Location: New York, New York, USA
I'm having a great time in NYC.. I've:
-seen the bright lights of Times Square
-walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back again
-seen guys having a dance off in a subway station
-sat in the General Assembly Hall in the UN
-fallen asleep in Central Park
-seen a bird's eye view of the city from the top of the Empire State
-been asked out to dinner while crossing the street
-eaten bagels and drunk Cosmopolitans
-walked around Greenwich Village pretending to be Carrie Bradshaw.
An absolutely amazing city. Quite overwhelming, but fantastic! I just love the way each district is so different. I'll be coming back in a few years when I have a bit more money to see the Broadway shows and do some hard core shopping!
I'm going to the airport tomorrow. I just can't believe it! I have been away for what feels like so long, but it has passed in a flash! I've had so many fantastic times over the last 6 months I couldn't possible pick a favourite. The whole thing has just been the most amazing learning experience, and I've had so much fun a long the way! See you all very soon..
P.S. Will put Canada and NYC photos up at the weekend.
Location: New York City baby :), USA
Wow I finally here! My last stop. New York City is amazing! So busy and colourful and awsome. I've just been walking around for the last few days, bumping into people because I'm looking up at all the skyscapers. The Staton Island Ferry was great - a view of the whole Island including Ellis Is and the Statue of Liberty. Seen Times Sq, Central Park, Empire State, Grand Central Station, Bloomingdales ;) So much do see, so little time. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a movie set, it just seems so familiar!
Location: Niagara Falls, Canada
The Trans Canadain Railway was quite an experience, boarding in Jasper in the west and disembarking in Toronto in the East. It started well with a champange reception served as we pulled out of Jasper St (yes, we went first class!) We were able to see the wonderful views of the Rockies through the class-topped carriage. Amazing! The food was wonderful. Breakfast lunch and dinner every day (yes, the journey took 2.5days). However by the end of the first evening I realised that everyone on board was over the age of 70 or a train geek (my dad in the latter catagory). After the Rockies we passed through the Canadain Plains. Grass. Trees. Grass. Lake. Trees. Hmmm. 2.5 days. Lets just say I got through a lot of gin and tonics!
Toronto was fantastic. We went up the CN Tower (tallest in the world) and had lunch at the top while being spun around. Very la de da. Loving being a tourist instead of a traveller for a while!
Drove the hire car down to Niagara falls. Did very well, although nearly put it into the central reservation when I looked over and saw the falls 100m away! They are just amazing! Did all the tourist stuff like going in a boat underneath them and getting soaked etc.
Said goodbye to Dad and Maureen this afternoon. It has been wonderful being with them for 2 weeks. I sent them off with a suitcase full of my stuff, to free up space in my back pack for NY purchases!! :)
Location: Jasper, Canada
I have been caught up in Dad and Maureen's whirlwind holiday. The last few days have been non-stop! From Vancouver we did a trip through the Rocky Mountains which are just amazing. Comparatively young mountains so very jagged and capped in snow. Just want to get up there on a snow board! Stopped at lovely mountain towns along the way and did walks through the woodlands and experienced the local cuisine. Seen gorgeous turquise lakes and rivers, and scenery is just stunning! Keeping my eyes out for wildlife.. Seen Elk, Deer and Coyotes so far but no sign of those Grizzlies!
Location: Victoria, Canada
I met Dad and Maureen on Wednesday, who have flown across to Canada to see me/for a holiday. Really great to see them both, and funny to see familiar faces again! They've taken me to some nice restaurants where I have shamelessly eaten like a starved backpacker!
We set off on Thursday for a whirlwind tour of Vancouver, seeing Stanley Park again and the totems poles there. We walked across a suspension bridge spanning a river valley and rode a gondola up Grouse Mountain. From the top we could see right across the city. Beautiful weather and stunning views. There are grizzly bears living on the mountain but they hid from us, so had cheesy photos taken with a bear statue!
On Friday we got the ferry to Vancouver island to the city of Victoria which is just wonderful! A place I could really see myself living in! We went Whale watching and saw lots of Orcas (killer whales) and explored the city which is very quaint - beautiful old buildings and lovely harbour. Really enjoyed my stay and didn't want to leave. Off on a tour of the Rockies tomorrow. Finding it very strange being able to relax and leave all the organisation to dad! :)
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Wow, I've been very successful in staying outside of the US! In Vancouver now - beautiful city with great night life! Staying at a little backpacker place in the heart of downtown so everything is on my door step. I've been shopping and sunbathing - taking it easy over the last few days though - recovering from Mexico and waiting for Dad and Maureen to arrive. They decided to come and join me for 2.5 weeks (think they must have been missing me terribly!) It will be really nice because dad is Mr Organised, so I can just sit back for a couple of weeks and enjoy the holiday!
Location: Creel, Mexico
Wow, I´m having an amazing time in Mexico. Apart from a small incident where a boy threw up on my bag on the bus it has been great fun! The people are wonderful and I was delighted to find that most of the men actually wear cowboy hats and boots with jeans and chequered shirt! I did the train ride along the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) yesterday which was just fantastic. And the first train I´ve been on with armed guards! We passed through lots of little dusty towns and saw indigenous people with their amazing brightly coloured clothing. Stopped for the night in the little town of Creel where I´ve met lots of other travellers, and glad to find that their Spanish is as terrible as mine! We all went out to a bar last night and listened to the guitarists while drinking beer and tequila - true Mexican style. Today we went on a 4h horse ride to the edge of the canyon and around to a waterfall. I´m very sore now but the experience was amazing. Really pleased I did this little detour to Mexico!
Location: Ensenada, Mexico
The Lonely Planet guide to Mexico caught my eye in the Bookshop. Why not eh? Armed with my guidebook, and wedding ring and a big floppy hat, I jumped on a Greyhound in San Diego and headed south to the town of Ensenada. This was a little more traumatic than planned because while I was going to Mexico the bus company managed to leave my luggage in San Diego!
The country is fantastic though! Full of activity and colour! You can buy anything and everything here! All the locals are very patient with me and my lack of Spanish, although I am trying very hard! I'm planning on getting buses down Baja California and jumping off at the interesting towns. Should be fun! ;)
Location: Santa Monica, LA, USA
Well I've arrived in the land where soft drinks cost less than water and cars are the size of tanks. Within 2 hours of arriving in LA, I'd been asked if I was Australian twice, seen a car accident, been asked for money, seen a guy shouting about Jesus, seen a woman dancing to busking, seen a girl walking down the street holding her dog Paris Hilton Style and been called a 'cute British Chick'. This country really is crazy, and it's quite a shock coming from an uninhabited island to a huge city! Trying desperately not to get caught up in the consumerism, but there are such lovely clothes here and so cheap! Planning on getting out of this crazy place pretty soon, but not sure where to go. Think I'll go and sit in Borders and browse through the travel section.. :)
Location: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
I am hot, tired, and covered in bites and scratches, but just had the most amazing week! I noticed a poster in the hostel in Rarotonga advertising for people to work on a clam farm in Aitutaki (northern island) in return for bed & breakfast. I promptly booked some flights with some others in the hostel and went over to the beautiful island. Mike was lovely - we worked for 3h each day at the clam farm, which involved a lot of wading around in the sea. Such fun! Then spend the rest of the day sunbathing on the beach. A few days later he asked if he could take us to his family's island (Tekopua) which is completely deserted, in order for us to help clear it. The next day I was on the most idyllic island with 10 other people. We literally made the first footsteps in the sand. It was just fantastic, and completely surreal. We worked for a few hours each morning and spent the afternoons attempting to swim to other neighbouring deserted islands! Each night we cooked on the fire and slept under the millions of stars. It was just the most amazing experience. It still hasn't sunk in! Lots of fantastic photos to show you all.. :)
Location: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Ooh, this really is a tropical paradise! Spending the days lying on the beach with the occasional dip in the sea :)
The only way to get around is by motorbike. However, in order to hire one I had to take a motorcycle test! Sitting in the Police station and waiting for the policeman to take me out and assess my driving skills- I was so nervous! Never thought I'd had to go through it all again! I'm now the proud owner of a Cook Island Motorcycle License :)
Planning on doing a bit of Island hopping next week. So lovely to relax and do nothing for a few days..
Location: Kaikoura, New Zealand
Vicky recommended I come to Kaikoura, 3h North of Chrsitchurch, so I hopped on the train yesterday morning. It is said to be one of the most picturesque train journeys in the world, so what did I do? I nodded off! D'oh!
The town is on the East Coast - the snow capped mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other. I did the cliff top walk yesterday around the coast line, looking down on the seal colonies. Climbing the hills, the sun shining, I felt like Maria Von Trapp and was just about the burst into song when I took a wrong turn and ended up in a muddy field full of moody looking cows!
Delighted to see clear blue skies when I opened the curtains this morning because at 10.30am, I was up in the sky flying a plane over the coastline! Yup, I did one of those Pilot-a-Plane courses. It was of course dual control, but I actually got to steer it along the coastline and up over the mountains. Fantastic! At one point the (Co-?) Pilot asked if I liked roller coasters! Well of course!! :) He did a few fast turns etc Top Gun stylee :) Think I've found my calling in life :)
Getting the train back to Christchurch at 4pm and determined to stay awake this time!!
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
I got quite settled in Queenstown, staying for over a week with a lovely group of people so was quite sad to leave! Next was Dunedin which is such a studenty city. I went for a walk around the beautiful University grounds. The streets surrounding the campus are lined with crumbling houses with sofas in the front gardens and beer bottles lying around. Ah, I miss those student days :)
Lake Tekapo was amazing. We arrived late afternoon so I had to march up Mt John in order to get back down before dark. A beautiful part of NZ - right in the centre of the South Island surrounded by The Southern Alps. When I opened the curtains the following morning there was the most stunning sunrise behind the mountains - the sky light up a beautiful shade of pink. Grabbed my camera and ran down to the lake front in my PJs!
Now in Christchurch and plan to have a good explore of the city before my flight to the Cook Islands of Friday..
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Well I've been working my way down the west coast of New Zealand. Just beautiful! Have to keep myself awake on the journeys because I just can't miss any of the amazing scenery!
Stopped at Franz Josef on Monday for a half day glacier hike. It was fantastic! Huge hiking boots fitted with talons to grip the ice, and then straight up the vertical face of the glacier. A lot of hard work but so surreal and amazing. We had a very enthusiastic kiwi guide who decided to see how far he could take us before it started getting too late. Went a lot further than planned, crossing bridges over deep ice canyons and walking through ice crevasses - just fantastic!
From Franz, the next stop was Queenstown - ski city. Undeterred by others telling me that learning to snowboard is very painful, I decided to try it as I'm trying new and exciting things at the moment. A friend of mine took me out to The Remarkables, strapped a board to my feet and preceded to teach me on the baby slope. I spent the first half hour trying to stand up which is a lot harder than you would think! Once on my feet, I actually managed to pick it up quite well. Very off putting when little children sailed passed me looking like pros though! After lunch he thought I was ready to go onto the green run. Ahh! Trusted his judgement and hopped onto the ski lift. I can't say I made it down the run particularly gracefully, but at least I didn't break any bones! Went home feeling very pleased with myself. However, the following day I couldn't move! Every muscle in my body was aching and my bum severely bruised! I've now had two days off and heading back up onto the slopes tomorrow. It is so much fun, and I'm determined to get good at it! I'll be on the black runs in no time at all :)
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Back in Taupo for a few days, I went for a rather long hike with a lovely girl -Katie who was staying in my hostel. We walked a few ks to Huka falls and what we though would be a few more ks to some amazing mud pools. It took hours! And when we got there, it started teeming with rain! After meeting many travellers and heard tales of hitchhiking, we decided to try it. We stood, sodden on the side of the road and stuck out thumbs out at the first car to go by, and she stopped! Lovely kiwi lady insisted on taking us all the way back to our hostel! :)
Christchurch was amazing- so busy and vibrant, in complete contrast to the sleepy towns I've been staying in. Watched the 3rd Test (All Blacks vs British & Irish Lions, for those who aren't rugby fans) in a lovely little Welsh pub with 2 Welsh guys from my dorm. Had such a great time! The following night two of the All Blacks came into the hostel bar! Couldn't believe it!
I got the ferry from the North to the South Island, which was wonderful as it went right through the Marlborough Sounds. Just beautiful! Currently in Nelson and planning to do a lot more hiking (or tramping as they call it over here) putting my walking boots to good use!
Location: Napier, New Zealand
New Zealand is the most beautiful country! The scenery is so stunning it is hard to take in! From Auckland I've been making my way down south seeing mountains, lakes, waterfalls and mud pools. Tried a few extreme sports - zorbing (which involves rolling down a hill inside a giant plastic ball along with 2 other people a lot of water www.zorb.com/main.html). The 12,000ft sky dive over Lake Taupo was just amazing! The most exciting and exhilarating thing I've ever done, and very keen to try it again!
The Lions are of course on tour here at the moment. I went with a group of guys from my hostel to a local bar to watch the second test. Although it all ended badly, we were in good spirits and received commiserations from the kiwis!
In the town of Napier at present, on the East Coast. It was destroyed during an Earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt Art Deco style. Absolutely amazing! Really enjoying the country and the people here are so friendly! :)
Location: Sydney, Australia
The flight to Sydney took just over an hour. The plane had just finished it's ascent, when it started it's decent. Very strange!
I'm staying with some family friends in Sydney which is just wonderful. So nice to have the luxury of a home and not be woken up in the middle of the night by snorers!
Had an explore of the city with Elvena and a lovely girl we previously met in Cambodia. Did all the touristy things including the Botanical Gardens, and Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Sat in a cafe opposite the Opera House and drank cappuccino, thinking 'This is so surreal!'. I have to say though, up close the Opera House is a little yellow round the edges- could do with a good scrub down! The city is wonderful - it has an amazing mix of old colonial buildings and parks, dwarfed by glass skyscrapers. It was great just walking around, getting ourselves lost and finding little shops and markets. I can certainly see why so many British come over and settle here! Tempted to do the same myself... :)
We took the (double decker!!) train out to the blue mountains yesterday and had a rather unsuccessful time. The mountains are named after the blue mist that often surrounds them. However, yesterday the mist was so thick it completely obscured them! (Check out the photo!) Managed to catch a glimpse at one of the three sisters and that was about it. Stood at the view points to see a wall of white mist!! I'll just have to come back and see them again in the summer ;)