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it's a long way from whitley bay... Hi everyone and welcome to our journal where you can see and read what we've been up to and where we're going next. We hope you enjoy it, and would love you to keep in touch with your news, and send us your comments! Lots of love, Sarah and Phil x ;)

Big Sur, Boston & back home!

USA | Friday, 22 August 2008 | Views [2181] | Comments [1]

Hi everyone,

That's it! After 9 months, 16 countries, 17 flights, 12 train journeys, umpteen bumpy bus rides and nearly 12,000 miles by car and van, we've made it round the world and back. And after all that, the weather in Britain is still rubbish.

We tried to bring some sunshine home with us but apparently it contravened some customs rule about importing strange and unusual foreign goods.

We arrived back in London on Monday evening having finished our US road trip in Los Angeles and spending 3 final days of sunshine in Boston.

Though the weather wasn't sunny all the way, as the fog that enveloped San Francisco Bay decided to accompany us all the way down Big Sur and only lifted when we started to head inland about 100 miles from LA.

Big Fog

Big Sur is a 90 mile stretch of rugged and (apparently) incredibly scenic road that hugs the coastline between Monterey and San Luis Obispo in central California. Unfortunately northern and central California has a weird climate that makes the coast about 10 degrees (celsius) colder than just a couple of miles inland and often leaves the coast shrouded in thick fog.

We delayed our journey down the coast by a day, hoping that the fog might lift and, though it didn't, it gave us time to spend Tuesday afternoon at the Monterey Aquarium which was really good.

Apparently it's one of the best aquariums in the world and it's not hard to see why. There's a seal colony on the beach right next to it and inside they've got sharks, hammerheads, crazy coloured jellyfish and, slightly strangely, otters. They've also got pools where you can touch bat rays (they look like stingrays but had had their stings removed for obvious reasons) and other sea creatures. There's even an outdoor pool where kids under 13 can go scuba diving with instructors.

Elephant seals. You wouldn't want to meet these lot in a beach volleyball match!

We didn't quite look young enough for the scuba diving though this travelling lark must have helped roll back the years a bit as we've been asked for ID nearly each time we've tried to buy a beer. That's not entirely surprising for Sarah as shops and restaurants are meant to ask for ID if you look under 30 but Phil will be 34 in a few months and isn't sure whether he should be pleased or insulted at these requests. Especially confusing was the reaction of a shopkeeper outside Monterey who, when presented with Phil's passport, said "Oh 1974, that's really old, I thought you looked young!" Er, thanks Mr Shopkeeper.

Wednesday was Big Sur day and though the fog did get in the way a bit, we could still get a feel for how beautiful that bit of coast line is. Maybe we'll just have to come back and do it again one day when it's sunnier! We can't really complain though as we reckon we've been very lucky with the weather on the whole trip. We've barely had a bad day and nothing that's really hampered our plans.

One bit of Big Sur that we did spot through the fog...

...and some bits that we didn't!

We then drove through Malibu and Santa Monica on our way into Los Angeles and saw a beautiful sunset across the Pacific and then looked for somewhere to stay. We were still looking 2 hours later...

Sarah in Santa Monica and Malibu sunset

At first we thought we'd try Santa Monica for a hotel but we missed the turn off and had to do a 30 minute detour back onto the freeway. When we made it back, pretty much everywhere was full but we found a motel on the edge of town which had one room left. "Hurray" we thought. But it cost £120 for the night. "Boo" we thought. So we gave up on Santa Monica and decided to head down the road towards the airport where we were sure we'd find cheap accommodation...

And we thought Heathrow was bad. The area around LAX airport is horrific. It's like a composite of all the bad bits of America in one place. Chaotic roads with drivers tearing around and cutting you up, endless drags lined with neon motels and fast food joints and whatever the American equivalent of hoodies is hanging around each corner. Arriving there at 11pm, it felt like something out of Bladerunner.

After having no luck at any of the chain motels, we eventually found a room at a run down independent further down the romantically named Airport Boulevard. We carried our bags up to our room (past a guy who had his door wide-open, blasting the TV out, while he sand-papered his skateboard with no shirt on) and collapsed into our room and hit the sack.

Luckily we made it through the night without incident and returned our car the next morning so we could catch our flight. We thought we'd need to get a shuttle bus to the airport but a kindly old guy from the rental company offered to drive us to the airport in our car! Legend. We had a great chat with him about Vegas and he told us about all the stars he'd seen there, including Frank Sinatra and Elvis. After that and the free upgrade from the Ford Focus to the Rav4, we're happy to recommend Hertz car rentals to anyone thinking of driving in the US. Assuming it wasn't all a mistake and we get stung with loads of extra charges when we get home that is...

And so to Boston, our final stop. We stayed in a fabulous B&B in the Dorchester area of the city. It was built at the turn of the century by a Bostonian big wig who was apparently a political rival of John F Kennedy's dad. It was a lovely big wooden building with verandas and a huge old fashioned drawing room where we spent the evenings playing pool on the full size table and watching the olympics on the giant TV.

Carruth House - our B&B

Wandering round Boston was a great way to unwind from the road trip. It's a very nice looking city and probably the closest in style to an English city that we've come across. That's probably due to it being one of the earliest places to be settled by the original immigrants from England (it's named after Boston in Lincolnshire where they came from) so wasn't designed on a grid system or with big roads for cars.

We followed the 'Freedom Trail' through the city on Friday and Saturday, which takes you past all the major historical points, mainly to do with how they won independence from Britain. We also spent some time in the parks and had a big meal on Saturday night to mark the end of the trip.

The Old State House - scene of the 'Boston Massacre'

Sunday was mainly spent recovering from said meal, watching the Newcastle-Man Utd game and relaxing in the park before catching our flight home early on Monday morning.

And now we're home! We bet you're all nearly as exhausted as us having read through all these blogs but thanks for sticking with us. We've really enjoyed writing them and it's been a great way to stay in touch with our friends and family even when we've been far from home. We're really looking forward to seeing you all again in person soon!

That's not quite it for the blog though. You don't get away that easy. At some point in the next week or so, we're going to do one more blog entry with our highlights (and a couple of lowlights!) from the whole trip. So if you're after any far flung holiday ideas for 2009, stay tuned...

Love Sarah and Phil x



Wow around the world in 9 months. That is just amazing, thanks for the pictures. Its almost like traveling along with you (just a little bit though.
Sarah B


Check out this funny video, called "Ballad of a Traveler", it is hilarious. He totally sums up the travelers experience:


  SarahB Aug 23, 2008 9:08 AM

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