Home of Harley Davidson, this elegant city sitting on the edge of Lake Michigan has plenty to offer – a fabulous new art complex, more festivals than most towns and a massive and very varied supply of locally brewed beer.
It is great to escape the inner city madness and head for the many beaches where surf and sand offer fun and relaxation. Take you pick from the beautiful and secluded El Matador to the best surf in Surfrider Beach to the huge sun glasses and tiny dogs of Manhatten Beach.
One of the oldest cities in the US, Boston played a key role in the American revolution and is an international centre for higher education. Boston is easy and beautiful to walk around – full of wonderful historical buildings.
The history and canals of Amsterdam make it a unique city full of fabulous architecture, much of it dating back to its 17th century Golden Age. With cyclists given priority it is a fabulous city to bike round and it’s many museums, including the wonderful Rijksmuseum, are world renowned. Get away from the central tourist area and find a very different city.
The south of England is full of wonderful rolling countryside, interesting historical landmarks and quaint villages with pubs serving local beers and, surprisingly, good food. Drive along narrow, winding roads and soak up the atmosphere or hit the towns for great museums, night life and fun things to do.
When To Go
July and August is summer for northern USA and Europe. Expect little rain and lots of sun in the USA and more rain and less sun in Europe. Northern Europe’s weather is more unpredictable than America where you can pretty much guarantee good summers. Mid West USA has harsh winters but Los Angeles is fairly temperate in its rainy winter season.
What To Wear
All over America and Europe dress is fairly casual although some of the more strictly formal hotels will require a tie. Remember a waterproof in Europe.
Airlines cover most big cities in USA and Europe.
To cross the English Channel you can also fly or take a train, hovercraft or ferry. The Eurostar is the quickest and easiest but you need to book in advance if you are on a tight budget.
While trains in the USA, run by Amtrak, are fast, clean, comfortable and reliable they do not have an extensive system. An Amtrak rail pass is a great way to save money and if you are travelling overnight there are tiny roomettes or bedrooms, both for two people, which you can book in advance. Greyhound buses still connect major cities very cheaply.
Across the Great Lakes are numerous ferries which are much quicker than going around the perimeter by road.
Car rental in both America and Europe is very straight forward but be aware the vast distances in the US will eat up your fuel.
In Europe the trains cover extensive routes with a number of different passes making this is a versatile way to travel. There are also numerous coach companies which, although slower, are a lot cheaper.
All forms of transport are likely to be less expensive if booked in advance and some have reductions for students as well.
USA – Dollar – US$
Holland – Euro – €
England – UK pound £
USA – 323 million
Holland – 17 million
England – 53 million
Festivals & Events
- International Route 66 Mother Festival. A 3-day event celebrating the original dirt road
- Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit With over 40,000 cars on display this event is vast
- Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a landmark, top ranking car collectors event
- The Goodwood Revival Festival is England’s biggest and best with many people dressing up in genuine vintage outfits.
- In Amsterdam the Bier West Festival is a craft beer festival with music and… beer!
Must See & Do
- Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee
- Walk Boston’s 2.5 mile Freedom Trail to see it’s entire history in 16 sites
- Hire a muscle car and take off along Route 66
- Visit Brooklands Museum in Weybridge
- Take a cruise on an open boat ride through Amsterdam
What To Pack
- Sun cream
- GPS or good map reading skills if you are driving
- International student card
- A waterproof jacket – summer in northern Europe is notoriously unpredictable
- If you hire a motor bike, check you can also hire a helmet, and be sure to have your own suitable clothes as well
Food & Drink
American food is BIG. The portions are often enough for two so check out the sizes before you order. Hamburgers are ubiquitous as are chips. Salads and fresh vegetables are harder to find and out in the smaller towns vegetarians will suffer if they don’t like chips.
England’s reputation for food is not great but it is improving with many pubs turning ‘gastro’ with much improved menus. If you are willing to look beyond the huge international chains on every corner you can find very good cafes and restaurants, particularly in the bigger towns where everyone especially vegetarians and coffee puritans have a much greater choice.
English food is finally breaking it’s reputation with international influences and a greater awareness of healthy eating making eating out a much better option. Traditional Fish and Chips are still a great option and cheap burger and pizza chains are available even in small towns as good pub food can be pricey.
Amsterdam has a huge number of very good cafes and restaurants and their coffee shops are world renowned. Be aware that sometimes ‘Coffee Shop’ is a term used to refer to a place to buy and smoke weed.
Antique, Vintage, Art & Design Fair in Amsterdam is held every 3 months and well worth a visit to find some 70s memorabilia. There are also a huge number of interesting shops in Amsterdam which doesn’t appear to be as dominated by the vast chains as some cities. If you can carry it beer is a great souvenir as is cheese.
Much of America is now served by huge out of town malls with city centres bereft of many shops. Markets and fairs are always a good way to find memorabilia especially if you like vintage.
England has a growing number of small shops selling local crafts which make good souvenirs. There are also increasingly good farm shops in many rural areas where local produce is often excellent. Traditional jams etc make great, if rather heavy, presents.