Saturday, July 31, 2004


No that's not Australia, I didn't suddenly get back home... Instead there is a small town on the northern tip of Cape Breton, with a population of about 26,000...

Saying goodbye to Annemarie
Well even though it was only going to be for about a week, I said g'bye to Annemarie who it has been absolutely fantastic travelling around with for the last month and a bit, to go explore Newfoundland while she tried to drum up some work for herself.

No hostels
Well Sydney doesn't actually have any hostels and so I decided to treat myself (and it was quite pricey) to a night in a B&B, where I met this great older couple Bill and Debbie (from Calgary) who treated me like there son (who's aparently the same age), took me out to dinner, took me to Fort Lousiburg and dropped me off at the ferry after making sure I'd had my first taste of Tim Hourtons (the chain, no institution of Donuts, coffee and sandwiches)

Fort Louisburg
Such a really cool place to go to... How to describe? Basically it's a replica of the original Fort (well 1/5th of the fort) with all the staff in period costumes and doing it in character somehow not being tacky... Very cool place to visit and see how the people of the time would of lived... Even down to the staff using the tools of the time do minor repairs to buildings!


Next is Newfoundland!

Friday, July 30, 2004

Halifax (in part)

Ok, I'm actually now back in Halifax after having a fantastic trip up to Newfoundland (Fantastic meeting you, Jen, Marcus, Dane & Gavin!!).. But before I get to that, I need to get to what I missed out on Halifax (hopefully I can stretch my memory back that far)

Maritime Museum
I know it has the word museum in it, but this was surprisingly good! It's right near the waterfront, and I think it's Tuesday night you can get in for free... (yay!)

Had a very informative (and dare I say it, moving) presentation on the 1917 (not 100% sure on the date) of the Halifax explosion, basically an ammo vessel (bucket loads of powder) collidied with another ship, sparks.. fire... ship abandoned.. floats to the pier.. largest man-made explosion before the nuclear bomb.. 1900 people dead.. Most buildings destroyed. And to cap it off, there was a sudden blizzard the following day.
One of the first and biggest contributors to Rescue and assistance efforts was Boston, and to this day Halifax sends Boston the biggest and best christmas tree as a thankyou.

The other really interesting one (for ship-wreck buffs), is the titanic info as Halifax was one of the main places that launched rescue ships for the titanic and there's quite a few relics in the museum.

The Rest
To be honest, I can't really remember what else I got up to in Halifax, though I do remember having a great time, especially with 2 Canadians who drove straight through to Halifax from either Ottawa or Toronto (can't remember which!) something like 40hrs straight driving...

I think the not remembering might of had something to do with the amount of time I spent at the Split Crow pub... Which along with the usual excellent Irish pub atmosphere, had a great band by the name of The Hair of the Dog, was very cool hearing some excellent local songs about Nova Scotia!


Saturday, July 24, 2004

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Well I'm actually on a ferry heading to Newfoundland at the moment (fantastic that they've got free net access on here!!  but only 3 pc's 2 of which are broken, so can't spend the whole night on here..)

Anyways, I was going to describe some of Halifax and what I've been up to since my last posting...

Canadian buses
Rock!!  :-)  They are fantastic compared to the US buses, plenty of room I can almost stretch my legs out, and a real comfortable ride!  :-)  That and nice bus drivers rather than the traditional (though not always) grumpy US ones...

Halifax drivers
Ok, this is going to be a little odd, but the most unique experience of being Halifax?  is the drivers...  I'll paint you a scenario..

There I am between 2 streets about to cross the road where there is no pedestrian crossing, basically the same as going to cross commercial road...  So I do the usual, I step up to the edge of the parked cars to wait for the traffic to clear, but wait a minute here, the cars on this reasonably busy road (and this is the biggest Canadian city east of Montreal, so bigger the Quebec City), stop to let me cross the road!

And that was not an isolated incident, like I said a little odd...  But fairly unique...  Not surprising though when you meet a few locals and find out how friendly and helpful they are though.

Halifax itself
Is a nice place, but you're going to have to wait a while, there's a bit of a queue appearing behind me so I'm going to have to jump off for a while... Hopefully later tonight when everyone's asleep I can jump on again (assuming I'm awake!)

Take care everyone, and a big thanks to Bill & Debbie (who I met in Sydney, NS)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Last night in Quebec

Well what to say?  The Quebecians (though I think they spell it differently and it's pronounced Kebec...) are a damn nice bunch, and I thouroughly enjoyed my time there...  (could of done with a few more days and a bit less rain actually...
Musee de Civilization
Was pretty darn cool, there was something about the way the different exhibitions were setup that made them really interesting..  Though the highlights were:

  • Asterix & the Romans a really fun way of presenting the history of the Romans, Gauls and various other tribes/civilizations talked about in the Asterix comics...  And Meow and Polly have now had a photo with Obelix carrying a Menhir.
  • Sand sounds kinda odd but they had this intriguing exhibit about sand, including a funky little video of clay animation...  :-)
  • First Nations basically the local aboriginies, though the main ones I looked at were to do with the Inuit (which have actually increased in population since Europeans have arrived), including the building of an Igloo..  Dang they're quick (but you'd want to be in that cold!)

Final night of the Summer Festival
Was very funky!  :-D  some really cool bands playing, I climbed up on the old city wall and had a great view of one of the main stages (though I wasn't alone with some very hippy Canadians).
And seeing the jazz marching band get going and actually have the crowd moshing in the street (to Killing in the name of!)  ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Well I'm now in Quebec City and it's Fantastic! let's see what to say?
Arriving into Quebec provence  so before montreal
I noticed that as soon as we crossed the border from Ontario (which is bilingual, particularly Ottawa), the signs switched so that French was now on top and English on the bottom, just an odd thing to notice, but there ya go...  And also just about every sign is in French, except for stop signs which seem to alternate each intersection "Arrete" "Stop" "Arrete" "Stop"...  ;-)
Unfortunately I can't remember the character number to but the little ' above the e in Quebec and Montreal, so my apologies to those who notice that...  ;-)  Leaving behind the wonderful Nat and Frank (who so graciously showed us around town and let us into their homes, Thankyou!), we caught the bus to Quebec City....
And I thought Montreal was beautiful, this place is great, love the who hilly area with the windy paved streets and not having any trouble with the locals (being arrogant), except for one guy who was trying to sign us up for a french book club...
Ok some sights:

  • Quebec is the only walled city in North America (though there may be some in Mexico?) looks really cool seeing them.
  • The Citadel (the largest fort in Nth America) was actually really interesting got to see the changing of the guard, just like watching the beef eaters in London (from what I remember), also quite interesting place, Meow & Polly have had a photo with one of the guards as well.  :-)
  • There a really nice Promenade (I think it's called the Terrace Dufferin) which follows the line of the cliff, so that you can have a great view of the river and city, nice at night!
  • Boutique de Noel, which was the biggest and loudest store (amongst 4 or so) for selling Xmas related paraphenalia, so bizarre I had to take a couple of photo's.
  • Little alleys all over the place, including one that seemed purely setup for people to sell their paintings and photo's...  Even to having their own little lockers (sized for paintings) on the walls of the alley.
  • Summer festival at the moment here, some very cool acts including a sort of jazz walking band, who amongst other things played "Killing in the Name of" & "Seven Nation Army" :-)
  • Aux Anciene Canadians (I may of slightly stuffed the spelling) is a fantastic restaurant where we got to try some traditional food, including a maple syrup pie... Not quite as good as a beaver tail, but definitely up there! :-)

Ok, I think that's it so far that I've seen... It's kind of hard to keep track of everything since I last posted, keep remember (and then forgetting) various things I wanted to post up after the fact.

But on the morrow I'm looking forward to seeing the Musee de Civilizations which is aparently one of the best in Canada, and currently has a special exhibit on Asterix and Obelix cool! :-)

Brief interlude in Ottawa
One thing I just remembered, I ordered a Hoegaarden in this little pub off Rue Elgin, in Ottawa (called "Woody's"), and it was massive could hardly believe it, I litterally could only fit my hand half-way round the glass... So there ya go, got a photo of that with Meow and Polly to give a bit of perspective, which most likely when I get to the UK I'll be able to post up.

Take care of yourselves

Friday, July 16, 2004

Toronto, Ottawa & Montreal

Well made it up to Toronto and it was quite impressive, nice place and fun to see.  We caught up with friends of Annemarie's, being Nat (who Annemarie travelled around with on Contiki) and her boyfriend Frank (golf fanatic from Newfoundland).
They were kind enough to give us accomodation in Toronto and drive us around to a few places, including just '4 blocks' from the beach, which turned into a nice 2hr walk (actually I did enjoy it) through the theatre district, getting to see where the Toronto film studios are..  :-)
And for those who know of Toronto's big attraction, yes I went up the CN Tower (the world's tallest freestanding structure), was really cool with the glass walls on the lifts and the glass floors on the viewing deck..  :-D  Even got to watch a bit of a baseball game going on below us.
Ottawa & Kingston
So on the way to Ottawa (where we got to spend a night with Nat's cousin Jason, who had just come back after a 7 mth surfing holiday in Aus), we quickly went by Kingston where Nat lived for a while, looked like a pretty funky uni/prison town (yep you read that right).
The capital was nice to see, though my own personal highlight was seeing the Stray Cats of the Hill a cool little area where these doll houses have been converted into houses for stray cats, it's right next to the parliament house, nice little quirk.  :-)
What can I say?

  • Best fireworks seen so far!  (not sure what it was in aid of though, something to do with an annual fireworks competition?)  Kicked 4th July in New York!
  • Bastille De Notre Dame cool looking architecture.
  • Poutine strange local dish, basically chips, gravy and cheese curd...
  • Beaver Tails aparently originated in Ottawa (but we ran out of time), absolutely delicious, kind of like a flat doughnut with your choice of toppings (for me, Nuttella and Banana)
  • Underground City really large underground shopping mall, basically used in winter to beat walking above ground (by the sound of it), 29kms of corridors, very massive.

I think that kind of sums it up, and to add that it is gorgeous, I quite like!  Looking forward to seeing France and comparing these 'french' influences...
Take care everyone,

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Niagra Falls

What can I say about this place other than, go see it! Really, it is fantastic!

The Falls
We went on a ride on the Maid of the Mist (the boats that go up to the Horseshoe falls) and while I was expecting some tackiness, I was pleasantly surprised, no tackiness... It was just awesome to be on a boat not far from where the falls land and feeling the mist spray up (good thing they give out complimentary raincoats, we needed them!)

I now want to go to the falls down in Argentina (can't remember the name of them), and also to Victoria falls in Africa... Simply awesome.. I was seriously surprised out how much time we spent just walking along and admiring them... (don't even have the words to describe them)

At Night
If you head to Niagra, make sure you do stay one night (you probably don't need more than that), and make sure it's a Friday or Sunday night... As they have fireworks (better than 4th July in New York) on those nights... Got some gorgeous photo's of the falls lit up at night as well... They have some great big spot lights on the Canadian side that they shine onto the two falls so that you can see them so clearly... Ah, I could really see why so many regard Niagra as the place to go for a honey-moon. :-)


Salem (witches and pirates)

Well for a very short ride on the train (about 40 mins) we got to Salem (about 17 miles north of Boston). Small town, got a fair bit of tackiness (particularly when it comes to the history of the witch trials), but it's actually quite cool.

Witches Dungeon
Given the name of this place, it was surprisingly the least tacky... Had a replica of the Dungeons of Salem where the 162 people accused of being witches were held (was built to hold up to 40 prisoners), really good source of information presented in an entertaining but not too tacky a way... The trials lasted for 13-15 months (we got told 2 different figures), and there were 19 executions, 5 men, 13 women & 2 dogs were hung. Aparently the dogs were accused of giving the girls the evil eye and thought to be witches in disguise.

Witches History Museum
Don't bother, tack-o-rama... The guide seemed to have some detailed knowledge but sheesh the place was full of crud, concentrating more on ghost stories than on the history of the trials...

Pirates Museum
Was really cool, got to listen to an entertaining guide as he told us about various pirates and privateers who operated out of/around Salem.. Including the only known female pirate. All sorts of interesting pirate stories including one who was caught (several times) and put into jail in Boston, but kept escaping... The local police thought it was magic as there was no tunnel, no bent bars, nothing... The mystery was eventually put to rest when it was found out that the jailor was actually the pirates uncle. :-)


Boston (Red Sox and Freedom Trail)

Well it's been a few days since I last posted, and boy do I have a few things to talk about... :-D Though I'm going to put them in seperate posts simply so I can keep track of them.

Freedom Trail
In Boston there's this trail that you can walk (aparently it's just under 3 miles), that goes past a lot of the historic sites in Boston and with lots of plaques and various tours wandering along you can learn about the history of the place... We only got about 1/2 way along the trail but that half was actually quite interesting.

Right from the cemetery where they have the bodies from the Boston Masacre (regarded as the first deaths from the English soldiers during the revolution), showing the changes over time of the gravestones, they started with symbols depicting death (skulls, skeletons, etc..) and then over time gradually changed to symbols celebrating life (cherubs, flowers...).. Well, I found it interesting!

An odd fact is that upon the invention of lawn mowers that particular cemetery they re-arranged the grave stones so that it'd be easier to mow the lawns (without moving the bodies), so that bit of dirt most likely ain't the guy who's name is above it.

Red Sox Baseball
I got to see myself a real live game of baseball!! :-D cost $20- and was only in the standing section, but dang it was fun... Actually seeing the whole atmosphere of the place, right from the vendors doing the "Peanuts, get your peanuts here!" and throwing them to whoever held up their hand, through to the crowd singing along to Take me out to the ball game. :-D

For those who want to know, it was Boston Red Sox vs Oakland Athletics. Red Sox won 11-3 (that's what you call a thrashing).


Thursday, July 08, 2004

Trip to Boston

This'll be just a short one as nothing really new to report, as the only thing we've done is caught the bus to Boston... and a quick wander around to get our bearings here...

Hopefully going to see:

  • A Red Sox game
  • Salem

But we'll have to wait and see...

There is one really American thing I would like to point out though... I saw a 24 hour, Drive through... drum roll... Dunkin Donuts yep you read that right, they actually have 24 hour drive through Dunkin donuts out here!!!

That and lots of squirels... Maybe there's a link?


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Central Park, The Terminal & The Guggenheim (Last day in New York)

Well yesterday was my last day in the Big Apple (as in I left there this morning). And it was a nice relaxing day, not too much running around, it's good to relax and just chill out for a while.

Goodbye to the Swiss
Well it was literally Michael's last day, which was kinda sad as it's been good to travel around with him and learn all sorts of odd facts, like that Russia has a different width for their rail tracks or that you can actually travel as a passenger on Cargo ships.

So Bon voyage Michael, hope the Atlantic crossing is much smoother than the Pacific one was.

The Terminal
Well after saying 'bye myself and Annemarie (due partly to the effects from July 4th celebration) decided on taking it easy, so we went and saw a movie... The Terminal and you know what? It was a damn good movie, thouroughly enjoyed it... and I think it was based off a real story (perhaps someone can track some details down and post them?)

The basic plot:
A man (played by Tom Hanks) from an Eastern European country, speaking very little English arrives at JFK airport to find out that while he's been in the air, his country has had a revolution and 2 effects have occurred... The US has revoked all visa's from his country, and the borders to his country are now officially closed. Meaning he can't go home and he can't enter US soil... So he has to wait in the international terminal for quite some time...
It's a bit of a romance comedy, but I highly recommend it. :-)

I believe it was based off what happened to a guy in Paris airport who if memory serves had to stay in the Terminal for over 3 months... But I'm not sure of that (could be an Urban Legend)

The Guggenheim (and some chess)
Well not wanting to go back to the hostel straight away (and still having a few hours of sunlight) I decided to wander through Central Park and see if I could actually find these elusive chess players (I've seen them in movies!!!) I did actually find the Chess & Checkers pavilion, and I gotta say, Dupont's Circle in Washington was much better... It mainly seemed a hang-out for the homeless, though there were a few players (and dang they were fast!! Watch out little!)

After leaving there I wandered up for another look at the Guggenheim (as the previous day we'd decided to give it a miss, being skint backpackers), I arrived just as they were closing the doors, but through some creative begging I got a couple of minutes to look at some of the exhibits (I like!), before being kicked out, to the Museum store, which was open for another hour or so... My favourite display was this one with hands (but I won't bother describing it :-P)

Anyways, this post has mainly been for my own benefit to keep track of what I've been up to, but if you enjoyed reading it or any of the posts please let me know, you can post Anonymously (so you don't need to create your own blog), just need to click the small Post Anononymously button at the bottom of the Post Comment page (don't bother creating your own blog).

As always, hope everyone's well, take care from:

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

WTC & Fahrenheit 9/11

Well on July 3rd we went and had a look at ground zero... There was a certain atmosphere to the place, very sombre but yet with a sense of ... drive... I don't know if that really sums it up, and it could just be me, but that's the feeling I got from it...

You've probably already heard in the news back in Aus but on July 4th they've laid the first cornerstone of the new Freedom Tower at the ground zero site...

After that, and rather aptly we went on to see Fahrenheit 9/11 and it's a damn good movie! Thouroughly enjoyed it, found it informative and interesting but I'd have to say it does have a definite Propaganda feel to it, even though I do agree with the message. By that I mean that there really is no doubt that it is aimed at getting Bush out of office (which is a good thing in my opinion.

Anyways I wanted to write more on that this post, and to give everyone some insight as to my impressions of the movie, but time is nearly up! D'oh! So I'll just say go see it, it's worth it. Also it was really good to see how full the cinemas have been here in the states, and the reactions from people seeing it. Hopefully it'll have an effect.

I can see why GW wanted it banned.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

New York (The BIG Apple)

So here I am in New York, and it's actually a damn cool place, I like! Went for a wander around Central Park on the first night before catching the Subway up to an 800 pc (yes you read that right) net cafe... $2.50 ph! Sch-weet! :-)

Been trying out the local delicacies like pizza (by the slice), bagels with cream cheese, Krispy Kreme donuts (donuts with extra sugar!), and about to go have a look around for a hot dog vendor... Now that's what I call immersing myself in the culture! Hopefully the amount of walking we've been doing has balanced out the amount of fat and sugar I've been consuming, but when in Rome... ;-)

Well so far we've seen:

  • Times Square Seems a lot bigger than I expected, but yet doesn't cover that much area...
  • Wall Street One word, claustrophobic it was tall, and cool to see but, seriously it's just alleys around here, not roads.
  • Statue of Liberty Nice, it was pretty cool to see, though nothing really interesting to say about that.
  • Ellis Island The island that most of the immigrants to the US went through, at one stage catering to 11,000 + people per day. Only 1-2% got rejected, usually because of illness (both mental and physical).
  • Empire State Long queues but the wait was worth the view, particularly as we had nice clear weather... Hopefully got some cool shots..
  • Central Park BIG! And actually like a forest in the middle of this urban jungle, I can totally understand why they say don't go walking there at night... Haven't found where the chess players hang out yet...

So that is my New York experience thus far, though it's been really cool traveling around with Annemarie, Frodo (Helen from NZ), and Michael (a cool Swiss guy who has nearly circumnavigated the globe in 6 months without flying!)

Take care of yourselves.


Friday, July 02, 2004

Liberty, Mummers Museum & Italian Market

Well on our last day in Philly (which I still reckon is a really nice place), we decided to wander around to see the Liberty Bell and it was actually quite interesting reading... (though it's a lot smaller than I thought it'd be)

Religious fervor
From reading the various comments it was actually quite interesting how reverent Americans get towards this bell, but I also think it's pretty cool that they have a symbol that inspires them about Liberty and Freedom.
Though I gotta agree with Annemarie who pointed out it was like 'The Carbon Rod' from that Simpsons episode... :-)

Mummers Museum
Was smaller than I thought it'd be and not really about the origins of Mummers (as in guys wearing masks performing plays), but more about the New Years parade of the Mummers that they have here in Philly. Aparently there's $95,500.00 prize money up for grabs! Interesting in an odd kind of way... But don't go out of your way for it.

Italian Market
So much hype, so little substance! I was expecting something on the scale of Queen Vic, especially as one of the pamphlets described it as "The biggest open air market in the country"... Maybe the r in country wasn't supposed to be there? Seriously I think the Box Hill Sunday markets are bigger... But still I bought myself a $4 pair of Nike thongs (aka: flip flops) :-)


The Amish (how to get there)

Ok now this is going to be a slightly boring post, as I just want to put somewhere up actual details of how to get to see the Amish, since most of the tourist books (including lonely planet), and the various operators seem to have no clue!

First off, Philadelphia is probably the nearest big city to the Amish (obviously they're not exactly city folk so a bit of travelling is required). When you get to Philly, you want to go to 30th St Station go to the Amtrak building and buy yourself a ticket to Lancaster which is on the line towards Harrisford it's about $13 one way.

When you get to the Amtrak station sit back and wait out the front (in the shade) and eventually (they run about every 15 minutes, and it's FREE!) a 'Trolley' will arrive, basically it's a bus built like a tram/street car. Catch this to Duke St bus stop (don't worry you'll recognise it).

Yes you read that correctly, you need to catch a number 13 bus to Intercourse it's a county out East (I think) from Lancaster (about 30 mins), and you will start to actually see some Amish related merchandise and shops. And there ya go, you'll be able to see some real live Amish folk wandering around, and you may of even caught the bus with some of them (aparently they can ride in automobiles, just can't drive them).

Getting back
Just do the reverse, just do a bit more planning than we did, and not have to run to the train station because you've missed the last 'Trolley' and only arrive at the station with 20 seconds to spare!

The End
That's more detailed instructions than I found in any of the tourist guides, they all had great info about the area, but no info on how to get there, other than to say 'Pennsylvania Dutch Country'... (where the F is that?!?)

Thursday, July 01, 2004


This'll be another quick post, as I only have 9 minutes left! Argh!!

In Philadelphia at the moment, and you know what? This city is really nice, I could see me living here.. It's just a really nice place.. :-)

Czech plum brandy
Quick experience to relate, ended up having a few shots of some home brewed plum brandy with a cool guy from Czech republic, nice stuff too, smooth and 52%.. :-)

Yes they do actually live like that, very insular, and actually call all other people the English. Interesting tour (by buggy), though the guide was not very forthcoming!


Some extra info/odd facts

Considering some people have asked "What's with the crocodiles?" and there's some extra stuff I missed out on saying earlier here goes:

Santa Monica - Movie reference and nutters
Forgot to mention that Santa Monica pier is quite famous because it's where they filmed Lost Boys a fantastic movie!

As well as Annemarie seeming to attract a few religious nutters, one in particular who came to california because Jesus told her to go there and star in a religious movie (unfortunately she was too late for The Passion) ;-)

New Orleans - Crocodile explanation & Size of Meals
The croc story:
On the tour the guide was talking about the various animals in the crocodile family ('gators being one of them), and mentioned that the Salt Water crocs of Aus are the largest and most aggressive.
To which a fellow traveller commented that he'd been to Aus and there'd been an attack in the news.
The guid upon hearing this told us "Yeah, according to the Aussies I've met it's mainly been tourists who have been swimming where they're not supposed to be."
Annemarie quickly piped up with "Yeah, that's part of our immigration policy." Cracked up the guide and everyone on the boat! (but you may of just had to of been there)

I was going to wait until I could get a photo up, but to give people the size of the meals here, on our last night in New Orleans we went out for a nice 'lite' dinner, a soup and some salad.. And I could not finish it! It was MASSIVE!!! I mean seriously, a soup and salad beating me!

Washington - Coolest T-Shirt I didn't buy
Saw a t-shirt at the Spy Museum:

My Friend went to Iraq,
looking for weapons of
Mass Destruction.
And all he found was this
lousy T-Shirt!