Postcard From… Australia and USA

Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – hello@emilyluxton.co.uk or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!

This week, I’ve been chatting to the lovely Susan, from Travellingthroughlife. Having worked all over the place for many years and still not travelled Su Nov 2012 Goa balconyenough for her liking, Susan had a revelation moment in 2011 after she fell down stairs and broke her hip. The consultant felt she was too young to have a replacement so fixed it with pins. However, this meant Susan sitting on her backside for five months, and she found she really missed walking and exploring during that time. So when she was recovered Susan went off to work in India for the winter and then decided to carry on back to the UK via 90 days in Australia and 90 days in USA.

Welcome, Susan! Tell us about your trip…

I spent 180 days travelling across Australia and the USA and it was a truly wonderful experience though also very tiring at times!

Did you stay anywhere nice on your travels.

I stayed in youth hostels, as a couch-surfer (which I definitely recommend) India House Receptionas well as with friends offering me accommodation en route, The worst was in motel rooms as I didn’t meet many people that way. Loved the variety though & India House Hostel in New Orleans was a cool place.

So, what did you get up to?

Planes, buses and the odd camper van or car. Mainly a lot of walking though.

Starting in Perth, I hooked up with a friend, then we flew to Queensland, hired Wicked Queena Wicked Camper van and bummed the coastal route. After she left I travelled solo (making new friends of all ages and types) visiting Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Sydney and thus to USA. Where I started in Santa Monica. Then in to Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sacramento, New Orleans, Atlanta. I then decided to do a 2-week drive through Georgia, the Carolinas and along the Outer Banks which were stunningly beautiful into Virginia and along the Blue Ridge Mountains to Washington. Then buses again to Cape Cod, New York and New Jersey.

What were your most memorable moments?

Too many to list here but I remember:

A chat with Mary Poppins• The National Museum of Australia in Canberra – amazing what I found in there that made me laugh – as well as cry!

• Sunset on the Beach at Mindil Night Market, Darwin

• Wicked Camper Fun, Queensland

• The bus driver in New Orleans who GAVE me his umbrella to keep dry and I saw him for all of 2 minutes. There truly are great souls out there.

• Singing “On the trail of the Lonesome Pine” and “Coming round the Mountains” as I drove though the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Communing with nature!

• An impromptu visit to a wonderfully preserved Plantation in Louisiana with 2 girlfriends I made in New Orleans. New friendships forged.

• New Orleans – magic and magical music.

• The glory of the Outer Banks – Thank you to the book “Prince of Tides” for evoking the desire to visit.

• “Oliver Twist” in the round in Sacramento – courtesy of two friends.

Where did you have the best food?

Food great especially in the Southern States of America – the best I had was more musicin Charleston on the seafront – I nearly died and went to heaven when I had the most delicious meal of green fried tomatoes stack consisting of blue crab salad and creamy shellfish sauce.

Were there any embarrassing moments or disasters?

Nothing really embarrasses me but the worst thing to happen was when I was in Darwin & booked a boat trip to the Tiwi Islands. I got up at 5am to be there for departure and we only Ship passesgot outside the harbour and boat broke down so we had to go back. Luckily I could go the next day so another 5am wake up and it was worth the trip. All’s well that ends well eh?

How was the weather when you were travelling?

I travelled from April – September 2011 and in Australia it was coming into their winter when I arrived so got wetter and colder as I travelled South. When I got up North to Darwin it was hot – so I stayed there longer than originally planned but made some great new friends so good times!

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone planning a similar trip?

• Do it now before you get too old because you can never see it all.

Music everywhere• Also, if I had planned this trip a little better I would have taken in more of the places that I didn’t see (Texas, Tenessee, etc) and possibly spent less time staying courtesy of friends at the end (5 weeks in total – although loved every minute and they were great company!)

• Definitely I recommend organising as much couch-surfing as you can – it saves you a lot and gives you great insight into the local knowledge.

• Where you can share cars or vans if you want to explore places that buses and trains don’t go.

And finally, I usually ask for the most useful word/phrase you A room with a viewlearnt – but I’m guessing you didn’t pick up any new English on your travels though the US?

It’s not a word or phrase it is a smile.

A smile is rarely rejected and is usually a wonderful opening gambit for anything AND it also represents a thank you in any language.

NB – all images are owned by Susan.

About Postcard From

Postcard From is a weekly interview feature, where I chat with a fellow blogger or travel lover about their latest trip. So far, this exciting feature has taken this blog to over one hundred countries and touched on every continent - even Antarctica! Get in touch to take part.