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Old 08-21-2006, 08:47 AM   #1
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Hello everyone just found your site well cool.
I'm flying from Britain and I'm tavelling across the states in the next 2 weeks with the possiblility of studying in the USA. I'm flying into new york staying there for 5 days then I'am 'Am Traking' it up to chicago staying there for a few days then 'Am Traking' it across... not yet decided on the best route, was thinking maybe memphis, new orleans, houston, san antonio, tuscon then la....so in total I will be in the usa for 4 weeks....as usual i leave all the details to the last minute...lol....well im just asking if any one has any advice on places i should definalty see in new york, chicago, and LA and places I should definalty avoid (saftey and all that)....and also maybe the best route from chicago, Am track has quite a few different routes and I'm not sure what would make for the best route. Any way hope I havnt rambled on too much and any help or advice would be much apreciated.
Many thanks
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:39 PM   #2
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hehe let me welcome you to TP before anything, Welcome to TP!

Well I'm a native New Yorker! Woo Hooo! And on the safety bah just don't go over 150th St and you won't be that unsafe! (yeas I'm scared of Harlem!) Yet, I must say that Harlem has amazing places and events going on daily basis, if you want to get to the heart of NY do it in Downtown! I tell this to everyone, regardless! it is where the fun is, all the Rest, all the hotties, all the fun, and all the bizarre little things that make me so proud I'm from this city!

But on your first day do the Liberty Island thing, 42nd st to Time Square and brodway see the sights and stay until late for the heck of it, just don't go to abandon alleys (they are never a good idea) if you want a great place to go and start your Downtown adventure I recommend my favorite comedy club, it's a more of a hipster/college edge place where you will find all kinds of info, sometimes they have shows for free and they will guide you to anywhere you want in the city. tell me more of what your plans are and I'll hit you back as soon as I may.
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:44 PM   #3
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I've covered some of the same territory that you're looking at, though in slightly different order, and would have to say it depends a lot on what you want to see. I've taken the southern route from Arizona to Florida, the northern route from Chicago to Bellingham across the northern plains (N. Dakota, Montana etc.) and then the middle route from Seattle back to Chicago via Colorado, Nebraska etc, and finally, from Chicago down to New Orleans. Personally, I found either route through the Rockies (via Glacier Nat'l Park on the northern route, or through Colorado in the middle) much more appealing than the southern route through Texas. Although there were some great rock formations on the way between Arizona and Texas, there was a remarkably large amount of nothing (in my opinion) in Texas. There's also a lot of nothing across Montana, or through Nebraska, for example, but the Rockies so completely make up for that. And I saw some awesome storms in Montana that took my breath away. Also, the southern route is hot, and I'm not such a big fan of hot.

Another advantage of taking the route from Chicago to Seattle, for example, is that you then get the ride down the Pacific Coast, which I've never done by rail, but it's reputed to be quite spectacular - I gather the train is closer to the coastline than the highway, and it's an amazing coastline. That's the way I'd go, given your route. I'd rather see the ocean than the Mississippi, any day... but that's just me.

If you plan to stop off in cities along the way, then you might be better off on the southern route - there are probably more varied major centres that way, but you could get quite a different, though equally authentic view of the states stopping in smaller cities (the northern route passes through the geographical centre of the continent - (somewhere in North Dakota, I forget the stop, but I saw the sign from the train at an ungodly hour), explore Glacier Nat'l Park, revel in Seattle, possibly stop by San Francisco (I think the train stops across the bay) and then head down to LA. They're all west coast towns, but each has a different appeal.

Again, that's my bias, having covered much of the same territory, I'd say you can't really go wrong whatever you decide, it really just depends on the experience you want to have. If you have the option of hopping off as frequently as you wish, I'd highly recommend picking a smaller town for at least one of your stops, because the rural US can be quite different from the cities. And on all the routes you'll pass through some spectacular wilderness areas, if you can hop out at one of them, it would be worth checking out. I don't know if it's along one of the main routes or not, but on a different trip, I went from Bakersfield CA to Flagstaff AZ (from thence to the Grand Canyon - but I met someone who had a car there, so I don't know about transport) and Albuquerque NM (and thence Santa Fe), both of which were incredible stops. The main things that turned me off the southern route were the immensity of Texas and the loooooong, scary bridge into New Orleans.

So, are you still just as confused? Sorry!

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Old 08-21-2006, 02:01 PM   #4
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hey thanks for the warm welcome and the advice...thank you very much......blimy the agony of choice....if there was just 1 route that would be far simpler...lol...mmm im gonna be thinking about that until I get there i reckon just gonna see...maybe.....I forgot to ask I have booked my nights in new york whilst in britain (so at least I know where im gonna be ) but I havnt booked any other nights of my stay....(otherwise i would just feel sooooo restricted to be being in certain places at certain times)....i guess that would kinda take the fun outa the whole thing BUT.....I'm a student so on a NO BUDGET...and do you reckon it will be relativly easy to find cheeeeep rooms in chicago and LA for instance if i just drop in without booking first... I've read that both especially LA...is just like sooooooo expensive....
Thanks
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Old 08-21-2006, 02:06 PM   #5
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I just booked my first night in LA at the Orbit hostel. It's $20 a night for a dorm bed, so what's that, £10-11? It looks reasonably funky. For that price, I'm not expecting luxury or owt!

If you don't want to feel too restricted, but still want the security of having a room, how about booking a day or 2 in advance. So just before you leave one city, book your next night or two for the following city?
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Old 08-21-2006, 03:19 PM   #6
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Texas is lovely. I'm from Houston, which is a relatively unspectacular city. In fact, its really spread out and kind of a shithole and hard to get around if you dont have a car. And even harder if you DO. The suburbs are nice, but again they are impossible to get to if you dont have a car, and there are definitely no cheap accomodations there unless you stay with a friend or something.
I WOULD highly reccommend Austin, Texas. I go to uni here at U.Texas (one of the largest unis in the US and a top rated party school.. ka-ching..) and would be pleased to show you around if you came out here. Austin is a nice manageable size, about 3/4 of a million people. The university is great fun, very diverse. We have the lake and the river, plenty of swimming and kayaking/canoeing etc. Downtown has a sort of legendary party section, 6th street, I love going downtown because you really never ever know whats going to happen. There's any number of indie art film houses, if you're into that sort of thing. Lots of live music any night of the week, decent clubs, and quite a bit of interesting theatre and innumerable art galleries, large and small. And the shopping is varied. And interesting. And there are several hostely places (mostly in student co-ops, I can give you websites if you want, around 15 bucks a night I think)..
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:09 PM   #7
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I remember last time I was in Texas I had a pretty good time and Bella don't be so harsh on Houston I liked it, (then again I like mostly everywhere I go). But it is true I did have fun in Texas and yeah Austin is way much ezier to get around.
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:30 AM   #8
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right then....well just wanna say thanks again for a great web forum ...been spending the vast majority of the time reading all the posts and have to say it has helped me out alot... nice one....thanks
I think I may have sorted my route out...but was just gonna see if any one might have some advice...so I fly in to new york.....spend a while there.......travel to chicago direct (via Amtrak) spend a while there...then from chicago travel to Memphis (Amtrak) spend a while there....then down to New Orleans...(Kinda thought that since the hurricane an all might not be the best time to visit, but I may be totally wrong in that please say if I am).....then straight from New Orleans through to San Antonio spend a while there...then from there to El paso...spend a while there...then from there to Tuscon spend a while there then finally LA...spend a while there and then fly back to Blighty.....
So if any one has any advice on those places and routes or if any one lives in these cities and towns and could share any useful info then that would be much apreciated......
Thank you and take it EZ
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Old 08-23-2006, 01:40 PM   #9
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No pro dude, have a safe and good trip!
Shame you're not hitting Florida but have it in mind thou!

Oh and info us if you need help or extra 411 on anything!
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Old 08-23-2006, 01:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
then from there to El paso[/b]
Any reason why you wish to spend some time in El Paso? I have been there before and while it is certainly tolerable, it is not exactly on the must-see list for the U.S. (no disrespect to an El Paso people out there). You can, of course, easily head across the border to Juarez, Mexico which isn't a bad day trip, but again, it is not what you would call picturesque. I am just curious because if you have limited time, I would recommend spending it somewhere else. Either spend more time in California if possible, or could you zip up to Las Vegas perhaps? Just a suggestion. Have a great trip!!
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Old 08-23-2006, 02:45 PM   #11
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well I was trying to get two different flavas of USA....so the urban kind a thing in new york, chicgao and LA and the more rural type of thing down south....I've only ever been to New York before....so not really sure....the other possiblity was to go from chicago to kansas then albuquerque, flagstaff then LA.....I only kinda made the other choice from reading stuff and "The Rough Guide to USA'..... blimy...its just sooooooooooooooooooooo complicated...lol...lol....still as confused....
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Old 08-23-2006, 05:42 PM   #12
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^Hey no worries. You could just pop off at El Paso for a break of a day or 2 max, check out Juarez (during the day) and then be on your way to California. There is just a ton of stuff to see in California if you were able to make your way around a bit. That was my only point. I think the route you have is better than the Kansas/Albuquerque route. Albuquerque is not exactly beautiful either and Kansas is nothing but a huge open plain, which is cool at first if you have never seen it, but it gets old in a hurry. Just keep in mind that El Paso is NOT rural. It is also very high on the list of highest volume of drug smuggling flowing through it from Mexico (not to scare you or anything - you will be fine). Great mexican and tex/mex food too and stuff is really cheap in Juarez - just don't linger after dark there, it can be a bit of a dicey city. You can actually just walk across the border - just check with immigration before you cross to make sure there are no worries with your status on coming back. Good luck and don't sweat it!!
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:25 AM   #13
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Taking the southern route, you'll get a lot of variety of scenery and the different regional cultures of the US. I might also suggest passing on El Paso, and perhaps using that time to take a trip from Tuscon up to Flagstaff and maybe the Grand Canyon if you have time. On your current itinerary you won't see much in the way of mountains or wilderness areas (during your stops, obviously you'll see plenty of wilderness during your trip!) and Flagstaff is in some beautiful territory. From there you can get transportation to the Grand Canyon, which really is worth the detour in my opinion. And from Flagstaff, it's a pretty short trip (I think overnight) to LA. Between San Antonio, Tuscon and LA you'll get a feel for the Mexican/Hispanic influence in American culture/food/etc, so no worries about missing that by bypassing El Paso.

Just a thought.

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Old 08-24-2006, 11:24 AM   #14
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cool....right then im gradually getting it sorted...and the general consensus is i should avoid el paso and stop off at san antonio and tuscon for that tex mex vibe....with the possiblity of going from tuscon up to flagstaff to see the grand canyon....and if poss stay a bit longer in la....
like i say im staying in manhaten in new york.......Question...?.in chicago and LA and Tuscon, San Antonio etc...are their places that I really should avoid staying in (Area's that is that are a bit dodgy)?

Thanks for any advice
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:26 PM   #15
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Definitely not my area of expertise. Any advice, local experts?

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Old 08-24-2006, 04:13 PM   #16
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In LA, I'd definitely stay away from downtown and anything on the east end of the Hollywood Blvd. area. The big backpacker hang tends to be Venice Beach (there are several hostels there and in Santa Monica), although even that area can be a bit dodgy at night - nothing to really worry about, though.
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Old 08-25-2006, 01:43 AM   #17
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cool thanks omisan...
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