A Travellerspoint blog

One strip pony

Canadas equivalent to Blackpool

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

The journey to Niagara i sabout 2 hours and the train is busy. I think this must be a long distance train because the seats are really comfy and you have lkoads of room.

The woman across the way seems to be eating her nuts really loudly and it is really annoying me, Im irritable, a sure sign of how tired I am!

The time seems to pass quite quickly. There are a few stops and then we have to wait about 15 minutes to let a freight train pass.

When I eventually get off the train, there is nothing around (not what i expected), so I ask the man in the shop and he says its about a 40 minute walk to my hotel, so off I go.
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It really is a ghost town, theres barely anything around. This is not what I was expecting at all.

In the distance I can hear music, its in the direction I am walking. I get to the end of a road to see it closed so far down. I go to see whats going on. There is a stage in the middle of the road and a band playing. Its outside of a pub and there are loads of tables and chairs, seems to be a real local thing. The band are playing guns and roses and aerosmith type stuffand are called 9 lives,I stand and watch them for a while and they are pretty fun.
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After a whil of walking through nothing, I start to see lights of the Sheraton hotel in the distance. As I eventually get closer, I can see more stuff so I know Im going in the right direction. I dont really have a proper soIm doing quite well considering.
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I walk through the 'strip' and its really busy, but strikes me as all that there is here and a lot like a Canadian Blackpool. Theres a casino, waxwork museums, food stands, souveneer shops, tacky stuff!

I carry on to the hotel, I seem to have been walking forever, but I eventually find the hotel, seems I walked all the way around it, nevermind arrived now.

I check in at about 21.50 and start to sort myself out before heading out.

Then I hear fireworks, I was really hoping to catch them, so I throw stuff in my bag and leg it out the door. I see a couple but pretty much missed them.

Without my bag and knowing where my hotel is, I cut through to the main part in bout 5 minutes.

I decide to go on the Skywheel so I can see where stuff and the waterfalls are. Its hard to take pictures, but the waterfalls are all lit up with coloured lights and pretty nice looking. You can feel a dampness in the air, I guess that comes from the spray.
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I have a wander around the shops. There is one place making peoples hands into wax which is really cool, so I sit and watch a while, my feet and back are really hurting so a little rest is good.
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After that I head down to the falls. You can hear them from a distance and they are pretty cool to see. You cansee the bridge over into the US and also maid of the mist which I wantto go on tomorrow.
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I stay to take some pictures and then head back to the hotel, where I eat sweet potato tortillas and olives in bed...

Posted by Sarlou 16:31 Archived in Canada Tagged lodging Comments (0)

In search of mounties

moose, maple syrup and other Canadian stereotypes

sunny 28 °C
View Sarahs 30th birthday trip to USA on Sarlou's travel map.

I wake up early-ish and go down for breakfast, coffe and toast. I forget my room number again (even though its on my card) and the man checks Im who I say I am. I speak with the people and ask them for where to go, the are amazingly friendly and seem so helpful, maybe Canadians are friendly afterall and I got off to a bad start! When I checked in, I got asked what the difference between a flat and apartment was, I said nothing, its a British thing! The guy is telling me about the news and David Beckham being too old to play, how is that on the news, isnt it common knowledge?

In my few days here, I am definitely loosing weight, must be all the walking, although I havnt been eating a great deal either, too busy or tired!

One thing that is big business here is drinks cans/flasks, everone has one and the shops sell an array of designs, they are actually pretty funky and a good idea really.

I cant see the top of the CN tower yet, but it is early, I expect it will clear in a bit (it does).

I am wondering how many countries I have been to (not including GB) and I work it out to be 19. I am already thinking about myy next adventures, I definitely have the travelling bug!

I head off out and hope that it being Friday 13th is not a bad thing. The weather is hot but theres a nice breeze.
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Firstly I stop off at the condom shop and the tattoo place, both are actually really cool and I head towards China town. It is actually a really cool street, with lots of nice shops and right on the doorstep. I think Diane would love it here, definitely her kind of place.
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China town is really busy and there are lots of stuff for sale out on the street. From there I cut through to Kensington market. Most the shops are all like little shacks, but somehow it is really cool and works, a kind of shabby-chic.
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I want to see the 'Crystal' at the Royal Ontario museum, so head in that direction past the university. IMG_1291

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The ROM and crystal are really quite impressive. There is a gift shop and I decide to look in. I realise that there is a Terracotta Warrier exhibition and so decide to look round as that is one of the main reasons I would like to go to China and I missed the one in London a few years back. You cant take pictures though, but its amazing to think how old they are.
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The warriers are pretty cool and the museum is pretty amazing, it has a bit of everything, but its all very interesting, I would definitely recommend it. I have to wizz round because I don't have a lot of time, but you could easily spend a day here. I buy a few goodies from the gift shop and carry on.
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My feelings of Toronto are that I don't have enough time and will certainly be back again.

Next stop Art Gallery of Ontario, which has a funky building on stilts, I dont stop, just take a few pics and then make my way to the Rogers centre and CN tower on foot.
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I am hoping to go up the CN tower but there is a 45 minute queue and I dont have time so I head to the harbourfront. T%his is also really cool. If I had taime I would take a water-taxi to the islands so I could see the view of the city cos I reckon it would be pretty cool.IMG_1395

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There is a craft studio with people making glass vases, I watch them for a while. There are lots of different crafts you can do here in the form of workshops and then there is a gift shop where you can buy/sell which is also pretty good.
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Theres loads of restaurants and a shopping centre, I grab a few things to eat and drink and then head back to the hotel via the city hall to get my things.
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By this time I am power walking like crazy because Im worried about missing my train. I trudge down to Union station where it is delayed by 15 minutes.There is a massive queue so at least Im OK.

I get on the train and eventually get a space for my luggage and take a seat, Niagara here I come...

Posted by Sarlou 11:26 Archived in Canada Tagged foot Comments (0)

North of the border

When I eventually get through Immigration

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

I awake to the landing of the plane, was quite a nice flight and it doesnt feel like Im in a different country (they are pretty much the same arnt they?!?!)? The view coming down was good and you copuld see Torontos skyscapers in the distance.

I make my way through the airport and through to passport control. The woman seems really harsh and asks me where I have arrived from. Now remember I have just woken up, but my mind is blank! Then after what seems like a week, I remember Boston! I don't know if its standard procedure or because I forgot my flight details, but she sends me to immigration.

I'm not being racist, but everyone else in the queue is black, indian or cant speak English and I stand out like a sore thumb. Looking at the other people, they seem to be getting a hard time. There are monks dressed in orange, an indian family who seem to have taken a boy (who is american born) to india for x amount of years and the woman is saying "He is going to lose his status" and a girl who doesnt know her fathers date of birth and is being told "its not rocket science"! Should I really be in this queue? Fingers crossed!!!

Seems crossing my fingers wasnt enough and I get a hard time too! The woman I get is not going to take any shit (not that I am going to give any), but she wants to know about everything (who are you...why are you here...how long for...where are you staying...what are you going to do...where have you been...where are you going next...are you married...do you have children...who do you work for...for how long...where else have you been in the world...do you own property...shoe size (OK not that last one, but it was crazy and not very nice)) and I certainly feel like a criminal even if Im not! And I was told the Canadians would be friendly!!!

I eventually get the all important stamp and I am on my way. My luggage is waiting for me I have been that long and then I have to queue again to get out. I get some cash from the ATM and quite suprised to see queen Liz on the cash, don't know what I expected.
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I head off to get the bus, it seems I have just missed one, the traffic is chaos and the previous one was 40 minutes late, so god knows when I will arrive. I have free wi-fi so use the time uploading pics. The bus costs $22 for 16 miles, I think this is expensive, but when I check out the exchange rate, its a bit better as Canaian dollars are worth less than American against the pound.

Everyone around me seems to be smoking, I dont know if I am in a smoking area, but its not very pleasant. Also everything is in French, I knew there were french speaking areas, but I didnt realise it was such a big thing! Although the French speaking also speak English, don't really understand the point!

The bus eventually arrives and is quite full. I sit next to this guy, who starts chatting to me, he is quite possibly one of the nicest guys ever. He lives in Toronto but is originally from Iran. He has just been to Spain and Vienna with some friends and we talk about travelling, my airport trauma is quickly forgotton.

We pass Hooters and I immediately think of Rich, I wonder why?!?!

When I get of the bus downtown, I can't find numbers on the buildings, but I eventually realise Im going the wrong way. I find my hotel only iits a jazz and blues bar and I cant find the check in desk, after walking around a couple of times, I go to the bar to find there isnt one and I check in there. I get my room key and head off to my room. The delays etc has meant I have lost a lot of the time today and I am pretty knackered aqnd my back is still sore. I decide to stay in and get some rest ready for a long day tomorrow.

I have free wi-fi, but can't remember what the password was, so dont bother.

The room and hotel are quite cheap and chearful. There are pictures of bands and singers on all the walls. It is opposite a condom shop and tattoo place, so god knows what the area is like, although it seems pretty central. I can also see the CN tower from my room which is pretty cool.
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I can hear the bands on (as the stage is almost immeadiately under my room) until the early hours and its a main road so there is a lot of traffic noise too, still Imanage to get to sleep easily enough...

Posted by Sarlou 13:00 Archived in Canada Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Im going to Harvard law school

The bit where I feel a bit legally blonde

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

So I wake up and get up and showered pretty quick, Im going to have to move fast if I want to fit everything in.

I leave at 8.20 (a bit later than planned) and head to the Havard on the metro. The air is so clean here, it must be because we are next to the water, it is definitely notice compaired with New York though.

According to the map it shouldnt take me too long to get around the whole site as all the buildings are pretty close. I don't know much apart from it has a Law school, but I want to see it anyway.

Its as I imagined it to be, all the buildings are quite old with a grassy area in the middle. It is wuite picturesque. There are several buildings that I dont know what goe on inside, but I find the library and the science buildings. I want to see where the law building is (not really sure why, but I am here so why not). Its very quiet, I guess it is not term time. I can just picture Elle from Legally blonde walking around with her little dog, I like to think that I am not looking like that although I do have my blonde moments and I am not wearing pink!
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After finding the law school, its back to the metro. On my way I pass a man getting pulled in his car by the cops, makes me chuckle to myself.

From North station, I head across the river on foot towards Bunker hill monument, you can see it in the distance it 67 metres high so it stands high above the buildings. It is an old area there are no other tall buildings which makes it stand out even more. It is also the end point of the freedom trail which takes you through all the historical points within the city.
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As I am walking throught the streets I think how this is what I expected Boston to look like, much more historic, not the city I found yesterday. It seems that Boston doesnt know its true identity, it is lots of different things. I have enjoyed my time here, but it is not what I was expecting.
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When I get there, it is having work done, so one side has scaffolding on which is quite ugly, I do manage to get a couple of pictures from the other side though.

Everywhere I have been so far is so patrotic. There are countless war memorials to mention. I wonder why Britain is not the same.
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Now, time is about 10.30 and I have a plane to catch at 13.45 so I must get my skates on as you are supposed to be there two hours before. My map is not to clear, but it looks like it is easy enough to walk to my hotel. It is and takes about 20 minutes.The view of the clouds in the sky is quite magnificent.
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So packing again! I also have a box which I am going to FedEx home with my old bag, some shoes, guide boooks and a few things I have picked up on the way. I manage to get out by about 11.10 and go to check out.

Again, people here are so friendly. Checkling out is not a problem. I fill in the form to FedEx and the guy gives me some proper tape (I had used thin sellotape!). We then realise that I need to fillit in for International and a customs form, I'm getting anxious because its 11.30 and its going to take about an hour to get the metro I reckon. I fill in the correct forms and have to put a price on it, I say $100 (although its probably a lot more) and the guy at the desk makes fun saying that its a lot of effort for a pair of shoes. I eventually get out, but decide it would be much easier to get a taxi,its not that far and my back will thank me (its getting worse every day), even though my case is nowslightly lighter!

I get a taxi from the hotel. The driver is lovely and very happy, we are chatting loads. I tell him how friendly I think people are, he says it will be even more so in Canada.He is from Hawaii and we are talking about surfing etc, I reckon Rich would love it there. The airport is probably about 4-5 miles so we get there pretty quick. I am outraged when it costs $45, no wonder the man is happy!!!

When I get into the check in desk, my flight is delayed grrrr, ah well at least I can chill for a while. Then I realise that I have FedExed my trip documents, double grrrr!

I find a seat, I email Contiki and decide to speak to Rich. I have had my phone bill through including the last fewdays, each call has cost about £10 so I will have to try and be a bit more careful or next months bill will be huge! As I am on the phone I manage to drop my sunglasses down behind the seat. As Icrawl under to get them, I forget I have a dress on and Im sure some people got an eyeful! When I go through the gate, I set off the metaldetector as well! I'm having a spoot of bad luck!!!

I sit and try catch up on my blog (I loose my first entry, which I am annoyed about), the flight is delayed by about 2 hours in the end so I get some food (I havnt eaten all day) and take a welldeserved chill. My feet and back are not doing too good. My back is hurting constantly and my feet have had a major athletes foot flair up, its the worst Ive had in years, but thats what wearing trainers all the timedoes to me, even with socks!

As I am about to fly to my 19th country, I wonder how many statesIve gone through in the last few days, Im too tired to work it out, maybe I will do towards the end of my trip.

Its pretty overcast outside now, so glad to be leaving. When the plane takes off, the view is amazing. There is lots of little bits of land sticking out into the sea and its a gorgeous view.

The plane is only half full, so I have two seats to myself. I think about watching Shrek, but opt for some sleep instead!...

Posted by Sarlou 10:11 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Baked beans and tea

Boston style

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

After chilling and sorting myself out, at about 2pm I decide to go investigate.

There doesnt seem to be many cars around and its quite quiet, not really sure I know what this place wants to be.
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My hotel is opposite the Charles river basin. You can can boat trips and I might do one at some point if I have time. I cross over the bridge from Cambridge into Boston and head towards some of the historic buildings and the Waterfront.

Again, the weather is good and clear skies, it was cooler when I first arrived,but seems to be hotting up now, I've been very lucky so far and I think I might go home with a bit of a tan, but its not unbearable, just need to carry a drink round all the time, but thats not too difficult.

I pass a lady with a stroller of 6 kids (must be a nanny) and a couple of people on rickshaws, except its people walking/running pulling people instead of a bike, they must be knackered!
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I realise I havnt eaten today so stop at a bagel type mexican type thing. I don't know what to have and have difficulty reading the menu. I opt for a jalapeno bagel with fried egg, avocado, tomato, black bean and cheese. It sounds and looks pretty odd, but actually tastes really good.
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I cross over as there is a market on the other side. Just a small one with people selling local produce and jewellery. Everyone seems so relaxed and friendly. I buy a chocolate snail which is a rolled danish pastry with chocolate in the middle, it is sooo yummy!
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From the City Hall, I walk past the Old State house, where the Boston massacre took place and on towards what seems a main shopping street. There are a few shops, but not much of any interest. There is a huge section being re-built which is the very first Filenes (which from what I can tell is like a TK Maxx type shop) and a Macys. There are a lot more people around here and its much more busy. There was some street entertainment towards the harbour that I walked past so I back over on myself to go see what it was all about.
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There are a few different street theatre performances going on so I stop to watch for a little while.

There are two shopping streets (which are padestrianised) and a kind of market hall (Quincey market) in the middle (which is mainly and food court). The Cheers bar is here too. It used to be called the Bull and Finch, but was recreated for the tv series and it looks pretty much the same bar, but thats where the similarities end. I guess they changed the name at some point to atract the tourists.
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I have a wander round the shops and buy a few goodies, My guide book mentions a jewellery shop which sells locally designed and made things, so I search for it. It is really good and cheap too. I am still searching for a ring, I find one I quite like, but they dont have one that fits, damn my chunky fingers!

Times getting on so I decide to head for the harbourfront to see what the boat ride situation is. Its really busy and the one I want to do is finished for the day so I sit by the water for a while and watch the waves go by.
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The harbour has a few attractions, so I decide to walk along before cutting through the town to Granary burial ground, Boston Common and Public park. It seems the further I go, the busier it gets. I suppose its about rush hour now, but there are cars and people everywhere, a massive contrast to when I first set off from the hotel.

The parks are very lovely. Much smaller than Central Park, you could probably walk the whole thing in 15 minutes, but its very chilled and there are singing beggars and people playing instruments, just a really nice place to be and there are lots soaking up the atmosphere.
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By now the sun is starting to go down. I head towards the Prudential building, wich has a skywalk on top so you can take views of the city, I decide not to do this and continue to the public library and Copley square. Copley square is where the Boston marathon finishes, marked by a monument in the square.
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Somehow I realise I have missed the Boston tea party out of my wanderings, so head pack to South station on the metro. There is supposed to be a museum etc, but it doesnt seemto be there anymore. There are a few information points, but thats about it.

I had hoped to get everything done today, so that I could have a lie in tomorrow before heading to the airport, but its starting to get too dark to take pictures, so I decide to head back to the hotel for an early nightand do it tomorrow.

My hotel seems to be between stations, so I stay on past Science park to lechmere as it is possib ly a little closer. I cut throught to where there is a canal which runs by my hotel and find a shopping centre. I decide to have a look in. It is really good.

I buy a box (to send some stuff I don't need home) and think about getting some shampoo and conditioner, but it is sooo expensive, just have to use hotel stuff for now me thinks!

I find an amazing shop called Sephora. I think its a US chain and sells all sorts of nice toiletries, make up and smellies, I could have spent a fortune. It has tons of Urban Decay stuff, Di would love it. I manage to buy myself two things (although I could have bought half the shop) and think I will check out the online store (its worth shipping out the good stuff!!!)! http://www.sephora.com/

I could also have spent a fortune in the Pink and Victorias Secrets shops, they had some pretty nice stuff, but I manage not to, plus its 9.50 and they shut at 10 so I decide to head home.

...until I find a cheesecake factory. OMG!!! I had looked this up months ago before my trip and thought I would go, but had forgotton all about it! Now anyone who knows me, knows I have a weakness for lots of things, but especially cheesecake, now this is heaven. I decide I should definitely stop to have a drink and a slice. When I walk in the place is massive and I get a table. The waitress is gorgeous and funny. She is chatting to me loads. I didn't realise it was a restaurant too. I'm not that hungry, but get some bread to nibble on and an Ichiban. Its so good and I cant decide which cake to have. I soak in the atmosphere and people watch, the food also looks really good, if only I was hungry! There is so much choice, I cant decide what to have! http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/menu/Cheesecake/chocolate_tuxedo_cream_cheesecake
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Eventually I decide on Chocolate Tuxedo Cream to go as Im too full from beer and bread. Feeling quite tipsy (premium lager has a lot to answer for) and cake in hand, I head back to the hotel. I eat my cake in bed and fall asleep totally worn out!

Posted by Sarlou 16:30 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

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