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Apparently the country I now call home is properly called by one of three names; England, Great Britain, or the United Kingdom. It’s very confusing, but I’m sorting it all out as we speak.
From what I can tell, if you include Ireland and Scotland and some other place (Greenland or Iceland probably….maybe Denmark?) you have Great Britain. If it’s just the country I’m in, it’s England. Finally, if you include Canada, South Korea, and West Virginia it’s the United Kingdom. At least that’s where I am at the moment.
I planned on updating more often, but for the most part I spend my days heading into roundabouts, and very rarely exiting them. I tend to go into a panic and just circle them endlessly. I’m quite good at it – and I think it’s such a unique maneuver that it impresses the locals.
My first experience driving started straightaway after a disastrous flight experience thanks to United and my drive from Heathrow to my hotel ended here – in this field. And my hotel was not in a field….I eventually worked up the courage to leave the field, drove around in utter frustration for 3 hours (never being more than 5 minutes from my hotel and eventually found my way to the Marriott). As you can see the field was quite nice.
Since I have spent 100 of the last approximately 420 days with various rental cars, I figured it was about time that I reviewed my rentals. This is also meant to serve as a public service announcement of sorts in the event you have the good fortune step foot in a rental agency yourself!!
1. Mitsubishi Gallant – This one is certainly large enough to carry a few suitcases, and passengers, but the interior was a bit strange. I also surrendered my ride to my car-mates after two days to switch over to a different car due to the fact that my fellow passengers were insane. Drove fairly well, kind of an odd boxy shape, slightly off-putting interior. Overall, 5/10.
2. Ford Fiesta – Piece of crap. Maybe the world’s worst car. The rental person explained it has some sort of dual-transmission that makes it seem like it’s sucking while in fact it is doing some extremely awesome sh*t. Well, it wasn’t extremely awesome – it was the farthest thing from awesome ever (assuming you exclude the ‘Twilight’ films). It also felt like the car was going to blow up at any moment. 1/10!
3. Chevrolet Malibu – Eh, spectacularly average. 4/10.
4. Hyundai Elantra – Magnificent! It had some pep, the steering wheel was so loose it felt like you could spin it and it would go
around and around forever like the big wheel on the ‘Price is Right’ (Note: I tried this several times and it will not spin around endlessly – no need to try it for yourself). The interior was nice, and the only reason it loses points is because the sight-lines on that car were horrendous. Maybe you get used to it, but over a week or two you pretty much were changing lanes without knowing if anyone was in your massive blind spot. Since it was a rental though I’m not taking points away for this – I’m not all that concerned about blind spots, or accidents in a rental. 8/10.
The next stop on my tour of the country was Atlanta. Atlanta is perhaps best known for being in Georgia, and, ummm, I think that’s about it. Peaches, maybe?? I always thought Georgia was one of those states that never gets cold – it isn’t. It was cold. Very cold. And by very cold I mean like 40 degrees. I was guessing it was going to be about 80.
As a result, I did not bring the proper attire to deal with the frigid temperatures. I also did not have the necessary clothes for scraping off my car when I returned to Syracuse and almost froze to death in the airport parking lot. It did not help that I was wearing Chuck Taylor’s and stepped in a puddle prior to having to stand in the snow brushing my car off for 15 minutes…..Luckily I have two scrapers and was able to cut down the time spent scraping considerably.
So, what did I think of Atlanta? Undecided. Driving was less difficult than I figured it would be, but I never really got a feel for the city at all. The city itself seemed clean, kind of small though and it feels very spread out. Like one super-gigantic suburb.
I did find driving about was a tad strange, their on-ramps curve in all sorts of nonsensical directions and roads seem to criss-cross for no reason whatsoever. It kind of just feels like a big clusterfuck no matter where you are – or where I was at least. Since I had a rental car though, and I don’t care at all if I crash the aforementioned rental, it was pretty easy going for me. The traffic admittedly seemed a tad insane, and once you were nearing the city it seemed like you were stuck at each light for about 45 minutes. That was rather annoying.
I had my first visit to our nation’s capital this weekend. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I did figure at the very least I would get to see the White House and maybe some of the cast from ‘The West Wing.’ Honestly, the White House seemed a bit smaller than I thought it would be. Otherwise, it was a pretty nice little city.
The one thing nobody told me about DC though (not that I asked) is that every single wrong turn you take feeds directly into Virginia. I’m not sure why they want you to end up in Virginia so badly, but they do. Not that there is anything wrong with Virginia, it’s just not where I want be. Pretty much ever.
I followed my big trip to Saint Louis up with a week long excursion to the home of America’s most annoying sports fans – Boston! Conveniently enough the Boston Red Sox would be facing off in the World Series of baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals while I was there. Unfortunately, on my trip to Saint Louis I had purchased a Cardinals hat, and since this was the only hat I brought with me on the trip, I was unable to wear it for the entire week so as to avoid being attacked by angry locals.
Let me start by saying Boston may possibly be my favorite city. It certainly surpasses Chicago, and is in the running to pass NYC, but I’m still somewhat on the fence on that – primarily because I’m a Yankees fan, and actually lived in New York City.
I will begin by getting some sporting events out of the way. My first stop was TD Garden to see the Boston Celtics square off against the mighty Brooklyn Nets in a preseason game. This was supposed to be Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce’s big return to Boston, but both of the jerks decided to sit this one out to hang out in Brooklyn and nurse the injuries they were faking. The Garden was probably 50% empty. The tickets were pretty much free though because the Red Sox were opening up the World Series,so I’m not going to complain. Well, I think I just did, but just a little. It was enjoyable enough though, and possibly the first time I have attended an NBA game in over a decade.
My second sports outing was to TD Garden as well, but this time I would be watching the Boston Bruins battle the San Jose Sharks. The crowd for this game was obviously much better, and since it was an actual game, it featured a bit more intensity. The Bruins somehow pulled it out by scoring with .02 seconds left, and the crowd went bananas. I think partly because I was there and partly because they won they game. Either way, well done Bruins.
The weather that week was pretty nice and Boston is an incredibly easy city to get around on foot. As I walked about the city one very strange pattern emerged – if there is a statue, and there are a ton of them, there is probably a sixty-percent chance that the statue has been vandalized. And by vandalized I mean that someone, maybe the city itself, has placed a Red Sox jersey on it. Paul Revere, yup, wearing a Red Sox jersey. Other guy on horse, yup, wearing the jersey. Ducks in the park, yes, them too! It never ends…….
I was also able to venture to yet another brewery since it was located right next to work, and this time I went Harpoon Brewery. I heard stories that Sam Adams has a free tour, and free beer to giveaway, but it seemed like more of a hassle, and when a brewery is right outside your door – you go. The one downside to the Harpoon Brewery is that they provide ZERO free samples – ZERO. Shame on you.
I also walked about the city quite a bit, and at one point stumbled upon Cheers which sits just outside of Boston Common (I think – I’m not from Boston, I might be making up names). Actually, I stumbled upon Cheers twice. They have a touristy one located in Quincy Market, and then the original (referenced above and the photograph to the left) – which is equally touristy to be honest.
Random picture time. The first picture is of a big ship that was located outside my hotel room – and then I also included a picture of the cannons on the ship. I included that because cannons need to be photographed.
I also have a pic outside of Fenway of some Red Sox player stealing a hat from a child. Awful. Simply awful.
The Duck boat tour shot was taken as we were descending into the water – the duck boat is both a bus and a boat!!!!!
My third vacation of the summer was to St. Louis! Rather than telling you about all the awesome things that I did I have decided to instead show you through PICTURES! From my camera – my camera that’s in my phone!!
First up on the trip was the zooooo! I had already been to the St. Louis zoo, but since the zoo is free – as is virtually every single thing in St. Louis – I figured I would return to see if the animals remembered me. They didn’t. Anyway, this picture is showing not one, not two, but three giraffes! It may look like there was no fence between myself and the man-eating beasts, but I can assure you that there was.
My second stop was to the Gateway Arch. The arch sits just on the outskirts of downtown, and it is said if you walk under it you will have magical powers bestowed upon you.
I have a natural distrust for magic, since my mom is Canadian, so I didn’t try to find out. Anyway, what I didn’t know until I walked up to this magical half-oval was that you can actually go inside – there is a gift shop and everything. Most notably, if you are willing to pay zero dollars you can take a ride in some space-agey pod thing (pictured to the right) and get lifted up to the top where you can see the entire city, and, if you have a pair of binoculars, you can even watch the Cardinals game. Yes, someone was actually doing that.
Stop three took me to the Budweiser brewery. Not that exciting, but you do get free beer at the end of the free tour – which, if you really, really, really like beer – is an amazing deal! During the tour they show off the Clydesdale horses they keep on site, and walk you through the entire beer making process. There are some escalators involved (Fun Fact: I love escalators) in the tour and they are absolutely one-hundred percent anti-crocs (those sandal things). They hate them so much that they will not let you take the tour if you are wearing those ridiculous shoes. I’m certain there is some special reason for that, but I will be damned if I know what it could be….
My fourth big event was a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game! The most exciting part of this trip was that sitting about four rows in front of me and just to the left was the family that was directly in front of me on the Budweiser tour. The odds of that happening has to be astoundingly low. The baseball game was not free, but should have been considering it was 8 million degrees outside. The Cardinals somehow managed to fall behind 7-0 in the top of the first inning and never recovered. Sorry Cardinals – I did buy a Cardinals hat though. Again, not free – but I love to support local businesses.
The fifth and final significant event was my trip down the St. Louis walk of fame. The walk featured all sorts of legends from sports, entertainment and everything in between. I saw a star for famous wife-beater Ike Turner, famed magician turned actor Vincent Price, and the man whom portrayed Egon in the film ‘Ghostbusters’ – Harold ‘effing’ Ramis! Chuck Berry seemed to be the biggest star as he had both a star and a statue.
Here are some other random photos from the trip. Baywash – best name I’ve ever seen for a car wash. ‘Kings Beauty Supplies and Tobacco’ because those two things always go together. The giant polar bear that tried to stop westward expansion, and finally Cardinals stadium pictured from the Arch. The rest speak for themselves – I hope.