USA 2013 – The Long Goodbye

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Travel

And so we come to the worst part of any holiday, especially overseas. The packing, getting to the airport, checking in at unfamiliar surroundings, catching a short connecting flight, checking in again- and of course plenty of sitting around. And then the midnight 14 hr flight home when you should be sleeping but of course can’t. So before the gloom descends completely some final thoughts as the waiting begins.

First up love da USA . Have now been lucky enough to visit 6 major cities across the country which have all been great and unique in their own way. Two obvious similarities stand out first up. Excellent public transport systems and crap coffee. Transport Apps work very well and the improvement in the last 2 years have been significant with both CTA and 511 apps in Chicago and San Francisco exceptional. Some specific observations

1. Qantas and AA need to work on their “codeshare” arrangement – it is ridiculous that in 2013 I cannot do online check in for the first short AA flight to LA. Not a big deal maybe but it also means can’t check in for the subsequent 14 hr flight on Qantas and therefore could have landed a bum seat if not already paid the $180 for exit row seat!

2. USA need to work out their currency and drop the small stuff like we did. Just round up or down folks – it works! This may be a small point for the credit card mad society we live in but international travellers still feel safer dealing in cash overseas? I know I do

3. Related to that, the GST or whatever it is called here is a pain in the ass. By all means charge your tax but why does something nice and simple like $6:50 always become something ridiculous like $7:18?? Advertise the bloody real price and round up. Once again the card carrying folk would not give a crap of course 😇

4. Solo travel has its benefits and it negatives. Moving to your own rhythm is great and liberating. It also forces you to be a bit more sociable which is not a bad thing. It can be lonely at night and your dining options are a bit limited though. And you have to do your own washing!

5 US TV is crap. Really is , especially early in the evening and mornings.

6. Very large Asian population in SF especially around Nob Hill which of course is next to Chinatown. Some people love the busy cluttered streets , I don’t. Compared to Chicago a lot of SF is simply messy and unclean. Tai Chi everywhere uh look as well

7. The cable cars are interesting certainly but you quickly realise they are simply tourist attractions and as such are always over crowded and big delays in actually getting one. Despite the hills often easier to just walk. The staff running them though are amongst the most pleasant and helpful “service ” staff ever dealt with

8. There is no real cafe culture as we Aussies would understand it. There are plenty of cafés of course but they are set up for quick service of quick food with limited menus. The food portions of course are always very generous but that is not necessarily a good thing 😟

9. I have always felt safe in all cities and the people generally friendly. There are many homeless people around although not in Nob Hill – which must mean something 😉In Chicago they sit around a lot just waiting for handouts whereas in SF you have the more disturbing sight of actually eating food straight out of rubbish bins. Evidence of sleeping out overnight readily apparent in both cities. Seems like an issue for all cities sadly

10. USA is big bold and brassy and more pop culture than culture of course but I like that. It is what it is and doesnt try to be anything else. SF may not hold a lot of interest past a day or two for some but for a movie geek growing up on 60s and 70s movies it is great – for about 4 days anyway 😍

So time to sign off and await the return to reality. The solo experience has indeed been interesting and probably easier than expected with a few riders of course. Will there be any more solo trips in the future? Probably more an issue of finances than anything else and of course have a great trip to Europe next year planned with CLP which should keep wanderlust at bay for a while.

Or maybe not….

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