Showing posts with label usa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label usa. Show all posts
Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Top Attractions in El Paso Accessible by Public Transport


Traveling is undoubtedly a luxury, but I am a firm believer that it can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. The easiest way to cut travel costs is to catch the local public transport. It is less convenient than hailing an Uber or renting a car, but it does mean that your dollar can stretch a lot further.

This guide details some of the top attractions in El Paso, Texas, that are accessible by public transport. From my experience, the USA has some of the cheapest public transport fares I have ever seen. It is unfathomable that for $3.50 a day I could take unlimited rides around a city. Back in Sydney, the same cost would cover a 20-minute bus ride!

Located in the far western corner of Texas, El Paso is the sixth-largest Texan city. It borders New Mexico and Mexico, and the two countries are separated by a natural border, the Rio Grande. If you intend to catch public transport, it is crucial to select centrally located IHG hotel in El Paso, especially those close to bus stops. For further information about routes, consult the Sun Metro website.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The end of the line ... NYC

4th January 2013
I am reaching the final leg of my North American journey. Incredible and also a little sad. I caught the bus back to NYC and it was really sad realising that it would be the last time on an American interstate (yes, an interstate made me teary). It was partly because I had so many amazing road trips in the US and the realisation that it was actually all over. In the future, I will not ride an overnight bus. It's just not worth it.

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Sometimes even I am impressed with my sneaky shots.

New York City. This time, I stayed in Brooklyn since it was close to JFK and I didn't want to stay on Manhattan again, nor did I really want to see anything there since I had already done everything that I wanted with Sunbear on the trip over fall break. I stayed at NY Moore and hands down, one of the the best hostels ever. It was a ginormous room for 8 people (seriously, the same floor space as the 24 person dorm in Philly) with double beds that there were super sturdy and wooden and an amazing bathroom. That was luxury. Of course, there would be a downside. The downside is that it wouldn't be a hostel you would stay at for a first visit to NYC since it wasn't in Manhattan and although it was close to a subway station, to get to it was fairly sketchy since it was an industrial area. That being said, it was - in my opinion- in a more authentic location since a few blocks away was just an average neighbourhood, away from all the tourists.

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I spent the remainder of the day in Manhattan as I finally organised a ticket to visit the Word Trade Center Memorial. Funny story, I almost lost my ticket as it blew away in the wind and I had to run after it and reach under the car for it. D'oh. It was crazy how strict security was. Honestly. The memorial was uncomfortable. I guess it is just the realisation that so many people did die. What was even creepier were the people posing; I just thought it was so inappropriate. It is one thing to take a photo (which is fine) and completely another to be smiling as a family at the memorial. I don't know, just weird.

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Uber blurry. But what can I do...

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I managed to catch the sunset from Battery Park and it was truly breathtaking. An amazing way to end my last night in the US. I walked all the way up to Times Square. 8km walk. It was a nice walk, although an incredibly quiet path but at the end of the day, all about being observant rather than paranoid.


5th January 2013
My last day in the States. It was actually really surreal. I checked out and walked around the Williamsburg area. It was nice I guess. Did I really know where I was walking? Nope. But basically a method that served me well (until Rome...). It was nice being able to check out another area of Brooklyn (which is the borough I prefer over Manhattan) and Williamsburg felt very authentic, if that makes any sense. There were so many cute little delis on each block too.

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Catching the train to JFK was surprisingly easy but it was so incredibly bittersweet. The end of my time in the States, the end of exchange; it was a little difficult.

Side note, I finally, finally got around to sticking all my momentos into my Moleskine notebook (originally I had another plan to incorporate my ticket stubs etc) and it was so bittersweet. Also, I am the worst hoarder ever and I had so many random receipts that were literally junk.

Next up: London! 
Sunday, 20 October 2013

Philadelphia

3rd January
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Not in the US, but Toronto public transport. I just thought it was so cute.

Philadelphia! This is the opportune moment to comment on the lovely people at Immigration. I always have this irrational fear that I will get stopped at Immigration for some mysterious reason. It is the same problem when I am near anyone of authority; I instantly feel guilty. Back at Atlanta, I was puffy-eyed and blotchy at immigration and I had a lovely conversation with the guy who had a daughter living in Narrabeen, which is relatively close to where I live! Coincidence. Also, at the immigration when leaving Canada, the guy was from Atlanta and we shared some stories about lovely MARTA and the uselessness of the public transport there. Funnily enough, flying from the US to Canada was so breezy (it felt like a domestic flight) although flying from Canada to the US was slightly more bothersome.

Philadelphia was one of my must visit cities in the US. Originally I had planned on visiting during fall break, but I just didn't have the time. Why did I want to visit Philly? Cold Case. Yep. That show was based in Philly and, for some reason, I just wanted to visit.

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The plane was so empty and I had the entire row to my self, and the row across the aisle. I decided to fly to NYC and then catch the Megabus down to Philly since it saved me around $150. When I arrived at LGA, I realised that I didn't have enough quarters for a single ride into Manhattan and the machine that converted notes to quarters was broken. I asked a bus driver who was so rude and didn't answer my question. Actually, no one answered my question and finally, I had to ask someone to exchange for quarters. I hopped onto a bus thinking that it would lead me to Manhattan. Nope. It went somewhere and terminated in the Bronx. Whoops. I ended up catching the subway into Manhattan, so it was all ended up okay in the end. I had 4 hours or so to kill so I ended up spending it at Maccas since it was the place that I knew I could a) have wifi and b) spend quite a substantial period of my time at. So there I was, sitting at my table and a gentleman approached my table asking if he could sit down and I said, yes since Maccas was crowded. After a while he asked me "are you travelling" which was so idiotic since I had all my bags underneath the table. He struck up a conversation how he was a blogger and wanted to create a website that would show how NYC was back in the 1950s and the modern NYC and how he visited the achives at the library for photos and whatnot. I honestly didn't give a shit but I pretended that I did and he asked me if I wanted to join him at the library for his research, which I declined, and then he started talking about how he was also a tour guide. Lo behold, he is actually legit!

I walked 20 blocks down to the Megabus station and by this stage it was getting quite chilly. The bus was 50 minutes late. Yes. 50 minutes and not only that, when a bus for Philly finally arrived, it was intended to pick up the next group of individuals that were headed to Philly (so the bus was on time for that group). A lot of people protested and finally, they allowed us to board and off we went.

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I stayed at Apple Hostels Philadelphia, even though I didn't really want to but I didn't have a choice. There were only 2 hostels in the city and the other was further out. It was expensive considering I had to share the room with 23 other people (24 bed dorm). I believe it was $35/ night which is crazily expensive. The bathroom was a locker room style. Perhaps I was spoilt by other places (although some weren't that great), but I at least expect a door for my shower rather than a simply shower curtain. Seriously. I did not write a glowing review on the third party website, nor was it scathing, it was simply my point of view and honest. The owner or someone from the hostel replied to my review stating that, it was 'amazing' lalala. Didn't read it all, just got too irritated. Seriously. My review was not irrational, yes you did not have a shower door. That is a fact. Your prices are expensive. Yes, that is a fact. But seriously, did you need to reply to me as though I was an imbecile? I think not.

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City Hall

Moving along. Philadelphia was really pretty but truth be told, at this stage I was getting a tad sick of US cities. They just ended up looking very similar and it just felt like another city. US cities that I believe are quite distinctive are: LA, Chicago, Atlanta and NYC. Philly felt like the offspring of Chicago and NYC. I went to see Liberty Bell which was pretty much the main attraction and it was the most anti-climatic experience of my entire existence. Seriously. This tiny bell. So what did I do? I wandered! I actually got lost and ended up standing outside Starbucks for free wifi. Fun fact: stupidly, it took me a very long time to realise that I didnt actually need to buy something to use wifi and that if I stood close enough to the glass, I could use it for free and save $4 in the process. I have to say, City Hall was the prettiest building I saw in the States. It was just incredible.



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I kept on wandering and realised that I was on 30th street and near University of Pennsylvania (fun fact: the UNSW exchange office pretty much said that I was too dumb to pick that school as an exchange partner. No really, the woman said, "I think you should list another school considering your WAM". Gee thanks). University is a university and nothing to really say. Ended up heading to Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Originally I had planned on visiting the Magic Garden, but after realising that entry cost $7 (okay in hindsight, I sound so incredibly frugal. But hey, each dollar counts) I just decided to skip it and also, I stumbled upon a street that had the same intention as the Magic Garden so that was awesome. Awesome indeed.

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I also had my first proper food truck experience! Truth be told, food trucks freak me out a little. I honestly don't think they are that hygienic. I got the Philly Cheesesteak and it was so amazing. Or perhaps it was because I was hungry too (I wouldn't put it past me, but that probably was the first meal of the day ... at around 1pm).

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$4 including tax! That amazing moment when the product you buy includes tax. Or maybe there just wasn't tax .....

That night, I headed out to the Delaware River and onto the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. It was a little scary since it was dark and all that jazz, but at the same time quite refreshing. Of course, then I headed back to the lovely, lovely hostel.

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My Overall Thoughts
Philly was as lovely as I expected and I think I enjoyed the city purely because of my obsession with Cold Case (although then I wonder why since all tv shows are filmed in studios in LA). On the other hand, the city was also a little underwhelming. Though that may also have been my increasing apathy towards the US.

Would I re-visit?
Nope.

In other news, I met a gentleman today at work with his two young children. He had either a Canadian or American accent. I can't distinguish between the two so I actively avoid making any assumptions in case I offend anyone. He asked me, "where are you from?" That irked me so I answered my usual, "I was born here but my parents were from Hong Kong". And he said, "oh do you like Hong Kong?". Sorry what? Urgh ah well. I told him my honest opinion (which was no) and he said that he was from the States and I asked where and he said Texas. I told him that I hadn't been to Texas but I was studying in Georgia for a semester and he said that he worked in Atlanta for a few years! That was pretty cool.On the topic of where I am "from", I had a woman ask me that earlier in the week. According to her, I look as though I am either from Indonesia or Vietnam. I am too fair for a Thai and look a little Korean (???). I do think it is interesting. The two most common guesses are: Eurasian (actually that isn't really narrowing anything down) or Thai. Actually Prince Charming from work thought I was half Thai. After that, common guesses are: Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. I definitely don't see the latter two. The most absurd guesses are: Maori (?!?!) and Hawaii. I actually have 1 for Maori and 2 for Hawaii. I don't even know.
Saturday, 19 October 2013

Niagara Falls

28th December 2012
Niagara Falls! As I mentioned previously, I was stumped on places to visit after my exchange semester ended and before I was to fly out from NYC. I actually considered heading up to Maine but then realised that there was literally nothing there to see apart from snow. My hostel had a special and super cheap deal with a tour company for, I believe, $55!! If I was to have organised it separately but with the same company, it was approximately $90.

The drive there on the bus was pretty uneventful, the tour guide was super chirpy and annoying and then I just listened to my music. First stop was a winery to try ice wine. Ice wine is:
is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine.

I think it was nice that we were able to try two ice wine (red and white) because the other exchange friend went on another tour (which was already a lot more expensive {$120}) and they had to pay extra to try the ice wine). After tasting 5 different wines, I got a little red. Ah well. Story of my life.

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We then headed to the actual falls. Oh dear. If I thought Toronto was cold, it was a thousand times colder there. Seriously, I really couldn't keep warm, no matter how fast I walked. I believe it was -20 degrees that day and, of course with the water and wind, it felt even colder.

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Because that is normal....

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And this too. 

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It was so warm! Just look at all that snow....

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American Falls.

The town itself was so incredibly dull and so commercialised. Casinos, a thousand and one fast food chains; it was just the weirdest, weirdest feeling.

We got back on the bus and the guy drove us around to, truth be told, can't really remember, but a slight detour to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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My Overall Thoughts
Honestly, when I think about my visit to Niagara Falls all I think: it was cold. The Horseshoe Falls were really pretty and quite scary actually, but as I mentioned before, a little bit of a mixed feeling about the place. Niagara on the Lake was quaint, but truth be told, felt too gimicky and touristy. I would recommend people to visit Niagara Falls from the Canadian side since you couldn't really see anything from the American side.

Would I re-visit?
Conflicted. I would have loved to have gone on the Maid of Mist (which goes near the Horseshoe Falls and only operates in spring/ summer). That being said, I wouldn't be able to justify trekking to Niagara Falls purely for that, considering there was literally nothing else there.