Travelling abroad

Las Vegas New York New York Statue of Liberty on blue skyI consider myself a bit of an expert traveller, well an expert at finding good deals for great hotels. I like to think I am pretty good at choosing good destinations as well, as we have never run into any trouble whilst away. We manage pretty well abroad, trying out local languages and cuisines and we do try to understand local customs. Which can be a bit of a trying point for British travellers. We have a bit of a bad reputation when travelling.

Because we are planning to go to the USA next year, we thought we might have a bit of an in-depth look at the country. I mean, it’s pretty similar to the UK, however unlike the UK laws differ from state to state. Some laws, seem pretty much common sense and other well there really is no sense there what so ever.

Whilst I was looking into the US and all its craziness, I came across this article: Guess Who Has The Most Intimidating Border Control Officials? Which is based on research by IXP Visas, it shows the USA as having the most intimidating border control officials. Topping the list with the UAE, Mexico and Canada falling below them. Out of all the countries in the World, the UK makes it onto this list too in 6th place.

It is a bit of a concern going to the US, I have seen a number of stories on US sites about heavy handed border officials, the TSA. Groping and searching elderly passengers, disabled passengers and even children. They have also been caught ogling at women going through their x ray scanners and taking them aside for a pat down as well.

Those who answered the questions about why they found the US official intimidating was because they had; “obvious weaponry on display,” a “lack of humour,” and a general “intimidating demeanour.” Still it won’t put me off travelling there, I will just have to remember to behave, bite my tongue and try not to look suspicious. Perhaps I should shave my beard beforehand.

Image courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

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Holidays in 2014

Road Trip!As the weather turned for the worst this week, the wife and I realised (shock and horror) we hadn’t got a holiday booked. Normally when we take a holiday we have another one booked. However at the moment we don’t even have anything planned for next year. We do like to plan ahead as well as take last minute breaks however at the moment, we have no ideas.

The wife suggested popping into town and getting a load of brochures, but as it was raining I decided against that and so go the laptop out and we sat down scrolling though holiday websites looking for inspiration. We have been really lucky in the last few years to visit some wonderful destinations, from South Africa to the Caribbean and a few guys/girls holidays in between.

So the question is where we shall go next. We are torn, for a big holiday in the US together but where. There are a number of places we wish to visit in America, unfortunately given the expanse of the country we couldn’t visit them all in one visit. So we have to look and see which ones we can do in one year. We have narrowed it down to the Atlantic Coast, The Pacific Coast and Route 66.

The Atlantic Coastal Route takes you from New York, down to Florida. This is the wife’s preferred route. She wishes to take a cruise ship across to New York (Cunard One) and spend a few days there taking in the sites and shopping. We then drive down hitting points such as Virginia, Wilmington, Daytona Beach and Miami before landing in Key West. It also means we can take in sites in Washington DC, many historical sites and of course Cape Canaveral and Disney World in Orlando.

On the other side of the country you have the Pacific Coast. This journey sees you starting in just below Canada, in the Olympia National Park. This route has some fabulous scenery to take in and some wonderful national parks along the way. Popular cities along the way include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. I’d like to hit, Yosemite National Park along the way as well as really would like to drive around the Pacific Coast High Way!

Probably the most famous road in the world, the Route 66 has inspired movies and songs alike as well as been an important US route across America. The Road takes you from Los Angeles to Chicago, one city on my wife’s list and one on mine as must visit places. There are a lot of places to visit along this trail, some there before the route and some came after it was built. It’s certainly a trek and quite adventurous, we can hit Las Vegas (I’ve been but the wife hasn’t), through the Zion National Park and a great insight into the history of the country, across the states of Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa, finish in ‘The Windy City’

As you can see, even with these three options, it’s quite a decision. So we have both thought we would head out for lunch somewhere nice to mull it over……

Bear on a Road Trip Image Courtesy of -snugg-

 

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Cheap holidays low standards?

Another week and another news story of some kid dying/killing themselves after falling off a Balcony in Spain or some other cheap booze fuelled holiday destination. So far I don’t think there has been as many as last year, but you have to admit these kinds of destinations attract a certain type of clientele. I mean basically plain stupid people who can’t handle their booze or have no self-control to stop.

It’s sad that people lose their lives though just from losing control through drinking so much. Deaths like this are so unavoidable, as injuries through fighting and women sexually assaulted. But it’s also embarrassing to have this reputation as tourists when we visit countries.

Really how hard is it to at least behave or act like a civilised human being when on holiday abroad, where are some of us Brits incapable of doing that? TV show which was on last year, Kos – Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, highlighted what kids get up to when they take their first holiday abroad. Much to the astonishment of their parents, enjoy the video below:

http://youtu.be/e8QlMRQvFnM

It’s not a good advertisement for the UK and to a certain extent puts me off taking a cheap Spanish break over the summer. I was looking in Spain, Benidorm again and found that the Benidorm Plaza Hotel is quite cheap and would be ideal for a break in the sun with the missus. I went to Benidorm in June for a few days to catch up with my dad, who was there on holiday (he lives in South Africa). It wasn’t too bad when I went in June, mainly because there weren’t too many kids/teens out there then, however I worry that they will be out there now, pissing me off.

Benidorm is partly a party destination but it also advertises itself as a family resort as well, so you would think you could keep away from dick heads, well you would hope so. The problem is it could be the cheap holidays, perfect for students who don’t have much money to spend, coupled with cheap booze and offers in the pubs/clubs, it attracts low standards

 

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Catching up

I have just returned from a few days in Benidorm with my dad, I still have a hangover from this holiday. As I have been feeling a little worse for wear I haven’t been up too much this weekend. Apparently I can’t hold my liquor as well as I used to be able to and neither can my dad. Yes we were the two lobster pink men propping ourselves up at the bar and yes my wife was glad she didn’t join us and no I doubt I have learnt any lessons from this holiday.

On the plus side it was great catching up with my dad, it’s been nearly a year since I last saw him. The weather was also pretty good as was the booze and entertainment. We weren’t up all night in the clubs but did spend most days drinking until late. There are plenty of bars in Benidorm all offering drink deals so you can understand how we drank so much and how young kids get plastered.

small-football.jpgI thought when I came back there might be some transfer news or chatter for Leeds, but as of yet, nada. The only news on the BBC site is that McDermott is happy with the home start we have. Yeah that’s would be great if we buy some great players! I was shocked to see that Gus Poyet was sacked by Brighton, live on air, not very professional from the club in my opinion. Apparently Poyet had not received anything from the club, which they deny and first heard about the sacking when handed a copy of the Brighton statement. He was on set with the BBC during the match between Spain and Nigeria. Poyet had been suspended by the club last month; he was subject to a disciplinary hearing last week

The premier League transfer news bores me. Much of what is said is purely rumours at this time. Unless a club comes out and confirms a transfer then I won’t believe anything. I am also already bored of Mourinho there is too much hype there. I am glad Ferguson is gone, no stupid mind games between the pair. I’m not sure he can build a great team over the summer, not sure how many players will stay or go. The same for Citeh, they look like they will have to off load players so can the new manager, Pellegrini build a team over the summer to knock Manure off their perch. It might be possible though if Moyes is naff at managing Manure.

 

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London Break

London Big BenI treated the wife to a city break in London for two nights over the bank holiday weekend; we came back, this evening (Sunday) not too tired. I just wanted to get out and about for a bit and thought London would be a nice treat. When I used to staying in London, back in the days of working in the city, whilst living in a leafy suburb, I used to stay in a hotel rather than get a train at stupid o’clock every day. The most convenient one was The Jesmond Dene Hotel, near London’s Kings Cross, perfect for transport.

However as I was treating the wife I chose somewhere flashier. Now I would like to say my budgets could stretch to the Dorchester, but that would mean no toys for me, so I went for the York & Albany which is right by Regents Park so you get lovely views. I managed to snag a fantastic last minute deal the other week and a voucher code for money of rail travel so accommodation and travel for to and around London came to £500. Although it was a fancy hotel, it didn’t have too much of a pretentious air to it and the wife loved the glass of prosecco upon arrival, which then led to a bottle and a sozzled wife, by time we ventured out for food.

There were a number of local restaurants nearby, which the hotel kindly booked a dinner reservation for us at one. There are a couple of decent pubs (not fancy bars) nearby so I got a good pint whilst the wife drank more (she was hungover on Saturday and I had zero sympathy). We took in some of the local markets, which are fun; we don’t get many like this up North, well not with the same choice. In the afternoon we decided to enjoy a picnic in Alexandra Park after getting some nibbles and deli delights from the Alexandra Palace Farmers’ Market, with the weather being very pleasant, thank god! In the evening was another great meal out and more beers and cocktails this time for the wife, as ‘they don’t give her as much of a headache as prosecco does’.

Before we headed back today we had time to ride an open top bus tour of London, and have a nice lunch out before getting the train back home. We have been back about an hour or so, just waiting on the takeaway to arrive before we catch up on some TV. It looks like tomorrow is going to be a dull day, so I think I will be locked in my room on the Xbox.

 

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Much needed fun in the sun

After getting back from ten days in the Caribbean, reality has well and truly set back in again. The usual things, annoying news stories, gas and leccy bill waiting for us and only today our water bill. Add to that the wife’s car needs a service, the spring in my step I had from my holiday has well and truly gone.

The weather is ‘apparently’ getting better but I am yet to see that, I just think the weather men /women plain out lie just to try an appease the masses. Anyway it’s not freezing cold anymore so the heating hasn’t been on, so saving some energy there, I also think it’s time to get rid of the wife’s car, once it’s had its service, it really is a waste to have two cars when we could manage with one. I think whilst I was away I had some sort of epiphany or that I just want to save as much money as possible to go on holiday!

Anyway Barbados was fantastic, gorgeous sunshine every day, no rain and barely any wind. Although our hotel wasn’t the Sandy Lane hotel, for me it was pretty luxurious and we didn’t want for anything. We could get up leisurely on a morning head down for a satisfying buffet breakfast before wandering the short distance to the beach and the beautiful turquoise warm ocean. It was magical and I know I’m sounding totally gay but I loved it.

I’m made for relaxing and taking it easy and defiantly pre-programmed for sunshine and hot temperatures. The staff at the hotel completed our stay, they couldn’t do enough for you, nothing was any trouble and they were so friendly, such a nice experience. We will defiantly go back to the Caribbean again, maybe Mexico or Dominican Republic, but not for a couple of years as it can be pretty pricy.

Benidorm not Barbados

Benidorm not Barbados

Anyway for a short beak this summer, my dad is heading to Benidorm (his budget for holidays isn’t as big as mine) for a week so as he doesn’t live here, I thought it would be nice to join him for a few days. I have got a flight and booked into the same hotel as him the Cabana Hotel. I will be there four days over the weekend and will be able to relax with him there. To be fair it’s probably better than him spending money to come to the UK, it will feel like a proper holiday and it will be more affordable. Benidorm is pretty cheap, although it’s not really my kind of holiday place, not comparing it to Barbados, but one thing for sure I will be able to enjoy my beer and it’s always fun getting my dad drunk!

Image courtesy of neatonjr

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