15 July 2012

Next Stop... Wilmington, Delaware!

The state of Delaware was in my sights! I took my Amtrak train from Newark Penn Station to Wilmington to explore Delaware's largest city on a July day that was so beautiful, the weather was perfect! Taking a chance on the state of Delaware, I was seeking adventure to find that every American state deserves a chance. Sure, Wilmington served many secrets and surprises!

After arriving bright and early in the city of Wilmington, I was lured by the waters of the Christina River. With the sun getting warmer by the minute it was a pleasure to explore the city's own 'Riverfront'. My opinion of Wilmington had been set from the second I got to know the Christina riverside. Wilmington's 'Riverfront' gave me the chance to hear a slice of nature, sure it was great to hear the chiming song birds sing as they fluttered in the skies above me. Everything in my view blended well, the older buildings blended well with the newly renovated walkways along the riverside. I had been advised that the state of Delaware wasn't worth my time, I didn't pay their thoughts no mind! I was expecting Wilmington to be a squeaky clean city, I was open to finding some surprises and secrets during my day of exploration. The July weather was proving to be a scorcher as the morning went on further. I was ready for Wilmington!

As mentioned before I chose to travel by Amtrak train from Newark Penn Station to Wilmington's red brick station, my train fare was fairly priced because train travel in America stands behind its European cousins. On my way to Wilmington I passed through Philadelphia before I stepped down from my train in Wilmington. I hadn't really done much research regarding what there was to do in Wilmington, I trusted the signs that guided me from the train station to the riverside along the Christina River. Wilmington wasn't a huge city, I had faith that I could make my way around without any issues. Sticking to the riverside for the first part of the day allowed me to see some lovely views, the skyline that Wilmington served wasn't huge but it was humble, appropriate for the size of the city. Moving into the Quaker Hill part of the city lead my to my second part of the day. Bordering New Jersey, why had the train taken the time that it did? I brushed shoulders with Maryland! My tri-state day!

Wilmington prevailed to be a city that possessed a special flare, owning something different that stood out compared with other cities that I had visited before in America. Teamed with a wide range of retro buildings, which resembled the life and times of Wilmington's not so distant past featured the 'Delaware Historical Society'. The city centre layout showcased a feeling of displacement. By the looks of things, Wilmington was just getting started with its future regeneration projects. I did not use a map because I didn't have access to one, I used my sense of direction and thankfully the streets were well signposted. Unlike other people, I wanted to give Wilmington my full attention during that July afternoon. I am currently living Newark, New Jersey so I was able to respect the nature of Wilmington's city streets. Life along the Northeastern coast of the USA helped me open my eyes to the realness!

Amongst the old parts of this city, a feeling of change could be seen and felt throughout Wilmington. I felt a good vibe from Wilmington, considering I had never heard of this city before I had arrived in America for my current internship I knew that my travelling efforts this year have gone from strength to strength! New office buildings and apartments were either newly completed or in the final stages of construction. Wilmington boasted direct access to Amtrak's Acela Express line, another reason for the new developments. Getting itchy feet as I had seen most of the city centre quite quickly, I had managed to snatch some WiFi in the street, I searched for things to do around the Wilmington area. Catching 'Pea Patch Island' and the neighbouring area, I asked the cashier in the local Walgreen's along East 9th Street and Market Street about directions to the bus that I needed to take to find 'Pea Patch Island'. All was good, the lady from Walgreen's was helpful and friendly to me!

Not wanting to limit myself to Wilmington for the rest of my day in Delaware, I took the 25 Dart bus to Delaware City, seeking Fort Delaware located on Pea Patch Island. Thankfully, I was on the correct bus that was going in the correct location. I hadn't had anything to eat for my lunch, I was looking forward to something delicious upon my arrival. Eventually I made it to my stop, being the last stop on the route allowed me to see where the Wilmington bound bus would be boarding from. Scouting out the waters edge allowed me to buy one return ticket for the boat over to 'Pea Patch Island' and my admission, both charges didn't cost me too much! With my tickets booked I found a nice looking pub, things looked really quaint with that area. The pub served me an almighty large point of fish and chips, refuelled and ready I made my way to the dock to take my boat over to the island. Things were running fine, I needed that!

I wasn't bothered with the history of 'Pea Patch Island' because the whole feel of Fort Delaware, sure the island had enough to see for it to grab my attention. Disembarking my chartered ferry from the mainland to 'Pea Patch Island', I made my way to Fort Delaware. Word on the street was that pea seeds had floated over to the island that had formed in the middle of the Delaware River. Being during the week there wasn't many people exploring the fort on the island, I had enough time to see the 17th Century fort at my own leisure without any crowds proud. Feeling content with my wanderings on 'Pea Patch Island', I made my way back across the Delaware River to get my bus back to the city centre. The rest of the day was pretty relaxed, finding my way around the central city core allowed me to witness the realness within Wilmington's inner core. I knew that taking a chance on Wilmington, Delaware was the right thing to do! Which city will be next? U.S, let's keep seeking adventure!

Delaware Called... 

Joseph Harrison

6 July 2012

The Jersey Shore... Point Pleasant Beach!

South Beach in Miami or Venice Beach in Los Angeles? Which one would you choose to visit? Well, I didn't choose any of the above because of the obvious geographical issues. So, I chose Point Pleasant Beach on New Jersey's famous Jersey Shore. I am very pleased to say this beach enabled me to have a very relaxing sun-drenched afternoon, one which I desperately needed!

Work has been hectic to say the least, so with my precious two days off around the corner, I decided to make the most of the sensational Jersey weather by going to the beach. New Jersey has recently been blessed with great weather. Throwing caution to the wind, this morning I jumped on the 10:02 NJ Transit train bound for Point Pleasant Beach Station via Long Branch. I almost forgot to take the essentials with me to the beach like sunscreen, so I dashed to Walgreens on the way to my local transport hub, Newark Penn Station. In my opinion my notebook, pen and camera seemed to be the most important things for me to pack, you could say I'm turning into a dedicated blogger in my spare time? Yes, I take pride in what I do and that feels amazing because it's something I can manage. Anyway, with my provisions purchased I boarded my beach bound train. Getting into Nicki Minaj's latest album, so I wanted the beach, beach, B!

Green fields and picture postcard houses passed by before my eyes, this could only mean that the depressing site that my usual Newark backdrop would be history for a few hours at least. I'm such a hypocrite because when I arrive back in Newark I always feel a sense of belonging as its my home for now. The kitsch neighbourhood of Point Pleasant pleased me as it radiated a sense of seaside cuteness, please I make myself nauseous with my own way of describing things. Back to the script, I missed the earlier train from Newark so my plans were somewhat behind than what I previously estimated. I now see a bit of dis-organisation actually pays off as by 12 noon the weather on the Boardwalk was a staggering 36 degrees, a temperature which I would not complain about when at the beach. Taking my time was the bonus, the train didn't have many people so the journey was street free, also I didn't have to walk far at all to find the beach and boardwalk from the train station. Nice one!

Taking my place on the quieter side of the beach, a point that was more than pleasant due to the scorching sun beaming down on the golden sand. Not being bitter but I paid $8.00 to spend three hours at the beach, slightly disheartened that I had to pay but my day wouldn't of been so good without my tanning time. The water was quite nice, but swimming was not on my agenda. Prepared with my factor 4 Hawaii'an Tropic sunscreen I cooked myself until it was time to cool off in the blue Jersey waters. Relaxing to the maximum the stresses of the last week were drifting away from my mind, I have a feeling next week might have to be another beach day to tan and chill-out. Coney Island anyone? I tried to imagine if the beaches in Puerto Rico match the beaches in New Jersey, as my vacation is only two months away. No offence Point Pleasant but I imagine Flamenco Beach makes Point Pleasant look totally different. Go!

This time last year I took my day trip to Miami, me and my Disney friends all had a great day there. Swimming in the crystal clear ocean blue, taking in the likes of South Beach. I look back at that time and think it would have just been nice if our stay in Miami was for a little bit longer. Let's not dwell on what we haven't got or in this case, what we didn't do because by all accounts my day at Point Pleasant Beach was amazing! I'm not a big fan of beaches because of the sand, it can be so irritating to get it mixed with sea water but from time to time its only right to get all sand between my toes, I always get salty so there's nothing new there! No, I didn't go to the Tiki Bar because my day at the beach was all about relaxing on a budget, alcohol hasn't been something that I've been all for during my Industrial Placement at present. I vaguely know a bit about the MTV reality show 'Jersey Shore' but enough to know what beaches the show had featured, I had to see them for myself. Yes!

Point Pleasant Beach happened to be managed by a private company, officially known as Jenkinsons. Processing that fact, I understood why I had paid to use the beach. Jenkinsons company owns the boardwalk, which included the beach. I do wonder if I would have to pay at Coney Island for the same facilities? The fairground is also part of the business, I noticed a lot of children enjoying the rides that made up the fairground rides. Everything looked really clean considering the beach, boardwalk and fairground. All of those family friendly services were really busy during that summer's day.  I still don't agree with having to pay to use the beach but the convenience of the location for the beach from Newark was perfect, I don't think I have ever been to a beach where I could seamlessly get on a train from the next city! Come to think of it, my day at Point Pleasant Beach was probably my first ever American beach day!

As my beach experience drew to a close I enjoyed a little walk along the boardwalk, knowing an ice cream was needed to make the hot temperatures feel more bearable. I have to say the main feeling of the boardwalk had the feel of a British seaside town with its own 'over the top' quirks, each to their own I thought to myself. Ultimately, the deciding factor was the strawberry ice cream I enjoyed from Kohr's Ice Cream stand, that was a choice made well! The sights and the people that made their way down the boardwalk gave it the character and individual seaside charm that made all of the components worked perfectly. Point Pleasant Beach was a great beach to visit, having something for all of the family and an independent traveller like myself I left the beach very relaxed, ready to face another day at work. Would I visit Point Pleasant Beach again? That's a really good question because I probably wouldn't due to NJ and NY having so many other beaches. I need to get out! 

The Jersey Shore!

Joseph Harrison