Do you agree with me that November is a really weird month for travelling? Well, it’s certainly weird for me – as I’ll illustrate with this story about my trip to the USA. As usual everything starts with a small marathon at the airport. I use a proven method of running through Frankfurt airport as if in a 400 meters hurdles sprint so as not to be late for the plane to New York. Once aboard with the door of the plane closed I can relax and allow my superstition full rein. I put on my headphones and choose the same music as always: Springsteen and Iron Maiden, just to convince myself that everything is going to be alright. We finally arrive in New York and I benefit from the seriously good luck that my aunt lives nearby. This is a very crowded city and I’ll be lucky not to get lost in the crowd.
The first thing that we notice on the road is something familiar from the movies: the yellow taxis. There are also some rather larger symbols of the city – like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. I feel the pulse of the city, a concrete urban jungle where you can walk for hours and miles and the adrenalin keeps flowing. I descend into the subway and head for Times Square. A place that is so totally touristic that it is avoided by the locals. In the all this rush of the city I feel a touch of what we call fjaka coming on. So I find a Starbucks and, of course, take my coffee to go and sit down with friends and just talk for a while. People look at us as if we are something weird because they rarely see relaxed people who are not running anywhere.
November really is November in NY. A city where you will surely not expect to admire the Gothic and Baroque architecture, but once you enter the individual museums you can easily spend all day in them. Walking through the city brings us to Central Park. Here you realize that you are right in the middle of both nature and a busy city at the same time. It’s a good feeling, as you can maybe imagine. In Central Park I meet an old man from Rovinj selling flags. Then I realize again that the world really is a small place. I notice how people often resort to a psychotherapist here in New York. I try to explain to them that they have only to drink more coffee and spend time hanging out with friends and family. That would do them much more good – and be a rather cheaper option! But always they have the same answer: ‘We don’t have the time!’
After New York, it was time for warmer climes and I wanted to get out of my winter clothes. So, where else can I go than to Miami? Miami is always a good idea. For travellers the best advice is to avoid the MIA airport because of crowds and come to Miami through Fort Lauderdale airport not far away. Here in Miami the weather is warm and windy with no humidity – the exact opposite of NY.
I feel that the best thing I can do is to take a walk on South Beach. Here there is an endless supply of restaurants and cafes. Sometimes a luxury car passes slowly by and loudly revs its engine in a way that makes us feel we are in the movie Fast and the Furious. It’s better than CSI! The week in Miami flies by without anything spectacular happening, but I promise myself that I will come back one day. Fun is the only thing that is guaranteed here, but we’re moving on to a city that should surpass even Miami. Viva Las Vegas!
This really is a city on steroids. It’s interesting that Las Vegas was built in the middle of nowhere for the exclusive purpose of having fun (and, for some, making money!) In this city it’s advisable to stay for no more than a weekend – because it’s not good for your health to stay any longer! We check into the hotel ‘New York, New York’ and to get to the reception desk we have to pass through the casino: everything is geared around gambling. As we move towards our room we hear the sound of people screaming: very disturbing until we discover that the hotel actually has a roller coaster inside!
In this hotel people who part with huge sums of money in the casino may be offered a free penthouse apartment and more. It’s not surprising that the movie Hangover was filmed here. You can do all kinds of strange things and no one will even notice. Of course, that’s part of what you spend all that money for.
This is the city of Charlie Sheen – and to be honest who would not want to be Charlie for at least one day? People here are accustomed to driving more than 100 km to and from work, but I prefer to take a walk by the sea, on the beach. It’s very noticeable that people spend their time on the beach in a variety of very active pursuits: you see hundreds of people running, surfing, playing volleyball … all this is justified by what they call ‘the cult of the body’. And what would this city without Hollywood and its boulevards? It may look really impressive on TV – but Hollywood Boulevard is one of the filthiest places I have ever visited and it is full of the inevitable souvenir shops with Chinese goods. But I fulfilled one wish: I found the star in the sidewalk with the name of Chuck Norris!
We make our way to the place that is famous as the scene of Formula 1 racing: Long Beach. Here the only people on the street at night seem to be the local criminals – so police advise us to stay away. Then, sitting in front of a pub, we catch the phrase “Croatia is the most beautiful country in the world” – something we certainly agree with! The man making this claim is a Croat who lives in San Pedro. Once more I am reminded that this is indeed a small world!