In May 2009, my friend and I decided to embark on an amazing journey across the USA, and I recently stumbled across my journal from those exciting three months. Here's a little snippet into our fantastic travelling experience...
So, we arrived! After months of planning and not really believing our own hype, we finally made it to the Windy City. After an eight-hour flight we were tired and restless, but managed to stay up fairly late before going to sleep. After all, it was 2am in England and we just couldn't fight it any longer!
The hostel was clean, safe and very central. They absolutely love cream over there - they have whipped cream butter, half milk/half cream and when we asked for a regular ice cream, it turned out to be more like a tub! We ventured to Navy Pier - went on a boat tour of the skyline, and then we walked the Magnificent Mile - surrounded by Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany! Of course, being on a strict budget meant we could only look and not touch.
We decided to see the skyline from a different view point and bought a sun and stars ticket up to the top of Hancock Observatory - and seeing the city by night was absolutely breath taking. We then rolled up to the Hard Rock Cafe for a couple of beers - it was hilarious that the two English girls were drinking bottles of Bud Light and the two guys next to us were sipping fruity cocktails!
We tucked into a slice of pizza pie at Gino's - which turned out to be a little disappointing when Isy found a questionable black curly hair in hers!
After four days in bustling Chicago we hopped on to a Greyhound bus, left our hairy Canadian room mates behind and made our way to Louisville to tuck into Southern fried chicken washed down with some whiskey. We arrived quite late in Kentucky and checked into a cheap motel. The food portions were certainly super-sized, but our backpacks were so heavy, I think we burned off any extra cals we were taking on. It was much more relaxed than they city buzz of Chicago and the locals were really friendly. We decided to go along to the Slugger museum, to learn about the creation of the baseball bat - but, we weren't really too interested in how they were made - we just wanted our free mini slugger - well worth the ten dollar entry fee! We started feeling a little homesick, so we couldn't resist going to a "British" pub, where the eccentric barman befriended us, and I got very excited with talk of American Idol!
After a brief stay, it was on to Nashville - and after surviving another bus trip we made it to Tennessee and headed straight out for a huge portion of Southern fried food and a jug of Sangria! Then, it was on to some honky tonk bar, complete with cowboy hats on the ceiling, where a honky tonk band were belting out country classics. Isy found the fact that they seriously dressed up as cowboys hysterical! Our hostel was a little weird - a little hippy-like and a bit too "open" for my liking!
We definitely had our fill of toe-tapping tunes after a few days in the country music capital, and it was up early to catch a bus to Memphis to visit the King! We'd had a great time in Nashville - we'd gone on a strange boat cruise, with a buffet and live band - it was really beautiful, but full of golden oldies and Christian couples. So, after a tiring journey to Memphis, we waddled along the street with our backpacks on and stumbled across the "best burger bar in town"! We were so hungry we practically inhaled it! The hostel was lovely - really clean and we even had our own room - but, we had to do a chore each day to earn our keep!
We checked out the famous Beale Street - which was brimming with local, live bands in each bar. The next day we headed over to Graceland (which I was secretly really excited about - I mean who doesn't love a bit of Elvis!) it was bizarre, but in a very quirky way. And, it was actually quite emotional to stand next to his grave.
Now, I'm a bit of a plain Jane when it comes to food - but I took it upon myself to at least try a few new things, like grits - which tasted like crunchy porridge. We also munched on some "biscuits" - which are actually scones that are eaten with sausages and a creamy gravy!
By the end of our stay we were ready to move on to the next location, and luckily, Alabama was only a short four-hour bus ride away, and we were treating ourselves to a cheap hotel. But, that didn't exactly go to plan, when our bus broke down in the middle of nowhere for five hours! We weren't brave enough to use the toilet on the bus, and the temperature was scorching - but, no one complained. In fact, one passerby even stopped to bring us snacks, drinks and cigarettes! Can you imagine that ever happening in Britain!
So, after nine, painfully long hours, we were desperate for the loo and starving hungry - but we were relieved to have the luxury of a double bed each and, a swimming pool! Which, evidently, was the coldest pool I've ever been in - and after psyching myself up for ten minutes, I eventually got in and soon came to the conclusion that swimming didn't actually help! So, we chilled out in our room, watched trashy American soaps, washed our handful of belongings and caught up on come much needed sleep.