sarahblack: (Glance)
I can't believe the first half of my trip around the world is coming to an end. Tomorrow I'm flying to Iceland for a four day break, and then I'm heading to Paris!

But before I go to Europe I want to finish telling you about New York.

Yesterday was spent shopping in SoHo (where I randomly overheard an Icelandic couple speaking to each other in Icelandic while waiting to cross the street), visiting China Town and Little Italy, and trying (but failing) to win the Book of Mormon lottery.

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Little Italy


I didn't buy a lot. Mostly just a bit of gym stuff that I needed to replace and some Secret things from a girl called Victoria. I tried to find a perfume that my mother asked for, but apparently they aren't selling it anymore. (Except for old supplies that are being sold online.) I could have used my sister's help with the shopping. She would have managed to get all the Christmas presents for everyone, and also presents for upcoming birthdays.

After Juan and I failed to win the Book of Mormon lottery he took me to visit his parents. They live in the Bronx! I was a bit scared to go there, but it was actually a really nice part of the Bronx. I dropped some postcards in a postbox there, hopefully they will be postmark will reflect the location.

Today I went on the Gossip Girl tour that I received as a gift from a few awesome girls. (You know who you are!) The tour was so much fun! My favourite part was getting to sit on the MET steps, go inside the Empire Hotel, and window shop at Henri Bendel and Harry Winston. I almost bought a Blair inspired headband at Henri Bendel, but I couldn't justify spending 48 dollars on a headband. It was very sleek and chic, though.

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I bummed around Time Square for the rest of the afternoon. Plenty to see and do! Mainly I got lost inside the Disney store and lamented the fact that I could not fit in all the princess dresses that they had for sale there. Seriously, this is a gross injustice.

Before it was time to go see the Lion King, I went to Joe's Pizzeria for a real New York pizza. It was super busy in there. Understandably, as the pizza was delicious! I had one with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and black olives. Beautiful!

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The Lion King show was a lot of fun. I had bought pretty cheap seats, so I was nearly at the very back! However, I was almost in the centre of the row and had a very good view of the stage. The costumes blew me away! I wish I could have seen them up close to appreciate the detail, but being far away helped me see the 'animals' instead of actors in costume. I thought the giraffes and the hyenas were particularly convincing.

Once the show was finished I got to see evening version of Times Square. It's nearly as bright as day time!

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Anyway, I'm off to sleep now. I have an Icelandair flight to catch tomorrow!
sarahblack: (Giselle dress)
So much has happened since last I posted! I feel like I have a week's worth of things to talk about. But it boils down to three things:

1. I spent an afternoon with Jessica and Noah in Washington DC on Sunday.

2. I've been doing a whole bunch of tourist things today and yesterday in New York.

3. I've been hanging out with my couch surfing host and his friends.

Click here if you're interested in the details and some pictures! )
sarahblack: (Bertie Wooster)
Right now I'm in Baltimore! How weird is that? I'm staying with my friend Flo, and she's been showing me around. I'll be in DC tomorrow, and then in New York for the rest of the week.

I really want to write a little bit about the Amazon before I forget all about it.

It was amazing. Amazing! I stayed for two nights in a reserve called Tambopata, and there were parrots at the reserve, and humming birds, and animals that I don't even know the names of! We went for a night walk on the first evening, and we saw loads of crickets, moths, ants (carrying those little pieces of leaves - just like in the movies) and a chicken spider! The chicken spider was probably bigger than my hand. Apparently they grow to be the size of dinner plates. They kind of look like tarantulas, but they live in holes and pounce on little sticks that annoying tour guides poke inside their homes.

The morning after was spent exploring the jungle, checking out enormous trees and feeding the piranha fish. (Don't worry, we just gave them crackers. No humans were harmed.) Also, we saw some monkeys and partridges from far away. I really liked the trees. They were truly amazing. Especially one tree that had originally climbed up a different tree, and eventually killed it in order to survive. The old dead tree then disappeared, leaving the new tree kind of empty on the inside, so that tourists can walk in there and pretend to be prisoners in a natural wooden cage.

In the afternoon we visited a farm that grows pineapple, papaya, avocado, all sorts of citrus fruit, peppers, bananas, star fruit and... cheese fruit. Cheese fruit smells horrible. It might help cure cancer, though. We got to taste some of the fruit, and I am so in love with papaya. It is utter yum!

The second evening included a night boat ride. We saw caimans (little crocodiles), baby caimans and giant hamsters! Mostly I just liked being on the river in the dark. It was exciting, and you could really listen to the sounds of the jungle.

Sadly, we did not spot any anacondas. Oh, well. Next time!

I had a bungalow to myself to sleep in. It was really beautiful, but had no glass in the windows! Just mesh netting. There was also a mosquito net over my bed. On the verandah there was a hammock! I spent hours in the hammock just chilling with a book. It was fairly awesome.

I didn't get sunburnt, and I didn't get completely devoured by mosquitos. Probably because it was "cold" and cloudy. I didn't need a jacket, so I didn't think it was cold. But clearly the mosquitos thought it was. Hah!

The flight to New York from Peru was uneventful, and the train ride from New York to Baltimore went well too. I found Flo's place, and we spent yesterday afternoon/evening exploring the inner harbour and eating at the Cheesecake factory. (Mmmmm. I'm so happy I was able to go there again!)

Today she showed me the campus of her University (she goes to Johns Hopkins because she is a genius) and I got a T-shirt! We also checked out the fair in town - Artscape. I tasted a corn dog, funnel cake and fresh squeezed lemonade. I think my arteries may never recover, but it was delicious!

Anyway, I think I have deprived the lovely Flo of her computer for long enough.


P.S. I'll be in Iceland next weekend! That is so bizarre.
sarahblack: (Johnny Depp <3)
I can't believe it's my last day in LA! Where does the time go?

Yesterday Sigthor took me out to Joshua Tree National Park. It was a bit of a drive, but we stopped at Krispy Kreme and got a dozen heart attacks to keep us going. (A warm from the oven Krispy Kreme doughnut should not be allowed to exist. Too delicious. Jesus.)

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I loved Joshua Tree. It had the most amazing scenery! First there was this part which was full of cacti. Really weird cacti! And then we drove into this area which was sort of like the Flintstones had been filmed there. All these huge, smooth-looking, grey boulders. They were fun to clamber over. Then there were the Joshua trees. They are so silly-looking and awesome!

Joshua Tree )

Today I decided to sleep in. It was the greatest sleeping I ever did. And then I went to Hollywood!

It was my second time in Hollywood, but it was much more interesting than my first time. Way more stuff going on in the afternoon than early in the morning. I also had more time to look for stars in the sidewalk. I found the stars belonging to Marilyn Monroe, Snow White, Britney Spears and Johnny Depp. Also, I met Jack Sparrow!

Pictures )

After Hollywood I went back to Silver Lake where Sigthor lives, and he took me to a local coffee house - Intelligentsia. Apparently it's the most 'in' coffee house in LA. Sigthor once saw Steve Tyler there. I had a very delicious Mocha which was made for me by a bunch of hipsters.

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I asked for it extra chocolate-y. ♥

Anyway, I should really go pack my stuff or something. I have to be at the airport at early o'clock in the morning.
sarahblack: (Karen Gillian being gorgeous)
I've been having a fun couple of days in LA!

Yesterday I went with Sigthor and his daughter Juliana to Norm's diner for brunch. It's been around since the 50s, and it's very American. You can get 'hotcake' stacks (American pancakes that are served with whipped butter and syrup), eggs and bacon, French toast drizzled with powdered sugar, and every other unhealthy breakfast food that you could imagine. It was awesome.

I ate pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns! So yeah... I didn't really need to eat again for the rest of the day.

After recovering from brunch, Juliana and I went to Rodeo Drive! I had so much fun walking up and down the street, staring at all the beautiful window displays, taking pictures, breaking my neck trying to watch all the sexy convertibles zoom up and down the road, and just soaking up the atmosphere. The buildings are just as pretty as the the products being sold inside, and the palm trees and the blue sky give everything such a glamorous feel! We didn't spot any celebs, but we did see some very rich people. It's hard to imagine being that rich.

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I'm just strolling in there to buy a Rolex...


More pictures from Rodeo Drive )

Sigthor took me to the Griffith Observatory later in the day. We were there just in time to catch some pictures of the Hollywood hills at sunset. It was a bit too hazy for good clear pictures of the Hollywood sign - but you can see it in some of the pictures if you look closely.

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The Griffith Observatory is a pretty popular film location - if you've seen Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, it's where Demi Moore and the Angels have a gun fight - but apparently it was also used in a James Dean film. So of course there is a convenient James Dean monument to pose with.

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The evening was spent at a local cinema, watching The Amazing Spiderman. The cinema was so cool! It's tiny and the inside is decorated all Egyptian style, the man who checked our tickets at the door was dressed up as Siderman, and they had butter popcorn!

Today was just as fun. It's the Fourth of July, so people generally have a day off. My local friend [livejournal.com profile] promiseoftin was therefore able to spend an afternoon showing me around Venice Beach and feeding me cheesecake.

Venice beach was a lot of fun. There were people selling their art, a few street performers, people who wanted to help you get your 'Medical Marijuana License', one religious nut, and loads of muscular people. Apparently there was some kind of muscle competition going on, and Al Pacino was there to present an award! (Al Pacino appears at Muscle Beach contest)

I can't believe I saw Al Pacino.

Anyway, we went to the Cheesecake Factory after, and it was amazing! I had a lunch-sized pasta dish (which seemed pretty full-sized to me) and of course some cheesecake for dessert. I had a raspberry lemon cream cheesecake. I'm pretty sure it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Yum!

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We checked out downtown LA, saw Union Station and drove through Chinatown and Little Tokyo among other things. It was a blast!

This evening has been rather relaxed - aside from all the noise from the fireworks. The poor cat of the house is quite frightened and keeps jumping on my lap to be kept safe.

I did go with Juliana and her friend Erica up to the roof to look at the fireworks, though. It was almost like New Year in Reykjavik! Or a war zone. Maybe both.




P.S. In other news - They may have found the Higgs boson at last!

I have no words. This is just beyond cool. I'm so happy it happened in Higgs' lifetime. Must be amazing to see your theory come to life like that. ♥
sarahblack: (Jessica Rabbit)
The Grand Canyon and Las Vegas in one entry? This might get a bit long.

When I first saw the canyon I couldn't really believe my eyes. It isn't possible to explain with words or pictures how massive it is. It's not just the tangible size, it's the weight of its history as well. It's hard to believe that water - the same stuff you drink from a glass every day without even thinking about it - is capable of creating something like that.

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I spent half a day at the canyon with my group. We walked some of the different trails along the rim, took oodles of photos, spotted squirrels, deer and the Colorado river, stopped to post some postcards from the canyon post office, and ended the day at a beautiful spot, enjoying the sunset along with a slice of hot pizza.

The canyon is amazing in the day, but it is awe inspiring in the twilight hours. The play of shadows, the different colours as it gets darker, the backdrop of the evening sky...

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I loved it. ♥

It isn't easy to top an experience like a visit to the Grand Canyon, but Las Vegas comes very close.

My group drove to Vegas - stopping to look at some interesting sights along Route 66 - in the scorching desert heat. Thank Willis Haviland Carrier for air conditioning! I don't think it would be possible to drive for any amount of time in the desert without the AC on full blast. (Unless you're lucky enough to drive a convertible, but then you need to worry about sunburn!)

Route 66 was quite cool, but Las Vegas is a much more interesting subject.

After stopping at a Goodwill store to stock up on Hawaiian-themed clothes for the evening, we checked into the Stratosphere hotel, washed the desert dust off, and headed for adventure!

It all started with a red Hummer limo. It took a party of 14 crazy kids, dressed in silly Hawaiian get-ups, to see the sights of Vegas.

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We cruised along the Strip, saw the rock show at Fremont street, checked out the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign, and watched the fountain show in front of the Bellagio. The song it was set to while we were there was one of my favourites - 'All That Jazz' from Chicago. Once the limo ride was over it was time to have some fun at the New York New York casino - where you can see a miniature Statue of Liberty! I met up with a couple of guys who were having a bachelor party and the stag made the best man buy me a Martini in exchange for my Hawaiian lei (flower chain)!

The following evening was even better. After a fun day of sightseeing and hanging out by the hotel pool, I got dressed up in a sparkly black dress and went to see Mystère! It's a Cirque du Soleil show, full of acrobatics, humour and dancing. The clown was my favourite. He wasn't in a clown costume, though. He did things like steal people's popcorn and throw it at other people, kidnap audience members and steal their seats/girlfriends, tease the ringmaster, and generally cause mayhem and wreak havoc!

After the show I headed over to the Bellagio and gambled away an entire dollar!

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On the way to the Bellagio I met Elvis.


At a bar at the Bellagio I was adopted by another bachelor party. Most of the guys were Indian American, but I mainly spent time with a Korean American called Joe. He showed me how to play craps at the Flamingo! At the craps table we met some other interesting people - a high roller from North Carolina, and a guy from New York who was in Vegas to watch his sister compete at a poker tournament. I also tried my hand at Texas Hold'Em while I was at the Flamingo. I didn't spend too much on it - I just wanted to play a hand. To be able to say that I did it. I nearly won my round - but the dealer had a lucky hand.

After a late night/early morning batch of cheese & bacon fries along with a root beer float, I walked over to the Bellagio to see if the rumour of a 6 AM fountain show was true. It wasn't, but the hotel in the early morning light was beautiful.

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As I crawled into bed around 7 AM, I ended up sleeping most of my final day in Vegas away. But I did go to a nice buffet. I should have skipped the main course and gone straight to the desserts! There were so many delicious treats. I won't torture you with descriptions. Let's just say that I spent the rest of the evening in a food coma.

Right now I'm back in LA. I'm staying with Sigthor - a photographer I worked with in Iceland when he was there. I can see the Hollywood sign from his kitchen window! I'll be in LA until I leave for Peru early next Saturday. I'm quite looking forward to the Fourth of July! Should be fun to experience it in the States.
sarahblack: (Supermodel Cher)
Sorry about the lack of updates. I haven't been able to access a proper computer until now. I've been able to check my email a few times on my phone, but now I want to take the time to tell you guys what I've been up to in the US of A!

The flight from New Zealand was long but not unpleasant. Air New Zealand really is a great airline to fly with. The food is pretty good for airplane food, they serve wine with the meals in Economy class, and there are tons of films and shows to watch on their entertainment system.

I got from the airport to my hotel without running into any trouble. I was surprised - I thought security at American airports was meant to be a pain. I did have to scan my fingerprints, but that was about it. And the airport staff was really friendly and nice.

I met up with my group at the hotel, and we went out for some Greek food. My first time eating Greek food, actually! I'm going to have to check whether actual Greek food tastes the same if I manage to swing by Greece later this summer. I had Moussaka, and it was pretty damn good.

The second day in LA was really eventful. We went to Rodeo drive and saw the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel. It's the hotel that Richard Gere took Julia Roberts to in Pretty Woman! I really wish I could afford to shop on Rodeo drive - the shops are all so pretty! (And full of very pretty things. Except for the shop with the hideous 80s-looking Valentino dresses in the window. What was that?)

We drove through Beverly Hills and looked at the pretty houses, took some photos with the Hollywood sign and checked out the Walk of Fame. I really liked seeing the hand- and shoe-prints of the Harry Potter trio in front of the Chinese theatre. But I didn't like the fact that the Twilight trio was right next to them! Boo.

The Walk of Fame had some very interesting characters wandering around. I saw Yoda and Spiderman, and one guy who may have been trying to impersonate Jack Sparrow. Badly.

We went to Santa Monica and looked at the beach, the pier and a pedestrian shopping street. The weather was perfect and the Pacific looked sparkly and blue. Just the way it ought to look. There were rides (a rollercoaster, Ferris wheel, etc.) on the pier, but I didn't try them. I just walked around, watched the people who were fishing off the edge of the pier, and spied on the street performers and artists who were trying to make a buck using various methods. One guy had a bunch of parrots that he would decorate people with so that they could get photos of themselves covered in parrots! They were really big parrots, too.

After all of that we drove to San Diego, camped and had a barbecue party!

The next day (yesterday) was spent in San Diego. I went to the beach and got sunburnt in all of the places where I couldn't quite reach with the sunblock, or where I didn't use enough. Mainly my feet look like they belong to a lobster, but my back is quite sore as well. But I have a medicated sunburn ointment from home and some Aloe Vera to treat myself with so I should be okay.

Aside from burning myself up on the beach, I also went with the group to check out a Steakhouse where a scene from Top Gun was filmed, an old fashioned sail-ship that was made to be used in Master and Commander, and a big aircraft carrier that was used in WWII. We also checked out the gaslight district of downtown San Diego. The evening was spent in the same way as the evening before - camping and having a barbecue party!

Today we drove through the Californian desert into the desert of Arizona. It was a hot ride! But we got to see some very pretty sand dunes - just like in the Sahara! We also saw the fence that separates the US from Mexico.

So far I really like the US, though. They people are friendly, and the scenery is truly amazing. I can't really describe it in a way that does it justice. I tried to take some photos, but you know how photos taken out of the window of a moving bus don't really look all that great... I did get some good shots of the sand dunes, though. They were so cool very very burning hot!

Arizona is insanely hot, too. I'm so glad I'm sleeping in an air conditioned hotel room tonight. Camping in this heat would be terrible.

Right now I'm doing some laundry at our hotel in Phoenix, but after that I am going to have a well earned rest. Being on a bus all day is exhausting! (Also, I need to put on some more Aloe Vera. My poor abused skin!)

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Sarah Black

March 2015

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