Just a quick disclaimer that l won’t be going into much detail of Germany or England as l was there visiting friends and enjoying the Christmas break
Germany – Nuremburg
I headed into Germany or more so Nuremburg for about 9 days before Christmas to visit a friend l met in Tuscany. This was my first visit to the city that is known for its beer (I think that is a lot of cities around Germany), The world’s best Christmas markets and its very famous castle. It is also the home to the Nazi’s rally grounds which in now a large museum depicting the grounds of what they were to be used for. My friend unfortunately fell sick while l was there so a few of the sights l had to see on my own and it was discovered that the town also consists of a series of underground tunnels used for storing beer and food over the years. It only holds English tours twice a week on a Sunday.
England – London and Skegness
I headed onto London from Nuremburg for the Christmas period as l had a few more friends based there plus one of my very good friends from back home was visiting his parents for Christmas and invited me up for a couple of nights to spend the day having lunch with his family and head into watch Grimsby football club play their boxing day game. I headed back south to London to spend New year eve there plus wait for the plane prices to drop. I was also lucky to see my sister and her husband in this time once they had returned from their Christmas holidays
Now onto my main part of my story… My continuation of my travels.
I decided a while ago l wanted to head into south or central America and try to visit Cuba and the Bahamas at the same time and my ticket in was a cheap flight ($325 aud) from Gatwick through Toronto was going to get me there. Transport through was also provided by Geryhound (except the flight from New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale), which the best way to describe Greyhound buses is as the weird and wonderful world of America.
Canada – Keswick and Toronto
I landed in Toronto after a long and boring flight with Westjet, but l got there safely so l cannot argue. I headed up to a town called Keswick which is about 1 hour north of Toronto for a few days to catch up with Leslee, who l met in Myanmar and as l had been in mostly London for the last 20 days, it was a welcome change to get out of the city. I stayed with Leslee and her father and was shown nothing but amazing hospitality which added to the fact that while l have traveled this world, Canadians now go down as the nicest people l have ever met and this even showed when it came to a bus that was not in service that was clearly signed but then changed to sorry. Everywhere else in the world just say out of service and we get it, but Canada takes it that one more and provides an apology.
Leslee took a couple of days off work while l was there to hang out which l was grateful for and she took me another hour north to visit some other friends that lived on the edge of Lake Simcoe where we spent the night talking and drinking rubbish Canadian drinks* and going for a walk on the lake, yes it was frozen enough to not fall it.
The next day we decided to go for the long drive south and back to pick up a puppy for Leslee’s sister where l was shown more of the Canadian country side and constantly told how l must have Tim Hortons as it is the best thing in the world. Leslee had to go back to work and l spent the day relaxing when her father Bill asked if l wanted to join him for a few drinks around at his friend Lenny’s house and a few beers turned into more than expected but was an entertaining night where l committed to going ice fishing the next morning riding around on ski mobiles and fishing through little holes on the lake. If you are wondering, l caught zero fish and probably hold the record for not catching a single thing on the opening day of being able to fish on the lake.
Later that day, l headed down to Toronto for a few nights where l saw all the sights a tourist could see except paying the extortion price of going up the CN tower. The best part of the personal sightseeing tour l conducted for myself was the Steam Whistle Brewery. I also had a chance to catch up with Sara who is another friend l met in Myanmar.
*Note that the Canadian drinks were not actually that terrible
In Toronto, l stayed at Planet Traveler hostel which seems to be the only place there that seems any worth to stay at especially when some nights we received a free dinner and every morning was filled with a large continental breakfast.
Frozen lake walking
Throughout USA, l had decided to finally get more active on couch surfing and give it a real go plus some of the cities were not showing many, if any hostel results.
I stopped in Buffalo for a few days for the sole reason of visiting Niagara Falls and not realising Niagara had their own town, I headed into Buffalo. I couch surfed with a guy called David just outside of downtown where l was shown around the local area and he even took me along to see what acro yoga (acrobatic yoga) was all about. The following day l headed up to the falls and of course l didn’t follow google maps completely and saw a bus that had Niagara on it which l assumed was the town however it meant Niagara street which was a complete opposite direction. After that lengthy delay of about 3 hours, l finally arrived to the falls. Being mid-winter, no boats were running and the falls were probably not as impressive as summer however they are still worth seeing.
Note – all the buses are $2 in Buffalo for any one trip and you can obtain a day pass for $5 for unlimited travel on all trains and buses which also includes the town of Niagara which is at least 40 minutes to 1 hour away from Buffalo.
I arrived in Cincinnati at a beautiful time of 1am in the morning since l left Buffalo. I was stopping through here to break up the trip from Buffalo to Nashville and gave me to visit Becky who is another friend from my time in Myanmar. I was meant to stay with Becky but after a bit of confusing messages on my end probably because l was trying to sort my life out too much at once, she forgot about me (Becky, l hold nothing against you if you’re reading this), so at 1am in the bus terminal l was searching for any accommodation possible where l had to settle with a 4.5 star hotel. It was advertised for $130aud which l was about to accept but told myself to hold off for a bit and 30 minutes later when l logged back on, the price had dropped to $80.
The next night l picked up a bed in a makeshift hostel at the Bunkhaus in the OTR (over-the-rhine) region. It was nothing special but it was a bed and the next morning, there was a stew that somehow had been made overnight to eat for free. I also took the chance to catch up with Becky and get my tattoo updated (if you want to know about my tattoo, there is a picture and description of it on my Instagram theworldaccordingtoaginger).
The following days, l moved to stay with John who is another couch surfing host but lives just over the Ohio river in Newport in the state of Kentucky. I used this time to visit the Great American Ball Park where professional baseball was born and John kindly took me for a day trip down to Red River George where the national park consists of natural rock bridges and a lot of hiking.
Great American Ball Park
(See also the featured picture is overlooking the Ohio River into Newport, Kentucky)
I have never really listened to country music and could never say it was the style of music for me but once you visit the capital of country music, it’s hard to not gain respect for it. I couch surfed with Steve this time around who lives about 5 miles outside of the main city so l got to enjoy some peace and quiet while also getting the chance to head onto the main strip of Nashville called Broadway. I met up with Sion, another guy on couch surfing from Wales and had a few drinks over the course of the night.
The second day, l rented a car and Sion joined me. We headed some a short drive down the highway to the dry county of Lynchburg where the Jack Daniels distillery is located. Yes… you read that right, one of the biggest whisky produces in the world in located in a dry county. The tour is worth the drive if you’re ever in the area. We also stopped at the exciting diner venue of Waffle house where we had great conversations with the local employees who didn’t know where Australia was and don’t even ask them where Wales was as they didn’t even know it existed as a country.
For so long, all l kept hearing from a lot of people is how l must get to New Orleans or if you speak to my parents Nolins. I love jazz and to finally get into the city of where it was born was making me think, trip done, l can now go home happily (but we know going home wasn’t the option).
I chose to stay in a hostel this time as l wanted to have a bit of a party and meet people. I had both and had a chance to visit the sights of the city as in the national World War 2 museum and conduct a couple of free walking tours including the voodoo tour and St Louis Cemetery where Nicholas Cage already has a tomb.
Frenchman street is where all the jazz bars and clubs are and is an amazing night out, where the famous bourbon street for me was over rated and filled with gentleman clubs and dj nightclubs.
The hostel l stayed at was Auberge NOLA hostel in the garden district and everything about it was amazing and while l spent the last 2 days of my time in the city with the flu, l couldn’t have asked for a nicer hostel to be available.
Second Hand Street Band – local artist in New Orleans
My final stop in USA for this leg of my journey was Fort Lauderdale which is situated about 40-minute drive north of Miami. I was staying and visiting my friend Marty who l know from my time in Tuscany. He took me on my first night to a bar that was unique as it worked on an honor system of, take what you want but pay for it all at the end which was a different way to experience a bar.
The next 2 days consisted of heading to Fort Lauderdale beach and seeing the non-touristy part of south Florida followed by spending the night around a fire, drinking whisky and smoking cigars… yeah, my life is hard.
My third day was when l got to experience the ‘real’ south Florida. Marty and l had decided to go get a pizza for lunch and on the way back we saw car parts on the road where Marty casually made the comment that there must have been a car crash recently until the next street over l was looking out the window and saw this car coming straight for us and about to smash into the side, Marty swerved and so did the other car however he kept going, hit a rock, the car launched into the air, came back down, a few more skids and then straight into a tree. The 2 occupants, leaped from the vehicle and took off running through a street where a lot of the local people gave chase. To summarise, it was my first witness to a stolen car chase and it had gone completely wrong for the thieves.
My final night, l spent with Carlos and Jay who are friends of Marty and we went off to watch my first National Hockey League game between the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks. Florida Panthers won.
I finished up by this leg by flying out of Miami to Nassau which is the capital of the Bahamas and l will spend the next 6 nights here enjoying some island life.
Oh, and l don’t know if the car thieves were ever caught.