Spring 2013 - The East Coast

Ever since we came back in August 2010, we were longing to return to the States. This time, we chose the East Coast, for many reasons :

  • First, for a change,
  • For the cities : New York, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, to name a few,
  • For natural wonders : Acadia, Niagara Falls, Shenandoah National Park,
  • For a deep-dive into the past : I have a strong interest in two distinct periods of U.S. history, the Revolution (1773-1783), and the Civil War (1861-1865), which the French, quite inappropriately, call the War of Secession,
  • I had already been to the East Coast a few times (1979, 1980, 1982 ...), and I wanted to learn more. Marie, the First Lady of Love, had never been there and wanted to discover everything.

New York City, One World Trade Center

We began to plan a family trip, but it was quickly clear that our young were not coming along. I admit this took me a little off-guard, since I would have happily given my last shirt for the same trip at the same age. So we travelled as a couple, before the main tourist season, thus enjoying much less crowded attractions everywhere and reduced rates on almost everything, from air fares to hotel rooms.

The Wall Street Inn, our hotel in New York City

As usual, we planned quite in advance and, as usual, we realized that, in some places like Manhattan, anticipation is its own virtue. To be ready in spring 2013, we began to plan in fall 2012 :

  • November 2012 : The Business Case, i.e. scratching the bottom of our bank accounts to make sure the trip is funded.
  • December 2012 : list what we are willing to see, first roadmap project.
  • January 2013 : first hotel reservations. We handled everything thru Expedia, under the pretext that we may change our mind and cancel at will. In theory ...
  • February 2013 : a thorough search for bargain-price air tickets, without entrusting our lives to a less-than-respectable airline. We finally settled for Iberia, which flies to and from Orly, a mere 20 minutes from our home.
  • March 2013 : rental car reservation. For some unclear reason (but I had seen the same in the past), car rentals are way more expensive in the East than in the West, let's say by roughly 30%.
  • April 2013 : major roadmap modification. At first, we were willing to make an incursion into Québec, where I had lived a few months back in 1982, and where I have friends. We gave up, cutting about 600 miles on our trip, and privileging visits. The picture below shows our revised roadmap.

Spring 2013, the East Coast

We had to do a lot of compromises. Despite all the motivation in the world, we cannot see everything, even if we stayed several months. A highly common mistake consists in planning extended roadtrips, with the consequence of not having enough time left for visits, both planned and unplanned. That's unfortunate. It is better to plan less travel and enjoy more time at each place. This is what we tried to do.

Of course, at the end of the day, it all gets down to a matter of individual choices.

During this trip, we attempted to remain several days wherever it was appropriate, like three days in New York City, three days in Boston,and so forth. It makes a lot of sense not having to repack everything in the morning !

Washington, the White House

Although we carefully planned it, our trip let us enjoy quite its share of surprises, mostly fortunate. This is what you will discover in the following pages.