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It was holiday time again! And this time we were off to the U S of A. New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, a 3-week trip filled with amazing highlights and experiences and some truly wonderful hotels!
I always feel like you need to visit New York with a plan, there is just so much to do and if you don’t know what it is you want to do, then you end up walking, a lot.
We explored Times Square and Central Park, saw the vista from the top of the Empire State Building, visited all five boroughs, got up close to Lady Liberty and even tried to get ET home from Madam Tussauds Wax Museum!
After watching every single Seinfield episode at least 146 times, my partner got to live his New York dream when we saw the man himself live at the Beacon Theatre! He was then in a state of euphoria when we followed this up with the Kramer Reality Tour, hosted by the original Kramer and feasted on pancakes and milkshakes at Toms Diner, where Seinfeld was shot.
After the Seinfield marathon, I was just excited that after my third time in New York, I finally got to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge!
An unexpected highlight for both of us was seeing the Harlem Gospel Choir. A joyful experience that started with a walking tour of Harlem where we learned about the history of Gospel and finished in a small church, listening to the glorious uplifting voices of a local gospel choir.
While in New York we stayed at the Hotel Wolcott. Even though this 100-year-old hotel could do with a refurb, it definitely possesses a certain charm. Also, the rooms are massive and the location is fantastic. Located on the corner of W 31st and 5th Ave, it is in the heart of Mid-Town and quite literally in the shadow of the Empire State Building. There was even a coffee shop on the corner (Geoffrey’s) that even the snobbiest of Melbournians would be happy with.
Tackle. Snap. Field goal. Interception. TOUCH DOWN!!!
For those of you who have cottoned on to my VAST amount of football knowledge, or just my ability to put random terminology together, yes, we went to a NFL game!
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings to be exact, the game where the Eagles handed the Vikings their first loss of the season. We did everything right, arrived early, played hacky sack at the tail gate party, brought and donned our jerseys and quenched our thirst with the obligatory Bud Light (Yuk!). There were fireworks and marching bands, cheerleaders and mascots, rock music and more fireworks, more Bud Light and hot dogs and more cheerleaders and fireworks. It was bigger and better (and longer) than any sporting event I have ever attended, the atmosphere both in and out of the stadium was electric. The win was also celebrated in style at a nearby Sports Bar, which was essentially twelve separate sports bars in one big warehouse with a mechanical bull, which I obviously rode very gracefully, smack bang in the middle of it all.
The next morning, we were not so chirpy. The cure… A Philadelphia Cheesesteak! What is a cheesesteak you ask? Imagine a beef roll… And then cover it with cheese from a can! Oh so bad, yet oh so good!!
With most of our weekend taken up by football, football parties and recovering from football, we were not the best of tourists. So with not much time up our sleeves, we chose to forgo the Liberty Bell and other highlights and do the (other) most important thing that there is to do in Philadelphia and go for a run up “Rocky Stairs” and strike an appropriate boxing pose at the top.
After chillier than expected New York and Philadelphia, it was time for sunnier skies! California here we come!
We spoiled ourselves in San Francisco and stayed at the very beautiful Clift Hotel. Located two blocks from Union Square the Clift is boutique at its best! Featuring designs by Dali, Earmes and Magritte, the hotel is home to probably the most eclectic furniture collection in California. The 406 different chair designs are just the beginning though, with its stunning wood panelled rooms and exciting digital art the lobby, bar and restaurant are a perfect combination of funky and luxurious.
The rooms are equally lavish, decorated in shades of ivory, grey and lavender, the relaxing atmosphere is a fantastic contract to the downstairs buzz. We were extremely lucky and were given an upgrade to a Deluxe Suite which featured a lounge area, 6 seat dining table, separate bedroom with a king size bed, huge bathroom and a dressing room!! I mean really, what hotel room is complete if it doesn’t have a dressing room.
To top it all off, the Clift Hotel is a Silver Level GreenLeader Hotel, which means they are committed to green practices. My favourite of which is the Bees! In 2015, the Clift Hotel took a more heartfelt approach to sustainability and installed a mini metropolis of hives on the roof of their hotel. This initiative not only helps to repopulate the declining bee population, the honey that is produced by the bees is used in the cocktails, food and spa treatments at the hotel. (Check out the GreenLeaders program on our website Reho Travel GreenLeaders)
Overloaded on honey, it was time to leave the hotel and explore the city. And what better way to do this than to walk the 8km from the hotel to the Golden Gate Bridge. We wandered through Fisherman’s Wharf, Nob Hill, China Town and along the stunning coastline, every part of San Francisco was buzzing with life and beautiful! We definitely worked off every hamburger, milkshake and French Fry… I am not sure if you are aware, San Francisco has HILLS! Very. Big. Hills!
Then it was off to Pier 33, where we jumped on a ferry that took us across the bay to Alcatraz Island. We donned the headsets that narrated our self-guided tour and discovered the history of the legendary prison that was once home to the infamous Al Capone. I had thought a visit to the Rock would be the typical tourist trap but the history is so rich and the tour was so well narrated by men and women who both worked and served time in the prison that it ended up being a huge highlight!
From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge there was no stone (or cliché ) left unturned! Now, it seemed, there was nothing left to do here but relax with a cocktail, admire the spectacular views of the CityScape Lounge and contemplate our next trip!!