A crazy road trip to Yellowstone.

Road trips are always a great idea, this last one was probably my best one so far: Yellowstone National Park. I didn’t think I was going to do it for real until it happened. I live in Madison, WI, and to Wyoming, where the park is, it’s a 16 hours drive minimum, without stopping once. A little crazy, I know, but I have to say proudly that we made it.

We left June 30th, a Friday night around 6 pm to our first stop: Minneapolis, MN. We drove 4 hours and 12 minutes. Just those hours made me realize I had found the right people to travel with. We started singing, laughing, making fun of each other in a good way and take pictures of an amazing sunset.

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The next day, July 1st, we started our 12 hours drive till Billings, Montana, the closest and most of all cheapest place before entering Yellowstone Park. The drive was long, at one point it felt like endless. Being four made the drive shifts pretty easy. We didn’t plan any kind of stop on the way but when we saw from the highway the Painted Canyon of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park we could not pull over into the overlook.

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Around 8 pm we arrived in Billings, Montana, at a Motel 6. We relaxed our tired bones in the pool and then we fell asleep after a nice shower.

On July 2nd, we left Billings to the North Eastern Entrance of the Yellowstone Park. When we saw the Rocky Mountains we all got super excited because we all come from mountains places while Wisconsin, on the other hand, has nothing but flat lands.

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On the way to the entrance, we stopped a couple of times. First, at an overlook point where we admired the mountains all around us. The second stop was at a beautiful waterfall. The landscape was amazing, I felt like in a western movie.

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Finally, around noon, we arrived at the entrance. Obviously, we had to take a picture with the sign just to prove ourselves that we really made it!

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The entrance fee is 30$ per car for 7 days. After we paid we drove thru the park and we started to see the first Bisons and deer. Our first stop was at the Mammoth Hot Springs.

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After walking around the springs, we stopped to hit the restrooms and look around in the souvenir shop. Our second stop, for the day, was the Canyon of the Yellowstone with the Lower Waterfall.

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Since it was already 5 pm, we decided to drive to Cameron, Montana, where we booked our room for the night. From the West Entrance of the park, it was only one hour drive and we passed thru Idaho too. Every mile closer to Cameron we started to become a little worried. There was nothing around. No towns, no houses, just beautiful hills and some ranches with horses and cows. We discovered that the Blue Moon Saloon, where our cabin was, was basically the main attraction of Cameron. The people there were really nice, we had dinner at the saloon and then, after watching the sunset we decided to head to bed.

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Island Park, Idaho

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On July 3rd, the third and second to last day, we drove back to Yellowstone. We stopped a couple of times on the way to the Grand Prismatic just to take pictures and enjoy the nature.

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At the Grand Prismatic, there was a lot of people but the place was extraterrestrial. The bacterias inside the water create those amazing colors and when the sun started to reflect on the water everything was so bright and beautiful that we stopped taking pictures and we just admired.

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Our second stop for the day was the Old Faithful. Let’s say it, I’m not patient, at all. Waiting for a geyser to erupt was the longest and most stressful thing that I’ve ever done. We were under the 1 pm sun, it was hot and people kept lying to us about the time. As soon as we arrived an old man told us that the geyser was going to erupt in 15 minutes. We sat in a good position on one of the benches along the border. About 10 minutes later another man behind us said it was going to erupt at 1:20 pm. Our patience slowly went out of control when it was 1: 30 pm and the Old Faithful was becoming the Old Unfaithful to us. Around 1:35 pm it started to bubble a little bit but never as much as it should. Just ten minutes later, finally, the geyser erupted and we enjoyed the three minutes show.

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After the Old Faithful erupted we decided to continue our road trip to the Yellowstone Lake. Going away from the Old Faithful parking lot was a nightmare because everybody left at the same time. Plus, the Old Faithful Lodge got evacuated in that moment because of a “fire”. It took us 20 minutes to free ourselves from the traffic and hit the road till the lake.

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We stopped at a gift store and then we hit the road thru the mountains. After the mountains there were just endless roads so we decided to stop, trying not to be hit by cars, to take those pictures that you always see but you never had the chance to take. It was one of the funniest things that I’ve ever done and it was totally worth it.

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After all the excitement for the amazing pictures, we decided to stop in Greybull, WY, to do gas. Why do I remember so well a place in which we should have stopped just to do gas? Well, the thing is from that moment things got a little bit complicated. The car started to do weird noises as soon as we slowed down. Having a person that knows about cars in a road trip is always helpful and Franzi, our technician, understood that something was going on with the brakes. It was the evening of the 3rd of July, we all knew that we weren’t in a good situation. Nobody is open in a little town in the middle of nowhere right on the 4th of July. Luckily, we found help in Brenda, a receptionist in a hotel in Greybull, that with Jonh, her boyfriend, told us that going to Gillette with those breaks wasn’t a good idea. We would have hit the mountains again and braking, even if it is just the rear brakes, can be dangerous. We decided to take their advice: drive back to Billings, Montana, on the highway and try to find somebody open that night or the day after. Slowly and carefully we drove two hours till Billings. On the drive we called as many car repair shops possible, we were hopeless at one point till we found a place that was going to open the day after at 9 am and it had all the pieces we needed. We were so relieved that we start joking again.

The day after we brought the car to the car repair. The couple was lovely and helped us as much as they could. The car wasn’t in good conditions but, they told us, it would have made its way back to Wisconsin. At 12 pm we left Billings, ready to hit the road for the last time till Madison, WI. We needed to do one last stop. On the way to Madison, passing thru South Dakota, we decided to visit Mount Rushmore. Truth to be told: it was a little bit of a delusion. In movies, it looks so huge and majestic. In real life, well, it’s ok.

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We left Mount Rushmore around 7 pm. We arrived in Madison, WI, at 8 a.m. the next day. In the meanwhile? A lot of driving, a couple of stops to do gas and stretch ourselves, a beautiful sunset, an amazing sunrise, deep conversations in the middle of the night just to keep us awake. We arrived home tired, we barely kept ourselves awake the last hour. It was a tough drive but we arrived home in time to work right away. Yeah, we needed to be home by the 5th morning because we all had to work, that’s why the crazy drive-thru Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin to arrive home in time.

This road trip has been amazing. I’m so thankful to Giusy, Franzi, and Andrea that decided to hit the road with me on this crazy road trip. I’m thankful for all the miles we drove, all the songs we sang, all the jokes we made, all the smile we shared and all the amazing sceneries that we saw. I’m so happy I’ve seen such a good part of the United States on the Independence Day weekend. We never had a fight, even when things went wrong we supported each other and we kept smiling because we were so lucky to see all that beauty that the rear brakes broke weren’t the worst thing that could have happened to us. We bonded and we created amazing memories that I’m never going to forget. This road trip taught us a lot about ourselves, America and how cars work. Just in 4 days, we drove thru Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and South Dakota. I added to my list 5 States and I can’t wait to add even more on my next road trip on the West Coast in August. For now, thank you again to my fellow companions for the amazing and unforgettable experience and thank you America, once again, to be my second home.

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NAMASTE.

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Why I love the summer in Madison

No matter who you are going to talk with, if you come to Madison, Wisconsin, during the winter people are going to tell you to stay strong because “the summer here is worth every single snowflake.” I grew up in Italy, I know what summer means, how amazing it can be, so I was a little bit skeptical at the beginning. I must say that they were right: Madison in the summer is amazing. Everything brightens up, people are always outside doing every kind of activity and the city is full of events. You can’t get bored here if you like being outdoors and enjoy the warmth of the sun. After a winter like the ones in Wisconsin, believe me, you are going to love every single ray of sun.

THE TERRACE AT MEMORIAL UNION

If you come to Madison in the summer this is the place to go. No matter what, hands down, this is home for thousands of people during the days and nights from May to September. Colorful chairs and tables are set in front of Lake Mendota that always gifts with amazing sunsets. I traveled a lot, I saw amazing places but the sunsets that Madison has, I’ve seen nowhere. I love to spend time here with friends, just chit chatting in front of a pitcher of beer to share. The Union is part of the UW Campus and has been recently renewed. It has a lot of varieties of food provided. You definitely should try the Orange Custard Chocolate Chip ice cream. It’s a must to do at the Terrace. During the evenings, something is always going on: movie night, open mic or live bands playing.

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Sunset from the Terrace.

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STATE STREET

State Street is a “pedestrian mall” that links the Capitol Square to the University of Wisconsin Campus. It’s a good place where to find amazing and unique pieces in the interesting stores all along the street. If you like arts and crafts you have for sure stop in one of the many independent shops. Here you can find the Overture Center for the Arts, the Orpheum Theater, The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. During the night State Street becomes Madison’s main attraction. People love to pub crawl from the top to the bottom of State Street. Everything closes at 2:30 am. For a foreigner like me, still pretty early.

I had the best and the worst times of my life on this street with people from all over the world. State Street is not only a summer place, it’s all year-around but with the warm weather is definitely easier to walk around without risking to freeze. Go to Tiki Bar if you want cheap alcohol, at the Piano Bar if you want good music, Whiskey Jacks if you want to dance and Mondays if you want totally get wasted.

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State Street.

PADDLEBOARDING OR KAYAKING ON THE LAKES

Before coming here I had never kayak or paddle board. After one year and a half, I can easily say I can’t imagine my life without those two activities. Madison has three major lakes: Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, and Lake Wingra. On all the three lakes there’s plenty of places where to rent boats, paddleboard or kayak. I personally have a membership at Wingra Boats, on Lake Wingra, a wake-free lake surrounded by the UW Arboretum. I love this place. Paddleboarding or kayaking in it truly relaxes me. I think Lake Wingra’ seaweed situation is slightly better than in the other two lakes. During weekdays there’s a boat that cleans the lake from the majority of seaweeds.

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Lake Wingra

PARKS

Madison is full of parks and beaches where to relax, do some yoga and take a walk in nature:

  • James Madison Park is a waterfront park located on Lake Mendota;
  • Tenney Park is a waterfront park located on Lake Mendota;
  • Olin Park is a waterfront park located on Lake Monona that has an amazing view of the Madison skyline;
  • The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum is a teaching and research facility of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the site of historic research in ecological restoration. 1,260 acres (5 km2) in Madison, Wisconsin. Beautiful place where to walk in nature;
  • Picnic Point is a nearly mile-long peninsula along Lake Mendota’s south shore.
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View from Olin Park.

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View from Picnic Point

FARMER’S MARKET

Madison and its suburbs are full of farmer’s markets during the spring and summer time. The most known is the one held on every Saturday morning on the Capitol Square. The Market encircles the Square. farmers market

DEVIL’S LAKE – BARABOO

If you want to drive 45 minutes up north you should totally visit Devil’s Lake. It’s a great place where to hike, swim, relax at the beach, have a picnic, paddleboard or kayak. It’s a State Park so the entrance with the car costs 8$ if you have a Wisconsin License Plate. There’s a concession over there where to buy souvenirs and food. The internet signal is weak but surrounded by so much beauty it’s definitely not something you are going to complain about. The water is clear, no seaweeds.

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At the end, I think it’s pretty clear, I love Madison in the summer. There are so many things to do, places where to go and hike, swim, paddleboard, kayak or simply relax. It’s a perfect place to discover your inner outdoorsy personality. I have to thank Madison because it’s here that I figured out I didn’t want to be a lazy person anymore and I dragged myself outdoor discovering how amazing it is just to be in the sun and do things surrounded by nature.

 

NAMASTE.

 

Niagara Falls

The main reason why I went to Toronto was to kill two birds with one stone: visit Canada and see the Niagara Falls. If Toronto didn’t steal my heart like I wrote in my last post, the Niagara Falls did. I was a little afraid that because I pictured them with such optimistic thoughts they were going to disappoint me. Fortunately, it didn’t happen.

We took a Greyhound bus from Toronto at 9 am. One hour and a half later we were at the bus station in downtown Niagara Falls. We walked 40 minutes and then we arrived at the eccentric part of the town, the part that reminded me of Las Vegas with casinos and a lot of tourists attractions.

But as soon as we saw the falls we forgot everything. We just focused on the falls and it was all worthy.

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We wanted to get closer so we decided to take the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. It was 25$ CAD and, in my modest opinion, it was worth every single penny. We had fun, we took really good pictures, we definitely got wet and we saw those amazing natural wonders so close that it was outstanding. I vividly suggest to do it to anyone eager to go to the Niagara Falls, no matter which side, American or Canadian, because it gives you the experience of a lifetime.

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After having lunch at the Great Canadian Burger, we decided that it was time to head back to Toronto. We saw what we wanted and we didn’t care about all the tourists’ attractions nearby the falls. Our feet were done walking, so we decided to take the bus but, apparently, you can’t buy a single ticket. The bus system works with a 7$ daily ticket. So, trying not to think how destroyed our feet were, we decided to walk back. We took the Greyhound bus to Toronto around 3 PM. In about 5 hours we saw what we wanted to see in Niagara Falls.

We definitely loved it, we liked it more than Toronto itself because it didn’t disappoint our ideas and, with a really good weather, we had the opportunity to experience it at its fullest.

NAMASTE.

Why Toronto didn’t steal my heart

I have to admit it, Toronto didn’t steal my heart.

We arrived at the Billy Bishop Airport at 11:40 am and after passing thru the immigration process we saw the pretty famous Toronto skyline.  There was the CN Tower and then a huge amount of skyscrapers. I know, it’s a city, skyscrapers are common, the problem was that I didn’t see a kind of harmony between the old and the new. It felt like they just kept building skyscrapers without thinking of the surroundings.

After dropping off our heavy bags at the Airbnb, which was in a really central position, we decided to eat something and then head to the Distillery District. We had lunch at the Loose Moose. We didn’t actually find reviews online, we just followed our hunger and we stopped at the first pub that we felt was good. The food was great, it was Saturday and on the screens, there were soccer and baseball games since the Toronto Blue Jays were playing at the Rodgers Centre, a couple of blocks down the street.

After lunch, we walked to the Distillery District, a 35-minute walk from downtown Toronto. The weather was good, a little bit cloudy but with the right temperature. In our three days stay in Toronto we didn’t catch a bus (expect to go to the Niagara Falls), that’s why, today, four days after we came back in Madison, my feet are still recovering from all the blisters that my shoes created on them.

The Distillery District was a really good surprise. A hidden gem. It was made by all those two-story high brick buildings, full of art galleries, artisan shops and charming restaurants with really expensive prices.

If that’s one thing you should know about travelling as an au pair is that you don’t always have enough time, since weekend gateways are more common, so you have to optimise the time at its best and skip the relaxing part. Fortunately, in Toronto, Giusy and I decided to take it easy because we had plenty of time. We stopped at El Catrin Distilleria and we had a very expensive but delicious Margarita.

Our second stop was the CN Tower. A 35-minute walk again and we were back in downtown Toronto. Luckily, the sky cleared it up and we had the opportunity to watch an amazing sunset from the top. The cost for the CN Tower is 36$ CAD, with this ticket you are able to see the first two observation levels which for me were totally worthy. What, at the end, it was not worthy was the 12$ CAD Skypod ticket: you can’t see anything clearly. It’s better just stick to the 36$ CAD general admission tickets.

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The second day we spend it at the Niagara Falls and since I loved it I’m going to write another post just about them. But at 5:30 pm we were back in Toronto so we decided to take a 20-minute walk to the Kensington Market passing thru Chinatown. Unfortunately, we arrived at the Kensington Market a little bit late since it was about to close at 7 pm. We had the chance to attend a street concert by a Brazilian band and then walk thru the alleys in which the stands were already gone. Tired, we got back to the Airbnb, took a shower and head out for dinner in a close Irish Pub Fionn MacCool’s. Our feet couldn’t stand another 20-minute walk.

The third day, our last day, we checked out of the Airbnb around 11 am. After that we decided to have a brunch at Chez Cora, just around the corner, that served us a huge amount of food that fed us for the entire day.

Our first stop was Nathan Philips Square, another 20-minute walk.

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On the way back to the airport we stopped at Graffiti Alley.

As I said at the beginning, Toronto didn’t steal my heart but it has really nice corners that were worthy to visit. Toronto is a normal metropolis, with a lot of skyscrapers, the CN Tower to characterise the scenery and hidden gems. It was my first city in Canada and made me realise how a huge melting pot this country is.

We walked about 25 miles in three days. We never took a bus to move around Toronto. Our feet collected about 7 blisters: 6 on my feet, 1 on Giusy’s. We spend three days in another country and I’m glad I did it because now I have another stamp on my passport and a huge bag of memories that I’m never going to forget.

NAMASTE.

Wisconsin, an amazing surprise.

In almost one year and a half that I’ve been living in Wisconsin, I’ve never actually visited it. I know Madison because I live here and I love it. I’ve been to Devil’s Lake and Wisconsin Dells, that’s it. I know, a shame, so when I had the chance to sleep at a cottage in Sturgeon Bay for free I couldn’t refuse.

Sturgeon Bay is a 3-hour drive from Madison, no big deal now that I’ve got used to American distances. Before heading to the cottage Giusy and I decided to stop at a National Park, half an hour north: Whitefish Dunes State Park – Cave Point State Park.  This place definitely amazed us. The colour of the water could have been compared to the one in South Italy or Sardinia. Growing up in Italy you are used to living close to lakes in which you see the other side, this is not the case with Lake Michigan and for a moment I felt at home.

The next day, Giusy and I decided to go even more north, to the top of the Door County peninsula. We tried to convince others to come with us but they said people told them that it wasn’t worth so they decided to stay. I didn’t care about people telling me it wasn’t worth another hour drive and I’m happy I took that ferry and drove around Washington Island. We drove till the North Pier, we paid 13$ per person and 26$ per vehicle. The weather was pretty cold, the wind was chilly but the luckily, the sun started to shine around 10 am.

It took us around 3 hours to drive around the island, we took our time and we visited basically everything. We started driving up along the west coast and we stopped at the Schoolhouse Beach State Park, a beautiful beach made of smoothed stones.

Then we drove along the north coast and we stopped at the Lookout Tower to see the island from the highest point.

Our last stop was at a sand dunes beach on the south coast of the island. It was stunning, a peaceful place if you don’t consider the outstanding amount of mosquitos and bugs that were around the lake.

Before coming to the States, thinking of driving 5 hours in one day wouldn’t even be taken into consideration. Since I’m here I feel like I got used to the huge distances, I figured out how stupid I was back home because I’ve never visited cities close to my hometown just because they were two or three hours away.

I’m glad I didn’t listen to my friends and I’ve decided to visit Washington Island because I would have never seen which amazing pearls Wisconsin hides in the north. I didn’t know where this State was until two years ago but I fell in love with it suddenly. Its people, its landscapes, its summer and, till Christmas, its winter. Its fall and spring. I’m happy I moved to Wisconsin because here I found a home and the real Midwest.

If you have time to spent in the States and you don’t know where to go just go up north, between Illinois, Minnesota and Canada there’s this State that has become my second home and has a lot to offer and to give to you, cheese and beer first of all. But also, smiles and warmth even in the coldest winter.

NAMASTE.

6 days in April in Washington D.C.

Spring break 2017: Washington D.C. My reaction wasn’t that happy. I wished about Carribean islands, not another city, but you know what, I didn’t care that much because it was chosen and paid by my host family. The weather was surprisingly hot: around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and sunny 5 days over 6. I walked a lot, saw a lot of monuments that I had the chance to see only in movies and visited a couple of museums.

DAY 1 – April 8, 2017

We arrived in Washington D.C. around 5 PM after leaving Madison, WI, around 12:15 PM. We had a connection flight in Detroit, MI. The first day, since we arrived pretty late and tired, we didn’t go out or explored. The house we rented was in the Foggy Bottom district. A really pretty zone, close to the George Washington University, about 20 minutes walk to Georgetown and the Lincoln Memorial.

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DAY 2 – April 9, 2017

The first day of behaving like actual tourists we decided to walk to the Lincoln Memorial. We started there our long walk along the National Mall. Since my host mom was going to leave the next days because of a work problem we tried to see as much as possible. We started from the Lincoln Memorial, then the Washington Monument stopping at the Vietnam and World War II Memorials. We had lunch at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden that has a tiny café in it. After, we kept walking till the Capitol that was unfortunately closed. Since the little kid was tired I had to Uber home with him and the oldest while the parents and the middle one kept wandering around.

We decided to do a little bit of shopping around 6 PM. We wandered around Georgetown, shopped a little bit and then we ate at a Spanish restaurant called “La Bodega”. It was really nice and the calamari and patatas bravas were awesome.

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Lincoln Memorial

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The Statue of Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool

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World War II Memorial

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The Capitol

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The Washington Monument from Capitol Hill

 

DAY 3 – April 10, 2017

We started our day around 12 PM having lunch at the Whole Foods close to the house. After that, we decided to go to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. We walked there and we stopped in front of the White House to take some pictures. I have to admit I thought it was bigger. I had the same impression with the Christmas tree in front of the Rockefeller Center in New York. On tv, it looked way bigger. After 20 minutes walk, we arrived at the Gallery. As all the Smithsonian Museums, they are free. We wandered around, searching for Alexander Hamilton’s portrait (my host family is obsessed with Hamilton, the musical). We visited the President’s Gallery passing thru the center of the building, a really nice place to relax and to find peace. On the way home, we stopped at the Forever 21 on 11th Street NW.

 

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The White House

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LaFayette Square

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Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

 

DAY 4 – April 11, 2017

Another museum day since outside was too warm for the kids. My host dad and the three kids took a cab to the Newseum while I enjoyed an amazing 1-hour long walk till the museum on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Newseum was cool, everything about newspapers, new medias, tv. You have to pay around 25$ per adult but I don’t know if it is actually worth it. I recognized that it was interesting but not the type of museum in which I want to spend money. There was a really thoughtful 9/11 Memorial and part of the Berlin Wall. We ate at the restaurant in the lower level of the museum. After that, we didn’t know if we wanted to hit the Jefferson Memorial or stop at the Natural History Museum. Since the queue outside the museum was short we stopped by. The museum is really interesting, crowded and free. After that, I walked another hour home.

We had dinner at an Italian restaurant close to Georgetown, La Perla.

 

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9/11 Memorial at Newseum

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View from the top of the Newseum of the Capitol

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Natural History Museum

DAY 5 – April 12, 2017

Last full day in Washington DC we decided to take it easy and head to the Jefferson Memorial. Unfortunately, we missed the cherry blossom and the sky was cloudy but I really liked the walk around the Tidal Basin visiting the Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials.

 

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Thomas Jefferson

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Last cherry blossoms

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Jefferson Memorial

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Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial

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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

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Washington Monument

Day 6 – April 13, 2017

The last day we didn’t see anything. Since we had the check out from the house at 11 AM and the flight at 3:30 PM we headed to the airport and we decided to eat and wait there because everyone was carrying too much to walk around the city. We landed in Madison, WI, around 5 PM.

 

I really enjoyed Washington DC but the city didn’t steal my heart. I liked walking around, seeing all the monuments and buildings that somehow remind me of Europe’s architecture. I didn’t even miss yoga class because we were on spring break. Walking helped me contain the need to practice but I really missed roll down the mat and do some poses. On Monday, we had the first class after spring break and I felt amazing after doing it. I have to start to find a way to practice even when I’m traveling.

NAMASTE.

 

1200 miles road trip in 4 days.

Be an au pair means that you have only two weeks of paid vacation through the year. I’m not complaining, two paid vacation weeks it is awesome, but for someone who wants to see as much as possible of the country in which is living for a strict amount of time, it is not that much. That’s why I came out with the insane idea of traveling thru the Midwest till Nashville in four days, touching six States: Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri,  Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana.

I found the perfect companion in 5 German girls. Franzi, who lives in Madison and is an au pair as well, found out that her roommates from Germany where coming to the States the same time I was planning this road trip. Everybody accepted.

Thanks to my host parents we didn’t have to rent any car (which for under 25 is a nightmare, btw) and we drove that poor 2005 Honda Odyssey for something like 1200 miles. We had to change the oil along the way because, well, I hadn’t check anything before we left. But, we made it home, that’s what it matters.

FIRST STOP: ST. LOUIS, MO

I drove from Madison, Wisconsin, to Chicago, Illinois on Friday night after work. I met the Germans at my host family’s condo in the Windy City and we spend the night there. The next morning we left around 9 am, after having breakfast and put the gas into the car, we headed to St. Louis, our first stop. It was there, just entered the highway, that the orange sign that alerts you to change the oil popped out. Yeah, lucky us. We decided to drive till it dropped to 10%, only when that moment would have come we would have start searching for help.

I don’t know if you ever experienced the Wisconsin winter, it’s not nice. It’s really really cold. Chicago is basically the same. Driving south was amazing for us. We left our jackets in the car and we started to feel the spring and the warmth of the sun.

We arrived in St. Louis, MO around 4 pm. We found the Airbnb, a really nice house in a quite neighborhood in University City, just 15 minutes from the Gateway Arch.

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We drove to downtown St. Louis and we spent a lot of time taking pictures at the Arch. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go on top of the Arch because it was closed because of work in progress.

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SECOND STOP: NASHVILLE, TN

The next day we left St. Louis around 8. On our first stop, about 1 hour and a half after departing, we decided to change the oil. We found a Walmart with an Auto Center and in about one hour everything was fixed. We arrived in Nashville around 2 pm and we decided to head straight to Centennial Park before going downtown. It was a Sunday and there was a lot of people hanging out there. The weather was awesome even if cloudy. I think I was more attracted to the people having fun all around the Pantheon than by the Pantheon itself.

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We drove downtown Nashville and we parked at the Public Library. Suddenly we fell in love with the city. Broadway, the main street, was amazing. There was music everywhere, people having fun, bands playing at 3 pm, country stores selling boots. Everything was like in the movies and we decided to stop at a bar and drink a beer before heading to our amazing Airbnb, just 10 minutes away from downtown.

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The next morning, before heading to Louisville, KY, we decided to try to find one of Nashville’s famous graffiti.

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THIRD STOP: LOUISVILLE, KY

After taking our Instagram pictures and a stop at Starbucks we headed to Louisville, KY. It was just a 3 hours drive, we were supposed to arrive by 1 pm but Franzi and I had this idea of stepping off the highway and try to find an Amish village. I was searching on Google and it was said that there was the biggest Amish settlement close to Munfordville, KY. I think we drove around 1 hour in the middle of nowhere, asking everyone where the Amish people were. The answer was always the same: “go straight, up the hill, you are going to see them”. Did we see them? Absolutely not. At one point we thought they were hiding from us. We just gave up and ate a burger at Wendy’s before driving another couple of hours to our third destination.

We stopped at the Airbnb first, it was around 4 pm when we arrived. The house looked pretty dodgy from the outside. It was an old house but it was ok for the amount of time that we were going to spend in it.

We drove downtown Louisville, to the Fourth Street. It was a Monday and obviously, nothing was going on. It was raining too but after looking around we had dinner in an amazing place suggested by our Airbnb host: Gordon Biersch Brewery.

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Before going back to our apartment, we decided to take a walk on the Big Four Bridge. A really nice walk on the Ohio River where you can have a nice view of downtown Louisville.

FOURTH STOP: INDIANAPOLIS, IN.

We left a rainy Louisville to head to our last and quick stop, Indianapolis, IN. The weather, on the way up north, was terrible but as soon as we arrived in Indianapolis it stopped raining. Louisville and Indianapolis are about 1 hour and a half apart, not a big deal. We decided not to go downtown Indianapolis but look at the skyline from the White River State Park.

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After lunch, we drove all the way up to Chicago and then to Madison, WI. We arrived at our last destination around 9 pm. We were in Chicago during the rush hour so our timetable got one hour delayed. Instead of 5 hours, it took us 6 hours.

This road trip was amazing and exhausting at the same time. We drove more than 1200 miles, we changed city every day and we saw so many things that sometimes it is hard to remember. But road trips, as much as they are exhausting, they are perfect to see, to go on an adventure, because they allow you to stop when you want. Yes, you have a timetable but everything can be changed based on your needs. I’m so glad I had open minded companions in this travel and I’m glad I’ve shared this experience with them.

NAMASTE.