Friday, January 15

Top 5 places to go in 2009

If there’s one thing I did in 2009 it was go places, probably because my fiancée, Alex, can’t sit on her arse for more than 5 minutes. Last year, I must've been on at least 100 open top buses and 20 merry-go-rounds. The places we went were often small, cold and wet, but boy did we go there anyway. Here are my top travel bits and pieces:

1. Philadelphia
Philly is fun. I’ve been a bunch of times now and I’ve not spent one second it the city that wasn’t completely and utterly brilliant. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see that makes everything back home seem really, really, really soul-crushingly boring. It’s tricky to sum the place up properly, but a few of my favourite things to do in Philadelphia are:
Reading Terminal Market:
A huge and hectic indoor market crammed full with stalls selling wonderful food, from Chinese soups to Amish ice cream. You could eat here every day of the year and never get bored. I got hooked on raspberry lemonade.

North Bowl:
This place has everything you’d ever want from a 10-pin bowling alley. Black and white photobooths, waitresses bringing you beer and chips, high-heeled bowling shoes and a mezzanine with pool tables and vintage arcade games. Fun as hell.

Mutter Museum:
Not really for everyone, the Mutter Museum holds a collection of medical oddities (siamese twins, giant tumours, miscellaneous body parts in jars) that’s fascinating but, at the same time, a bit horribe. Despite it’s ‘freak show’ line-up, it’s all presented fairly straight. It’s kinda like the museum of childhood.

Love Park:
As a bit of a skate-nerd, I knew Love Park pretty well before I even set foot in the city. It was regarded as being one of the most important street spots in the world, until they went and banned skateboarding. On holiday, this meant a whole lot of measuring ledges against my knee.

Get engaged:
If you’re in Philadelphia with someone you love, pop them a question! Have a think about it first because they might say no. I guess that would put a real downer on things. I got lucky though.

We also had a few excursions further afield. We spent a few days in a little place called New York, which was pretty cool (it is very tall). We rode the rollercoasters at Hershey Park and drove to Ocean City in New Jersey for some seaside Americana. Our whole trip would have been completely impossible without our friend Concetta, so big love to her. Going on such an elaborate no-holds-barred adventure did however mean that the rest of our many trips had to err on the side of tiny.

2. Arran
Alex has family on Arran so we were back and forth like crazy. Every time I visit, it’s like stepping into an idyllic childhood world; we hunted eggs in Alex’s grandparent’s magical garden, met the smartest dog in the world, picked shells on the beach, crossed rivers on stepping stones, saw dolphins in the sea and lived in a house with a big painting of Mother Goose on the side.

3. Bristol
I hardly knew a thing about Bristol before we went, I can’t even remember why we decided to go. I kept thinking we were off to Brighton. What a silly man, Bristol is fantastic. It’s a really nice city. There’s lots going on so we spent most of our time just wandering around, discovering things. We managed to catch the big Banksy show and also a little Stanley Donwood show. I visited Here, where I’d had some work up in July 08 and I got to muck about at Lloyds, which Alex loved.

4. Anstruther
Thanks to my longtime love of the Fence Collective, Anstruther and its neighboring East Neuk villages have been a regular destination for years now. In April, a bunch of us headed up to catch Homegame 6. The music was fantastic as always, Alasdair Roberts, Found and the aforementioned Jonnie Common were highlights alongside the collective founders, King Creosote and The Pictish Trail. However, with the Homegame, the gigs are only a part of the trip, wandering around, fish suppers, icecream, pubs and playing Monopoly are just as important.

5. Oban
We got bored of being a young couple so we tried our hand at being an old one and headed off to Oban. Apart from a brief visit to Balamory, where I managed to drop my cone, we barely did a thing. Well, that’s not quite fair, it was a really nice few days. Mull is beautiful, Oban has some amazing little shops to explore and they’ve still got a Pancake Place for God’s sake! It’s also busier than New York.

1 comment:

  1. I hope 2010 leaves you with lots to write about too. x