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RTW: Final Thoughts


The 77 day trip had prolonged my summer, which meant the rainy mid-November day came as a little shock! But I was soon picked up from Hemel Hempstead and taken home, and the hundreds of new stories of my amazing adventure could be told in full.

Now that I've been all the way around the earth, Japan and St. Maarten are the two places I'd go back to first, although I didn't regret anywhere I went. For the most part I saw and did everything I wanted and thoroughly enjoyed my trip, as short as it was! Although travelling on my own was a little boring at times, it too had its advantages, and I don't regret any of the decisions I made on the trip!
Round the World Trip

Round the World Trip


23 Cities. 13 Countries/Territories. 4 Continents. 77 days. ✓ Done.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Tagged rtw Comments (0)

New York & The North East USA

RTW - New York

overcast 7 °C
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After 19 hours of travelling, I had finally arrived in my last destination, New York just after midnight on a cold November evening. I then had to make my way from JFK airport to my hotel in Chinatown, adding another hour or so to my day, but when I finally arrived I did find my room to be lovely and warm, and easily set about going to sleep and having a long lie in.

Grand Central

Grand Central

Waking up at about 9am, I decided not to keep lying in bed, as I had a very early start the next day, and so started exploring New York. I started my day going over to the Flatiron building, and then walking up Fifth Avenue, past the Public library, Rockefeller Center, and into Central Park - before heading back down to Grand Central station, the Chrysler Building and finally the UN building - where I had booked a tour in the late afternoon. The UN is classed as international territory, and once inside we got to see the Security Council chamber, (unfortunately the main debating hall was closed for repairs), and many artefacts and awards, before going to the shop and buying gifts and postcards with special UN stamps for postage.

UN

UN

After this I went off to Times Square to eat and then head back off to bed, as for the following three days I had booked an excursion to Niagara Falls and Washington DC.

Meeting early the following morning in Chinatown, I boarded the bus that would take us on our trip with mostly Chinese tourists, but also Europeans and some Americans and Australians. Each of our days involved early starts and late finishes, but crammed in a lot into just 3 days!

We began the trip heading north, stopping at the Secret Caverns en route...however with the trip already not being cheap, I decided that for most of these "optional excursions" as they were called, I would not bother with. Unfortunately this did mean hanging about outside on my own in the cold for 45 minutes most of the time...but in the end I realised this was probably worth it, as they were all tourist traps I wasn't bothered about.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Eventually we arrived at Niagara Falls in the evening, and after getting some dinner I went off to explore the falls in darkness, which meant that they were lit up with lights from the Canadian side. Unfortunately the way the trip was planned, and the experience of American immigration meant I had to scrap my plans to cross over into the Canadian side, where the best view undoubtedly was....but I did get to get insanely close to the waterfall edge!

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

We returned to the falls again the following morning to see them in daylight (where water got inside my camera and almost ruined the day's photos) after we had visited the Niagara Fort up by Lake Ontario, where there was even a view of Toronto!

View across Lake Ontario

View across Lake Ontario


US Capitol

US Capitol

On the final day of the excursion, we started by visiting Washington DC. Here we visited the Capitol building, the White House, and Lincoln Memorial before going on a river cruise past the airport and Pentagon.

Washington DC

Washington DC

We then went to the Space museum, where I touched part of the moon, before heading back off towards New York.

Stopping in Philadelphia for just 15 minutes, we got to see the Liberty Bell and the Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed, before making our way back to New York and completing our excursion.

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Although the excursion was very quick, and involved a lot of driving, I really didn't mind, I got to see a lot of things and have now seen everything in the USA I wanted.

Having arrived back in New York, the following morning I got up and headed straight over to the World Trade Centre memorial site, which had just opened a few months previously, allowing visitors to see the new fountains on the site of the towers.

South Tower Fountain

South Tower Fountain

After visiting the moving site, I then took a short walk over to take the free Staten Island ferry which gives a great view of the Statue of Liberty as it goes past (which many others seemed to also realise).

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The change in Staten Island involved a quick run through the ferry terminal to make the return ferry in 1 minute, or wait another half hour - successfully I made this, unlike many others who were shouting "ruuuuuuuuuuuuun" only to fail to board in time.

Manhattan

Manhattan

Making my way back to Manhattan I walked around much of the civic and financial buildings, such as Wall Street, before crossing Brooklyn Bridge and taking loads of pictures of the Manhattan skyline. It was here that I got a laugh, thanks to a girl was discussing with her friend the biggest issue in her life - that whenever someone asks her where she's from, when she replies Brooklyn they always reply "No, where are you REALLY from? ...Nobody is from Brooklyn" #FirstWorldProblems

Central Park

Central Park

On my final day I had a late flight, and so after leaving my suitcase back at my hotel, I went off back to the Rockefeller Centre, where I went up to the top floor, giving me great views to the north over Central Park, and to the south over Manhattan, with a great view of the Empire State Building in its full glory.

Manhattan

Manhattan

I then finished the day and my trip with a wander around Central Park, before heading off to the airport and my flight home.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged waterfalls boat tower park city capital parliament border rtw niagara liberty Comments (2)

Miami Beach

RTW - Miami

overcast 25 °C
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Having briefly visited Miami (well, the airport) ten days previously, I returned to the the city after flying back over the beautiful Caribbean.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

This time having a much longer transfer, after getting through the rudest immigration department I have <u>ever</u> had the misfortune of dealing with, and having to re-check-in my luggage I went into the city itself. There wasn't an awful lot to see other than Miami Beach and the downtown areas - the novelty of these had probably worn off by the better examples in the Caribbean itself. However it was interesting to see the famous city, and it gave me something to do whilst I waited in the airport to board my flight to New York.

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

Touring the Colonies

RTW - Caribbean

sunny 25 °C
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Eventually arriving in St. Maarten I wondered - would this really be worth it? Should I have just flown straight to New York and be done with this palava of getting there? After all, I had just taken an 5 hour overnight flight from San Francisco on a boring old plane, waited in a mostly closed Miami Airport without WiFi for another 5 hours, and then boarded another fairly old boring plane for 3 hours to an island that from the face of it seemed much like Fiji - bad infrastructure and potential for hassling, and this was also hurricane season! - but boy was I wrong, this island was amazing!!!

View from the Apartment

View from the Apartment

The apartment I was staying it wasn't that cheap, but then it came with a kitchen, free WiFi, a huge double bed, air-con, satellite TV, beach front access, great location and best of all - free international calls! Just a 20 second walk from where I was staying was the most beautiful beach you can imagine - even on a miserable day (of which there was very few, as shown by the landlady's comment on one, that it was warmer inside her house than out, something she was not used to!) the sea was still turquoise! There was a supermarket about 5 minutes away with a range of products, an efficient and cheap (mini)bus service that ran almost constantly, and above all else, friendly un-hassling locals!

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

The island was also far more entertaining than I had imagined - being there for 10 days I thought I would be utterly bored out of my skin, but actually, I could have stayed another couple of days! Three times I took a half hour walk along to beach to Maho Bay, where at the end of the runway, planes (including huge Jumbo Jets from Europe) land just 20 metres or so above spectators' heads - a thrilling experience after you get used to the fact they aren't actually going to hit you, as much as how it looks. There was even a bar at the end of the beach for spectators to make themselves as comfortable as they wanted...relaxing in on a beach chair, swimming or simply standing by the fence.

Phillipsburg

Phillipsburg

Another day, I also took the trip over to the capital of this Dutch colony, Philipsburg, to do some serious souvenir shopping, and found the beaches on that side of the territory island were as equally beautiful.

Dutch-French Border

Dutch-French Border

I also spent a longer day taking a colonial trip over the border into the French side (after all this was one of the worlds smallest divided islands), stopping at the Dutch-French border (Belgium of the future?) before taking the ferry over to Anguilla - a British colony.

The French side of the island, classed as an integral part of France itself, and therefore part of the Eurozone and the EU, was completely different to the Dutch, feeling much more colonial, and using different languages, currency and even electrical sockets - to call one side to the other is an international call, despite a completely open border.

View over Marigot, Saint-Martin

View over Marigot, Saint-Martin

I spent a few hours walking around, as well as walking up the hill to the fort, where there was a beautiful view of the western side of the island, as well as Anguilla over the channel.

Tsunami Warning Sign

Tsunami Warning Sign

Anguilla, unlike St. Martin was completely flat, with the entrance to Passport Control containing a Tsunami warning sign!

Above all else, this island will remain in my memory as one of the most beautiful places I'd ever been....turquoise seas all around, and I would not only recommend it, but I would also happily go back myself.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Sint Maarten Tagged hills boat beach airport island sand plane border rtw colony Comments (0)

"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)

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