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Category Archives: hosteling

Why don’t Aussie’s ever seem stressed?

By the time we got back to the hotel in Newark, everybody looked really miserable. We had a few last photos together and gave Graeme our combined tip to say thanks for the wonderful job he did as out guide. Dave and a few others left straight away to catch their flight from New York and a few others had booked a night at the gateway hotel where we had started and finished our tour. I had two days in New York and nowhere to sleep. I didn’t want to book because I knew I’d make friends whilst out there and wanted to see if I could get a room in the place where the person I was closest to was staying. Jemma and Neil had both booked a room in the hotel and had a few days in New York too so I was quite keen to stick with them. I can’t remember how much a room was in their hote, but I remember it was a Hilton and wasn’t cheap. All rooms in America seemed to be double, whether that’s to accommodate the ‘larger’ guests I don’t know. Jemma asked if I wanted to stay in her room for the night and we’d hook up with Neil to share a taxi into New York the next day. I snuck into Jemma’s room worried I’d get caught. Luckily, it all went smoothly and I had a bed to stop in for the night. I don’t know what I would have done if I did get caught. There wasn’t another hotel around and it cost something like $80 to get into New York, I didn’t fancy doing it on my own.

The room was lovely, I enjoyed a hot bath, must have stayed in there for about an hour just soaking up the lovely hot water, I’d missed a good bath. We got room service and had all sorts of chicken and chips, it was nice but a little other priced.

The next morning we met with Neil and continued to the hostel we’d booked in New York. Both Neil and I were in a male dorm while Jemma was on a different floor with the girls. We dumped our stuff and headed out the door.

K had given me a list of cosmetic stuff she wanted me to bring back for her, I only had 2 days in NY so wanted to get them out the way quickly and not have to worry about rushing around trying to find them. We took a long walk through Central Park. I have never been in such a magical park. I’d seen it from the rockafella building before and it looked quite small but it took us a long time to walk through half of it down to times square.

   

We also went to see the spot where the World Trade Centre use to be. This was horrible, the feeling of knowing that thousands of people died where i was standing haunted me. There was an eery silence around the place. We visited the 9-11 museum, we decided after visiting that it wasn’t a good idea to have gone. The pictures of people pinned to the wall who had died and the artifacts that had been recovered from the site was just as harrowing as standing next to the spot where it happened. We heard horrific tales from people who were there on the day and people who had lost loved ones, it truly was one of the saddest things I had been to. I felt like joining the army just to make a difference and help fight against the people who did it.

We  went on the ferry to Staten Island. This is a free ferry that brings you quite close to the statue of Liberty. Another thing to tick of my list. We didn’t actually spend much time on Staten Island itself, it started to rain and we wanted to go back and get ready for dinner. We ate at Planet Hollywood in Times Square, the food was lovely but the cocktails were even better. We stayed there a while before hitting an Irish bar for a few drinks.

 

We traveled everywhere using the subway, this was pretty straight forward to work out once we’d got the hang of the numbering system that they used for the streets above us.I was dreading having to catch the subway by myself to Pen station. From there I had to catch a train to Newark airport and catch my flight home on my own. Neil caught an earlier flight to Manchester and Jemma was staying in NY for a little longer by herself. I felt really bad leaving her, we were both upset that we had to leave. I spent my last few hours in NY eating pizza and lying on the bed chatting to her. We swapped books too. I loved this idea, when ever I missed her or felt sad, I could just pick up her book and start reading. It reminded me of her and it didn’t take me long to finish it. Luckily there were two other books in the series so I got and read them too!I hope she’s taking good care of my book!

I managed to het to my fav photography shop while I was in NY. Everytime I visit America I seem to get something new from there. This time was no exception, I came away with a very geeky looking photography bag. I had been eyeing it up for some time and fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

So that’s the end of my trek to America. I was definitely glad I went now and although I got off to a rocky start, I can honestly say I had the best time of my life there and I haven’t been happy since I got back. I hope to go on another trek some day. It inspired me to do a few things back at home aswell. I enjoyed the camping aspect of it so much that I decided to become a scout leader. Hopefully I will have loads of good times learning new things and camping in the UK aswell too.

I speak to Jemma every now and again although its hard when were on the opposite sides of the world. I hope to go over and visit her in australia some time, nut gathering the money together when you own a house ans pay all the bills yourself is quite difficult. I think one day I’ll move out there, you never see a stressed Aussie!

DD

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Wild Onions

On to Chicago, One of my favorite cities in the world. We spent 3 days here. One of wich was a ‘free day’ where we had nothing planned and could go our separate ways and explore the city.

Before I tell you all about my time in the windy City, I’m going to share with you some facts…

Chicago got its nickname The Windy City as it is a political haven. It has been home to many influential politicians including Mr Obama himself. It is thought that all the hot air from these politicians gave birth to its nickname. The actual name Chicago however, is derived from the Native American word Shikaakwa, which means Wild onion. This is because Chicago was a boggy swamp land. ships use to carry trade from East America to West America along lake Michigan. A ship apparently became stuck in the shallow waters of the swampy land and some bloke (I forgot the name sorry) bought the rights to it. He started dumping his rubbish there as it was no good for anything else. He then started a business in allowing others to dump their rubbish there too. This quickly grew into a land mass and people started building on it. The city became huge as its port had links to the trade in the East. A large part of Chicago burnt down in 1871 and was rebuilt rapidly, America’s first skyscraper was built during this time.

Right, tourist facts over. AS Chicago is pretty built up. (It has the 4th busiest airport in the world) OK sorry no more I promise. We had to stay in a hostel rather than out tents. This wasn’t too bad as the hostel had been newly refurbished and was brilliant. It felt good to have a mattress and duvet. I was in awe of Chicago’s overhead train network. I’d seen things like it before in films and Playstation games but was different seeing it in real life, I had a bit of a geeky moment staring at the trains and platforms in the sky. We were in Chicago at the same time the World Taste festival was kicking about. We decided to go and see what this food fair had to offer, I tasted a genuine chicago Hot dog – If you ever get the chance, you have to try one, it was amazingly good. The weather was so hot and humid, I don’t think I’d ever lost so much of my body liquids due to sweat in my life. I had to carry a packet of tissues around with me just to wipe my face with. The sweat was pouring down into my eyes and stinging them. I was also continuously drinking bottles of water. I must have filed it up a dozen times alone from water fountains. Kerry, Dave and I went to see the Chicago Bean – A huge Jelly Bean shapped metal object in the middle of one of Chicago’s Parks. From the right angle, you could see the whole of Chicago’s skyline and yourself, pretty good for picture-taking. That night we tried an authentic Chicago deep dish pizza, they definitely know how to cook a pizza pie in that city! My mouth was so happy and my stomach was more than welcoming to the 3 large slices I had before I couldn’t even look at another slice. Neil and I decided to go bar hunting while the others chose to stay in their comfy beds. We found a quaint little bar. just like the one’s you see it the movies when a guy has had an argument with his mrs and stormed off for a drink by himself to contemplate life. We got into a long conversation with a Canadian bloke while drinking Long Island Ice Teas. The barmaid clearly didn’t quite understand that they are classed as cocktails as she served us them in pint glasses, I wasn’t complaining – they were strong as hell!

The next day we did a lot of touristy things. We went up Willis tower – the largest building in the western hemisphere. Once you get past a certain height in a building, it all feels the same. The view was good though and the ‘elevators’ were so fast that it took a good 5 seconds for my stomach to catch up to me once we reached the top. We popped into Chicago Zoo, just because it was free, I still don’t understand how Chicago can afford to keep a zoo open and animals fed while the UK has trouble collecting rubbish once a week. It was a nice zoo too, saw a polar bear for the first time in real life and ate a snow cone too.

I was amazed by Chicago, It had tall buildings and photogenic skyline, It had a beach without salt water as it is on a ‘coast’ of the very large river Michigan, it had a pier with a fun fair on it! oh and it also has a rather cool overhead train network, have I mentioned that yet??

The next night we all went on a cycle tour of the City, this was really good fun. It had been a while since I had been on a bike and felt good to be cycling along with the wind in my face on the hot evening. this is also where I got most of my Chicago facts from, so you have the tour operator to thank for that. We cycled for about 6 miles, stopping every now and again while we were told about an interesting part of the city. It all added to the magic of the place. After the bike tour, we headed over to Navy pear to watch the fourth of July fireworks. We all sat around on the grass with our heads up to the sky. Jemma sat in between my legs with my arms wrapped around her and her head resting on my chest. I could have sat like that for hours, was so relaxing and comfortable.

Chicago is definitely a place I will have to go back to at some point. I could have spent two weeks there alone with all the things there is to do. But we were all packed up and moving out to Ohio, home of Cedar Point Amusement Park!!!

DD

 

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