Saturday, 3 November 2012

USA & Canada...And Mexico for a day!

Arriving into LAX, me and John had no idea of where to go and what to do. After my interrigation from the immigration official who cleverly asked me questions about our trip after viewing the vast amount of visa's we had in our passports, he gave us our own USA stamp to cross into the country.

We quickly decided we would take up our friend Dan's offer to visit and stay with him in San Diego. We first met Dan in Fiji on the beautiful island of Qumea, he is really into the surf and was brilliant at taking on left and right hand waves. He was a great fella who me and John really liked so we hopped onto a train and chutted our way down a couple hours South. After arriving into the airport we bumped into an English girl called Danielle. She was lovely and had been on her own adventure of travels, so after sharing stories and experiences we all realised we where heading to San Diego. We had a great laugh and chat with Danni on the way down and we arranged that we would all spend the day crossing the border into Mexico.

Arriving into San Diego was great. The atmosphere of the place is uber chilled and the weather was sunshine and calm winds. Me and John felt instantly relaxed when we met Dan at the station and a huge smile awaited us. He welcomed us into his wonderful home...on the beach! We spent the next couple of days, catching up with Dan, visiting the lovely sights of San Diego and relaxing into the 'American' way of life! Outside Dan's place, it literally was like a scene out of baywatch...rollerbladers, bicycles, runners, lifeguards, surf was all very gnarly!

We arranged on one of the days to see Danni, so at the tram station we headed South and towards the Mexican/American border. Once there, we followed the lines of people and fluttered across a bridge and through a gate. Then, before we all knew it we where on a street in Mexico. We had not seen any type of securty government official it was literally walk through a gate freely and we where all in Mexico. We wandered through the streets of Tijuana, taking in the smells, the amigo's, the language, culture and most importantly the food. I have grown very fond of Mexican food lately and couldn't wait to try out some fresh authentic food in Tijuana. We bumped into an American guy who joined us for lunch and we all spent the afternoon relaxing, listening to the music, street banter (everyone shouting £1 tequila!) and enjoying my Mexican experience. As the evening drew upon us, we headed back towards the border. A local barman persuaded us all to pop into his bar just for one drink...well that turned into a hustling game of pool with a local prostitute's pimp and three bottles of beer each...only in Mexico!

As it was time to say goodbye to Dan, we felt so appreciative of being able to stay in such a wonderful home with a great man. When you travel, you meet so many people every day and it's those people who share your experiences and truly relate to is when you know you've found a friend for life.

We caught our famous greyhound bus upto Las Vegas. we cruised in late afternoon, the 'Strip' glistened and the atmosphere was that of excitement. After arranging somewhere to stay, we headed out to explore the famous 'LV Strip'. John attended a famous boxing match with England's own Amir Khan fighting...I opted to play some slots and down a glass of wine! We spent a couple days enjoying the sights of Las Vegas, its basically a playground for adults....totally random, fun, eccentric entertainment for everybody!

We felt ready to leave after a couple of days, its one of those places where a couple of days it just enough. So, we hopped back onto our greyhound and cruised upto San Francisco. I was excited to see San Fran its always one of those places I'd imagined being in and love seeing it in movies. Arriving early morning, we initially found it tough getting a price to stay and the cost of things here is so much more to anywhere else in America. We settled for a place in the 'ghetto' downtown at a reasonable price. After a day of exploring the city spaces, we returned to see a murder had just occured outside our hotel infront of our room...I felt this was a sign that maybe we should stay somewhere else tomorrow. San Francisco is a lovely city, but the amount of homeless people and people of drugs is huge, the most I have ever seen in my life. It sort of overshadowed my experience of the great city as I almost felt sad for a lot of these people. Our second evening was much more blissful, after spending the day having a picnic by the Golden Gate Bridge and walking Fisherman's Wharf, we chilled in Little Italy. A more chilled and rustic part of the city, this was nice in terms of relaxing before our long journey upto Portland.

After a crazy ride through the night on our greyhound bus, we cruised into Portland early morning. We arranged to meet our lovely friend Julia, who is from Portland. Julia was ever so kind to allow us to stay with her while we visited the city. We originally met Julia randomly on our travels in Laos, Julia was on her own adventure after spending many years teaching in SE Asia. When we arrived she knew exactly how we felt and the need of a lovely hot shower and afternoon nap. We where so lucky in being able to stay in Julia's lovely home, spending the days exploring Portland, visiting the Oregon Beer Festival, meeting up with friends and having a lovely time. We thoroughly enjoyed tasting all the locally brewed beers around the State and no better place than in the Beer Festival. We'd originally met an Austrian couple on our greyhound bus and funnily enough bumped into them again at the festival....plenty of beers, music, sunshine...good times! Julia treated us to a great trip just before left, we ventured out to the 'Fruit Loop' out the city an hour or so, we explored the fruit and wine country and even visited the very lodge parts of the film 'The Shining' was filmed. As the time came to say goodbye, I felt really sad to say farewell but so happy that I am blessed to have such wonderful friends in the world.

Our bus ride up over the border took us to Vancouver...such a vibrant, multi-cultural city! We where again ever so lucky to be staying with our friend from back home, Steven Sanders. He met us and took us to his lush apartment right on the waterfront. The city was really buzzing and I was excited to spend my next week or so exploring this place. We enjoyed our days venturing into the city each day and then spending our evenings relaxing and making tea for Steven. It was great seeing our friend from home, it made us feel that little bit closer of being back home. As Steven is well travelled and has so many experiences too, we would spend our evenings catching up on old stories and discussing our love of travels. The weekend was spent ventured out of Vancouver and meeting Steven's lovely friends. We visited a beautiful place caleld Deep Cove, such a relaxing place just on the outskirts of the city. After ten brilliant days, we said our farewells to Steven, again feeling a pinch of sadness but also happiness of our time spent here. I felt an eagerness for our next main destination...New York.

So cruising up on our last evcer greyhound bus to the city of Seattle, we spent our last day taking in some sights, enjoying a meal and eventually moving ourselves to the airport for our evening flight. The flight passed us by quickly through the night and with the couple of hours time difference...(yes America is huge! ) we arrived into JFK, New York!

New York is a magical city...oozing excitement, noise, culture, vibe and something that I think everybody will love. We had arranged to stay at an apartment in Harlem. The district of Harlem is super cool, with a character and coolness, music and diversity, we fell in love with this place straight away. The people are so friendly and we got to meet lots of local people. Each day we ventured around the city, doing all the sightseeing things but also doing some relaxation and take it all in time too. I always remember being on top of the Rockerfeller Centre and enjoying the sunset...a special way to remember this great city. After spending our final week of our amazing adventure, I began to feel an excitement of going home....Liverpool.

We had arranged to surprise our families and after flying from New York, we quickly stopped off in Iceland before gracing the UK with our backpacks once we had started all those thirteen months ago. Such an amazing year, the most best experience I have ever had in my life. This life experience is something I will always cherish and remember forever and has now made me the person who I am today. With excitement, I head home and feel happy to see all my friends and family and to embrace my own culture and feel proud of my own city...My home, My Liverpool!

Hello San Diego...nice walk along the beachfront

Dan treating us to his special bbq dish...delicious!

John enjoying a surf...loving it!

Enjoying a nice curry in San Diego

Mexico!! Loving our day trip over to Tijuana...lots of taco's and tequila!
Viva Las Vegas...enjoying our time along 'The Strip'

The volcano show, enjoying our night in Vegas!

John with one of his idols  'Joe Cortez' after an amazing Boxing Show in Vegas!

Enjoying a wee bit of gambling...1cent slot machines all the way!

Hello San Francisco...

Admiring Alcatraz...the wild wind blows

Golden Gate Bridge in the distance beneath the midst of the bay

Enjoying our lunchtime picnic...bagels and fruit

Enjoying a Vietnamese Restaurant in San Fran...takes me back to SE Asia

Enjoying a long conversation, laughs and good stories with homeless artist 'Elvis Christ'

Outside our room in San Fran...Chinatown and Little Italy!

Gracing Portland...the wonderful Rose Gardens
Julia, John and me enjoying a trip around the Rose Gardens, beautiful place!

Introducing 'Josie' the magnificent Jack Russell...dressed in style

At the Portland (Oregon) Beer Festival with our friends, Julia, Dominik and Stephanie

John rustling up a dish and Julia entertaining him...we do love a beer!

Our amazing trip with Julia, enjoying the amazing landscapes...

Stopping off to do some fruit picking...I love this place!

Couldn't resist eating my cherries whilst on the swing, enjoying the day...

John and Josie exploring the Lavender Fields, the aroma and beauty was so relaxing

Loving the National Park and admiring a waterfall along our travels of the day

Me and Julia having a laugh and enjoying our day out...

Julia, John and Josie saying farewell Portland...

Hola Vancouver! With our friend from home, John Steven and me...
Bumped into this little fella on my walk around the city...

Steve, Steven and John enjoying the beach...aswell as many rides on the sea slide!

Tranquility, relaxing on our walk through Stanley Park

Enjoying the day, admiring the city in the distance

Sunset...time to chill on the beach, beers, guitar and friends...nothing more!

Sharing some laughs with friends and relaxing at sunset on the beach

Our day out to Deep Cove...the boys jumping from the pier

Now its the girls turn...scary but amazingly fun!

Admiring the beauty of Deep Cove...

All the gang...having a brilliant time in Deep Cove

After our mini trek through the Forest, chilling and enjoying the views...

Enjoying our meal in Steven's, John's (aka Jamie!) homemade Spag Bol...tasty!

The Festival of Light...fireworks exciting event!

Saying farewell to our Vancouver friends...loved our time in the great city!
New York a city so cultural, diverse and enchanting...9/11 memorial

A stormy day...Liberty in the distance

John in the centre of the lively Broadway...this is at midnight...never sleeps!

Enjoying Little Italy, a delicious vino and pasta...New York has it all

Relaxing day around Central Park...admiring the places and people!

John in the vibrant choas of Times Square...we loved it!

Taking time to see 'Strawberry Fields' and pay tribute to John Lennon...

Unexpectantly and quite randomly came across some street freestyle...brill!

This is soooo Harlem loving the water from a fire hydrant!!
At Top of The Rocks...overlooking the city of New York

Enjoying a New York Yankee's Game...loved it!

Reflecting on our amazing time in New York...farewell!