The United Mates of America tour kicked off in style, as Katy (also known as Kevin) and I hit up a Stateside cultural hub, Dave & Buster's, for some chilli and beer. Providence, RI, the smallest state's biggest city, is a destination for budget airline Norwegian; their £179 fares were a deciding factor when we booked this trip at 1 in the morning on a slow March evening. We learnt quickly that America provides value for money, with ocean-sized 'small' dollar coffees, $2 tacos and $3 beers, if you can find the right back alley (we always do).
Cheap food fuels young minds, and we visited Brown University to see how it compared to our beloved, recently departed Warwick. After joining a tour group and sneaking into the freshers' halls, it was clear that value for money extended to the American education system (or maybe it's more that their astronomical tuition fees actually contribute to the campus itself). It would have been a touch too far to try and stay in halls – we need to let go sometime – but the painfully thin walls of our Airbnb brought back memories of Rootes and all the noises you never want to hear.
Our next stop was Cape Cod, a middle-class haven in neighbouring Massachusetts and definitely not a place where your horny hosts keep you awake. Trish, our Airbnb guardian angel, left the doors unlocked at all times, initially inducing a horror movie fear which dissipated when she called to ask for our breakfast requests. The next day, she drove us to the ferry terminal for Martha's Vineyard, a favoured holiday destination of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. We felt somewhat presidential drinking cold Sav in a high-end sports bar, where the dress code was heels but all the food was deep-fried. Martha was nowhere to be seen.
From Cape Cod we moved up the coast to the Portland you've never heard of, in Maine. Come Saturday night, a couple of quiet beers escalated into a dance-off with a bachelor party and an invitation to an insurance broker's yacht. The hangover was too intense to get on a boat, and in the cold light of day, repeated calls from said broker persuaded us to stay on dry land. Instead, we explored Portland's unexpectedly vibrant food scene; I had my first gluten-free cinnamon roll, and after more fish tacos down a cobbled street, Kevin and I shared a $20 lobster meal on the harbour (sharing meals is essential to maximise sampling and minimise the gunt).
Our first week was Maine-ly successful, except that our 'cute British accent' didn't get us bought a single drink (shock) and Kevin won't wear the tour t-shirts I designed especially for the UMA trip. Stay tuned to track both our flirting and fashion progress!