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Sunday, September 20, 2015

USA Coast to Coast Train Journey: My Story as I lived it!

This summer saw me embark on one of the best train journeys that I have undertaken till date. Close to 5000 kilometres of diverse terrain in just over 2 weeks sounds awesome right? Add to the mix, a classic 1950s train car, enterprising company and surreal destinations and you have a magical concoction that I was privileged to live and experience on my trans USA coast to coast train journey.

If you had tracked my journey through the trending hashtags #RoadTripUSA, #DiscoverAmerica #MTPTrain on social media, you would know what I am talking about. In case you do not know what I am talking about… I was invited by Brand USA and Discover America to be a part of a train journey called the Millennial Train Project. This project, a start-up incubator and guidance forum took selected individuals on a train journey across Southern USA. Each individual had a role to play. My role was to experience the diverse destinations of the United States of America.

And thus I traveled with this MTP Team in classic 1950 era train cars that was fitted with open domes, dining cars, kitchens, bedrooms, wi-fi and so much more. Traveling in that train made me feel like royalty. It was on this train ride that I got to experience a bedroom with an attached bathroom. I have traveled countless number of times on trains, but this luxury experience was my first.

The journey took me across 8 lovely destinations. My experience in each destination was so good that I always ached to spend a longer time at each place. Be it the Hollywood experience of Los Angeles (California), the Route 66 culture and history of Santa Monica (California), the riverside charm of San Antonio (Texas), the bustling energy of Austin (Texas), the French connection in New Orleans (Louisiana) and definitely my favorite city in the USA, the port city of Baltimore (Maryland), the capital city of Washington DC or finally the bustling metropolis we all know as the Big Apple – New York City (New York), I felt like I was living a dream. Each day, was a high for me.

In this one minute Travel Video, live my surreal coast to coast rail journey



If there was one thing that captivated me the most on this trip, it had to be the sheer size and diversity of this nation. The landscapes, especially were sensational. From the beaches of California, the arid desert of Arizona, the riverside atmosphere of San Antonio and Austin, the swamps around the mighty Mississippi at New Orleans, the organized capital of Washington DC, the quite port side action at Baltimore to the eclectic, high energy glitter and bustle of New York City, this journey offered me delights all along the way.

My Favorites from this Trip

Favorite City: New Orleans

Favorite Show: The Chicago – Broadway Show, New York City

Favorite Dessert: Bourbon Bread Pudding - New Orleans

Favorite Visual Moment: Crossing Lake Pontchartrain by train – Louisiana

Favorite Awe Moment: Standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty – New York

Favorite Drink: Woodford Special Reserve Bourbon

Favorite Funny Moment: When I thought the White House had a dome and was searching for it while standing in front of it

Favorite Skyline: View from the Rockefeller Center, NYC

Favorite Music: Street Jazz Music from New Orleans

Favorite Outdoor Atmosphere: Lady Bird Lake Trail, Austin

Favorite Monument: Lincoln Square – Washington DC

Favorite Nightlife: Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Favorite Beach: Venice Beach, California

Favorite Walks: Hollywood Walk of Fame – Los Angeles and San Antonio River Walk

Favorite Street: Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Favorite Snack: Fresh Guacamole Salad – Olvera Street, Los Angeles

Favorite Crazy Moment: Watching tourist play and pose with the balls of the charging bull, New York City

Favorite Memory: The train journey in itself

To know more about this trip, read my interview on Discover America website. This Q&A might just help you plan out your USA road trip.

In this 30 second video, discover 5 exciting places to visit on your next USA road trip.



Below are photo collages, videos (in some cases), places I visited and my personal favorites from each destination.

Pit Stop 1 - Los Angeles, California
What better place to start your trip than Los Angeles. This was my first visit here and I visited everything from Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard, Olvera street, Universal Studios, LA Downtown, Staples Center, Grammy Museum, the famous Hollywood Sign, Rodeo Drive and some more.

Personal Favorites: Hollywood Walk of Fame, Madame Tussad’s Wax Museum, Olvera Street

Me and Charlie ChaplinTypical day on the Hollywood Walk of FameCaptain Jack Sparrow at the Hollywood Walk of Fame
A Hollywood souvenir shopFresh Guacamole Salad at Olvera Street, Los AngelesTequila, Salsa and Chips at Olvera Street, Los Angeles
Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los AngelesMadame Tussads at Los Angeles, great family getawayThe Hard Rock Cafe inside Universal Studios, Los Angeles

Pit Stop 2 - Santa Monica, California

If you are a motorcycling lover, you will know the importance of this trip. Route 66, the iconic route that starts in Chicago ends here. You can see everything from big motorcycles, beautiful beaches, the pier, the famous muscle beach, great restaurants and street music at the 3rd street promenade, the roller coaster, Malibu and great restaurants.

Personal Favorites: Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier

Gorgeous street stall at Santa Monica Pier, CaliforniaHistoric Route 66 that ends at Santa Monica PierHistoric Santa Monica Pier, California
Me at Route 66, Santa MonicaSwinging about at Muscle Beach, Santa Monica

Pit Stop 3 - San Antonio, Texas
This city in the heart of Texas has great riverside culture. Everything here revolves around the river. River cruises, riverside dining, riverside bars, the Alamo and the micro breweries nearby.

Personal Favorites: San Antonio River Cruise, Riverside dining atmosphere

Badges from the old westLots of great music at San Antonio riverwalkYou don't mess with Texas
The iconic Alamo of San AntonioArtist at work - San Antonio RiverwalkExplore San Antonio on a boat cruise
Want to know why I am raving so much about the riverside charm of San Antonio. Get a sneak peek through this 15 second travel video. 


 
Pit Stop 4 - Austin, Texas
This college town and the capital of Texas is known for its young culture and for its music scene. During my stay here, I explored the 6th street, Capitol Building, Lady Bird Lake and most of Austin downtown.

Personal Favorites: Bars on 6th Street, Street Art, Lady Bird Lake Hiking Trail

Austin Street GraffitiCapitol Building - a popular tourist attraction in AustinLadbird Lake and Downtown Austin bathed in golden sunset rays, Austin
Colorful atmosphere on Austin's 6th streetKeep Austin Weird

Pit Stop 5 - New Orleans, Louisiana

My favorite city in the US, I absolutely love New Orleans. Be its French culture, super active nightlife, sizzling street music or its great food and drinks, this home of jazz is a must visit destination. During my stay there, I visited the French quarter, spent a lot of time on the famous Bourbon street, the original Frenchman street, took a cruise on the mighty Mississippi and checked out the local music scene.

Personal Favorites: Live Street Music, Bourbon Bread Pudding

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, New OrleansAwesome Jazz Bands of New OrleansDelicious Beignets of New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans Famous Mardi Gras Masquerade MasksNew Orleans Street Musician playing Kora African Base HarpPedicab from the French Quarter of New Orleans

Enjoy my favorite city in the US through this 15 second travel video.



Pit Stop 6 - Baltimore, Maryland

This port city is known for its crabs, sea food, aquarium and colonial buildings. The Inner Harbor area is a must visit. Go sailing if you get the opportunity.

Personal Favorites: Cruise on the waters of the Inner Harbor.

Baltimore waters - great for sailingClassic Volkswagen van parked on the streets of BaltimoreInner Harbour and the Baltimore Skyscrapers
National Aquarium, BaltimoreAt the heart of Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Pit Stop 7 - Washington DC

The Capital of the United States is possibly one of the most organized cities that I have visited in my entire life. The National Mall area that houses the Lincoln monument, the National Monument, war memorials and more is a must visit. While I was there, I also explored the White House, the Capitol Building, the happening Dupont Circle area and many of its museums.

Personal Favorites: Dining at Dupont Circle

A Washington Monument Special Admiration MomentThe White HouseClassic painting at the Smithsonian Art Museum
Abraham Lincoln Memorial at Washington DCVarious license plates of the USA

Pit Stop 8 - New York City, New York

My last stop on this trip was the Big Apple. I visited quite a few attractions here: Brooklyn bridge, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, World Trade Center Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Broadway and the Broadway Show, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, New York Grand Central Station, Central Park, Wall Street, SoHo and Greenwich Village.

Personal Favorites: Walking on Brooklyn Bridge, View from Rockefeller Center, the Iconic Statue of Liberty, Walking 5th Avenue, Broadway Show – Chicago and its parks.

A Brooklyn bridge momentA Brooklyn Bridge traffic and pedestrian actionNYPD 3 wheeler cop car
Iconic Statue of LibertyIconic Brooklyn Bridge of New YorkIconic New York Manhattan Waterfront View
One of the many green spaces in New YorkPier A, ManhattanNew York Skyline from Downtown Manhattan
The chrng bull on brodwayThe glamour of Times Square best seen in the nightChicago the musical on broadway

To read more about this journey of mine and to check out some more awesome pictures of the destination and me having fun there, look up the following posts from the Discover America website:

Our Cross Country Train Journey in Pictures

Coast to Coast by Rail

Our Favorite Experiences while Traveling Across the USA by Rail

Coast to Coast Train Journey



Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 30 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
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