Archive | October, 2013

God Bless America – Part 1

23 Oct

A few weeks ago a returned from a fantastic trip on the East Coast of America. It far exceeded my expectations and I am still in complete awe of the place. We managed to cover 9 different states in 7 days and also have a quick two hour trip to Canada.

We did a lot of things, saw a lot of things and because of that I will split the post into a few different posts to break things up a bit. Luckily the shutdown didn’t come into effect until the day after I returned home otherwise this post would not be very interesting at all.

So this was America…

Day 1
It was only a 7 and half hour flight from Zurich to JFK and I landed around lunchtime on Saturday. The food and entertainment on the flight was really good actually. I am not normally one for eating plane food but I ate the lot and watched 2 films as well.

One of the things that I was most concerned about was immigration checks. I had had a few people tell me stories about people not being allowed into the country and being directed to get the next flight back home. Luckily this didn’t happen to me but I did have a grilling from the immigration guy. The weirdest question that he asked me was “Do you make a habit of travelling alone?”. My sarcasm mode was in overdrive but lucky I managed to keep my tongue in check.

I had to then travel to my hotel which was actually in New Jersey. It was a bit of a nightmare. It’s difficult when you are going to a place and city and you are not sure how far or how difficult it is to get to one place or another. To cut a long story short I made it eventually. I checked in and, literally, left straight away to head into New York City.

What I didn’t realise was that the subway has a lot of construction over the weekend so the trains were very regular. It took me about another hour and a half to get back into New York.

The reason why I was in such a rush to get into New York was because I had booked tickets to go to the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre. The Rockefeller Centre is a really tall building in the middle of Manhattan, which gives amazing views of New York and Central Park. I managed to get there just in time for my time to go straight to the top (no queuing!!)

It was a fantastic day to go to the top. It was clear, but a little overcast. I think that this makes the greenry of Central Park stand out even more and makes it more dramatic. See what you think of the picture below.

After the Top of the Rock (and countless photos), I went to St Patrick’s Church. This is the largest Catholic Church in New York and I have heard of it before because it appears in a lot of the Michael Bennett books written by James Patterson. Unfortunately it was undergoing refurbishment and there was a lot of scaffolding up. It was still a beautiful place and very tranquil considering all the hustle and bustle outside the doors.

This was the slogan that was outside the church which I really liked. I think it’s a reminder to everyone to stop for a few moments in a world where we get too caught up in do things in our daily lives.

I then did a whistle stop tour of as much as I could before heading back to the hotel. I walked past the Chrystler building, to Grand Central Station which is the most unbelievable transportation-related building that I have ever seen and Times Square. I was thoughtful enough to work out how to change the shutter speed and apeture settings on my camera to be able to get some great night time pictures.

The whole time that I was walking around New York I couldn’t believe that I was actually there and how like the movies it was. When I asked a police officer for directions he even called me ‘Ma’am’. I just thought that was something that they said in the movies. I didn’t think that it was real life. But it turns out it is…

Day 2
This was the day that I met up with the rest of the group. For the main part of the holiday I was joining up with an organised trip. I had been recommended TrekAmerica (the company whose trip I was joining) a while ago by a fellow traveller but this was the first opportunity I had to go on one of their trips. After a few introductions we loaded up the van and trailer and set off for Washington D.C.

The trip wasn’t too bad and travelling in the van was something that we had to get used to very quickly because there was a lot of time spent in the van looking out of the window. The van was actually a lot more comfortable than I expected, we had a lot more room than I thought we would have, and we could hook up individual iPods or iPhones to the stereo system.

We arrive at a camp site where we were going to be spending the first two nights. I say campsite but this was like no campsite that you would ever find in the UK. It had an outdoor swimming pool (and was the perfect temperature) and a hot tub! As well as a lounge with a 30 inch screen TV, laundry facilities and a small cafe where you could get a soft drink refill for only two dollars.

Later on in the day we drove into Washington to take a tour of the monuments on the National Mall at night. All the monuments are illuminated and look very impressive at night. We saw the White House, Capitol Hill, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. The Americans certainly know how to make monuments to their war dead and just monuments in general. Seeing the monuments lit up at night was pretty impressive and a great way to make sure that the monuments are accessible to people around the clock and not just during the day.

After a few hours wandering around and taking in the sights and a lot of America history. We headed back to the campsite for a well earned rest to get ready for the next day…

Come fly with me

18 Oct

This week I was luckily enough to be taken by private jet to a hearing aid conference in Germany.

It was  a fantastic experience (one that will probably never be repeated unfortunately) that I will never forget.

It was an extremely long day because the private airport wasn’t in Zurich canton so it was an early start to get to the conference by 10am. The airport that we flew from was slightly strange as it had been converted from a small military base. It was in the middle of a valley and a few meters away from the runway cows were grazing. It was a bit of a shock to get out of the car to hear the tingling of cow bells!

I could definitely get used to this jet-setting lifestyle. Here is a picture on me back on terra firma in Switzerland in the evening.

Private plane