NEW YORK AND PENNSYLVANIA
Wow – what a fantastic 6 night trip to the USA with Cosmos Tours and Cruises!
The tour began in New York for 2 nights staying at the Skyline hotel; Lancaster (Amish Country) at the Heritage Hotel for 1 night; Gettysburg (Battle site from the American Civil War), Wyndham Hotel for 1 night and finally Philadelphia, Wyndham Hotel, Historic District for 1 night.
It was a very varied itinerary with a good balance of included excursions & free time. Whilst in New York we had a guided bus tour with a local guide – A true New York character named Eddie. We visited Grand Central Station and Ground Zero with plenty of photo opportunities along the way. From the bus tour we picked up a harbour cruise and saw all the sights of Manhattan from the water including the Statue of Liberty.
I loved New York City and felt very safe walking around both during the day and evening. It had a very similar feel to London – Times Square is very much like Leicester Square! (Alternatives to walking around the city are the subway or yellow taxi cabs.) Our hotel – The Skyline was situated in the Hell’s Kitchen part of Midtown which is the perfect location for sightseeing, shopping and evenings out. Prices to eat out vary depending on the type of eatery you choose – You can get a large slice of pizza and a drink for $5 however if you eat somewhere more upmarket it’s similarly priced to the UK. The price of entrance to the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre are each $34.95 – both attractions are open day into evening – the skyline at night is even more spectacular than during the day. Grand Central Station is free entry as is the Memorial fountain at Ground Zero (entrance fee to the National September 11th memorial Museum is $25) and Central Park. It’s also possible to see the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry which is a free service which runs every 20 minutes or so.
From New York we travelled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania which has a large Amish community of over 32,000. Travelling time by road was approximately 2.5 hours. En-route we visited Kitchen Kettle craft village in the town of Intercourse…which as you can imagine provided a great source of entertainment within our group! The craft village is very quaint with Amish people working alongside ‘English’ (non-Amish) people selling their handmade produce. At Kitchen Kettle there is opportunity to take a 35 minute Amish buggy ride for $15. This was a great place to buy souvenirs with lots of free samples of food – fudge, jam, cheese etc.
Our evening meal in Lancaster was spent with an Amish family at their farmhouse home. www.lancasterminihorses.com The family provided a traditional dinner and told us a little about their way of life. Our meal consisted of tender beef, fried chicken, ham balls, creamed mashed potato, sweet corn, green beans and pickles. Dessert was homemade Apple pie and Shoo fly pie (similar to treacle tart) served with homemade ice cream, both desserts were delicious!
After the meal the children ages 12, 10 & 8 provided entertainment by singing a couple of songs they had learnt in bible class.
The Amish do not use motor vehicles, wired electricity and prefer to keep contact with the outside world to a minimum. Their modes of transport are horse & buggy, bicycles & scooters. They dress very plainly with women covering their heads with bonnets and married men growing beards (with no moustache) – unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photographs as the Amish do not believe in making a graven image of their faces. They do not even take photographs of their own children but instead keep a decorative family tree on the wall.
The following day we visited an Amish farmhouse museum where we learnt more about the Amish community and were able to ask all the questions we felt uncomfortable asking the previous evening!
Our next destination was Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (approx 1 hour 30 minute drive from Lancaster). Here we visited The Gettysburg Museum and Visitor centre which included a short film and cyclorama story (360 degree 3D oil painting) giving details of the US Civil war. The 1863 battle of Gettysburg lasted for 3 days. We had plenty of time to look around the various exhibits in the museum before we were joined by a local guide, John who conducted a full battlefield tour (by coach) lasting approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. His knowledge of the American Civil War and Gettysburg battlefields was incredible.
Our evening meal in Gettysburg was spent at the Dobbin House Tavern which is the towns oldest, most Historic House built in 1776. The building is now used as a museum style restaurant, bar & gift shop which also offers bed & breakfast and caters for private parties. The town of Gettysburg has plenty of historic sites & buildings to see with Ghost tours operating during the evenings.
Our hotel for the evening was the Wyndham Gettysburg which was well located for the town & National Military Park. It had restaurant, bar, pool and fitness centre with a cinema across the road so would be an excellent base for 2 or 3 nights if you wanted to spend more time in the area.
From Gettysburg we travelled to Philadelphia for our final night (2 hours 30 minutes drive). On arrival we visited the ‘Rocky’ steps (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and statue donated by Sylvester Stallone.
I thought the service provided by the Cosmos UK Hosts – Anna & Vicky; tour director, Barbara; local guides and coach drivers was excellent. Their local knowledge was incredible and nothing was too much trouble. The hotels were all comfortable, well located and with good facilities. Our baggage was handled & looked after with care by the tour director, hotel concierge & drivers throughout. Aside from all the amazing places we visited another highlight was sharing the experience with such a fantastic group of people. I certainly feel we made the most of each destination and provided much entertainment along the way. Having experienced this type of holiday I would definitely take a touring holiday again and indeed recommend a touring holiday with Cosmos Tours & Cruises to customers in the future – it’s a fantastic way to visit and make the most of a great variety of destinations in a short space of time as well as potentially making lifelong friendships along the way.
For further information please feel free to email Sarahcook@triangletravel.co.uk and she will be happy to help you.