A Travellerspoint blog

Paula's take on New York and Newfoundland


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Hi everyone,

This is the first blog I’ve done since we were in LA. Kel is more diligent at this stuff than me. However, I’ll try and do a bit of an update now.

Since I last wrote, we spent 10 days in New York, 12 days in Newfoundland and we are now back in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We’re spending a couple of days here catching our breath, i.e. catching up on emails, postcards, washing etc and just chilling out a bit, before moving on to Quebec City on Sunday. Halifax is a nice little place, well not that little I guess, the population is around 300,000 but it’s quite relaxed. Yesterday was rainy so we checked out the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. It was pretty cool because they have an exhibit on the Titanic and some items that were recovered from the wreckage. Halifax was the place that sent rescue boats to the Titanic and it is also where people that didn’t survive the sinking were buried. So it was really interesting.

So back to New York. I loved it, it was my first time there and it was nothing less than it promised. It’s larger than life and non-stop. We stayed in an apartment in Harlem, which was great and convenient as we were able to catch the subway anywhere we wanted to go. Harlem is quite a big area and has diverse neighbourhoods within it, so it doesn’t really live up to the bad reputation that it has from years past. Sure there are still some dodgy areas but you get that anywhere. The area we stayed in had a lot of families, a few schools and churches etc, so it had a community feel which was nice. We did all the touristy stuff in NY like see the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, walked the Brooklyn Bridge etc. Also we checked out Greenwich Village and Chelsea which were pretty cool places to hang out for a coffee and chill out a bit. Kel has been writing up a more detailed blog post for New York so I won’t write too much more here for that.

After New York we flew to Halifax via Montreal, hired a car and drove up to North Sydney at the top of Nova Scotia. The next day we caught the ferry, with our car, over to Newfoundland. What a change of pace from New York! Tiny little towns where people don’t lock their doors, friendly people, beautiful wilderness, lots of space and sooo quiet! Newfoundland was absolutely gorgeous, with one picture-perfect vista after the next each day. We drove all around the island, going right up to the top where you can see Labrador across the ocean and old Viking settlements, and over to the east to the city of Saint Johns which was lovely. A laid-back place but with all the city conveniences but also a bit of a trendy, cool feel. We also went on a boat tour of Western Brook Pond through Gros Morne National Park which was amazing! When they say pond here, it’s not what we think of at home. This was a massive body of fresh pure water, and the tour took us through huge rock faces on either side of the pond. It was a wonderful experience. The Pond is not accessible by car, we walked 3km in to it, so as you can imagine it is a beautiful untouched wilderness.

One of the things you couldn’t miss in Newfoundland was the moose stuff everywhere, including signs on the roadside, moose antlers on people's houses and on their ATVs, as well as moose served in restaurants just about any way you like it. There were moose pies, burgers, stews, stir fries, roast dinner and even bottled moose! We were so keen to see a moose that we started seeing mirages of moose on the roadside! But no luck, and in the end we decided that if we couldn’t see one we might as well see what they tasted like. Kel had a moose burger just like a normal burger pattie with onions, cheese, sauce etc. It didn’t taste too different, but you could just taste that faint hint of something different, a bit like kangaroo. Well, we have another 6-8 weeks here in Canada, so hopefully we will get to see a real live moose soon :)

We had intended to spend just over a week on in Newfoundland but time kind of slipped away as we enjoyed it so much, and eventually after 12 days we caught the ferry back to North Sydney. We were actually really lucky to get back when we did because the weather turned nasty with high winds and storms prevented any further ferry crossings after ours for the next 2 days.

To sum up, we are really enjoying our trip but you know in some ways it’s not that different to home, ok we don’t have to go to work, fair enough (don’t hate us) but we’ve realised that our life still revolves around several basic things:
1) finding available toilets,
2) deciding what our next meal will be,
3) finding somewhere to sleep, and
4) finding somewhere to do our washing so that we have clean undies! ;)

Anyway, that’s about it for now. I’ve rambled on for long enough. I’m off to have a bit of a walk around and some lunch. We’ll post some more photos soon, and Kel will be blogging later today as well. Hope you are all doing well at home, sending love and best wishes.

Paula xx

Posted by kelnweps 09:29 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

LA-LA LAND

Hollywood, Los Angeles

sunny 36 °C
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Prologue to the bag saga…

Okay I admit defeat. ‘They’ were right. As much as I tried, there was no way everything was going to fit into the 40L backpack so I humbly slunk off and bought a shiny new 50 litre pack. It’s still small, but no longer carry-on size. I guess that's the sacrifice when you are travelling through a multitude of temparatures. If we were only going to Bali, then I'd probably just take one of those green Woolwoorths recyclable shopping bags with me :-).....The minus 200 degree temperate rated- nuclear bomb proof duck-down jacket is really the space killer on this trip, despite putting it into one of those compression sacks that can shrink a king size mattress down to the size of a small travel pillow, it still takes up what seems like a quarter of my pack.

Large backpack slagging is now publicly revoked, though I reserve the right to review said bag contents following our second winter in a row. At some point soon I promise to post the contents of my bag showing just how little we have for 14 months of travel.

LA-LA-LAND

We boarded the massive A380 Qantas airbus in Sydney via the express upstairs lane. That’s right – the plane is so big there are internal staircases. After previously having sat through a documentary (due to Wep's fascination with all things aircrafty) about the building of the A380, it was interesting to actually get to fly on one and also comforting to know we hadn’t seen any episodes of Air Crash Investigators that featured that particular aircraft.

We managed to score pretend-posh seats in Premium Economy thanks to Frequent Flyer points (the secret to doing this is in credit card churn – 20k points for example, in applying for a new card. You can then cancel it later…..) I’d rate the service on this flight and those seats as amongst some of the best I’ve ever had (apart from the free upgrade to business class between LA & New York two years ago….). Qantas gave really personalised service with snacks/drinks available at any time the whole flight, heaps of room, a great choice of current movies and entertainment - although all that that still does not make up for not being able to lie flat to sleep. No matter how many packets of chocolate brownies or expensive bison vodka drinks you have, at some point during that 14 hour flight, the floor starts to look really comfortable. We no complain though, and disembark in LA the same day we left (where did 14 hours just go), around 10am.

In an effort to keep our trip financially sustainable, I researched varying sources of accommodation including camping, Couchsurfing, Freeloading, Hostels and cheap Hotels. No Hyatts this time around but I came across the Trylon Hotel in Los Angeles, which is a few blocks up from Hollywood Boulevard. Nicely fitted-out room with air-con and fridge, awful filtered coffee (why can't Americans do real coffee?? ) and right next to the Hotel’s ‘laundry’ room. The Hotel is owned by an attentive Indian family, so we return each night to the smell of some sort of vindaloo. The place was pretty good though, and a nice way to start our holiday. The accomm standard is only going to head South from here….

In LA we noticed big extremes – in one part of the city you have gated, expensive suburbs filled with equally expensive vehicles (Beverly Hills) in direct contrast to places like downtown LA, where we managed to locate what we think is the world’s worst MacDonalds (Broadway in downtown LA - the restroom is closed due to vandalism, a board shows a pin-up of condiments supplied with each meal, as all condiments normally available in Macca's are removed because of regular theft we suspect, at least three people approach us begging for money) – on several streets we seemed to be the only white people. We copped some aggressive, verbal abuse from some homeless bloke walking through a square in the city (he yelled so hard we had to wipe the spit off our arms), and noticed a significant number of homeless/people with mental health issues generally wandering around. Also noticed a large number of disabled people on crutches, in wheelchairs (one poor bloke had both legs in plaster), who seemed homeless as well.

This was also obvious in Hollywood, with lots of people begging and some interesting uses of humour to try and elicit funds by offering something unusual for your donation - including a kick up the arse for $1, or some bad advice. We didn’t pay for, or take either.

Whilst LA has some public transport, the city is very spread out, and nowhere near as organised infrastructurally as other cities, and we found ourselves spending lots of time changing buses to get around (we got a TAP day pass for $5). Despite the lack of a decent, public transport system in a city with around 4 million people, we still managed to get ourselves from one side of LA to the other, and took in some amazing (and FREE) activities such as the J. Paul Getty Museum – some great views of LA and wonderful artwork (such as Monet’s Irisis); La Brea Tar Pits (a pond with natural, bubbling bitumen in the middle of the city - the museum has an entry fee but you can wander around the tar pits for free); Santa Monica and Venice (aka freak) beaches; Griffith Observatory; Walt Disney Concert Hall (amazing architechture), Angel Flights (world’s shortest railway). Weps was unfortunately hypnotised by bad television advertising, and is attempting to set some new world record by eating every dinner at a fast food outlet for less than two dollars a meal.

Overall, Los Angeles is one of those places that you should visit at least once in your lifetime, for no other reason than to satisfy yourself that you don’t want to come back again.

And no, we didn’t see Ellen or Portia. The only celebrity spotting we managed was Dave Gleeson, the lead singer of Screaming Jets at the Sydney International Qantas Club Business Lounge, and Rhys Wakefield (Home & Away, The Black Balloon), who was behind us in the US customs line at LA airport.

Next stop, New York, New York..

Posted by kelnweps 16:54 Archived in USA Tagged los angeles Comments (0)

Mystery Location Guest Spot

Where you get to decide what we do for a day.....

overcast 28 °C

So many people have said they are living vicariously through us on our travels, so we decided to make the trip a little more interactive. Every now and again, we’ll offer the opportunity for you to nominate something for us to do for up to a day, and we’ll pick the best activity from nominations and report back on the blog, with photos.

As we’re spending ten days in New York, here then, is the first opportunity.

You can nominate either on this site (noting all comments are viewable by the world), or more privately through our email addresses.

Nominations can be for any activity for any duration up to a 24 hour period, must be legal of course (yes boring we know but we don't want to have to ask you to fund a bail bond ....). You need to do the research and provide instructions and directions if we select your activity.

Nominations for the New York leg to be in by Saturday 17 Sep 11.

Posted by kelnweps 06:16 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Escape from LA

OK it's not that bad


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Last night here in LA and it’s been an experience. Here are a few of our thoughts so far.

We have been well and truly lured in by the fast food industry with everything being so cheap and us being keen to save a few bucks where we can. The top value so far has been a subway meat and salad sub for only $2. Needless to say, we may never eat Subway again after our time here! We have learned that “chilli dogs” are not hot dogs with chilli sauce on them, it’s more like a meaty taco-type sauce, but we think they are really yummy anyway.

You can buy absolutely anything here, for example there is a huge pharmacy warehouse around the corner from our motel where you can “drive thru” to pick up your goodies, AND they sell alcohol as well! Or if you’re after a flu shot, you can get one at the grocery store while you’re there, hopefully not as drive thru though…..

There are an awful lot of whackos around LA, which we have discovered after spending quite a bit of time on the public transport system! Downtown LA was the worst area we saw, and there are also heaps of poor and homeless people. Pretty sad actually and confronting also, especially when they come up and yell at you and you don’t have a clue what they’re going on about.

So yep, LA is a bit of a funny place but it was good to check out the famous spots on Hollywood Boulevard and all that sort of stuff. One of our highlights here was going to see Cirque de Soleil “Iris” at the Kodak Theatre. We were sitting there imaging which famous bums had sat on our seats before us.

We’ve enjoyed being here but we’re really looking forward to spending some time in New York. We’re flying there tomorrow and will update you some more in a few days.

Bye for now xx

Posted by kelnweps 19:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sixty-five Days

(and Ken must go)

This is the story of "a girl's own adventure". Well, two girls actually who decide to put aside their mundane day to day lives, pack up their house and belongings, throw caution to the wind and travel the world for 14 months. Hopefully this is a story about two girls who rediscover the joy in the everyday ordinary, in their relationship, who learn patience and calm in the face of adversity....STOP! Cut that instrumental piano music and swiss alp scene right now and get real. This is going to be about how to survive spending 24/7 together, and still be sane (and alive) at the end!

So as of today, we have 65 days left before we get on a plane. And the only part of our 14 month trip that is organised, is that plane ticket to the USA.

We started our research quite a few months ago, but felt overwhelmed and decided it might just be best to make things up as we go. So we have a 'sort of' country list and timings. The order of the list was switched quite early as we discovered that the majority of our trip was going to be in minus 40 degree temperatures. As we're already quite used to climbing into the freezer to keep warm in our home town, we didnt' want more of that for our travels.

We both have quite long to-do lists to finalise before we go.

My biggest 'to-do' is paring down my stuff. You would think that after moving 21 times in 24 years I would have this pretty well sorted by now. I did too. Apparently I don't. After discovering "Ken doll" from my childhood years in a box, I realise I still have way too much stuff and I really need to get hardcore on getting rid of it. So after immersing myself in various websites about minimilist lifestyles, owning 100 things and so on, I finally think I have got some emotional detachment from my 'stuff' happening.

Ken (who is looking very gay, and tired - a bit like me at the moment I have to say!), will just have to find a new home. I'm pleased to say however, (unlike one particular episode of "Hoarders") in sorting through my stuff I did not come across any dead animals.

Still to go are visa applications (I'm scared we might need a PhD to get through some of the forms......), some medical stuff, packing up and 1001 other minor but relatively important tasks (like buying the right luggage).

Apparently I've been agonizing over exactly which bit of luggage to buy, and am not allowed to mention it anymore. So I'm not :-) .... except to say I'm still planning on taking a cary-on size bag only, despite my sister's advice to the contrary and stern warnings from Paula that she will not be carrying anything that does not fit in my bag.....

So on with the countdown!

Oh, and a big welcome to our blog for all our family and friends who hopefully will take delight in watching our progress as we stumble, laugh and love our way around the world!

Pack on!
Paula & Kel

Posted by kelnweps 04:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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