A Travellerspoint blog

San Francisco Part 1

The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and lots and lots of walking up hills!

semi-overcast 21 °C

The Greyhound bus journey from L.A. to San Francisco was about 8 ½ hours so it took most of the day. We got to San Francisco in the evening and stood outside at the taxi rank to get a taxi but for some reason there weren’t any to be seen! A few other people were waiting too and then one turned up but the driver very rudely told us that we had to phone to book one so we all went back inside and the lady on reception in the bus station called some taxi companies for us. 20 minutes later we were all still standing there and it was starting to get cold! We ended up giving up and walking a few blocks to try and flag one down instead, which luckily we managed to do. So after almost an hour after arriving in the city we managed to get to the Marina Motel where we were staying and checked in. Our room is more like a studio apartment because we also have a full kitchen which is great because it means we can save a lot of money by cooking all our own food for the week. It's also situated in a beautiful courtyard. We popped out to a supermarket and stocked up and then I cooked us up some pasta with bacon, vegetables, sauce and cheese – it felt nice to cook again!

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We had a lie in the next day and we didn’t really do much, just chilled out and did some research on the things we wanted to see and do in San Francisco and also sorted out photos and went to a Laundromat to get our washing done. We also had a couple of skype sessions with people back home.

The next morning I spoke to my Mum and Dad on skype and then we headed out for the day. We are staying in the Marina district so it’s only a few blocks up to the shore where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and we walked along towards Fisherman’s Wharf where all the piers are. It was a bit of a gloomy morning and quite cold but by the time we got to the “crookedest” part of Lombard Street the sun had come out. To get there we had to walk up some 45% grade hills and I was not happy, it nearly killed me! The hills in San Francisco are just crazy, they’re so steep, you need legs of steel to walk around all the time! After seeing the famous part of the street we continued up (and I mean UP!) Lombard Street all the way to Coit Tower where we had to climb the steps of Telegraph Hill to get to it – I was about ready to collapse at this point I am so disgustingly unfit! The views from the tower were pretty good and the skies had certainly brightened up. When we came down I point blank refused to walk any more hills so we caught a bus back to Fisherman’s Wharf and walked back to the motel from there (it’s nice and flat near the shore!).

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The next day we had a lie in again and didn’t really get going until about noon. We decided to head in the other direction to the Golden Gate Bridge to get some up close photos of it. It was a beautiful day and we sat by the beach for a little while on the way watching lots of people playing with their dogs! There seem to be a lot of runners and cyclists in this city and the strangest part is that it was the middle of the day on a week day and yet really busy with people exercising and dog walking, shouldn’t they be at work or something?! Anyway we made it to the bridge but the next part was more difficult – we wanted to get a bus to the Golden Gate Park and it looked simple on the map we had but we couldn’t find this bloody bus stop anywhere and wandered around aimlessly for about half an hour before finally finding it (we had to go up a hill urgh!). When we got off the bus we went through a rose garden towards the park but again it was a little confusing as to which way to go, the place is huge! We ended up in a pretty area with lots of benches and a fountain and then looked at a map and decided to head towards the Japanese Tea Garden. We found it but to our disappointment realised that you have to pay a $7 entry fee each to get in! It seemed quite a rip off so we took a few sneaky photos in the entrance and turned around to head for the Botanical Gardens instead. Now you’d think they’d be free but oh no apparently that costs $7 each to see too! We were not impressed by this so called park that cost lots of money to see any greenery whatsoever so we got on the bus and went back to the motel!

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The next couple of days were incredibly lazy and relaxed and the only time we really went out was to go and see the house that was used in Mrs Doubtfire! It was only several blocks away from where we were staying but is situated in Pacific Heights so yes you guessed it, it was all uphill!

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On Monday we walked to Pier 33 just past Fisherman’s Wharf to catch the Ferry to Alcatraz Island and see the famous cellblock that held the worst of all the prisoners in America! There was a sign inside that said “If you break the rules you go to prison. If you break the prison rules then you go to Alcatraz”. We took the walking tour on the way up to the cellblock and learned some interesting facts about the island that we didn’t know such as: years after the prison closed American Indians occupied the island as part of a protest against the way their people were treated and they built a whole community there and lived there for 19 months before the government kicked them off but in exchange gave them a public apology for the way they had been treated and gave them back lots of land for their reservations. Inside the prison cellblock it was an audio tour which was really interesting as it was narrated by former officers and inmates of Alcatraz. It was quite a creepy and eerie place and it was horrible trying to imagine what it must have been like being there in those times. After spending a couple of hours there we headed back down to the docks to catch the ferry back and then walked all the way back to the motel.

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We’ve spent a week in San Francisco but the reason this is called Part 1 is because we aren’t finished with this city yet! Basically our flight to New Zealand isn’t until 10th November so we have quite a bit of time to kill. We discussed lots of options; originally we were going to hire a car and drive the coastal road from San Francisco back down to L.A. but originally we thought that was going to be the only chance we’d get of having some sort of American road trip – but plans changed and we hired a car in Texas, Las Vegas, and L.A. and drove part of Route 66 so we felt we had already fulfilled the road trip side of things and we knew it would be crazy expensive to do the coastal road so we decided to leave that out. We also thought about maybe going to another city that we hadn’t planned on such as San Diego but again it’s the expense of getting there and back to L.A. and we weren’t all that interested in seeing that city so what’s the point? In the end we decided that we would chill out and take our time in San Francisco for a week and then go to Yosemite National Park for a few days before coming back to San Francisco for another 4 or 5 days. We’ve decided that we’ll stay in a hostel downtown and explore that area of the city that we haven’t seen yet and that will be San Francisco Part 2!

So the next stop is Yosemite National Park!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 19:21 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Los Angeles

Laguna Beach, Hollywood, Malibu and Santa Monica

overcast 20 °C

We arrived in L.A. at about 11.30pm and checked in to our motel and noticed that there was a sign in the office saying “No drugs, no prostitution, no illegal activities”, which made us a little concerned about where we were staying! But it was fine, it was cheap and incredibly basic, there weren’t many channels on the TV but there did appear to be a 24/7 porn channel! Every time we’d flick through the channels to see what was on we’d forget it was there and be shocked each time it landed on it! The area the motel was in wasn’t great but it didn’t feel dangerous or anything and we had a car so we just drove everywhere anyway.

The next day we headed to Laguna Beach which was about an hour away and we decided to have some lunch in Ruby’s Diner where we also had some amazing milk shakes. Then we parked near the beach and walked down to it. On the way I tried to give Jonny a little kiss and he responded by stepping on my foot and ripping my toe nail almost completely off – and then he tried to blame me for it! It was painful and bleeding so I wasn’t very happy! Anyway we walked down to the beach and around the shops for a bit and then got back in the car and drove to Newport Beach. The weather wasn’t really great for going to the beach, it was overcast and a bit chilly and it rained a couple of times but it wasn’t too bad! We wandered around and walked down the pier but then decided to head back to the motel.

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On Sunday we decided that we’d head to Hollywood, our first stop was Kat Von D’s Tattoo shop featured in L.A. Ink. It was only a 15 minute drive away and it was very surreal seeing it after watching so many episodes on TV! We thought it would be a bit cheeky to go inside when we didn’t have appointments so we lingered outside for a little bit taking pictures and had a small glimpse of the inside when the door opened a few times. We did go inside Kat Von D’s shop next door called Wonderland which sold merchandise and jewellery and her books etc. In that shop there was a little windowed door that looked in to the tattoo shop so we had a peek through there too! I spotted the guy who is always on the reception desk but I couldn’t see any of the tattoo artists and we didn’t see Kat Von D if she was there. After that we got back in the car and drove to the Hollywood sign. We parked up on a hill and then had to walk up an incredibly steep bit of road before reaching another hill to climb to see the sign. Ryan and Tom were convinced that you could walk up closer to it so we started walking along a trail but we were just heading further and further away from the sign! In the end I got fed up and turned around to go back to the car and the guys decided to go up a road that had been closed off (their excuse was that they could see other people walking on that road too!) and they did manage to get a bit closer to the sign but the pictures don’t really look any different! After that we drove to Hollywood Boulevard and did the walk of fame – we took far too many pictures of the stars and we also noticed that we were so busy reading all the names on the stars on the ground that we weren’t taking in any of the sights around us! We also saw all the hand and foot prints which were pretty cool. Then we took a drive through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo Drive before going back to Hollywood Boulevard to get some food.

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The next day the weather was looking a little better so we decided to drive to a beach in Malibu. All the beach houses looked amazing and we found ourselves having the “lottery daydream”! We stumbled upon a small secluded little beach and decided to walk down to it and hang out for a while. I sat on the towels watching the waves whilst the guys ran around the beach playing Frisbee and then decided to play it in the sea. Jonny is scared of the sea (well so am I actually!) but Ryan and Tom managed to get him to go out quite far until all I could see was his little head was bobbing about! When they came out of the sea they said that it was full of seaweed that kept wrapping around their legs urgh! After they had dried off we drove to Santa Monica and had a wander around Venice beach and the shops on the front and were asked if we wanted to buy medical marijuana about 100 times! There were definitely some dodgy characters about and quite a lot of homeless people too. Venice Beach is also known as Muscle Beach and we did spot a few muscle men around and there was even a weight lifting gym on the beach! There were a lot of skater around too and we watched them at the skate park for a little bit. Then we decided to drive to find somewhere to eat. We had a look at what was nearby on the satnav and Jonny said we should go to Sizzlers. We set off and it was only a few miles away but then we saw a Mexican place on the way so decided to go there instead. After a little trouble with Jonny trying to park the car in the tight spaces behind the building we went inside and realised it was just fast food so got back in the car… we drove down the road but couldn’t seem to find Sizzlers at all, we came to the conclusion that the satnav must be out of date and it wasn’t there anymore. We carried on driving around and then spotted a British Pub so decided to park up and go there instead. It was a little more expensive than we’d usually have but none of us could resist the English dishes; I had shepherd’s pie, Jonny had bangers and mash, Ryan had scampi and chips and Tom had a steak and kidney pie with chips. Ryan and Tom even managed to find room for dessert but we were stuffed even though they had rice pudding on the menu! Instead we went to their British store next door and bought some English chocolate! Then we headed back to the motel.

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The next day we checked out and Ryan and Tom dropped us off at the greyhound station whilst they were going to drive the hired car all the way back to Las Vegas to drop it off and then catch a greyhound bus from there all the way to San Francisco overnight! Overall I don’t think I really got a feel for LA, maybe it’s because we had to drive everywhere, I don’t think you can really get a feel for a place unless you walk around. It certainly hasn’t been one of my favourite places, I’m not sure why it’s such a popular city!

Next stop is San Francisco!

xXx

P.S. Apologies for no photos, our internet connection at the moment is a bit dodgy, it keeps dropping out so trying to upload photos is a nightmare! Check back soon and I'll try to get some on!

Posted by Jenpen17 10:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Route 66!

sunny 28 °C

When we checked out of our hotel in Texas we drove to the airport (and got a little lost on the way making a wrong turn and missing our exit!) and had to drop off the car by 1.30pm. Unfortunately our flight wasn’t actually until 11pm (it was the cheapest!) so we had to hang around at the airport all day. We were too early to check in so found some seats and read our books for hours and hours! When we did check our bags there was still about 4 hours to go but we went through customs and to the departure lounge excited about getting some proper food! Unfortunately although it was dinner time, all the restaurants were closing! We figured it must be because it was a Sunday but it still seemed fairly ridiculous! Luckily there was still a sports bar and grill open so we got some food there. We also managed to bag ourselves some comfy armchairs with a coffee table at our gate because we were so early! Then we noticed that our flight said delayed on the departures screen… it turned out it was delayed by an hour, it could have been worse but we were still pretty annoyed as we had already waited 9 hours! We fell asleep on the plane so the flight went pretty quickly and we could even see the Las Vegas strip all lit up as we were landing which was pretty cool! We got a taxi to our hotel (another Super 8!), checked in, dumped our bags and immediately crawled into bed and went to sleep!

Although we had technically gained 2 hours by crossing the time zones we still slept in quite late and didn’t really get out and about until around lunchtime. Our hotel is right next door to the Ellis Island Casino which has a little restaurant that is open 24/7 and has really nice but cheap food so we got some lunch there and then set off to Las Vegas Boulevard which is the main strip. We went to the Bellagio first and had a look around the casino and then came back outside to see the first fountain show of the day. They played My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion and Your Song by Elton John (Both have shows in Las Vegas at the moment!) and the way they timed the fountains to the songs was amazing. Then we walked over to Caesars Palace and went inside there too to check out the casino. It was much bigger than the Bellagio and all the decoration was so much cooler! We also spotted lots of locations where they filmed The Hangover like the front entrance, the check-in desk and the fountain! After that we walked past the Mirage and Treasure Island and then crossed the road and went to the Venetian which is where they have the canals and gondola’s outside and inside! We went inside to “Little Venice” which was very surreal and saw a couple getting married on one of the gondola’s inside! By this time we were pretty tired and had walked so far! Everything on the strip looks really packed in and close together but everything is so huge – you can see the next place you want to head to and it looks like it’s really close but it’ll take you ages to actually get there! We went back to the hotel to rest our feet for a bit and then we went to have dinner with Ryan and Tom. Tom had a headache so he went back to the hotel afterwards but the rest of us set off to check out the strip at night. It looked completely different! We pretty much took exactly the same route that we had done during the day and took photos of all the exact same things again but it all looked different! We went to see the Bellagio fountain show again and it was even better at night. We also saw the Pirate show outside the Treasure Island Casino but that was really quite crap! By then it was about midnight so we headed back to the hotel.

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The next day we slept in again and had quite a chilled out day as we’d pretty much seen everything the day before. In the evening we went out with Ryan and Tom and had dinner at Planet Hollywood and then went to the Bellagio. The guys wanted to play some Texas Hold’em Poker but they didn’t want to play against each other so were trying to find enough tables for them to sit at one each. The Bellagio was pretty small so we went to Caesars Palace instead but still struggled to find tables. It seems that Texas Hold’em isn’t that common, most of the tables were blackjack or three card poker and the proper poker rooms were for the high rollers because the minimum bets were really expensive! After walking around the whole casino we found a table and it was quite busy, there was only one seat available. Ryan went first and managed to double his money! He said that you were only playing against the dealer and not the other people so if the seats opened up they could all sit at the same table after all! Jonny went next, he had been so excited about gambling in Vegas but he was so nervous! He only sat at the table for about 10 minutes and then came away shaking like a leaf but he was up! Tom then had a go and was $200 up but then he quickly lost it again! A couple more seats opened up so they all sat down to play. Jonny lost the money he had just won and then he was down! I went on the slots but I don’t really understand how to play them! It was a massive waste of time and money and was completely boring! I was also getting quite bored just watching the guys play poker. I don’t really understand what all the excitement is with gambling, I don’t get any sort of thrill from it like other people must do, but maybe that’s because I don’t really understand how to play any of it?! It just seems like a big waste of money to me, I was more excited about the sights than anything else!

On Thursday we planned to hire a car with Ryan and Tom and drive to the Grand Canyon. We had the best intentions to set off early but due to the fact that the hire company couldn’t pick us up from the hotel until later than expected, we didn’t actually get on the road until 10.30am! It was a long long drive to the Grand Canyon (about 5 hours) shared between Jonny and Tom. We stopped off half way to get some food and switch drivers and by the time we got to the Canyon it was about 4pm. We only had two hours until the sun set so we walked to Mather Point and then walked along the trail to Yavapai Point. The views were absolutely breath-taking and although we took loads of photos, none of them do it justice! Unfortunately boys will be boys so Jonny, Ryan and Tom were all posing on various precarious edges of the canyon to take pictures – I was shitting myself! Only certain parts are actually railed off and apparently a few people a year fall off the canyon so I was not amused by their antics! Luckily none of them fell off but the sun was setting pretty quickly so we had to make our way round taking as much in as we could. As soon as the sun set the temperature dramatically dropped so we got the free shuttle bus from Yavapai point back to the visitors center. Then it was time for the very long drive back to Las Vegas. I had a tension headache (probably caused from fear of my boyfriend falling off the Grand Canyon) so I had to take some tablets and go to sleep in the car. We stopped off for food along the way and got back to the hotel at about 11.30pm.

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The next day we checked out of the hotel and somehow managed to squeeze four backpacks into the tiny boot of the Kia rental car! We had the best intentions of making an early start again but alas we didn’t get going until 12.30pm! First we drove to the south end of the strip to take some pictures of the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and then we headed to Hoover Dam. We drove across it and parked and then walked across it taking pictures, it was pretty cool and it was all free! You could do tours of the inside and the power plant but we chose not to – anyone from Freedom reading this might be disappointed that I didn’t actually check out the electricity side of things here! We got back in the car and drove to a different car park not far away so that we could walk across the memorial bridge and see the whole of Hoover Dam – it was a really cool view. Then it was time for another long drive but this time to L.A. (about 5 hours again). We wanted to take the famous Route 66 but we had a satnav and no map and the satnav wanted to take us a different way so it took us a while to figure out how we would actually get onto it! The guys managed to figure it out between them and we made our way on to Route 66. The road was pretty bad and bumpy but the views were amazing and we saw quite a few massive never ending freighter trains go by too. We saw Route 66 painted on the road so we pulled over, jumped out, and lay on the road taking pictures of it! The road was so quiet, not one single car went by in either direction whilst we were taking photos! A freighter train did go by though! Then we got back on the road and once we reached civilisation again we stopped for some food and then made it to our cheap motel in L.A. at around 11.30pm.

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So, as I’ve just said, the next stop is Los Angeles!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 20:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas

Cowboys and guns!

overcast 25 °C

We had another early start and a long bus journey to get from Memphis to Fort Worth, Texas – around 12 hours in total! It was past 8pm by the time we checked in to our hotel and we were pretty tired but the hotel is quite nice and ridiculously cheap as it’s a Super 8 so we were pleased with that. The next day we bumped in to Ryan and Tom who we had met in Nashville, we knew they were staying at the same Super 8 so were hoping we’d see them again. They had been here for a few days already and told us that they had really struggled to get around as there is no public transport – there is a bus stop but they went to it three times and no buses ever showed up! As we are staying for a whole week and the Fort Worth / Dallas area is so huge we decided we’d be best off hiring a car for the week in order to get around. A guy working on reception very kindly offered to give us a lift to the airport so that we could pick up a hire car there (which meant we’d also be able to drop it off there and then catch our flight to Las Vegas) so Ryan and Tom came with us and once we had the car we drove to a shooting range not too far away from where we were staying. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to shoot a gun but I figured that this would probably be my only chance to do it and it seemed quite fitting being in Texas where everyone owns a gun! It was quite scary really, all we had to do was walk in, hand over our driving licences, sign a form and then we were given a gun to shoot at a target! We were asked “Have y’all shot with us before?” “Er, no.” “Y’all shot a gun before?” “Er, no.” “Well alright we’ll get y’all set up!” - we got to choose our targets (scary again as nearly all the choices were human shaped) and we were told to start with the easiest gun with the smallest bullets. We hired a lane to share between the four of us although there could only be two people on the lane at one time so the others have to wait in a lounge area where there is a window so you can see into the shooting lanes. We were given eye and ear protection to wear on the lanes but the noise of the guns was loud in the lounge even with a sound trap! A woman took Jonny and I out onto the lane first and told us the rules: always have the gun pointed towards the target even if it’s not loaded and if you have a problem you must always set the gun down on the ledge before turning around to get the attention of one of the staff – never turn around with the gun in your hand! After that she walked off and left us to it but we obviously had to call her back because she hadn’t shown us how to load and shoot the gun! She said “ooops I forgot to ask if you knew how to use it”, which indicates that it was obviously quite unusual for someone to not know how to use a gun – again very scary! Jonny obviously went first and was enjoying himself and doing really well on his target and then it was my turn. I was genuinely terrified, I was already on edge with all the guns going off around me – the noise was soooo loud even with massive ear protection things on and every time you could feel the noise vibrate through your whole body! I held the gun and shot it and then screamed. Then I shot it again and screamed again. Then I shot it about two or three more times and may have made some sort of whimpering sound. Then I put the gun down and said “that’s it I’m done!” I would like to point out that all my shots hit the target! Jonny finished off the rest of our share of the ammo and then Ryan and Tom came and had their turn. I sat in the lounge surrounded by gun magazines whilst they shot the gun and then they decided to go to the next gun up with bigger bullets and they shot that for a while too. The lanes were really busy with the most unlikely looking people coming to shoot guns – there were middle aged couples, two young girls, a father with his 12yr old son, and then there were some older men who had brought their own massive big guns to shoot and looked like they were typical Texans who had been doing it all their lives. I was also looking at a poster on the wall of the opening hours; they will be open on all the major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Who wants to go and shoot a gun on Christmas day?! It was all in all a very strange experience! The guys all really enjoyed themselves though and felt that they had had a very “Manly” day which could only be topped off by going to the Texas Roadside restaurant and having huge steaks for dinner!

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On Monday we said goodbye to Ryan and Tom as they checked out and headed for Denver but we’ll probably be meeting up with them again in Las Vegas. We headed out in the car and went to Walmart to do a little bit of shopping for food and toiletries and we also bought a cheap webcam so that others can see us on Skype. So when we got back we spent most of the afternoon skyping with Jonny’s family and then spent the rest of the day getting things sorted and booked for Las Vegas. The next day I had a skype call with my parents and then we decided to drive to Dallas. We went to the Galleria Mall and had a look around the shops and got some Taco Bell for lunch and then we drove to the park to go to the State of Texas Fair. It was pretty cool, there were lots of amusement games and rides and lots of animals too. The place was huge, it took ages to walk around and check everything out! We saw a massive hog, some cute little puppies and kittens, and we saw a horse show and a cow being milked! The next day was quite chilled out, all we did was drive to a shopping mall about 15 mins away, looked around the shops and saw Taken 2 at the cinema. We had a horrible lunch in a crappy restaurant and then spent the rest of the day chilling out at the hotel.

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On Thursday Jonny went to a horse ranch to do a trail ride and be a cowboy! I’m not a fan of horses and have no desire to attempt to ride one so I stayed behind and had a little pampering session at the hotel. Jonny really enjoyed himself, his horse was called Uno and he said he was really chilled out so he had no trouble riding him. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to get someone to take a photo of him actually on the horse though! On Friday we didn’t do much during the day but in the afternoon we went to the Fort Worth Stockyards and had a look around. There were lots of shops selling cowboy hats and boots and belts as well as all sorts of Texas themed gifts and things. We had tickets for Billy Bob’s Texas Honky Tonk to see a rodeo which we were very excited about. We went to check it out and the place is huge (it proudly states that it’s the world’s largest Honky Tonk) with a dance floor, two stages, a few bars, a pool table area and an area with video games too. There was also the indoor bull riding arena and a food area. Our ticket package included admission, dinner, tickets to the bull riding, free souvenir shot glasses and coupons to have your photo taken with a fake bull in front of a green screen. Needless to say we didn’t bother with the tacky photo! We went to get some food; we had an allowance of $20 each to spend but it was all fast food so most of the meals only came to $10! We made the most of our allowance by ordering 3 meats with 2 sides anticipating that we would take whatever we couldn’t finish back to the hotel in takeout boxes. We didn’t end up doing that because the food was disgusting! Apart from the chicken the rest of the meat was really processed, which we thought surely must be a crime in Texas! The chips weren’t nice either! After that we sat at the bar for a while and a live band came on which was quite cool and a few people started dancing. Then we went to queue up to get good seats at the Bull riding. It was quite a small arena, not really what you picture when imagining a rodeo but we got some good seats and they were playing lots of music to get everyone pumped up. We saw a few bulls come out with riders and filmed a few of them and before we knew it they said “that’s it folks, come back at 10pm for round 2!” – it was only 10-15mins long! We were quite disappointed with that, we thought it was just getting started! We thought we’d head back after that but realised we hadn’t received our free shot glasses so we went and asked at the gift shop and they said they should have been given to us when we walked in. So we went back to the box office and they said we should get them at the gift shop! Clearly the staff did not know what was supposed to happen so in the end someone from the box office met us in the gift shop and they just took two shot glasses off the shelves and gave them to us! Overall we were extremely disappointed with Billy Bob’s, it was a complete tourist trap and we were outrageously ripped off. We later on worked out how much it would have cost us to do everything we did there if we had just turned up in comparison to the ticket package we had pre-ordered – we spent an extra $100 on the tickets that got us absolutely nothing! Anyone who knows me well can predict what happened next – yep I wrote a strong worded complaint email to the company who sold us the tickets demanding a refund for all that extra money we’d apparently spent on nothing!!! On Saturday we didn’t do much apart from sorting out our photos and boring stuff like doing some washing and packing our bags etc.

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Overall Texas has been quite laid back and we've spent most of the time chilling out and recharging our batteries - travelling is exhausting as well as fun!

Next stop is Vivaaaaa Las Vegas!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 17:40 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Memphis, Tennessee

The birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll and home to the king - Elvis Presley

sunny 27 °C

Our bus journey from Nashville to Memphis was only 4 hours – we arrived in the afternoon and checked in to our motel which was extremely disappointing, especially for the price we have paid (we later realised that we actually could have stayed in the Heartbreak hotel for just a little bit more money – gutted!). It’s non-smoking but a lot worse than the hotel in Orlando (that was cheaper) and the bathroom is pretty grubby! But it was only for 3 nights…! Jonny had a headache so he had a little nap whilst I pottered about and got some things done on the laptop and then we went out for some food.

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The next morning we headed to Beale Street and to the Rock ’n’ Soul Museum but we didn’t go in, we just picked up the free shuttle bus that goes to Graceland. We got the Platinum Tour tickets which includes the mansion, the planes, the automobiles, the ’68 Comeback Special exhibit, the Elvis on Tour exhibit, and the Sincerely Elvis exhibit. We decided to go to the mansion first and it was totally and completely AMAZING! I have dreamt of going to Graceland for the last 10 years ever since I first discovered Elvis and I felt so lucky that I was able to see it! The rooms were stunning but nobody is allowed upstairs – when Graceland was opened to the public it was decided that the upstairs would be closed off because those were private family rooms and apparently whenever Elvis had guests he would always greet and entertain them downstairs. It was strange trying to imagine Elvis and his family actually walking around and living in these rooms but maybe that’s because on the other hand you know that there are hundreds of tourists traipsing through it almost every day of the year! It was sad knowing that he had died in a room somewhere up those stairs, sad seeing the piano that he played on the last morning of his life, and very sad seeing his grave. It was a brilliant experience though and once we’d seen the mansion there were lots of other things to see too. The planes and automobiles were very cool and all the exhibitions were really interesting. We pretty much spent all day there so when we got back to Beale St we just picked up some food from a grocery store and headed back to the motel to chill out for a while. Later on we went to check out Beale St at night – there was a live blues band playing in the park area just off the street which was cool and then we wandered down the street looking at all the bars and shops. We ended up watching the band in the park for a while before calling it a night.

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The next day we inadvertently had a very lazy morning and didn’t make it out until about noon! We went to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum which was very interesting, it’s all about how country, gospel, blues, soul, white people and black people came together and made a fusion of music known as Rock ‘n’ Roll. Then we caught the free shuttle bus to Sun Studios and took the tour there. We went into the famous recording studio where Elvis cut his first record and lots of other famous people such as Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis all recorded songs. The room still had all the original floor, wall, and ceiling tiles from the 50’s which was amazing and we even got to hold one of the five microphones used for recordings during the 50’s and stand in the exact spot where Elvis stood to record! It was so cool! After that we caught the bus back to Beale St and went and got some food. Then we went to check out the Gibson guitar factory and had a look at all the guitars in the shop – Jonny got quite excited!

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Seeing as we had an early start and a 12 hour bus journey the next day we spent the rest of the day chilling out and got an early night.

Next stop – Dallas and Fort Worth Texas, YeeHaa!

xXx

Posted by Jenpen17 15:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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