Monday, 3 June 2013

Chapter 6 - Home Sweet Home

Thanks to Liz and Mark for picking me up from Manchester Airport. I had been trying to picture my home in my mind on my last evening in Washington. Strangely the two areas I had difficulty with were the washing basket and I could not remember my kitchen sink at all. A psychologist would have a field day. Back to Sabden and it is a beautiful day. It is a strange feeling not to have to think of where I am going each day and I think it will be a while before I settle down.

I feel I should share some tips here at the end of my blog for anyone thinking of doing a similar trip whether solo or with a companion.

1. Take a door stop for behind a hotel door.
2. Always take a torch and keep it at the side of your bed. When you get up through the night and are in a different place each time, you never know where the bed lights are. In fact in some of these countries they can be a walk across the room from the bed!
3. Keep the luggage down as much as you can. Only take some sachets of shampoo, conditioner and gel. Also take a shower cap if you use one. Where hotels provide these, take the extra one for the next hotel who may not.
4. Coconut oil is brilliant for humid frizzy hair. Leave it on during the day to protect it.
5. Take a spray sun lotion. You can't protect your back yourself so a spray helps cover as much as you can.
6. Souvenir purchases will inevitably build up and fill your case. Collect items you do not need to drag around with you and post home. It saves on extra luggage charges.
7. When planning your destinations, try and have a 3 day or longer stop where you can do nothing but put your feet up in the sun. It also allows you to unpack your case. You need the rest with all the walking around.
8. When arriving in a new destination where you are not on a tour, purchase a ticket for the hop on/off bus or go on the big wheel (like the London Eye). It helps you get your bearings on a city and points out the sights you may want to visit.

It's time to get back to reality now and so this will be my last post. Thanks again to all who have taken the time to read. Love to all xx

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Washington DC

A short flight down the coast from Boston and I was in Washington DC. Looking out of the window in the plane, I thought I recognised what looked like Manhattan and as I have been there a few times I looked to see if the Statue of Liberty was there and yes it was a dot on the water. It is indeed a small world from the sky. I arrived at my final hotel (aptly for me called Hamilton), unpacked and off out to explore. 10 minutes and around 5 blocks later and I found myself outside the North side of the White House. It is very WHITE. So pristine and surprisingly very beautiful. It stands next to the Treasury building. It was Memorial Day here (like our Bank Holiday except they also remember their war dead) and there were parades and bands going on further down. As has become the norm, I bought a hop on/off bus ticket to get my bearings. Now if you like memorials galore, museums and galleries then DC is the place for you. I got off the bus at the Lincoln Memorial. It is a magnificent sight. I didn't get to climb us to see it in all its glory as an unidentified bag had been found and they cleared the place. The sight from there down to the Capitol Hill was so picturesque. I remembered the Forrest Gump film when he is at a protest there with his girl. I decided to walk from there to Capitol Hill. It was a long walk in the heat but lovely. Passed the long water pond and down to the World War II memorial which leads on to the Washington memorial. Unfortunately it is covered in scaffolding at present as it needs repairs following earthquake damage in 2011. Just to digress, I am having a nice lunch whilst writing this near to the White House and think the Presidents helicopter has just gone over. He knows how to beat the traffic. Anyway after the Washington Memorial there is a long line of museums and galleries known as the Mall. They are old, new and diverse buildings. I went into the Museum of American History. It's not that big but saw the dresses of many of the First Ladies including the beautiful dress and accessories that Michelle Obama wore to the inauguration ball. Also there are samples of the crockeries from the Presidents down the ages. Each presidential family has their own designs. I think I preferred the Reagans one best. It was also home to the ruby red slippers worn by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I walked on further and reached Capitol Hill, home of the Congress which again is a very large and ornate building. I discovered later that walk was over two miles. As it is very hot and humid I needed a rest. Later I decided to venture out a little from the hotel in the evening to find a little jazz bar.took the public bus up to U Street. It was chucking it down. I felt very uncomfortable in the area so had a quick bite to eat in what looked a busy Ethiopian restaurant and quickly went back via the bus again. It was also a scary ride. Reminded me of an episode in a previous visit to the USA with Ray and Sara. You may have heard the tale. Next day I went on a river boat cruise which was included in the bus ticket very conveniently. On then to Arlington Cemetary where rests a lot of military and famous figures such as the Kennedys. It is very large but a serene place. I am ashamed to say that I didn't venture as far uphill to the tomb of the unknown soldier as it was so hot. Went past the Pentagon which is a very uninspiring building and walked to the South Side of the White House where the balcony is. The gardens are so pristine. Michelle Obama has planted a kitchen garden with the help of local schoolchildren. The next day I opened the newspaper and there she is in a photo with children picking the produce from the day before. I must have just missed her. When I arrived in Washington I am ashamed to say that I did not know which state it was in. I thought perhaps Maryland but decided to google it so as not to appear ignorant in conversation. I was amazed to discover that it is not in a state but DC stands for District of Columbia and is surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. This is so that no state can claim to house the capital. Well my journey is almost at an end. It feels strange to be about to return home. It's been amazing, educational and more than I ever could have imagined. I have met some great (and some strange) and some different people all over the world. I will finalise the blog when I return. Thank you to all who have taken the time to read it. It's a privilege to have such great friends. Farewell Uncle Sam, Hello Blighty!

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Arrived in Boston on Friday night from a 90+ degree Vegas to 56 degree and pouring rain. Got showered and changed and went out to explore. It was dark and wet so just really went round the block. Full of Irish bars. Next day I slept late and didn't come to really until about lunchtime. Got on a hop on off bus and stopped at the USS Constitution which is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Nicknamed "Old Ironsides" during the war of 1812 when the British fired cannonballs at her and they bounced off as if she were made of iron. Next got off at Boston Common where I walked down to the bar "where everybody knows your name". The owner gave permission for the Cheers programme makers to use the facade of his bar but cleverly kept the copyright. The next year he made $5 million from the gift shop alone. It bears no resemblance inside to the show, however there is a fake Cheers bar set up exactly like the show in Quincy Market. This weekend is Memorial weekend (like our bank holiday). It remembers all those who have fallen since the civil war. In the Common there were 33000 US flags each commemorating a fallen soldier from the state. What a sight. It also symbolises the beginning of summer. I went down to the docks to see the re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party. The British had been raising taxes with no consultation for a while and the final nail in the coffin was when they put taxes on tea. The British ships were in dock laden with tea crates and the people waited and eventually rebelled. They knew if they were caught it would be catastrophe. They raced down and threw the 340 crates into the sea. There is one original crate shown in the museum. It was the first rebellion leading up to Independence. Went to the fake Cheers bar in the evening where they had a singer and of course he played the iconic theme tune. Met 3 lovely sisters celebrating one of their birthdays. Was turning a special age and they all looked fab. Hope I wear as well when I get to that age. Cheers ladies! I decided to walk the Freedom Trail the next morning. It is 3 miles long and self guided. It starts in the Common and basically you follow the two lines of red brick on the road. Easy. Followed the guide book and saw the 16 historically significant sites related to the events of the Revolutionary era. They still stand amongst all the tall buildings that is now Boston. The prettiest is the old state house where the Declaration of Independence was read from the lovely balcony in July 1776. I also learnt that there was an influx of Irish people in the mid 19th century when the great hunger took place in Ireland. Boston kindly sent over a ship of food but never really expected to see so many cross the Atlantic after a new life in America. They didn't like it and wouldn't employ them. Many died however just trying to sail across. The ships became known as Coffin Ships as so many perished. They did eventually integrate and I guess that is why there are so many Irish bars here and why so many of the people claim Irish heritage. There won't be many more photos here as my iPad is now full except for perhaps space for one or two. Will be home very soon now so won't be taking many more now. Have taken around 1400 so will have to trim them down when back. Hope Sabden Live went well today. I hear you had good weather. Good luck for the same tomorrow. 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

23rd May

Well aren't I the lucky one again? I decided to book the show for Donny and Marie at the Flamingo Hotel. Got half price tickets from the booth and when I arrived they put me on a table for four at the back on my own. Just before the show was due to start I was moved to a seat right in front of the stage which should have been $300. When they came on Donny went round the front row clapping their hands. Yes that included me! He then spotted an enthisiastic deary sitting a few away from me and came down and lay across about four of them and his head was right beside my lap. They were the consummate performers. What surprised me most was what an amazing voice Marie has. She sang an absolutely perfect rendition of Nessun Dorma. Now I wouldn't have taken her for that genre. Left to look around a few more of the hotels to find an interesting bar which I found in the Cosmopolitan. There is a lot to be said for that saying what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and justly so. I will be off in the morning early to Boston and I really hate to leave. So farewell Vegas, was great knowing you. Hello Boston. xx