Walking into the reception of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Newark made us slightly speechless. It was nicer and bigger than anything we’ve expected. What a nice way to begin the adventure.
Trek America – Philadelphia & Meeting the Group
There was two groups departing the same day for the Southern Sun trek, most of us managed to find each other online and created a facebook group which was going crazy with all the excited messages about what’s to come. We decided to check out our rooms and meet at the bar when everyone checks in.
Then we found out about the swimming pool.
Not really sure how and when, but that’s where we ended up – the swimming pool is where we all met, in our bikinis. I thought about so many ways of how it would happen – in the hotel bar or restaurant, in the trek van or even randomly in Manhattan somewhere, but a swimming pool never crossed my mind.
There was however one little thing that did cross my mind: I can’t swim.. and everyone will think I’m a complete disaster.
But my worries quickly faded away as the excitement grew and it turned out that this way of meeting your trek buddies is a pretty freaking good idea. Even after making more of a looser out of myself when it became very obvious I can’t catch or throw a ball properly.. it was all good and strangely enough all the consciousness went away as we all just laughed it out.
I promise, I’m not that uncool..
Realising what time it was, we run back to our rooms to sort ourselves out and met back for dinner at the hotel bar. Most of us then went bed to get some rest for the early start. I of course still needed to re-pack all my stuff as the suitcase was already struggling to keep it all in.
This is the sunset I woke up to.. no edit at all <3
Meeting the Trek Guide
Already getting an idea of how ridiculously big my suitcase is, we made our way downstairs to find out who our tour leader will be plus how our (still one) group will be split into two.
We quickly walked over to meet our tour leader as soon as we found out her name – Erin. I was slightly scared as I knew she will most probably play the biggest role during the next 21 days, she can either make it awesome or.. not so awesome.
She was awesome.
Turned out that Trek America know what they’re doing and split the groups cleverly. Our group consisted of small groups – people who booked together. The other group was the individuals. That way, the peeps that booked separately wouldn’t feel left out when placed with people who already know each other.
There was four small groups that booked together on our trek:
Jess, Adam (Watson), Shane, Adam (Rooney) and Matthew (Matty J) – From Birmingham
Lucy and Chris – A couple from Wales
Bindu and Blessy – The two sisters from London
Myself and Rachel
plus of course
Erin – The tour leader
Hearing the introduction from Erin already gave us an idea of how American, hilarious and crazy she is – all that we wanted and more. We already started to get the idea of how pretty amazing the next three weeks might possibly be.
After introducing ourselves, we explained what place each one of us is looking forward to the most – mine was Santa Fe in New Mexico, which surprised everyone as not many knew much about it, however Erin reassured me and said how incredible it is.
We then got introduced to the van aka our home for the next three weeks, packed the trailer and headed for:
First stop was this Philly cheese steak heaven and straight away we knew that Erin will not disappoint, the girl knows you gotta get the priorities right.
I have no idea how she managed to park the not so tiny van and trailer – everyone wants a piece of the Philly cheese steak which means the roads are packed.
These things were delicious, the menu was small and straight forward which was a relief as just the different types of cheeses baffled us slightly. To be honest with you.. I’ve never heard of the Philly Cheese Steaks before. I know, I’m sorry. So when I tasted it, I was blown away.
After we stuffed our bellies, we jumped back into the van and headed to the next stop..
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The Independence Hall
It felt like Erin teleported us to the past, or a historical American movie.
The whole place is beautiful, we did some exploring and saw the Liberty Bell – from behind the glass as the queue was absolutely mental and to be fair, we got to see it very well and our pictures look just as good. Winnings.
After increasing our history knowledge, we went for a walk around the area thinking how great the first stop of our trek is.
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The Rocky Steps
Oh this was good. As you may know, the steps are a part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art – the building looks huge. And pretty.
The steps appeared in five of the Rocky movies and imitating Silvester Stallone running up them was an absolute must. For all of us. The view from the top is quite breathtaking and the tiredness instantly goes away (I am not the fittest person, but I’m working on it..).
We then found the Rocky statue which is located on the side of the steps and this is where our first group photo took place.
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We paid a short visit to Philadelphia as we didn’t stay there overnight, but it was a great way to start off the trek as it split the journey to our next location in half and we still managed to cover all of the best bits.
By then the group and Erin already started to get to know each other, we talked and laughed and watched all of the surroundings carefully, full of excitement.
We then made our way to Washington DC.
For some reason I didn’t have great expectations for the capital so when we got there I was once again speechless.
Tune in next week to read all about our adventures in Washington DC
AND THE FIRST NIGHT OF CAMPING!
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