A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: mccardj

Cary in North Carolina

sunny 30 °C

Today I left the picturesque Savannah for Cary, North Carolina. I stopped for lunch at Charleston in South Carolina. Charleston is known as the ‘holy city’ due to the prominence of churches on the low-rise cityscape, and is best known for the place where the Civil War began.

While I was in Charleston, I walked down Bay Street to the Charleston City Market, a few blocks of indoor markets. I then walked along King Street and had a tasty wrap for lunch. Before heading back to the bus, I wandered around Marion Square which had some nice art stalls.

On the bus to Cary, I watched The Wedding Crashers for the first time; it was pretty good, but not as funny as I expected. My rest stop was at South of the Border, a roadside attraction named because of its location south of North Carolina. The attraction is enormous, featuring not only restaurants, petrol stations and a motel, but also a small amusement park, shopping and fireworks, however, most of them were surprisingly mostly empty and closed – the whole area was a ghost town. Today, most travellers visit the gigantic gift shop, full of craptastic junk. It was hilarious some of the trash I found in that shop.

After a couple more hours of driving, I was in Cary, North Carolina which borders on Raleigh and was my rest stop for the night. I had a buffet dinner at nearby Golden Corral which was absolutely delicious and very filling!

Tomorrow is the capital - Washington, DC!

Posted by mccardj 19:42 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged carolina Comments (0)

Stunning Savannah

sunny 31 °C

Today I left Saint Augustine and Florida for Savannah, Georgia. On the way, I stopped briefly in Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida and which has had the most number of serial killings than any other city in the United States.

This afternoon, I arrived in the beautiful Savannah, Georgia. Georgia’s principal agricultural production is peaches. Immediately on my arrival in Savannah, the group and I went to Forsyth Park for a group photo, covering about 30 acres and featuring a grand fountain as the centrepiece it was by far one of the most beautiful parks in Savannah I visited.

After the group photo, I walked along the cobblestone street of River Street, which borders the Savannah River, and had lunch at an Irish pub with the group. I had a great shepherd’s pie.

Following lunch, I went on a trolley tour around downtown Savannah. I discovered that Spanish moss is as ubiquitous in Savannah as it was in the swamps of New Orleans. Spanish moss grows on larger trees, commonly the Southern Live Oak or Bald Cypress. Interestingly, the use of Spanish moss for mattress filling in the past prompted the saying ‘Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite’ because bugs would live in the Spanish moss and bite people while they slept in their beds. On my trolley tour, I drove by many of the 22 green squares located in Savannah – they were all very pretty. I dropped by the Cathedral of St John the Baptist for a photo stop. The trolley tour was a quick and nice way to see the city.

Posted by mccardj 19:40 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged square garden savannah Comments (0)

Differences between America and Australia

sunny

Below are a list of differences I’ve noticed between America and Australia sorted into categories:

Food:
1. Food: Everyone’s heard that Americans are overweight and unhealthy. This is particularly evident in the number and variety of fast food chains they have. I have never seen so many different fast food chains. From chicken (KFC and Popeye’s), burgers (McDonald’s, Burger King and In-N-Out burger) to pancakes (IHOP) and even Asian (Panda Express) and Mexican (Deb el Taco), there’s something for everyone! Mexican shops are especially cheap, you can buy a burrito or taco for as little as $1! It is important to mention that Subway is enormous in the States; there’s one everyone you go, which is great! With all the travelling I’ve been doing on the Grand Southern tour it is extremely hard to find healthy, cheap options for lunch and dinner so I understand why taking the fast food option is something preferred – good, quality healthy food with fruit and vegetables are hard to find and quite expensive.
2. Drinks: Starbucks Coffee is ubiquitous in the States and unlike both Australia and Canada there’s not other chains competing with Starbuck’s – it’s good and cheap coffee so I don’t care! Another point need to be made about drinks is that they are enormous. Any drink, whether it’s soft drinks (or ‘soda’ as it’s called) or coffee, are significantly larger than Australian standard drinks. The cups are ginormous! A small Australian-sized cup is equivalent to a medium American and medium Australian-sized cup is generally the size of a large American cup, but you can get supersized cups too which can hold up to 1 litre of liquid – that’s a lot of calories!
3. Alcohol: In bars and clubs spirits are usually poured free-hand, meaning that you almost always have much more alcohol than you would normally in Australia. Also, shot glasses are about double the size in America than in Australia – isn’t it great! In Las Vegas, I had my first yard glass (yardie), a long plastic tube with a bowl at the end measuring a yard in length. You can fill it with any alcohol you desire, but generally it’s cocktails – I wish we had them in Australia!

Customs:
1. Measurement and Temperature: The system of measurement and temperature employed in the United States is the imperial system. Miles are used for kilometres, feet for metres, inches for centimetres and Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. Because I was bombarded with this totally different system of measurement and found it frustrating that I couldn’t understand it so I decided to learn the measurement system myself. I learnt that to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit you use this rough formula: Double and add 30 (for example, 20 °C is equivalent to 20 x 2 + 30 = 70 °F) – quite easy really. To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius do the opposite: Subtract 30 and halve (so, 70 °F is equivalent to (70 – 30) / 2 = 20 °C.
To convert between metres and feet, times (for metres to feet) or divide (for feet to metres) by 3.33. 1 metre = 3.33 feet so 20 metres is about 70 feet.
To convert between litres and gallons, times (for litres to gallons) or divide (for gallons to litres) by 3.8. 1 litre = 3.8 gallons so 5 litres is about 20 gallons.

Essentials:
1. Petrol: Petrol (called ‘gasoline’ or ‘gas’ for short) is comparatively cheap in America. 1 gallon typically costs $3.85, which is about $1.00 per litre and can be found as little as 0.95 cents per litres. Interestingly, the majority of America’s petrol comes from Canada, particularly Alberta.
2. Shopping centres: In America shopping centres are called ‘malls’. The biggest shop of them all is Walmart. It contains EVERYTHING you’d want to buy in the one place. From groceries, food market, pharmacy and Subway to a bank, hair and nail salon, electronics and even guns, you can’t go wrong! I love Walmart – we should have one in Australia!
3. Phones: Mobile phones are known as ‘cell phones’ in the States. Prepaid services are comparatively cheap to Australia and include much more. For my prepaid monthly service, I paid $60 for unlimited talk and text to American mobiles and unlimited talk to landlines in Australia, most of Europe and other countries, and 100 megabytes of included data – it is incredibly affordable! The two major phone networks in the States are AT&T and Verizon but I’m with the third biggest T-Mobile, which I find has better service than the other two.

Posted by mccardj 15:27 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (0)

It’s out of this world: Kennedy Space Center

sunny 28 °C

Today I left the beach for space, the Kennedy Space Center to be exact. The centre itself wasn’t as big as the map suggested so it didn’t take me long to get through everything I wanted to, which was a lot, I was really excited about visiting it! My first stop was the Shuttle Launch Experience, a simulation of a real shuttle launch. I was strapped in to a seat and turned vertically as I waited for lift-off. With lift-off, the shuttle shook and rocked slightly, and as the shuttle reached outer space, the roof opened up revealing an enormous Earth and stars – it was really cool!

After my exhilarating space flight, I took a bus to Launch Complex 39, the rocket launch site of NASA. From the observation gantry, I had a clear view of Pad A, where Atlantis was stationed to be launched in a month, the final space shuttle mission as NASA’s space shuttle program is retired.

I hopped on another shuttle to my next destination, the Apollo / Saturn V Centre. I watched a short video about the history of space exploration, then went into the Firing Room, a control room fitted with actual machines used in space missions. The last part of the centre took me to a gigantic, real Saturn V rocket – it was pretty awesome! On my shuttle ride back to the main centre, I saw a bald eagle’s nest, but no bald eagle unfortunately, but sightings are rare anyway.

Upon arrival back to base, I walked through the Astronaut Memorial, a memorial dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives in space. Following that, I checked out the Rocket Garden, a garden of real rockets! I also walked along the gangway used in the Apollo 11 mission.

The last part of my tour through the Kennedy Space Center, took me to the Early Life Exploration exhibit, an exhibition highlighting the Mercury and Gemini space programs and containing Neil Armstrong’s actual spacesuit – it was cool! Finally, I visited the Eye on the Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope exhibit and saw images taken of the cosmos by the Hubble Telescope – it was out of this world!

It was now time to head for my destination for the night – Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and is the oldest continuously-occupied European-established city in the United States. Its historic Spanish architecture was really pretty and the fortress was nice, although I only saw much of the city from the bus.

Tonight I went on a ghost tour on a boat down the Matanzas River, Matanzas means ‘killings’ or ‘slaughters’ in Spanish. The tour guide told some cool ghost stories about how ghosts have been seen on the fortress, in the river and around the lighthouse. I don’t believe in ghosts but I enjoyed the stories nonetheless.

Following the ghost tour, I explored Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It is made of a stone called coquina, Spanish for ‘small shells’. With Natalie, Kelly and Tia, we wandered around the dry moat of the fort in the dark, although there were lights located intermittently around the fort highlighting the vast walls. We were searching for ghosts because in the past many slaughters had occurred at this site and people had claimed to see ghosts in recent years, unfortunately we didn’t see any. Nevertheless, it was exciting walking around a haunted fort at night.

Before heading back to our hotel, we visited another haunted site – a cemetery. Huguenot Cemetery was a Protestant burial ground between the years 1821 and 1884 just prior to a yellow fever epidemic which claimed the lives of a third of the residents in St Augustine. We were told that three young men who fell captive to yellow fever and buried in the cemetery flirt with young, beautiful women who pass by the cemetery, touching their hair, face or even legs – the girls were a bit jumpy about this.

Today was my final day in the state of Florida. Florida is renowned for its production of oranges and offers a range of fun options for the traveller, from amusement parks in Orlando, nightlife in Miami and sun and beach in Cocoa Beach – you can’t go wrong! The average temperature during my week-long stay in Florida was about 30C but it wasn’t stinking hot, but quite pleasant. Florida is a state I would like to spend more time in and explore, particularly Saint Augustine which I didn’t spend enough time in – I could even live in Florida one day!

First time activity:
• Taking a ghost tour on a boat down the Matanzas River

Posted by mccardj 15:02 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged tour ghost space saint_augustine Comments (0)

Cocoa Beach

sunny 31 °C

Today I left Miami to travel north to Cocoa Beach, a popular beach destination in Florida, via Port St Luice again. I decided not to swim today because I had to do laundry, which turned out well for a change.

I went to the Cocoa Beach Pier for dinner. I had a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean at sunset eating grilled salmon – it was really nice! Today was quite a relaxing, uneventful day – tomorrow is the Kennedy Space Centre!

Posted by mccardj 15:01 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged beach Comments (0)

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