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20-something and exploring the USA

In 2011, a friend and I decided we would travel to America together with the idea of partying, eating and pretty much having the time of our lives. Enter: Bon Voyage Cruises & Travel. I received an email from Michele with a flight special that was too good to refuse. Ideal flight path + ideal price = paid and confirmed trip for two AKL-LAX-JFK-SFO-AKL a week after receiving that initial email.

We worked out the perfect itinerary for two 20-somethings who love music, food, art and the big city. Essentially our trip was split into 4 parts.

COACHELLA Music Festival Apr 20 - 22 (Indio, Palm Springs California)
As we're not big on camping (and glad we didn't when it was over 40 degrees during the day!), we organised a hotel/shuttle/General Admission ticket package via valleymusictravel.com. Very straightforward and I'd recommend doing Coachella again this way.
If music and outdoor festivals are your thing, Coachella is a MUST. Add it to your bucket-list immediately. Headline acts I witnessed this year: The Black Keys, Radiohead, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg (plus special guests 50 Cent, Eminem and Tupac in hologram form!).

LOS ANGELES Apr 23 - Apr 26

We stayed at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, in Hollywood. Very handy to Universal Studios (free shuttle running to and from the hotel), and Hollywood tourist attractions. It's not close to Disneyland/Anaheim at all but skipping that was not an option! As we couldn't rent a car in the States we organised a shared shuttle with StarlineTours.com that picked up and dropped us off. Convenient and easy - the only downside being we had to get picked up from Disneyland no later than 7pm meaning we missed night shows. But then, we were pretty exhausted after partying in the desert for 3 days at Coachella. It all turned out well!

NEW YORK Apr 26 - May 2
Accommodation: The Pod Hotel
We stayed in a bunk room which was tiny and the bathrooms were shared - however the facilities are fairly new and kept clean. So even though that part was like a hostel, it didn't feel like you were staying in one. If I were to stay in the Midtown area again though, I wouldn't go for a bunk but one of the bigger room options that have en-suite bathrooms. In terms of location, this place was ideal - handy to the subway lines. Madison and Park Avenues are within walking distance.
Getting around: we bought a Metrocard that was unlimited subway rides for a week... if my memory serves me correctly that was around US$27. Also, when it was later at night we'd easily stick an arm out and hail a cab.
Jimmy Fallon Monologue Rehearsal at Rockefeller Center
Definitely recommended if you're a fan of these kinds of TV shows. If booked 4-6 weeks in advance you can be in the audience for an actual screening, however I just turned up to the NBC merchandise store at the bottom of Rockefeller Center and was issued a free ticket to Jimmy's monologue rehearsal. It was hilarious and a great experience.
Topshop, H&M, Zara, Macy's, Forever 21... are all easily found around Midtown as well as Soho but for really cool/vintage stuff head out to Williamsburg and check out their great boutiques.
A MUST! We bought ours from MoMA as that was our first museum port of call. The pass includes entry to MoMA, The Met, Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building and more. Also, really good because you get to skip massive entry lines to these places. Also, all of those places are amazing and mindblowing.
The High Line
What used to be an old elevated train line has been converted into a great walkway in the uber cool lower west side of Manhattan. We caught the subway to the station nearest the bottom of the High Line, and walked all the way up as it was a nice sunny day.
Broadway Show
There are so many shows to choose from, for us it was a toss up between The Lion King and Wicked. We went with Wicked in the end, (just went to Gershwin theatre and got a tickets for US$86 each a few hours before the show). Fantastic experience. Before the show we went for dinner at Stardust Diner, very close to the theatre where the waiters and waitresses perform songs for you. Entertainment and a good meal!


Accommodation: The Opal hotel on Van Ness Ave. Helpful staff, situated next to iconic Mel's Diner.
Getting around: taxi, foot, streetcars
#1 Deluxe San Fransisco Tour
A 3 and a half hour tour around the city, took us around all the major tourist attractions (Golden Gate Bridge, Postcard Row - Full House, Alamo Park etc) which was great for first timers to the city like us. Gave us a good idea of areas we would like to visit and the tour guide was great too. Check out http://www.baycityguide.com/
Union Square
Excellent shopping including a four level Urban Outfitters store. For ice cream fans you need Cold Stone Creamery plus you MUST try the world famous hot fudge Ghirardelli Chocolate sundaes. Go to Ghirardelli Chocolate on the lower level of the Westfield Mall. (Westfield Mall is awesome by the way for shoppers like us)
Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39
Didn't have much time to explore here but the seafood on offer around this area looked pretty amazing. But because this was our last chance in California, we went to In-N-Out Burger (locals recommended this burger joint).
Metreon Mall
Because I ended up catching a cold at the end of the trip, and couldn't quite push myself another day - I went to see the new Avengers movie in 3D. Thought it was great.