USA Mini Travel Blog – Part 2

Continuing on from Part 1 …

NEW YORK: 24/08 (Shortly after this happened)

First up, letting y’all know (in light of the recent Empire State building shooting) that we are safe and sound. We were actually at the top of the building while the shooting was happening. We came down to find ourselves inside the roped off area with tonnes of police around – even FBI.

I’d like to say that I was sensible and didn’t hang around, but I’m only human. A couple of photos had to be taken first.

(24/08 Someone asked if we were still there.)

We left the scene fairly quick. Didn’t feel right standing around and I was a bit worried it might be a bomb threat or something. It wasn’t till later we found out what happened. Big shock to get to our hotel room and find out that 10 people had been shot including maybe a tourist dead – but as reliable info came in we realised it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the first reports said. 2 dead – the shooter and his intended victim (which happened way down the street).

These first reports were all about shotguns, semi-automatics, dead tourists and terrorism. We were in shock because we’d only just missed being involved. Then the truth came out and it all felt quite prozaic in comparison.

The others were injured by ricochets etc. (and maybe 1 or 2 direct hits though the cops deny it) from the cops bullets after they confronted the shooter and he pointed his gun at them. All bystander injuries were minor to non-life threatening. Still a scary day for people in the area. We are doing fine though. We’re in San Francisco now. Thanks for the caring words and I’ll do another proper update in the next couple of days.

NEW YORK/SAN FRAN/LA: 21/08 – 28/08

Just arrived in LA! New York was great. Pretty exhausting though. So much walking! We did the usual suspects – Statue of Liberty, Wall st, Central Park, Empire State Building (including the interesting experience described earlier) and got around by open top bus and subway. We had a quick look at most of the areas of the main part of Manhattan (downtown to uptown) including checking out how they’re coming along with the rebuild of the world trade centre area … and even ventured over the river to Brooklyn, though only a short distance. It was worth it because we had the best steak we’ve ever had there (a place called Peter Luger’s)!

No trip to New York is complete without seeing a strange half-naked man in Times Square.

We also met up with our good friend Monica. We had lunch with her at Nobu (good but pricey), dinner in the trendy East Village, and the Sex and the City tour the next morning (not that exciting for someone unfamiliar with the show, but the tour guide was funny and it gave us an overview of some of the Manhattan areas – so not bad). Another culinary highlight was ‘Chickalicious’ – a dessert bar that served 3 course desserts made in front of your eyes. Yum!

Next was San Fransisco, which we really liked but only had a couple of days there. It was really cold the first day – a big shock considering the heat we’d experienced elsewhere. Apparently San Fran summers are colder than their autumn (fall). We checked out a bit of Union Square (the main shopping district), the cable car and Fisherman’s Wharf including their permanent population of sea lions. You may know San Fran as a hilly city and it seriously is. Those hills are crazy steep. Going down some streets via car or cable car are very much like a rollercoaster.

At Fisherman’s Wharf. Despite the creepiness this is probably my favourite street costume that we saw on our trip. The Transformers in Las Vegas would come a close second.

H (remember him from earlier?) and his boyfriend M were very kind in driving us all around the Napa Valley area where we sampled some great wines and food. They also drove us down the crookedest road in the world and brought us to a party district called The Castro – perhaps the gay capital of the USA. It’s where Harvey Milk was elected into office and then helped get the gay rights movement off the ground (before he was sadly shot dead). There we had a true San Fran experience – having a fat, old, naked man walk down the street next to us!

You’re lucky I don’t have a photo of the naked guy. Here’s an artsy shot of the giant flag at Castro instead.

We also fit in lunch at The Stinking Rose – a restaurant where they “garnish their garlic with food”. Both being pretty big garlic fans, we thoroughly enjoyed it – even the garlic ice cream!

Now we’re in LA. We’d heard bad/mediocre things about the place but we’ve quite liked it so far. There’s an awesome supermarket next to us, the Hollywood bus tour we did was pretty cool (though there was no live tour guide, so maybe it wasn’t as good as the New York one), and the Warner Bros. Studios was great. The studios tour gave a good insight into the behind the scenes of a working studio, and it gave us an idea of the tricks they use to make things seem much bigger and more authentic than they really are.

We start our Contiki tour tomorrow, which covers a lot of the Western side of USA. Exciting!

CONTIKI (South West Corner of USA): 29/08 – 06/09

We’re back! What an awesome (but exhausting trip!). Contiki tour at the end was very cool. Was a struggle doing it last thing though. Trying to keep up with the crazy pace and party people wasn’t easy after we’d already been travelling so long.

Wooh! Yeah! Let’s get this party start- …. get this party … get … Oh man I’m so tired.

Highlights included a helicopter ride over the enormous Grand Canyon, a jeep tour through red rock country in Sedona, speedboating on the San Diego bay, partying in Vegas, attending a surprise gay Elvis wedding at a Vegas chapel, the Hoover Dam tour, Cirque De Soleil’s amazing “O” show, the Universal studios tour in LA.

Cruising by the sea lions on mini-speedboats in San Diego.

San Diego Zoo

Over the Grand Canyon. The helicopter flight is an awesome way to see it.

Sunset at the Grand Canyon. Perhaps my favourite photo from the trip.

We also met some very cool people on the tour from all over the world, and even managed to sleep ocassionally :p

Not much detail, I know, but feel free to ask me whatever you want.

Mixed feelings about being home again. I get way too used to having (almost) zero responsibilities while travelling and that’s hard to come back to, but we’d also been missing a lot about Perth. Good coffee, good food, colour coded money, no tipping or hidden sales tax, plus great family and friends 🙂

And that’s that.

Did we miss out on any must see destinations? Is there anything we did or saw that you’d like to know more about? Well then, I think you best be leaving a comment below …

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One Response to USA Mini Travel Blog – Part 2

  1. Pingback: USA Mini Travel Blog – Part 1 | A Hole in the Head

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