Thursday, 28 August 2008

Washington, New York, Boston, and Montreal!

It seemed fitting to start out wee expedition in the same place the wee nation of America houses it's great leaders.

Washington DC was hot, very very hot. Upon out arrival at the 'hotel' I'd booked only a week earlier, the only requirement we held as a must was that it possessed air conditioning. More important than electric lights, more important than four walls and a roof was the importance that our humble dwelling provided air of the conditioned variety! Not only was conditioned air present, but the presence of all the other above mentioned luxuries was noted aswell, great success!

Aside from having devices for the conditioning of air, Washington DC (which stands for District of Columbia by the way, not to be confused with the Spanish speaking South American country, there's regularly huddles of confused drug cartel folk at the airport wondering where it all went wrong!) has one of the largest collections of free museums and galleries in the world. Which is nice when your trying to work on a very strict budget, a strict budget we didn't let on about when we went for a drink at one the capitols most prestigious cigar bars, frequented by Senitors, Congressmen, and NBC weathermen alike! We played the English card an got treated like we owned a yacht or two each, little did they know that not only did we not own any fancy boats, but i get sea sick so any nautical purchases on my part would most likely only stretch to a lylo, maybe a double lylo if im feeling particularly affluent! Anyway, after explaining that just because we have English accents doesn't mean we know the Queen or David Beckham, we left Washington, left the White House, Captiol Hill, the Lincoln, Washington, and Roosevelt Memorials, left the Roosevelt Lake with its peddalos, left the Hard Rock Cafe and the live Estelle performance we saw, left DC and headed towards NYC instead!

I've been to New York before, been to the sights, seen the lights, and listened to the arrogance of some American shites, but I still managed to get captivated once again by the sheer size of everything, the hustle and the continual bustle. If you ignore some of the more self-important New Yorkers then this marvellous city would never get old, never fail to impress, and forever turn up new offerings to all who travel to her. As for our little quartet of wiery wanderers we found many a wonder to keep us out of trouble during our brief stay amoungst the trials and tribulations of the Big Apple.

Between spending our evenings getting nose bleeds by popping up the extremely high Rockefeller Tower to stare in awe at the spectacular New York skyline as it glistened and twinkled in the moon light glow, and taking tours in the ever present double decker, open topped buses over the bridge and into Brooklyn, we also found time to take in one of the famous Broadway productions. Our show of choice was none other than the multi-award winning Monty Python spinoff, Spamalot! Spamalot is immensly funny, full of all the gags and turns of phrase that made the TV show and the films so very successful. From the Eric Idol inspired depiction of old England, to the in no way steriotypical portrayal of miming, beret wearing, baguette wielding Frenchmen, I don't believe that any demograph was safe from ridicule, yet all seemed to enjoy the humour and my sides appear to have only just recovered from splitting so much!

During our 4 nights in Manhatten we slept in 3 different hostels (one of which was in the notorious Harlem nieghbourhood!) due to a series of cock-ups by the hostels in question, and no amount of artistry or colourful language with the pen could truely do justice to how much of a royal fiasco the whole affair turned out to be, so just know that things didn't go to plan and we all went a tad greyer because of it. On a plus note though, we got a couple of nights free accomodation which was a definate Brucey bonus for the budget!

From the ornate and exquisitely presented Grand Central Station we left the city that never sleeps and rode an Amtrak train up the East Coast to the historic city of Boston!

I didn't know a great deal about Boston prior to our visit. I was ignorant to the importance that this little Atlantic port had played during the War for Independence in the late 1700's. Nothing more notable than the now imfamous Boston tea party! Upon hearing about this little event of 1773 I was excited and buzzing with anticipation. I believed I may have found my place in the world, this Boston actually held a party honouring the wonderous majesty of a proper, well made, well heated, well brewed cup of good old fashioned tea! After a quick bit of research however I was shocked, shocked to the very core of my being. This sick excuse for a party was in fact when a bunch of drunk, unruly, barbaric colonials jumped a British tea carrying vessel and tipped all the caffeine based leafy goodness overboard! I decided I no longer could relate to these people, it was apparent I wouldn't fit in here so i rounded up my companions (who were off enjoying the excellant local whale-watching, the informative and entertaining freedom trail, or generally exploring the lovely heritage sites and olde times buildings) and we took refuge from this place of heinus 'tea-icide' across the border in the Canadian city of Montreal!

First thing to report about Montreal, it's French. Very very French! When I signed up for a trip around North America, I had based my decision to come along on the assumption that i wouldn't have to learn a new language to understand the menu where-ever i went. I'd spent far too long last summer sitting in cafes in Siberia trying to translate the hyrogliphics they call an alphabet, to spend time trying to work out my escargots from my canards! After a few failed attempts to get food with my middle english accent requesting "Poo-Lett" and a hand full of quizical looks when we offered a "Mer-See Boo-Coop" my accomplices and I did the only truely British thing to do and found a Thai take-away for food, and a Mexican bar to have a skin full in, thus avoiding any need to adapt to local culture!

Disappointed with our previous days efforts at bi-lingual integration we set out on our second day in Canada to explore the downtown history and the fascinating revolation that most Montreal residents consider themselves French first, Canadian second! Madness!?!

Our cultural enlightenment didn't last long however as we headed back in the United States after only 3 days in the land of the Maple leaf. Next onto Buffalo and a visit to Niagara Falls for the band of 4 travelling-folk!