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East, South, West, North – 18,068km through Canada and USA (Week 4)

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The following post relates to Week 4 of mine and Adela’s road trip from Jasper in the Rocky Mountains across Canada into America and back to Vancouver covering a total of 18,068 km in just 7 weeks.

Day 22 – 25/09/2010 – We spent the morning relaxing around the camp ground and taking it easy as we watched the tide roll in.  It was really foggy so watching the tide continue to rise, and rise, and rise was pretty creepy as it covered about 15m in height up the shoreline in a matter of hours.  We had thought about walking along the beach but were glad we hadn’t as we could easily have been stranded around the base of one of the cliffs very quickly.  

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Our car is at the top of the 12m high bank which the tide rushed up within 2 hours

We finally headed away about 11am and drove through some beautiful areas with all the trees in full Autumn colours.  It was a great end to our drive through Canada.  A grand total of 9,100 km through Canada in just 3 weeks.  I couldn’t believe our car was still going strong.

We crossed into America in the late evening and pulled in to Walmart to replenish our stocks and sleep before heading to New York tomorrow.  It was actually incredible that in the space of about 50 km from the border the size of everything had increased exponentially.  Now I don’t like to be stereotypical but it seemed that the cars, houses, food portions and unfortunately some of the waists were quite significantly larger! 
KM travelled = 767 km.
Spending = $55 (petrol), $12 (USA visa), $11 (food) = $78 total.

Day 23 – 26/09/2010 –
We had planned on spending the afternoon in Boston but were anxious  that we had accommodation booked for 5 nights in New York starting from tomorrow so drove on instead decided on stopping for a bike ride at Wompatuck State Park in Massachusetts.  A nice afternoon out with no plans was exactly what we needed. 
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New York City skyline by night
Stopped in Jersey City for the night and checked out the New York skyline for the first time.  What a sight!  Unfortunately our cheap motel option was not as good as the views and I am pretty sure they must have been charging by the hour rather for the entire night considering the noises we heard coming from above and resulting lack of sleep…  Just a recommendation, don’t pick a motel at 10pm at night based on the nightly rate advertised by the huge neon signs.
KM travelled = 761 km.
Spending = $48 (petrol), $13.75 (bridge tolls), $18 (dinner), $40 (petrol), $70 (hotel) = £188 total.

Day 24 – 27/09/2010 – NEW YORK CITY.  Once we worked out the one-system it was easy enough to find the hostel we were staying at so parked the car and high fived (not really but I wanted to) since we didn’t have to do any more driving for another 4 days!  We were staying on 104th St which is located quite far from down town and in what looked like a dodgy neighbourhood.  However since we had no place to store our bikes we had to leave them chained up on the back of the car…  Surprisingly that’s where the stayed the entire time.  Very impressed.
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Hot Dog time in Times Square

Headed down to Times Square and were blown away by the bright city lights and the number of people milling around.  Definitely a surreal feeling after spending so much time in a small town and driving for 3 weeks just the 2 of us.  We decided to rest up early that night as we had brought 3 Day New York City Passes (highly recommend) which would get us into 55 attractions for free.  Kind of costly for $155 each but we knew that we would get our moneys worth if we saw on average 3 – 4 sights a day which was easily do-able.  

KM travelled = 19 km! (Woo hoo).
Spending = $54 (subway pass), $8 (bridge tolls), $492 (4 nights accommodation), $24 (food) = $578 total (Whoops).
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Times Square – mental

Day 25 – 28/09/2010 – I love hostel breakfasts.  Most of the time they are free or you pay a few bucks and just fill up on muffins, fruit and toast or cereal.  Always a good way to make it through the morning without having to spend extra on snacks which is a sure fire way to spend your hard earned pennies.  However, this one was pretty disappointing with only stodgy muffins and croissants, but free is free.

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Super jam-packed on the subway for rush hour traffic.  Felt a bit out of place amongst the suits heading downtown to work through the recession.  Got to love travel.  Spent the morning around Times Square again just enjoying the atmosphere before getting all cultural at the American Museum of Natural History to take in “one of the largest and most innovative museums in the world”.  Heaps of cool exhibits.

Wandered through Central Park to the opposite side to the Metropolitan Museum of Art located on the Museum Mile.  This place is enormous with some 2 million pieces of art and 5,000 years of different cultures.  I am not usually a fan of these sorts of museums but I must say the modern art section was pretty cool and I would have loved to be able to afford some of the pieces for a house I may someday own and I am pretty sure the armoury section would look great in anyone’s house!  Adela was more of a fan of the older Greek sculptures (I think for all the rude bits on display) and the European paintings.

Meet a few celebs on our way back in to the heart of New York…
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The final museum of the day was at the King Tut exhibition which was travelling the world at the time and were lucky enough to have it included on our pass.  He was made the King of Egypt when he was only 9 years old and ruled for a whopping 10 years before dying when we was just 19.  Although it took a wee bit longer to stumble across his remains some 3,200 years later.
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Our New York pass got us into the Empire State Building, although no line skips were allowed.  Luckily by going at night there were not the horrendous queues we had heard about so managed to get up in about half an hour.  Some amazing views over the city with thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights.  It was really peaceful being above the raw City.

P9280191Strolled back through Times Square as Adela was obsessed with the atmosphere.  I think it was more to do with the bright lights attracting her in like a moth.  Stumbled into bed absolutely buggered at 11.30pm that night.
KM travelled = 0 km by car (heaps by foot).
Spending = $11 (food).
Day 26 – 29/09/2010 – Beautiful weather today which we were stoked about as we had woken up early to beat the tourist stampede to the Statue of Liberty.  Even the ferry ride across was a highlight as it gave some impressive views along the waterfront of Manhattan. 
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We love all the informative signs and displays at museums and tourist attractions, so while other people are basically rushing around snapping photos and whizzing off to the next destination you can usually find us meandering along getting in everyone’s way as we learn why the Statue of Liberty was built and the meaning behind it all.  (By the way, it was a gift from the French to America as a token of friendship and designed as a woman welcoming immigrants to the New World with her flame lighting the way).  

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The Ellis Island guided museum tour was informative as well and the little bits you pick up from the guide are pretty neat.  We couldn’t believe that 5,000 immigrants a day were flocking to America, and they only had about 10 immigration officials!  I get sick enough of airport queues so glad we didn’t get stuck in one of this size.

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We wandered the city taking in Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange in the Financial District before heading to the moving tributes at the site of 9/11.  They are currently rebuilding there so unfortunately we couldn’t see a lot happening.  I still remember hopping out of the pool and being told about it after swim training on the morning it happened.

Finished the informative day at the New York Police Department museum learning about the different gangs and criminals throughout the history of New York.  

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Before we jumped on a 90 foot sailing boat to cruise the harbour and watch the sun set over Manhattan.  Such a relaxing way to finish another day on our feet with cocktails and amazing views across the water.  A definite highlight so far.

KM travelled = 0 km.
Spending = $20 (drinks), $7 (lunch), $10 (lunch) = $37 total.

Day 27 – 30/09/2010 – Really muggy, windy and low cloud this morning but were just glad it was not raining especially as we headed to the Rockefeller Centre first thing to go to the “Top of the Rock”.  We were looking forward to checking out the daytime views over the city but with the low clouds sitting right at viewing platform level we had no luck.  We were photographed by some journalists though that were reporting on the stormy weather.  (Can’t have been that bad as we were still in jandals…)
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Top of the Rock



Jumped on a tour of Radio City, which is the largest theatre in North America, and home to the world famous Rockettes who are legendary for doing the high-kick can-can in sync.  I was more impressed by the actual stage though and the mechanics behind it which allows the stage to move up and down and round and round.  It was also the first tour I have been on where the take you into the bathrooms.  They were nice though!

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Lounge and powder room in the girls toilets at Radio City

Had to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral of New York, but unfortunately our volunteer tour guide turned out to be a local old man who basically just loved to give free tours but didn’t know too much about the actual Cathedral.  Quite hilarious though as we wandered around asking questions and he just diverted a lot of them to talk about other bits and pieces.  We did learn though that it’s the biggest in North America (typical) and could fit the entire Statue of Liberty in it standing up!

Queued up in Times Square at the half-price ticket counter to get some tickets to the Addams Family musical.  Ended up getting prime seats and was well worth lining up for an hour and a half as the show was very funny and a bit of a different take on the usual genre and theme of the  Addams Family movies and TV shows.  Gomez had to be the highlight.

Day 28 – 01/10/2010 – Rubbish weather again this morning and unfortunately time to check out of our hostel back to the car.  We had planned on riding around Central Park for the rest of the day but was way too wet unfortunately so pigged out at the free breakfast and said goodbye to New York City.
As a recap, my three favourites would have to be:
1 – The Addam’s Family on Broadway;
2 – Times Square and the atmosphere around the heart of the City; and
3 – Surprisingly the Modern Art Gallery at Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Adela’s favourites were:
1 – The Cruise on the 90 foot sailing boat (and cocktails);
2 – The Addam’s Family musical; and
3 – Time Square.

All in all a great start to our road trip across America.  Plus we managed to knock off 3 states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as we drove straight to Ohio.  
KM travelled = 660 km.
Spending = $26 (car parking), $30 (petrol), $24 (food) = $80 total.

Weekly KM travelled = 2207 km total.
Weekly Spending = $1245 total.

If you like road trips, there are many amazing U.S. destinations which are a must-see. Check out an article describing ten U.S. destinations that would make a great road trip: 10 Places You Need to Drive to Truly Appreciate the Experience.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Adventure Travel

Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt

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Heidelberg Castle

Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:

Neuschwanstein Castle is there somewhere amongst all the fog!

Neuschwanstein Castle is there somewhere amongst all the fog!

We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.

On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:

Andechs Monastery

Andechs Monastery

The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.

River surfing in Munich

River surfing in Munich

Rothenburg

Rothenburg

Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!

Bamberg

Bamberg was a neat town with old buildings in the center of the river and had a famous smoked beer which Moss just had to try!

Auto Technik Museum in Sinsheim

I’m not the hugest car or plane fanatic, but even I enjoyed the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim. A highlight for me was sliding out of an airplane (from the museum’s roof)!

The worlds narrowest street

Don’t go out of your way to see it, but the world’s narrowest street in Reutlingen is worth a photo if you are passing through.

Frau Rauscher spitting statue Frankfurt

In Frankfurt, go to the old part of town for an apfelwein and see the Frau Rauscher statue – watch out, she spits about every 12 seconds!

The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.

Suppose you’re interested in traveling to Germany for a damn good deal. In that case, plenty of tour companies have some pretty unique and affordable vacation packages to Berlin, Munich, and Bavaria.

It may be small but this building on Trappensee Lake is classed as a castle!

It may be small, but this building on Trappensee Lake is classed as a water castle!

We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!

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Adventure Travel

Running with the Bulls Video

Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.

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San Fermin Running with the Bulls still

We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.

Running with the Bulls Video, Pamplona

Running with the Bulls

All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.

Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.

Unfortunately, I was standing in their path. 

What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.

Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!

Running with the Bulls Video

Would you ever consider running with the bulls?

While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.

If you want to join the next Festival of San Fermin or any other wild festivals in Europe, such as Sail Turkey, book with our partners Busabout.

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Adventure Travel

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide

Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.

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Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - The Klongs

Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Ian from Where Sidewalks End shares his expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Bangkok.

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Adventure City Guide

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide – Photo by Evoflash

Why visit Bangkok for adventure?

Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.

This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok

Exploring the Klongs

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - The Klongs

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – The Klongs

Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!

What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?

You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.

Rickshaw City Tours

If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.

What’s it cost?

Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.

You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Rickshaw Tours

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Rickshaw Tours

Local Secret Spot

Chatuchak Market

Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.

You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.

How to get there?

You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.

Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Chatuchak Markets

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Chatuchak Markets

Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?

Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.

It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!

And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.

Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…

It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!

BIO:

From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on TwitterFacebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.

Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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