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USA Travel Diary 28/3/18 (feat. Canada)

Ok, I’m getting lazier with these. But I’m here now, everything is alright.

Day 11
When I last checked in, I had just got to Buffalo, so it made sense that my first stop would be the one thing in the Buffalo area: Niagara Falls.
The Canadian side is supposed to be much nicer, but I didn’t want to add an extra border crossing to my week, no point complicating things. The American side was still quite spectacular, though not as loud as I expected.

The rest of the night is a blur, because the only thing to do in Buffalo at this time of the year is drink. And, since it was actually St Patrick’s Day, it was certainly the day for it.

Day 12
For some reason, the St Patrick’s Day Parade is held the day after St Patrick’s Day, so today was a continuation of the previous night’s drinking, though somewhat more cautious than the night before. Not much to report travel-wise, Buffalo might be full of great people, but it’s not much for the sights.

Day 13
Time for another travel day, crossing over into the Great White North, Canada. Of course, I didn’t see a bit of snow the whole time I was there, which was quite a nice change from New York state (and London the week before).
I spent the rest of the afternoon recovering from Buffalo.

Lake Ontario
You can see why they call them the Great Lakes.

Day 14
Another day, another bucket list item (I will get around to updating the list, maybe today even?). This time it was the one-time tallest building in the world, the CN Tower.
The view from the main viewing area (in that middle bubble part) is pretty spectacular, especially over Lake Ontario. The elevator windows certainly make the trip up to that section much more exciting than other tall towers.
However, the topmost viewing area is a little… Underwhelming. The windows are small, it’s cramped and covered in graffiti.
In hindsight, I probably could have done a diary that afternoon, since I spent it chilling out at the hostel, which was a pretty cool little place called The Only Backpacker’s Hostel.

Day 15
You know what I love? Dinosaurs. Because I’ll never stop being a five year old. So a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum was in order. It’s more of a catch-all museum than the places I had visited in New York, or London, so it had quite a collection of artifacts from multiple cultures, in addition to a nice collection of dinosaur bones.

Day 16
Fun fact, it took longer for me to pass US Customs at the Canadian border than it did coming in at JFK.

Massive travel day to Chicago, via Detroit, so I basically got to the hostel and crashed.

Day 17
Both the CN Tower and the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower claim to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The CN Tower is taller, but a lot of sources don’t count the spire. Even so, One World Trade Center is taller than the Willis Tower.
I think this is my last tall building for a while, because I don’t much feel like paying for a view. The view of Chicago is nice enough, and the weather was clearer, so looking out over Lake Michigan was nicer than looking out over Lake Ontario. Apparently on a very clear day, you can see into four states. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly mark the borders on the ground, so I can’t confirm or deny.

I continued channeling my inner Cameron from Ferris Bueller and made my way over to the Art Institute of Chicago to look at some paintings. Sidenote: The CityPass is 100% worth it if you have a few days. I actually used everything in it this time.

I also managed to go to the former Public Library, which is now a Cultural center, though the beautiful entrance hall and upper halls are fully intact and quite stunning.

Sue the T-Rex
This was very nearly the feature image.

Day 18
Today I, uh, went to see some dinosaurs. But not just any dinosaurs. A dinosaur celebrity. The one. The only. The largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex. The gender-neutral pronoun-using Twitter personality, Sue the T-Rex.
The museum are actually in the process of moving them into a new room, to make way for a massive Titanosaur in their main hall, but they know Sue is the main draw, so you can see the progress being made in reconstructing their skeleton.
There’s a heap of other cool stuff at the Field Museum, including the famous man-eating Tsavo Lions. But I just really like dinosaurs y’all.

Day 19
Since it was on my CityPass, I headed over to the Chicago Science and Industry museum, which is definitely aimed at kids. But I’m a child at heart, so it was a pretty cool day. I didn’t learn much, but they also had a three-storey smoke vortex. And some trains. And a bunch of cool anatomy samples.

Day 20
Folks, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of checking your travel dates. Otherwise you do things like end up in heavily ‘Irish’ cities on St Patrick’s Day when you hate crowds. Or go to Aquariums on the first day of Spring Break.

I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and I don’t know how they deal with kids all day long. Same goes for parents. Honestly, the Shedd Aquarium is pretty cool as far as aquariums go, but it’s a nightmare when it’s packed with kids. I got to see a beluga whale, so it was a pretty cool day.

I also had an afternoon to kill, so I went to the movies. Y’all should go see A Wrinkle In Time if it’s still out.

And thus began the longest travel day I’ve had since that very first flight out of Australia.

Day 21
Trains are my favourite way to travel. But I’m cheap, and bought a seat instead of a sleeper ticket. And the water was high in the Mississippi, so a spillway was opened, which means the City of New Orleans service from Chicago to New Orleans was a bus service from Jackson, Mississippi. Which landed me in New Orleans two hours later than planned.
But I survived, met some nice folks at the hostel, and had a nice night drinking.

Old Absinthe House
Pictured: Absinthe and Bourbon. Which could be chapter titles in my memoir.

Day 22
Hey y’all, the French Quarter kind of smells like a toilet. It’s not so bad if you get a couple of blocks away from Bourbon Street. But it’s pretty bad.
I love the old buildings, but underneath that, Bourbon Street just looks like the main street in any town known for tourists and getting drunk. I did check out the Museum of Death and the Voodoo Museum, which were kind of cool. I even made a wish in the Wishing Stump.
Which brings us to now. I promise the next one will be sooner than this. Maybe in Vegas?

Travel Diary 27/5/16

I’ve managed to get down to a week between posts. Quite the feat. Last time I posted, I was unwinding in Palermo…

Day 51
Over breakfast at the hostel, I met a delightful German girl, and we decided to check out the Palermo Catacombs. It is beyond creepy. It’s a small catacomb, but the walls are lined with skeletons, in their funeral finery, some still having skin attached… And many of them are held upright, as though standing there. There is also the fully preserved body of a dead toddler from the 1920s. A very, very creepy place.

image
Fontana Pretoria, Palermo

We walked past Palermo Cathedral, which is a very impressive and beautiful building, but like I mentioned before, church fatigue has well and truly set in at this point, so I didn’t go inside. We wandered around for a while longer, we looked at a few other churches and palaces and the like, without going in, before heading towards Mondello and the beach, where we spent the afternoon.

Day 52
Another travel day. Unlike in Naples, the owners of this hostel didn’t want me hanging around after checkout, so I took one last walk through the streets of Palermo. Then I hopped on another overnight ferry, this one much more comfortable than the last.

Day 53
From where my ship docked at Civitavecchia, I caught the train back to Rome, before travelling on to Bologna. I wish I’d had more time in Bologna, it seemed a very nice place. I took in the main sights, including another cathedral, but the primary reason I was in Bologna was to taste a traditional ‘bolognese’ sauce, which is actually a meat ragu, served with tagliatelle or tortellini. It was fantastic, although I’m sure I’ve tasted similar at home.

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Another cathedral. This one's pink.

Day 54
Today I took another train, this time to one of my must-see cities. Venice. I arrived in the afternoon, and settled in, uploaded some photos and cooked enough food to get me through a couple of nights. Venice is EXPENSIVE. Worse than Paris or London.

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The view that drew the eponymous sighs from prisoners on the Bridge of Sighs.

Day 55
A major sightseeing day today, I went to the Doge’s Palace, which I would honestly say is actually nicer than Versailles. Entry to the Doge’s Palace grants you entry to three other nearby museums. Well, they say three other museums, but they’re all in one building, interconnected, and only have one entrance. So really it’s entry to the Doge’s Palace and one museum with three themes. I saw the outside of the famous Basillica di San Marco, but the security guard was being arbitrary when choosing who was allowed to carry their backpack inside, and I didn’t much want to get back in line after walking a block to the cloakroom. Plus, what’s another cathedral?

Day 56
Today, it is in fair Verona where we lay our scene. And I’m not going to lie, I was there for one reason. Verona is the city that Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet was set. It’s one of my favourites (and the subject of the greatest song of all time, Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet. I will fight you.), so I absolutely had to go there while I was in the region. I swung by the famous Roman stadium in the middle of town, like a smaller, pinker, Colosseum. But I had to go to ‘Juliet’s Balcony’, which is apparently the balcony that served as Shakespeare’s inspiration. There isn’t actually any evidence that Shakespeare ever went to Italy, despite many of his plays being set there, but it’s nice to pretend.

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It's much pinker in person.

Day 57
Which brings me to today. Today, I went to the Rialto Bridge, across the Grand Canal. It’s currently being restored, but is still impressive. I then, finally, ventured onto the canals themselves. In a Waterbus, of course, not the gondola that’s on my bucket list. Because a gondola ride costs €80. I wandered the city for a while longer, and decided to relax for a little longer at the hostel, before writing this very blog.

Tomorrow I’m spending twelve hours on a bus or something ridiculous like that. So that will be fun.

Travel Bucket List

This post will be constantly updated as I get further inspired, and as I get to cross items off. I’m also going to include things I have already seen or done, so I can start the list with a few crosses.

Worldwide

Oceans: 4/5
Seas: 10/141
Continents: 3/7
Countries: 18/198

Trans-Siberian Railway (Russia)

Seven Wonders of the…

Ancient World:
(Obviously most of these have been destroyed, so with the exception of the Pyramids, I’m talking visiting the site, or surviving artifacts. Also, since we’re not sure the Hanging Gardens ever existed, I’m going to replace them with the Ishtar Gate, which appeared on pre-Colossus lists)

Great Pyramid of Giza (Giza, Egypt)
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Izmir Province, Turkey, also plundered artifacts at British Museum)
Statue of Zeus at Olympia (Olympia, Greece)
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Bodrum, Turkey, also plundered artifacts at British Museum)
Colossus of Rhodes (Rhodes, Greece)
Lighthouse of Alexandria (Alexandria, Egypt)
Ishtar Gate (Originally Babylon, Reconstructed in Berlin, Germany, and parts on display at other museums, including the British Museum)

Natural World:
Grand Canyon (Arizona, USA)
Great Barrier Reef (Queensland, Australia)
Harbor of Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Mount Everest (Kathmandu, Nepal)
Aurora Australis and Borealis (Extreme Northern and Southern Hemispheres)
Paricutin Volcano (Uruapan Municipality, Mexico)
Victoria Falls (Border Zimbabwe and Zambia)

Modern World:
Channel Tunnel (Strait of Dover, English Channel)
CN Tower (Toronto, Canada)
Empire State Building (New York City, USA)
Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco Bay, USA)
Itaipu Dam (Border Brazil and Paraguay)
The Netherlands (The Netherlands, Europe)
Panama Canal (Panama)

Other:

(This list is for everything between the Ancient Greeks’ list and the Modern list.)

Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
Great Wall of China (China)
Machu Pichu (Cusco Region, Peru)
Angkor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia)
Petra (Ma’an, Jordan)
Christ The Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Africa:

Countries Stood On: 0/55

Fez Medina (Fez, Morocco)
Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya)
The Valley of Kings (Luxor, Eqypt)
Kruger National Park (South Africa)
Egyptian Museum (Cairo, Egypt)
Karnak (Karnak, Egypt)
Carthage (Tunis, Tunisia)
Luxor Temple (Luxor, Egypt)
Grande Mosquee (Djenne, Mali)
Timbuktu (Mali)
Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia)
Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana)
Matmata (Tunisia)
Roman Amphitheatre (El-Jem, Tunisia)

Asia:

Countries Stood On: 1/49

Lake Baikal (Siberia, Russia)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima, Japan)
Halong Bay (Halong City, Vietnam)
Forbidden City (Beijing, China)
Terracotta Warriors (Shaanxi, China)
Tbilisi Old Town (Tbilisi, Georgia)
Korean DMZ (Border North Korea and South Korea)
Summer Palace (Beijing, China)
Burj Khalifa (Dubai, UAE)
Cu Chi Tunnels (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Persepolis (Iran)
Mt Fuji (Japan)

Europe:

Countries Stood On: 15/51

Aya Sofya (Istanbul, Turkey)
British Museum (London, UK)
Greek Island-Hopping (Aegean Sea, Greece)
Old City Walls (Dubrovnik, Croatia)
Gondola Ride (Venice, Italy)
Acropolis (Athens, Greece)
Charles Bridge (Prague, Czech Republic)
Chateau de Versailles (Versailles, France)
Louvre (Paris, France)
Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)
Pompeii (Naples, Italy)
Old Town Square (Prague, Czech Republic)
Notre-Dame (Paris, France)
Anne Frank House (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Stonehenge (Salisbury Plain, UK)
Berlin Wall (Berlin, Germany)
St Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City)
Red Square (Moscow, Russia)
Giant’s Causeway (Northern Ireland, UK)
Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oswiecim, Poland)
Vatican Museums (Vatican City)

Prinsengracht Canal (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Blue Mosque (Istanbul, Turkey)
Chernobyl/Pripyat (Ukraine)
Schloss Neuschwanstein (Bavaria, Germany)
Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Mont St-Michel (Normandy, France)
Reichstag (Berlin, Germany)
Natural History Museum (London, England)
Cinque Terre (Italy)
Duomo (Milan, Italy)

Gallipoli (Turkey)
Lake Geneva (Geneva, Switzerland)
Casino de Monte Carlo (Monaco)
Normandy Beaches (Normandy, France)
Sedlec Ossuary (Kutna Hora, Czech Republic)
Catherine’s Palace (Tsarskoe Selo, Russia)
Hadrian’s Wall (UK)
Jungfraujoch (Alps, Switzerland)
Brandenburg Gate (Berlin, Germany)
Black Forest (Germany)
Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland)
Flanders Fields (Belgium/France)
Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)

North America:

Countries Stood On: 2/23

Yosemite National Park (California, USA)
Old Havana (Havana, Cuba)
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, USA)
Chichen Itza (Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico)
The Met (New York City, USA)
Niagara Falls (Border Canada and USA)
Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island (New York City, USA)
Disneyland (Anaheim, USA)
Walt Disney World (Orlando, USA)
National Mall (Washington DC, USA)
Underwater Statue Park (Moliniere Bay, Grenada)
Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, USA)
Burgess Shale (British Columbia, Canada)
Blue Hole (Belize)
Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles, USA)

Oceania:

Countries Stood On 1/14
Australian States/Territories: 7/8

Great Ocean Road/Twelve Apostles (Victoria, Australia)
Uluru (Northern Territory, Australia)
Kakadu (Northern Territory, Australia)
Sydney Opera House/Harbour Bridge (Sydney, Australia)
Anakena Beach (Rapa Nui, Chile)
Bay of Islands (New Zealand)
Port Arthur (Tasmania, Australia)

South America:

Countries Stood On: 0/12

Iguazu Falls (Border Brazil and Argentina)
Tikal (Flores, Guatemala)
Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
Angel Falls (Venezuela)
Encontro das Aguas (Manaus, Brazil)
Nazca Lines (Peru)

Introduction

Welcome to That Left Turn At Albuquerque, my attempt at a travel blog.

For the time being, I will be almost entirely focused on my home state of Victoria, Australia. Primarily Melbourne, and my hometown of Geelong, but I’ll try to get to Ballarat and Bendigo too, as well as some of the smaller, regional towns. My plan right now is to build content and a following, while my bank account builds up and I can travel overseas. I’m getting my camera fixed next week, and I’m going to get right into it, with White Night 2015 in Melbourne next weekend.

I’m still getting the hang of WordPress, so expect the theme to change a dozen times in the next few months, until I finally settle on one I like.  Not to mention all the nice little features that make a webpage that much easier to navigate. Bear with me.

Yes, I named my travel blog after something Bugs Bunny said.

Later days,

Cam.