New York, Baltimore and DC - A Whirlwind of Cities

The East Coast of the US of A is a fascinating landscape at the moment. Especially the cities we went to, where protests are still a common every day. It is important to note that as three rather clearly middle class white people we really didn't have to deal with any of the challenges that others with less privilege would have had to deal with.

In spite of everything, the States still serve up an absolutely glorious array of city vibes, all unique and full of wonderful surprises.

Trying to reduce our waste was probably hardest in the USA and Canada, because we were trying to cook a lot ourselves with very limited storage and refrigeration options. We started off well though, with packed meals for the plane from Greece, because it was just so easy to get delicious pastries and avoid the overpriced, gross, and waste coated airplane food.

 Our first stop was New York, and we hit the ground running with a walking tour the morning after we arrived. It was so entertaining and we learnt all about New York through the years, in all it's different states. Our guide was incredible, with dramatic stories punctuating our two hour walk as we meandered the busy streets to some of the city's most famous landmarks.

He even made sure we had a nice snack break, where I picked up this lovely zero waste cinnamon roll. It was perfection.

After our tour we picked up some lunch from a street vendor for the experience. I probably wouldn't recommend this for a budget lunch as they aren't very big or especially delicious if you pick the wrong cart, but it's a fun experience.

One of my favourite things about travelling is that I often get to visit people I met in other places. In New York I managed to squeeze in a few of the delightful people I met on past travels, like my new friend Willy, who I met in Azerbaijan and who took us around his place of work which had this incredible rooftop view! Rooftop is by far my favourite angle of New York.

The NYC Subway is one of those gorgeously disgusting places. It really is filthy, and the trains always seem to be late, but it is still somehow charming...
It's also a nice low carbon transport option that will get you to pretty much anywhere in the city. You will have to try and navigate the stops, and I think my favourite app for that was actually google maps, as it has really good walking directions as well, however my friends prefer Citymapper for more accurate fare info and delays. It also has really good offline directions. An added bonus when using the subway is that many of the stations have free wifi so you can get all your updates!

Day two in NYC was one of our team break days, where we all went off and did a bit of our own thing to give us space from each other. If you are travelling with people you still want to like by the end of the trip I HIGHLY recommend building in time without them. It also gives you more time to do the stuff they may not be so interested in, like geeking out in Packagefree!

This adorable little shop is all about helping everyone find the products that will help them leave a smaller waste footprint on the planet.

Another delightful human that I caught up with is this amazing dude, who I met at the UN in 2016. He didn't mention when we talked about meeting up that he would be speaking at this gathering, so that was a fun surprise. He spoke like a champion though!

I wish I could have fit in a couple more days in New York, but we were on a tight timeline and that night we shot over to Baltimore. Baltimore wasn't really on my radar as a place I should try to see, but we had a lovely soul there to visit so we popped over. She was the most incredible host, feeding us full of amazing vegan food, introducing us to her friends, and showing us around the American Visionary Art museum. Usually I am a bit indifferent to art museums, but I absolutely loved this one - so steady yourself for a barrage of imagery.

Another advantage of Baltimore was its accessibility to Washington DC, where we went the next day. I'll be honest, the heat here and lack of shade definitely reduced my capacity to appreciate the outdoor architecture. We were also slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of museums and monuments to see, and ended up wasting a fair amount of time deliberating on which ones we should spend our time on.

In the end we wandered down the mall, looked at a few buildings briefly from the outside, checked out the Aerospace Museum, and wandered around the natural history museum until they closed. In hindsight we could have easily spent the whole day in the natural history museum, which amongst other things, has a butterfly room full of real live butterflies and a bug space with a mini bug zoo! There was also the most phenomenal photo exhibition and a load of awesome dinosaur stuff. There were wonderful staff around who had piles of things to touch and play with and were fountains of wonderful facts.

The Aerospace Museum has a piece of the moon that you can touch!

When we were kicked out of the last museum we wandered down to check out the outdoors monuments in the slightly less suffocating heat.

The lighting was pretty cool too!

I forced the other two to do some cheesy tourist photos with me. I have no regrets. Abe thought it was funny.

 As the sun faded we wandered over to this absolutely gorgeous statue of Einstein and reflected on our time on the East coast.

From Baltimore we headed up to Canada, it was a pair of moderately long flights, so we all grabbed some lunch for the trip rather than including them on our tickets. Mine was waste free, in my wee tin and it was so much nicer than the food that other passengers were being served. Success!

I can't wait for my next chance to get back to New York to explore more of it's marvellous eccentricities, but just wait until you see Canada! :)

See you somewhere...

xo cait

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