July 2008

I decided on Brussels as a little celebratory weekend venue for my ‘hen do’. 3 of my very good friends and I flew to the Belgian capital for a weekend of sight-seeing, coffee, wandering and general fun.

We were lucky enough to be there at the time of the ‘Brussels Flowers Carpet’ in the Market Square. The flowers are all begonias and it was quite a sight to see. We walked and explored the city, sampled Belgian chocolates, Belgian waffles and ice cream, Belgian beer…… (when in Rome………?) and got dressed up in the evening to go to a restaurant, unfortunately it was a pretty bad meal and service but we all had fun all the same.

I’d love to go back to Brussels one day, the cobbled windy streets were a joy to wander down and there was so much more to the city that we didn’t have time to see.

Thanks ladies for making it so much fun x

17.03.2008 – 21.03.2008

We flew to New York via Dallas where we had to change and all in all the flight was good. It was quite something to see the familiar skyline of New York as we came in to land. We caught a shuttle to a few blocks away from our hostel and then walked for about 15 minutes to reach our destination. This was quite amusing as it was in rush hour and 2 lost people with backpacks don`t really go!

We got to our hostel which was basic but secure and then found some food (finally!) and settled down for the night. During our 4 days in New York we walked miles and miles! We were based at 42nd St and it took about 2 hours to walk down to the water to catch the Staten Island Ferry. Unfortunately the weather was really cold, wet and windy so we couldn`t see the Statue of Liberty as well as we would have liked to but all the same was good. We visited the site where the World Trade Centre once stood which was crazy to see.

On our last day in New York we visited central Park (which Vicky was VERY excited about!) It was quite surreal standing in a place where so many films have been set etc. We had a good wander around and then headed to Macy`s! There was a huge flower show on there and the shop is just huge!

On our last day we treated ourselves to a delicious pastrami deli sandwich and walked for hours exploring the city, we went to Times Sq and Fifth Ave and caught the underground train too (in the wrong direction to begin with!) Once we got to the airport we felt very sad that the whole travelling year  had come to an end and it was a very strange feeling to be going home.

 

2008-03-10 to 2008-03-16

We flew to New Orleans via a Dallas Forth Worth change and the flight was okay. It was late at night when we arrived so we caught a shuttle to our hostel. Going through the city at night gave us an idea of the place and looked a bit dodgy at night!

We got to our hostel which was certainly interesting! It was an orphanage in the Victorian times and it was very spooky and a bit grotty, but we had a bed and a lock on the door so that was the main thing! After getting some sleep we decided to explore a bit the next day. We were staying in the Arts district and some of the houses and building were just beautiful. We had about a week in New Orleans and spent most of our time here walking around and exploring the city.

We could see the damage since the hurricane (Katrina) a few years ago and there were loads of people camping out under a road right opposite our hotel which was very sad to se. The different districts are very diverse in New Orleans.The old part (The French Quarter) is very touristy though really nice to wander around. There are loads of voodoo shops and lots of little bars and restaurant selling gorgeous smelling food. The area by the sea which has a shopping centre was quite strange as it was nearly always empty. We also went to the plantation houses and walked amongst the beautiful houses.

On one of the days that we were aimlessly wanderign around, a policeman drove up beside us and asked where we were from etc. We said we were from England and he asked me to get into the car… at which point he put his police hat on my head, put on the flashing lights and took a picture! It was all very surreal and quite amusing though we did feel a bit sorry for all the traffic behind which was queing up due to him stopping in the road! He also gave us a New Orleans Police Department baseball cap!

 

08.03.2008 – 09.03.2008

Part of the reason for us travelling to Las Vegas was so that we could visit the Grand Canyon and we were pleased that we could also tie in the trip with a visit to the Hoover Dam on the way.

We were collected from outside Circus Circus at 6am and it was absolutely freezing! After collecting some coffee we set off for the Hoover Dam and drove through some spectacular scenery on the way. We didn;t stop long, but enough time for a few pics.

We then had a couple of hours on the coach to the Grand Canyon. Once we arrived at the main area, we had a chice of what areas to visit, we stopped off to eat lunch first before having a look around and walking on the famous skywalk. It is a semi circle which sticks out into the air, the floor is all glass and it is 4000 feet high! It certainly gives you a good idea of how tall the canyon is and was quite scary being that high up too! We then caught a couach to another area of the canyon where the view was amazing so we stopped here for a while.

On the way back to Vegas we stopped at a tiny town which was very typical of how you`d imagine a cowboy and indian film to look, complete with loads of Joshua trees everywhere! We arrived back at our hotel in the evening (a longday!) and slept very well!

02.03.2008 – 07.03.2008

We were both really looking forward to going to Vegas and landing at the airport was an experience in itself – we hadn`t been to any other airports before which have fruit machines everwhere!! We caught a shuttle to our hotel which gave us a mini tour of the strip on the way. It took us ages to check-in at our hotel (Circus Circus) but we got there in the end. Our room was a bit shabby and we were disappointed with it. Luckily there was a problem with the plumbing and after a lot of moaning and complaining to our advantage we were moved and upgraded to a room in the tower which was just gorgeous! We had a great view of the strip from our room and a HUGE bed! We were so excited to be in our new room. 

We went to just about every hotel in the strip for a good noseyt around and they were all just mind blowing – from gondalas at the Venetian, water fountains at the Bellagio and ridiculous rides at the Stratasphere – there was certainly a lot to see to be amazed by! Due to us trying to stick to spending hardly any money we were still eating the awful $0.99 McDonalds burgers  as our stable diet and by now we were getting sick of them and feeling crappy for not having any decent food – not long now though! 

We wandered around the shopping centre here and also went on the New York New York Rollercoaster – it was huge and terrifying to begin with but really good fun. We weren`t stupid/brave enough to go on the Stratasphere rides though!

27.02.2008 – 01.03.2008

Whilst LA was never on our favourite list of places to go we decided that we couldn`t come so close without visiting, and we had a nice surprise too.

It was quite something to land in LA as we could see the “Hollywood” sign from the aeroplane and the place just looked so huge. It took a while to get to our hotel due to the traffic but it was a good chance to get a feel for the place. We arrived at our hotel to be offered with a discount due to filing that was taking place so we were unable to use the pool as it was part of the set. When walking through to our room ‘S’ noticed Ashtun Kutcher too! (see pic below) Our room was very nice, especially after the grotty place we had just left in San Francisco.

As it was quite late in the afternoon we decided to go for a wander along Hollywood Blvd. Our hotel was along Sunset Strip so we had an excellent location. We saw the famous stars on the ground and the SCinese Theatre and had a quick look around some shops. The next day we decided to go for a good long walk (about 8 hours in all!) We came accross various famous places like the Osbourne`s MTV home, the street where “Nightmare on Elm St” was filmed etc. We also went to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.

The next day we splashed out on a day at Universal Studios. It was a really, fun day, the weather was perfect and it wasn`t very busy so there were no queues either. We had a tour around loads of different film and TV sets and saw places such as the “Psycho” house, where “Desperate Housewives” is filmed, “The Grinch” set and Steve`s favourite – “Jaws”! We went on some really funny rides and some which were not so……… such as the House of Horrors – absolutely terrifying!!!

The next day we decided to take a trip to the beach as we were yet to see some California sand. Unfortunately the bus service in LA is really rubbish and confusing so it took us quite a while to get there the weather had also taken a turn for the worst and it was really cold too – not the best day for the beach and wandering around! We planned on taking  a walk along the beach to Venice Beach though the weather was so horrible and we were so cold we decided against the idea!

All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in LA and wished that we had planned to stay here longer as there were loads of cheap things to do and lots to see on a budget.

5.02.2008 – 26.02.2008

We arrived in San Francisco from Hawaii and it was later at night. We had already booked our accommodation and called a taxi service to take us there. When we mentioned that the area we were heading in was the Mission District he said that it was a bit dodgy. We got there and the driver kindly had us stay in the taxi whilst he went to find the door to the place. We got there and the place was very strange. It seemed to house old druggies and didn`t smell very nice! Our room was basic and gloomy and quite spooky, oh well, only 3 nights here! We braved it and went outside to look for something to eat (very brave!) The Mission District is home to the hispanics so there was a lot of excellent food about – we had the best burrito ever!!

The next day we decided to have a good explore of the city. It was about a 25 minute very brisk walk to the centre, oh, and it was FREEZING!!! Once out of the Mission area it was nice to wander around without feeling so nervous! We waled to the sea front and in the distance saw the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz too. We walked, and walked, and walked until it started getting dark just exploring the city. We had a good look around the Pier 39 area which was the main tourist part and saw the sea lions there too.

The next day we got up early to go to Alcatraz, we started off by treating ourselves to some breakfast and some very-much needed coffee too! We had a really excellent day at Alcatraz, it was really cold on the way over but the sun came out whilst we were there and it was really interesting to see all of the cells and how they lived there. After we got back on to the main land we decided to march along to the Golden Gate bridge. We walked as fast as we possibly could which took about 2 hours. It was really good to be stood so close to it and know that we were actually there. On the way back we also came accross a humingbird which was crazy to see!