A Travellerspoint blog

October 2013

"Are Polish people still stealing all your jobs?"

RTW - San Francisco


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After being in Los Angeles for almost a week in total, I was on to my final West Coast destination - San Francisco. Taking the same coach as that to Las Vegas, I learned to get there earlier so I could nab a seat at the front of the double decker coach. Sitting there I got chatting to the lady opposite, a Polish immigrant who moved to San Fran some years ago, making the long journey less boring, and after telling her I had just finished at Uni she even jokingly asked me how the job hunt was going, and whether the "Polish people were still stealing our jobs"!

After the coach broke down just into the journey causing us to be delayed by 3 hours, we were informed that we would also be receiving a refund on our journeys - meaning my two trips with Megabus across California had cost me just £1!

What a difference...

What a difference...

...a day makes!

...a day makes!

Arriving in San Francisco was definitely a shock to the system, the weather was much more Autumn like, and on the first day the fog levels were so bad over the harbour, that even being on the Golden Gate Bridge, I could still not see it! - even when it had cleared over the rest of the city! Luckily, the following day when I took the boat across the Alcatraz, the weather was much better and I got to go and see the bridge afterwards!

Alcatraz

Alcatraz


San Francisco Trams

San Francisco Trams

I also got to experience a ride on the trams and witness the crazy gradients the city was built on(!) as well as the pier-side and the gayest underground station I could possibly imagine!

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

The inevitable question is which city did I prefer, and I can say most definitely San Francisco - the income disparity is much less noticeable, making begging far less bothersome, and the level of infrastructure and number of sights were far more superior.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged hills bridge city rtw Comments (0)

Hollywood

RTW - Hollywood

sunny 26 °C
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After visiting the desert I had arrived back in Los Angeles, staying in Hollywood for the next 5 days. The following day was Friday, and one of the few days that the Six Flags Theme Park was open, with massive rides - one of the few things I was interested in doing in America, and so I got up nice and early to make my way across the city by three methods of transport to the theme park. Being a Friday, the theme park was almost empty, despite having some of the biggest rides I'd ever seen - making queues for massive rollercoasters almost non-existent. This meant that by 4pm, I'd already been on all the 12 rollercoasters I had wanted. The day was lovely too, like any summer day we could dream of in England! Definitely worth it!

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

The following day I made my way over to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, exploring the stars and viewing the sign from many different locations.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The day after had originally been planned to visit Universal Studios, but after reassessing the cost, and the levels of enjoyment I decided I would skip it, and have a rest day instead - Six Flags was so much better than I expected that that was enough to satisfy me.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

On my last full day I went off to visit the Beverly Hills Area, walking past the huge gated mansions and down to Rodeo Drive, such a different world from the rest of the city, with its poor infrastructure and huge numbers of beggars (being asked for money less than 5 times in a day was slowly being considered a good day!).

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged city tourism rtw themepark Comments (0)

"What happens in Vegas...goes on the Internet"

RTW - Las Vegas & Arizona

sunny 30 °C
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After catching my pre-booked 7 hour coach ride to Las Vegas, costing me £1 with free WiFi and power sockets, and driving past Death Valley, I had eventually arrived in Las Vegas.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas

As I had done a lot of research before travelling, I had found that hotels in Las Vegas vary considerably in price depending on the day of the week. By making my trip solely in the week I was able, even on my travelling budget, to still stay in one of the resort hotels relatively cheaply - getting my own 4 bed (6 Kevin-sized) room all to myself for around £35.

Stratosphere

Stratosphere

After arriving at the Stratosphere Hotel, the first thing I did in the city was to go up the tower to get a night view over the city.

New York, New York

New York, New York

The following day was spent exploring the city in full - starting at the welcome to Vegas sign and then walking up The Strip, going in and out of the elaborate hotels, with their replicas of Jungles, Ancient Egypt & Rome, Paris, New York and my favourite - Venice (if only because it looked so much like the original, only cleaner).

Inside the Venetian

Inside the Venetian

All of these hotels had their own amenities - pools, shops, casinos and even McDonald's and Starbucks. In many ways this place was like Dubai, not just because of the huge fountains, but the theme-park idea of building anything you want in the desert.

The following day, I had pre-booked myself an excursion to the Grand Canyon - however because of the ridiculous Government Shutdown, the whole excursion was threatened with cancellation - but luckily Arizona State was paying to keep the National Park open for the week.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The day was very long, taking around 7 hours one way to get to the canyon (what better to do 2 days after after a 7 hour coach journey, than take another one!), and once we had finally arrived there wasn't even that much to do. Although at least we got to see Route 66 and the Hoover Dam on the way.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

As with Sydney Harbour, it's nice to see, but there's only so many pictures you can take of the same thing - however saying this, I wouldn't regret going there.

Taking a long lie in the following day I took a little flutter on the roulette in the Casino, winning and coming away with a $10 profit after continuing to play for a while after my win.

The Venetian

The Venetian

I then went up the Stratosphere tower again (free as I was a guest of the hotel), however this time in the day, viewing the extreme rides at the very top of the tower, before going for a walk to see the Drive through Wedding chapels, and avoiding the gun shops on my way back. I then finished off the day by heading down to the strip for the night time shows outside the hotels - pirate ships, fountains and volcanic eruptions!

Volcano!

Volcano!

This is one of the few places in the world where even after 3 days, I could go back and still be entertained. The following day I explored the Downtown area, before taking a coach back to Los Angeles.

Drive Through Wedding Chapel

Drive Through Wedding Chapel

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged canyon lake city valley rural rtw entertainment Comments (0)

"Does it look like this in England?"......."No."

RTW - Los Angeles

sunny 27 °C
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The next stage of my trip took place in the USA.

Now as many of you know, the USA is far from my top holiday destination, but as this was a round the world trip I decided that I would go there, see everything I wanted and now have no need to return!

England?

England?

Coming in to land over Los Angeles, where a Fijian asked me if this is what Britain looked like (to which I replied "no, its much greener and denser at home") I had arrived the other side of the dateline in yesterday - my second 12th October.

Whilst everything had gone to plan on my trip so far, this is where the first problem arose...after doing some casual tourism around Downtown LA in the afternoon I arrived at my hotel in the evening only to discover that the room I had booked for the night had mysteriously been cancelled months ago, without being told and the hotel was now fully booked! - and with a Pink Concert nearby, so were nearly all the others...however after lot of phone calls, the very helpful man on reception had been able to find me a new hotel room.

Union Station

Union Station

After a stressful first evening, the following morning I eventually made my way to Union Station, taking a look at the nearby Pueblo, which felt very Mexican, before jumping on my coach to Las Vegas.

El Pueblo

El Pueblo

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged city rtw Comments (0)

"You're British! ...I could tell from the T-Shirt"

RTW - Fiji

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Bula Bula, Bula Bula Bula - that's Fijian for...well, anything you want it to be really! - They seem to say it at any and every occasion possible

The first long stop of my trip by myself had arrived - I had a week to spend in Fiji before crossing the dateline and making my way back home, and it was time for relaxation!

Unfortunately the weather decided it didn't want to let me enjoy Fiji at its best, and gave me only 3 of 7 days with nice weather, but I made the most of them Arriving at the airport I was collected by the owners of the hostel I was staying in, before eventually getting to my huge room! Paying just £25 a night, I had my own room with three beds, on a beach front property with swimming pool and occasional evening entertainment.

Beachfront Hostel

Beachfront Hostel

However this was where the problem of Fiji began - it is impossible to enjoy Fiji on a budget - the cheap hotels and hostels are all located in a resort that is located a 40 minute walk from the nearest shop, with medium hotels located nearer the town - but therefore at least half an hour from the beach, whilst the most expensive hotels are located in a resort in which locals are barred from entry. This therefore meant I was stuck in the resort, and with it came resort prices - a meal costing at least £5, when it should have cost less than £1. Despite this, I still tried to make the most of my time, and after my first day I made my first travel friends!

All the hotels in the backpacker resort of Nadi Bay encouraged business from each others' guests, and on this one night I ended up getting a curry from the Horizon Beach hotel. It was here that I met a Belgian and her Venezuelan boyfriend, who instantly recognised I was British as she had "bought him that T-Shirt from Primark too"...that's certainly one way to break the ice!

Traditional Show

Traditional Show

Getting chatting to them, they had also thought Fiji would be cheaper, and gave me pieces of advice as well as telling me about their stay so far - remarking that the hotel they stayed in was joined to the posher one next door, and was the centre of the entertainment. They invited me to join them for the evening's Fire Show, which despite me staying at neither hotel didn't seem to be a problem, as the staff were convinced they were also staying at the main hotel - despite her claims that with her dirty clothes she couldn't possibly be wealthy enough to stay there!

Polynesian Show

Polynesian Show

It was a brilliant evening seeing some of the local culture (as false as it probably really was - think Flamenco performances in Spanish resorts), and I even ended up joining in the stupid dance! The following day I had decided to visit the supermarket as I was running out of food, and on my walk down the road my new friends drove past in their hire car - they then gave me a lift and I changed my plans to visit Nadi Town itself, which at 1hr 30m walk away was too far to walk there and back to, but one way would be fine (yes, there were buses, but running on 'Fiji Time' (read: any time), and at just 6 times per day, this wasn't to be relied upon). I then walked down the main street, where I was of course hassled by every single person who wanted me in their shop. Stopping at the main supermarket I bought enough pot noodle for the rest of my trip, and thus did not need to be ripped off with tourist prices.

Paradise?

Paradise?


South Sea Island

South Sea Island

The following day I had booked myself an excursion to visit South Sea Island, and get my tropical/coral experience - something essentially summing up Fiji in my mind. I had also luckily planned it as such, that this would take place on the best day weather wise, making the experience even more enjoyable. After taking off from the exclusive resort and having to change to a small boat from a big one in the middle of the bay, we finally arrived on the island in time for Lunch, where we were also given free drinks all day, and were given opportunities to scuba dive, swim in the pool or the sea, view coral reefs, or relax - I had opted for the latter 2.

On South Sea Island

On South Sea Island


"Coral Reefs"

"Coral Reefs"

However the coral reefs were a mild disappointment, with the sea being rough and the coral being destroyed by the very submersible we were viewing it from - but there were still a few active bits, so it wasn't completely a waste of time. The island itself was beautiful, a real paradise, and well worth the visit. The rest of my trip, the final 4 days, consisted of me relaxing at the resort, and the final 2 days were the two nicest I spent there - however this came to back to bite me, as after spending 4 hours on the penultimate day sunbathing, smothering myself in sun cream, I still ended up epically burned!

All in all, Fiji was interesting and I'm pleased I visited, but the hassling and overpriced resort nature of the destination did make the trip less enjoyable than it could have been.

Next stop: Yesterday in LA

Posted by kmmk17 12:00 Archived in Fiji Tagged beach island rtw Comments (0)