Things to Love About the USA

Here’s a few random things about the US that you’ve got to love…

IMG_2283_2The petrol stations have service people that pump the gas for you. The jobs were created to reduce unemployment. Love that! Highway exits are all numbered, that’s really convenient; don’t need to remember that Springvale road is after Blackburn road, or is it before???

When you are in a major shop, every shop assistant has a phone like device that has details about the entire stock. So if you ask for a size, they will immediately look it up and let you know if they have it, now Australia should really get onto that one. Not only do they know if they have the size, but they also send a message to the stock room, and someone else appears with the item requested for you to try. Very organised!

IMG_2100They add fruits to salads; a bit weird the first time, but mmm got used to that pretty quick!IMG_1797

Americans have really lovely manners, they are always more than happy to help. Many times we were standing on the street with a map (deciding where to go) and passers by would stop and ask if we needed help. I lost count of the number of times teenagers – yep that’s right held doors open for us.

More about the shops…in NY they are open till 10pm most IMG_1671nights…got to love a little post dinner shopping!

New York Cheesecake. Mmmmm.IMG_2296_2

And to finish…as we board the plane for 21 hours…

Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light…travelling in America brings many a wonderful sight.

 

This Is Art!

Another impressive building…The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

 
Locally known as ‘The Met’ it is the largest art museum in the US with over 200 million works. You could spend days in there, it is absolutely incredible. We spent an hour walking around, totally in awe of the extent of the collection. 

    
   

What is Art?

Today we visited The Guggenheim, an art museum in the Upper East Side. According to Wikipedia it is the permanent home of a renowned and continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical building, wider at the top than the bottom, was conceived as a “temple of the spirit”. Its unique ramp gallery extends up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building to end just under the ceiling. It is a really unique building, once inside it is one long spiral ramp that you walk around with the art works displayed on the outer wall, with occasional display rooms. How cool is this? 

   (Yep that is Pinnochio face first in the pond)
The art on display was…interesting.

    
 

Princeton

   
 From Atlantic City, we drove to Princeton, about an hour and a half driving. Two slight hiccups…ops had to reverse out of  the wrong toll booth lane, almost missed paying 75 cents. Luckily it was a very quiet toll booth, and a kindly driver made way for us. Second event, our trusty GPS that has been an absolute miracle worker directing us through the most complex road networks, lost the plot 2k out of Primceton and didn’t know the name of the road, that was a tad alarming but very funny.

Princeton is dominated by Princeton Univrsity, one of the main streets is lovely shops that overlook the old university buildings, it is very picturesque. We stayed at Nassau Inn, the top picture is the Nassau Inn Old Pump House which was the hotel’s restaurant. Missed getting a picture of the best shop The Bent Spoon…divine ice cream shop! 

   
We had a lovely afternoon and evening with a family whose daughter Jenni had taught in Grade 2, and I had taught in Prep. After driving ourselves around it was lovely to have a personally guided tour with Paul, Annetta and Kate through Princeton University, the Princeton Battlefield (see pic of white house and locals doing a reenactment), local canals, and other nearby suburbs. A delightful afternoon tea and play with Kate’s gorgeous puppy and then dinner competed our day. Dinner was at Seasons 24, they had a very clever dessert concept. The waiter appeared unannounced with a tray of miniature glasses with a choice of 9 different desserts! Despite a large meal one could hardly say no. Which would you choose?

Thank you  Paul, Annetta and Kate for a lovely evening. 

   
 

Aladdin, Tony Bennet and Lady Gaga, What a Cultural Day!

According to Trip Advisor…a great source of suggestions, one of Lancasters top attractions is The Hole in the Wall Puppet Theatre. It is indeed entertaining! The theatre is run by a delightful gentleman Mr Peter Brock who is very passionate about puppetry; before the show he gave a 10 minute talk about his history in theatre, how he makes the puppets, and a tour to the backstage of the theatre.  

  

 Aladdin is the current production, a very clever production; Peter composed the songs, wrote the script and made the puppets, amazing.  We also loved that he was very direct about how children should behave during the show – even telling parents that they will need to remove their children if they cannot sit quietly or talk during the show! Yeah!  

    
 After lunch we headed off to Atlantic City to see Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, our Garmin said it should be 2 and a half hours, with traffic it was four hours…thankfully we had plemty of time. We are staying in Absecon, a 10 minute drive from Atlantic City. A quick taxi trip and we were at The Bogata – an enormous casino…it was a fun night, even just watching all the people at the casino, what a collection!! Tony Bennett is incredible for his 89 years, and Lady Gaga certainly can sing, pared back to just a microphone and a glittery dress her vocals certainly took centre stage!

 

Over 5000 Dolls – Really?

Lancaster is an interesting part of Pennyslvannia. Beyond the main highways is stunning farmland, dotted with pretty farm houses, barns and tidy fields of corn, tobacco and orchards. Along the main highway there are lots of Outlet Centers, Amish Themed Tourist Parks (Think Dreamworld turned Amish) and other ‘Tourist Attractions’ like… Dutch Wonderland, The National Christmas Centre, Choo Choo Barn, and Sam’s Man Cave!! One that took our interest was… 

  There certainly was a lot of dolls. Some were the most lifelike dolls I have ever seen. 

   

  

    

Pennsylvania Dutch Country

We are staying in Lancaster, which is about 10 minutes away from the second largest Amish community in the U.S. We had a fabulous two hour guided tour this morning, from Lois a local Mennonite. It’s a great service, the guide travels in your own car, directing you around the back roads and stopping at points of interest tailored to your preferences.  

Draught horses used by the Amish for farm work.

We learnt so much about the Amish way of life, it is really quite extraordinary to think about how the Amish live, and according to Lois, their population is steadily growing. So many interesting facets to their way of life – women have 5 to 7 children and stay home once married to look after the house, children and farm. The children go to Amish schools until year 8 and are taught by local Amish women (not trained teachers) only a few go to high school. Lois took us to an Amish Bookstore that supplies the teachers – it was full of BLM books, textbooks and reprints of ancient readers like John & Betty. They don’t allow a telephone in their house, but they might have one in the barn, or in a little shed by the front gate.

 Need to make a phone call? Some Amish businessmen put a half hour time on their business card to say when they will be sitting by their phone and available for a call.

Amish build large houses with basements that fit over a hundred people for their biweekly church services that are three hours long, no instruments, they sing. God, family and work are the corner stones of their life. 
  

  Washing day – this farm had a fabric shop as well, the cars were non Amish customers.

As we drove around we often had to overtake an Amish horse and cart or buggy. 

 An Amish school – usually a mix of 35 children mixed levels grade 1-8.

  
 Amish quilt and craft shop, large king size hand made quilts were about $600 US