Finally I’m on my way. My backpack is filled, not sure with what but the most important things are at least with me, my passport and credit card. For the moment I’m sitting in Frankfurt and here i have a wonderful 12 hour stay over until I can board the plane who will bring me all the way to San Fransisco, I guess thats the price you have to pay when you are a sneaky bastard and buy the cheapest ticket you can find.
So far so good thought and because of maintenance on the Swedish railway I had to get on an even earlier train that I planned from start, of course that train didn’t work so I had to go by bus for some parts and so far Ive been traveling for 9 hours, gonna spend 12 hours in Frankfurt and then a 13 hour flight, I’m such a lucky man! Hopefully the timezones will be with me and help me when I arrive but somehow I doubt it, I will be a wreck.
By the way I head plenty of rumors about Frankfurt’s airport and nothing is really positive about it, my own picture so far agree with the rumors. Its a big airport but no good places to chill on and I still haven’t succeeded to find my terminal, but thats good because now I can spend some time looking for it.
So I finally arrived in San Fransisco and it doesn’t feel like US at all but more about that later.
It was actually easier than I thought to spend the 12 hours in Frankfurt. I couldn’t find any place to charge my laptop or phone first but while the night were coming and less and less people where in the terminal I simply disconnected a check-in desk and used their wall socket. Once I had power I spent more or less the whole night watching movies and a season of “Oz”.
The airplane was brand new and had both plenty of room and wall socket, USB-ports and ethernet, darn I didn’t bring any ethernet cable cause I would love to scan and see what I would find on that plane.
At the airport I was lazy and took a taxi, I knew my hotel was close to China Town, however the truth is I live in the middle of it. I see small snack bars selling stuff I never seen before, I cant read the street signs since they are in Chinese and there is plenty of restaurants which it smells lovely from, I haven’t heard a single word of English since I left the taxi but yea, this will be awesome!
Been a pretty calm and relaxing day, so far. I started the day with trying to find somewhere to eat breakfast and no, I do not want chinese breakfast with rice. After some walking I did found a classy hole in the wall and I got myself a true big city breakfast, a creame cheese bagel, a gigantic cup of coffee and two of my newly bought (imported of course) cigarettes, everything for the slight amount of $8 or the same as a pack of cigarettes only in Sweden.
After some waiting Anton arrived to my hotel and it was more or less time to get a lunch. Smart as I am i started with ordering a beer so now Anton has to drive for the rest of the day, perfect! After the lunch we drove to the car rental firm and wrote some paper so now I can drive too, well as long as I’m not drunk. We also upgrade/moved out from China town so now we have a big room which is the size of my old apartment and we got a pool. Pretty nice and a perfect base for us while we explore San Fransisco.
Yesterday evening didn’t end as quite. We drove away to grab some beers and well you know how to will end. Anton decided for us that its just a short walk to North beach, which more or less is the red light district of this city so we decided to walk there.
However, Antons definition of short walk included 15 blocks of walking, over a freaking mountain so from now on Anton is disqualified to decided when to walk or when to take a taxi but the good part is that you get thirsty of all that walking.
No pictures from the evening, I don’t think it would be appreciated if we started to take photos where we were and to be honest, I’m not sure if we want to document what we saw.
Today we visited more or less all the tourist traps in SF. By coincidence we ended up on that narrow street which are so famous for it hairpins. Of course I have no idea of the name but with goggles help I now know its called Lombard street. We were there, we took a picture, we walked on. Next stop was fisherman wharf, pier 39 and finished on Alcatraz, as I said we did those tourist traps but it was actually really good but if I recommend any of the places? Well maybe not or maybe. Pier 39 is really nice if you like the sea lions, they are both cute and fun to watch but fisherman wharf is just crap and Alcatraz, the history is interesting and its nice to check it of my bucket list but that pretty much it.
Today our roadtrip really started, we had our rental car but pretty much never used since I got to San Fransisco but today we started it up and left San Fransisco for Bakersfield. Its always interesting to drive car in a new country but you can really tell that US is built for driving, so easy to drive even in the middle of San Fransisco and the hardest part was to get out of our parking space. The trip to Bakersfield went fine besides one minor wrong turn, our GPS bugged out so I missed to change the highway but that was easy fixed. Drove by a couple of highway patrools too and in the first one was kind a scary but they didn’t stop us and we arrived to our goal for the day, Bakersfield.
Bakersfield feels like a small town hillbilly city and the people we see drives around in the pickup trucks which are extremely high and more or less all more stereotypes of America are true in this place. We are staying at a shitty motel outside of the city, we have a non-smoking room which smells with a mix of old smoke and mold and someone has broken into the room so you cant really close the door. Well, its close to the highway and its cheap cheap cheap so I guess we will survive one night before we head for Las Vegas.
We survived the night in Bakersfield and just arrived to Las Vegas, well maybe not just arrived. Our hotel has a different solution with free internet and its only via cable. The solution is to use Antons laptop as a router and connect my to his via wifi but to be able to configure Windows to do that, what a piece of shit. A few reboots later, a couple of beers and some yelling it suddenly started to work so now we don’t dare to touch anything.
We left Bakersfield as fast as possible and headed for Death valley. It was really cool to just walk around among the sand dunes and rocks. It was only 32 degrees warm but it felt like a 100, at least. Didn’t see any fun animals on the way but we saw warning signs for both cows, deers and turtles. Really? Turtles? In Nevada?!?
I had to drive the last part so now I have been driving in both San Fransisco and Las Vegas and I still think its really easy to drive here. Besides that I was playing with the GPS and almost missed a red light. I saw in the last second, hit the break really hard and the car behind me had to do some emergency maneuver not to hit me. At the same time I told Anton; “That guy wont be happy at me” we saw that it was a state trooper, smile and wave boys, just smile and wave!
We are not staying at the most exclusive hotel or even the fanciest but we are at least staying at the strip, they have their own casino and our neighbor is MGM which is awesome and yes, we are staying at Hooters hotel so lets open the champagne and go crazy cause whatever happens it will stay in vegas.
In Vegas everything is expensive, fake and very very fun. The evening started with a couple of beers at the hotel before we headed out along the strip with short breaks along the way to refill our daily intake of beer. We stopped at Cosmopolitan and had a few drinks which were more alcohol than anything else and the size of those ice cubes? I bet one of those were the reason Titanic sunk. At “Paris” we found a drink called Swedish fish which we had to try, worst thing ever! Avoid it at all cost!Today we started at the shooting range instead of pressing sun on a fake beach or something like that. It was a huge queue and it took forever but once it was our time it was totally worth it. We started easy (we thought) with a pistol, Desert Eagle and after that we went for the AR15 and finished with some full auto with an H&K MP5. The Desert eagle was insane, I was really concerned if I really could hold it back during the recoil and the whole shooting range stopped and everybody where looking at us while we were shooting this hand cannon. The AR15 was a bit boring, so easy and no recoil and the MP5? Well full auto is full auto and its always fun to to frenzy with a full auto gun.
Last day in Vegas which means one last night and then we are heading the roads again. Where…a bit unknown yet but we have been talking about “The Hoover dam” and Grand Canyon and then aim for the direction towards Chicago. So far Las Vegas has fulfilled everything I ever thought about this place. Its really plastic and fake and as long as you have money everything is possible. I would love to stay here for the rest of this trip but I guess that it would end up me broke.
Has met a lot of fun people and yesterday we left the club for some night food in one of their beamers, that the driver had a few drinks before was not something we thought about and the evening ended up on a 24/7 sushi place. Sushi as night food was really good and I have no idea how much we ate but we finished two bottles of Sake at least. Crazy evening but fun for sure!
This day has been spent on the fake beach at out hotel, really nice to cure the hangover on a beach even if its fake.
With great sorrow in my heart but with an much happier wallet we left the den of iniquity to see more of US. From Las Vegas via/over Hoover dam to Grand Canyon and then to Albuquerque in New Mexico, its a tough name to pronounce but even harder to write. It will be a neat trip through three different states and if I count right around 110 miles. The driving comfort in our Prius is surprisingly good and so far everything has been easier than thought while talking about driving.
After visited the Hoover dam I have only one word, it sucks! Yea, its big or even huge but come on, thats it. You have heard so much about this dam so my expectations might been a little high but I did not get impressed by it, its just a big dam.
Gran Canyon was on the other hand the opposite. Ive heard even more about this place and i did not get disappointed at anything. It would be fun to spend more time here, hiking down the canyon but still, it delivered! I cant make it fair with my camera and photo skills but at least I can give it a try and this is a must see in your life! I would love to come back and just hike around, camp and enjoy the nature!
Driving on to Albuquerque was quit boring but went fine. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was then we stopped for food and the chef forgot our food in the owe. Guess it happens to more than me when I cook and he started all over but it took some more time than we planned for. We also got attacked by some tumbleweed on the highway, we had just passed a warning sign for some animal and I just saw something moving and headed hard on the brakes, woke up an slumbering Anton an yea…it was just tumbleweed, well now I seen that too.
We followed up yesterdays long trip with another long trip today. This time we aimed for Tulsa in Oklahoma via Amarillo in Texas. Thats means another 100 miles and another drive through three states today…again. We have more or less just spent the whole day in our car so not many pictures and we been driving through Neva, Arizona, New Mexico and the eastern corner of Texas and I can say like this, Im so tired of sand and mountains right now. It was like heaven when we came to the green and beautiful Oklahoma.
Its been quite boring to make these two days of driving but now we are right in our schedule and does not have to stress to make the rest of our trip, and that is nice!
In Tulsa we had no idea where to go to have fun so we grabbed a taxi on the street and asked him to drive us to the bar district. As always in US the taxi driver were really service minded and explained the way, how the city was build with different areas and “since this is just a little town there’s not much to do here”. A little town in this case is somewhere around 500 000 citizens which is bigger than the Gothenburg, Sweden second biggest city.
We walked around and tried one bar after another and were always ready to give up, it was just trash and not fun anywhere so we decided to try that Irish pub on the corner and if that also sucks we get back to the hotel and leave St Louis cause this city sucks. Well, we were wrong and once we got into the Irish pub we met some locals and the beer went down in the same rate as the buckets were ordered. After a while our new friends asked if we wanted to join them to another place and an awesome and crazy night had just begun.
Today we drove to St Louis in Missouri. It was not any long trip so we started the day with breakfast at an classic American diner. The food was ok but they cant make coffee here, its thinner than water. On our way we saw a Walmart, of course we had to stop so I can check that of my bucket list but unfortunately I didn’t see any “walmart people” but it was quite fun anyway. We also had to try the famous American fast food, since I’m not a fan of McDonalds we tried “Jack in the box” instead and well, I doubt I will eat there again. It was pretty much the same as Mcd except little more greasy, I ordered a ultimate cheese burger and yea…there was a lot of cheese, meat I’m not so sure about,
Spent the day downtown St Louis, wandering around with no goal in the blocks around the old harbor around Mississippi river. With a shining sun it couldn’t be much better but even if we been here for some weeks now I still cant remember that the food portions are huge in this country. Found a nice Italian restaurant and we ordered some garlic bread and lasagna, well the garlic bread was a whole wheat bread and the lasagna was the size…for a family. Really good and tasty but come on, who can eat all this?!? I do however love the free refill culture, I think I had 4 or 5 refills of ice tea to my food but only paid for 1 glass, love it!
Yesterday evening we spent in Laclede’s Landing, found a lot of different bars but all of them were closed or empty of people so instead we took an early night. Feels kind a good to have a break and just relax and sleep instead of all the partying. Tonight however we aim for a new all night out, in a new area!
We never went up in the Gateway arch, the queue was to long and we were never really into it but its huge and the view from the top must be amazing!
The new area in St Louis wasn’t much better, more bars but still no people so we headed back to our hotel, packed our car and left. Now we arrived in Chicago and by that our road trip is officially over. We will however stay here for a couple of days before we head back to Europe and a normal life in Sweden. The trip between St Louis and Chicago went really fast and without any problems or incidents. We saw a lot of warning sign for speed cameras but we never saw a single camera and in Illinois they seem to have pretty hard punishment if you don’t behave in traffic. “Hit a worker and get $10 000 fine and 14 yeas in jail” was a common sign along the road, we never saw any workers though so we couldn’t test if its true.
Right after we checked in at our hotel, which is the most fanciest hotel on this trip we went out to find something to eat. Pretty close to the hotel we found a Japanese restaurant and wow, so good! With our own little barbeque on the table we ordered in a lot of different meat and then grilled it our self. Once again we ate to much and can hardly move right now but it was so good. I guess we just have to relax an hour or two before we head out to see the town, one thing is sure though, its cold here so I will be prepared for the Swedish summer then I get back home.
Woke up in decent time so we headed out to see if we could learn to navigate in this city. It became a quite long walk and still we only been in the area River North which is the area we live in. After been walking around among all the high rising houses we found Millennium park, a big green area next to Lake Michigan. It was really nice to get into the sun and get rid of the concrete for a while. Speaking about the sun, I still think its cold here and I have obvious got used to warmer climate for now its t-shirt, hoodie and a jacket to wear not to freeze. To be honest, I’m thinking of buying myself a winter hat too cause I’m freezing my head off.
After the park we followed the shore and found a nice marina, in true American style the boats were not small and we also found Chicago’s biggest tourist trap, navy pier. Its like a classic pier which you can find everywhere with some beer tents, a Ferris wheel and so on. It might be nice to sit here during a warm summer day but now, not so much. We got a really nice view over the city skyline though and it was really cool so see how the city just continues until the horizon make it impossible to see anymore.
Yesterday we went pretty much all in, it wasn’t planned and our budget is now officially screwed but it was totally worth it. We carefully started at a steak house, I mean you cant visit US without having a really nice steak and once we found a place that looked good we realized that this will be expensive but whatever, we just going to eat. As a starter we ordered some garlic marinated snail since Anton never tried this before and I never seen so big snails before, they must been feed on growing hormones. Second starter was a blue cheese salad and after that I was kind a finished but then our main course arrived, a big steak! Now (with googles help) I know we ordered a 360g steak and it was perfectly cooked. Not a single of garbage (read potatoes) on the side, just an awesome steak and a bourbon sauce which makes me drool just thinking about it. A couple of beer to this and we succeeded to eat everything which even impressed the waitress and we got some inside information where to go if we want to party.
A piano bar later, some ordinary bars where we met a lot of people who finally didn’t thought we were Germans (they thought we were French) and a limo ride later we ended up at Spy bar. A really nice club with really good music and a lot of people dancing all over the place made it the perfect end of a perfect night. Somewhere around 4 we staggered home and today we haven’t done anything, for the first time on this trip we got a hangover from hell.
The last night and the last dollar has been spent and its only a long and boring flight back to Sweden that is left. To summarize it I have seen ocean, mountains, desert and plains, I’ve seen trailer parks and rotten houses to 5-star hotels and enormous villas. I thought I would see more fat people than what I actually have seen, I never thought that the country side would be so hillbilly and I was absolute sure that the Texas cowboy was only a tale but I admit, I was wrong.
Our road trip has taken us 420 miles through 7 or 8 different states, from a sunny California to a right now, rainy Illinois. Next time I sure need to finish the last miles and see what the east coast has to offer.
Half way home I’m now sitting in Warsaw and waiting on the next flight which will bring me home, the airport is actually really nice with human prices and a free Wi-Fi so waiting here for a couple of ours wont be a problem.
Trying to summarize the whole trip a little bit more is hard, I’ve seen ocean and deserts, huge plain fields and cow factories together with small villages and huge cities. My preconceptions about the US seems to both be true and false, I haven’t seen all that many really fat people that I thought I would but the rednecks I met were really more redneck than I even can imaging. The network of roads are in most case in mint condition while their infrastructure (power/phone lines) looks like what I saw in India. I’ve spent time on luxury hotels and on classic motels which I don’t want to remember, the trailer parks and the resident areas are overall what I thought it would look like. The people are really friendly and its maybe that which surprise me the most, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t want to help me, who have been rude or anything. The upper limit of money to spent is non-existent but if you want you can live really cheap here but I think its a must to rent a car, the whole country is built around you having a car.
I don’t think anyone has guessed right on where I’m from, the most common guess is German or England and right now everybody thinks I’m Polish but as soon as I mention Sweden everybody gets extra polite. The only bad thing I can say it that we didn’t had enough time, I’m not sure if I would survive many more days with our lifestyle though but I guess that means I have to come back cause I still have the east side and dirty south to visit.