A Travellerspoint blog

That's All Folks

It's our last day of the trip! This afternoon we fly back to London and real life starts again. To say it's been incredible is a huge understatement; definitely the best six months of my life.

For the last two weeks we have been on a holiday within a holiday, chilling out in California. Although unfortunately 'June gloom' has effected the tanning time!

Santa Rosa, Carmel, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Newport Beach and San Diego were all pretty great, but highlights have to be our incredible dinner at Benu in San Francisco (huge thanks to Peter Hall) and the last two days with the Jacksons and Kedzlies in Carlsbad with zoo, pool, firepit and BBQ action.

There was also my 29th birthday squeezed in :)

We have seen and experienced so much on the trip, that I'll leave you with our 'bests' and a list of what we have learnt on our travels:

Best Chips: Sea View Cape Cod
Best Song: Thrift Shop/ Get Lucky
Best Burger: Shake Shack
Best Accommodation: Pondok Langkawi/ Teepee Montana
Best Steak: Chicago Chop house
Best State: Florida
Best Road Trip tip: Stephen Fry audio books 
Best driving road: Beartooth highway Montana, Ocean Highway Florida
Best beach: Pantai Chenga LangKawi/ Pensacola Florida
Best BBQ: John Muller, Austin
Best Natural Beauty: Monument Valley, Utah/ Sapa Vietnam
Best Donuts: Voodoo Donuts, Portland
Best Key Lime Pie: The key lime pie company, Key West
Best Coffee: Any in Vietnam
Best food truck: Tacos in Austin
Best bar: Spotted cat music cafe, New Orleans/ Oasis Cafe Lang Kawi
Best overall food: Sushi at the Tokyo fish market/ bun cha, Hanoi
Best Posh Restaurant: Benu, San Francisco
Best street Restaurant: Ban xio place in Hoi An
Best normal restaurant: 1122 Golden, Ontario 

Things we learnt in....

India:
Indian drivers use the horn, a lot
If you don't eat meat you don't get ill
Rob is a better surfer than me
They use coconuts for everything, rope, jewellery, boats, food
Toddy (fermented cocoanut) is disgusting 
There is a communist government in Kerala
They bathe in the sea fully clothed at sunset

Sri Lanka:
Everyone is mean; even policemen try to rip you off!
It rains a lot in the mountains
Colombo is horrible
Talpe beach is amazing
Virgin tea is pretty tasty
Turtles are really cute

Malaysia:
Beer is £8 a pint in Koala lumpur 
Petronas is an petrol company 
A strawberry farm is just a tray of them in a cafe at the side of the road
Chendol is amazing 
Laksa is awesome
LangKawi is stunningly beautiful
February is a bit early to go to the Perinthians

Vietnam:
There are 5 million motorbikes in Ho Chi Ming 
Crossing the road is tough
Nha Trang is full of Russians
Having a mud bath with lots of Russians is pretty scary
The locals in Sapa will guide you for the price of a bracelet
Hoi An is very pretty
Net fishing is fun
They have the best food in the world

Japan:
It is freezing
The best ramen is ordered through vending machines
The parks in Tokyo have the best cherry blossoms
There isn't a lot in Kyoto
Supermarket sushi is pretty good
Hiroshima is beautiful
The bullet train can be late

Canada:
The drivers are lovely 
Poutine is delicious 
Niagra falls is like Blackpool
Red ice wine tastes like strawberry jam
Running in the heat is hard
Vancouver is awesome

US:
US drivers are horrendous 
There are no cats eyes
They all drink and drive 
Who Lincoln was
Who Washington was
Hardly anyone uses fresh milk, only creamer
Waffle House is open 24 hrs, 365 days a year
All petrol is prepay
20% is actually over tipping
9 hrs drive in a day is doable
The desert is cold
Light beer is painfully gassy
They only play 10 songs on the radio on a loop
Every freeway in a city has roadworks on
You can enter and exit the freeway on both sides 
You can legally undertake
$40 will fill the tank
Rob is way better at running than me
Drunk shopping is expensive 
They have no idea where the boot of the car is
Rob is rubbish at admin
YSL new babydoll mascara is the best in the world
CVS sells everything
Time zones sneak up and you turn up to places very early or very late 
Redds apple ale is delicious 
There are big gaps around the toilet  doors 
Baseball= cricket /rounders - pork pies + hotdogs + beer
Children are hard work 

Posted by RozandRob 05.07.2013 08:16 Comments (0)

Chicago to California via Vancouver

When we left Chicago it was to set off on an epic 22 hour drive to Yellowstone National Park. We broke the drive over three days, but had a endless view of a whole lot of nothing that seemed to make it feel even longer. One 'highlight' was when for 200 miles there were adverts at the side of the road for 'Wall Drug'. At 100 miles they started counting down the miles to go, and therefore by the time we got there we were pretty intrigued. We decided to stop there for a late lunch, but were let down when all in Wall Drug was a 30 foot plastic dinosaur. Oh and a petrol station.  That night was spent in strip mall heaven, Sioux Falls. 

The next day didn't offer any more scenery wise for most of the day, but we did stop off at Mount Rushmore for an hour to meet the ex Presidents. It looks tiny when you first glimpse it from the road, but is much more impressive up close. We were only going to drive for another hour after that before finding a motel, however the sat nav took us on some really remote roads and we didn't pass through any towns for nearly three hours! We seemed to be chasing the sunset though and with the scenery picked up considerably, we had one of the most beautiful drives yet. 

It seems Montana just does beautiful scenery in general, and for the next three days we got to see a lot of amazing views when visiting Yellowstone. We stayed north of the park on a small ranch where we slept in a teepee! Every night we made a fire and toasted marshmallows to make Smores - so tasty! We drove around the park and checked out the incredible geysers, waterfalls, bears and bison for two days, however our favourite bit was probably the Beartooth Highway. This was a road that ran from the north east of the park over the top of a mountain range. The views were incredible and we were so high the mountains were covered with snow with people still skiing!

It was then time to leave the teepee and head North. We stopped off for a night in North Montana before heading across the border for our second venture into Canada. Our first stop was in Calgary where we met some very hedonistic locals, before heading up into the Rockies and stopping in Banff and Lake Louise. Both very beautiful. We spent a night in Golden, and then another on a Lake near Vernon in an amazing house with dock and big deck right on the lake.

It was then onto Vancouver for three nights where we stayed with Rob's friends Padraig and Katie. Vancouver is so pretty! My Mum and Dad lived there years ago so we went to see their old apartment and check out the beach.
Other highlights were walking to Granville Island, the Food trucks, great dinner at an Oyster place, and avoiding the considerable number of crazies that seem to congregate there. We also went to find the pulled pork pancakes we had seen on Diners, Drive ins and Dives at The Red Wagon - amazing!

Vancouver was our last 'corner' and when we left it was to head due south for the final leg of the trip. We had a brief one night stop in Seattle where we had great Italian dinner up on a hill watching the sun set over downtown, and visited Pike Place Market and the first ever Starbucks. From there we drove to Portland where we stayed at an Urban Farm in an Airstream that lived in the garden (along with their ducks and goats!). We managed to coincide with Pride weekend and there were quite a few sights in downtown! We also enjoyed incredible bacon maple donuts thanks to Voodoo Donuts - with actual crispy bacon on top, yum!

After two further days of driving and two nights on farms in the middle of nowhere, we crossed Oregon and made it into California. This is our final state, and we now have just over two weeks to relax in the sunshine before we head home.

Summary
States: Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta (Canada), British Colombia (Canada), Washington, Oregon, California
Food: Still loving the Poutine in Canada, S'mores, Donuts and pulled pork pancakes
Accommodation: Our most random yet! Now booked up through airbnb till the end 
Running: Rob is now up to 10-15k everyday and I'm doing a more casual 3-5k every other day (with Yoga on the days inbetween)!
Tan: Rubbish - bring on the Californian sun
Twitter: @TheTweetOfGod is keeping us entertained
Audio books: Up to The Order of the Pheonix

Posted by RozandRob 20.06.2013 09:38 Comments (0)

Philadelphia to Chicago (via Canada)

It's been a busy two weeks as we turned the top right hand corner of the States, and started to head back West. We are keen to get a few weeks of sunshine at the end of the trip in California, so have been staying in most places only one night to try and get ahead of schedule!

Therefore since Baltimore we have been to:

Philadelphia, Pensilvania: Running up the Rocky steps, discovering the classic phili cheesesteak and checking out where my Dad used to live

New Haven, Connecticut: Wandering around Yale and eating great meatballs

Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Sampling Lobsters and chowder but unfortunately in a lot of rain

Albany, New York: Seeing the Great Gadsby and falling in love with Leo again

Kingston, Ontario, Canada! Spending a lot of time on the phone to the bank, running by the 1000 islands and eating epic burgers

Belleville, Ontario: Going down memory lane seeing Rob's childhood home, school and eating at the Dairy Queen

Toronto, Ontario: Staying with 'the cow', drinking in an Irish pub and going up the CN Tower

Niagra on the lake, Ontario: A morning at the falls, a beautiful wine tour and drinking bubbles in a hot tub

Ann Arbor, Michigan: Staying with family friend Cliff, grilling in the garden and drinking a lot of apple beer

Chicago, Illinois: Getting full up on deep dish pizza, buying 'motivational' new trainers, visiting 'the bean' in Millennium park, going on an architectural boat trip, having amazing steak, going to a Cubs baseball game and having a mammoth last day of eating before the diet starts

We now have a huge 22 hour drive ahead of us before we get to Yellowstone National Park, although will stop off at Mount Rushmore on route.

In summary:

Accommodation: I've made up with airbnb as we have had some great ones, particularly in Chicago. We are now all booked up to Santa Barbara on the 25th June!
Weather: We've had our fair share of rain :(
Tan: Therefore not good
Sports: Baseball = Cricket / Rounders - Pork Pies + Hotdogs!
Countdown: Five weeks to go!

Posted by RozandRob 03.06.2013 19:39 Comments (0)

Key West to Baltimore

Another two weeks, and another five states!

It's back to being just the two of us after spending the last few weeks with the Berrisfords. We are currently in Baltimore and went on a self guided Wire tour yesterday! The Greeks diner and Mcnulty's HQ were the highlights :).

Before we started the drive up the East coast, we had four nights each in Key West and Miami. Key West was brilliant, full of boutique shops, shot bars, food trucks and drag queens. We had a great time! One night we took Jess and Sandra on a private speed boat sunset trip as an owed Christmas present. With a picnic of bubbles and rum, our skipper Tommy took us out to 'Dolphin playground' where we saw quite a few right next to the boat, and in mating season! 

Next stop was Miami which is basically a much bigger version of Key West, but with some 1930s architecture thrown in. We went of a self guided Dexter tour and found his apartment, but mainly spent our time shopping, drinking and on the beach.

On our last day there, Sunday 12th, it was Rob's birthday and American Mothers day. We went for a brunch at Edge at the Four Seasons which was epic, and definitely rivalled our one in Singapore with Sammy and Kat! The taco bar and BBQ grill was a great addition to the classic oysters, crab, and eggs.

It was then time to drop off Sandra at the airport and head up the coast. After a night in a motel in Daytona beach we arrived in Charleston where we had stayed for two nights. Due to strict local restoration laws it's ridiculously pretty with all the 'old' houses kept perfectly maintained. It's also a big uni town though so there were lots of cool restaurants, and as the weather was still good we enjoyed a few cheeky cocktails on rooftop bars. Rob and I had seen an episode of Rick Stein where he went to an oyster shack outside of town, which we manage to find. They shovel up oysters from the creek and then chuck them in huge metal barrels to steam. We ordered a tray and were in time to watch the sunset.

We also visited a big plantation on the way out of town and topped up our previously abysmal American history knowledge, learning about the slaves that basically built the 'free' society that America is. 

We left Jess in Myrtle Beach from where she was flying to New York, although not before spending a night there during what turned out to be biker week. Imagine 10,000 bikers, a fairground, a beach and a lot of rum - a fun night!

Next stop was for a night in Wilmington (where I dragged Rob around to some of the filming locations for Dawson's Creek), and we then had two nights in Washington and followed the tourist route of seeing the Whitehouse (smaller than it looks on telly) Lincoln memorial (for a Forest Gump moment) national monument (covered in scafolding) and the Capital Building (very impressive).

We are now heading Phili before bypassing New York and spending some time in New England.

In Summary:
States: Florida, South and North Carolina, Virginia, DC and Maryland
Weather: mainly good but it rained in Washington 
Food: We tried out Gullah Cusine in Charleston; amazing fried chicken! Plus we sampled all of the Key Lime Pie in Key West
Accommodation: airbnb is letting us down as we head further north so we are having to stay in more motels

Posted by RozandRob 21.05.2013 06:52 Comments (0)

New Orleans to the Florida Keys


View The trip on RozandRob's travel map.

We have now been in the US for the best part of a month have made it coast to coast! We arrived in Miami for a brief stop to pick up Rob's mum Sandra on 1st May and got our first glimpse of the Atlantic. 

After the last update we were heading to New Orleans, which as expected was lots of fun. We stayed in the lower ninth ward which was heavily destroyed by katrina, but is now mostly rebuilt. Our guesthouse was really nice but a lot of the area is still poorer than most parts of the city, and wasn't somewhere to hang about at night.

Bourbon Street in the French Quarter is the famous area for night life and is properly crazy; strip clubs, shot bars, loads of live music, street performers and neon lights everywhere. A good laugh; but we saw some sights! Frenchman street is where the locals hang out and after dinner on Bourbon, we spent our first night there in the Spotted Cat Music Club getting acquainted with Jazz.

The next morning we walked into the French Quarter through the Bywater and Merigny areas which were not as beautiful as the Quarter but way cooler; all really ornate houses in multi colours with ramshackle bars on the corners and old cars lining the streets. Big thanks to the guys at Wish.co.uk for treating us to dinner at Muriel's on our second night, the goats cheese and crayfish crepes were epic!

After New Orleans we had four nights spare until we needed to get to Orlando. We therefore picked two random beach towns based on them having decent accommodation in budget through airbnb. The drive from New Orleans through Mississippi, Alabama and North Florida was beautiful, and for the most part we opted for the slower roads right along the beaches. The first stop was Pensacola just in the Florida border and it was stunning. Off the mainland is a long spit of sand that you can drive down with white sand beach on either side of you, and we spent most of our time there.

Our second stop was Carrabelle, a total hick town further along the 'forgotten coast'. We arrived for the last day of their annual riverside festival and got to see some Nashville country singers that the whole town was very excited about, not that we could really understand a word they said! We spent another day on the beach where we were told by new mate Dwayne that we could happily drink and not be bothered by the police ;)

From there it was to Orlando and Universal Island of Adventures/ Studios! The new Harry Potter bit was awesome with a complete mock up of Hogwarts and with stores selling butterbeer and wands. We got suitably soaked on the rapids, and it was like going back in time at the Studios with men in black, the mummy, terminator and jurassic park rides! 

From Orlando we had the brief stop in Miami to collect Sandra, and then we drove across to Naples where we have been thoroughly spoilt. A beautiful suite with pool awaited, as well as wine, cocktails and a lot of seafood! After four nights it was back across to Miami to collect Jess and then we headed down to the Keys which is where we are now, stopping for a night in Duck Key before three nights in Key West.

We will upload more pics on FB soon.

In Summary:
Weather: a few storms (we had a tornado in New Orleans!) but mainly still good
Food: no burgers or BBQ recently, amazing seafood though
Beaches: stunning; definitely the whitest sand we've seen all trip
Tan: I have one again - Yeay!!
Locals: making friends with the hill Billy's ;)
Budget: Apart from the $150 on cocktails last night (oops) we are still on track

Posted by RozandRob 06.05.2013 08:48 Comments (0)

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