A Go West Tours team experience

A whirlwind round trip starting in New York, Go West’s Eastern Highlights tour (renamed East Coast Charms in 2017 with small itinerary changes) takes the team to discover some of the most iconic sights of the USA and Canada, including Washington, Niagra Falls and Montreal.

Check back with us here periodically to get updates on Kylee and Kym’s Go West famil!

Day 1. New York City

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Kym enjoys a bit of street food!

Arrived at our Hotel. Easy check in and a note from our guide.  We met our lovely, friendly guide Julie who explained our trip and our meeting point for the morning. The New Yorker Hotel is such a beautiful Art Deco Hotel, we loved it.  Wow when we got to our room.  What an amazing view.  We can see the Empire State Building from our window perfectly and look down to all the action on the streets of New York.  This hotel is in a great position, walking distance to everything.  Times Square, Theatres on Broadway, shopping galore, café, restaurants, street food vans.  We grab a bite to eat in a nearby establishment that has every type of food from around the world you could imagine and so, so cheap.  We then retire for the evening excited about our adventure beginning tomorrow.


Day 2. Philadelphia and a visit to an Amish community

After a yummy breakfast at Tick Tocks and meeting our fellow travelers, we all load into our amazing form of transportation.  Very comfortable and plenty of room.  We are also introduced to our driver Francisco. We arrive in Philadelphia.  A city filled with so much political history.  We did our city tour and visited very interesting places such as the Supreme Court where the Independence of America was discussed and signed, the Liberty Bell, and had a guided tour of these amazing buildings now protected and all original buildings and furnishings.  It was like stepping back in time.  The buildings in and around the city hold so much history from when America was beginning its journey of becoming independent from Great Britain. So glad they still have these buildings and they remain accessible to us.  We eat at the most wonderful market place where again we are very spoilt for choice.

After lunch we head to a place called Lancaster.  It is very different from this morning.  We are going through the greenest of green paddocks and farm land.  We arrive at an Amish Farm and are shown through a typical Amish family home. We then go on a guided tour by a very experienced local called Roger and travel though more country side.  Along the way on the road we pass many Amish with their horse and carriage.  That was such a treat to see.  We then saw the Amish working on their farms and gardens in traditional Amish clothing and straw hats.  The men only wear black hats on special occasions, and ladies in their bonnets. So very interesting to see the beautiful homes they have created and are obviously so proud of.  The homes are just gorgeous and the gardens and yards perfectly kept and very beautiful.  We see young Amish boys approx. 4 and 3 years old at a locally run store.  They have white shirts, trousers and braces on with bowl haircuts and bare feet.  They are so cute, I want to take one home. I loved exploring this region and was so fascinated to learn about the Amish and how they live.  Still no electricity in their homes and most still work and live off the land and no cars still to this day.  Something tells me they have a far more peaceful life to many of us, but they do work very hard.


Day 3. Washington DC.

Whitehouse

Kylee at the Whitehouse

DC is filled with such amazing places to visit.  Today we went to the Broad Mall to visit the memorials of the Vietnam War (and scenes from Forrest Gump), the Roosevelt Memorial, Thomas Jefferson, The Washington Monument and the angelic stone carving memorial of Martin Luther King. This mall is huge and is over many acres.  We then also visit the capital, library and the White House.  Today there was something going on.  Helicopters were on the roof and security all round.  We found out President Obama was heading off by helicopter to attend the funeral of the son of Vice President.  It was interesting to see the White House and also the protesters who have been at the front of the white house since the 1980s.  They vow to stay there until all nuclear weapons in the world are gone.  I admire their determination and persistence.  They are there 24 hours a day 7 days a week in a mere small, plastic white tent.  DC has beautiful landscaping and gardens and it was a most pleasant place to walk around and learn more about the USA’s Capital City.

We then drive to Williamsport for our overnight stay at the Hampton Inn.  What hospitality we received. Wine, beer, nibbles on arrival.  The staff were all so nice and bent over backwards for us.  The manager gave us a bag full of goodies on our departure the next day and also the staff went and got me goodies from a local store in their own time and cost saying it was their pleasure to do this for me.


Day 4. Niagra Falls

Kylee Niagra

Hanging out at Niagra Falls

We head towards Niagara today, crossing the border into Canada.  We get our first taste of the falls as in the distance you can see the mist as the strength and intensity of the falls is so strong. We then are soon in the town of Niagara Falls and see the amazing beauty Mother Nature provided and one of the 7 wonders of the world.  Wow, it is beautiful.  The America falls nearby are just spectacular also.  We then walk towards the falls and what I loved was the noise coming from the falls.  It is loud and just wonderful.  We then head up Clifton Hill the main street for lunch and to explore this area.  It is surprising to us all as it is full of entertainment.  Casinos, restaurants and a little Vegas in Niagara.  We head  towards our accommodation in town and are all very  excited for our boat tour on the falls first thing tomorrow morning.


Day 5. The beautiful township of Niagra on the Lake

Niagra on the lake

Views of the lake

Up bright and early and very eager to see the falls again.  This time not by land but aboard the Hornblower, formally Maid of the Mist.  We get our ponchos on to avoid us getting wet, but nothing can prepare you for what is about to come.  I came off the boat on a natural high.  This experience is a must do.  You get so very close to the falls that you feel like you are in the waterfall.  The water is so intense, so high, your heart is ponding and you’re not sure if it’s because you are excited or it’s the rumble from the waterfall just in front of your eyes.  You can feel it in your bones and body and don’t expect to talk to anyone.  The only thing you hear is pure, fantastic, raw, Mother Nature at her best.  It was loud from on land but when you are that close it is a sound like no other.  I will cherish this moment my entire life.

We then head to the Niagara Lakes area. This is a beautiful drive through wine country with many wineries on the way and beautiful mansions.  The streets are lined by bike trials and trees on both sides.  The journey to the Lakes area itself was so nice and enjoyable.  We then stop and explore this little town, Its British themed streets and shops, streets and paths filled with colourful flowers. It’s a delight being here and lucky to see this lovely town that sits on the amazing lake Ontario. The people who live here are very lucky.  Their homes are picture perfect with picket fence and gardens to die for.


Day 6. Toronto to Montreal

Toronto (2)

View of Toronto

We head off early today towards the district very popular in summer for holidays. This little place called 1000 Islands is pretty. There are actually more than 1600 islands and it is very pleasant way to spend the morning. We all aboard the boat for a one hour cruise around these islands. I love all the homes and think they are all gorgeous, even the small ones that are on a tiny island all of its own. They are isolated from everyone. Deck chairs out on the lawns soaking up the sun in summer and I can only imagine the winter here. It would be like bears hibernating in winter as it gets cold. So cold the waters surrounding the islands can freeze. Snow mobiles then come in handy. The waters are very clean and I am grateful I am seeing this magical place on a summer’s day.

We then read off to Montreal. Fascinating to learn about the underground tunnels that exist only in Montreal. It all started with newspapers being sold in the subway, then coffee, then a cafe. Now entire shopping centres connect office buildings and subways. You need not see natural daylight or be subject to brutal cold weather. You can come and go in these underground maze of tunnels across the city. We walk around the city taking in the history and gazing at the old beautiful buildings before heading up to Mount Royal. Once there we take a walk to the top and get a bird’s eye view of the city below. A real highlight as whilst there we have two furry visitors. Two raccoons come to visit. The first time I have ever seen a raccoon and far cuter and bigger than I imagined. Small ones I am told so shocked to hear these are just young ones. A very interesting city filled with the French language. We have dinner in the buzzing French cafe/restaurant district tonight with others on the tour and have a blast before a night cap in the village area.


Day 7. Montreal to Portland, Maine

White Mountain Forest

Love, love, love the journey to our destination today. We travel through White Mountain Forest along the Kancamagus highway. We see and stop along the way to view crystal clear mountain creeks, waterfalls, and covered bridges. We stop in a small town along the way also for lunch in a wonderful organic cafe.


Day 8. Beautiful Mother’s Bath Beach at Portland, Maine

Mother's bath beach

Gorgeous Mother’s Bath Beach

One of my favourite days. Portland Maine is filled with beautiful homes with gardens that are so perfectly manicured. It’s pretty with colourful flowers everywhere you look. We are up early and it’s a wonderful morning the sun is shining and a perfect time for us to visit Cape Elizabeth. It’s rugged, stunning, rocky coastline and lighthouse. We then head off along the coastline of Portland and walk along the very picturesque Mothers Bath Beach and see the seaside homes that dot the coastline. We all enjoy discovering the beach with its shells smooth to rocks and the sea creatures that  live in and around the rocks.
Today we also spend time in Kennybunk. A must do. Quaint seaside village town straight out of a picture book. It is full of arts and crafts and wonderful little shops to visit
We finish the day by visiting and learning about Salem. This place is interesting and they take the history seriously. Witches everywhere including on the number plates of the police cars. We are told during Halloween this place is scary. I can only imagine. A visit to the witch museum complete today’s adventure.


Day 9. Discovering Boston

Copley Sq Boston

Copley Square in Boston

Today we toured the city of Boston and visited placed such as Boston Common and the thriving city centre with beautiful churches gardens and the farmers market was on today. We saw the famous Boston Marathon finish line and I dreamed of how it must feel to cross it for real, not on a leisurely walk.  We then went down featuring the famous Quincy Markets.  Plenty of shopping and spoiled for food choice here.  The streets are very nice in this area and many are cobble stoned.  We sat out in the mall area and ate our lunch today, car free area and enjoyed the people watching.  We had tea down by the harbour that night in an original lobster shed.  We shared dinner with the group tonight and many laughs were had with great food.


Day 10. From Boston to Plymouth and Cape Cod

Outside Harvard Boston

Kylee feeling studious at Harvard University, Boston

Wall painting Providence

Street art in Providence

Today we head to Plymouth.  Again by the seaside and we board the Mayflower. Plymouth is the place where the first pilgrims arrived.  The Mayflower on display shows the boat as it would have been all those years ago.  All those people in one space, some dying with disease and for days without food or fresh clean water. It was great to learn the history of this boat and this town.

We then head to Cape Cod.  Just beautiful.  Sandy beaches, green parks and we talk a walk along the beach and again admire the many beautiful homes.  We visit the JFK memorial as Cape Cod is where John F Kennedy has his holiday home. It must have been so wonderful to escape the hustle of Washington DC and the White house and come to this idyllic seaside place.  We lunch at Cape Cod and explore the town which is very nice.

We then head to the Hotel and freshen up before Kylee and I head into town.  Providence. We are lucky enough that we arrived on the day of the International Arts Festival.  We have such a fantastic time.  We visit the vintage vinyls and clothing stall holders in the library and get ourselves some new tunes to take home.  We both love the old vinyl records. We also then enjoy the many street performers such as rappers, skateboarders, acoustic guitars, dance parties and other various musical acts.  We are also treated to many options of street food and bars.  We danced in the street with strangers and were glad we found the energy to keep going today.  It had been another long day filled with great sight seeing but we just had to see what all the fuss was about and we were glad we did.


 Day 11. Providence back to New York

Central Park NYC

Lovely Central Park

Well what can I say as  we enter New York our lovely tour guide Julie treats us to Alice Keys singing New York, and then later as we draw even closer to the big apple, who else but Frank Sinatra?  She has the entire bus singing along as we approach that very famous skyline. Where do I start on what we did and saw in New York?

We head to Stanton Island and catch the ferry across the financial district of New York, We go past the lady herself, the Statue of Liberty, and have some great opportunities for some fantastic pictures.  The Ferry is free for everyone and holds approx. 200 per trip. We then walk through the area seeing Wall Street and the 9/11 memorial site,  Very touching and I realise just how resilient this city is and how strong New Yorkers are. The devastation was so extensive but now lays a memorial with all the names of the lost and two beautiful water features.  There is also a museum as well at the site of where the twin towers once stood.  We then head into Brooklyn and walk through the beautiful Prospect Park and then lunch in Brooklyn and a back street café. This is after walking through the slope street area of Brooklyn.

We also get to see and experience the famous Times Square.  You must also experience Times Square at night.  It does not get dark until around 9 PM, but in Time Square it is always daylight due to the huge billboards.  I loved the street food stands everywhere and just had to treat myself to a New York hot dog. It was delicious. We also visited the famous Grand Central Terminal and Central Park.  Central Park is amazing and has so much to offer.  Kylee and I hired bikes and had so much fun.  We got a portrait painted whilst in the park and also saw the memorial site (Imagine) as across the road is the hotel where John Lennon was shot whilst leaving it one day.  A street busker was present singing John Lennon songs.  There is so much to do and see in New York. Kylee and I were lucky enough to attend a Jazz concert.  What an experience and memories New York has given us. However I must say the part I love the most about this city is the people watching.  You can be anything and everything you want in New York.  So much diversity.


 To sum up this trip: We covered so much that we were tired, but would not have had it any other way.  We saw so much of the East Coast of America and now have such a better understanding of the USA’s history and politics, and visited some amazing cities and saw some places of amazing natural beauty.  We were very well looked after and did not have to think.  It was a true holiday with Go West Tours taking care of so much from the sightseeing to the transportation and the accommodation.  I shall have this trip in my memories for ever and now I just have to sort through the hundred photos I took!

Thank you Go West Tours.  Kylee and I had the most wonderful time.