24 September

‘How are you?’

I’ve been in Los Angeles a week now and everyone I encounter is keen to know how I am.  I have never been asked about my well being quite so much in such a short space of time.  Of course it’s the American way.  Part of the service one gets here. Walking into a shop, buying coffee, ordering lunch, wandering around the supermarket, they all ask the same thing. After Hello or Hi, these are the next three words spoken. It took me a couple of days to get use to this, the first few times after the  initial hello I was already into my question/order/query.  What they refer to here as ‘British politeness’  made me stop and tell the questioner that ‘I was fine thank you’, and ‘how were they’? before I continued.

Now to think this is just a robotic reaction from one human providing a service, to another human taking that service is, I would suggest, wrong. Rather is it part of the process of interaction that occurs here, it’s all about establishing a relationship between human strangers in an extraordinary short space of time and for me it works.  When I ordered my coffee this morning I waited for those three words to be spoken so I could reply and then give my order.  I quite like being asked by a complete strangers about my well being, I admit I am biased, because I love it here. Welcome to America.

I have been staying in a hotel two minutes walk from Santa Monica beach, I don’t need to tell you how beautiful this is you can see for yourself from these photos.

There is a promenade that runs the whole length of the beach and here, like many other beaches in the world, one sees the daily routine of people who frequent it.  There are dog walkers, joggers, skate boarders, cyclists, skaters, and walkers, who at times are so prolific that there are specific crossings for pedestrians not participating in such activities to enable them to get from one side of the beach to the other. There are surfers in the sea,  yogis doing their thing on the sand on little blankets, homeless people asleep, sun lovers stretched out roasting their skins, and the odd person shouting that the end of the world is coming soon, to a place near you.  Well perhaps they see these notices, dotted along the beach, as more of a prediction than a warning.

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Regular readers of this blog will know I am partial to a produce stall, there is a farmers market in Santa Monica on Wednesday, and these were my favourite stalls.

I’ve had awful jetlag, (yes I can hear you sympathising with me as I type!) since I’ve been here. As someone who takes a week to adjust to the clocks moving forward or back an hour in the UK, an eight hour time difference on top of 3 days of poor sleep before I left the UK has meant that I have really struggled with the time difference.  So I have been sleeping at odd times in the day and awake at three most mornings, worry not though!, I am coming through it and a couple more days and I will be sorted. During my waking hours I have done lots of walking and exploring the area. I  visited the Santa Monica History Museum, it’s quite small, but does give a flavour of the history of the place. I went on the Pier, which tends to dominate the eastern landscape of the beach, has a mini fun fair and whose lights at night, flash like beacons to tempt people to come and ride it, or for me to use as a landmark to work out where I am.

It’s my last day in Santa Monica, this afternoon I am moving inland a bit so the last couple of days have been spent around the beach area. I will only be a short subway ride away, but anticipate that there will be lots of new things to explore so thought I would make the most of it only being a short walk away. This morning the sunrise turned the sky this lovely colour and tempted me out of bed for an early coffee and walk along the beach.

I got to the beach around seven thirty this morning and there was already surfers in the sea, joggers etc. out, making the most of the cooler temperature, this weekend is going to be in the nineties, a mini heatwave  according to the weather people.

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There is something mesmerising about the sea, it’s very calming watching the water wash up over the sand, birds digging around for their breakfast, while black suited bodies balance on boards. Simple. Sunny. Stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 September

It’s my last day in the UK today.  I am flying to Los Angles tomorrow for three months. I am rather excited. LA was where I fell in love with the American lifestyle and so after a lot of thought and research I’ve decided this is where I am going on my next adventure.

I’m going to continue using this blog, although I won’t be posting every day, I will be doing posts when I have something to write about, I think it’s likely to be at least once a week.  If you are a regular reader of this then you may want to think about signing up for alerts when I post something to save you keep checking to see if there is a post.  I also want to thank you if you have made comments, it is really lovely to hear from you. This blog was a first for me, and actually I have really enjoyed sharing my travels with you, so I do hope you will continue to follow me so you can see what I get up to next……..

29 August

 

Since my last post I have spent a couple of weeks chilling with my sister in East Sussex. Despite the fact that she works full time and is building a house we managed to get some quality time together, we went for coffees, one of my favourite things to do, and we also went blackberry picking. It was something we did as children and it was lovely to do this again as it took us back forty years to when we lived near the New Forest and would spend hours collecting the berries for our mother to make jam, and blackberry and apple pies and crumbles.

We also spent one afternoon at Rudyard Kipling’s house, the weather was perfect for strolling around the grounds and chatting about things that sisters chat about, and having coffee and cake.

I returned to London to catch up with friends and as I wandered around I was reminded of how lovely this city is.  So I’ve put a few shots up for readers who haven’t been to London. I caught up with friends, my niece also came down for the day and we had a few cocktails.

Today I travelled back to my sisters to stay until I fly to Los Angeles.

 

 

Day 105 July 31

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 81

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 10    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 9    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


So my 105 days trip is now over.

I have now been to  all the countries left on my bucket list, 12 of the 14 I visited on this trip were on my list, and I am now in lovely London. It does feel a bit weird not having to be somewhere to catch a flight/train/car or to meet a guide.  I can’t quite believe it’s over, the sight of a red double decker bus when I look out of the window of the flat I am staying in for a couple of days, confirms to me that it is. Well what a trip it was, I loved it, it has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

The questions I have been asked the most about this trip is which of the countries and places I visited, were the best. So I’ve done a review of the trip across a range of topics. I saw stunning scenery and wonderful sights every day, so these are the very best of what was an absolutely fabulous 105 days.

With regard to countries I couldn’t choose between, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela. These four were my favourites, are all very different, very individual, and offer a variety of experiences, sights, culture and landscapes, the people are welcoming and friendly, the food is amazing and I liked the vibe of the places I visited.

With places/sights, I have split these into two groups, natural and human made. The best natural are Perito Moreno Glacier, Copper Canyon and Iguazu Falls and human  is Machupicchu.

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The best views/landscapes were: Copacabana beach and the city of Rio from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, the city of La Paz from a cable car;  Torres del Paine National Park; Los Roques Archipelago; the Sacred Valley of the Incas; Hato el Cedral Ranch; Southern Iceland; Copper Canyon; Macchupicchu; Lake Titicaca from Sun Island and Puerto Natales.

Some of the stand out experiences, from all the brilliant things I did were: the Copper Canyon train journey; the train journey from Puno to Cusco; getting so close to wildlife at Hato el Cedral Ranch; staying in the Amazon jungle; sailing to icebergs and glaciers and seeing geysers and hot springs.

So what next? well my original plan was to move to Asia, when I was somewhere in South America I felt that wasn’t right for me, however I didn’t know what did feel right for me until I got to Boston. I have been in love with the American lifestyle for years and going to Boston reminded me how much I love America.  So this will be my next trip, I  don’t know where yet, all I know is it will be in the US of A.

Day 104 July 30

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 81

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 10    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 9    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


Early start today to catch our train to Paris. We have had beautiful weather here, however this morning was a bit overcast and one could see the rain falling in the distance, highlighted by the rising sun.

With goodbyes said we were dropped off at the train station for our 4 hour journey to Paris. In Paris Erol and I said our goodbyes too, as I was getting the Eurostar to London and he was flying to Budapest.  I use Eurostar because it is convenient, however I liken the experience to one of being herded like cattle onto the trains, quite vile.

I arrive in London around 4pm, not sure if it feels good to be back in the UK or not……

Day 100, 101, 102, 103 July 26, 27, 28, 29

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 80

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 8    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 7    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


It’s a joy staying here.  I have done much of the same these last four days.  At some point in the day we will drive some where, and on route I will take photos of the countryside as we whizz around the roads in the car. It is a beautiful part of France.

Evenings usually start with a glass of fizzy, followed by a few more, and some delicious food cooked by Lucy, and end in good conversation, sometimes a game of cards, or a quiz and laughter, there is always laughter. Utter bliss.

One day we popped into the local village to have lunch at a new restaurant, which is also a nut museum, we had a quick look around the quirky museum after our lunch, which was delicious. The rest of the days were spent relaxing in these beautiful, tranquil surroundings, such a lovely way to end my hectic travels.

 

 

 

Day 99 July 25

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 76

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 8    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 7    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


This week is going to be very different from the rest of my trip, I’m here to spend time with friends, so I’m not doing any sightseeing, although just taking in the scenery here while being driven around could be considered as such.  This is a beautiful, tranquil part of the world and it’s good to get into the rhythm of the place by just chilling, in these surroundings.

Apart from a trip to the supermarket, I have spent most of today updating this as I didn’t have time to do it in Iceland, we packed so much into our days. The day ended with chatting, eating and drinking with friends, fabulous!

 

Day 98 July 24

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 74

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 8    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 7    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


Early start to catch our train for our four hour journey to Brive  where Lucy was waiting to collect us for the drive to Saillac. We are staying in their gite for a few days.  They had friends over for dinner and we got rather tipsy, it was a lovely start to the week, sunshine, good company, great food,  lots of fizzy and this rather splendid view.

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Day 97 July 23

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 73

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 8    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 6    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


After a late start this morning we spent the day mooching around Paris.  Even though we have both been here several times I still took some photos, Paris has beautiful buildings.

We interrupted our mooching with coffees, sorbet and lunch. We went into a department store, to get a gift for a friend, it provided great views over the city and this rather ornate domed ceiling.

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We had a stroll along the Seine where we managed to get a cooling breeze to give us some respite from the heat of the pavements.

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I took rather a lot of photos of Notre Dame,

then we had a late supper near the hotel. And that was Paris.

Day 96 July 22

Countries 14    Hotels 44    Cars 73

Flights 28:flying time 81.24 hours

Rickshaw 4    Bus 13    Elephant 1    Boat 14

Cog-wheel train 2    Cable car 8    Subway 8    Ferry 2

Minibus 37    Coach 2    Catamaran 1    Funicular 3

Pick up truck 5    Land Cruiser 8    Hydrofoil 4

Llama 1    Cycle Taxi 1    Train 6    Motorised Canoe 9

Canoe 2    Sightseeing truck 1    Sightseeing bus 10

Golf cart taxi 2


Our last day in Iceland, after breakfast we went to the Volcano Museum. It sounds really boring, however there were examples of volcanic rocks, photos of volcanos erupting  and we watched a film about volcanic activity on the island.  There was also some stunning aerial footage of Iceland. We drove to the airport for our afternoon flight to Paris. We arrived in Paris around 9 pm, caught the train to the hotel, freshened up and went out. We did some cultural research in the form of cocktail sampling, got quite tipsy and went dancing until 4am, welcome to Paris.