English United States

The last part of the East Coast

The real winter seems to be finally over, I can almost state that spring has sprung. After paying a visit in Philadelphia and Washington D.C., I’m going to leave the East Coast and head towards the South-West. I have the first climb challenge ahead of me: The Blueridge Parkway. It will probably be peanuts compared to what awaits me in South-America, but a mountain is a mountain.

The airbnb location in Philadelphia was fine, I could easily walk to the city center. I had no idea what Philadelphia had to offer, I actually only knew it by name. I was really surprised whne I found it about the important role the city played in the US history and that it even was the capital for a decade. In the afternoon, I went to an exhibition called ‘money in motion’. It was about the history of the money in the USA and about The Banking System, pretty interesting! The tours through the Independence hall were already sold out for the day, so I had to come back for that tomorrow. I did visit the famous liberty bell, of which they don’t even know whether it actually rang when the independence was declared….

The Liberty bell

The next day was my only full day to spend in Philly, and I’ve spent it well. In half an hour, I was in the city again and immediately got myself a ticket for a tour through the Independence hall, although I had to wait for over an hour. In the meantime, I’ve seen the first bank of America, as well as the famous Carpenter hall. The tour through Independence hall was really impressive, it’s a strange idea that a group of bright people decided here to unite as colonists among each other (although in separate states/counties), apart from the United Kingdom. After this tour, I went to the Benjamin Franklin museum, the huge city hall and (inevitably) went to the Rocky Steps.

Independence Hall

I saw that Philly’s NBA team, the 76ers, played against the New-York Knicks tonight. Last minute, I decided to buy a ticket and I eventually printed it in a huge public library. I’m personally not a big fan of basketball, but I really enjoyed the experience of going to an NBA game. To me, it felt really American. The anthem beforehand, every second was used for commercial purposes and a lot of entertainment. Every inch around the stadium was filled with placed where you could buy food, but there were still lots of people that were carrying cola, candyflosses or popcorn to bring it directly to your seat. I could not believe my eyes!

The Wells Fargo Center, the stadium of the 76ers

The next morning, I started with the first of three cycling days which brought me to Washington D.C. I noticed that the suburbs of Philadelphia were in stark contrast with the historic city center, it did not look very pretty. After the end of the first day, I found a very nice place along the side of a road. The road was very quiet, with horses and carriages as the only exception. I later heard that those people were Amish, I didn’t even know about them. Relatively many Amish live here (in Pennsylvania) and they live like they used to live centuries ago. No smartphones, no computer, no tv, no cars, nothing of these technological advances.

Views on the quiet road

The next day, I deliberately chose to skip Baltimore, because a lot of people have told be that it is not a very nice city. My route towards Washington kind of went through a part of the city, and I quickly realized that I made the right decision. I stopped for only 2 minutes to buy an energy drink, when a guy approached me and asked me if I wanted to buy cocaine. I thanked him for his kind offer and quickly moved on. My perfectly mapped out route went via route 29, which would bring me right in the heart of D.C. I proudly made a picture of the sign right before the entrance of the route when I noticed that bikes were prohibited…. Shit! That meant a big detour. The original 50 miles turned into 70 miles, but I made it before it was dark. I met Robert, Claire and baby Elise. I was about to sleep here for two nights and another night at an Airbnb adres.

Claire, Elise and Robert

During Easter, I walked towards the city center. The National Mall was busier than I expected. I had a good timing to visit the city, because it was in the middle of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a festival celebrate the friendship between the US and Japan. It’s also a good indicator that it’s becoming Spring! Similar to New-York, I was really surprised about the size of everything. I decided to buy a ticket to be able to use a city bike for three days, because I hadn’t cycled enough already. In the evening, I cycled to all the memorial monuments, because they’re open 24 hours per day. Very impressive monuments.

Everybody wants to take their picture with the blossom trees.

The George Washington monument with the Capitol in the background

The next day, I transported my stuff to the next address, a fine Airbnb adres which was like a hostel with bunker beds. If I would’ve gone to the city early in the morning, I would’ve had a good chance to spot Donald Trump during the annual white house easter egg roll, but I wasn’t that keen on seeing him. I skipped. Instead, I went to multiple museums, the Capitol, a gallery and a botanical garden. With my aviation background, I obviously went to the National Air and Space museum. The original aircraft that was used by the Wright brothers for the first flight is located right here. Only a century ago. Look where aviation is right now! That’s unimaginable, right? In the evening, I went to a Michigan bar to watch the March Madness finals in which Michigan took part. Unfortunately, Michigan didn’t have a chance to win, the bar was awfully quiet during the second half of the game.

The first aircraft (that flew)

And this is where my cycling plan ends. I knew that I was going to visit Boston, New-York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., but that’s where my plan ends. Southern Argentina is still the dot on the horizon, but the road towards this horizon is pretty open from now on. In the morning, I decided about my plan for the coming week. I decided to cycle towards the begin of the Blueridge Parkway. It’s a beautiful and challenging cycling route. If I ever want to make it over the Andes mountains, I must get some climbing experience. It took me three extremely beautiful days to get to the beginning of the Blueridge Parkway.

With -6 degrees Celsius and some snow, one last shot of winter awaits me, but I am sure that I can survive that. Maybe I will wait an extra day before starting the route, because cycling on steep and snowy roads doesn’t seem like a clever idea to me.