EAST TO WESTCOAST ROADTRIP- NORTHBOUND (recap)

Crossing the country from east to west via the Northern States in a van with a bunch of great and funny people make out of 21 days the roadtrip of a lifetime! Jealous? You should be…here comes the long promised recap (and thanks Mel and Susanne for your mails remembering me to do it…the road makes me terribly lazy):

  • Checked out again Niagara Falls but this time from the American side and couldn’t remember that I enjoyed so much getting wet!!! 
  • Ohio and a day full of contrast: Amish communities in the afternoon (if you read their interpretation of the Bible for children the Catholic Austrian countryside will appear very liberal to you) and rollercoaster @ Cedar Point in the evening!
  • Back in Chicago!! Pizza, Cycling, blues and enjoying a free concert of the Jayhawks!…and seeing a guy performing the weirdest dance ever with his girlfriend!
  • Big 3rd of July party (it’s so mainstream to celebrate the 4th of July) organized by Kate’s friends in the Twin Cities! Perfect day! 
  • Crossing South Dakota- the weirdest State ever! They have the only Corn Palace in the world (building dedicated to corn) …and honestly no one is gonna copy that!…
  • Hiking the Badlands, visiting Mount Rushmore…
  • Our tent got blown away with us at Devil’s Tower in the morning…it was funny! Recovered in Cody while watching a Rodeo.
  • Yellowstone! Hot Spings, funky landscape, bisons, encounter with a coyote while hiking Mount Washburn and legendary night out in a local bar.
  • Teton National Park and Jackson- sweet hike, crazy night out…I ended up doing judo in the middle of the street with my friend Tom at 2 am…
  • Yosemite National Park- best National Park ever! Hiked up the tallest waterfall in the USA and floated/rafted down a river (thanks Clare and Dev for your help in the river…and not laughing at my clumsy rafting style)
  • San Fransisco! Golden Gate Bridge, Sunset cruise and great day with Bille: great brunch, great night out, great room party afterwards!…difficult morning the next day!
  • Highway 1: great drive, beautiful landscape, ugly but cute sealions…magic!
  • Lot of mixed feelings in LA: very happy to see Linda and have a short beach walk with her and very sad to say goodbye to my travel buddies.

Special thanks to the people I travelled with. You made it special! 

Some of you left a big mark in my life…thanks for that and so much more…

BOSTON, CAPE COD and CONCORD recap:

Boston and I met under a really bad star: I nearly missed my flight to get there (it took me over an hour in the pouring rain to catch a cab on the street to bring me to the airport)…and when I finally made it to Boston rain and pretty cold temperatures waited for me! 

For me Boston is the most European city I have seen outside of Europe: cobblestones, brick houses, few skyscrapers (what a difference compared to Chicago!)…and very walkable! But in the middle of this European flair I had the chance to see 2 very American things:

1. The Bruins parade: Boston’s hockey team won the Stanley Cup (it’s a very very big deal…) and they had a huge parade across the city. It was totally crazy! Fans everywhere and the whole city was in yellow and black, the team’s colors.

2. The Country fan @ Club Passim: one night I went to see a concert at Club Passim (well as a huge Joan Baez fan it was a must-do) and there was this older guy sitting next to me: he was wearing shorts, a very very old signed Chely Wright t-shirt and was reading the biography of Shania Twain! I didn’t expect to see so much country in Boston!

I also went for 4 days to Cape Cod and there I saw one of the greatest coast landscape I have ever seen! Sand dunes, amazing beaches, green and blue everywhere!…and funny little towns: Kennedy dominated Hyannis, cute towns like Sandwich and Brewster and adorable but crazy Provincetown. Perfect escape to refuel your mind and body!

The same is true for Concord: a small historic town near Boston! Time seems to have stopped there and in the Orchard House you still feel Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women spirit! For some people that was a bit too much…there was a woman who started crying on the tour when she recalled Beth’s death in the book…maybe I am a cold person but that was weird and embarrassing!

CHICAGO recap:

I once read that loving Chicago means loving a woman with a broken nose…I think it has to be added that she is charming, intriguing and full of surprises.

I was left amazed by the beauty of the skyscrapers in the Loop that beautifully reflect in Lake Michigan while perfectly fitting in shape and color with one another. A stroll through Millenium Park or through Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park perfectly illustrate how modern design and nature can co-exist in perfect harmony and complement each other (something you don’t often have to chance to see in Europe) while the neighborhoods of Lincoln Park, Andersonville or Bucktown are rich of European and old industrial heritage and are great places to hang out in the evening! I didn’t sleep a lot…

And Chicago was full of surprises:

1. culinary surprise: I had the most insane burger ever: a classic burger topped with a hot dog!!! Insane!!!…

2. cultural surprises: I heard great blues but what surprised me was how much I got into improv and stand-up comedy. Second City rocks like hell!!!

3. …people: I met some great people in Chicago who would recognize themselves if they are reading this. I had a really good time with you! Thanks! and looking forward to catch up with you!

AROUND NASHVILLE recap:

I know that you think…well she has not written on her tumblr in weeks and now she ODs us with Nashville! I will make this one short, promised.

1. Hermitage: it’s the plantation home of former President Jackson. It has the merit to deal honestly with the slavery issue but what is very disturbing are these old men and women who are dressed up like maids of the Jackson family who show you around. Why do they have to wear stuff like that??? Even without you get the picture…

2. Jack Daniels: you don’t get thirsty in Tennessee! And I started drinking Jack Daniels Honey. You don’t want to know how I was looked at when I ordered it in a club in Boston! But they had!

3. Memphis: it’s really not a pretty city but standing in the same studio where Presley and Cash recorded their biggest hits is just totally cool! And Graceland is an accumulation of bad taste! Sometimes it’s so bad that it’s cool again…don’t know if that makes any sense. Only disappointment: we didn’t see any fake Elvis…

The Loretta Lynn Ranch is on our is on our list for next time! The ads were so big, bad and commercial that we want to see it with our own eyes!

NASHVILLE by NIGHT recap:

Before going out make sure:

1. to head for dinner first because there are some great restaurants (Burger up, Pm, Whiskey Kitchen…) and the night is going to be long.

2. to wear your boots: we bought some really fancy ones. we looked pretty hot!

3. check out the venue is playing the music you like. Otherwise you will end up in a great venue like the Ryman listening to the Grand Ole Opry Classics. It was so awful that we couldn’t stop laughing (tears were running down my face) and during the break we literally ran out of the Ryman straight into Tootsies and ordered some whiskey while singing “Sweet Home Alabama”.

Once that is done enjoy amazing musical experiences:

1. get in love with funny bands like Antsy Mcclain. Still love the song “Your sweet talk made me love you, Prozac made me stay”.

2. get goosebumps @ the Bluebird. We were there for the album release of the Jeffersons. They were amazing! And we had again a crazy encounter. At our table was sitting this woman. We called her the “boss” as she was there with some of her employees and she paid our check! When I thanked her for that, she laughed and high-fived me!

3. listen to more alternative bands or in our case big bands @ Mercy Lounge…there you can wear again your converse and leave your boots at home!

4. get the real honky tonk experience on Broadway where you revisit your classics all night long…and sometimes be lucky to catch good new stuff.

5. do as the locals do. As Jimmy Buffett was intriguing us since Florida and all radio stations were talking about his concert in Nashville, we went there…”Cheeseburger in paradise”

NASHVILLE by DAY recap:

I don’t fall easily in love but Nashville stole my heart! What a city!!! So, unlike the other cities, Nashville is getting 3 posts : “Nashville by day”, “Nashville by night” and “Around Nashville”.

Before getting started let me just say that the best thing in Nashville at any day time are the people. A very special thanks goes to Sukie (whom I met on the plane) for all the great recommendations and for having us to her house for a really fun lunch!

The 5 things that made me love Nashville during the day:

1. Getting a great start in the morning @ the Pancake Pantry: Sarah and I agreed- these are the best pancakes on earth! Heaven! The day we were leaving we got up at 6 am just to have pancakes before getting on our plane. I know… we are crazy!

2. “It’s soooo green” said Sarah on our first day! And she was so right! Parks everywhere! 

3. Honor thy music- not only at night! The Country Music Hall of Fame made us love Tammy Wynette and for weeks I have been singing “Stand by your man” (weird!) and we danced at 4 pm with locals at Robert’s…and yep! I am still a miserable dancer! 

4. Loveless Cafe: as it is a must-see we headed there for some biscuits just to discover that they were complimentary…as we didn’t want to appear cheap we ordered some drinks, cake and ice-cream and the waiter took a picture of us looking happy with all that non-sense food. When we wanted to pay he smiled at us and told us that he took care of our check! crazy!

5. And there is the Green Hills Mall…my “coffee meets MacBook Air” story took us there but what a nice glamorous mall. Just to say…we spent more time in there than necessary.


Key West & Sanibel Island Recap

These 2 spots made me very very lazy…so my apologies for not having been quicker in updating the Tumblr…

  1. Key West: it reunites the worst and the best to bring out…actually an awful lot of fun and a place you have to love! Over caring mothers dress their little daughters in awful pink catsuits on the beach to protect them against the sun (and making them look miserable among the other kids…), an old guy drives his bike covered with flashing lights and loud music on Duval Street where drag queens try to convince you to see their show later at night and everyone is relaxed, open-minded and tanned (or lobstered). It’s a good, very human place to be!
  2. Sanibel Island: I prefer to call it the Island of the Blessed (and for me it has a 100% positive connotation). Time seems to have stopped, the beaches are secluded and fabulous and if you are riding a bike you are the queen! By law the cars have to stop to let you cross the street! Paradise!!! 
  3. Stories you might like: Kristina and I got stopped on one day 2 times by the police. One of us ignored two stop signs and the other one was speeding (have an educated guess about who did what). And thanks to our irresistible charm (or maybe it was the: “I am soooo sorry, sooo sorry, sooo very sorry….!”) we weren’t fined…

I am tanned (although all my body parts have a different tan), full of mosquito bites and totally chilled…guess it’s time to leave Florida for Nashville!

MIAMI Recap

Is Miami a city you should visit? Yes- if you love people watching as much as I do!

  1. South Beach: it’s probably the best place in Miami. The beach is nice and clean, the streets are rather cute and the people watching is just amazing: I have never seen so many fake boobs and stereotypes in my whole life!
  2. Downtown and Little Havana: if you have the great idea (as we had) to walk all the way from the American Airline Center to Little Havana then be prepared for a long and hot walk along which there is nothing to see except fast food chains, car repair shops and ugly people. But this walk prepares you well for Little Havana because there is nothing to see either.
  3. Watching a playoff basketball game: thanks to Chris’ initiative we went to see the second game of Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtic. Loved it- great game and awesome people watching.

NYC Recap

My first adventure in NYC is over so I owe you a little recap (thanks Cécile for the reminder :-)): 1. had lots of fun with Sarah @ the Kills’ concert at Terminal 5. It’s an awesome venue you should check out! and the Kills were just amazing. 2. realized in the morning that my passport was missing ( police station, embassy…). 5 hours later we found it in Sarah’s bag…2 important learnings: NYPD officers are friendly and totally cool (thanks to Officer Manning from Avenue C Police station) and NEVER loose your passport. 3. NYC 5 Boro Tour: awesome bike ride. Discovered NYC from a totally different angle and met some really nice people (Mickey, Tara, Bob…-you made my day). And special thanks to Sarah for picking me up and having a great well deserved Burger with me afterwards…and for going with me to Banjo Jims for some great country music.

Impressions of the 5 Boro Bike Tour! Great weather, great ride, met great people…a very successful ride!