BootsnAll Travel Network

Niagara Baybee: feb – apr 08

April 22nd, 2008

Well i suppose having spent the last two months in Niagara without once writing anything i should really put something here so i can remember how crazy those months have been. On Feb 2nd i flew from LAX to Buffalo, connecting flights in JFK and then caught a bus from Buffalo airport to the greyhound station and then the greyhound to my Niagara. It took me almost 30 hours to get here but i got off that bus and knew i was home. Niagara has always had something which pulls me in – i cant explain it and i have no idea what causes it – i just know that i feel happy, content and safe here. Meeting back up with Mark was great and i was only to glad to be back to help out. It was def going to be interesting volunteering at the hostel and i had no idea what to expect. My first night back and obviously where else was i going to spend it but in the bar! The coolest bar in fact. I hadn’t slept since Friday night and was jet lagged but i was going to the bar. I was a light weight that night but hey i had a good excuse and over the next two months with the help of some great friends my drinking stamina would be 1st rate! That night i met Andy for the first time, from Armagh in Northern Ireland – and if you read this Andrew – ‘your ma’!! The three of us got on like a house on fire and these two guys are now ranked as some of my very great friends.

I’m not going to catalogue and write about every single night i have spent here because that would be something close to a thesis!! I will however mention a few of them to jog my memory and explain a couple of the more memorable. The days here settled pretty quickly with training on the desk with Mark, doing the housekeeping and then hanging out with the guys before heading to Queens. That was pretty much the routine and then Lindsey joined the HI team too and she (my beautiful fiancee – long story to be explained later) quickly became a great friend too.

Ok i think one of our craziest nights was me, Mark and Andy spending the evening in Queens, walking back home and then the two of them deciding that they wanted to go to the casino so off we went to Clifton Hill and spent until 7am in there – i won on roulette and discovered my favourite slot machine – ‘Fishies’ and also the Top Gun one is pretty cool with great seats and speakers in the headrest although im a proper ‘girl’ and messed up the bonus cos i couldnt fly the plane – its my fault i obviously dont play playstation enough for hand eye co ordination lol. Anyway the bad part came when trying to get a cab where our driver was weird and didnt know where he was going – Mark made a smart remark and the guy pulls over and refuses to take us any further. He gets out the car and yanks open the door on Marks side yelling and swearing at him. Andy is out the car on the other side and man this taxi driver is obviously blind there is no way i would take on these two. The funniest part was all the time having a go at them he then comes round and opens the door for me and helps me over the ice. This cracks the guys up as they cant believe it and so we have to walk back – its only a 20 min walk and we try to hail another cab and lo and behold who drives past and stops – only the same guy screaming at us!! But we get halfway and the bus pulls up so we catch that back and i head to bed at 8.30 in the morning – dirty stopout i know. Now everytime we see a cab we look to see if its cab 51 – i pity the day we spot him lol.

Ontario this year decided to have a ‘Family Day’ held on the 3rd monday of feb and a public holiday so Me, Linds, Mark and Andy decided to go to the casino for a buffet dinner. We got Peter to drive us which was an experience as we went about 10 mph down the River Road and bless him he is such a sweetie but we were killing ourselves laughing and he walked us into the casino having found a parking spot and we were pissing ourselves all the more out of confusion because we werent sure if he was planning on coming with us now normally we would love to have him but this was our family day. He headed off into the casino – im sure he has a lady he meets here – bless him the guys is in his 70’s lol. So we headed down to the buffet stopping only for Mark to have a blonde moment lmao. We walk past the shops and Mark has a thing for watches – he goes to take a closer look and BAM smacks his head on the glass window which he thought was further away than it looked. The poor shop assitant must have jumped out of her skin and us three couldnt walk for laughing so much – sorry Mark you aint ever living this one down. We had a great meal and then headed back to Queens for drinks afterwards.

One of the first big nights i remember is teaching the guys to play Kings with a bottle of vodka – jeez i hadn’t laughed so much in ages. Comments about spitting and swallowing followed and Andy kept getting confused about which game we were in and still didn’t get the point to the sky rule which only made us giggle more. Lindsey sucks at downing drinks and so we kept playing the fountain in which i got stuck after Andy – now this boy can drink and im impressed with myself that i could match him – yes it is a big achievement to me.

The next big night that i remembered was a Wednesday night (Feb 2oth) – Andy and I decided to order a bottle of vodka in from Dial A Beer – its great when its 20 below outside and the kind man brings you alcohol to the door. We love him oh yes we do. We proceeded to get very very very drunk so much so that i have video evidence of just how drunk Andy was – we learnt a new saying that night ‘your ma’ which is the greatest and most funniest insult you can say in response to anything. Andy thought it would be hilarious to play basketball on the court in our yard – one slight issue with this is the court was pure ice and bless him he managed to stay on his feet – his shooting sucks though – sorry mate but you only sunk like 1!! I was videoing this classic moment on my camera and trying to hold the camera still whilst Mark and I pissed ourselves laughing – my ribs hurt so much. The thing was Andy kept losing the ball and getting distracted looking for a bracelet but as soon as we said ‘where’s the ball Andy wheres the ball’ he would attempt to shoot again. Not something that can be explained well i guess but you had to be there.

That same week with a couple of hangovers we decided it was time to take back our bar once and for all – it was time to get rid of the Hillbillies and Crack heads. Yep its the weekly Friday night karaoke time. (Fri Feb 22nd) We had a huge turnout – well over 30 people and yes country music was suffering and the hillbillies were not happy – every time they sang a country song we hit back with the brit pop and rock music. I think though our rousing version of ‘We are the champions’ might have helped it along!! It was all going so well until a fight erupted – well they are hillbillies and in the process they stole Marks camera – but that was it – they are now banned from the bar RESULT.

Poor Debbie and Lindsey were always winding up Mark and Andy when we were outside smoking and they never learnt bless them that winding them up sent them into the snow – and this happened frequently – we had a lot of snow – so much that i would be happy to never see snow again!! And after 2 months i still cant walk on the icy roads – it must be a gene thing that all Canadians are born with although i never actually fell over – usually down to the fact that i had a firm grip on someones arm. I cant afford to go to the hospital over here ok!! The photos here are from Weds Feb 26th – well early hours of Feb 27th!)

Now it was all good and well when its snow but then inside the whipped cream came out and war was declared!! I rapidly escaped. The only time i got involved was when it was a water fight and ‘accidentally’ chucked a glass over Andy yes i was a little drunk – needless to say it became a battle with Mark involved and Andy threatening to chuck ketchup over me unless i poured water over Mark – so after waiting until the last possible moment i poured the tiniest amount over Mark and then he covered the both of us later with the contents of the kettle. Its why i love Niagara we just have so much fun, drink way too much and laugh a lot.

I was loving working Front Desk now and had settled into it quicker than i thought. Mark and I are very similar people and so we learn the same way which made training easy for both of us. I enjoy meeting so many different people who come and go in the hostel and have made some great friends with many. Nine times out of ten the people who make an effort to get to know us lot certainly take away some crazy memories.

We decided to take a few people down to Clifton Hill and into Boston Pizza for something to eat. (Sat Mar 1st) So Me, Andy, Linds and Debbie and then Josh, Emma, Eddy and a lovely asian girl whose name i have forgotten for the moment grabbed a table, and ordered food and enough alcohol to keep us going for a while. As it was Andy and I had to go back to the hostel – the two oldest there and we had forgotten ID – now age is 19 here but they ID everyone so we had to cab it back to the hostel pick up our passports and come back but at least the guys had ordered beer for us lol. I actually dont remember too much about this night for some reason but im sure one of the others will fill me in!!

A few nights later (Tues Mar 4th) Josh and Emma wanted to see the Falls lit up and then some of the others wanted to go to Nightmares – a haunted house museum here that there is no way on earth im going into. Anyways we got cabs there and for some reason the Nightmares was shut so we went into the bar next door the ‘Wild Mushroom’ and had a few beers. Andy and Eddy had been down to Clifton Hill a couple of days previous and had stumbled into the amusements by Boston Pizza and had won inflatable hammers and wanted to go back and test their strength on the Hammer thing and hit 100. Such boys but they wanted to go back so on the way there we went via the Casino and played on the slots there for a while – Josh and Emma went home as Josh is like myself and casinos – a bad bad mix. I was doing ok myself until i spotted the Fishies – well thats a lie i zeroed in on them almost as soon as i got in the door lol. We stayed for a while and then when we were bored of spending money we headed out to Boston Pizza and the amusements and racked up loads of coupons – the girls got bored easily – well after Debbie and I cheated at the kentucky derby like game but with cars – and scored loads more tickets – we headed back up to drink and left Andy and Ed with the tokens – and they came up eventually with prizes girls and bracelets for the girls and more bloody inflateable hammers for them. Kenn at this point was wasted so the girls took him home and Andy, Ed and I had a few drinks then headed up Clifton Hill in search of a place to eat. We found Dennys about half a mile down the road which normally would have been easy to walk but the roads were covered in a mixture of ice, snow and big clumps of balls of ice from the ice storm – walking was almost impossible and it was so cold that the boys hammers just kind of deflated when they got outside ha ha – no sexual crude reference there at all. 😉

Josh and Emma left but as they left some of their stuff we know they will be back soon and it will be great to see them again and find out how the last month as been on the road – im especially jealous of the fact they went to the Bahamas. We celebrated Ed’s last day – forever known as Eddy Day and headed to kareoke night minus the hillbillies. It was kind of quiet and i got there late as i had been working. We had a good group minus my lovely Linds who was sunning herself in Mexico. But Mark had it made and sat a table full of ladies – Me, Debbie, Kim (another Brit), Evi and Nicky and two Irish girls who came in briefly to grab something to eat – Rada makes the best pizza ever! We decided to have a marathon on the kareoke and sang so many songs – everything from the Brit Pop movement – Chelsea Dagger and Bet you Look Good on the Dancefloor – which are bloody hard songs to sing apart from the choruses. Then we went down the german route and sang 99 Red Balloons and Amedeus which the guys sang in german – i passed on this. It was a great laugh and a cool night.

The thing Mark and I were most looking forward to was the return of the lovely Chopstick aka Bin from Shanghai. As it coincided with the weekend before St Paddy’s day we decided to make a triple celebration out of it – a welcome back to Bin, a welcome home to Linds and a surprise birthday for Des. I had to work the friday night behind the bar which was interesting and i was nervous to start with as havent been behind a bar in ages but its like riding a bike and it all comes flooding back – and the best part – you get tips in Canada – i managed to make like $50 in 4 hours which more than paid for my drinks that night.

I had to work the desk on saturday night so missed most of the party but Andy very kindly brought me food down to the hostel – thanks mate! When i finally got to the bar it had been bedlam – Mark had decided to propose to Bin (who was in on the joke by the way) Des looked like he was gonna have a heart attack and the locals went crazy!! It was a very funny night. My friend Martha had come down from TO as well for the weekend – i spent a very drunken new year with her sat in the same bar lol.

Monday morning dawned bright and clear and it was time to get our drinking heads on. Happy St Paddy’s day peeps – although for some reason over here they think its Patty which just cracks us up – to no avail did we explain that PADDY is short for Patrick not Patty. Oh well – Linds, Debs and I had fake tattoos and green streaks in our hair. We set off to the bar for 1pm and started the drinking – meeting up with Andy and Martha who both joined us. The day was mostly a blur of hanging out drinking and playing pool – Mikey and Andy played the rule where whoever loses has to lose their pants!! Always comical and especially so when they decided to walk into City Hall that was in a middle of a full council meeting with no pants. I can only imagine the faces of the people there lol. Heather and Kirsty joined us later on and Linds managed to catch up with the drinking when she finished work. The boys headed out to the strip club and us girls headed back for the hostel stopping by the thrift store where loads of toys had been left outside we each took one and then giggled when the cops drove by seconds later – oops. A very drunken day indeed.

Mark, Lind, Debs, Kirsty decided to go to Nightmares and took Richard( a Brit) with them. They rang me at to tell me to get over to the Wild Mushroom when i had finished and i was just finishing closing when two people tried to check in – feeling pity i let them in and got them sorted and in gratitude they drove me down to the Bar and then headed down to see the Falls. I arrived to find a table full of drunken people and it only got worse. The bar has this policy whereby they get people to sign dollar bills in red marker pen and stick them on the ceiling. We did that and then Mark decided to write on my chest with said marker pen – photos not yet up peeps!! It went even further downhill when they decided to play spin the phone and with only two guys and four girls it meant there was a lot of girl on girl action!! The people in the bar must have thought we were mental which yes we kind of were and then Kirsty decided she wanted to up the levels in the game. We headed back to the hostel and the game continued but in the form of Truth, Dare and Double Dare and a bottle of tequila – yes i can sense the groans now. Needless to say – what happened that night will remain only with the people who were there. Whats happened in HI Niagara stays in HI Niagara lmao.

Des arrived down midweek (Weds 26th Mar) with a couple of people Hannah and Ben who both volunteered at HI Toronto and Mark who had grabbed a lift down with them. The Toronto guys headed out for something to eat and then later on wanted us to go to the bar with them. It was an ok night but not a major story teller for once, but it did bring us the gift of Mark from Northern Ireland who is an absolute legend and he ended up staying in Niagara for a while. We took him to Kareoke on the friday night along with Sophia and Joe and Deborah came out with us. We were all sporting our new HI tattoos with different phrases – mine was HI Niagara Baybee, Linds was HI Niagara ROX and Marks was HI Niagara legendary. I had also had the arrival of my top from home so was all dolled up for the evening. Irish Mark also made an impression on the ladies especially Rada – she does like the attention from the boys that one!! It was a great night and a drunken one and lots of kareoke again and even Mikey and Andy with his newly shaven head joined us.

Not much has happened in the last couple of weeks – i have been stressing about visas and wondering how im going to stay in Canada. Debbie moved to Toronto as she couldnt find any work down here and then Mark and Linds had a couple of nights away in TO leaving me on my own for one night – the lovely Samantha came down to cover one of them as we had a group of 30 french teenagers in argghh. Needless to say i escaped to the bar that night!! Joe and Sophia came back for one night and so we had Joe and Sophia day which was cool – a night spent up the bar for once and a lovely rendition by them of ‘If i had a million dollars..’

Having to leave even for 2 weeks is killing me and i miss my Canadian family a lot. I love Niagara and cant wait to spend the summer there. Its gonna be awesome thats for sure!!


San Francisco

January 30th, 2008

So i prepared to leave my lovely Stratosphere hotel behind and headed to the airport to catch my flight to San Francisco and yet another Bootsnall meetup – i was looking forward to this one as i would meet new Booties and catch up with the guys i met back in December – how time has flown since being in Portland.  At the airport which is scarily close to the Strip – i have seen it in the movies but so did not realise it was literally minutes away.  Im at my gate and annoyed because my flight is delayed and then im wondering why everyone is fascinated with looking out the windows and the smoke catches my eye at first and i look to seee The Monte Carlo hotel engulfed in smoke.  Man the Strip must be in chaos, im glad i left when i did.  Having got bored of watching that i turned my attention to the flashing lights of the slot machines – yes they have them in the airport…  I decided to put a dollar in and couldnt believe it when 5mins later i walk away with $50 not bad – that certainly goes towards my evening tonight. Im due to meet up with the guys in a restaurant tonight at 7pm and now my flight has been delayed its going to be a mission to make it.  I land in San Fran and its raining joy oh joy.  After finding my way to the train that will take me into the downtown area i plonk my bum down and get comfortable – its a long ride.  Then huffing and ppuffing my way uphill to find my hostel and yes its still pouring – not fun when you have a backpack let me tell you, i find the place and stagger in at just before 6pm.  I check in dump my bags have a quick wash and change and grab a cab to the restaurant and get there just before 7pm result!! Im now knackered and need a drink.  Annie is shortly behind me and i finally get to meet one of the coolest Booties – and someone i have wanted to meet for a while.  We chat and then everyone else filters in and over tapas and wine i catch up with everybody.  I had a great night and im looking forward to tomorrow when we get to go to Alcatraz one of the places i have always wanted to go. After the restaurant we head to a bar for a couple and then to a club.  By this point im exhausted so call it an night and finalise the times to meet tomorrow.

Saturday dawns clear and rain free – yes and i head out to meet the guys and decide to catch one of the famous trams.  We go up one of the mega hills and im amazed at how we get up there – no way could i walk up it.

I walk down to the piers and hang out for a while before going to meet the guys, stopping atPier 39 whichis a tourist trap if ever i saw one.  I took a few pictures of the surrounding area which i have to say is very pretty.

I met up with the guys and we got on board the ferry to Alcatraz Island.  It took about 10 mins and the view of the skyline behind us was amazing as was the view of the bridge.

After we docked on the island we had to walk up a very steep hill – reminds me of the zig zag at Bournemouth Beach lol and i am certainly getting fitter on this trip as it didnt kill me like i thought it would – yay for me!  Inside you get given individual headsets and so do the tour at your own pace which is a great idea and i have actually no idea how long we were in there as time seemed to fly by.  i learnt so much about the history of the prison and its inmates – and even what i thought i had known was nothing to what i picked up that night.  I urge anyone who does to San Fran to do the tour and try to do the evening one as it really adds to the atmosphere.  It costs a little extra but is totally worth it especially for the nighttime view of the San Fran skyline wow.

We walked to the bar in which we were meeting the other Booties and stayed there for a while catching up with everyone.  The guys decided that they wanted to head over to the other side of the city and trying to hail 3 cabs on a saturday night was proving impossible until somebody flagged down a limo – yes you read that correctly.  So 12 of us piled into this car it was a squeeze thats for sure but it was hilarious.  The driver was crazy and his dog was mental and poor Bill had to sit on the floor but it was definitely an experience and the cost $5 each.  It was another great night out with everyone and summed up a great time in San Fran.  Thanks guys.


Las Vegas baby!

January 24th, 2008

Checked out of the hostel this morning but as the bus wasnt until the afternoon i hung around the hostel and by chance started talking to a guy from Holland who was also heading to Las Vegas and had a car – result. I offered to pay for all of his gas if he wanted a passenger. we headed out of Flagstaff and drove through mostly nothingness for 5 hours. The scenery was beautiful however and its amazing the vast open space this country has. We stopped at the Hoover Dam to take some photos and check out the comparison between the desert and this man made structure.

The first view of the strip and sin city after 5 hours of driving seeing nothing but desert and then out of nowhere this famous sight appears before you. And the cost of gas for that trip – $20 yes thats ten whole pounds – amazing!!

My lovely driver dropped me off at the Stratosphere – my luxury home for the next three days – i had to walk through the casino to get to the check in desk and wow its certainly an eye opener thats for sure. Having checked in and had to pay an extra $15 in resort taxes – for what i dont get but oh well its still a steal for 3 nights. Anyways so im on the 24th floor the top floor that is – also home to the presidential suite – unfortunately not mine but my room is gorgeous and i totally recommend to anyone on the road to once in a while splurge and stay in a hotel – it just feels like luxury to have your own space and own palatial bathroom.

I wandered down to the main floor and man its easy to get lost in here and had a little gamble. For dinner i decided to try out one of Vegas’ well known things to do – the all you can eat buffet. The one at the Stratosphere costs $20 and man there is a lot of food – stations with soup, salad, italian, mexican, chinese, american (fried!), and then the desserts. Wow i managed a paltry amount and then was full – travelling certainly shrinks your appetite – i would have once upon a time done well at this but not anymore. Being almost unable to move i staggered back into the casino and played on a few more slots and tried one of the next big Vegas like things – free alcohol. Now its not as great as it sounds let me tell you – first you have to be playing a machine and then find a waitress to order your drink from – this part is definitely tricky. Once you have signalled said waitress and ordered your beverage you carry on playing whilst she brings back said drink. Now i think they must actually go to Tennessee to get my Jack because it takes like 15 mins and by then you have spent more than the drink costs into the damn slot machines! argghhhhh. Lesson learned anyways and i suppose there is the age old saying ‘you gotta try everything once’ Yeah right.

I retired to my room to watch TV on my giant personal TV screen and the big news of the day is the death of Heath Ledger – i still cant quite believe it and my heart goes out to his family and his little girl.

The next morning i headed down to the pool for a swim and even though its only 15 degrees i have use of a swimming pool and im damn gonna use it!! So swimming fast lengths to warm up and then retire to the jacuzzi which is bliss let me tell you.

On my last day i caught a bus down the Strip to the other end and got off at the New York New York. This part of town is crowded with well known sights including the MGM Grand, Coca Cola World and The Bellagio, Ceasers Palace and Paris hotels just down a bit further.

Walking back towards the Stratosphere you then pass the Mirage on the left and my favourite The Venetian on the right – one day i want to stay here.  (Note to self find rich man who can afford to stay here!)

In the evening i went to watch 27 dresses in the cinema and then headed down to the Bellagio to see the famous water display and it certainly wasnt a disappointment –  it was awesome.

There is no way i could stay here in this city any longer than 3 days – its just chaos and the amount of money people spend is crazy.  Its a great place to see however but i would so be broke if i stayed here any longer.


Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon

January 21st, 2008

Caught the lovely greyhound to Flagstaff this morning, had to change buses in Phoenix.  One other guy from the hostel decided to go as well so it was nice to have some company.  We had to wait around an hour in Phoenix which seemed like another typical US city and i came to the realisation that i was bored of these places and the US in general.  Dont get me wrong i am glad that i have seen them and i met some awesome people along the way, most especially all the lovely Booties who have made the trip 100 times better.  I just think i have finally understood that the US is not for me, which is weird cos growing up all i wanted to do was live and go to school here.  Im now very thankful that i didnt – i wouldnt swap my English education for anything.

Well thats enough blah, got into Flagstaff mid afternoon and was slightly surprised to see snow on the ground – i mean hello this is supposed to be Arizona – home of the desert.  And it was freezing too – i am just crying out for a few days of sun and warm weather – serves me right for deciding to travel in winter i guess!  The great thing about the hostel was that they did a free pick up from the bus station so gave them a call and they came to pick us up – already the hostel is a winner in my eyes.  Another bonus was that it is by far the cheapest i have stayed in too – $17 bucks a night with breakfast – now thats a bargain.  Flagstaff is a very popular town with tourists as it makes an ideal base for exploring the many wonderful sights around – i mean there is so much to go off and see here – from Sedona, to a long stretch of the old Route 66 and of course the south rim of the Grand Canyon is only an hour and a half away.  The hostel organises tours but they have to have a min of 4 people signed up and there were only three on the list not looking good – i cant come here and not see the canyon, thats just plain rude.  For the rest of the day i wandered around the town which is certainly geared up for tourists, numerous bars and restaurants and tacky souvenir shops.  Found an Irish bar and went for something to eat and then contemplated what i would do tomorrow if the tour didnt run.

The morning dawned and the tour wasnt running bummer – i walked down to the visitors centre and found that a tour company were going today and picking up in an hour – the price was $100 a bit steep but i was willing to pay it.  I went back to the hostel and grabbed my stuff and ran into my Tucson travel buddy who was also looking to do the tour.  We got picked up and introduced ourselves to the rest of the guys in the bus – it was a predominantly Canadian and American bus and so they were all very interested in us and our travel plans.  Our guide whoses name escapes me at the moment was a Native American and lives on the Navajo reservation.  It has lived around the Canyon all his life and so was the perfect person for our questions and yes no prizes for guessing which nationality asks the most stupidest of questions!!  He was the first Native that i have met properly and i was interested in the Navajo tribe as i remember reading all about their culture as a kid.  He has this great hat with an eagle feather in, handed down from his grandfather and i learnt that the eagle is sacred to the tribe and so the feather is only a replica he made.

We drove down onto the old route 66 which was very cool, although i would like to make it back here and do the cliched thing of driving in an open top car – now that would be awesome. 


We arrived into the park just after 11 and headed to the first look out point on our agenda.  The ground is covered in snow and ice and i have discovered that i have absolutely no balance on ice – maybe it just brings back memories of my ice skating incident when i was 12!!  Now after slipping and sliding we got to the egde and man i mean we have all seen pictures in movies and so on but seriously nothing prepares you for the wonder of the real thing, its just awe inspiring and i just dont have the words to describe it.  I am so glad that i bought my new camera cos as much as i loved my old one there is no way that it would do itself proud here, i love my zoom – its my new best friend.  Im not even going to attempt a description of what i saw as i will let my pictures do the talking, but i will say that nothing will ever beat standing here and seeing with my own eyes.

We headed back to the bus after our guide had pointed out plateau point and the mule riders.  Now if i was physically fit that is something that i would like to do one day – ride a mule down through the canyon, maybe one day for sure.  Our next point of call was in the town area and we headed to Bright Lodge for some hot chocolate and saw the Grand Canyon train pass by.  After lunch we went to our last point of call which was up the watch tower built by Mary Coulter and designed with many native artworks on the different levels.  Visability was also very good today so we were able to see the Navajo reservation and across the Arizona desert.

It was a wonderful day and i definately need to come back in better weather to do some hiking and also visit a few other places around especially Sedona.  The drive back was beautiful and we got to see the sun setting over a wonderful landscape.  Tomorrow i am off to Las Vegas – woo woo, im very excited about going there and also staying in a hotel it will make a lovely change from hostels.


Tucson, Arizona

January 19th, 2008

Caught my flight from Nashville today and had to catch a connecting flight in Chicago – which geographically makes no sense but hey who am i to argue. Flew with Southwest who are without a doubt the best airline i have flown with for a while, kicks American and United arses anyway.

Decided to live dangerously and catch the public bus through to Tucson downtown. By the looks of it only the poorer catch it and i had some interesting looks! Also bus drivers in Tucson dont know where the hell they are driving – i asked a simple question about where i had to get off and the bus driver had no idea even though it was on her route. That was worrying but managed to figure it out eventually and walked the last couple of blocks to the hostel. The scenery is completely different to what i have seen so far in North America, warm and blue skies, desert and an abundant amount of cacti grace the side of the road. That is one thing i have noticed so far that everywhere i have been has been so different from the last place and Arizona is unlike what i have seen – reminds me in some ways of central europe, although a lot more desolate. Water is a big problem here and the river has completely dried up. It is on the current agenda of where they are going to get new supplies from. For the first time i am glad i am travelling in winter especially as i found out about the tarantulas and scorpions that usually reside in Tucson but are currently hibernating – phew! Almost had a heart attack when i heard about the spiders – yep one place i know i cant live.

The hostel is a converted house – very spanish in style and has a huge porch. The bad thing is how crammed the beds are in the room – but everyone is really friendly. I found a cool little sports bar to eat in and then hung around the hostel for the rest of the evening.

Met up with Jules today and she was going to be my guide – as i quickly found you need a car here in Tucson as the tourist sites are very spread out. The day consisted of checking out the historic downtown and the adobe buildings – buidlings made with mud. There is a walking tour known as the presidio trail which you can do and check out the ruins of this interesting period. We also saw a room depecting a huge nativity scene – which gets added to frequently. It was very cool and each time you looked at it in detail you see more and more. We drove to the wishing shrine known as El Tiradito which is a shrine which draws the crowds lighting candles and leaving wishes. The legend goes that a man was caught in a love triangle and was killed. Because of the suspicious death he was unable to be buried in a cementary. The legend goes that as he died without his wish of true love being granted he now grants wishes to others and in the cracks of the walls around the shrine people write their wishes on paper and leave them in the cracks. It is better seen at night when the candles are lit but it was very cool indeed and something i would never have seen on my own. We drove past a renovated part of town where the houses have all been redone and repainted in the brightest colours they could find by the looks of it and house prices here on this street have shot upwards. Jules has a fascination with cementaries and took me to one which is so unlike any one i have ever seen – it is bright and colourful well see the picture as it shows it clearer than i can describe.

Our last point of call before lunch was the Mission San Xavier Del Bac which was built in the 1700s The celebrated Jesuit missionary and explorer, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, first visited Bac in 1692. Eight years later in 1700, Father Kino laid the foundations of the first church, some two miles north of the present site of the Mission. He named it San Xavier in honor of his chosen patron, St. Francis Xavier, the illustrious Jesuit “Apostle of the Indies.” San Xavier Mission is acclaimed by many to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. It is a graceful blend of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican Renaissance architecture, yet the blending is so complete it is hard to tell where one type begins and another ends. Time and the harsh desert weather have taken a toll on the the beauty that is within the church and the entire mission complex. Currently the church is going through an ongoing restoration that tries to clean, repair and preserve as much of the church as it can. and thats my bit of blurb on it – couldnt be bothered to type all that out in my own words – copy and paste is a wonderful thing as is plagarism!

We walked around the grounds – the altars are something to see – wonderful and brightly coloured. There are quite a few in there and people attend mass on a regular basis. We walked up the mountain to see the cave of wishes which has statues of Virgin Mary and is a place where people leave gifts and candles. The view is fantastic and you can see desert and mountains for miles. The thing that surprised me the most was the amount of green that i could see – wasnt expecting that in the desert, well apart from the cacti obviously.

Before we headed off for lunch Jules had me try Native fry bread for $3 we opted for sugar on it – well its already unhealthy might as well make the most of it. It is wonderful and very yummy (couldnt think of a better word there) Try it if you get the chance for sure.

We left the Mission and headed into for lunch in a great little mexican place – well really what else are you going to eat down here. After lunch we had to make a stop at the University of Arizona (where Speed’s Annie was to – little trivia for you) The campus looked huge and actually a pretty cool place. Our last stop of the day was an art gallery – the Degrazia, which was pretty cool, and the garden was fantastic – a true arizonion one – with different cacti. Jules had to go pick up her cat from the vet so we parted ways. Jules was an absolute legend and i would not have seen anything from today without her so snaps for her!! thanks Jules.

My last day in Tucson was John Dillenger day so was packed with people. I had never heard of him before coming here – and for all of you still not in the know, he was a bank robber from Chicago who went on the run and ended up in Tucson where because of a freak fire in the Hotel Congress was eventually caught. He was later gunned down in Chicago. On the deck of the hotel a local acting group were reinacting the life of Dillenger and the parking lot was crammed with old style ford motor cars from the period.

And so my time in Tucson has ended – its definately very different part of America and i can imagine how crazy it is in the summer, but has a winter destination it was very cool and im now off to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.


Music City – Nashville

January 16th, 2008

An interesting morning i had trying to get to the airport – left the hostel to catch bus to train station and then caught amtrak to BWI airport stop, where a shuttle took us to the terminal.  Flight was uneventful as usual but Southwest has become my favourite airline.  Landed ion Nashville to blue skies and warm sunny weather and caught the airport shuttle to a nearby hotel and walked up to the hostel.  I had forgotten to write down details but luckily my memory kicked in and i found it without a hassle. My first impression was a good one – everyone there was really friendly and i got a dorm room with a double bed woot!

That night Hope took a bunch of us down to the Station End and we went to see an apparant famous bluegrass band called the Infamous Stringdusters.  They were awesome and i had a really good evening, and now a new convert of Bluegrass.  The guys in the band were some of the best musicians i have ever seen and the speed at which they played their instruments was mind blowing.  We also had front row seats which was cool and the bar is a funky little place with cheap beer and pizza and great music – well what more do you need in Nashville.

Sunday i hung out with Hope and we watched movies and basically chilled out.  On Monday Hope and I drove to the area near Vanderbily university and stopped at the Parthenon, apparantly Nashville is known as the Athens of the South.  It was a cool thing to see and something very unexpected.  We wandered around the area and checked out a funky little book store and then went licence plate hunting.  In the evening i entertained everyone by showing them clips from Lee Evans, Little Britain and Catherine Tate amongst others along with copious amounts of tea, ben and jerrys and cigarettes.

On tuesday i walked down to the downtown area with a couple of guys and went into the Tennessee State museum which had free exhibits which showed when the state started and a progression of the people who lived there, through to the civil war.  It was a cool little museum and very informative.  Wandered up to the State Capital and then down to the downtown area to 2nd Ave and Broadway which are full with bars, restaurants and shops selling everything from Jack D memorablia to cowboy boots.  It a very funky little area and sums up the atmosphere of Nashville to a tee.  Really the place is all about the music and the ampunt of people i met who had sold up everything and moved here to become a serious musician, was staggering.  The place has an awesome vibe and i totally urge anyone coming to the US to check it out, you wont be disappointed and you get  to experience new music which is always an eye opener.

In the evening Hope and I and by dorm buddy Fiona and Mel and Glynn went back to the Station End to check out another bluegrass band.  Again another awesome band and we had a really good time.  The four of us decided to rent a car and drive to Lynchburg tomorrow.  Glynn and I are the only ones with driving licenses and over 25 but the potential problem lies with the fact that we dont have a credit card – but the other two do. 

As it turns out we were worried for nothing and got a car with no hassle.  We paid extra for sat nav knowing that it would be a big help and early wedsnesday morning we took the car back to the hostel and had our pancake breakfast.  Hope was given the day off to come with us and we set off just before midday – i am so excited i am on my way to see Jack’s distillery – a place i have wanted to go to for a long long time.  It took us about an hour and a half to get there and Glynn was happy doing the driving – and did an awesome job:)  I stood outside the distillery, which weirdly looks exactly like i imagined it to look like and we headed in for our free tour.  The bad part is that Lynchburg is in a dry county and so we cannot sample the whiskey but we were allowed a good sniff or two in the vats!!!  The tour was excellent and i learnt about the entire process of making my beloved Jack.   After the tour and me lusting after Jack’s car – see below we headed into the town – well i say town but it only has a population of less than 400 so blink and you may well miss it.  The town square was a quaint little place with almost every shop selling jack merchandise.  We had lunch in a cute little cafe and then it started to snow quite heavily so we decided to head back.  Fair play to Glynn for driving in the conditions he did as they were awful and i dont think i would have done as well.  We dropped Hope back at the hostel then went to the Opry Mills area and into a huge mall.  Found another Dave and Busters and had dinner there and then had a go on Daytona which i havent played in several years.  We left D&B and the mall was shut so had to walk outside in snow and rain, not 100% sure where we parked the car.  The security took pity on us and gave us a life to our car which was a lot further away than we realised so very thankful.  It was very nice of them, pure southern hospitality.  And that ended my time in Nashville which is an awesome place.  I would definatelycome back here to experience more of the nightlife and gain more appreciation of the music.




Capital Washington DC

January 11th, 2008

Walked to Penn Station today to catch my train to DC, capital city and home of the White House, several free museums and memorials as well as the Capitol.

Journey was uneventful and caught a bus from the station to the hostel.  That night i signed up for a tour of Georgetown and a mini pub crawl organised by the hostel.  We left at 7.30pm and caught a bus to Georgetown which is a very upmarket area – and infact the last home of JFK before he became president.  We walked around the mini town which likes to be completely separate from the rest of DC, and it struck me how much it reminded me of small tourist towns back home.  I dont know why but it looks completely different from any other place i have seen in the US and when i walked up the streets especially the street with the shops and bars i was reminded of towns like Ringwood or Wimborne – (very small towns in Dorset/Hampshire, England).

We went to check out the university of Georgetown which looks a bit like Hogwarts and is the oldest Roman Catholic university in the US and has Bill Clinton listed as one of its alumni.  It is well known for the basketball team here the Georgetown Hoyas who so im told have won several championships.  The area is also known for some very famous steps from a very famous movie – any guesses?  Well i actually hadnt seen the movie so didnt know myself but guessed they were from either a horror or thriller and in fact they were filmed in the “Exorcist’.  There is a bit of pub trivia for you!!

After the tour we headed to a bar and spent the rest of the evening chatting to each other.  On thurs i headed out for my own personal tour of Washington DC.  I wandered down to the White House, which was about a 10 min walk from the hostel.  Took the obligatory photo and then headed down to where all the memorials are.  Saw the Vietnam and Korean ones and then to the Lincoln memorial.  I found a new game to play and decided to see how many different license plates from the 50 states i could get.  Needless to say i looked a bit dodgy walking around parked cars taking photos but i had fun!!  It was a bit of a trek over to the Roosevelt and Jefferson memorials and then it started to rain.  I continued walking and saw the Washington memorial, wandered past the holocaust museum and the FBI building and back through Chinatown to the hostel.  DC has not impressed me in the slightest in fact i found it rather lifeless and characterless.  I am glad i got to go however and do the touristy thing but its definately one of those places that you only need a couple of days in – unless you are a museum buff in which case you would have a field day as they are free.  It wuld be fun to be able to tour the White House but you need special permission.

And so really spent my last day hanging out at the hostel, which is cool the best part of DC and now im off to Nashville and home of JACK yee haw!!


New York New York

January 8th, 2008

So after a long train journey that seemed to take forever i finally arrived in New York’s Penn Station. We did have a couple of smoking breaks through the journey and i met a cool guy from Caracas in Venezuela. I grabbed a cab – well im in New York i have to take at least one right its part of the touist thing. Well to me anyway. Fiund the hostel which really is just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of Times Square. It was now past 10pm on a saturday night and this definately is the city that never sleeps as it was packed out with people. You instantly pick up on the vibrancy of this city and it makes the place call out to you and makes you want to explore. The owner of the hostel wasnt in but i was let into the small place by some Brits. Sarah from Newcastle who is the only person i have ever met from up there who doesnt have a geordie accent!! and Steve and Matt from St Helens. I dumped my bags and started chatting to the guys who were hanging out drinking wine. We decided to head out to a bar and jumped in a cab and then Sarah felt ill and told us she had to get out of the cab. What i didnt realise at the time is that she suffers from seizures and the flashing lights through the cab had set it off. I have no idea what to do in a situation like this but common sense kicked in and the three of us got her out of the cab and onto the ground in the recovery position. Steve had hold of Sarah’s head and Matt called 911. if you are ever told that New Yorkers are rude and unhelpful then in my mind its a complete lie as within minutes we had several people come up and help us and some also called 911 also so we ended up with two ambulances and a fire truck. So i got to meet 6 of the very finest firemen frm NY fire department!! Obviously i wasnt concentrating on them but on Sarah!! well maybe a little. Matt ran back to the hostel to check out if he could find any insurance details and Steve and I got into the ambulance – i had the joy of riding in the front seat. Sarah was more stable now and we were told that we had done everything right. Its scary when you try to help someone and are in a new country. We whizzed down to St Vincents hospital and ino the ER. Now im still a tourist at heart and was happy to see it looks just like in the tv show ER – except without Mr Clooney.

Sarah bless her was upset that she had caused us to ruin our night. We assured that of course it didnt matter and that as long as she was ok was all that mattered. We had to spend a few hours in the ER before they would discharge her and had to fill in several forms. We eventually go out of there about 2ish and headed back to the hostel where Matt was waiting for us. I was certinly an unexpected way to spend my first evening in New York but i felt that i had made some new friends and we all now had a connection that was different from just meeting and going to pubs together.

On sunday Sarah was wanting to do a hop on hop off bus tour which is a two day ticket so i decided to join her on it as it would be a good way to see a lot of Manhatten. We caught the bus in Times Square and went and sat in the open top part glad that i had brought several layers with me. We stayed on the bus until Ground Zero and went to pay our respects, Sarah more so than me as she had lost her uncle in 9/11. It really is a building site now and progess is being made to move on and rebuild, but definately not forget. The small church opposite really i amazing. It managed to escape without any damage to it even though it was right next to where the towers fell. Inside the church is dedicated to remembrance and at the ground zero ae boards with everyones name on from that tragic day. Having paid our respects Sarah and I continued on and lightened our mood by going on a hunt for hair straighteners!! Not for me though, i really dont have room for them. We spent the whole day on the bus taking pictures and getting an overview of both Manhatten and also went through Harlem. We saw all the usual tourist spots and had some really good guides. Saw the empire state building, rockerfeller centre, central park, brooklyn bridge, chrysler building and times square and countless other landmarks. There is so much to see and do here that you could be here months and still not see everything. Sarah and I by the end of it were absolutely freezing and walked back to the hostel where we said our goodbyes to Steve and Matt and then headed to Applebee’s for dinner. The evening was spent hangin out at the hostel and Sarah was heading off early in the morning to Niagara. It was a shame we were headed different ways as we got on really well and i would have like to travel some more with her. I know she will have an awesome time in Niagara though.

On monday i headed out bright and early and used my ticket to get back on the bus and head down to Battery Park so i could catch the Staten Island ferry. For those not in the know this is a free ride which takes you past the Statue of Liberty and gives you a great view of the skyline on the way back. I took my pictures and didnt stop on Staten Island but headed back and walked up to Wall Street to see the New York Stock Exchange. I continued walking around up to City Hall and then got onto the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across. The day was bright and clear and quite warm and i was in just a t shirt – no layers yay!! I walked around Brooklyn for a bit and then headed back across the bridge and back on the bus through Chinatown and lower east side and up to Rockerfeller centre. The christmas was still up and i took a few pictures before heading into the NBC studio. I didnt take the tour but wandered around the store and checked out the ER memorablia for sale. I was very tempted to buy but resisted. I headed up to Central Park which is beautiful and then back to Times Square before being absolutely dead on my feet and wandered into Dave and Busters for something to eat, This was pure reminising for me as i used to work in the one in Bristol a very long time ago. But i have never forgotten what a great place it was and how the staff were like one huge family. I also missed playing on Daytona and the kentucky derby. Ok enough rambling it was almost as i remembered it being in Bristol i guess they are pretty muchof the same standard across the US. I indulged in a philly cheesesteak which was always the bomb and still the best i have tried.

On tuesday i stayed around the times square area which is always pumping – maybe its the lights that effect me but it always has such a great vibe although i see now that i so would have not enjoyed being here on New Year.  I knew that i would like being in New York but i didnt realise just how much i loved the atmosphere there.  I felt safe at all times and loved how diverse it was just by walking a few blocks you came across almost another world.  And as mentioned earlier New Yorkers were some of the friendliest people i met and not at all what i had been lead to believe – just goes to show you should never listen to stereotypes something im learning more and more as i travel and encounter new things.  But i am definately gonna come back here and spend more time checking out the city.  I also think i will just come on a holiday from England and bring an empty suitcase as i could really shop til i drop here.


New Year back in Niagara Falls

January 4th, 2008

Yay im on my way back to the most awesome of hostels and places – Niagara baby yeah!! just have to survive a 13 hour greyhound trip first. Hmm easier said than done i can tell you. I had to be at the greyhound station at the ungodly hour of 6am to ensure my seat on the bus. This meant getting up at 5am – i dont like it but i managed it and got my seat and bonus one – no apparent crazies on my bus – always good!

The journey was uneventful and fairly boring – i had to change buses twice also – once in Syracuse and once in Buffalo and by the time i got to Buffalo i was almost there – just within sight across the border and i would be home. After being held up at the border – thankfully not by me this time – i sailed through. We had to wait for this woman and her kid who were being detained, we didnt get to find out the reasons but must be fairly important to not get into Canada. We ended up having to leave them at the border and carried on our way. No problems with any of the buses and a lovely driver from Buffalo. I was the only one to get off the bus at Niagara and normally when i arrive in a new place its kind of nerve wrecking to be in a new place and finding your way to the hostel. Not so for once – got off the bus sorted out my bag and i walked down to the hostel which is only a 5 min walk. I felt happy, secure and excited to be back here and it really feels like home. I was smiling all the way to the hostel – i may have been the crazy on the bus after all!

And into the wonderful HI Niagara and my friends – it has been 6 weeks since i was last here but it feels like yesterday and was so great to see all the guys again. Yay and its almost new years eve which is going to be good – i cant wait to get back to Queens Bar and have a pornstar. Well i actually didnt wait that long at all – checked in dumped my bags and Mark and I headed over to the bar. I have been up for almost 24 hours but its great to sit here in the best bar in the world. I dare any who has been here to challenge that statement!!

Basically i did nothing for the next few days – and i do mean nothing i barely made it to get some groceries and do my laundry and really that was about all i did – well except head to the bar in the evenings of course. I mean what else was i gonna do really. It was really nice to be in a place where i didnt have to think about anything – i could just chill out and relax and hangout with the guys.

New years eve rolled around and Sim, Duey and I headed down to the falls for the huge concert going on. Basically i had neverthe artists but we had fun and had a bottle of appletini that we were doing shots out of the lid. It was horrible stuff but it kept us warm and i had drunk half a bottle of wine back at the hostel

We wandered around by the falls and headed up Clifton Hill for a bit – which was packed – this was the first time i had seen so many people in Niagara. It was packed and a really good atmosphere. We headed down to a find a spot ready for the fireworks and the crowd were all ready and fired up singing out random songs like ole ole ole and other things like that. Sim managed to scave a sparkler off this couple and we had fun with that and then the countdown and fireworks which i have a video from. I was freezing and after some singing arm in arm to auld lang syne and jingle bell rock (not sure why we started singing this however. I headed back up River Road determined to hit the bar and managed to thumb a cab which i was surprised by. Five minutes later all was good with the world its 2008 and i have a jack and coke in my hand, what could be better. Mark and Martha joined us within the hour and we preceded to drink and celebrate new year in the different time zones of the US and Canada. I have had a fantastic night and we drank until Joe kicked us out im not what the time was – we staggered back to the hostel and decided to wake up the rest of the hostel by making as much noise as possible.

A little hungover on new years day and it didnt help that i had very noisy people checking out at 8am and made the most amount of noise they could – i mean hello its new years day you arent supposed to get up at 8am unless you are just coming home right!!

The rest of the week was spent just hanging out reading and watching tv and hanging out with the guys. I did finally manage to send the parcel of stuff home which cost $40 for 3kg which i guess isnt too bad and it has freed up so much space in my bag.

My last night rolled around and it was time for the friday pub crawl and kareoke night. Cat and Emily and Mark and myself and also David headed to the bar and it was a great night and then the shocker – i finally got up the courage to get up and sing. I chose Wonderwall and green day time of life as my two songs and away i went. I cant believe i did this – it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be and yay i did something that i have always wanted to do bt never had the nerve. A sure sign that travel makes you more confident!! And if no one believes me then there is photo evidence!!

Again my time in Niagara has come to an end and it always goes so quickly its not fair. This time round i was here for 9 days and i loved everyone of them. I feel rested and relaxed and now move on to some serious sightseeing in New York and Washington DC. Just a 12 hour amtrak jpurney between us.


Christmas Time in Boston

December 27th, 2007

Well my first day in Boston was almost a nightmare. Everything was fine as we departed Chicago – i was a little tired after only 2 hours sleep – but my last night in the windy city had been awesome. Towards the end of the flight we were told that we were circling Boston airport due to weather conditions and de-icing the runway – after an hour we were able to land. Then the pilot informs us that we cant go to the gate as there is a plane still there which is also being de-iced and the airport is in chaos. After another half hour we eventually get to the gate and get off the plane. The very lovely Bill who i met in Portland has come to meet me – what a sweetie – i definitely owe this man some beer. We waited around for my luggage which again the baggage claim was in chaos with 4 flights trying to come out at the same time – luggage compartments on some planes had been frozen solid and it was a nightmare. It soon became apparent that my backpack was not appearing and after a slight panic attack – well a major one and some tears – i spoke to a representative who took all my details and assured me they would find my bag and send it to the hostel. Bill told me that majority of bags are delivered within 24 hours and they just needed to get organised at the airport – i guess really i should be thankful that my flight was one of the few that didnt get cancelled. Bill took me for a drive around the city in a mini tour – couldnt really see that much due to the conditions but it was a good way to get bearings and a feel of the city. We went to have something to eat in Charlestown and then because he had a long drive back Bill dropped me off at the hostel. Thanks Bill you were an absolute legend and kept me sane and made 100% difference to what was going to be a bad day.

i checked into the hostel and let them know that my bag should be delivered soon well hopefully – as it turns out i had some luck on my side as i rang the airline with the hostel zip code and they told me they had found my bag and it was on route – yay – i have never felt so relieved on all my life. Not that there is much of anything in my bag but still for the next couple of years its my whole life.

Friday morning i woke up and yay my bag had been delivered sometime in the night woo hoo! i spent the day chilling out and wandered down to Boston Common and decided to grab something to eat and check out a movie. I went to watch PS I Love You – was feeling the need for a chick flick and it was a great movie – even the guys in the cinema appeared to have had a few tears – it was certainly a weepy.

On saturday i caught the metro up to Harvard Square and wandered around and was able to check out the infamous university that is so well known. Unfortunately being Christmas meant that there werent any students around so i couldnt pretend to be one and wander inside but checked out the campus which is very pretty. The surrounding square is very lively and draws many tourists but is geared towards students with bookstores and cheap eats. I settled for a pizza cafe and ended up getting my meal for free because they messed up my order – i didnt complain or anything for once and got a free meal – sweet. By the metro station is a stand that sells newspapers and magazines from around the world so went in for a browse – they truly have a world collection and i picked up a copy of the Daily Mail (partly because of the codeword and suduko and partly cos they didnt have The Sun!)

Sunday was the day i was finally going to walk the Freedom trail and the day was bright and clear and most of the snow had been cleared – again another city that is very efficient at clearing the roads with the least amount of hassle and commotion. I caught the metro to Boston Common and went into the visitors centre for a mini map – not that it is needed as you cant miss the red painted arrows on the ground – even if part of it is under a tonne of snow. The freedom trail stops at theses sights:

  1. Boston Common
  2. The State House
  3. Park Street Church
  4. Granary Burying Ground
  5. King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
  6. Franklin Statue and Boston Latin School
  7. Old Corner Bookstore
  8. Old South Meeting House
  9. Old State House
  10. Site of Boston Massacre
  11. Faneuil Hall
  12. Paul revere House
  13. Old North Church
  14. Copps Hill Burying Ground
  15. USS Constitution
  16. Bunker Hill monument

I got as far as the north end – the Italian area and the Old North Church. You can tell you have entered the Italian area as there are flags strung across the street and endless amounts of italian restaurants. I found one sports cafe that had named all its pizzas after footy players which was kind of cool – dont think my brother would be best impressed with this( Jim you know im right!)

I took a lot of photos and learnt more about Paul Revere – its bad that i didnt actually know who he was before – well now i know that he was the guy who warned everyone that the Brits were coming! I wont bore everyone with the details about the trail as you guys can google it if you want to know more but if you ever come to Boston then its definitely something to do. As is try the famous Clam Chowder which i had a couple of times – it was delicious.

I spent the whole day walking the trail and headed back to the hostel and in the evening we headed to a local bar to have a few beers and meet some new people. The majority of the people staying at the hostel are students studying english and so there werent many backpackers but met some cool new people.
Christmas Eve i headed over to North station and caught the commuter rail train to Salem, home of the famous with trials. The train took about 45 minutes and i got into Salem and headed down the main street to the Witch museum which Bill had given me a free pass for. It was a good tour and well presented and i learnt about how the hysteria of the trials came about. It was actually very interesting also learning about how the stereotype of a witch came about and how it changed over the centuries. I spent the rest of the time wandering around the town and seeing all the hooky shops and museums that the town has. Most were closed for the winter season unfortunately and some looked a little tacky but on the whole it was a pretty cool place. Managed to find one place that was open to serve food – everything had already shut down for the holidays.

Christmas day dawned and no snow boo! Going to have to wait another year for a white christmas. In the evening the hostel had cooked a xmas dinner and we had a great feast of ham and chicken, mash potato, mac and cheese (random), and veg and pumpkin pie and apple pie with ice cream for dessert. It was a bizarre meal but a good one and gave the day a little more festivity that i didnt really feel. Watched movies and hung out and did the same on Boxing Day. It was weird being away from home and not sure that i really enjoyed it but it was an experience all the same.

And that was the end of my time in Boston which is a cool little place with friendly people and scary drivers who have more road rage than i have ever seen. But im so excited now that im going back to Niagara Falls. I knew i would go back but not quite so soon. It will be good to chill out and hang out with friends and see in the new year. I have just got to survive a 12 hour greyhound ride first.