I had a request for information on how I found the places we stayed on our holiday to America.
Mick and I have always preferred staying in self contained accomodation when we travel, rather than in hotels. It's nicer to sit in a living area to watch tv or read rather than having to sit on the bed, and we also much rather be able to make our own meals if we choose. We would also choose to stay in a historic cottage rather than a modern apartment whenever possible - that's just our preference.
I use tripadvisor.com to look for what accomodation is available in the places we want to visit. You can choose to look at accomodation by hotel, B&B/inn, or specialty lodging. I generally skip the hotel section unless it's to stay near an airport, or just a place to sleep on the way to somewhere else. This method has served us well in our past travels. It's very useful to be able to read reviews by other people who have stayed there. You do need to be a little cautious of taking the reviews at face value - particularly the ratings - as often people will give a low rating for silly reasons or things that are simply cultural or regional differences. For example, whether they provide face washers! Some countries deem them to be personal items.
While planning my holiday with Tammy to the USA we had a few things on our agenda. We wanted to visit Paducah in Kentucky (lots of quilt, antique, craft shops), Lancaster County in Pennsylvania (Amish country), the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky (lovely buildings and furniture) and Richmond, Virginia (so I could visit the quilt I wanted to see).
We stayed in Paducah for 2 nights and we wanted to find somewhere right in the middle of the town so pretty much everything was walking distance. The accomodation was restored apartments above a row of historic shops and we were happy with our choice.
Lancaster County was a week long stay so we definitely wanted somewhere we could have our own space and be able to prepare meals. We rented a lovely little house called Das Haus in the village of Intercourse. We would highly recommend the services of "Intercourse Lodging" (click here : http://www.intercoursepalodging.com/index.html ). Daryl and Tina who rented us the house were so friendly and helpful. The house was just on a side street from the centre of the village so we were able to walk to look at the myriad of shops. The house had 3 bedrooms which turned out to be very useful as my friend, Erin who lives in Maine, came down to stay a few days with us. Waking to the sound of an Amish buggy clip-clopping past the house was fantastic. Although there were lots of tourists during the day, the village was just the right speed for a pair of women who live in a small town themselves! Best of all, it was quite economical to rent a house for the week so it gave us the opportunity to go to New York for one night and be able to leave our luggage and car back at the house. It worked out well.
I had discovered the Shaker Village in a book Mick has about Shaker furniture. It was near to where my friend Sheri lives in Kentucky so at first we thought we'd make a day trip there while staying with her. When we discovered you could actually stay in the village we decided we couldn't miss the opportunity so we spent a couple of days there before visiting Sheri. The accomodation was Shaker style so quite basic but we loved it. The couple of nights we spent there were the most peaceful of the entire trip.
We were looking for somewhere to stay and visit near the place where the quilt I wanted to see was kept. We looked around the area of Richmond, Virginia. While looking at a map of the area I Googled the name of nearby towns to see if there was anything interesting. When I stumbled across Williamsburg I knew I'd found the place for us. Tammy and I both love historic buildings and history in general. In Ballarat in Australia there is a fantastic re-created gold mining village for tourists called Sovereign Hill. It's a favourite day out for Tammy and her family and for Mick and I too. Williamsburg just seemed to be an oversized version! There were many of the old buildings used as old style shops and taverns and also for accomodation. It was like stepping back in time with people wandering around in period costume.
As for booking hotels.....
We had 2 nights in LA so just chose somewhere close to the airport so we could use the free shuttle service.
The one night we spent in NY we splashed out on a hotel in the centre of Times Square. We're glad we did as that was the place we liked best in New York and we could safely walk out at night to have dinner. Perfect.
The only other night we stayed in a hotel was on our drive from Kentucky to Pennsylvania - 14 hours over 2 days. We hadn't pre-booked it. We found ourselves very tired and in rather foul weather late on the first day so decided we'd just take the next exit and stop at the first hotel. When I look at the reviews for this hotel now, I wouldn't have chosen it but we needed somewhere to sleep and that's what we got.
Thanks Elly, useful information. I presume the small towns you mention were originally founded by people of German origin, as was the place we visited in Texas - Fredericksburg, with the names of places in the area all of German origin. I found this most interesting at the time, and hadn't realized how much the influence of different cultures still existed in the USA. I also found it interesting that the town itself had changed little since it was founded, with its Main Street, wide enough to turn a stage coach, lined with wooden buildings that housed a bank, shops, and saloon bars with the raised wooden walkway - just as your minds eye would see it as a result of the input of all the films we might have seen before visiting.
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