I think most people will agree with me when I say that travel can be one of the most fulfilling things you can ever do in your life. Exactly one year ago, I voyaged out to America with my family. It had been almost 8 years since my last overseas holiday, so I was ecstatic to see a new part of the world and document every little thing about it. I feel that a year on, I’m in a good position to reflect on this experience, what I’ve dubbed my American Adventure. I was quite nervous about the trip, since absurd stories from America are on the news every day. Luckily enough, my brief trip included none of this nastiness. Having recently acquired an SLR, I made good use of it in America, meaning I have multitudes of photos to show you. My goal was to capture natural moments, even if they weren’t the sharpest examples of photography imaginable, simply to have a way to document my trip. I didn’t want stoic poses in front of tourist hot spots; I wanted to see what made the locals tick. My attitude on this trip basically adhered to Banksy’s words,
“Tourism is not a spectator sport.”
I tried to keep this mindset beside me throughout the whole trip, wanting to seamlessly slip into American life rather than having a set itinerary that I had to rigidly stick to. It all began with an intimidating touch down in LA (LAX staff are intense!), a stopover in homely Houston, and then a landing in Cincinnati. From here, our American uncle picked us up and drove us to a country town in Kentucky, where he lived. This town was one of those classic Midwest towns, with SUVs and steakhouses everywhere. We were the most obvious tourists that have ever existed but I’m so happy that we got to see the ‘real’ America” the ordinary places that regular folk live in, not just the glossy postcards. Kentucky was simple and sweet. We popped by a classic American steakhouse on our first day there, and were thrilled by the world-renowned Southern (or, technically, Midwest) hospitality.
Our time in Kentucky was relaxing, mainly reserved for spending with family. It was in the middle of summer; temperatures reached 40degrees easily, which I’m normally acclimatised to, but in the Midwest, the humidity was the real kicker. This made enjoying the natural prettiness of Kentucky quite hard, but the landscape really was one of the highlights. Ignoring the masses of coal being produced nearby, there really were some pretty natural sights. The big cars, big roads and big shops were some of the trademark American things I expected to see, and the streets were full of such sights, even in a country town. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to personal opinion.
So, the experience in Kentucky was really mellow, but the last three days of our holiday were the jam-packed ones. We decided to drop by Chicago for a few days before continuing to the airport to take us home. Chicago was intense, the biggest Western city I’ve ever holidayed around. To tackle all of Chicago in one blog post is quite a challenge. We stayed in the main tourist district to allow for easy travel and access, staying in the most gorgeous hotel I’ve ever stepped foot in, the Palmer House Hilton. ‘Grand’ can’t even begin to summarise it and the service was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Australia. We stumbled around all the landmarks in the 35+ degree heat: the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park (including the Bean), Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier, the Italian Village (Al Capone dined here!), Devon Street and the all the other wonderful sights and sounds of Chicago. It was overwhelming and beautiful. I just wish we could have spent more than three days there.
Going to America definitely reignited my passion for travel. I’ve been travelling since I was a baby, but this particular holiday was the first in a long time, and reminded me of how thrilling the whole experience can be. This was the first holiday where I actively documented everything I came across, from collecting tickets I’d bought on the trip to taking a million photos that were beyond the typical family snaps. On this holiday, I wanted to experience as much of the culture as possible, rather than staying in safe, familiar areas. I’d never been so passionate about taking photos, and especially capturing strangers in natural moments, as I was on this trip. I think it really struck me that people are the most fascinating thing about travel, which is why I wanted to capture every quirky individual I came across. This is the first time I’ve wanted to completely immerse myself in the place I’ve visited, and I’m sure this attitude will stay with me on every future holiday of mine. I can’t wait to return to the shores of America! Travel gives you perspective, adventure, confidence and just feels downright awesome.