A Travellerspoint blog

From east to west

Time to hit Carliforn-i-a!

sunny 25 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

I have an OK nights sleep but there is some kind of generator or air conditioning unit that is really noisy next to my room which is soooo loud, so quality of sleep is debatable!

I pack my bag and don't quite leave as early as I would have liked but my enthusiasm for early mornings is wearing off fast! I am eager to get my pictures online and keep facebook and this blog up to date, so I pay for internet access in my room, what happened to the free wi-fi everywhere?!?!

I have also decided that I no longer come under the bracket 'world traveller', meaning spending time washing my clothes is beneath me, so at about 10 I head to the shops to buy some essentials which should see me through to the end of the trip. I head down State street and get a few things. This time I venture to Filenes basement to find it is actually really good and very cheap. I get some goodies and have to stop myself from buying all the Blowfish shoe...mmm shoes!!! I also find a local jewellery shop whic is the same as the one in Boston but much bigger. It has a lot of the same stuff, I manage to find a ring that fits and I actually really like (only taken about 3 years)!
IMG_1764

IMG_1764

IMG_1766

IMG_1766

IMG_1773

IMG_1773


I get carried away shopping and don't leave myself much time to get across to Willis tower (Sears tower as was, it changedin 2009 due to the building name rights being sold to a new company). I decide to get my bag from the hotel and walk across town. My hotel has a screen with all the flights on, appears mine is due on time, although 15 minutes later than the original time.
IMG_1774

IMG_1774

IMG_1776

IMG_1776


Until now, this city is not very windy! Except I have no free hands and now I can't stop my dress blowing up, I'm sure some people get an eyeful, but theres not much I can do about it.

I head to Willis tower but decide walking is easiest and quicker than getting 2 metros, so off I go. Time is running out so I'm not sure if I will get to go up or not, depends on the queue, if I can get straight up, I should be OK. When I get there, there seems to be no queue and the woman says there isn't. However, when I get out of the lift, there are 100s in line waiting and so I go straight back up in the lift and walk out. I'm a bit dis-appointed to have not gone to the top as it has a big glass floor which you stand on, although I think that would have seriously freaked me out.

IMG_1778

IMG_1778

IMG_1783

IMG_1783

IMG_1779

IMG_1779


It is the 5th largest building in the world (was once the tallest), although standing at the bottom it doesn't look that tall. I take some pictures and head to the metro to go to the airport. I get to the next block, but I have gone momentarily blonde band have been looking at the totally wrong line, which means I have to walk another few blocks! Time is ticking...

When I eventually getto the station platform, there is a crazy man singing about god but actually very funny. Another man starts talking to me, he explains he is homeless and sleeps in the station or on the trains. Hes soooo sweet and I feel so sorry for him. He asks if he can have my train ticket. It has about a day left on it so of course I hand it over. There is so much homelessness everywhere I have been, all quite sad really.

When I get on the metro, I count the stops 1...2...3......19!!! Oh my god, I think I might miss my plane, it didnt seem that many coming in!

I say goodbye to Barack Obama again (I don't even know if he was at his 2nd home (this is where he lived before the Washington DC!) and watch the Chicago skyline which is very nice. Willis tower stands taller than the rest, you can see its height from this angle much better. But my pleasure is short lived as I start to panic, watching my watch and checking the time constantly.

My plane is at 17:15 and I arrive at the airport at about 16:25. I get off the train and run towards terminal 2 crossing my fingers and toes. The airport is massive, it is one of the biggest airports in America and HQ for some of the biggest airlines so I'm worried about finding where I need to be without wasting time!

I get to the Delta desk and do the automatic check in, so far so good and get through, I feel lucky, but I think America is well set up for this, so many people travelaround (especially internally) that it seems like a well oiled machine. When I get through security I grab a drink and a sandwich (as I remember I'venot had anything today yet) and head to the gate and literally step strraight onto the plane. Its a tiny plane and seems quite old and rickety, with 2 + 2 seats (but they are so close I know the man next to me intimately). I sit and read my book for the 45 minute flight. The couple in front have 2 kids. The little boy is about 3 and so naughty, I feel like saying something. They are a stereo-typical Californian family and do nothing. I bite my tongue as its only a short flight....

The stopover is in Cincinatti where I have 45 minutes to kill.I look around the shops and buy myself a new thumb ring to replace mine as it has broken, pretty happy to have got two rings in one day!

The 2nd plane is much bigger. When boarding a lady asks me where I got my dress. I tell her H&M UK, she says I look so cute (whic makes me smile) she says its not as good in the US, although I'm sure they have the same stuff.

I get settled in my seat reading my book when...the family from the last flight get on and sit in front of me again and this isa 4 hour flight!!! The boy is called Larkin (what kind of name is that anyway?), he tears it up for about 2 hours, but eventually falls asleep thank god!

The flight is generally OK. When we land at LAX, there is congestion of planes in front of us, it takes about an hour for us to get a space to get off. People are starting to kick of because everyone is supposed to stay in their seats which is difficult for some people with kids. It kicks off with the stewards, but eventually we are back on land again.

When we get off, I head to collect my bag. Its absolute chaos, there are works going on and there are people everywhere. I wait at the carousel only to find it has changed. When my bag arrives, it is all ripped, but fixable (thank god I brought my sewing kit).

Outside is even worse than inside. Its about 11pm and I wait fro the bus that doesnt seem to want to come. All buses coming are full of people. I start to get really fed up and almost upset because I am tired. I call Rich to hear a friendly voice, but I actually want to cry, I just need to get to my hotel! There are cars, taxis, security and police everywhere, its good for a spot of people watching, but not much else.
IMG_1792

IMG_1792


I realise that I can get a different bus so stand further down the ramp. Eventually after about an hour, I get a bus and I am on my way to downtown LA. It takes about 20 minutes to get to Union station and is too late for a metro so I get a taxi to my hotel.
IMG_1793

IMG_1793


When I get to the hotel, it is such a relief to see that it is really nice! The bar area looks really modern and funky and when I get to my room it is gorgeous. A glass shower cubicle is in the middle of my room with a step up to the bed. I am so glad, it makes the journey here that little bit less horrible. I think about going to the bar, but judging on the looks I got from the Californian 'it' girls when I walked in, with no dress or heels, I think I would look really out of place. I decide not to bother and head to bed instead.
IMG_1797

IMG_1797

IMG_1801

IMG_1801

Posted by Sarlou 16:55 Archived in USA Tagged chicago Comments (0)

The city with attitude

The loop and the pier

overcast 22 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

I leave the hotel to find the streets pretty empty and much quieter on account of it being a Sunday and the shops are stating to close (at 6). This was much more relaxing for me and I was much happier given that I was still pretty much worn out. My break and rest had done me so much good and my back and feet were almost recovered and pain free...almost!!!
IMG_1595

IMG_1595

IMG_1600

IMG_1600


I head off towards town and over the Chicago river into 'the loop' where there are lots of well known pieces of art dotted around and so I go off in search of them. This was quite a leisurely stroll and I am feeling pretty relaxed for a change. Its hitting sunset so I don't have much time left of daylight so I head to Millenium park.
IMG_1615

IMG_1615


A man asks me for directions (I mean seriously!?!?!). I get a bit confused and tell him the wrong way before telling him the right way, he is actually quite rude and definitely not as nice as some of the other places I have been.
IMG_1618

IMG_1618

IMG_1621

IMG_1621

IMG_1645

IMG_1645


En route I look for the route 66 sign, this is the start of the road which used to end in LA (now Santa Barbara...I think). I can find the street where it should be, but not the sign. I don't think its here anymore (MIA) and so in the end I give up as I look like a weirdo walking up and down the same street!
IMG_1654

IMG_1654

]
Millenium park is a pretty cool place, its really busy (this is where everyone was). There are two towers which have water running down them but also have video screens behind showing waterfalls (a waterfall within a waterfall) and other random pictures. There are loads of kids playing in the water. There is a grassy part where there are people playing games, they also hold free concerts here, especially in the summer. There is a lot of art too, some of it quite unusual. I have come here to see the 'bean', its really cool and massive. I feel like maybe I am being bitten alive or it could be paranoia (it is!)!
IMG_1663

IMG_1663

IMG_1667

IMG_1667

IMG_1669

IMG_1669


After that I head towards the pier. It is dark by the time I get there. There are also lots of people here, lots of shop and chain restaurants like Bubbagumps. I have a look around a few shops. One of the souvenir shops has a very od selection of dog presents, its pretty mental, I'm not even in LA yet!!!
IMG_1678

IMG_1678


I have a look at the tourist info desk to see hwta is on. There is an Imax here with a Hubble 3D show narrated by Leonardo Di Caprio. I am tempted by it and also Inception 3D, but I doubt I will have time tomorrow as I will need to be at the airport and the timings don't fit in. There also a Natal exhibition...awwww if only Rich was here. Geek!!!
IMG_1733

IMG_1733

IMG_1743

IMG_1743


There are lots of couples. Many seem like they may have been to the theatre to see Billy Elliott...or Shrek the musical...WTF?!?! It certainly seems to be quite a romantic place to come.

I walk down the pier, which turns out to be massive, there are lots ofboats where you can take trips, even at night. Theres tons of restaurants and a big food court (I am tempted by the Ben and Jerrys ice cream shop), it seems like the place to be on a Sunday evening. There is a big ferris wheel and a ew other rides. I walk to the end of the pier whihc is pretty impressive as you can see the Chicago skyline in the dark. The pictures I take don't come out too well, but in real life it looks really nice.
IMG_1747

IMG_1747

IMG_1748

IMG_1748

IMG_1751

IMG_1751


It seems everywhere I have been so far has some affiliation with the Irish. A bar is serving a drink called 'Half anf half' which is half Guiness and half Harrp, god knows what that would taste like!

I walk back to the hotel which is about a 20 minute walk. I notice how crazy the car parking prices are, really expensive, about $16 for 20 minutes!

The city seems quite cool and trying to encourage health and fitness as there are several bike parks where you can pick up a bike, ride around and then drop it back somewhere else and its all automated...so if ever you fancy a midnight bike ride...I didn't and carried on towards the hotel!

I had hoped to get something nice to eat, but I ended up in the 7-11 buying (another) sandwich. The Absolut was on the pricey side, $23 for 1/2 litre jeeees!

When I got back to the hotel I couldn't remeber my room number so I had to go to reception and ask. I felt pretty stupid, but my memory is like sieve and a new room number nearly every night isn't helping!

One thing that makes me laugh is the health commercials. I suppoose its because they dont have the NHS, but when you see adverts for depression and joint replacements and all their side affects listed, it all seems very weird!

Ah back to my bed watching Inglorious Bastards (I love Tarantino AND Brad Pitt) then sleep...East coast...DONE!!!

Posted by Sarlou 16:37 Archived in USA Tagged chicago Comments (0)

Time for some R&R

a little me time and catchup with my blog

sunny 27 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

I wake up at about 8.00, but decide I should sleep more and then wake at 10.30.

Today is probably the only day I will get to relax, so I decide to chill and stay in bed for most of it, tyring to repair my back and feet.

Rich is at the airport, so I spend some time catching up with him via MSN, catching up with my blog and eating Flax seed tortilla chips in bed.

It feels bad that I am not out doing stuff, but sometimes, I really have to stop myself because I will end up in overdrive (and afterall it is a Sunday!). I can do stuff in the evening and tomorrow before my flight to LA.

My only issue is the internet is spazzy, but thats ok.

I have a shower and then head out at about 17.00 to see what I can find in Chicago!

Posted by Sarlou 10:30 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

The mid point

in the windy city

sunny 20 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

After trying to get a bottle of water through the scannner (oops), I fly of in search of the windy city.

In know its not technically the mid point, but in terms of my trip it pretty much is. Im planning on getting some chill time in Chicago as my candle is burnt at both ends!

Getting off the plane is easy enough. Because we were delayed we let the people with coonnecting flights off first. The air stewardess says about courtesy etc, the Canadians really are a nice bunch! When I get into the terminal, it seems really weird not to go through passport control but its an internal flight so there is no need. I head to carousel4 to get my baggage and wait for about 20 minutes, noting happens. Its been changed to 9 but no-one bothered to tellus.

Eventually when Ifind my bag, I head for the train into the city which is there waiting. I get a 3 day public transport pass for $14, bargain!

It takes wuite a while to get into town. When I eventually get off I get confused, me and my map are going to have words! I spot a CTA man and he points out I just got of the blue line and not the red, thats my mistake! He tells me to get the bus accross town and I should be good. I do just that and get off where he says.

Its sooo busy, but then I remember its Saturday night. Im way to tired for it. I pass a bachelorette party in a trolley who are shouting out at everyone, seems like a fun place.

I arrive at the hotel which is lovely. I check in and the man at the desk is asking about my travels and where im from. He also asks how upset I was about the World cup!?!?!

I set up camp and feel happy knowing I have two nights here, I certainly am going to trecharge my batteries...

Posted by Sarlou 16:28 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Man I need a holiday

This travelling lark is well tiring!

sunny 24 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

So I wake up (looking a bit pink) at about 8 with the intention of leaving early to get out and about, doent exactly go to plan. Im so tired I could go back to sleep. I end up talking to Rich for a while online and before I know it, its time to check out. I have a shower and get packed (again). When I'm at home, I have a real issue with packing and unpacking aqll the time, especially when I stay at Richs because I dont know what to pack and end up up with loads of stuff. And you can guarantee I dont have what I need. Anyway, I really should have thought about that when planning this trip, somebody please remind of this fact when/if I ever have only funky travelling ideas again, thank you!

After walking the main strip last night, I wasnt too bothered about the shops or anything else so decided to head straight to Maid of the mist boat trip and hopefullly go behind the falls too. I had hoped to visit Butterfly world, but it is out of town, so I decide that I wont be going.

Niagara is quite small, so I get there in about 10 minutes and there is only a small queue, which is all good. I am told it will take about 20 minutes to queue because they run every 15 minutes. You can get a lot of people per boat and there are two working, so I am optimistic.
IMG_1504

IMG_1504

IMG_1508

IMG_1508


I can see the falls from the queue and they are even more impressive in daylight. You can see the American (bridalveil) falls quite easily because they are along a flatish wall, the Canadian (horseshoe) falls are horseshoe shaped and the spray/mist in the middle means its difficult to see it all. The shear volume of water is amazing though, to think thats its constant. There is spray in the air and it also causes a bit of a breeze too, which is nice as its hot today and I'm still a bit pink from yesterday.
IMG_1513

IMG_1513

IMG_1516

IMG_1516

IMG_1525

IMG_1525

IMG_1527

IMG_1527


I don my blue plastic poncho ready for my trip into the mist. Firstly we go past the American falls, the air is a bit damp so I use my old camera because it is waterproof, it then seems like its not too bad and so for better quality pictures (by far) I decide to use my new camera until it gets too wet. I start taking pictures but it is getting too wet so try to put away my new camera to keep it dry, somehow it slips of of my hand and drops on the floor (I later discover that the screen is cracked, which I am very unhappy with myself about, but apart from that it seems to be working fine). So for the remainder of the boat trip I use the waterproof. The sheer power of the water is incredible, its still difficult to see it, but the boat gets as close as it can inside the horseshow and everyone gets pretty wet.
IMG_1530

IMG_1530

IMG_1532

IMG_1532

IMG_1537

IMG_1537

IMG_1543

IMG_1543

IMG_1546

IMG_1546


I'm glad to get off the boat as its quite cramped and Im feeling claustrophobic. I then call Rich to tell him about my camera. He says he's not bothered but I feel like hes disappointed because I cant be trusted with stuff, i have a reputation for being clumsy and wanted to prove that I could be good this time, but Ive failed.
IMG_1550

IMG_1550

IMG_1552

IMG_1552

IMG_1556

IMG_1556

IMG_1557

IMG_1557

IMG_1563

IMG_1563

P1011459

P1011459

P1011468

P1011468

P1011471

P1011471


Then off to go behind the falls. Im getting conscious of time. I dont have much before I need to leave for the airport as my flight is at 4.15, but I can get in straight away so I do.

Theres a tunnel where you can see behind the falls in 2 different places (this is pretty rubbish). Then an observation deck with teo floors which are just next to the end of where the water stops, this is much better. I take a few photos and then head back to the hotel to collect my bag.
IMG_1573

IMG_1573

IMG_1576

IMG_1576

IMG_1578

IMG_1578

IMG_1579

IMG_1579


I have realised that the bus to the airport I was going to get runs every few hours and its not to my advantage, I decide that I will get a taxi no matter what cost. My back is very sore, I've definitely pulled something and struggling quite a lot, so a taxi is better for my back and my stress level, perhaps not on my purse, but money isnt everything!

I manage to flag down a taxi. His English isnt too good, but I explain I want to get my bag and then go to the airport. He hasnt got his passport and so he gets on the radio to get someone who has. I didnt realise I would have to go into the US to travel back, I was thinking the airport was the Canadian side. Lets hope I can get out easier than I did getting in!!!

The other taxi takes about 5 minutes and we are on our way. The driver reminds me a bit of the Indian in One flew overthe cuckoos nest, but he seems pleasant. Again his English isnt great, but he says that hopefully we should be able to get through to the US as I have a stamp from acoupleof days ago. I say I will smile and cross my fingers.

After picking my bag up, we are on our way and we get through the border with few questions. They seem ti find it difficult to grasp the idea of travelling from place to place. As soon as I mention I am doing a trip and then going home I get through no problem.

The journey takes about half an hour. It costs $85 US but is worth it. Also give the driver the last of my Candain dollars as I have no use for then anymore, (its only about $5).

There is a queue at check in and its slightly delayed (of course) so I go get changed and then check in. Its done mostly through machines and I have to pay $25 for my checked in bag, which isnt too bad (compared to Ryanair!).

I have about 2 hours to kill so go get some food. There is a chinese man in front of me causing chaos ordering food in front of me. Hes getting a set menu but thinks he should be getting extra for free according to the picture. He doesnt seem to grasp it and gets his own way in the end, I think because they want rid of him. Seriously, I don t know how some people get through life! I get Lasagne, salad and garlic bread, its the first sit down meal ive had in days, its not great but it hits the spot nicely!

I can't believe, I'm on ly a week in, done so much!!!

I board the plane and it is chocker block. I'm sat inbetween a mand and a woman, time for sleep (Im getting really used to this sleeping on transport thing)!...

Posted by Sarlou 08:58 Archived in Canada Tagged foot Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 25) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 »