Now some cruel folk may say that I am just a tad high maintenance, and therefore could never picture me on a bus to Blaydon, least of all traversing around the Southern States on one. Can I just say that this is WRONG, I have ridden on buses lots of times, mostly it was a deeply unpleasant experience, however I have done it. So I was a little apprehensive about this trip. (Before anyone asks, obviously the bus part was once we'd arrived in the States - to get us over there from the UK we used the traditional airplane method).
The other issue I had was some of the destinations on the tour. Savannah, Charleston and Washington DC looked great, but Colonial Williamsburg? Richmond? I was Googling them on the laptop when I looked over and saw the Husband happily flicking through his American Civil War book. Suddenly I realised I had been well and truly had.
So that's how we ended up in Washington Dulles Airport last month waiting for the rest of our coach-tour buddies to collect their luggage. Looking around I realised we were the youngest on the tour by several years, maybe even decades. Although on some level I think I was already expecting that.
First stop was Richmond, Virginia, where we stayed overnight before travelling down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the next day. As we arrived at the resort I started to relax and thought that maybe everything would be ok. The sun was shining, I could see the sea, there were people sunbathing on the beach, I could finally wear that playsuit I wouldn't be seen dead in at home....all good!
I've wanted to visit a beach resort in the US for aaages and Myrtle Beach is everything I expected it would be. It's a small place, with just a handful of shops and restaurants, but it has that nice laid back, friendly atmosphere where it seems like everyone's just drinkin' beer 'n' tossin' peanuts. That night, we went for dinner at famous local seafood joint Duffy Street where lots of people were, actually, drinkin' beer 'n' tossin' peanuts. Right onto the floor. Apparently it's the done thing at Duffy's, so, even though I HATE littering, 'When in Myrtle.....'! Portion sizes were huge, as expected.....
Our next destination was the beautiful Charleston, which has a real 'old-money' feel to it. We took a boat trip around the harbour to Fort Sumter, where the Civil War all began (see, Ray, I learnt something!) and had some dolphins following the boat which made it extra special.
After seeing as much as we could in Charleston we all piled back onto the coach and headed to Savannah, where the prime objective was for the Husband and I to find the famous park bench from the opening scenes of Forrest Gump. Alas, we found out that the bench has now been moved to the visitor's centre in Savannah, however we did manage to find the square the scenes were filmed in, and there are other benches there, so this is about as close as we're going to get....(cue wistful expression photo op.)
After our mountain experience we made a quick overnight stop at Winston Salem, which gave us a much needed mall-visiting opportunity (I had done scant shopping by this point). I had already accepted that this would sadly not be a 'shopping holiday', but was glad of the chance to panic-buy sweaters in Abercrombie & Fitch all the same.
We then had our visit to the dreaded Colonial Williamsburg, which the husband and I agreed is basically a big huge Beamish Museum. But in America, obvs. And not as old. They had shops there too, so it wasn't all bad.
Final destination for us was Washington DC and all of it's famous monuments (plus an illicit trip to Macy's). It was pretty interesting to see the White House, and all of the secret service blacked-out cars lining the streets around it. What was also great was meeting a few of Washington's resident black squirrels, who are super friendly and, like me, apparently LOVE Ben 'n' Jerry's S'mores cookies
So that took us to the end of our trip, and actually....I really enjoyed it. The plus side of travelling on a coach trip is that there's no worrying about how to get to your destination (and I am truly terrible with directions - just ask the Husband), someone else does all the driving, and you get to see parts of the area that you wouldn't do normally. *Most* of our travelling companions were friendly enough so that was good too. So, from hating the idea of a bus trip, I've actually gone to thinking about where we can go on the next one. And I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Charleston and Savannah as must-sees for anyone who hasn't yet been.
I only have one piece of advice for anyone thinking about doing one of these coach tour holidays - DO NOT, under any circumstances, sit in any seat on the bus other than the one you are meant to be sitting in. You may not know which one you are meant to be sitting in, which could prove problematic, but you MUST NOT sit in anyone else's seat. If you do, blood may be shed. Believe me, I know.