I'm struggling to find a beginning to this blog. I want to do a summary of my trip to Canada and the US, to try and convey the different vibes of the places I went, without resorting to bland descriptions like 'the next day I went to Niagara Falls. There was a lot of water and it was amazing'. However, I'm finding it difficult to really get across what I want to say.
Now, I am aware that the only thing more boring than a bland travel narrative is a blog about someone who is trying and failing not to write a boring travel narrative, so my idea to simply to describe key points, and leave out all the intervening... not crap, exactly, but you have no need to know the details of my hotels or the lengths of my bus rides. So, here goes.
Toronto: downtown is like any other city downtown, bland and boring. The area I stayed reminded me a lot of Wellington City, a bit too trendy for its own good, with an edge. The hobos yelling at each other definitely gave it an edge. I tried Poutine, which was a treat (it's chips and gravy and cheese). I also tried walking around town during a Bluejays game wearing a Yankees cap, in contrast to the six thousand or so blue-clad Canadians who gave me the evil eye as I walked past their sports bars. There was a Hooters, too, but I gave it a miss. This is my one true Canadian regret.
Niagara Falls: what can I say that isn't already on a postcard? Spectacular, with a few odd mini malls nearby where you can buy boring Canadian t-shirts and endless maple syrup. I did pick up some of the latter, as well as an O Henry! bar, which was excellent, by the way. The town itself seemed dead or dying, as if the world were like 'yeah, the Falls, we get it already', but maybe it was just the wrong season.
Buffalo: was just a bus depot to me, but I met a nice American lady who made excellent chocolate milk. The accents started to change and the air was humid.
New York: well, the bus chugged along for a long time, and then there it was. Beautiful. I'd been before so I was aware of the buzz, but when I stepped off the coach and walked the streets again it was amazing. There is a vibe about that city that I easily get caught up in. I'm saying, find me an American wife so I can move there. I dropped my bags at the hotel and just wandered around. This was 11pm, but everyone was still awake, and it was blissfully hot. Got a slice and Coke. Heaven.
The following day was the zoo, where I missed the chance to see an elephant for the first time in my life. This was quickly followed by baseball: the game itself was average, but the stadium was great, and the beer and cheesesteak excellent. Oh, and I wore shorts that day for the first time in a long time.
The day after was a Greenwich Village food tour, where we got to sample delicacies and see the outside of the building which pretends to be the building in Friends but isn't, as well as other historical tidbits.
Philadelphia: a day trip. I didn't get to do the famous run up those steps, but I did get to see the Liberty Bell (smaller than you'd expect), to visit the Constitution Center, and to get all inspired and let-me-buy-a-copy-of-the-Constitution-y. It really is a great document, despite how things have gone with it since, and the Bill of Rights in particular is beautiful. I also went to Reading Street Market for a cheesesteak, and went back twice more, for crepes and then ice cream. Comic con was on while I was there (if only I had known!), and I saw plenty of potential wives dressed as Batgirl or Huntress or even the TARDIS.
Back to New York: the wedding day, and what a great wedding. The boring bits cut down, and stuffed full of dancing, with free candy and glow sticks to boot. The food was excellent, which was becoming a theme (and rightly so, given my prior declaration that I would 'stuff my face' on this trip - hold back on that wife for a second: if I lived in the US, I'd probably be morbidly obese). Shelley was beautiful, and she looked so happy. I got a milkshake at 3am, and then got the subway home. Yes, it runs all night.
The rest of the days were spent doing touristy things, shopping for some presents for family, and digging around comic book stores. I also did the Guggenheim and the MoMA, which I am glad I did, but wouldn't do again. Modern art really is a scam. I soaked up the sun and started craving smoothies and fruit after all the pancakes and burgers. I wandered around Macy's and Central Park, Grand Central and the USS Intrepid. The latter was amazing, a retired US aircraft carrier, if you like that sort of thing. I walked through Hell's Kitchen and across to Times Square, and tell you, there really is nothing like stopping into a pub for the coldest, most refreshing pint you've ever tasted, after an hour's walk in the hot New York sun.
NYC definitely the highlight, but Canada was interesting. I think to really appreciate it I'd have to do the great outdoors there. Maybe it'd give NZ a run for its money. And NYC really does give London a run for hers. What a city. As I said, I am now on the lookout for a greencard. If you know a Yank who fits the bill, who is super cute and into quirky Australasians, tell her to look me up. I promise I'll lay off the pancakes for her.