For a potent San Francisco experience, the Phoenix delivers on all levels. Its motorlodge 1950s motel style, complete with kitsch central pool and vintage furnishings, make you feel like you're in a really good Quentin Tarantino film. Team this with its grungy Tenderloin location and the fact that tour buses regularly pull up on the drive to deliver touring rockstars as guests, and you've got yourself one hell of an American Dream.
These guys offer mountain biking trips around the Bend area, from 1/2 day to three. They can arrange bike hire, transport you to the start of the trail, feed you and escort you back to base, and will tailor it to your skills and interests.
Once back at the office, they even offer you a bottle or two of Deschutes beer!
I had a great time on a one day Bachelor to Bend trip and, if it wasn't for the substantial distance from home, I'd be back there tomorrow.
Super-friendly bed and breakfast place and very reasonably-priced.
Coffee and some sort of cake seem to be permanently available. The breakfasts are as huge and filling as you want them to be.
The centre of Bend, with it's pubs and restaurants, is just 10 minutes walk away, so it's perfectly located for the town as well as the surrounding Cascade mountains.
You will have to share a bathroom though, so if you're not happy about that, look elsewhere, but everything's spotlessly clean.
When at Breakers Inn you can be in Japan, Sweden or Canada Or if you are feeling a little homesick – England, Scotland or Ireland. Or if you want to experience more of the USA than you have time for – Oregon, Pennsylvania or Virginia. These are just a sample of the 28 individually decorated rooms available.
We stayed in Holland. It was bright, fresh and clean with all that you would want in a motel room with just one or two extras: bright ornamental wooden tulips, pictures of windmills surrounded by tulip fields and mini china clogs hanging from the wardrobe handles!
With amazing uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean and the Gualala River, Breakers Inn is a brilliant motel to spend a night or two when exploring Northern California.
Truly scary palace of kitsch - bright pink sparkly lobby, themed rooms and a waterfall in the men's toilets. Definitely worth a stop for a drink even if you can't face staying here!
Williamsburg Brooklyn is home of the hipster and has so much affordable vintage available you can even buy it off the footpath!
I recommend this because it is a cheap way to buy vintage clothes and the stuffy musky smell of Thrift Store is not an issue. Shopping en plein air!
Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Google map: bit.ly/ciUaxI
This place is seriously amazing – when I went I was so overwhelmed by the array of clothes, I had to go three times. They have designer pieces, costumes for fancy dress and even clothes going as far back as the turn of the 20th century. So much clobber to look at I think you could buy something for any occasion.
If you are planning to visit Johnson Space Center but don't have a car or want to pay through the nose for a cab (over $50 one-way from Houston city centre), then there is a good public transport option. The 246 and 249 buses both go directly to the front door of Space Center Houston, which is the public visitor centre and entry point for tours of the Johnson Space Center. We caught the 249 from near the Downtown Transit Center (one block away from the corner of Main and Pierce streets) for $2. Our return was on the 246, which leaves from the same stop outside the Space Center, for $4.50. Not sure why the prices are different, the driver said it was just due to it being a different bus line. Timetables for the buses do not appear at the bus stops so it is best to look these up online before you travel.
The museum was established in 1998 as the public face of three research museums: the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum. The museum is beautifully cool and an oasis on a hot day. The beetle/spider exhibition is particularly fascinating. There are special exhibitions, at the time of our visit (Aug 2010) there was the Headgear exhibition: The Natural History of Horns and Antlers. There is a permanent evolution exhibition with displays of diversity within species, computer simulation of natural selection and a look at current research. There is a museum shop and weekend gallery visits which include hands-on activities with trained gallery guides.
This delightful bed and breakfast is in Cambridge, very close to Harvard University. 150 years ago it was a country house. Today there are 20 rooms, each decorated in traditional New England style. Breakfasts are plentiful with the pancakes being a particular favourite. There is a well kept garden/terrace in which one can have breakfast under the shade of a Linden tree on warm mornings. The Inn is close to Harvard, MIT, Harvard Square, good restaurants, shops and local bus/subway routes.
This is a really interesting museum in a stunning Frank Gehry-designed building. The music section was far more comprehensive than the sci-fi and had permanent displays including our favourite: interviews with a wide range of music industry types from musicians to those behind the scenes, which you could choose at your leisure while sitting at one of several computers. There was a good interactive section and two great temporary exhibitions on at the time we went of Jimi Hendrix's life and influences and Supremes costumes. The Sci Fi collection is smaller but has some impressive stuff including the only model of the Star Wars Death Star, and Charlton Heston's Planet of the Apes costume. My personal favourite was the original robot from the TV series Lost in Space - Danger Will Robinson, Danger!
We did one of these 90-minute boat tours in August 2010 and it was fascinating. The tour guide was excellent; informative and entertaining, and it's a great way to see the city. There is a great range of beautiful buildings to see and it's also quite a nice way to spend (part of) a sunny day!
Los Angeles's largest Greek Orthodox church and filled with rich murals and a rich interior of gold leaf. It's an inspiring must see for visitors and locals alike. Built by the vision of movie makers and it houses a large greek festival in September.
Papa Cristos has been serving the Greek community in Los Angeles for sixty years, across from the beautiful St Sophias greek orthodox church.
Complete with take out foods and bakery. You can order greek specialities, lamb, sandwiches and salads, all moderate prices. Order at the counter and your food will be brought to the large and festive main room where you will join a hundred or more diners seated at tables. Papa's is not a formal place. The food is well prepared, customers come from USC and from Wilshire Blvd businesses. It's a great place for foreign visitors to relax and savor good food at moderate prices.
2771 West Pico at Normandie, Los Angeles 90006, 323.737.2970,
I haven't been to Alaska, but one of my favourite books of all time is a book about Alaska, 'O Rugged Land of Gold' by Martha Martin, published in 1953, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London.
This gives a wonderful personal picture of living and working in Alaska.
Most years the rivers in Alaska freeze over (hey - it's cold up there!) Including the Tanana river near Fairbanks. (The Tanana also flows past North Pole, but that's another story).
Every year - when the snow melts - Alaska becomes a raging mud-bath. Everything gets dirty. And the enterprising folks of Nenana (pop: 352) have set up the nearest thing to a state lottery Alaska has - the Nenana Ice Classic. A Tripod is anchored to the ice in the middle of the river and when the Tripod goes over a camera is triggered and the time is recorded. The nearest time/tickets win the money. Best months are March-April-May.
From Bellingham in Washington state, the ferry takes a gentle three days or so chugging north past Canada. It is called the Inside Passage because for most of the journey you are not in open sea, with a view of beautiful forested hills, snowy mountains and glaciers. The M/V Kennicott (among other boats) calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Haines, Skagway. There are other routes to Sitka, near Anchorage and the Aleutians. Would recommend spending your money on a cabin with a BIG window.
Enjoy bathing in the hot springs, although sadly pumped in and a bit too sanitised for those who'd rather bathe in the open. Or even better use it as a base for signposted walks in the area, avoiding many of the risks of walking in the woods in Alaska, of which getting lost is only one (albeit a pretty serious one).
Barrow is the United States most northerly city. There are daily flights from Anchorage via Fairbanks. Please bear in mind that it is a "damp" community which allows visitors to bring in only limited amounts of alcohol, but one cannot buy it there. Also some hotels will not permit consumption of alcohol on the premises. I recommend a guy called Nathaniel who does tours to Point Barrow and is a local guide who is also part of the commuity. The native Inupiat people are friendly and will proudly tell visitors about their heritage and way of life 350 miles above the Arctic Circle.
United States, community
Google map: tinyurl.com/2w2k7ed
Independent cinema/bar on the Parks Highway just out west of fairbanks on the the way to Ester. Get your food and drink from the bar and eat at a table in the cinema. Pretty cool.
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