First of all:
How can two months of travelling pass SO damn fast? I don’t know what to say. So, I’ll just try to write it down.
Over two months on the road, over 5.000 driven miles and 10 states – U.S.A. extreme. I walked, I looked, I stunned, I laughed, I sang (mostly in the car with Anja), I ate (good-very good-omg), I slept (sometimes more, sometimes less), I chilled, I got exhausted, I organized, I drove, I partied (always with Anja ;-)), I met incredible people and made new friends, I wrote A LOT, and got my own, personal travelling highlights. Of course, there were a few downs (which I think is even necessary and important, if you go on such a long trip), but these are easily to be outnumbered by all those, sometimes more than overwhelming, giving you goose-bumps for the rest of your life kindish ups.
It has been an amazing time.
Thinking about this, I find it indeed a bit hard to admit, that of all places, Florida, THE sunshine state, just didn’t want to make it on that list of favorite travel destinations. Don’t get me wrong here (and I really mean that). Florida is a very beautiful state, starting from the wet, green and humid area of the Everglades, through the beautiful beaches of Key West, up to the pulsating nightlife in Miami Beach. All this places put me into this nice “vacation” mood, but just didn’t touch me very much. Which is totally fine. Not every place can give you this hearty feeling – actually that would even take out a lot of this excitement travelling can get you.
Part One: The Everglades – how we almost did a tour
It’s not that we didn’t try. Sitting in our sweaty and humid hostel room, we were studying and comparing different tour offers, that should bring us via kayak through the Everglades and get us one of this really outstanding adventures, that you afterwards need to tell everybody about. Mosquito bites and burning eyes from sweaty sunscreen running into them excluded of the story, of course.
But yeah, then we finally decided that our hostel is a really nice, jungle-like place and…we just did nothing for two days. Well, maybe I should mention the really awful and absolutely no fun walk through Florida City, trying to find Walmart (and a sidewalk that could get us there). But except from that, we really literally chilled our lifes and celebrated being free to just do that, because we can. And yes, you are allowed to hate me right now 😉
So one day, with still a bit FOMO resting in my head (Fear Of Missing Out by not going on a tour), I climb up to this little tree house, my book in one hand, a pen to write clamped between my teeth. Man, that was easier with sneakers (than with the flip flops I am wearing now). With each step, the ropy latter is cutting into my feet. Once I finally reach the top, slightly relieved, I walk the little hanging bridge, find myself a cosy spot and lean my back against one of the trees. It’s not the most comfortable position, but I somehow feel very stable. I just sit there, read my book and, from time to time, look up to observe what’s happening around me. Anja is sleeping in a hammock. Some of the hostel stuff is working in the garden. A kid runs around and is having the time of his life, jumping into the little natural pool on the other side of the garden.
Up here, I really don’t miss anything anymore. I get more and more relaxed. Sometimes you might just need to see things from above, change your perspective. And finally, my FOMO about not being on a “wow look at this alligator”-tour, but sitting in the trees instead, is gone.
Where to sleep in Florida City
The Everglades Hostel is a very green, beautiful and pretty relaxed place, an “urban oasis in the heart of Floridy City”, which invites you with all its cosy hammock-kind-of chillout areas, to be lazy for a few hours. Or, days.
Part Two: Applausing for the sun in Key West
OK, I really knew that this was going to be touristy. So I knew I was not going to be the most touched person in the world, waiting with hundreds of other peole for the moment, when the sun would set itself down and sink heavily and pompously into the orange-shimmering ocean. But I really wasn’t prepared at all for what followed, as soon as this had happened…
…everyone of the tons of people standing around and watching with us, start to applause. Clap in hands.
Well. Seriously? The first second, I just feel embarassed for this drama. I can literally feel, how my “you’re not being serious…”-thought is immediately being reflected on my facial expression. I refuse to join this ridiculous happening, and I am still kind of happy, that I did.
But thinking about it now, with everything a bit processed, my hate and disgust for this situation have come down a little bit. I still think it’s the most awful and touristy happening, I’ve seen so far. But just letting the moment pass, and considering the meaning behind this, I have to admit that I at least don’t fully disagree with the gesture. Why not applausing for the sun? Why not sharing this moment with so many other smiling people, who are just happy about being there, in this special moment. I think, everyone should decide for oneselve, whether this is something to like, or to just let it pass. In the end, I survived, and got to see a really beautiful sunset 😉
Where to sleep in Key West
If you decide for Key West, try the Not Your Average Hotel. It’s not too cheap (nothing is cheap in Key West), but it’s the most luxury hostel I have been to, so far. Rooms and beds are super clean and comfortable, lockers are huge, fresh towels everyday, free and good coffee all day long. A clean pool and hot tube allow you to spend the whole day at this place, in case you are too lazy to walk to the beach.
Part Three: Party depression in Hollywood Beach
So! Last night in the U.S.! At least, on the mainland (Hawaii not included). As Miami Beach was booked out, we decided to spend the last nights at its northern neighboor Hollywood Beach. How bad can it get? Well, if you plan to go out (maybe I have to add that it was a sunday eve)…in our case, it got really bad. After getting ready and being in this “let’s do this shit”-party mode, we took off and, after maybe not even 15 minutes, ended up walking up and down the still, empty and dark boulevard right at the beach, just to experience that almost e-ve-ry-thing was closed. The only people we saw were the waitresses, cleaning up tables from the dust of a busy day.
Excuse me?! This scenario might happen in my sometimes sleepy town back in Germany (and even there…if you really want, you always find something), but close to Miami Beach? I can still barely believe how that evening went, when I now think about it.
But yeah, as hard as we tried, that’s how it ended. How the U.S. trip ended. At least, we really enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the beach and had some really good food at Taco Shack, fortunately located directly next to our Hostel Hollywood Beach Hotel and Suites.
Conclusion: Looking more than forward to Hawaii 😉
Roadtripping the U.S. – at least once in a lifetime
The U.S. is in general just a wonderful country to travel to, and through. Some might say it is too expensive, which is not wrong, if you compare it to whatever cheaper destination.
The landscape with its never ending horizons, and phenomenons like the Grand Canyon, are out of anything I have ever seen before in my life. So “I can’t stop staring at it” kind of impressive.
People are different, but very friendly though. If you ever get lost, someone will figure it out, maybe even without you having to ask, and will finally help you, to find your way again (I can tell you, with my big lag of orientation I am still struggeling with..!).
The southern food. I refuse to make any more comments here and give you the chance to read more in this post.
The cultural variety of all the different states is just an immensly interesting thing to discover. It is so much fun to see the, sometimes just very little, but existing things that differentiate one state from another.
The “whatever floats your boat” range of travelling opportunities. Need sun, nice beaches, a bit Cuban feeling? Perfect, go to Florida! Want to get some really tasty food? Drive through Texas and New Mexico. Want it all? The wow-feeling and skylines without any end? Spend a week in New York.
If you get the chance, try to go on a road trip through the U.S.. It really doesn’t have to be as long as what I did, but wherever you go, it is just so worth to see this wide-open and never ending highways, carving their way through the most beautiful landscapes, canyons, deserts…
If you have questions or need any inspiration – I am happy to help out 🙂