Travel review: America – a land of surprises

Over all the last decade, dad and I have travelled extensively in the USA. Once you’ve worked your way through the laborious visa application process, they are generous in giving a 10 year multiple entry visa as standard

The USA is a land of many faces, both in the people and the landscape. Having seen the variety of natural beauty available in their own country, dad and I aren’t surprised that so few Americans have a passport because they can see so many aspects of the Earth’s wonders right home, from the icy glaciers of Alaska to the white beaches of Florida, from the arid desert of Death Valley to the forests of soaring redwoods in Northern California


However, we were surprised by aspects of Americana when we started travelling to the States

A lot of people outside of the USA view the average American as being quite brash and outspoken, probably not aided by the current comments being made by Donald Trump. However, travel to the USA and the nothing could be more different from that stereotype. We’ve found the Americans we’ve encountered to be so nice and unfailingly polite, even to the point of naivety at times. The kids even say,’Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir’, something which British kids would never do

We had always viewed Americans as being pragmatic, helping to build their country’s success. However, just watch Americans totally buy into the make believe of Mickey Mouse and friends wandering around Disneyland to dispel that myth

If you’re a European, travelling in the States takes a little getting used to. The car culture of the States is well-known and their design of towns reflects this. In many places, you literally can’t get anywhere without driving. However, in some towns, there’s very good public transport and where available, these modes of transport tend to be punctual. In towns like San Francisco, dad and I never drive into town due to high parking charges but instead use the BART underground system, MUNI light rail, electric buses, cable car and streetcars

 In the UK, we have our quiet places but nothing can prepare you for the great wilderness that still exists in the USA. There’s so much more room but they’ve made a decision to allow some of their great national parks to remain minimally developed. Even in popular destinations like Yosemite, you can find a corner of solitude and feel that you are truly alone

 American fast food and food portion sizes have a terrible stereotypical reputation and well-deserved if you ever have the misfortune to eat at an American fast food outlet. However, they also care passionately about good food. There’s snobbery over high end artisan coffee, a burgeoning fine dining scene, food producers raising their game all the time and restaurants opening all the time, reflecting the many cultures in this land of immigrants

It’s a country that we’ve grown to love and to enjoy its diversity. We look forward to sharing from our adventures in the U S of A


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