Ah, the American Dream. Like most kids who grew up in a developing country, I always dreamed of going to the US and living the good life. But a lot of things changed since then — even America itself. I realized the American Dream can mean everywhere. I guess that's the grown-up me. Don't fret. The United States of America is still on my travel bucket list (grin).
Although I'm a resident and flying from Barcelona, I still need to get a visa like a normal Filipino citizen. Perhaps the only real hassle is to go all the way to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. That might have made a difference. I didn't have to go through the awkward scenarios I hear back home in the Philippines applying for a US visa. I know for a fact that rejection is very common and often times, the experience is not so good.
Luckily, I was granted a multiple-entry visa valid for 10 years so expect some great US trip coming up! Border entry is not that strict — might be due to the fact that I'm flying from EU. I was simply asked where I'm living and where I'm going to stay in the US. I expect more, really but again, just got lucky. Else, it's a good practice to always come prepared (just in case).
First impressions are proven to be very hard to change. But I needed more than just first impressions. So, I've planned a 20-day trip to the East Coast starting from Orlando, Florida. That's a lot to catch up.
Orlando was ranked the second most fun city in the US last year, after Las Vegas. It's no surprise. Themeparks! Besides, that's what Orlando is famous for (apart from the crocs, of course). Themepark is definitely on my Orlando list and as you might have guessed, I'm a kid at heart. Yep, I got Walt Disney World and NASA.
Then, the plan is to spend some warm sunny days with the irresistible heat at the Miami beach. It's true that when the sun goes down is when things really heat up there. No doubt, Miami is a playground of the rich and beautiful.
After Florida, head down to Buffalo to get a taste of the "real" (and the original) Buffalo hot wings. But of course, it's not just for the love of hot wings but actually, the main highlight of the Buffalo trip is to see the Niagara Falls. Spent a day there which I think is just enough.
Then off to the grand finale (almost) — New York City! I spent most of my days in NYC so I'll sure to cover that full on my next blog. My favorite place in New York is Times Square, Central Park and all of Manhattan. Did I mention food? Great big servings! I especially loved the breakfast.
Got no plans left so I sneaked in an unexpected short day visit to Washington DC.
Overall, it was a great first-time visit to the US. Certainly, I do want to go back to New York but I would want to see the West Coast on my next visit.
For now, I'm just writing this blog to say that I did return home with a different perspective of the American Dream. What the American Dream truly is and always has been — freedom. Freedom to choose.
I guess that's what keeps the dream alive. I chose to travel and experience life. And that includes America.