A Travellerspoint blog

Day 32 - 36 - 3rd to 6th July San Francisco

It has a big hill

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Flew into San francisco today, and once again i was jammy in my hotel location, right on Union Square. A very Art Deco type of Hotel. Went walkabout down Market Street then along the sea front to Pier 39. This was the inspiration that made the Pier in Cleethorpes what it is today. I think Mark Mayor must have been on acid if he was trying make the Cleethorpes one the same as the one in SF. This one here is a bit like Main Street in Alton Towers. Loads of Restaurants, novilty acts, Carousel, art galleries and a bunch of seals thrown in at the end of the pier. So the comparison is close. Take that all away, they are both Piers. They have a view of Alcatraz, we have Bull Fort.

The Following day (4th July) was a chill out day walking around the city before the BIG fireworks display. There are more Art Galleries in SF than Reataurants here, I counted 7 on one block.

The Transport system needs a bit of work. I bought a 3 day card which i thought was a good deal. However, i was working on the perception that you could actually get on a bus. Most of them were fully loaded. The streetcars were a completly different ordeal. It takes about an hour and half to cue for the street cars. (i know this personally). You get to a point when you decide that you're not going to pull out and be beaten after all the waiting (my point was about the 40 minute mark). Next day a called a cab.

The forth of July Fireworks were spectacular - in new york that is. The SF fireworks were more like the september specacular at the Boating Lake. Screams of YER, ALRIGHT and you guessed it AWESOME, rattled around the quay side. I couldn't help thinking that these people don't get out much. Tens of thousands of people saying this was the best display ever. I've had more fun with a bunch of bangers and a copper tube as a kid ( forgot you can't do that now? can you)

Following day tried to get to Alcatraz, but it had been booked up for the week ( something to do with a public hoiday). So instead i took the cheezy boat tour around the island with a dodgy captain birdseye impersonator (Aarrrhhh), complete with a couple of sea shantys. Whilst on the boat, an unearthly Fog came in to the bay glowing. I was hoping some deranged lepper infested goast ship would jump out and take the captain. But it was just fog, it happens here a lot.

Saw the bizzarest thing on TV. CNN showed a program on how easy a terrorist could do serious damage at certain unprotected places in the US. I think terrorists will send them a big thank you. The people of Boston must be most pleased having seen the programme.

The last day is decided to visit Golden Gate Park, which is another massive park about a mile away for the centre. However having finally arrived there by bus! i decided against going in. Maybe it was the street gangs hanging around outside or the drug induced people lying spaced out on the park benches. Perhaps it was the colourful artwork, or the people hugging aroud a blazing oil drums either way i decided "bugger that" and went to see Die Hard Instead.

Seriously San Francisco is a great place to vistit (transport aside), the restaurants are really good and even the buskers play with a bit of class. If you like art this is the place for you.

I met a family whist there who invited me back to there place. they eat a lot of donuts and watch TV lot MMM donuts...
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Posted by I Langley 22:41 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Day 30 to 31 1-7-2007 to 2-7-2007 Seattle

Snoozing in Seattle

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So finally in Seattle. Home of Starbucks, Greys Anatomy, Frasier Craine, Grunge Music and the Mariners ( the other Mariners)

So what can i say about Seattle. Whilst having breakfast. I noticed that they were playing nothing but 80s music. Whilst in some cases this is not a bad thing. However over the next few days it became obvious that the city hasn't left the decade or the decade before . In the 60's they had the world fair, when they built a park amusment park and you guessed it a spece needle ( every city has to have one) but not a great deal has changed since then.

On the plus, the city has great seafood restaurants and make great use of its fishing heritage (note to Grimsby Councillers). It may be dull but the'ye proud of it. It also has a decent Market. they call it "world famous", but since the average Yank hasn't left the state nevermind the country, I think their definition of the world is different to everyone else. However, they do promote the market with gusto. For some reason there are painted pig sculptures all over the city ( i counted at least 20 ) each one advertising something about the market. Aparently the sculptures are being sponsered by local busnesses and are painted accordingly. It works, people photgraph them continously including myself. My favourate is the one that been sliced in half.
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Whilst in Seattle i got the chance to see the film Sicko. Its the first movie i've been to that the audiance actually stood up and applauded. Having seen the homeless problems over here and the state of the medical treatment i can see why they applauded. Its amazing how they can get away with it. But that America, land of the free$$ (as long as you dont get sick or want an free education)(as you can also guess im out of the country wilst typing this. You can't take chances Anyway go an see this movie. Ok it paints a great picture of the UK health services, but having seen this film Youll never call the NHS again. It the kind of film that makes you proud to be British ( and French as well)

Anyway, not much more to say about Seattle. Very Hilly, some decent art galleries, great seafood but generally dull!!. Most Places you need more than 3 days to visit, not here.

Going back to the 60s, they built a monorail to link the business centre to the needle and the Park (it takes about 90 seconds from start to finish to get there). I figure they didn't extended it because there was no where intersting to extended it to. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode. " what do we need for the city. I know lets build a monorail" To where and Why..........

I've decided to fly to San Francisco (2 hours 7 min) instead of taking the 22 hr bus ride. OK i'll miss some geat coastline, but i will be in SF for Independance Day, plus the flights are not that more expensive.

The hotest thing to come out of Seattle since Grunge...... New Grunge aka (Billy, Joe, Jimbob and Rita May)
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Posted by I Langley 18:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 29 - 30-6-2007 Seattle

Bus to Seattle

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I had a morning left in Vancouver, so had a few hours in Stanley Park and lunch on Granville Island. Theres so much to do here. I could have a week and it still wouldn't be enough, i.e. whale watching, Vancouver Island, Whistler, but i have other fish to fry.

The bus jouney took about 4.5 hrs, including getting through customs. Entertainment was provided by an 50 ish american (think victor Kyam? remmington ad) and the coach driver ( think Bill Cosby but in the style the Simpsons take him off. Victor, had been to europe and caught a football (sorry soccer) game. He was concerned about the fanatical support, but enjoyed the game and seemed to be an authority on the sport now. Particulary "when all the top soccer stars are coming to america now for example that portuguise guy, you know Beckham, or is he Italian" He then went on to suggest the there ar'nt enough goals so the pich should be shorten both ways. I bit my lip as i was now in US Territory. At least the bus driver knew he was English " You know"

So first night in Seattle. went to a reasturant. going there was fine, coming back you realise you on a very big hill like San Francisco. It reminded of walking back to the hotel when i was skiing in Borovets. I convinced myself the walk is good for me. My right foot disagreed.

Posted by I Langley 18:07 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Day 28 - 29-6-2007 Vancouver

Nothing Day

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I Have no idea what i did today. but you get them. half a day on the net, a wild goose chase trying to claim my tax back on canadian goods and a great meal at the Stone Restaurant on the river side (food cooked on 400 degree stones) a bit of a gimmick but fun and you can't blame the chef for getting the meat cooked wrong. but great for cooking fish.

Oh Yer. it rained alot. but it was that fine rain..................

Posted by I Langley 18:37 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 27 - 28-6-2007 Vancouver

Yaletown, Gas Town, and Granville Island

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Having, such a good day yesterday. My expectation of the city improved somewhat, i decided to tour around the city and take in the older part of the city.

First was Yaletown, which really consists of one street but has cafes down both side and a raised area on one side for tables, at nighttime is buzzing, but daytime its a bit quiet.

Gas town was where Vancouver started, and by a Gully. Gassy Jack was his name for reasons i wont go in to. Anyway this area was in the 70's classed a "skid row", it was totally run down (think Freeman street in 5 years- if nothings done about it) so the city decided that the area was too important to the heritage to let it run down. Today it is vibrant. they part pedestrianised it , transformed the look, added some statues and added a gimick which in this case was the steam clock. People from all over come to visit this area now, particularly the clock. So theres a thought for Fremo.

After Gas town i headed through chinatown, not before getting a reminder of how bad the homeless situation is. Between gas Town and chinatown (2 blocks) there must be about 50 people living rough all with there personal possessions contained in shpping trolleys which they have to take everywhere with them. I understand the City is trying to address the issue (since its been brought up with the impending Olympics coming up in 2010).

Having passed through chinatown and via the science musium (which if you like mouse trap youd love it. They have some amazing contraptions that keeps kids entertained for ages or in my case and hour and half), I took a water taxi the Granville Island (this is where my sister gets jealous)

Granville Island is a mass of Farmers markets, Art galleries, boutiques, Working Craft shops, mixed in with a mass of buskers, cafes. Theres everything here, even a childrens market. The place has such a buzz. Best of all afterwards, the water taxi took me to 2 blocks away from my hotel. Im totally knackered and have Mozzy bites in places i dont know how they got there.

Had a night in to see what the best of cable TV had to offer. Beckham's done an advert with an american footballer (aka the jonney wilkinson ad last year). Scary is that Gordon Ramseys "Hells kitchen" is the top show in americas ratings. Bottom line is the Cable TV is ARSE. 63 channels and nothing on.....

Posted by I Langley 17:11 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 26 - 27-6-2007 Vancouver

It gets much better

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Today i decided to get away from the city (about 200m to the east of it) and headed for Stanley Park. The size of the park is massive (comparable to Central park) to walk around edge of the park, which is surrounded by the sea is about 4-5 miles. So it's big. Add in there a reservoir, a lake, totem poles, loads of wildlife, walks through forests, 4 great restaurants, 3 beaches, a massive hollow tree, numerous statues.
One of the trees actually stared in lord of the rings until he had an arm amputated. He now in a tree hospital at the park
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There's a free streetcar that goes around the Park, and its takes 45 minutes to go around it. There was loads wildlife in the park. Various types of squirrels, chipmonks and badgers. Havn't spotted any beaver yet.

Saw this sign in the park. dont know why it made me laugh (and still does). probably to do with the idea of Thora Hird going on the rampage. Maybe this could be a new playstation game "Grand Theft Auto - Grannies Domain"
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Had fish and chips in the park (halibut is as cheap as cod here) which was great (almost as good as middlethorpe road). The best thing about this place is they ask if you want gravy with the chips. and its proper gravy. After all "northern boys love gravy". So Vancouver has redeemed itsself. One down side though is that there is an horrendous amount of homeless on the streets. You do get approached on every block without exception.

Posted by I Langley 16:37 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Day 25 - 26-06-2007 Vancouver

Vancouver

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I had high hopes for Vancouver. Everyone i've spoken to indicated that i'd enjoy Vancouver more than any of the canadian cities id been to. I was hoping for all of the good points of all the cities. i.e. the Cleanliness and pleasentness of Calgary, the social life and fun plazas of Toronto, and the History of montreal. Instead i got the cleanliness of Toronto, The social life of montreal, and the history of calgary.

As i arrived in Vancouver about 9.30, it gave me a chance to go walkabout as i usually do the first day. I headed for the Main centre about 5 blocks away (ive been so jammy with the hotels, paid about the same (5 pounds more) for a hotel with a king size bed than i would if i was in a room in a hostel). The shopping centre was very uninspiring, the mall resembled Fresney Flace, low suspended ceilings and claustrophobic. I've probably by now seen too many town centres, but comparing to them this city is soulless. Walking back to the hotel by a different route, down Granville Street, you can help notice the amount of boarded up shops and closed down theatres. I think i must be taking the wrong routes in the city. Tomorrow must be better.

Posted by I Langley 16:16 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 24 - 25-6-2007 Jasper

Travelling to Vancouver

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The morning was taken up with another tour around the Jasper Area which Included Lake Maligne, the Athabasca Falls, Maligne Canyon and a bost trip to Spirit Island.
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Once at spirit Island the place is totally tranquill. you couldn't here a pin drop. You could here 20 or so chinese peaople constantly chattering and snapping photo of anything or everything.
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I thought id test my theory and took a photo of a flower. Lo and behold straight after they were almost trying to push each other over to take a photo of a totally unimportant flower. Just shows they photo anything.

I fortunatley was able to cancel my extra night (english accent works)so had a mad rush to catch the mountaineer train to Vancouver, which was an overnight train taking 18.5 hours to get there.

Why is it, when youre travelling on a bus or train its easy to fall asleep. However, when it is night time and you try to properly sleep you end up uncomfortable and restless. the night was one of the most uncomfotablest night sleep i've ever had. However, it was well worth it. The train follows the riverside for the mayority of its journey through the mountain passing waterfalls, rapids, glaciers, and mountains that travelling by car would totally miss. For once it was Awesome! (Wont use it again)

Also for once i've seen rain which i havn't seen since New York. It rained for about 15 mins and was dry in less time. Hope the weather is sunny and dry there at Home!!!

Posted by I Langley 13:46 Archived in Canada Comments (3)

Day 23 and 24 - 23rd and 24th -6-2007 Jasper

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Today i'm travelled deep in to Jasper. Not Before though passing the Olympic Village from 1988, which is famous for not much but Eddie the Eagle. Its ironic that since, then Eddie has gone on to be famous, ( he forced the IOC to change the rule on ski jumping) had a carreer in media and i understand from the tour guide is now an ambassidor and speaker for something or other, by contrast one of the medalist of the ski jump at the time is now a stripper!! There's a message there somewhere.

Anyway on the way to jasper we passed the Crowfoot Glacier, Mount Cirus (the weeping wall), the Collumbia Icefield and Peto Lake.
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I was taken on to the glacier, which also was also stunning. I refuse to ever use the word "awesome" having heard americans use it in every god damm sentence. Also if i hear the phrase "off the hook" ill hit someone (stupid phrases). Its quite scary to see how much the Glacier has retreated in the past 50 years, must be a few hudred meters
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Jasper is a pleasent picturesque village, totally surrounded by mountains and a main street about a mile long. but not much to do but the daily tours. I booked myself here for 2 nights.

I have however made an error in that the train only comes through every 3 days or so (none of which is the day i'm scheduled to leave. So, i have a choice, either a bus to vancouver, a bus to Edmunton then a plane to vancouver. Or talk nicley to the hotellier and reduce my stay 2 one night and get the train. If i have to you my charm i'm buggered!

Posted by I Langley 12:38 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 22 - 23-6-2007 Banff

In to the Rockies

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Today i've taken a day trip to Banff and the surrounding Area. Although i'm travelling up to Jasper tomorrow. Banff is only a hour and half away so i've taken a tour.

So today i've seen Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Johnstone Canyon, the Bow Valley Parkway and of Coarse Banff. Its been a long day but If today is anything to go by, i'll need more camera space. the whole day was like living in a picture postcard. Saw Elks, Brown Bears (no grizzlys today) Ospreys and squirrels.

Hopefully the photos will show how stunning this area is.
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Posted by I Langley 12:13 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Days 20 and 21 - 21th and 22th-6-2007 Calgary

Cow Town

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First day in Calgary, and my first impressions is how spotless the place is. There's no street people or begging whatsoever (probably been shot!) Afterall this is cowboy town, Everyone wears a stetson. In fact they were giving free hats out for the upcoming "stampede", which is a week long cowboy festival. But thats next week and ill be gone by then! Yes I have a Hat (FREE), no, i wont be wearing it

Calagry is lot quieter that Toronto, but has a great park, lots of sculptures (manly of cows) and of coarse the rockies is only an hour or so away. The food here is exceptional. This is cow town, so if your'e seen in macdonnalds you will also be shot. (mind you theres not much meat in Mac!). One cool thing is they ask do you want gravy with your fries. How cool is that to us northern folk.
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All of the Blocks are linked by first floor corridors. I found out this was not because there lazy, but is because in the winter the temp goes down to -15 C. No probs this week its hot and in the 80's.

Another strange thing is the kids are obsessed with skateboads. Everyone has them and they all seem to congregate around public areas were there are a good few steps to jump off. They have unorganised rallys including camera crews ( bit like our rave scene in the 90s) untill the police come to break it up, then there off, hundreds of them all skating don the main street, passing cars. Bizzare. Pirticularly when whey have a big skateboard park on the edge of town. But that wouldn't be fun!

Posted by I Langley 10:22 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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