitted after the original 13 colonies). It was Indian territory, and we have two reconstructed forts where settlers went for protection. We have Churchill Downs in Louisville where the KY Derby is run and which has a nice museum. Our northern border is the Ohio River which joins the Mississippi at the western edge of the state. We have beautiful horse farms in the Bluegrass area, mountains in the east, Mammoth Cave National Park, and a large number of pretty state parks. We are at the top edge of the south and pride ourselves on our hospitality--and our bourbon whiskey.

I can send you tourist information if you would like; or, of course, you can Google for info on any of the states. I hope you will let us know of your visits and what you think of the different areas.

Aduchamp1 Jun 12th, 2010 07:31 PM

I understand your question, Fashionista - I too wonder what on earth people think of the English when they only see castles, abbeys and crown jewels.

Even I have a higher standard for stupid than that.

Is in the realm of the intelelctually deficient question, "What would aliens think of us?"

POMAH Jun 12th, 2010 08:43 PM

Well, the so-called "real" America are the Indian reservations, as they are the true natives. Some dance for tourists in costumes and pose for pics, others dont. Mostly, the Indians are into drinking, and con games. Check out their casinos... con game and rip-off. Foxwoods is a dump.
Do not go on that Indian glass walk way at the Grand Canyon.

To me a painting in an American gallery is the same as one in London, Paris, Rome, etc.

Fashionista Jun 13th, 2010 12:12 AM

<<<so-called "real" America are the Indian reservations,>>>

Hmm, if I took that view the only real English are the Welsh.
For those that are interested:

<<<Gene scientists claim to have found proof that the Welsh are the "true" Britons.
The research supports the idea that Celtic Britain underwent a form of ethnic cleansing by Anglo-Saxons invaders following the Roman withdrawal in the fifth century.
Genetic tests show clear differences between the Welsh and English. It suggests that between 50% and 100% of the indigenous population of what was to become England was wiped out, with Offa's Dyke acting as a "genetic barrier" protecting those on the Welsh side.>>>>

Thank you for the pointers everyone its a good start.

Aduchamp1 Jun 13th, 2010 12:47 AM

Well, the so-called "real" America are the Indian reservations, as they are the true natives.


Try visiting the tribes west of Route 10 in Oklahoma or in the Upper Midwest if you want to see "real" poverty and the "real" ravages of various diseases. Or the Dine (Navajo) in Arizona which have the largest percentage of homes without electricity in the US.

PeaceOut Jun 13th, 2010 11:17 AM

You ask a very good question. And I agree with the answer given, that the U.S. is comprised of many, many diverse and "real" cultures.

If you could visit and/or study all these places, you would get a hint of what I mean: New York City; Boston; Palm Beach, Florida; the coast of Maine; New Orleans; Richmond, Virginia; Kansas City, MO; Denver, CO; Tucson, Arizona; San Diego; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle. Just for starters! haha And I am sure I have forgotten many!

november_moon Jun 13th, 2010 11:53 AM

I am in California and I love it when visitors get off the beaten track and see more than just the main sights. We've got so many interesting places here and I think it's great when people can see the diversity. And people don't even have to get too far off the beaten track - like if you're going to Santa Cruz, have lunch at Aldo's at the yacht harbor rather than someplace out on the wharf. Little things like that.

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