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Ben Clapton

Tentative Holiday

September 10, 2007 at 6:08 AM

I may have mentioned before that my Youth Orchestra is planning a Tour to Singapore and Japan in December 2008. I've been thinking about the opportunity, and thought I might give a go at trying to save up and do some extra travelling while I'm up in the Northern Hemisphere.

I had a bit of a think about where I'd like to go (everywhere!) and decided that being realistic about my chances of getting enough money together, to limit it to 3 cities that I really do want to visit. So I decided on LA, NY and London.

I thought that Los Angeles and New York are probably the two largest cities in the US, and probably also have the most stuff going on musically. So I thought spending 3/4 nights in these cities would be a great experience.

My mum was born in England, so I've always felt a pull to go there, so London was a definite place I wanted to visit. If I do go ahead with this plan, I'd probably want to spend a week in England, visiting places such as Ireland, Liverpool, Manchester, Wales, Scotland... hmm... Might need to limit that as well... otherwise I'll be spending each night of the week in a different city... which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

And of course, I know nothing about what's doing on in New York or LA - but I'm sure there's plenty of people on these boards who do know. So - what are the must see/do things that I should plan to do in LA or NY, given 4 nights in each city?

From Alison Smith
Posted on September 10, 2007 at 10:20 AM
Hi Ben,

I was in New York earlier this year helping my sister celebrate her fortieth birthday. We walked the length and breadth of Central Park, and had great fun watching people playing bugles and rollerblading.(But we did stop off to visit the Metrolpolitan Museum of Art). The views of the Manhattan Skyline from Brooklyn Bridge are another good freebie. If you enjoy, or even just respect, black Amercian music, I can thoroughly recommend Hush Hip-Hops tours.

Although your mum is from England, here is some more advice about the UK that you can take or leave. The best museums in London are often free apart from the special exhibitions (i.e. V&A, Science Museum, Natural History, National Gallery, British Museum - you could go and see the Elgin Marbles before we have to give them back!) My favourite musuems are the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (home of the Meridian Line). As well as showcasing the nautical triumphs of the British Empire, there is an openly acknowledgement of our role in the slave trade and the whaling industry. Though it's not as big as New York Central Park, you can almost spend half a day in Regent's Park. Madame Tussaud's is a rip-off, and Stonehenge is frankly a dissapointment.

If you go to Scotland, try and see a castle, and have a trip on Loch Ness (which is seriously creepy). For breath-taking scenery you could follow the example of the royal family by visting Balmoral. This should hopefully ensure you avoid the plagues of midges (because the east side of the country is drier than the west).

Hope you have a good time, wherever you go.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 11, 2007 at 5:25 AM
Ben, I suggest that you consider Washington DC as a city to visit. There are lots of cultural opportunities (concerts, art galleries, theaters, museums) here, and you could hear a lot of good music. There are some very good classical music concerts which you can attend for free. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, you might choose a time when there are some special concerts you'd like to attend. Also, I'd be happy to have you as a house guest for a few days. You can get into DC from my home easily by public transportation. I know your budget is limited, so make the most of it.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 11, 2007 at 4:25 PM
Ben - Okay, the Southern CA people can throw tomatoes at me, but really, I wouldn't put L.A. on a list of top 3 cities to visit. For starters, it's mostly a maze of highways - it's not like San Francisco, where you can arrive, take a train/subway/bus into the city and hoof it for three days. It's... highways. Lots of wonderful music and arts venues, true, and great beaches, but... highways. And traffic. Lots of traffic.

So. I honestly think San Francisco is one of the most visitable, beautiful cities there is. I second the suggestion to visit Washington DC. And then I'd suggest Boston. And Santa Fe, New Mexico, actually, for its charm and uniqueness and artful nature. Chicago is lively and has a flavor of its own. NYC, yes, can't not go there.

Regardless, enjoy!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 11, 2007 at 4:31 PM
Oh, and regarding London. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. But I'd plan on spending LOTS of time in the city. And Manchester? Erm, I know there's a world class music conservatory there, but otherwise? I'd pass. (Except that the nearby Peak District is really intriguing.)

Scotland - don't miss Edinburgh (sp?) Just fabulous and well worth the trip north to get there. Wales and Ireland - very very pretty, but with one week's time, you're right, you'd need to make some choices.

Oxford is a lovely place to visit in the UK, as well. And a city called Chester. And the Lake District. Oh, and there's York. Great, ancient northern city.

Oooh, I love to travel. Enjoy!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 11, 2007 at 4:37 PM
>My favourite musuems are the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

Alison - I LOVE these, as well. And I recommend taking a ferry/boat to Greenwich, as opposed to taking the train. From the ferry, it feels as if you've landed in a world far from 21st century London. I was horrified to hear about the Cutty Sark catching fire, though. Was it fully salvaged?

From Alison Smith
Posted on September 11, 2007 at 5:47 PM
No unfortunately it wasn't Terez. They were in the middle of a restoration program already so that has set them back quite a few years. There is more about it here
http://www.aboutbritain.com/CuttySark.htm

Other good places to visit (almost within reach of London) are the Roman Baths at Bath (which don't compare with anything you'll see in Italy, but since you don't have time to go there....) and the Thames at Windsor. York is a nice city, but the Nordvijk centre is overrated (This sounds really sad, but the Rail Museum in York is much better, and it's free (Scot talking here)). Personally I go for the slightly less popular attractions because there are less queues.

From Alison Smith
Posted on September 11, 2007 at 5:57 PM
Oops, I meant Jorvik Viking Centre in York. Nordvijk is a place in the Netherlands
From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 12, 2007 at 5:00 PM
Alison - thanks for the Cutty Sark article link. Oh, I hate hearing about treasures getting so damaged - I so enjoyed my visits to that ship when I lived in London from '94-'96.

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