Location: Birmingham, England
We are back to say how it all ended, to let you know what we are doing and where we have ended up. We can still see our arch rival Gitsy is knocking about and we thought it only fair to share our last year with you briefly (so we can beat him).
Having bored people we know with our travel tales it is a well known fact in the areas where we live that we will comandere random people to talk to us. Any vague reference to travelling can be found in daily chit chat. Such as "I bought these in China" or "We stole those from a hostel in Australia".
We have no more plans to travel, but be rest assured it will be on here if we did. We have had to return to work, and thus has decreased the excitment in our lives by around 60% but it does mean that we can bring our photos into the work place and find very strained links to subjects with our stories.
Nothing is going to sound very interesting is it really? We went to a pub quiz last night and came joint tenth... a few weeks ago we went to Newcastle for a hen do... sometimes we eat out...
But we lived the dream and a big part of it was this blog, and we have so much fun reading and looking at our photos that we hope we inspire other people to do so. Feel free to message us if you need any advice, we promise not to follow you on your journey!
Love Sarah and Emily
Location: New York, USA
Our next hotel was much nicer as no one had died there recently. Although curtains randomly hung on walls did show that maybe there was something to hide. Not to mention the maze (not unlike puzzling world in Lake Wanaka) of corridors that we took to find a lift.
So Simon had left us and we were in New York. Only one thing left for us to do. After a whole year of wearing the same (smelly) clothes we were going to shop! Shop and spend the scraps of money - or our emergency travellers cheques - on new things, nice, clean, unworn clothes and eat good food. Not the cheapest thing or the items on the menu we recognised, but food we wanted. We had been talking about our final few days for the whole year and now we were going to splash out!
Obviously the mentality of being poor meant that we couldn't actually splash out and we still insisted on walking everywhere to avoid expense. It was on one of our trips that we were approached by a lady with an offer. Hair and beauty treatments for a bargain price. Well you know how we love a bargain, so we booked in...when we arrived at a very posh hotel we were rather worried we'd be out of place and when they kept trying to force expensive treatments on us we knew we'd dissapoint them. But oh well we'd never see them again! We're sure the women were a bit more half hearted about the haircuts once they realised they weren't going to get to colour it as well (we just couldn't sacrifice another £200, not when we still had shopping to do).
Not content with our beauty treatments at the posh hotel we found a nice cheap pedicure salon where some very unhappy chinese women gave us lovely feet...when we were in China the women always seemed very happy so maybe it's best not to leave your own country - the grass isn't always greener!
So hair and beauty done we knew we'd arrive back in England stunning - as always. But we needed to ensure our tans were topped up and so we booked into a tanning salon for the last day before our flight.
Now when it came to eating we did eat well, we finally treated ourselves to some Bubba Gump action plus all those other restaurants we saw about and avoided until the end when we were throwing caution to the wind. Then of course there were more cocktails...hey we were in New York we had to look the part!
Aah eventually our last day came so we made lots of special plans for the day. We needed to buy ourselves holdalls to carry all our extra shopping so we found a good old dodgy man in the street and decided we could risk it - it only had to survive one flight and lets be honest we're born winners so nothing would happen to them. We chose nice bright ones so we could spot them on the conveyor belt...always thinking after all we're travellers now! Then it was off to the tanning salon...
Now we like to do 'firsts' whilst travelling and the sunbed was one of these. Now we're only on a sunbed for 10 minutes so surely nothing can go wrong, and as we came out thats what we thought - we might come to rethink this later when the effect takes hold.
Our final night had been planned for sometime. We knew how horrible it was going to be saying goodbye to our journey, after a year of amazing adventures so we were going to treat ourselves. We went for a meal at the Rockafella Centre, very posh for us and as the photos show, we tucked into some cocktails too. After our food we drowned our sorrows in glasses of champagne and returned to our final night of travelling.
Seasoned travellers always book their journey home as they arrive. So having already emailed in our request for the shuttle service to the Airport when we arrived, we sat patiently for the bus to arrive. And we waited and waited until we saw it trundling down the road. When it stopped the driver informed us that she was merely bringing people to the hotel from the airport and the bus should have already come for us. Hmmmmm. Best phone them. Luckily this occurred in an english speaking country where Emily was informed that we were booked on the bus for the next day. Not today. Hmmmm. As seasoned travellers we merely resisted the urge to panic and counted the loose change in the bag. Throwing caution to the wind we hailed a cab true New York style and made our exit with flair. It only turned out to be a dollar more expensive and much more enjoyable than the cattle shuttle express.
The only problem was that we had arrived at the airport. We had to go home. The dream was over.
On the positive side we get to bore people with our stories and photos for years to come and surely the people back home, our friends and family, would love to hear all about how we have travelled the world while they have been working hard in Blighty. Surely?!
PS Don't go on a sunbed before a long haul flight, we suffered terribly, Emily's arse was so red it glowed and sitting was very uncomfortable for Sarah who had manage to burn very delicate parts of her body - our final travel tip for you all: No sunbeds.
Location: New York, USA
So we made it to New York! Our last stop before home and we were going to do it in style! Simon joined us for the 12 hour journey to New York from Greensboro and lived first hand the traveller life.
Poor Simon, just not used to long journeys! As we keep reminding everyone, we did 3 days on a Greyhound, 12 hours is not very long at all, and we had the whole packed train to amuse us! We decided to travel on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend, so it was like playing a game of sardines with a bunch of worryingly unhygienic people on a questionably cold train. So Simon was living the dream with us now, and had booked us into a nice cheap hotel near Times Square. It was cheaper than our hostel for the Labour Day weekend, so we hopped off the train, grabbed our checked luggage and grabbed a NYC cab, living the dream!
Not quite so when we got to the no questions asked hotel in Times Square. We were a littel bit concerned by the make shift security desk. It was similar to something we would put in thew home corner at school as it was two desk shoved together with a phone and a filing tray, nether the less, we were given our key and showed to our room. Well told to get in the lift.
One should always get a strange feeling about a place when a police man greets you at teh life door, but we were tired and excited to see our home for the next 3 nights. Well, we have stayed in some interesting accommodation (including a stock room floor for new years eve) but this was incredible. The smell and the size were worrying but the hair in the bath kind of topped it off. As Simon said you can take the time to fold the loo paper into an arrow, but you cant swill out the bath?. Indeed, but this is all part of the dream so we headed out for a look around, and put our heads down for a mad weekend.
The next day we were up early to hit the sites. While watching TV we could only get a decent reception for the news, and were greeted with the headline Brutal murder at budget hotel. Oh yes, that was our hotel. The very same. The reporter (stood outside our room) carried on to tell us that the day before a woman was found chopped up in bags under her bed on floor 6! Never fear, we were floor 9 so we were very safe... lets go shopping!
Simon warned us that the queue (sorry line) for the Empire State Building stretched for miles, so we were ready for a long wait, but because we always land on our feet, we were in and out in no time. The views were great and we had time to hit Central Park. Simons feet were mangled from all the walking. After a year of poverty and no cash for transport we have feet like a rhinos behind, and nothing can cause blisters but the most hardcore of adventures, but even we were struggling. Popped into Tiffanys to buy some treats and then we headed back to the death hotel to get ready for the night life!
Simons choice of bars is somewhat different to ours, but we were happy for the change, so we jumped at the plan to see the meat packing district of NYC. Lets just say that we didnt stay tee total for long and after a visit to a psychic, a bar with no lighting and peak into a leather a bar, we were warmly ensconced in a little bar giving away caps and t-shirts to any beer drinking people. In that area, we were the only ones downing pints. What happens in New York stays in New York, lets leave it at that.
Sunday we were worse for wear, and all we could manage was a trip through Greenwich village to see the markets, Soho for the crazy tacky gifts and China town for its manic hussle and bussle. We took the walk over Brooklyn Bridge and returned back, blisters and all for Simon to pack, ready for the very early train home. And we were moving hotels. Surely the next one cant be that bad...can it?!
Location: Washington D.C., USA
So luckily for us Southwest did not lose our luggage, which apparently is quite rare and we managed to navigate our way on buses and metro to find our hostel. Oh yes we were back in a hostel again and believe us when we entered our room we soon wished we were back in the luxury of Mark's house. We were sharing a room with a Brazilian man named Philippe who we decided wouldn't offend us too much. We felt the need to get out of the hostel straight away so walked the streets trying to find decent shops - they weren't to be had in this area of D.C. we seemed to be in the hippy/gay area and there wasn't a McDonalds in sight. We eventually came to the end of our map so turned back and got some 'Western Fries' for our trouble, they turned out to be wedges so we were happy enough. We got an early night as we were still recovering from a week of drinking solidly in Bradenton and bless him Philippe was very quiet when going to bed.
We weren't blessing him the next morning when we were woken from our extremely broken sleep by his alarm, he clearly wasn't woken by it as it continually went off and was shortly joined by his phone ringing...oh joy of joys! We eventually rolled off our double bed bunk bed (yea really not the comfiest thing to sleep on and maybe the squeakiest bed known to man) and headed off for a day of sightseeing, we had monuments to see, places to be.
We whizzed round the sights, discovered we weren't allowed in the White House even when begging with the guards on the gate and daring them to run after us if we clambered in (always a risky business when you're not sure if an American will understand our humour). We'd missed all the tickets to go up the Washington Monument so sat outside it in the shade reading a leaflet about it, I think we gained all we could from that! Then off to look at the lake that is so often featured in films in Washington we've found though obviously we just remembered it as the lake in Forest Gump that hippy Jenny waded through...ah that film as often been with us through these travels! We walked up and down the Mall which had an array of free museums (we did wander into one but it was no Te Papa so we soon wandered out again) and onto the Capitol where we did our usual take a few pictures and swiftly move on. Then the evening consisted of a trip to Safeway, which is always a highlight and we met many 'special' people on that journey. But hey we had to get snacks for our train journey to Greensboro the next day - that's right we weren't about to get the Greyhound again!
We were ready for another early night but it was put slightly on hold by a Hungarian girl who insisted on talking to us to improve her English, which would normally be fine but hey we're sure watching the T.V. would have the same impact! Oh well we got our laughs watching her trying to get in and out of the top bunk without a ladder...simple things simple minds!
So a lovely train journey was our plan for the next day, we were stocked up on snacks and books so all would be well. We did eventually manage to get seats together on the train (luckily they reserve some 'for couples only') and settled in for the 7 hour journey. Obviously we were sat by some magical people, there was the 19year old boy with a 4year old kid and a woman of similar age trying to become our best friend by commenting on the 'hotness' of guys that walked past and a small child that kept talking to sarah whenever he got a bit scared/bored. But it was O.K. as his mum asked us if we were 'professional travellers' when we hadn't even been talking about travelling, we said that we'd been doing it a year and she wondered which channel we were working for...if only people if only!
After a 2 hour delay we eventually pulled into Greensboro to find our poor friend Simon had been waiting for us, we were extremely pleased to see him, a great reminder of a our good old York days. He even cooked Shepherds Pie for us with Bisto gravy and everything....ah a little bit of home! He left us to cruise his internet the next day and do yet more washing (it does seem that's all we do in other people's homes) before taking us around the Dollar shops - you gotta love them! Then home for another lovely meal, this time cooked by Corey and then we headed off to Laser Tag but doh it was shut, so we headed off to Celebration Station - Fun for all the family but doh that was shut to so it was home for a film and more Margaritas (they are appearing more and more in our lives!!). But we couldn't get too drunk as we were making a large sacrifice the next day and getting out of bed to head into school with Simon...
Yes we got up at 6:15 to head to school, which starts at the ridiculous time of 7:30 here (yes that's right we would never teach here purely for that fact) but then you have a lot less children in the class to hassle you but hey their kids so yes they do still hassle you! We were again reminded of the horrors that sent us packing in the first place, we're sorry but we love not working and think that's the way life should be. It was also a stark reminder of what we had to do when we got home...get jobs...eugh! Simon's class were lovely but full of characters. When one boy's t-shirt says "warning, mind closed until further notice" you know you're in for trouble. But we made the most of it after all we were only there for a day and when it came to acting out a play for the kids we were in our element - if only Hollywood was watching. We can understand why all the teachers in Simon's school were heading out for drinks that evening...and hey it is a pastime we sometimes partake in so we are happy to join them!