USA Holiday 2001

Date: 01/09/2001 to 30/09/2001

In the Summer of 2001, I went on a trip to America with Karl, Claire, Wheeler and Al. Here is an account of what went on, together with some photos

Day 2: Miami & Travelling to Orlando

On our first proper day of the holiday, we had planned to move straight up to Orlando, as this was where most of what we wanted to do was. Of course we couldn't leave without seeing something in Miami, so we set off for Miami beach early in the morning. We found a small cafe to have breakfast in, then went to the beach. Even at about 11:00 in the morning the water was incredibly warm, at least by the standards that we are used to! Tim & Karl went for a swim in their clothes (why did we leave our swimming gear in the car???) ignoring the news we had heard in the hotel that morning about the 8 recent shark attacks! Went to a bar on the seafront and had the first of our ID troubles - the age for drinking is 21 over there and you need ID!

When we ordered our car back in England, the literature stated our car would have a cassette player, so we came armed with a minidisc, loads of mds and a cassette adapter. It was fairly obvious that the car would actually have a CD player! We had got fed up of the radio already so stopped in for some CDs for the long journey ahead - picked up Blink 182 and Gorillaz. Armed with CDs, we started the journey up to Orlando. Decided to take a stop off in Fort Lauderdale, to see what the fuss about the beach was and for a spot of lunch. After driving round for ages looking for somewhere to get some food, we headed for the beach. Where we parked the car was behind a long stretch of high-rise hotels, all with grounds that you couldn't get throught to the beach. So we ended up walking for miles to reach the beach, and had a bit of a play in the sea. Lovely and warm, but a shame about all of the sea-weed. It was also very uncomfortable walking on the sand - was incredibly hot!

Got back to the car and settled onto the Florida Bee-line, a private road that was a nice easy drive all of the way to Orlando. Started seeing all of these signs for Yee-Haw, a tourist place offering reduced price theme park tickets and accommodation, so we made up our minds to stop in there. We had been using hotel vouchers bought in the UK for £50/night, which we thought was fairly reasonable. However, this place found us a hotel for $29/night, even closer than we were before! We booked this up for the rest of our stay, but had to be content with the hotel that we had booked with the voucher for that night. Me & Karl went for a quick dip in the pool from where we watched the lightning storm currently going on (very safe!!!), then headed to a Sizzler for a steak. Back to the hotel, we were all shattered and went to bed after a quick drink in the bar

Karl, Rich & Al on Miami Beach Karl & Tim in the sea off Miami Beach Karl, Tim & Rich on Miami Beach

Day 3: Shopping and Cinema

The third day of the holiday was relatively quiet, as it was labor day (an American holiday) so we figured we would go shopping instead of visit the theme parks. After beginning our new regular habit of all-you-can-eat breakfasts, we went to some outlet stores and picked up stuff very cheaply - trainers, designer gear etc... We also bought a five-park multi-day ticket that would get us into all of the Universal theme parks for 14 days. We had decided that we would not bother with the Disney parks as the Universal ones were more suited to our age range, and we didn't have the time to do everything! We could have easily spent two or three weeks in Florida, but we had other plans.

Also while shopping we came across an offer for dinner & a movie for $17 each, so we made plans to take this offer up. Checked into the new hotel and then went to CityWalk (Universal Studios night-time leisure complex full of bars & clubs). We had burgers in an NBA themed restaurant, before moving on to Pat O'Briens for a couple of drinks before the film. Went to see American Pie II - has to be one of the funniest films of the year! Afterwards we popped into a motown bar for another couple of drinks before heading home. We obviously didn't know our way around as the journey back to the hotel (1/2 mile away) took about 5 miles!

After shopping Outside Universal Studios at night The view across Univeral Studios at night Sitting in Pat O'Briens in Citywalk

Day 4: Sea World

Our first proper day of doing the traditional Florida stuff, we decided to go to Sea World. We started the day in the normal way - an all-you-can-eat breakfast. Then we got to Sea World quite early, and went to just about all of the attractions. We started with the Shamu show, since this is the most famous of them all. We also saw the Dolphin show, Sea-Lion and Otter show and the Intensity Games (a waterskiing and jet-skiing show).

When we got back to the hotel, it began really raining, so we played out in the rain for a bit. There was almost enough water to swim in (as illustrated by Karl!) and it was coming down so fast you could have mistaken it for a power shower - hang on a minute! For a meal, we decided to go to Charley's, one of the top-ten steakhouses in America. Tim had a 32oz steak, while us three settled for 20oz ones. It was nice, but I wouldn't have said worth the money. We finished the night off by going for a game of bowling on the way home.

Flamingoes Shamu jumping About to get very wet! The Dolphin show Dolphins underwater Dolphins underwater Impressive collection of Waterskiiers! Karl swimming in the car park Why use the showers when... ...you can stand outside??? Tim eyeing up his 32oz steak

Day 5: Universal Studios

For the next day of our holiday, we went to Universal Studios. As normal, it was a brilliantly sunny day (in the morning!). We made a list of all of the good rides we wanted to go on, and started working our way around these, beginning with the Twister. When we came out of this we obviously had to go and see the Blues Brothers performance (especially for Karl!!!). Went on some more rides, including the King Kong ride and Earthquake. As we were walking over to find the Back to the Future ride, we came across a trick-shot setup, which made it look like we were standing in front of the space shuttle. Check out the second photo which shows what was really going on!

At this point, the weather started closing in, and rides started to get cancelled due to bad weather! After a drink to try and wait out some of the weather, we decided to go to the other theme park in the same complex, Islands of Adventure. We queued up for the front seat of the first ride, and even got into the seat before they decided that they would cancel it "due to inclement weather conditions". Went round the rest of the park, going on some pretty amazing rides, especially the spiderman ride which was a 3D thing where you need glasses and still go round in a car. Would recommend it to anyone!

Karl gets involved Blues brothers make their getaway Standing in front of the space shuttle... ...or is it? Tim and Karl get naked!

Day 6: Kennedy Space Centre

On Day 6 we took the long drive to Kennedy Space Centre, as the weather didn't look too good and we thought that we would save Busch Gardens for a day where most of the rides wouldn't get cancelled! We took all of the tours available - Al was in tourist heaven, especially once he found the gift shop. I have never seen anyone use as many rolls of film in one go! Finished the day off with a few drinks back at the hotel

They can fit people in these things? The shuttle launch pad The other shuttle launch pad A shuttle engine The Vehicle Assembly Building The back of a Saturn Rocket (it is huge!) Group photo using timer - take 1 - d'oh! Take 2! Just to give the impression of how big this thing is A capsule from the International Space Station Drinks back at the hotel

Day 7: Busch Gardens

We could not visit Florida without taking a trip to Busch Gardens. Although it was a long way, it had much better rides than anywhere else, especially in England! Comedy moments included the bridge over the tidal wave ride, which Karl seemed to enjoy getting repeatedly soaked on. As I was there, we had to go and see the Dolphin show, although it was basically another take on the show at Sea World, with many of the same lines used! However, some of the tricks they got the dolphins to do were new and it was well worth it.

After we got back, we went to Citywalk again (as it was Friday night). After a quick trip back to the hotel room for me (they wouldn't accept my id!) we went into a night-club.

Blues Brothers Look over there!... There it goes again... Which is Karl? Karl gets too close Tigers Dolphin jumping How high can these things go? Dolphin soaking everyone Two dolphins jumping I can fly!!! Dolphins showing themselves Tim in the nightclub wearing a necklace!

Day 11: Exploring New Orleans

This day being September 11th started very strangely when we put the television on. The World Trade Centres and the Pentagon had already been hit, and they were just falling down. We all thought that it was a movie or something to start with. The realisation that this was actually happening was awful. We decided that we had better call by somewhere so we could check e-mail and send messages home that we were ok. We were all expecting paniced e-mails of "are you caught up in this?" even though we had told everyone where we would be when!

Spent the rest of the day walking around New Orleans, trying to find alternative accommodation and sorting out what we would do for the rest of the week.

New Orleans Skyline

Day 12: Bourbon Street

New Orleans is famous for it's drinking establishments along Bourbon Street, so we decided that today would be the time to test them out. We started in a bar called the BBC which had a nice 3 for 1 happy hour offer, and things went rapidly downhill from there! Later happenings included a series of rather dodgy balloon modelling incidents and Karl getting his arse out on stage in front of the whole pub. And us getting drunk.

The barmaid and the MC Drinks at the BBC Drinks at the BBC Al with the barmaid Dodgy balloon modelling Some more dodgy balloon modelling Just in case anyone was worried about us, we are fine here! I bet Karl wouldn't show his arse on stage in front of the whole bar... ... aaagh!  Not again!  No Need! The MC Fighting back in the hotel

Day 13: Swamp Tour

As most people were hungover from the night before me & claire went off for a walk and went to Armstrong park in the morning.

When the others emerged, we took one of the swamp tours, which was on an airboat. This was a really noisy bugger, but was really good fun. The bloke took us round the swamp and we saw alligators and other wildlife.

In the evening we went back out on Bourbon Street, where we met up with some people who were also travelling around. They got chucked out of the bar we were in, but we saw them hanging out of the window of another when we moved on, so went to join them. Unfortunately they then got chucked out of there due to one of them not having ID, so we got take-outs and sat drinking on the street corner for the rest of the night.

Armstrong Park The airboat before the swamp tour A Dragonfly The thing on the bloke's hand in the next photo! Our tour guide shows us an insect An alligator Another airboat Drinking on the street corner with the Big Kev crew Drinking on the street corner with the Big Kev crew Drinking on the street corner with the Big Kev crew More fighting back at the hotel!

Day 14: Walking around New Orleans & Big Kev Trip

Another Jesters Buildings around New Orleans New Orleans World Trade Centre The oldest pub in New Orleans The hotel we stayed in Big Kev! Inside Big Kev BBQ at the campsite Big Kev with its crew All of us with Big Kev

Day 16: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Maid of the mist at Niagara Falls Karl, Claire, Rich and Al Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Going to Cananda Niagara Falls Niagara Falls by night Niagara Falls by night

Day 17: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls Maid of the mist at Niagara Falls No Standing - Tow Away Zone Niagara Falls from Goat Island Niagara Falls from Goat Island Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Rich, Claire and Karl

Day 19: Exploring DC

The White House Claire trying to watch the men in uniform

Day 20: Washington Memorials

Lincoln Karl gets attention from Claire and Erica

Day 21: Around DC

Day 23: New York

Day 24: Last day in NYC

Day 25: Al's Birthday

Day 26: Walking around Boston

This concept was too much for Karl and Tim

Day 27: Walking around Boston

Herman's World of Sporting Goods! Drinks in the Cheers bar

Day 28: Last full day of Holiday

Claire being VERY hungover! Eating lobster