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pre-trip... Trip
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Snowboarding requires your fly to be done up

Lillehammer, Norway

First things first.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that! I trust everyone had a nice time and will get nice and messy on NYE.

So, as per the plan that we made nearly 12 months ago, we ended up in Norway for Xmas. There was however a twist to the story. Rather than spend our time in Oslo, the capital, John and Kath had the idea that it might be nice to go to the snow for Xmas. Having never seen snow on Christmas Day before and not wanting to miss out, we were quick to say yes. Now, being the snow it was necessary to do some kind of snow activity. In my case it was learning to snowboard. Sarah is a very competent skier so she was fine. Mine however was a tale of injury and aching joints!

The train ride to Lillehammer from Oslo is about 2 hours. We were fortunate enough to have an old type train carriage with compartments rather than the new ones that just have seats everywhere. Immediately we commandeered an empty compartment and the hilarity began. I can't really explain what we were giggling about or laughing hysterically for, but it had something to do with a story involving a man being bonked on the head with a plank of wood by his Mrs while she shouted surprise.

Anyways, back to Lillehammer. The little town that we stayed in was called Hafjell, about 20mins out of Lillehammer and John had very kindly organised a 3 bedroom apartment for us. Smashing little place and plenty of room in the fridge.

Second day we went and hired our gear for the snow, one snowboard for me, two skis for Sarah and a pair of boots each. The man in the shop asked Sarah "what size skis do you want?" Sarah replied "I don't know". The man in the shop than said with a rather confused (concerned?) look on his face "you don't do this very often do you?". I on the other hand sounded like the consummate professional as I requested a 154cm snowboard with "ratchet bindings please". It's important to point out at this point that I had never before been snowboarding.

John and Kath were extremely helpful in teaching me. Of course, no amount of teaching makes anyone any good at anything unless you learn something. I was learning the hard way. I did however perfect my technique of giving in to gravity, whereby I would simply throw out my arms and land heavily on my back/butt. I don't care what anyone says. Snow is made of ice. Ice is hard and hurts when you fall on it. The hurting was ok for a while. I did start to get a bit cold though. Of course it wasn't until later that I realised the reason I was getting cold was because the zipper of my snow pants was undone. So everytime I fell down (about 5 or 6 times a minute) snow would get in and make me cold. This took me about four hours on the mountain to figure out. whoops.

So the rest of the trip we spent in our little snow house, getting a bit boozy (it was Xmas after all) and nursing our wounds.

Overall a smashing trip to Norway! John and Kath both spectacular snowboarding teachers and tour guides!


permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on December 29, 2007 from Lillehammer, Norway
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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Back on the blog trail

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Well. So long since an entry. I'd like to say that there has been an awful lot of news, but alas there has sort of been a minimum. What have we been up to? Well, Sarah has been working extremely hard for her brewery people. I think it is appropriate that the reception area at her office is a bar. But. Believe it or not the alcohol intake of this couple has been severely reduced in the last two months or so. Saving up has been a sober experience, that's for sure.

As for myself well. I've been learning all sorts of interesting things while working in the bar. It seems that things don't really change based on where you are in the world in terms of the job of being a bartender. The bar that I work in is one of the busiest bars in the "suburbs" so we have an interesting time. Coming up to Xmas though we've been a little quiet. I guess people are trying to save up money for all those Xmas presents of the screaming kiddies.

We're heading to Norway for Xmas with John and Kath, so watch this space!

permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on December 2, 2007 from Edinburgh, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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Respite from blog

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Just a very short note to say "Thank you" to everyone for reading thus far! We have settled in Edinburgh and will be here for some time. Around 6 months at the moment. This does however mean that the updates are going to be far far less frequent/interesting.

The usual mailing list victims will be notified of any updates if and when they arrive.

Until that time photos may be added at random intervals, or you can find them here:


Take care everyone!


permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on August 16, 2007 from Edinburgh, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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Let's all eat haggis and lard

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

After a nine hour bus ride, I step into the town and instantly feel like I’m at Hogwarts. Considering I caught the bus as opposed the Hogwarts Express, and considering that Hagrid wasn’t there to meet me obviously I was wrong. This town (well, the old part) has turrets, battlements and all manner of old type things that make you feel like you’re in the middle ages somehow. Personally I love it! Only a short walk to the hostel and there were all manner of pointy monuments and stone buildings. It’s truly is beautiful here. The weather is possibly not what I had expected for Summer, although we are quite far North and according to the locals it has been a rather mild Summer. No more tanning, sure, but that’s alright, I think I’ve reached my optimum brown anyways. Although it is fading.

So, for the uninformed, Sarah is working for Scottish and Newcastle, who happen to be one of the largest brewers in the U.K. Although she did apply to the product development section to be a taster, she has found herself working for the accounts people. The number bods required her accounting skills. Testers are apparently not in short supply. Not to worry. Reception at the site where Sarah is working is in fact a bar. It took me quite a while to get sorted with work. After about a week of handing out resumes and people guaranteeing to get back to me via telephone and them not I was lucky enough to score a job about 200 metres from our flat. Oh, by the way, we’re staying in a place called Stockbridge, in the North West of Edinburgh. So I’m back in a bar, which is proving to be a great deal more interesting than staring at a file room for three months, although the hours are slightly less regular! Not to worry, the people and the venue are brilliant, so it should be great fun. I am looking forward to getting down to visit the family, although I think that by then I will be well knackered. Thing is, not working for nine weeks and then going to a job that is all on my feet is proving to be a killer!

The Edinburgh Fest has started this month as well, we’re looking forward to hitting up a few shows. I am most looking forward to “One Man Starwars”. We’ll see. As a total nerd and fan of the franchise I’m interested to see how this chap pulls it off. I mean how can you go from being Yoda to being Chewbacca in one go? I don’t know either, but I’m interested to find out. Also, I’m hoping to find out where he gets his light sabers from, I could do with one “just in case” you know.

Disappointingly I haven’t managed to embarrass myself to much recently. I did launch a small bottle of sparkling mineral water at a customer yesterday. She was very understanding and I didn’t draw blood. They even tipped. Imagine if I hadn’t been so clumsy. I guess we’ll never know.

permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on August 6, 2007 from Edinburgh, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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Lundun innit

London, United Kingdom

Moving from New York to London presents no significant problems. The cities have much in common, although they are of course nothing alike. Something that truly did my head in at JFK however was that there is no outbound customs. Completely different from Australia where the friendly customs service send you off with a smile and “look forward to seeing you again soon”. Nope, just check in, go through the frisking process (which I quite enjoyed) and sit in the departures area at the gates. How bizarre. I was happy to be wearing flip-flops as I always get funny looks when I’m wearing my steel-toed boots on the planes. Usually the X-ray people raise their eyebrows.

Anyways, London is much as I remembered it, full of foreigners. I think had it not been for staying with Matt and Jo, we might not have actually met any English people what so ever! Jo was spectacular and picked us up from the airport. We had purchased some duty free including Bombay Sapphire Gin for Matt and Jo and two litres of Bacardi for ourselves. Sadly the Bacardi was never to make it into our blood stream. We accidentally left it on the baggage trolley in the car park at Heathrow. This was distressing for a few reasons. First of all, we forgot our booze, which would be enough in itself, but when you consider the state of terror alert at airports is quite high, and they insist that you don’t leave ANYTHING un-attended anywhere in the airport, we had pangs of guilt about leaving an unmarked white bag on a trolley. I had visions of an S.O.19 firearms squad surveying the car park, guns drawn and ready. Secondly the though of the bomb disposal robot teetering up to the trolley and safely detonating our Bacardi. What is more likely of course is that come chav trolley boy got his nightly booze action for free. How annoying.

Jo and Matt live quite close to Heathrow, so it was only a short drive til we got in and Jo looked after us sensationally. Fed, boozed and amused. Brilliant. As for the usual tradition of the Hardies getting me to the point of being sick from booze, it did not eventuate on this time around. Trevor the cat did introduce herself (yes, herself) during the week and we were all too pleased to pay out plenty of attention.

As for London activities, well, we popped to Manor House, which is where I used to live and had a Kebab at the best Kebab house in Britain, Yayla. In true kebab form, mine was sick all over my crotch. Garlic sauce on blue shorts, just near the flies, in the middle of the day looks incriminating for so many reasons. Sarah was entirely amused until her kebab was sick on her as well. Fortunately it was not quite as sick as mine was, so she was spared the embarrassment of garlic sauce on the crotch. We also took in the usual sights, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Picadilly Circus etc etc. The weather was decidedly not English so we managed to get somewhat of a tan, which was a pleasant surprise. We also made the pilgrimage to Belushi’s in Covent Garden where the Corona’s are always two for one before 8pm. It’s quite easy to over indulge in the heat with cheap Coronas. There were however no nudie runs, much to my dismay.

Sarah left for Edinburgh for job interviews and house hunting four days later and I pretty much exhausted Sky+ at Matt and Jo’s until I moseyed on up behind her. Tell you about that next! Big thank yous to Jo and Matt for everything!

permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on August 5, 2007 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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A city that never sleeps

New York, United States

There seems like so much to do in New York, and there really is! Cliched, sure, but true all the same. We arrived in to the bus station sometime in the afternoon and were aghast at how stupidly and insanely large this joint was. About 87 gates for buses. Buses EVERYWHERE. As we've already discussed the general clientele of Greyhound USA, I think you can probably appreciate why I superglued my wallet to the inside of my underpants. Strangely, for being so large, NYC is actually rather easy to navigate. The subway isn't quite as handy as the tube, but it's pretty impressive and it does run 24 hours! Broadway is every bit as movie like as you can imagine. I did look in Central Park for the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, but I couldn't find her. I can never remember if it's Streets or Avenues that go North South?

Our hostel/hotel was rather pleasant and on Broadway, which by the way is a VERY long road. So we got in, settled and went exploring. I can understand why they made Central Park so massive. They have so many people that don't have gardens or anything, all jammed into this city, so they need somewhere for them to play baseball, and somewhere to take their dogs. So it is rather community friendly and the ambience quite unique. The hot dog venders were a bit of a disappointment to me though, I was expecting thick NY accents and barrels of attitude. Sadly there wasn't any NY accent (more central asian) and they were extremely helpful and friendly! I'm not complaining, but I am surprised! We walked all the way from our hostel to times square on the first night and ended up in Toys'R'Us. I wouldn't ordinarily mention this, however, there was an INDOOR ferris wheel. That's crazy I hear you say, well wait there's more. They also have a full size(ish) Barbie fun house. I was kinda impressed and disturbed at the same time that there is Oktoberfest Barbie. By the looks of her, she'd have trouble carrying a dozen steins of pilsner in a beer tent, but she would be popular with the lads. Sarah said that people would look at me funny if I kept wearing the Optimus Prime helmet in the store, so I took it off. I didn't buy it either. But I did keep pressing the button that made the helmet say "Megatron must be stopped!". Sweet. I hope Santa reads this.

Unfortunantely it feels like we really didn't get to do much stuff while we were in NY, there is just so much to do. We did manage to get to the Met Museum of art though. I don't know anything about art, but I'm reasonably sure that if you take a piece of canvas, stretch it over a funny shaped timber frame, paint it deep blue and call it "Blue Canvas" you're not an artist, you're a knob. That said, there were some absolutely stunning pieces of art.

With so much history as well. My favourite part was the arms and armour section, they had suits of armour that were hundreds of years old, with the most ornate and intricate metal work I have ever seen. They did look difficult to get off if you needed to evacuate your bladder mid-battle. Much to my dismay they had taken the handles off some very old and beautiful Japanese swords. I meant to ask why they did that, but I forgot and/or was to lazy. After about four and a half hours of walking around we'd seen nearly a fifth of the entire place, but our legs were getting a bit tired, so we called it a day. We did leave feeling more cultured than when we walked in, that's for sure. I think I'm going to make strange shaped canvases, paint them one colour and sell them for a million dollars each, anyone interested in purchasing one, please feel free to email me through this site.

Other fun things that we did included: going to Staten Island to go past the Statue of Liberty, Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot (more fun than it sounds), and uhmm.... eating lots of bacon cheeseburgers from the fast food joint around the corner from the hostel, and going to Wall Street. Got the American Psycho feeling from the place though... Wasn't nice. But a very pretty building.

Next week join us for London!

permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on July 5, 2007 from New York, United States
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
tagged NewYork

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Long time between drinks. Not for me.

Boston, United States

Well, I've been extremely lazy updating this thing, so here goes with a bit of a rant and blog.

Let me tell you about the best bus trip in the world.

The first thing that you have to do, is be in Ottawa, Canada. Not an unpleasant bus station at all actually. I wouldn't say that it's the Taj Mahal of bus stations, but it is clean, there is coffee and generally speaking it's "nice". Ok, the second thing you need to do is get the bus to Boston MA via Syracuse NY. The bus to Syracuse will probably be empty, or have very few people on it. When you cross the border form Canada to the U.S. explain your prescription drugs and dual passports to the border guard. They have guns, so don't piss them off. If you're female, I highly recommend putting your toiletries in a highly accessible section of your bag. If you're lucky enough to get a male customers officer, the shade of scarlet that he'll turn when he searches your things is priceless. Thanks to Sarah for that one. Ok, now, get back on the bus assuming that they've not found those couple of keys of Charlie that you're obviously smuggling in... Well, I suppose that you're probably going to try and work in the states illegally (every body wants to according to the border guard). Right anyways. Get back on the bus, and a couple of hours later find yourself in lovely Syracuse NY. You have to change buses here. The distinctive smell of urine coming from the terminal is just delightful. Also, the crack addicts who work at Subway (EAT FRESH!) will be very helpful when they make your sandwich. Ok. You're halfway there. Only 10 more hours to Boston! You're jumping on a bus that's come from Toronto, so there will already be people on it. Lots of people. Well, not like it's full or anything but if the bus is half full and those people all take up more than one seat then i guess you could say that the bus is full. If the familiar smell of urine is not present on this Greyhound bus, you're probably in the wrong place. Don't panic when the driver shuts the CAGE DOOR that seperates you from the front of the bus. No no no, it doesn't put him in a sealed section, it sections off the passenger bit from the door. Reassuring when it comes to having a crash actually. For the next ten hours try do stem the flow of water onto your thing because people take cups of water and put them under their seats. I read recently in TIME magazine the Americans are boycotting drink bottles as the contents doesn't spill out when they're tipped over. Also, apparently "the bathroom" in a greyhound bus in it's entirity is for collecting wee. Accidently pished on the floor? Don't worry! It's meant to be like that. Apparently. Of course, this can flow into the passenger section. And that's how it should be right? After 10 hours... YOU'VE MADE IT!

Boston is nothing like a greyhound bus in the states. I couldn't smell wee, and for most of the time people weren't spilling into the area that I was sitting on. If I was sitting down that is! We had an awesome time here. Sterotypes really were blown out of the water here for me. It was nothing like the US that we know and love from Hollywood. I suppose that's a given. London contrary to popular folk stories called "East Enders" isn't full of people selling lighters, 5 for a paaand. So I guess it follows about the states. The HI hostel there really is nice and if you get there and have the chance, pop and get pizza from the one around the corner from the hostel. $4 for a pitcher of beer! Brilliant!

We arrived and went straight to the Samuel Adams brewery for a tour. It was pretty fun, we were actually touring a research and development brewery, which was interesting. Apparently Samuel Adams beer has won awards in Australia. I had not heard of it before going to the states. Whatever. It was good as the tour was free and so was the beer. They gave us a glass to keep as well. While we were in the tasting room a young chap (who apparently was by himself) sat opposite Sarah and I. He seemed to be somewhat inexperienced in beer pouring though. Now get me wrong, if you open a bottle of beer and it stats to spray everywhere, by all means, stick it in your mouth and get loads of grief from your mates for looking like you're performing sexual favours to your beer. BUT if you can't poor a beer and some froths up and spills over the table, do not under any circumstances slurp it off the table. That's what our inexperienced beer pouring friend did. Delightful.

permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on July 4, 2007 from Boston, United States
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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I think we should buy a toaster

Quebec, Canada

"Je ne parle pa francais". I remember that from French. To be more precise, I remember that from year seven French taught by Madam Parker. She was a nasty lady. Probably still is. So, when I say I don't speak French, it's probably very lucky that there are so many people in French-Canadia that speak enough English for us to get by! Phew! Montreal was a hoot, Quebec was... Interesting. Arriving at the hostel, we were greated by a nice lady who gave us our things (sheets etc) and told us that it was essential that we put our "valuables" in the safe. Incidentily, the safe was in fact a locked cupboard. I was a little concerned about her enthusiasm for having all of our valuables in the one place and was even further alarmed when we were told that there were no locks on the doors. So, this was essentially the safest or more accurately, the most secure hostel in the world. No problem, just walk in, no security, walk up the stairs, to a room that doesn't have a lock on it, pick up whatever you would like and off you go, into the street. We moved the next day to one of the best hostels that I've stayed in. Enough griping! Quebec city is a much more stunning place than I had ever imagined. Even the bus station there is awesome! Like some kind of spired bat-mansion that Bruce Wayne would be all too happy to live in! Awesome! The city itself has loads of history about it, which I'm not going into, but trust me, it was impressive. So if Montreal was like Europe, then I'm not entirely sure how I would describe Quebec city. The buildings were AWESOME, the castle/hotels were beautiful and the locals were extremely friendlly. We ended up staying a whole extra day, although to be perfectly honest, after that long we were struggling with the French. It was at that point that Sarah suggested we buy a toaster. That's not going to help your Frecnch I hear you say. No, but Sarah though that it might save us some money, after all, she doesn't like sandwiches, but she does like toast. More on that later.

We spent most of our time in Quebec city wandering around, the whole place is a warren, not like from Broady, more like how the rabbits make. So there were endless lanes, alleyways and general winding roads to explore. The first night that we were there, we decided that we were going to go and watch the sun set. I thought this was a brilliant and romantic idea. When we arrived at the most Western point of the city with the sun going down, we were a little surprised to see that the most beautiful sun setting I have ever seen was punctuated by power lines and tower blocks. Still, it was lovely. What I think I have enjoyed most about Quebec and Quebec city has been the contrast with the rest of Canada. The currency is the same and the federal government is the same, but the people just seem so completely different. It's amazing. There are probably so many similarities between French-Canada and Europe that there isn't enough time to talk about it here, but if you have the time or the inclination then I highly recommend coming here for a looky see.

So Sarah suggests we buy a toaster. I laugh. Heading back towards Boston, we get the greyhound, just like we have every other time we've gone from one city to another on this trip. I told her, sure, not a problem, as long as you're going to carry it. When we got to Ottawa there were some more passengers with some kitchen utensils and one of them happened to be a crock pot. Had Sarah decided to purchase her toaster then the only thing that would have been missing for a whole kitchen was the kitchen sink.

permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on July 1, 2007 from Quebec, Canada
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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chirpy birds must die

Montreal, Canada

Well, a very good morning to everyone. It is now about 6:30am, which is a whole hour past when I dragged myself out of bed this morning. I know, it's not the bird's fault that it has to chirp it's happy little chirping. Nor is it the bird's fault that I had a skin full last night and am now hung over, but I would just like for it to stop. For just a few minutes. Not to worry. Montreal has been sensational to say the least! We arrived and instantly booked another night (seeing as we couldn't find 2 days worth of stuff to do at Niagara Falls). Having walked around a bit and done some general meandering, we booked two more nights! Brilliant!So of course, Montreal is in Quebec, and they speak French here. My Quizical looks at the beggars asking me for money in French (either that or making interesting fashion commentry and asking to be paid for their opinions) told them that I was a foreigner, so they had to start the whole story again in English. The answer still a resounding "Non". Still, I was impressed with their language skills. The place is nothing like anywhere else that we've been in Canada. The architechture, logically, is much more "French" and the booze is at European prices (*cheep*). Sarah and I were naturally at home. Or so we thought. Possibily the most bizare scene I have ever happened across was in one of the parks near where we are staying. Picture this, there is shouting and fighting and general chaos. You prentend you're dead until everyone else is "dead" on the battle field and then you start all over again. Yep, knights in plate armour, weilding what appeared to be swords and other such weapons made from pool noodle material were belting the shit out of each other, pretending to be dead, then doing it ll over again! Hilarious! The dudes in the armour were obviously serious about their hobby, and there was plenty of effort in the costumes, so we were rather impressed. I know pool noodles don't really hurt, but I still wouldn't like to have one wrapped around my head. So while all of this excitement is going on, about 200 meters away, a cannibis-haze is floating into the sky from a drumming cirlce. I thought it was impromtu, but the locals later told us that it was in fact a weekly event, as was the noodle fighting. So, basically, for a good time in Montreal, take your pool noodle swords and your drum to the park, and when you're done beating the hell out of the other noodle flingers, you can go and drum with the hippies! Fantastic. I was absolutely gutted that I had left both my bogos and my pool noodle sword at home. Not to worry.Still, with all the excitement, we've had plenty of time for relaxing. Moving on today to Quebec city, which apparently should be interesting as not as many people speak English. I was entertained greatly by an Australian girl in the bus station informing everyone that the Quebec locals spoke very "poor" English. Yes, love, that's right, they speak FRENCH. Although daunted, we're not going to let it stop us doing anything. We have purchased a phrase book, quite useful actually, and Sarah will no doubt pick it up pretty quickly. Apparently there are quite a few similarities between French and Spanish, so should be no problem. Otherwise, I hope all are well and not too boozed! Take it easy.


permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on June 26, 2007 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: To infinity!.. and... beyond... uh.....
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My friend's got three kidneys.

Niagara Falls, Canada

From Toronto, the bus ride to Niagara Falls is actually only two hours. There are lots of ways to get there, you can pay for any number of tours etc etc. We opted for the cheap way, left our hostel in the morning and headed to the Greyhound station with all of hour stuff. Sarah had no faith that we would arrive on time, but with a few shouts of "MUSH" from me we arrived with two minutes to spare. Having planned on storing our stuff in lockers at the Toronto Greyhound station, we didn't have enough time, so we legged it to the bus and had our un-friendly driver begrudgingly allow us on the bus. Poor guy really. My bag is nearly 30kg and he had to load in ito the hold. Sucker. That's what you get for being a miserable bastard if you ask me. I better look out. Although we slept for more or less the entire bus ride there, we woke up in time to see the "whirlpool" out the bus window and started getting excited.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I was skeptical about going to this place. Being so close to the US border I was prepared for the ignorance army and loud voices declaring "WOW, HARV YOUUU EVERRR SEEN ANYTHANG LIAKE THAT MAVIS WHOOOOOWWEEEEEE!!!". It was going to end up that I was not surprised. The falls themseves are impressive, sure. What the photos don't show though are what was directly behind us, including, but not limited to: Casinos, Planet Hollywood (possibly the most rude building in the landscape), any number of giant hotels and general unpleasant tourist traps. Now, I don't want to be one of those "Holier than though art" backpackers who thinks they're the bees knees cause they've been somewhere that doesn't have a McDonalds, but the city-scape really did take away from the natural beauty of the falls. It was rather amusing to see all the lemmings in their ponchos go out on the boats into the mist, and the scale of the falls compared to the boats was INSANE, but we didn't make it out onto the water. Looked too dangerous for me. Sarah was encouraging me, which means that there was probably a high risk of death anyways.
We had our lunch in the park and got harrassed by local seagulls, but that was alright. Heading to the whirlpool for a closer look found us stopping and looking at some Artisant glass blowing thing. Sarah was impressed, but to be honest I was bored. They just kept rolling it backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Not much blowing involved really. The Niagara whirlpool was an anti-climax. To say the least. If you have the time, don't waste it by going there.


permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on June 25, 2007 from Niagara Falls, Canada
from the travel blog: pre-trip... Trip
tagged Niagara

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