A fantastic trip in the United States of America, from New York up to San Francisco driving in this great country.
This is our itinerary:
Monday 4th July 2005
We leave Vicenza by car at 8.15 am for the Marco Polo airport in Venice. British Aiways flight to Gatwick, then we transfer to Heathrow by shuttle bus. From here we always take off with a BA flight to the American continent. We finally disembark at JFK airport. It is huge and you feel small… (feeling that we have tried several times in the following days). We undergo police checks that check passports and register us by taking a picture and taking our fingerprints, even if we were terrorists …
We take a taxi that takes us to our hotel, the Wolcott Hotel , near the Empire State Building.
As soon as we enter we have the idea of being in a beautiful eighteenth-century style hotel, but this impression ends as soon as we enter our old and gray room … We quickly deposit the suitcases and go out in a hurry to see the spectacle of fireworks, celebratory of Independence Day even if the huge skyscrapers we face do not allow us to fully enjoy them. Let’s go back to the hotel to get some sleep since we have been awake for more than 24 hours!
4 West 31st Street
New York, NY 10001
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
We begin our tour of New York from Lower Manhattan, the heart of American and international finance.
In fact, here are the Stock Exchange building , the Chamber of Commerce and the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank (the American Central Bank). In addition there is also the Federal Hall , a classical-style building with a bronze statue of George Washington on the steps. Here, in 1789 Washington swore an oath on the Constitution as the first president.
But what strikes us most is Ground Zero, many square meters of nothing in the midst of dozens of skyscrapers. It’s amazing how everyone else has remained standing.
Opposite is the church of Saint Paul, a meeting point in those sad days of September 2001, for those who wanted to pray for their missing loved ones. It is still covered with photos and messages, being in there really puts goosebumps.
We then head north towards Brooklyn . We cross the bridge of the same name in both directions, observing and enjoying the panorama which also includes the famous Statue of Liberty . Of course being there and seeing places so celebrated really leaves us speechless!
Always walking north, we meet a lot of Chinese: it’s Chinatown. It is undoubtedly a folk district. Little Italy, on the other hand, has almost disappeared, the Chinese are “absorbing” it, there is only one road left. We continue the day at Greenwich village where there is also New York university . Finally, along 5th Avenue and Broadway, we return to our Hotel. From the first day we realize that the Americans are even more nationalist than the French, their flag really flies everywhere!
Wednesday 6 July 2005
We start the day by visiting Koreatown then continue towards Times Square. The flashing lights of the giant screens and the billboards lit up even in the morning are legendary! Yes, it really seems to be on a stage…
It attracts us and we enter the Madame Tussaud wax museum ! Enrica has never seen wax statues and is amazed, they all look so real !!!
Leaving the museum we finish the tour of the street and go to the Rockefeller Center and St Patrick’s Cathedral . Then we take the bus and get off in front of one of the Central Park entrances .
We stay wandering enjoying the beauties of the park: lakes with water lilies, fountains, ancient trees, long grassy expanses, a place to rest, read, play sports and much more.
We are impressed by the large number of baseball fields and we stop to watch a game between two teams.
Finally, we enter Macy’s , the megastore divided into nine floors of at least three thousand square meters each. Calvin klein, Guess, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, North Face, Lacoste, are just some of the brands that can be found inside. Fantastic!
In the evening, we have dinner at ” Kun Jip “, a Korean restaurant where we are the only Westerners and the food is really great.
9 W 32nd St
Thursday 7 July 2005
We get up early in the morning and paid the bill at the hotel. We go to Hertz to collect the car we booked from Italy, a Ford Taurus Sel, with a Massachusetts license plate. It will be our companion for the next twenty days and will never leave us on foot in our mythical coast to coast.
Accustomed to driving our Punto, this car seems to us really comfortable and exaggeratedly large, even if we will notice as we go along that it is one of the smallest cars in America.
Direction: the area of the great lakes. At the end of the day we spend the night in Buffalo , where we have dinner with the first legendary American green pepper steak and the doggy bag … without asking, how strange!
Hapton Inn & Suites ($ 135)
220 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14202
Friday 8 July 2005
Here we are at Niagara Falls ! What impresses us is certainly not the landscape in which they are inserted, a little too civilized, but the flow of water and the jump are truly impressive … We decide to take the boat ride up under the falls, and although they give us a cape to protect us from the splashes, we return completely soaked; it was truly extraordinary, we experienced first hand the power of nature. From here it is also possible to admire even more the vastness of the falls, which are not very high but rather very extensive.
After drying off and visiting the Visitor Center, we resume our journey to Chicago. We stop for dinner and stay in Wooster, in Ohio. At a certain point we seem to take a leap into the 19th century, in fact we cross the streets with men with hair and suspenders driving horse-drawn carts and women with typical caps and dresses without ornaments with puffed sleeves: they are the Amish, a religious group that has its roots in the Mennonite community and that lives according to the rules of the past and leads a simple life based on the purest teachings of the Bible. So fascinated by these, we move away from the main road to enter some country lanes, to admire them a little more closely and we witness their gathering from afar: no cars but many small carriages, no electric lights but many lamps.
Super 8 Wooster ($ 66.38)
969 Timken Road, US 30 Madison Ave Exit
Wooster, OH 44691
Saturday 9th July 2005 We
leave Wooster, Ohio to head to Chicago, Illinois, along Road 30. As we approached the city we saw the skyline of the city taking shape more and more and in the end it appeared in all its glory: from the Sears Tower (the tallest building ever built before Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers and Taipei 101), the John Hancock Center and the Amoco Building.
We look for a motel to spend the night, but this time luck doesn’t help us and we end up in a dump (the Diplomat motel)… where Enrica can’t wait for the next morning to leave. We have learned the lesson, from here on out, before confirming a room we ask to be able to see it. It is not such an unusual practice and no one, in the whole trip, has ever bothered us with this request. We always recommend doing this.
Diplomat Motel ($ 62)
5230 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
Sunday 10th July 2005
Cci we go to Chicago early in the morning, where we don’t find anyone… why? Well we forgot to move now, so while for us it is 8, for the rest of the world it is 7 on Sunday morning !!!
What immediately strikes us is the Loop, the famous elevated railway that surrounds the historic center, the background of various mafia films. We take a walk in the center where we admire a beautiful park with very unique fountains, and a very large new generation structure.
We head to Navy Pier, the wharf on the shore of Lake Michigan, a renovated old wharf with various amenities, many restaurants and auditoriums. It is really beautiful! The day is splendid, the sky is blue and there is a light morning breeze… the closer you get to the shore the more you are enchanted by the muffled atmosphere that surrounds the pier, emphasized even more by the very few people we meet.
We resume our mythical Taurus and continue our journey to the west. We stop in Galena , a pleasant-looking town with a late nineteenth-century atmosphere, rendered by the various buildings in the historic center. Various important generals who participated in the Civil War were born here, including General Ulysses S. Grant who later became the 18th president of the United States of America.
We cross the Mississippi and arrive at Prairie du Chien , one of the most important economic centers in the history of the fur trade, where we spend the night at Motel 8.
Super 8 Motel – Prairie Du Chien ($ 87.49)
HWY 18 & 35 South
Prairie Du Chien, WI 53821
Monday 11th July 2005
Departure to the West, crossing the endless prairies of the Great Plaines.
Here and there you see herds of black cows, grazing free and you understand why the evening steaks are so good!
The road is a big straight track for hundreds of miles (thankfully there is the incredible 75mph limit, never found so far). On the way we cross the Missouri River. We have a packed lunch based on sandwiches and SPAM : we could not fail to try the legendary canned meat of Hormel, the subject of the Monty Python sketch and from which the phenomenon of internet spam originates.
Finally we arrive at Kadoka , the entrance to the Badlands . We spend the night in the “Super 8” motel.
Super 8 Motel – Kadoka ($ 83.03)
PO Box 334
I-90 Ex 150
Kadoka, SD 57543-0334
Tuesday 12th July 2005
We leave Cadoca to visit the Badlands, the first National Park where we buy the pass which at the price of 50 dollars allows entry to all the US national parks for a whole year.
The landscape is truly lunar! Myriads of hillocks and gorges in gray, yellow, red create a truly surprising contrast with the intense blue sky.
We see birds of prey flying, which could be eagles. Eric is happy because we don’t meet rattlesnakes.
From the BedLands we head west and after a brief stop at a supermarket in Rapid City we enter Custer State Park , in the Black hills . Here we travel the Wildlife Loop Rd .
Wonderful! Let’s see the bison, they are just like they draw them in the comics! Roe deer, begging burros and pronghorns, a kind of fallow deer with a white ass.
Leaving the park we stop at Mt Rushmore National Monument . Really impressive! The four faces of the presidents are truly great.
Finally , we spend the night in Deadwood , with a large number of casinos and sloat machines, each hotel, motel, restaurant has its own gaming rooms.
Deadwood is a very touristy but charming town because it still feels like the Old West. We sleep at the Gulch Resort (very nice and clean), where the following morning they bring us a gargantuan breakfast, based on eggs and hash brown, biscuits in gravy souce, really good but not really light.
Deadwood Gulch Resort ($ 95)
Hwy 85 South
PO Box 643
Deadwood, SD 57732
Wednesday 13 July 2005 We take
the I-90 towards the West. Along the way we meet several “campers” pulling large American cars. We will not call them camper but courier! Americans on vacation are confirmed as megalomaniacs!
We have lunch in Sheridan in the public garden, where we are welcomed by six squirrels who really appreciate our cornflakes
We thought there was something to visit in this city, but it’s not really worth a stop!
We then continue towards Cody , leaving I-90 and taking I-14. The Big Horn panorama it is majestic. First dense forests cover the mountains up to 3000 meters, then after crossing the pass, the mountains become rocky and the red and gray colors are interspersed with deep gorges. We also see chamois.
We arrive in Cody, a town with a typical Western atmosphere and overnight in the Carter Mountain Motel (nice and clean!) After a good Mexican dinner at Zapata’s we attend the Cody Stampede rodeo , which is held regularly every evening during the summer. The rodeo proved not to be a mere tourist attraction, but a race of more than two hours in which cowboys from all over America participated with calves, bulls and horses.
Carter Mountain Motel ($ 81)
Ken and Fran Swope
1701 Central Ave.
Cody, WY 82414
Tel. (307) 587-4295
325 W Yellowstone Avenue
Cody, WY 82414 US
Thursday July 14, 2005
Before leaving Cody we visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center which actually contains five museums dedicated to weapons, Indian culture, Western art, Buffalo Bill and natural history.
We arrive in Yellowstone from the west entrance. The park is great ! Each area is different from the others : from geyseral lakes, from forests to grand canyons . We see, making the circular tour, Yellowstone lake, Mammoth hot springs , and Norris geyser. The (steam) activity of the soil is impressive.
We decide to spend the night inside the park. We find a place at the Old lodge faithful at the homonymous and famous geyser, a bit expensive but it is worth it.
Old Faithful Inn ($ 171)
Yellowstone National Park
GPS Coordinates 44 ° 27.605 N 110 ° 49.881 W
Friday 15 July 2005
We get up early and a little before 8, the Old faithful does not betray us, the large geyser erupts impressive jets of water and steam! We then finish visiting the southern area of the park and enter the Gran Teton National Park . Beautiful, Enrica can see a black bear or grizzly.
The park is very different from Yellowstone, the highlight is the majestic mountain range that reaches 4000 meters with the great Tetton. Before leaving the park we stop for a picnic and receive a visit from an antilocapra (Pronghorn). We then leave for Salt Lake City in Utah. Along the way we cross a boundless and semi-desert area. In Salt Lake City we stay at the Scenic Motel (old but clean) and have dinner at Bombay House, a typical Indian restaurant.
Scenic Motel ($ 87.77 for 2 nights)
1345 Foothill Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Tel. (801) 582-1527
2731 Parleys Way
Salt Lake City, UT 84109
Tel. +1 801-581-0222
Saturday, July 16, 2005
We set off west on I-80 with the intent of seeing the salty desert. After about eighty niglia we finally see the first white expanses of salt. Maybe it was not worth it, but while we are there we collect some salt as a souvenir …
In the afternoon we visit the center of Salt Lake city. The heat is remarkable but at least it is not humid. The city swims around the Salt Lake Temple , the temple of the Mormons, founders of the city.
So we decide to visit it together with a “sister” who speaks Italian. This tells the story of the Mormons and makes us visit the complex consisting of several buildings. Next to the temple stands the house of Brigham Young, the second “prophet”. The city as a whole is large with many green areas and wide “little noisy” avenues.
Sunday 17 July 2005
We leave at 8 am south on I-80, then take 6 south-east which takes us to Arches National Park . We are immediately struck by the intense red of the rocks and the heat. We make the path inside the park observing some of the most beautiful stone arches. The walking journeys, even if short, under the peak sun, try but it is the only way to observe two of the most fascinating arches: the delicate arch and landscape arch.
In the evening we reach Bluff where we have dinner at the Trading Post (Twin Rocks Trading Post Café ) and overnight at the Recapture Lodge, rustic but very beautiful.
Recapture Lodge ($ 54.5)
PO Box 309
Bluff, UT 84512
Monday 18 July 2005 We
leave Bluff to head to Monument Valley , Navajo Indian Reservation. Let’s take the classic tour among the roads of the valley all strictly unpaved and we admire the different Butts , sometimes very bizarre red rock formations. The feeling is that we are in a wester film and we expect John Wayne to appear at any moment …
We buy small typical Navayo handicrafts: dream catchers and vases made with clay, considered the personification of Mother Earth.
Leaving the valley we head towards the Grand Canyon South rim. We spend the afternoon contemplating the majesty of the canyon from the various points indicated, using free shuttle buses we also arrive at the observation points further west. A light haze that covers the whole valley has in some places ruined the view a little. We spend the night in Williams, (at the Rancho Motel, clean and pleasant), a town on historic Route 66 . We indulge in a legendary steak of 4 pounds or more for Eric and 3 huge ribs of veal (for me) from Road Steak House .
El Rancho Motel ($ 63.28)
617 E Route 66
Williams, AZ 86046 USA
301 E Route 66
Williams, AZ 86046-2605
Tel. +1 928 635 2671
Tuesday 19 July 2005
After traveling a small stretch of the legendary Route 66 we head towards Las Vegas and at the visitor center we find and spend the night a room at the “ Treasure Island ”.
The hotel is on the Strip next to the Mirage and opposite the Venice , right in the heart of the city. After a restful afternoon, in the evening we begin to visit the various casinos.
Mythical! The city appears to us in all its beauty and walking along the “strip”, the main avenue more than 6 km long and full of casinos, we realize how crazy and megalomaniacs are the Americans. Only they can think of building hotels in the middle of the desert that reproduce cities like New York or Venice, rather than Bellagio or the Eiffel Tower, illuminated in an exasperated way. In our opinion the Venice is the best: the reconstructed squares and alleys, complete with artificial sky, create a truly surreal atmosphere. There are even gondolas that carry tourists around, even if… a small propeller helps the gondoliers.
The plays of light and water accompanied by music on the lake in front of the Bellagio hotel are truly fascinating. The eruption of the Mirage volcano also attracts crowds of tourists. The Strip is a must visit in the evening, during the day it loses all its charm.
In order to say: “We played in Las Vegas” we spent a few dollars on slot machines, obviously losing them! There were still a lot of avid gamers!
Treasure Island ($ 96)
3300 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Wednesday 20 July 2005
In the morning we leave Las Vegas, which seems like another city to us looking back on the previous evening, even if the casinos are already full of people playing slot machines
We head north and after a few miles we enter Death Valley National Park , we stop at Zabriskie Point and the Visitor Center. The landscape is really scorched and a bestial heat (47 ° C) makes us pant. But apart from the heat (to try!) And some slightly suggestive glimpses, in our opinion it is not worth dedicating a day to this place forgotten by God. Leaving the park we head south again, destination Disneyland, but failing to reach it in the evening, we sleep at the EZ 8 Motel in Lancaster.
EZ 8 Motel ($ 60.98)
43530 N. 17TH St. W.
Lancaster, CA 93534
Thursday 21st July 2005 We
leave Lancaster early in the morning to arrive at Disneyland as soon as possible. After 4 or 5 full or excessively expensive hotels (360 $ per room !!!) we finally find a place, right in the one located in front of the Disneyland Resort entrance at an acceptable price. After depositing the luggage, we enter the park. They tell us that there is not yet a full house but it seems to us that there are many people! After a quick peek at the map of the park we choose the rides that in our opinion seem the most beautiful, even if most of them are dedicated to children.
What strikes us is the accuracy of the settings and historical characters of the parade and the fireworks, both held for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Disneyland. But really amazing is the Mickey Mouse fantasy show with effects of lights, water, fire, music and historical characters from Walt Disney, who stage a representation of good versus evil. After being in line even on the last carousel at quarter past midnight we are able to complete the tour, while the park lights are gradually going out.
The Park Vue Inn ($ 117.3)
1570 S. Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802
Friday 22 July 2005
Today a relaxing day. We leave Disneyland in the morning to go to Sequoia National Park , stopping to shop in a mall, where prices are much lower than ours. In the evening we stop at the Best Western Holiday Lodge on Sierra Drive, just off Sequoia NP.
Best Western Holiday Lodge ($ 89.09)
40105 Sierra Drive
Three Rivers, CA 93271-9745
Saturday 23rd July 2005
Visit to Sequoia National Park. The sequoias are truly gigantic and moreover, to think that they date back to two / three thousand years ago, leaves us even more amazed … who knows what they could tell us if they could talk! The first stop is at the very famous General Sherman Tree, a gigantic sequoia that holds the record of the largest tree in the world. The sequoias have some characteristics that make them truly unique trees: their resistant and tannin-rich bark makes them almost immune to the attack of bacteria, fungi and fire. Many sequoias, in fact, show evident signs of fire, especially at their base, where the blackened trunk splits, but it is enough for the lifeblood to arrive from the roots to the leaves for the sequoia to survive. The Congress Trail starts from the General Sherman Tree, , like the majestic group called “The Senate” or the gigantic “The president”. At the end of the path we go back in the car towards Yosemite … suddenly Eric wakes me up! A grizzly bear cub is crossing us! Mythical !!!
Once in Oakhurst, a village near the park, we look for accommodation for the night. Unfortunately it’s Saturday and it’s all complete! We therefore have to retrace our steps and after having walked around for a while we finally find a room in the DaysInn hotel in Madeira.
Days Inn Madera ($ 70)
25327 Avenue 16
Hwy 99 and Ave 16
Madera, CA 93637
Sunday 24th July 2005
We wake up around 7 and after having breakfast we move towards Yosemite . As usual, at the entrance we receive the newspaper and the map of the park and we head towards “Glacier Point”. The path is a bit boring but once you get to the top you can enjoy a spectacular view.
From a sort of amphitheater you can see the whole valley below of Yosemite with the various waterfalls on the sides and the Half Dome on background.
From here we go down to the valley and spend the night at Yosemite Lodge (very expensive!). After a short nap, we now begin to feel the weight of the journey, we begin to wander aimlessly around the valley simply enjoying the view. We have dinner at Degnan’s loft where we try the Pizza Factory, not bad but caretta…
Yosemite Lodge ($ 178.2)
Yosemite, CA 95389
Monday 25th July 2005
We spend the morning taking a nice ride in the valley. First we take a walk towards the “Vernall Fall”, where as we go up we see the beautiful rainbows formed by the water drops of the waterfall carried by the wind. So we go to Mirror Lake, although once we arrive we are a bit disappointed because the lake is almost dry. The various animals cheer us up, which also keep us company on this walk: a fox, not yet seen in America, deer, various squirrels and many “steller’s jays”, birds with dark blue-shaded plumage with a beautiful black crest.
For the return we wait for the free shuttle bus that takes us back to the hotel. After writing the postcards, we leave for the Pacific Ocean coast south of San Francisco, on the 140. We arrive in the evening in Santa Cruz , a mythical town on the Pacific Ocean coast north of Monterey Bay and about one hundred kilometers south of San Francisco. Here we dine in a restaurant on the pier (The Wharf) admiring the lights of the city reflected on the ocean waters, even if suddenly we find ourselves immersed in a mist typical of this season and that will accompany us in the last days of travel.
Riverside Inn ($ 65)
505 Riverside Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Once in San Francisco , we look for the Renoir hotel and after having deposited the luggage we go to Hertz to leave, unfortunately, our dear Tauris, who led us very well on this long journey …
In the afternoon we visit the pier and the neighborhoods North Beach and China Town, in a quite surreal climate … the fog has become thicker and the thermometer has dropped to 18 °!
North Beach is the Italian district, and here, unlike other cities, it really feels like you’ve returned home. There are tricolor flags drawn everywhere and people often speak to each other in our language.
After 22 days we can finally chat in Italian !!! A barman tells us that he is from Milan and has been living here for a few years. The Italian flags soon give way to red lanterns and signs with the ideograms of the Chinese quarter, chaotic like all the “chinatowns” in the world. Along the streets there are many busy people, shops and bazaars selling various trinkets. We have dinner in this neighborhood at the “House of Nanking”, recommended by the Lonely Planet. The place is small and crowded, but the dinner is really good and cheap enough to make us forget the half hour queue, made to enter!
45 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel. (415) 626-5200
House of Nanking
919 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94133-5106
Tel. (415) 421-1429
Wednesday July 27, 2005
Leaving the hotel we climb the hills of San Francisco to the first stop of the cable cars , the rack tram that climbs up the hills of the city. Fisherman Wharf direction . The cable car ride is really nice and an African American driver makes us laugh a lot with often colorful comments about passers-by and with the sound of the horn.
Once at Pier 39 , we line up at the pier where the tourist boats leave for the bay every half hour and finally we can see the Golden Gate in its entirety, impossible from the center of SF for the fog!
After the tour we eat a nice sandwich with crab meat! In the afternoon we wander around the city to observe some characteristic places: Civic Center, Union Square …
Thursday 28 July 2005
In the morning we visit the Asian Art Museum , which fascinates us with its numerous works.
In the afternoon we shop in the Union square first at Levi Strauss & company where we buy three pairs of original Levis at the price of one in Italy, then in another shop we take the machine to cook the popcorn accompanied by three types of beans; as always, the Americans amaze us !
To conclude our stay in America we decide to celebrate in a good restaurant, where in addition to eating good fish we witness a beautiful sunset over the splendid San Francisco bay.
McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant
900 North Point Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel. (415) 929-1730
Friday 29 July 2005
In the morning we walk through a suburb, but it is not worth it; the only curious thing is a park where dogs accompanied by their owners can roam freely.
After a quick lunch in a McDonald’s, we book the hotel shuttle bus that takes us to the airport, where at 18.55 we have the BA286 flight San-Francisco Heatrow London.
Saturday 30th July 2005
After 15 hours of flight we finally landed in Venice at 8 pm, exhausted… so much so that we didn’t see Andrea and Francesca, who were waiting for us in the front row with lots of billboards to welcome us.
Total kilometers traveled: 9,300 km in 20 days !!!
Maps, guides & useful bibliography:
Rand McNally 2005 Road Atlas – Mythical !!! With only 11.95USD a huge atlas (27x39cm) with all the information you need. If you want you can order on the site.
Lonely Planet – EDT – Eastern United States – 2nd Italian edition – July 2004
Lonely Planet -EDT – Western United States – 2nd Italian edition – July 2004
Various publications found in local tourist offices or requested via internet