Thermals to flip-flops!
12/02/2010 - 28/02/2010 0 °C
The last few weeks have been incredibly busy and everyday has been packed with fun.
On the Saturday (13th Feb) in Saratoga we went on a hike in the Adirondacks. It was a 10mile long hike and Renata the seasoned hiker certainly sets the pace. It was well worth the hard work though, some of the views were amazing.
The timing of leaving Saratoga worked out very nicely for me, as a friend I had made in New York had been up for the weekend so she was able to give me a lift back to Hoboken of monday. Lisa also knew of an art museum that was on the route back so we stopped off there. I stayed with Stephanie in Hoboken (she offered me to stay on my way back through when i had last surfed) again, and was greeted at her bar with free beer and free chicken wings, gooood.
The following day I was back on the megabus to Philly. My first host was a guy called Ari and from the moment he picked me up at the station I knew I was in for a fun time. He lived up in the northern part of town near his University campus (Temple).
We packed in the entertainment during the 3 days including; the liberty bell, independence hall, couchsurfing karaoke bar meet up, vegan chinese food restaurant, i exploited the US education authority by attending one of Ari's lectures on Jewish Humour, visited a Rabi and went on a fun filled road trip to Atlantic City (the east coast version of Vegas) - I also queued to see Michelle Obama at a local grocery but she left before I got in
Ari sorted me and his friends out with a complimentary huge suite at Caesars casino and free meals, the only thing we had to pay for was the gambling (i lost $15 not bad all things considered). We got to witness one of the most surreal karaoke in the casino, a couple singing a romantic ballad - fine, but no ordinary couple she was about 20 wearing a bad sports tracksuit, he was about 80 a could hardly speak but they would keep kissing each other throughout the performance, bizarre. It was yet another amazing experience that never would have come about if it weren't for the weird and wonderful ways of couchsurfing.
On Friday joined my new host Rodney, a real nice person who liked to do handstands after eating to help with digestion (extremely impressive considering he's well over 6ft.) In the afternoon I went to explore the city and whilst walking around got a call from Rodney's roommate (Tadek) saying he could get us cheap student tickets to a Jazz concert that night. It was a homecoming for the McCoy Tyner quartet ...introduced as "west philadelphia born and raised". Afterwards we met up with some people for a few drinks.
Saturday saw my first taste of live american sport in the form of a college basketball game between Temple and St. Joes, rival Philly colleges.
Ari had once again sorted me out with free tickets. Temple won it in overtime and the atmosphere was incredible, cheerleaders, team brass bands and loud support. The rivalry makes for good chants and the banners rolled out by the supporters club are usually funny attacks on the opposition players, coaches, cheerleaders.
Saturday got even better in the evening as I had tickets to go and see Joseph Arthur (fair to say an idol of mine) playing at the Tin Angel. I went along with Lily (a nice local host that i'd met at the cs karaoke) and i think i created another fan, she didn't really have a choice. I've seen him 3 times before and this time it was a solo performance with his usual guitar looping, distortion and sampling, however he added live painting to the mix for this gig. After the show he was chatting to the audience and I got my picture with him and he told me how he used to live in Streatham Common. I was starstruck, quite funny as most people i'm sure would not have a clue who he was.
When the show was over we headed into town to a few cool bars and then onto a house party. The following day I went to the Philadelphia Art Museum (the one with the steps in Rocky) and then met up with Lily at her work (cheese shop) and had a cheese tasting and a walk round china town. The thing I loved the most about Philly was the street art, on nearly every street corner are huge murals done by members of the community. One of my favourites was right opposite Ari's flat. I met a lot of nice people in Philadelphia and it was great spending time with people who knew the town so well and were eager to show it off. The city itself had the feel and diversity of a larger place like NYC but at the same time was small enough to feel more personal - perhaps thats why it's the city of brotherly love.
When Monday rolled around I was leaving Philly and making my way to DC. I met up with my host Jess in a bar and she gave me a list of the best places to check out. The best thing about DC is that all the museums are free and they are mainly all in one area. My favourite museums were the Hirshhorn Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, and the Zoo was very good too. There were so many other museums and famous landmarks to see; Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Pentagon & Arlington cemetary (technically Virginia not DC).
My two hosts in DC were great, Jess for the first couple of days and then Nancy & Gil. My days were packed with the tourists sites, but by night I hung around with my hosts. With Jess I went to out to an El Salvadorian bar/restaurant to meet up with a bunch of her friends and volunteered at a food co-op to gain credits for her feminist collective. Whilst with Gil & Nacy we cooked up an absolute feast,went out for thai food to see their friend playing in a blues band and as they both play themselves I was treated to a basement jam.
On the 28th (Sunday) I flew done to Tampa, Florida to say goodbye to the cold and hello to the sun. My new host Alec picked me up from the airport. It was so nice to see sun, blue skies and palm trees. But that's where i'll leave it for now as this entry is long enough. Next entry i'm sure they'll be some pictures of a burnt little bald head