Page 3 of mikesrtw Travel Blog Posts

The first thing we noticed as we arrived in San Francisco was this hills. Not natural green, rocky or brown hills but urban built up hills with roads and rows of tall houses clearly built on a slant. The first thing that dawned on us were that we were approaching these hills and therefore would have to drive on them. Hills are generally not a problem for us, but these were really steep and driving up and down them, stopping midpoint at the lights terrified us. Although the car was automatic (so rolling back down a hill wouldn't be an issue), we are still not used to non manual cars and so were reaching for the gear stick at each traffic light. After the nauseating drive up and down one way streets getting into our hostel ... read more
It took imagination, courage and determination to build this
Walking these corridors felt eerie
Prisoners of Alcatraz exhibition

North America » United States » California » Big Sur March 1st 2016

It’s time for another ‘Road trip’ This time we are following the beautiful dramatic coastline from Los Angeles to San Francisco travelling through beautiful national parks along the way. We had heard so much about this beautiful route so agreed that ditching our pre-booked 8 hour bus journey would be one of the best things we could do if we really wanted to appreciate this coastline. We wanted to witness the scenery it had to offer and lucky for us the weather was still t-shirt and shorts worthy. Rather than making the same mistake like last time, we booked the car a week in advance and got a reasonable rate from Budget car hire in LA, opting to return the car to their San Francisco branch. When trying to decide how many days were sufficient to ... read more
Elephant Seals
Posing for the photo
Pfeiffer Beach

North America » United States » California » Los Angeles February 26th 2016

As with many of the places we've visited in the US, Los Angeles is one of those destinations we've seen on tv endless amounts of times. Hollywood, the stars on the Walk of Fame, homes of the rich and famous and roller-skaters on Venice beach amongst other things. All under the beaming California sun. All of these things were on our list to see and do here, plus more. We wanted that Hollywood feeling, whatever that was. We knew that LA wasn't all hollywood and it does have a darker side to it. Still we were surprised when we got of our greyhound bus in downtown LA. Its one of those areas that felt very impovished. We stood out like sore thumbs with our back packs. Thankfully the bus stop to Hollywood boulevard was just across ... read more
We were surprised by how pleasant it was
Impressive stuff
Dreads and all

North America » United States » California » San Diego February 22nd 2016

When you try to imagine a beach town in California, you picture beautiful clean beaches, surfers, dog walkers, joggers and sun worshippers all collectively enjoying a carefree existence. San Diego seems to be the epitome of that (Ocean beach area anyway). Quiet streets lined with palm trees on either side, low buildings, restaurants galore and a vibe so relaxed time almost seems to stop. After travelling from city to city for 3 weeks straight we were looking forward to some beach time, even if it would only be brief. We arrived (slightly tired as usual) by greyhound from Las Vegas in Downtown San Diego. Catching the tram/trolley and then a bus, we finally made it to Ocean Beach. As soon as we stepped off the bus we immediately fell in love with the area, it definitely ... read more
Ocean Beach
Man on a mission
A dog's dream

When considering a road trip across the states, one of the 2 most popular images that may well come up on a search engine is photos of a 2 lane road that travel across beautiful landscapes (Route 66) with beautiful images of dusty red rocky terrain. Tall mountains, deep valleys and the draw dropping pictures of people standing at the edge of a collection of rocks with a huge drop beneath them. The Grand Canyon. We decided very early on that we would only visit mainly cities we had always wanted to visit and catch the buses to save a bit of money. Even so, we still wanted a taste of a possible future trip - road tripping across the states visiting national parks, staying in a tent under the stars. You get the picture. We ... read more
Finding our own viewpoints
Inside the Grand Canyon
Dwarfed by its scale

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas February 16th 2016

Everybody we spoke to loved Vegas. We've seen it on films and TV, so we were excited ourselves to see it for real. It's like a huge theme park for adults, with its humongous casinos, big bright lights and cheap alcohol. The place makes its visitors feel rich, making it easy for people to part with their hard earned cash. Even us 'budget' backpackers can get pulled into the same thinking and it's already proving difficult to 'do' the US on the cheap - food is our weak spot. Speaking of food, Vegas is known for its all you can eat buffets with a huge array of foods to choose from. But we'll get on to that later. Due to the distance from Austin, we caught an internal flight here which ... read more
Sin City Awaits
Bright neon lights
Rome meets Paris

North America » United States » Texas » Austin February 15th 2016

The self proclaimed "most liberal city" of Texas. It's this line that drew us here, and had us miss Texan cities such as Houston and Dallas. We were aware of the differences between the north and the south but never really knew how deep it went. Apparently Austin is the trailblazer for forward thinking and acceptance of all people of colour, gender and sexual orientation. We think the popular 6th street, lined with bars and pubs with happy hours offering large cocktails probably helped. When attempting to book accommodation for Austin, we found it incredibly difficult to find somewhere affordable and close to downtown. Turns out, our time here is right in the middle of one of the 2 biggest music festivals in Texas. This one became so popular its now on 2 separate weekends. Austin ... read more
Austin's creative skyline
The Capitol
Important decisions are made right here

North America » United States » Texas » San Antonio February 4th 2016

Despite travelling to some of the "Venice's of..." China such as Lijiang and India's backwaters of Kerala we have not had the opportunity to visit the actual Venice yet (it's on our to bucket list). We thought we would make up for it by visiting another place with the moniker "Venice of the USA". We are in downtown San Antonio.  Drawn by the lovely canals that are lined with resturants, hotels and picture perfect arched bridges that cross it, it wasn't hard to add this place to our American itinerary.  It also has a lot of uncovered history to delve into here, the main site being the Alamo. This is where Mexican troops back in 1836 attacked the mission (church) killing many Texans in an attempt to win back Texas as a part of Mexico. The ... read more
The Venice of Texas
The pleasant river canals
The Alamo

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans February 3rd 2016

Aside from the unnecessary stops at awkward times of the night we are really getting into travelling by bus in the US now. Our trip from Nashville to Memphis is probably the most amusing to date. We guess if you are a long distance bus driver you have to keep yourself amused some how. Our driver was no exception. We found ourselves chuckling away as she reeled off one liners with her southern drawl throughout the whole journey. We tried to remember some and wrote down a few. "Stop talking so loudly I don't want to listen to none of you while I'm driving'...'sir I can still hear you'..' Sir I'm not going to ask again" "I've got beef and onions waiting for me at home. I've been driving since 10pm last night and I want ... read more
Freemont street
City centre

North America » United States » Tennessee » Memphis January 30th 2016

We were desperate to experience Memphis. Experience the live blues and Jazz bands, all the music spilling onto the streets, and to experience the rest of the culture here: The opportunity to visit the Mississippi River, lick the barbecue sauce and soul food dripping from our fingers and delve deep into some African American history. Only a 2 hour bus ride from Nashville and we were in Memphis. After a quick Uber ride from the inaccessible bus-station, we were walking down the streets of Memphis commenting on some creative colourful street art depicting various community scenes. Downtown As we walked a few blocks closer to Beale Street (the area where many the music bars can be found) our noses immediately picked up on the smell of smoky barbeques sizzling away, whilst our ears immediately caught onto ... read more
Community inspired artwork

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