A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ElliotWebb

Austin, Houston, San Antonio

sunny 28 °C
View USA, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia on ElliotWebb's travel map.

So writing this in our hotel room in Grand Canyon Village. Its been a while since my last update so i'm gonna make this a double blog! We spent 4 nights in Austin, Texas staying in the HI hostel. It was located right on a lake downtown about a half hour bus journey away from 6th Street. Had a couple of good nights out there and managed to meet up with some Australian friends we had met earlier on the trip. Again, there was no shortage of cheap beer! Austin calls itself "the live music capital of the world" but we didn't actually see much live music, certainly not as much as Nashville or Memphis.
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Austin has the second largest bat collony in North America. Every night at sunset around 1.5 million bats fly out from under "bat bridge" to go and feed on insects. We went and watched one night, hundreds of people line the bridge and wait for the bats. They absolutely stink but it's an amazing sight. We also checked out South Congress or "SoCo" as the locals call it. This is a really trendy part of town where there are loads of Boutiques and arty and crafty shops. We also discovered our favourite burrito place there, Freebirds! England needs one of these big time! Went and had a look at the Texas capital building which they proudly state is 12 ft taller than the Washington Capital building. Remember "everything is bigger in Texas!"
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After Austin we caught the Greyhound bus to Houston to meet some family friends who were putting us up for 2 weeks. We had an absolutely fantastic time there, not least on the first thursday when my Dad turned up to meet us completely unannounced (well allmost). We went out one friday night to a homecoming high school football game. A great night and gave us a taste of real America but it all felt like something out of High School Musical.
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The next day we went to see the Houston Dynamo's Vs Seattle Seahawks in the final game of the MLS season. Houston had nothing to play for but won 2-1 in a fairly entertaining match. About 20,000 fans were there and the atmosphere was great, loads of streamers and the mexican fans there made noise from start to finish.
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When asked "What is the one thing you'd like to do whilst in America?" earlier in the week, Ash had answerd "fire a gun" So the following weekend we were taken to a firing range. The first couple of shots we're pretty nerve racking as there's so much to remember. Ash had an embarressing incident when a hot bullet shell flew down her top, although now she has a pretty cool scar!
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Whilst in Houston we also did a day trip to San Antonio with my Dad. We visited the Alamo, went up the Tower of the America's, and had lunch down at the River Walk. We learnt a lot about the history of Texas, and discovered even more when we visited San Jacinto (an old battle field where Texas won it's independance from Mexico).
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Posted by ElliotWebb 18:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans

sunny 28 °C

Writing this in our hostel in Austin Texas after 20 or so hours of travel. Left New Orleans at midday yesterday and caught a 17 hour train to San Antonio where we had to wait for over 4 hours for the train to Austin which took another 2 hours. The last week or so has been awesome.
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Starting in Nashville where we ended up staying for 5 nights. The hostel there was really chilled out, with a nice garden and walking distance from Broadway, which is the main strip. We arrived there on a Friday which was great as Nashville is at its best on the weekend. There are bands playing in bars from about 10am untill 3 in the morning, pretty much all country and bluegrass music. Went out into town on the Saturday night with 2 Canadian guys with whom we were sharing our dorm. We went to a club with a live band playing, people dancing on tables and all sorts. Pitchers of beer for six dollers- garanteed saw heads all round the next morning! The next night we got tickets to see The National at the Ryman Audatorium, which was one of the best gigs ive been to. The Ryman is a really famous country music venue and its around a hundred years old so we were really lucky to get to see a band there. The rest of the time in Nashville was mostley spent at the hostel, checkers burgers and jack in the box. There's a reason poor people are fat here!
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Headed to Memphis next, only for 2 nights as we had heard there wasnt much to do there. Went to Beale Street on our first night which was similar to Broadway in Nashville, a long strip with bars all along with some great blues bands playing. Went into a very funny kareoke bar but decided to leave after they started dragging people up to sing. The next day we headed to Sun Studio's, the famous recording studios where Elvis, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johny Cash ect.... were all discovered. Had a guided tour which was excellent as the studio has remained the same since the 50's even all the sound proofing tiles were original. Also they had the microphone there that Elvis recorded his first tune with! A great tour and only 10 bucks each. After visiting sun we jumped on the free shuttle to Graceland, we jumped straight back on the bus when we saw the price of the tour. Slightly above our budget and I wasn't that fussed about seeing it.
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Got the Amtrak train to New Orleans the next day which was 8 hours but a fantastic trip as it was straight down through Mississippi and Louisiana. At one point you cross over the Mississippi River on an old wooden bridge which was pretty scary. Arrived in New Orleans and hit Bourbon Street straight away. Went out with the Canadian guys again as they were on the same route as us. Bourbon street is very much a modern party street with loads of night clubs. So we found a back street where all the Jazz clubs were and found a club called the Spotted Cat where a traditional New Orleans band were playing. We ended the night grabbing some food in a weird convenience store with a random burger place in the back. The rest of the time in New Orleans was spent at the hostel (either in the pool or watching football or baseball) or wondering around the French Quarter. On our last night we went out again down Bourbon Street, again with the Canadians. My memory of this night is pretty non-existant, however Ash assures me we went and bought some beer on the street (its not illeagal in New Orleans) and headed to a Kareoke bar. After that we went to a club where they had dueling piano players taking requests. We managed to get some Bruce and some Tom Waits played. Could have stayed in New Orleans a lot longer.

Anyway in Austin now for 4 nights then off to Houston for 2 weeks of rest hopefully.

Posted by ElliotWebb 12:37 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Philadelphia, Atlantic City NJ, Washington DC

sunny 24 °C

Hello!

Just arrived in Nashville after a 14 or so hour overnight Greyhound trip from Washington DC, not the best experience of my life but i was expecting worse. Bus was 90 minutes late which meant hanging round the bus terminal, not the nicest of places. Somehow the bus made up time on the journey so we arrived on time. Planning on spending a few days here then moving on down to Memphis and New Orleans. We've done so much in the last week it feels like we've been away a lot longer than we have. After New York we got the train to Philadelphia, stayed there for 3 nights and it was great. Stayed in the Apple hostel in old town which was only a few minutes walking distance from loads of tourist attractions that we didn't know existed like the liberty bell? Apparently a big deal over here. Also checked out the Philadelphia art museum where they filmed the famous Rocky scene where he finishes off his run by running up the museum steps. At the top of the steps you get great view of the whole city. Old town was also great for bars and clubs. We did a bar crawl with all the guys from the hostel and the staff and it was a great night. The places they took us to were selling beer for 1 buck or less and one was even giving out free pizza.
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So after leaving Philly we headed to Atlantic City New Jersey.. Big Mistake! The place itself wasn't too bad, pretty much a massive board walk with loads of tacky casino/hotel complexes such as the "Trump Taj Mahal" but the hotel we booked was shocking. It was like something from a horror movie, no joke. So we stayed for one night, had dinner at Hooters and then got the hell out of there a day early. Atlantic City is probably worth a day trip or at best one night but only if you can get a room in one of the complexes.
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Checked into Washington DC a day early which wasn't a bad thing as there was so much to do there and its all free. It rained everyday except one but that didn't matter too much as a lot of the stuff to do was inside. We went to the white house, capital building, Lincoln memorial and Washington monument which were all awesome. Spent a day at Washington Zoo which again was free, and we went to the American history and natural history museum which were both cool and FREE. Could have spent another 4 days in Washington and still not seen it all. Opposite our hostel was a great bar called Millie and Als which sold slices of pizza for a buck and 1 dollar beers on Wednesdays, we went there everyday. That's all for now, I'll try and do another in Texas.
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Posted by ElliotWebb 14:50 Archived in USA Comments (5)

New York

sunny 27 °C

Hello all!

Just arrived in Philadelphia after 4 nights in New York City. Weather has been sunny and hot every day. Pretty much did all the usual touristy stuff in Manhatten, the Empire State building at night was impressive to say the least. Went down to ground zero which is pretty much the biggest building site your likely to see. Work has started on both of the new towers, one of which is allready the height of the other nearby buildings. East Village was pretty cool too, pretty much all student bars and retaurants which we couldnt afford to go into.
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Our hostel was right next to central park so we spent a couple of days just chilling out there. Apart from the odd weird homeless guy shouting out random John Travolta film recomendations central park is awesome, so big, really clean and the people in there just seem to really respect it. If it was in England it would be ruined by now. Went to Times Square a couple of times, Ash bought the obligitory I heart NY t-shirt. Times square is cool but you have to spend half the time avoiding the comedy store guys selling you tickets! They are everywhere and they're hard to shake off. Thankfully we went to no comedy shows! Ash has developed a quite worrying addiction to Mountain Dew which is putting a massive strain on our finances! So i am having to watch how much she drinks!
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So we're in the Apple hostel in Philly now untill saturday then spending the weekend in Atlantic City. Always thought that place was a bit of a hole but the brochure looks amazing. Its got a hard rock cafe so it must be... right? Anyway must go, its free pasta night tonight and we spent too much on lunch so we cant miss it. The hostel seems pretty good, organised pub crawl tomorrow which we'll probably attend. The internet here is not a complete rip off like New York so if you're lucky you might get an email your way soon.
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Posted by ElliotWebb 12:44 Archived in USA Comments (6)

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