Page 4 of DougRattray Travel Blog Posts

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle November 5th 2008

I’ve spent my first night in Seattle in a bar watching the election results come in. All the bars were full of Obama supporters screaming, cheering and applauding every result that came in the democrats favour. When the California result was called (only 10 minutes after the polls closed) the place erupted, there was singing and chanting and the bar owner pored everyone a glass of champagne. The atmosphere was pretty electric. After Obama made his victory speech a samba band came into the bar and gave 10 minutes of drumming and the bar emptied to follow a street procession down to the market square 1 mile down the road followed by half a dozen police cars. The party conveniently stopped directly outside the hostel. And with screams of “yes we can” I left the party. ... read more
Samba Band in the bar
Obamas Crowds
Obamas Crowds

North America » United States » Oregon » Portland November 5th 2008

I’m not sure why, but instead of heading straight up to Seattle I decided to spend a couple of nights in Portland, Oregon. I’ve heard from a few people that it’s amazing this time of year and the people are friendly. Turns out they were right. I arrived on Sunday night around 8pm after a 24 hour train ride from San Francisco. I spent the journey sat next to a guy called Elijah who was from Seattle and had been hitchhiking his way around California for the past month and was on his way home now that his money had ran out. I was really impressed at his outlook on life, he works solidly at whatever work he can find for a few months, then travels as much as he can until the money runs out. ... read more
Washington Park
Washington Park
Washington Park

North America » United States » California » San Francisco November 3rd 2008

I arrived back in San Francisco after a 7 hour bus journey through the desert just in time to go on the pub crawl that the USA Hostel organise. They worked out a deal with each of the bars for half price drinks or 2for1's which to really took advantage of resulting in nasty hangovers for the next days sightseeing. I have been collecting points from a company called ipoints for a couple of years and I managed to pay for 2 tickets to Universal Studios and 2 Alcatraz/City tours with them. I think Alacatraz is probably the biggest tourist attraction in San Francisco so it was quite full of people. You can stay on the Island all day if you want, but as we had to get back for a city tour we only had ... read more
Sign on teh landing at Alcatraz
Banged Up
City skyline from Alcatraz

North America » United States » California » Los Angeles » Hollywood October 29th 2008

I've been in LA for 4 days now and I haven't seen a single Blood,Crip, drive-by, car-jacking or any police brutality. I have seen a lot of wannabe actors and actresses with scary amounts of plastic surgery. After a nasty coach ride from Vegas, we arrived in around 8pm on Sunday night. I was too tired to do anything so just popped to the liquor store and burger place across the road for some beer and burger nastiness. Monday, we used the free tickets for Universal Studios I got from an internet points thing I've been saving for a couple of years. I had a great time and got to fulfil my lifetime ambition and go on the Jaws ride - which turns out to be not a ride at all, but part of the 45 ... read more
The Banana Bugalow
Great Scotts!

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas October 27th 2008

...and Canals, pyramids, cities and volcanoes I spent most of the last two days in San Francisco either watching movies in the Hostel TV Room or hanging around the park or Union Square reading. I did make a little geeky pilgrimage to the CNET building in the business district where a lot of the Tech podcast’s I listen to every day are recorded. I guess it’s a bit like a “normal” person going to the set of Coronation Street or something. The evenings on the other hand were a bit more lively, drinking in the basement party room of the hostel, playing pool and table football. I flew to Vegas on Thursday afternoon, where I met up with Lisa again at the airport. We stayed at the Sin City Hostel which is in Downtown Vegas where ... read more
Camalot Casino
The Venetian
The Canal on the first floor of the Venetian

North America » United States » California » San Francisco October 21st 2008

I've been hanging out in San Francisco for the past few days, I'm enjoying the California sunshine and eating as many free pancakes as I can stuff myself with every morning. I'm sharing a room with a guy from Korea called Kym and have spent a couple of days doing the tourist thing with him. We went down to see the Sea Lions on Pier 39, they are all wild and apparently they like the bay because the water isn't salty enough for their predators(the great white shark and the killer whale). They are funny to watch, they seem to spend there whole time either sleeping, barking or trying to stop other sea lions from getting on their little patch of pontoon. We also went got a bus up to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is ... read more
Boats at Fishermans Wharf

North America » United States October 18th 2008

According to my geeky USA by Rail book, the California Zephyr is one of the world’s great train lines. It takes 2.5 days to cross the 2,438 miles (3,922km) from Chicago to San Francisco, spanning 3 time zones, passing through Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno and Sacramento. You might think it’s a bit crazy to sit on a train for well over 50 hours when I could have flown in less than 10% of the time. But by far this has been the best train journey I’ve done in my life. The scenery is gorgeous and the trains not to bad either. The seats are comfortable and recline back with a footrest that comes out and you get about 3 foot legroom between you and the seat in front. There is a dining car for ... read more
Check out the water tower
See how much space you get.

North America » United States » Illinois » Chicago October 15th 2008

Chicago is a clean friendly unpretentious New York. I’d choose Chicago over New York any day. After the parade (see previous post) I went to the Navy Pier which about a mile of funfair, theatres, restaurants and boat tour operators, unfortunately just as I got there everything was closing so I just had a nice quiet walk along the pier anyway. The following morning on the recommendation of one of hostel staff I headed down to the Millennium Park. Parts of the park are still being built, but the bits that are finished look really smart and modern. It has a huge area where I guess they hold music concerts and in the centre of the park is a huge metallic bean. I’m not sure what the significance of the bean is, but it looks quite ... read more
View underneath the bean
Me and the dirty bean

North America » United States » Illinois » Chicago October 14th 2008

...Columbus sailed the Ocean blue. I arrived in Chicago early this morning and wasn't able to check in to the hostel until 3pm. Luckily a couple of blocks away the city's annual Columbus Day Parade was happening to keep me busy for a few hours. It's organised by the Italian American communities and basically consisted of all the local school marching bands and a few local business putting on floats. Chicago is without doubt my favourite city so far, it's got the young busy cultural feel of New York, but without the dirt and negative attitude. I'll write some more about Chicago soon, probably on the train to San Francisco. ... read more
Cheerleaders practising
These girls asked me to take their photo

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans October 14th 2008

New Orleans is a party city, at the same time there is an incredible amount of poverty. The cab driver that dropped me at the hostel told me “It’s a great place to visit but a bad place to live”. He also told me that the only safe place I town was the famous French Quarter. Everywhere else he recommended not risking it. Unfortunately for me, the India House Hostel I was staying in is about 2 miles from the French Quarter. The only real safe and cheap way to get between the two is by streetcar (really old trams like the one at the Beamish Museum in Durham). Although the neighborhood was bad, the hostel was good fun. It’s made up of about five small wooden buildings facing onto a courtyard and swimming pool there ... read more
A streetcar on Canal St
French Quarter
Horse & Cart ride around the French Quarter

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