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In a special edition of his Top Fives, Editor-in-Chief PB focuses on the five mainland cities in the USA he visited during his romp across the country. Oh, and what he drank there.
Given I’ve just spent 14 days traversing the streets of five different cities in the USA – New York, Boston, Portland, Salt Lake City and Houston – it was kind of tricky to do a TBS rundown on each and keep you interested. So I’ve decided that my Top Five things to love about the USA are those five cities…OK, there are heaps of other VERY fine cities in the USA, but these are the ones I visited this time and I promise to cover others next time…
1. New York City, NY, USA
So, I used to love NYC…then I kind of fell, if not out of love with it, I at least felt the love fade a bit over a period of time and several visits – overkill maybe? Well, the love affair is BACK on #MadAboutNYC. What a city. Seriously. Yeah, it’s as busy as the Pope handing out blessings at Christmas but this wonderful, seething ocean of humanity and constant activity is superb if you’re a lover of the urban jungle, as am I. From delicious, massive slices (pizza) to REAL bagels (Zabars), SOHO to NOHO, Central Park to the High Line…it’s the shiz, and if you don’t get there once in your lifetime, you have seriously missed out on one of the great cities of the world. The universe maybe even.
Drink of choice: Ah, duh. #Manhattan
2. Boston, MA, USA
I took the train from NYC to Boston, and if you have four hours up your sleeve it’s a must do – particularly during Fall (OK, Autumn, but I’m trying to be #USAcool, so sue me already). You pass through some amazing countryside and arrive in a city that, although maybe seen (at least by New Yorkers) as the not-so-sassy dowdy older sister of Gotham city, is at least one that certainly has a great sense of history and pride about it. Wander around this fairly compact town, immerse yourself in its antiquity (at least for the USA), eat some “chowda” and lay on Boston Common on a leafy blanket of gold and orange and red.
Drink of choice: Capirinha (which I had at a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga #effingdelish)
3. Portland, OR, USA
Portland probably isn’t on the standard travel plans for most, given that it’s not really on the way to anywhere, like LA, SFO, Chicago or NYC are. Shame really, because similar to its slightly further north counterpart Seattle (love, love, love that city), Portlandia (no I haven’t watched it but I am going to after having been to Portland) is its own kind of indie, edgy specials-ville. Easy to navigate and not overly large, it’s the home of good coffee, great food, Voodoo doughnuts (see below) and Powell’s bookstore. Make the effort and get there.
Drink of choice: Beer. Any kind of beer.
4. Salt Lake City, UT, USA
I visited the centre of all things Mormonia not to convert to the Church of the Latter Day Saints (I know, most of you thought otherwise…) but rather to catch up with a dear friend who I studied with at UC Berkeley. So, so, sooo glad that I did, and not just because I finally got to try the home-made-from-scratch pies she has been bombarding me with on Facebook for too long (although these were the highlights). “SLUT” (Salt Lake City Utah #truestoryacronym) is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever flow into (particularly at sunset) and it was also a pretty down place. Admittedly, one of the three days I was in SLUT was spent up at Park City, home to the Sundance Film Festival (yes, I know #filmjunkiemecca) where we had lunch at a whiskey distillery and I rediscovered my love of bourbon and whiskey (no I wasn’t as a result drunk most of the time I was there…how long was I there again?) – a must do if you visit. I have to admit that despite not being converted, it was still pretty cool checking out the centre of Mormonia and seeing the Temple and learning a little about it all…
Drink of choice: Whiskey (see above)
5. Houston, TX, USA
The stars shine bright, LALALA at night, deep in the heart of Texas…
OK, Houston isn’t geographically in the heart of Texas but I think a lot of Houstonians might argue that it IS the heart of TX. Well, actually, the thing I loved about Houston most of all were the people and their big hearts and hospitable natures. Friendly, kind, warm. You gotta try chicken-fried steak at Oisies Table, walk the tunnels under the city (there to help locals avoid the summer heat) and go to NASA (#toinfinityandbeyond).
Drink of choice: Martini. Made by DC. He knows who he is. Damn fine.
Special mention: Doughnuts
I have just eaten enough donuts to maybe push my blood sugar levels into a somewhat dangerous place. But DANG the Americans do doughnuts well. And everywhere. Street corners, food trucks, airports, train stations. You simply cannot walk more than about ten metres and not find somewhere to buy a doughy, sugary hit of deliciousness (usually to accompany a coffee in my case – yes, I’m a caffeine addict, shut up already, I’m seeing someone about it…)
Special non-mention: Tipping
OK, OK, the minimum wage is crappola in the USA and tipping is a way for low-waged income earners to supplement their wage, but for the life of me I will NEVER get used to or approve of this mandatory tipping crap. Lift the frigging wages already. #endofstory
(PS: you can see LOADS more pictures on my Instagram @youngapprentice or search via #RTW80days)