The North American Leg so far...

Chicago Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 8 › view all entries
Yes, we are still alive and well! Apologies (again) for the time lapse since our last update, but the problem in the US is that whilst there's wireless internet almost everywhere, you need to have your own laptop to make use of it and unlike in Asia and Australasia, we've found that it's really expensive to log-on to any other computer. The sun doesn't help either.....

Well, so what have we been up to since Oz? In brief, we've visited Las Vegas, LA, the Monterey Peninsula, Napa wine valley, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City, Boston and are currently in Chicago.

After spending a few enjoyable days in sunny England in May, we flew to Vegas. Sadly, we didn't win our millions as we'd hoped and so will have to return to work at the end of the trip, but probably wasn't going to happen by betting 1$ on the "Wheel of Fortune." We loved Vegas. It really is like a disneyland for adults. The hotels/casinos were incredibly imaginative. Suze's favourite was "New York, New York," which had the Statue of Liberty, Empire State and Chrysler buildings on the outside and Central Park within, with a roller-coaster which loops and twists around the exterior. Duncan's favourite was "The Venetian." It is everything a Vegas casino should be - unashamedly kitsch, huge and fun, complete with gondola ride and St Mark's Piazza.

We were amused by the fact that although prostitution is apparently illegal in Nevada, men wearing loud T-shirts with the words, "Girls to your room in 30 minutes" were positioned at regular intervals along the strip, and all tried to give both of us flyers advertising their services. We don't think we looked more interested than most - they just give their cards to anyone.

Also whilst in Vegas, we went to "O", a cirque du soleil show at the Bellagio. We have absolutely no idea what the plot was but the acrobatic show was excellent. The most captivating part was where 3 3-person swings were set up around the purpose-built lake in the stage and divers were propelled sideways into the water, often somersaulting a number of times along the way. We tried to copy the performers who stood on their hands whilst resting their feet on their shoulders (try to picture it) at the hotel later, without success. Still, maybe after a few more sessions of yoga (to which we were introduced by our friends, Bob & Lyse, in Vancouver), we'll be able to manage it.

On our final day in Vegas, we took a chopper to the West rim of the Grand Canyon. We were taken to the airport in a limo complete with neon bling on the ceiling. The scenery was breathtaking - we used up lots of photos as we sipped our champagne and canapes.

From Vegas, we hired a car to LA, where we did a cheesy tour of the stars' homes, visited Sony studios (missing Brad Pitt by a few hours) and walked the Hollywood boulevard with a Geordie tour guide who had previously been a Beefeater at the Tower of London. Suze decided she would talk to him even though his team had stolen Sam Allardyce from the Wanderers. We saw the Kodak cinema (where the Oscars are held) and the palm, foot and nose (yes, one example) prints in the cement outside the Chinese theatre. We tried our best in LA to spot some celebs and dined at the same restaurant as Chevy Chase (not that we recognised him). We managed to get a table at the celeb haunt, "The Ivy" (not as good as the one in London) and struck up a conversation with "Farideh," a fashion designer who amused us with stories about meeting Posh and Katie Holmes at Paris Fashion week. She told us that neither did more than pick at the lettuce served with their meals, as we munched away happily on key lime pie.

Over the last few months, we've been spoiled by breathtaking scenery, but Highway 1 on the Pacific coast is at the top of the list. Having relaxed on the coast for a few days, we made our way to Yosemite National Park which is one of the highlights for us of this part of the trip. We did a few strenuous hikes up amazing waterfalls and managed to avoid being attacked by the black bears. One did cross our path, though. We drank lots of wine in Napa (Suze was massaged by a man who looked like he'd been working in the adult entertainment industry, too), saw far too many goths in Portland (it's full of freaks) and were made fun of in Seattle for being English (at the comedy club, or rather the comedian picked up on Suze's northern accent and harangued in a football hooligan Manc accent for the rest of the night). In Vancouver, we met up with our friends, Bob & Lyse. Vancouver remains one of our favourite cities situated between the ocean and the beautiful mountain ranges. We managed to cycle for 62km!

Suze was desperate to practice her French, so we flew to Montreal and spent a few days there and Quebec City. Sadly, nearly everyone we encountered was bilingual, and, try as you might, they would pick you as an English speaker and reply to your French comments in English. Quebec City was surprisingly beautiful. It is a walled city which has been almost perfectly preserved, and is full of 17th century French buildings and 18th century English ones. It didn't suffer from post-war reconstruction or communist housing blocks, so is pretty striking. It's as pretty as most places we've seen in Europe. The food is very good, but Duncan is upset that he didn't try "putine", which is apparently chips, cheese curd and gravy.

Next stop was Boston, which is a beautiful city with a fascinating history. We caught up with Rob, Duncan's friend from uni, and had a few too many drinks along his "alternative Freedom trail", which seemed to involve bars and bowling alleys but very little history! We took a cycle tour along the original one, so that we didn't leave without understanding a bit of how we lost America. We also saw "Mr Brooks", a film which is quite disturbing and not very good, but given the name, we thought we had to see it.

We are now in Chicago, and can report that it, too, is a wonderful place, except when people throw chickens and saucepans out of the 50th floor onto the street, as happened a couple of nights ago. They didn't stop when the police came, but started to throw more, meaning that the road had to be shut off completely. Still, we survived the snakes in Aus, so a few flying chickens weren't much of a problem. Being a tourist, Duncan caught some of the action on camcorder. Our luck was obviously in that night, as before dodging the flying fowl, we won discounted tickets in a lottery for "Wicked" - see it if you haven't as it is truly brilliant.

Off to Washington DC on Monday and NYC on Friday. It's all going too fast, so not long before we are back. Hope everyone is well,


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photo by: mahoney