It has been another rammed few weeks, covering stops in Toronto, Niagara, Montreal, Quebec City, Boston and New York! Its been an awesome few weeks, and some of the highlights have been:
I certainly didn't expect French to be so dominant here, all the signs and billboards are in French...quite a contrast from the relatively nearby Toronto. One cool thing I observed was in peoples conversations, one person spoke in French, and the other would respond in English, and then they would swap halfway through a sentence! Makes it hard for a sticky beak like me to eavesdrop on peoples juicy stories! A brilliant city none-the-less, with some great architecture, cobbled streets, and weather so cold I had all the contents of my backpack on.
I couldn't find anyone who spoke English. My French basically covered me saying English words, but making them sound French! The city is inside a wall, and stepping within the walls is pretty much akin to stepping back in time a few centuries. I got a ride up with two Australian women. The girl who hired the car was possibly the single worst driver.......EVER (knocked a few years off me I reckon!). After leaving the road and swerving sharply on several occasions (usually because she was distracted by a view or something), I asked bluntly her if she wanted me to take over. She insisted she was fine (obviously didn't get the hint!), so as she continued to drive, I started drafting up my legal will on my phone as an sms. With snow on the road, I wasn't too confidant really! Just in case you are wondering, it's all coming into the coffin with me, except my toe nail clippings, and my Billy Ray Cyrus shrine....they are up for grabs.
BACK TO THE USA
The US border was no a happy place for one Amos Joel Rojter. I was questioned thoroughly by immigration, having to pull out every document I had. The customs officer, who I'd say was a few clowns short of a circus, couldn't understand how I was travelling without working. After about 20 minutes of interrogating me (whilst the bus luckily waited for me), he finally allowed me in, but not without confiscating a packet of twi minute noodles from my bag (oh yes he did!). Security is ridiculous in the USA, even going to the Statue of Liberty involved getting half naked!
A really nice city. It has the oldest subway system in America, and was clearly built by the early Irish immigrants, who must have started construction after a guiness or five! No part of the tunnel is ever straight. Standing up straight as the train moves, is similar to being a beginner surfer or snowboarder! You have to hold on for dear life as the train swings around the twisting tunnels! Whilst in Boston, I had a drink at Cheers (the bar from the sitcom, no Norm there though, and Kirstie Alley was shooting another Jenny Craig ad I think), and went to an NBA game at the famous Boston Garden....and later again to one at Madison Square Garden in New York....great fun!
FUNG WA BUS
Being on a strict backpacker budget, I caught the well-priced Chinatown bus from Boston to New York for $15. You will recall my pleasant plane ride to Vegas with the Japanese businessmen and there incessant spitting? Well, if they were the three tenors, we had the whole orchestra on this ride! Keeping them all in time, was a lady in front of me, who kept burping (she excused herself after the first burp....which I guess must have covered her for the next 40 or so!). Canada is so much classier than the US, thats for sure!
NEW YORK CITY
New York, what can I say, it is something else! It is impossible to get bored in this city...its always switched on! I started out staying up in Harlem, which is full of skinny African-Americans in big puffy jackets, loitering on every street corner trying to intimidate you! Luckily I managed to avoid the odds, and not get mugged! The hostel provides complimentary stab/bullet proof vests, a Harlem slang phrase book, and the lyrics to a 50 Cent track, so I was armed with the nessesities!
New Yorkers are certainly from a different stock. I witnessed several random arguments between people out in public, including one guy going nuts at another bloke for walking within a metre of him! If you're a driver at a red light, and the light turns green, if you dont get moving withing 0.056 of a second, you will get honked repeatedly! Even though there is a $350 fine for honking (as is signposted everywhere!).
Well, I am getting ready to leave for Portugal now, Europe awaits!