My wife and I recently spent 4+ weeks in the USA. It was our first visit there and we had an amazing time! I’d usually write up a detailed travel blog for each trip but this one was so eventful that it’d be a task of Herculean proportions. Which is another way of saying I can’t be bothered doing it.
So instead I’m going with the quick, informal version. These are notes that I sent to family and close friends while I was away, so please forgive me for their unedited nature. Hopefully the tales of street shootings, alligators, space shuttles, giant waterfalls, nudists and Elvis weddings will be action packed enough to make up for it …
MIAMI: 07/08 – 10/08
The trip has been good so far. Miami is hot and humid but bearable (a lot like Malaysia). Deb’s sister (L) and her fiance (K) have let us stay at their place and it’s very nice. They have a cute sausage dog named Polo, who is super excited to see us every day. Too bad Debbie doesn’t handle him too well though (she’s not a dog person).
Went to Bahamas yesterday. Just as a day trip! Pretty amazing that we could get there and back in one day, but we don’t recommend it. We were out all day (17 hours) but if you exclude all the time we spent travelling and waiting in line at customs, we only had 3 hours to explore one area of one town on one island of the Bahamas!
Miami proper seems quite different to what you see on TV, but I think what we usually see is Miami Beach or South Beach which is in a different area. We might go there today though.
FLORIDA KEYS & MORE MIAMI: 11/08 – 14/08
Waiting at a bus station for our trip to Orlando. We think Americans have a bad sense of smell, because they go crazy overboard with air fresheners and bleach. Walking into this place was like being slapped in the face with a bunch of flowers and being pelted with oranges. 24 hr news is on the waiting room TV – it’s awful, especially the election stuff. So much “he said, she said” bs :p
L and K have been wonderful hosts for the past few days – driving us around to so many places and taking us to eateries etc. Also had K’s brother, H staying with us, who has taught us about a lot of good places to eat and get coffee and has offered to show us around San Francisco!
The 5 of us went to Florida Keys for 2 nights. Nice road trip. Crossed the 7 mile bridge, sucessful night fishing, checked out the southern most point on (continental) USA, ate lots of seafood and key lime pie. Back in Miami we went to the Bayside Market place and did a boat tour of the harbour and small islands for the super rich (like Star Island, where a bunch of celebrities had/used to have mansions).
Yesterday was all about L and K’s Masters Graduation ceremony at Florida International University. Was actually 2 ceremonies so it was a full day. The second ceremony was more like a high school graduation or a party – even finishing with “I Gotta Feeling” by BlackEyed Peas blaring from the speakers. I asked if it was a typical graduation but was told it was an “only in Miami” kind of thing.
Oh, we also managed to get to the South Beach/Miami Beach area for a bit. Definitely more like the TV Miami. Beach was kind of disappointing. Nice long stretch of sand but quite a lot of rubbish and seaweed (Surfer’s Paradise [in QLD, Australia] was better). The arcade/outside mall nearby was good though. Good Japanese/Peruvian fusion place (interesting combo).
ORLANDO/NIAGARA FALLS: 15/08 – 20/08
Took a luxury bus to Orlando that wasn’t much pricier and was pretty great. Wish we’d booked more bus trips for the shorter travels instead of plane rides. Kennedy Space Centre first up. Very awesome. Debbie especially loved it. Went into Vehicle Assembly building and stood feet from the recently retired Endeavour space shuttle. We also saw 2 manatees (very briefly) and a few alligators (actually we saw quite a lot of them at the Everglades too, which I don’t think I mentioned before).
Next day was Disney World. It’s so awesome, you guys. Sure, it’s fake and kind of cheesy to an extent but it’s really well set up and just pretty rad. Spent half our time in Magic Kingdom and half the time in Epcot park. Didn’t even have time to visit the other parks. Epcot especially is huge. We walked a lot and our feet paid for it the next day. Our highlight as far as the rides was probably the Buzz Lightyear one in Tomorrowland, which made use of blacklights and animatronics and allowed you to shoot stuff. It was sweet!
Then Universal Studios. Slightly underwhelming when compared directly to Disney, but still great. If you’re really into thrillseeker rides it’s probably the better option. Harry Potter world was really well done (to look like Diagon Alley and Hogwart’s castle) and the Harry Potter ride was super impressive though it actually scared the bejesus out of me (spiders, dementors, dragons, oh my!). Also did the massive Hulk coaster!
Then on to Niagara Falls. Did a very awesome tour with ‘Over the Falls’ that allowed us to see everything from pretty much every angle without even crossing to the Canada side – which included standing so close to the falls that we got soaked even though we were wearing full body rain ponchos.
Almost missed the shuttle to the airport the next day because we’d slept so little, but we managed (just) and found ourselves in New York today where we met up with Debbie’s friend, Monica. They shopped in Soho while I kind of wandered around and got a feel for things. I think I like it here but as Deb pointed out it’s kind of dirty etc so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Was good hanging out with Monica and we’ll see her again tomorrow for the Sex and the City tour. I’ve been convinced to join in because it’s supposed to be a good sightseeing tour even if you’re not familiar with the show.
We’ll also prob catch a Broadway show tomorrow. I so wanted to see BOOK OF MORMON by the South Park guys but it is sold out WAY in advance 😦