I've been privileged during my life, to travel and see a lot of the world. During a series of articles I will share my experiences with you - both good and bad. The first I am going to share is my relationship with America.
I love America, I love Americans - one of my best friends is American and I have been over there on 7 or 8 occasions. I love the American way of life,their attitudes, their hospitable nature, and I love their petrol prices - £1.20 a gallon last time I was there!!! On top of their lifestyle, they have some spectacular scenery and some awesome theme parks - not to mention maple syrup and peanut butter and jello!! Plain and simple I want to be American, and one day I would love to live there.
My first experience of flying was in 1983 when my parents took me to Malta. It was sunny, warm, a little disconcerting but VERY exciting. I found although I did not know where I was,I was capable of easily orienting myself and therefore became very comfortable very quickly. Malta, I found a little boring, but it gave me a need to travel. A longing that 15 years later I would have the financial security to fulfil (although a few years ago I had to put my travelling shoes away and my suitcase in the loft - a whole new article:)).
The first place I flew to in America was Texas. This was in August 1999. The reason for going was...erm...complicated - a whole other article again! I landed at around 2pm after 7 or 8 hours, but I love flying, so it really wasn't a problem. My first adventure in America, but I'd already decided it wouldn't be my last. I flew into Dallas, but needed to be in Paris - a 2 hour taxi ride away. By the time I had cleared customs - nowhere near as scary or intimidating an experience as it first seems - I got into the taxi outside the airport at about 4pm. The taxi driver was Mexican, and spoke very little English, but he was a nice guy and gave me the best price for a ride. The ride was long, but comfortable - long straight highways cutting through field upon field of high corn, in the sun of a hot arid Texas summer afternoon. Everybody I met in the short time I was there was polite, friendly, accommodating - not my first experience of the American people, but re affirming my already high regard for them. When I got back to the airport, I really didn't want to leave - I had fallen in love with the place - I wanted to continue journeying through this wonderful country. And, whilst waiting for my flight home, I was looking at a drinks machine, but had no US coinage left, and a stranger just walked up to me and bought me the drink I so desperately wanted! Does that happen in the UK? Nope!
My second foray, was into upstate New York - the state not the city. This was to be a totally different experience. My reason for going was to attend the wedding of my best friends. I flew into JFK airport and was driven to my destination by my friends. The wedding was in a beautiful town, in the middle of the Catskill Mountains. Oh my God, I had never seen such scenery! I visited in the middle of Fall (Autumn) and all of the trees in the mountains were different shades of browns, reds, yellows, oranges - I had been told that the town got very busy with people visiting to see the changes. My guest house was a beautiful old wooden structure at the top of a hill just outside town, and painted in sky blue. The eating space, was a conservatory built on the side, overlooking the mountains - my comfortable traditional room was above and gave me beautiful panoramic views every time I looked out of the window. Beauty does not even begin to describe what I saw. The couple that ran the house were so friendly it was unbelievable, and could not do enough to make me feel at home. Everybody else that I met over those few days, just blew me away - obviously all friends and family of the couple, but I felt like I belonged. The American people are so hospitable and warm that you really never want to leave the country. It was on that visit that I decided, one day I would live in America. I would certainly recommend upstate New York as a holiday destination - Sleepy Hollow, Syracuse, Buffalo, Lake Ontario and if you really feel like driving and experiencing something special - Niagra Falls!
My visit to New York, allowed me to experience shopping in American malls (briefly) - the bargains are unbelievable. It also allowed me to properly experience American delicacies - Oreo cookies, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, the great American breakfast (so much nicer than an English one), Wendy's burgers, Krispy Kreme donuts the list is endless. Nothing, however, would prepare me for Florida!!!! I went to Florida on holiday, and then I bought a condo over there, and I kept going back!!! All gone now (yet another article) but none the less a hell of an experience.
Florida has everything - beautiful hot weather, excitement (theme parks, Daytona Raceway, Space Shuttle, alligators, manatees, dolphins), outlets galore, shopping like you've never known, buffet eateries (all you can eat pizza places at £2.50 a head, and all you can eat steak restaurants at £5 a head), beaches (beautiful golden clean sands, warm clear seas) and the beaches are all pretty private as there are no "proms" like in the UK, just a cul-de-sac with a beach at the end!!! Beautiful and solitary! In Florida, there are obviously a lot of tourists, but the locals are all so fabulous. The epitamy of niceness - I have never met an American yet, who made me think twice about my impression of the people. I love them all! Florida is the only place in the USA that I have driven in, and I love driving there too - it really isn't a big deal that their cars are large and that they drive on the "wrong" side of the road, you soon get used to it. And the fuel is so cheap, that it doesn't matter how many miles your car does to the gallon!!