90 Days Traveling the USA: Part One
This past summer, after returning from Australia, I traveled non-stop around the United States. My boyfriend came over to visit on a 90-day visa after leaving Australia and before returning home to France. 90 days traveling the USA. This is my digest:
Home-St.Louis, MO-Nashville, TN-Chattanooga, TN-Washington D.C.
I felt nervous driving the two hours to the airport. Was it going to be the same? My stomach was fluttering and the traffic was agitating me. I was anxious to pick up Paul after not seeing him for two and a half months. After my visa ended I had returned to the USA, and he had stayed in Australia. This made me nervous and excited and impatient.
I paced around the baggage claim as I awaited his arrival. Finally, I see a tan guy with a backpack and ear buds. His smile gleamed at me from across fluorescent room. I met him with a lingered kiss and his familiar blue eyes showed me he was thrilled to see me too. “I missed you”, he said. He told me about his trip, he went for a smoke and we grabbed his bag. He fell asleep during the two-hour drive home and talked to me in his sleep in French.
In St. Louis we were greeted with rain showers and we were running late. After a quick, free tour of the Budweiser Brewery (and a free beer!) we met with a couple of my friends from college for dinner and a Cardinals baseball game. Unfortunately, it was a slow game and the rain never ceased. Things had not changed since college when we went out afterwards. A little too much tequila, a lost coat and an upset stomach. A 25-year old does not recover like a 21-year old.
We had the southern hospitality experience when we arrived in Nashville. My friend’s parents let us stay with them while passing through for a couple of days. Kind, welcoming, helpful and lots of yummy food. We explored downtown Nashville dropping in at country music stores, honkey tonks and had a mechanical bull ride.
I saw what true love looks like in Chattanooga. My friend’s wedding was intimate, honest and loving. It was outside by the river and there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. Chattanooga was smaller than I had anticipated, but it had some cute cafes and shops. We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel- a historic downtown inn that was once a terminal station. Built in 1908, its history was well-maintained yet the rooms were modern. Walking into the lobby felt like walking back into time. They even had some rooms in the Pullman train cars. The outdoor garden was beautiful as well, and the staff incredibly friendly.
We drove to Atlanta to catch our flight to D.C.
It was strange to stay at a hostel in my own country. It was filled with mostly students or people in Washington on some sort of business rather than travelers like Paul and I. We stayed in a young, hip district we both really enjoyed called Belmont. The Highroad Hostel is set in a Victorian row house in the Northern part of D.C.
We saw the typical sites whilst in D.C. We walked to the White House, the Washington Monument, National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The tame squirrels in our big cities were a novelty to the French man. It was rainy and we couldn’t quite get the perfect photograph, but we were in high spirits exploring the city. The following day was a continuation of rain so we spent our time visiting the Smithsonian Museums. We also explored the roads of Belmont and visited Madam’s Organ. This was a bar right outside our hostel with an eclectic atmosphere and live music. Furthermore, the outdoor patio was a nice way to people watch while chatting with some locals over a few beers.
In addition, we visited Arlington Cemetery and watched the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This was my third time to Washington D.C. and I had yet to see the Jefferson Memorial. Consequently, we made a point to visit it and the walk along the Tidal Basin was lovely. This first part of our trip was already coming to a quick close.