A Travellerspoint blog

USA

New York, New York

sunny 17 °C
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So the evening we arrived in white plains maria drove us on to her house in Tuckahoe which is about 30mins north of manhattan. we went out for tea at mighty joes and then watched some TV back at the house. On thursday we got up and took the train from tuckahoe to Grand Central station 102_3104.jpg which is mid-town manhattan. From the station we walked down to the Empire state building102_3110.jpg where we were confronted with a 3 hour line to get to the top! we decided that that was a bit ridiculous and walked over from 102_3111.jpg to another famous street, broadway. On broadway we first came to the famous department store maceys 102_3112.jpg where they were having a flower festival for spring which was pretty impressive 102_3114.jpg it was a short walk up broadway to times square 102_3122.jpg the stereotypical scene of new york city! we took in the mayhem for a while before walking across town to the rockerfella centre and radio city 102_3124.jpg102_3134.jpg by this time it was about 2pm so we thought it might be quite good to get a cocktail in the rainbow room cocktail bar at the top of the rockerfella tower but unfortunately it was closed until 5pm! across the street from the rockerfella is St Patricks Cathedral. The day before we arrived the new archbishop of New York was sworn in to service here but no such crowds there on the thursday! 102_3125.jpg. After we had been in the cathedral and the rockerfella center we thought that maybe the queue at the empire state building had reduced in size so we walked back down there to investigate. It had! only a mere hour and a half wait! we thought that was probably the best we were going to get so we joined the back of the line 102_3139.jpg we eventually reached the top 102_3141.jpg and although it was a little crowded it was worth the wait!! the view of manhattan and the rest of new york was amazing. 102_3142.jpg 102_3162.jpg This was the end of the day so we headed back to the train and found the train bound for tuckahoe.
On Friday we got a nice lie in til about 10 to rest our legs from thursdays walking. Maria had the day off so she offered to take us out for lunch in the city...she took us to little italy! it was brilliant, its the same concept of china town but italian!102_3166.jpg it was really nice down there and the sun was out so we sat at a restaurant, alfresco style 102_3167.jpg the food was great too...especially the desert restaurant maria took us too afterwards! we then went for a walk through little italy and china town to marias favorite fake handbag shop which brought back memories of hong kong! Maria got a good louis vitton fake and jo got a really good tiffany bracelet! bargains all round! Maria had to head back at around half 3 to beat the new york rush hour, and we had arranged to meet jackie (our friend from new york we first met in Laos) after she finished work around 5.30. So we took a walk round a bit more of china town then started walking downtown past the supreme court 102_3171.jpg to ground zero where the world trade center once stood. They're actually building on the site now so we couldn't see anything there. From that block its a short hop over to wall street 102_3175.jpg where we could sling some abuse at the ones responsible for the recession! unfortunately there were alot of armed guards around the stock exchange 102_3179.jpg but it is quite an impressive street. We then walked down to battery park where the sphere is now located (the sculpture that once stood by the twin towers that they managed to salvage) 102_3183.jpg and a far off view of the statue of liberty. By this time it was time to meet jackie! we planned to head out in manhattan that night for her birthday which she was sharing a party with her friends laura and dave. We went to Queens first to lauras house so the girls could get ready then round to 3 guys', Oran, Orrin and Nour who live up the road in Astoria. They kindly offered me and Jo a bed for the night so we were all set! a few pre-drinks were had consisting of a vodka-champagne cocktail and then in the yellow cab to the bar they had hired out.102_3189.jpg It was a good night...for most people. Not especially for me, or Oran for that matter. The cocktails before we left and the double shots of tequila resulted in an unhappy mix for my stomach and it decided it didn't want to be unhappy any longer and expelled the mixture from my body...for the first time ever!! True Story!
The next day was a complete write off! all of us were a bit of a wreck and we just kicked back in Queens all day. we went out for lunch in astoria and a ben and jerrys ice cream before we had to head back to tuckahoe where a chinese take away slightly helped the hangovers.
On Sunday we met jackie at grand central for a day of touristy things so we headed straight down to the staten island ferry which with jackies local knowledge is FREE and goes right past the statue of liberty! Since you cant go up the statue anymore because of terrorist fears this was a good option! 102_3192.jpg 102_3213.jpg102_3225.jpg and on the way back we got a good view of the city 102_3227.jpg. After we got back to manhattan we went round the village which is the shopping area, fun times 102_3229.jpg. Then for our last new york activity we got the subway up to central park 102_3233.jpg and we all went on the old carousel 102_3243.jpg. We said bye to jackie and rushed to get the train back to tuckahoe where maria had made us a farewell yankee pot-roast.
In the morning we took the train and subway to Penn station at madison square gardens and caught our bus to Washington DC, our last stop!!

Posted by rob_harvs 06:41 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

San Francisco

sunny 16 °C
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This last week has gone soooo quickly! hard to believe we only have 3 and a half weeks until we have to fly home!!
We have been pretty busy and seen most of what san fran has to offer us in the way of tourism etc... So we had to leave the fairmont and head down the street a few blocks on the cable car 102_2481.jpg to our cheaper place- the Opal.102_2483.jpg Which is still pretty nice, except for the first two nights where something in my bed was eating me alive!! apparently pest control found nothing but my itchy bites said different. Obviously we moved rooms and got money back etc!!
So we checked in to the new place and jumped on the bus down to fishermans wharf 102_2484.jpg where there is loads of stuff going on! you have all your typical tourist shops selling a whole world of rubbish and then restaurants serving the famous clam chowder served inside a big round crusty loaf and the sourdough bakery. DSCF1659.jpg theres a good walk along the marina wall to get a good view of the city and the wharf 102_2507.jpg and some of the tall ships 102_2496.jpg. We then walked up the hill to ghirardelli square the home of the famous chocolate brand, where we got some free samples and had a look around the posh shops around it! 102_2493.jpg. We also checked out the free musee mechanique where the have all the old games and photo-booths and fortune teller machines etc 102_2488.jpg. After a late night of tom foolery
102_2512.jpg we had a lie in and then headed out to the golden gate bridge! At over 2miles long its a pretty impressive bridge...apparently if you took all the wire out of the bridge it would wrap round the world 3 times!! 102_2518.jpg we had a bit of a walk over the bridge but not all the way! haha too lazy for that. 102_2522.jpg
it didn't take too long to see the bridge so to fill the afternoon we decided to try and find Mrs Doubtfires house! yes its here, in san fran! exciting times...haha. We walked all around the neighbourhood 102_2534.jpg until we ended up exactly where we started...and as it turned out right outside the house! 102_2536.jpg. Not far from the house is the "crookedest street" so we checked that out as well. We rushed back to the hotel that evening so Jo and Zoe could try to get tickets for a musical. We got to the box office just in time and they managed to get tickets for that nights performance of "Wicked".DSCF1624.jpg It is the musical of the untold story of the witches from the wizard of Oz! i think its safe to say they LOVED it!!DSCF1625.jpg while they were singing and dancing along to that i got to watch some stuff on tv that i hadn't had chance to watch in 6months...things like boxing etc.
The next day we took the bus in to town and went round a few shops before heading to Golden gate park DSCF1627.jpg which is ALOT bigger than we expected! we went through the botanical gardens DSCF1641.jpg and walked all the way to the beach near the dutch windmill they have restored DSCF1648.jpg. That night we met a couple we met first of all in San Diego, they went on to LA from there where they stayed with the bassist from the Eagles who is related by marriage to Richard. We met for tea in the Cheesecake factory which is really good!! nice huge portions!
Yesterday we went to Alcatraz. I was looking forward to the trip all week! so at 4pm we headed out on the ferry to "the Rock". DSCF1671.jpg 102_2605.jpg as you arrive its hard not to see why they though the place was escape proof! you can imagine how intimidating it would have been getting off the boat there.102_2622.jpg 102_2627.jpg we walked up past the old living quarters to the cell block where we picked up our audio tour of the prison DSCF1690.jpg it was the voices of former guards and inmates leading us round 102_2636.jpg the cells were TINY i think 8 by 9 feet...none of the luxury they get these days! 102_2637.jpg the cells in the "special case" block were worse 102_2642.jpg and then there were the solitary confinement cells 102_2650.jpg. The rec yard was the only space for exercise 102_2658.jpg and the doors on the way offer that killer view 102_2671.jpg. They tell you about the escape attempts and the one that was successful where 3 guys made fake heads for their beds 102_2683.jpg and escaped through holes they had scratched out with spoon handles 102_2684.jpg they were never caught and various theories are told about where they ended up (if they made it out of the water). The view of the city would be hard to look at if you knew you could never leave! 102_2680.jpg102_2674.jpg and the sun was setting over the golden gate bridge as we left 102_2707.jpg.
So tomorrow Zoe leaves for london and me and Jo leave for Seattle/Vancouver!
Speak to you soon!
Love Rob, Jo and Zoe xxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 15:01 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Grand Canyon and Vegas baby!!

sunny 15 °C
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So we set off from San Diego later than i had hoped around 1pm using the Sat Nav we borrowed from Jo's auntie. I had looked at the route and started in that direction but no the sat nav told me we were going the wrong way...i don't like putting all my faith in something like that but Jo was all for it so we decided to follow it. So after about 5hours of driving and 250 miles to go it was blatently taking us in the opposite direction so we re-programed it and lo and behold nearly 600 miles to go. brilliant! we arrived in flagstaff at about 12.30am after a ridiculous day of driving.
The next day was better, only an hour drive to the south rim of the grand canyon...it was definitely worth the driving! "Spectacular" doesn't do it justice! 102_2259.jpg102_2247.jpg102_2239.jpg102_2238.jpg102_2226.jpg We couldn't get over the size of the place, over 277miles long!! there was also classic north american wildlife all around us... we saw Condors 102_2251.jpg and Elk but didn't manage to spot any of the 20 mountain lions that live in the park.
That night we stayed close by on the famous route 66 102_2279.jpg and on the monday we decided to head on to Las Vegas. During the week the casinos in vegas slash the prices of the hotel to try and get people in to the casino so it worked out way cheaper for us to stay in a 4 star hotel in vegas than to stay in a hostel or motel anywhere else! On the way to vegas we drove over the Hoover Dam 102_2302.jpg which was pretty impressive.
After a 4 hour drive we arrived in Vegas! 102_2453.jpg and the stratosphere hotel casino where we had booked to stay for the first 2 nights. 102_2310.jpg102_2309.jpg its a pretty good view from up there 102_2322.jpg We decided to stay 5 nights in vegas all together because of it being so cheap! We stayed the second two nights in Circus Circus 102_2457.jpg after stratosphere hiked their prices. Both of these hotels are the north end of the famous las vegas strip. 102_2423.jpg102_2426.jpg Our hotels were nice but some of these were in another world. Not only are they casinos they're shopping malls, theme parks, circus' and stadiums! The venitian102_2316.jpg has a canal that runs round the outside102_2355.jpg and through the inside of the shopping mall 102_2365.jpg All the hotels have something unique and extravagant 102_2315.jpg102_2333.jpg102_2334.jpg102_2338.jpg So looking round all these different things takes a long time. We also did a spot of gambling 102_2321.jpg we did quite well really in vegas terms. For most of the time we were up and used our winnings to buy our dinner or pay for activities, but i think we left vegas down $20 between us! Nobody ever wins! We also met some celebs there 102_2378.jpg102_2382.jpg102_2387.jpg102_2396.jpg and of course the man of the moment 102_2414.jpg did i mention this was at madam tussauds? haha. Another iconic vegas sight is the Bellagio hotel fountains, they are brilliant...kind of mesmerizing! It is timed to various songs so changes every time 102_2435.jpg102_2431.jpg
At the weekend the prices of the room increase to what you would imagine for somewhere like that so we had to leave the hotels and get back to the motels 102_2458.jpg but it was ok...no hotel but ok and still on the strip!
On Saturday morning we left vegas and started the drive to San Francisco. This time we decided to break up the drive and stop somewhere for the night. We drove for around 7hrs through changing weather, we even saw a double tornado a long way off to our right!!! we also saw tumble weeds and oil fields 102_2461.jpg to with in 150miles of san fran and stayed the night in King city. On Sunday morning i drove on to san fran with a very excited Jo as Jo's sister Zoe was arriving in to san fran for a weeks holiday! So we dropped the car off with no problems and waited for Zo at arrivals. 102_2465.jpg For Zoe's birthday Jo managed to book a VERY posh hotel very cheap way back in australia! So we all headed to the Fairmont San Francisco. 102_2472.jpg102_2473.jpg and the room is AMAZING! two bedrooms and an awesome bathroom, 2 plasma screens etc! 102_2466.jpg. So far san fran is really nice... a bit cooler than the desert but we're getting used to that, and the streets are SO steep 102_2476.jpg
Unfortunately we have to leave the fairmont today and go to a more realistic hotel :( but im sure it will still be nice!

So thats everything up to now!

Speak to you all soon, Love Rob and Jo xxxxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 10:11 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Los Angeles and San Diego

sunny 10 °C
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We were both sad to leave Fiji especially jo knowing we had an 11 hour plane journey ahead of us! We left an hour late in the end at 11pm, and we managed to score 3 seats between the two of us which was better than nothing...in fairness to Jo the flight for a change WAS quite bumpy haha but we arrived safe in los angeles BEFORE we left Fiji. Theres a 19hr time difference!!
We couldn't believe the size of the place from the air and it took us half an hour to even drive out of the airport! we had to book in to a dorm in LA because its so expensive so bunk beds in a mixed 8 person dorm it was. We had the afternoon to kill so being based in the middle of Hollywood we walked up on to hollywood boulevard to see the stars 102_2122.jpg 102_2125.jpg and the kodak theatre 102_2124.jpg 102_2140.jpg and the hand prints outside the chinese cinema. 102_2136.jpg Our first impressions were of how scummy Hollywood was (except around the kodak where they have the oscars), junkies and beggars and pure weirdos line the street that is for some reason famed for glitz and glamour. Its the only place so far (except for a couple of times in china) that we felt a bit unsafe!
Being a bit jet lagged we went to bed fairly early and didn't really get much sleep thanks to the noisy guys in the room.
The next day we got up and went on the walking tour through the hostel to the Hollywood sign. We got the bus to the bottom of Hollywoodland housing estate...V posh! (the sign originally read hollywoodland as an advertisldement) we walked up the hill and got as close as we could to the sign without getting the $103 fine, 103??!!P3100147.jpg the sign was pretty cool but at the end of the day it is just a sign. In the afternoon we decided to take the bus to Santa monica102_2155.jpg to Venice beach with a couple of guys we met from Memphis. Santa Monica was a much nicer area of LA and the beaches were massive!!102_2154.jpg102_2153.jpg a shame that the weather was too cold for any beach shenannigans.
The next day we took the subway to Union station and jumped on a train as quick as we could out of LA 102_2156.jpg to San Diego. 102_2162.jpg. San Diego was a world away from LA, it was clean and laid back and the people were nice.102_2202.jpg We booked in to a really good hostel with our own room for less than the 8man dorm in LA!
The next day we took the bus out to balboa park 102_2165.jpg which is huge and has 15museums! we chose the natural history museum to see the Body worlds exhibition by that pathologist guy who did the autopsy on TV. The exhibition had real bodies minus the skin plastinated for display. it was amazing! Jo made a new friend too...102_2167.jpg. We met another couple in the hostel that night after another small world moment, and went out for a couple of drinks with them.
On the friday we got up early and took the bus to the famous san diego zoo! 102_2199.jpg which was really good! 102_2195.jpg and then in the afternoon we walked round the coastal track round san diego bay where they have some cool things like the aircraft carrier and plane used in TOPGUN, and some good shops and cafes.102_2213.jpg102_2221.jpg There was also a Grey Whale in the bay that had taken a wrong turn up the coast and got lost! i tried to get him on camera, can u spot it?? 102_2218.jpg.
Saturday was the day we left san diego after picking up the rental car at the airport!! 102_2263.jpg it was really good, brand new only 6000 miles on the clock and pretty good on petrol! Next stop Flagstaff, Arizona.

More soon!

Love Rob and Jo xxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 17:29 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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