Travel Guide for the U.S.
By Thomas Wikman
Swedes like to travel and many Swedes have a lot of experience from traveling. I know one guy who survived Malaria in the Indonesian jungle and had witch doctors dancing around him and doing other strange things in an effort to cure him. A good friend of mine traveled all over Africa in a Jeep, other Swedes I know lived extended periods of their lives in countries like the Central African Republic, India, Thailand and Japan.
I like to travel too, and even though I cannot compete with the most well traveled Swedes I still have some travel experiences of mine own. Like, loosing my memory (amnesia) in a ski accident in Germany; I bravely called soviet officers "the cattle of dictatorship" during a roundup/interrogation; Boris Becker the famous tennis player, stepped on my foot in New York; and I was there when Chris Evert Lloyd and Martina Navratilova had a friendship dinner at Jazz Club in Cleveland Ohio; I slept under the bare sky on a ferry between Italy and Greece; Scuba dived in Bermuda; Enjoyed the beautiful Grecian Islands; and flew across the Atlantic without a passport.
During my first year in the U.S., as an excange student, I travelled
six times. The last trip was driving with my brother and a friend all
over the U.S. from coast to coast and back in an oldsmobile we bought
$250. Since then I have travelled in the U.S. many more times. But
I have lived in the United States for 10 years, and traveled
here and lived in four states, Ohio, New Mexico, Michigan and
I know enough to state that the U.S. offers some good traveling and I
I have enough experience to give opinions and advice to Swedes
travel in the U.S. Everyone is different, and considering that I grew
in Northern Sweden 5 miles from a small sleepy town called
(10,000 people) which in my eyes was a gigantic metropolitan, my
on traveling is that I prefer nature and scenery, quite places, as well
as some excitement like roller coasters.
||Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in
Wyoming are two truly amazing parks. The nature is beautiful with
mountains, clean rivers, and lakes, canyons, forests, and prairies. The
wild life is astounding with large populations of grizzly bear, black
bear, wolf, elk, buffalo, pronghorn antelope, bald eagles, and even
cougars. Since these two parks are national parks there are no major
towns, luxury hotels, highways, or factories, the nature is truly wild
and protected. Yellowstone is also the place in the world with
the most hydrothermal features, geysers, hot springs, fumarholes,
sulphur springs, mud vulcanoes, etc. In fact it is estimates that more
than half of all geysers and hydrothermal features in the entire world
is located in Yellowstone National Park. The picture to the left is
Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park.
There are many fascinating geysers in Yellowstone, and you can spend days just watching them. The most famous one is Old Faithful which has an eruption at very predictable times around every 1½ hour. Those who just want to take a quick glimps at an erupting Geyser should see Old Faithful. Just take a seat when it is time for an eruption, and watch it blow water and steam around 100 feet (30 meters) into the air. If you are interested in Geysers it is worth waiting and see some of bigger Geysers erupt from a much closer view without the crowd.
||A major Swedish newspaper declared the two most opposite people in the world being those from New York and those from Örnsköldsvik in Northern Sweden. Further, New Yorkers are known to be loud, aggressive and constantly arguing. Considering that opposites "really do not attract", I should not like New Yorkers, but I do. The people of every place on earth, North Sweden, South Sweden, the American Midwest, Denmark, have their own set of values, ways of viewing things, thinking, believing, etc. This causes inevitable friction between people from different regions on earth unless the involved parties don't take themselves too seriously and is curious of other "ways" rather then offended or annoyed by them. And this New Yorkers are good at. New Yorkers are already every culture on earth, and it shows. New Yorkers are culturally intelligent, accepting, curious, and not easily set off by "cultural misunderstandings". New York is a tough and hard city and so is its people, but still they understand and accept you easily.|
A Swede who had been an exhange student to the U.S. once told me that New York is a must see. He said that New York is half of America. New York is indeed an enormous city, but this may seem hard to believe, after all, geographically New York is tiny speck on Americas map and population wise it is not even 10%. So where is the half? Well, New York City is the City of all Cities. It is like no other city in America, and I believe it is entirely unique. It is so big and so vertical, and has such a huge "forest" of impressive buildings that it is bound to inspire awe. Further, New York is made up of all kinds of people, ethnic groups, languages, and cultures. It is also the culture and art center of the United States and perhaps the world, as well as the Financial center of the world (wall street), and the shopping center of the world.
Things to see in New York are, for example, central park (big nice park, zoo, carousel, horse carriage rides), Empire State Building, a broadway show, the metropolitan museum of art, the natural history museum, (+ many other famous museums), lots of cool buildings and bridges, perhaps the statue of liberty (long lines, mildly impressive), Madison square garden, the different ethnic towns, china town, little italy, etc..
|The size, the scenery, and grandness of Grand Canyon cannot be imagined unless you have seen it for yourself. Photographs simply fail to convey how huge and awesome Grand Canyon really is. For example, Grand Canyon is a mile deep, that is six Eiffel Towers, or four Empire State Buildings, and 12 Kaknäs Towers, you cannot see this on a photograph, but you can "feel it" when you are standing at the edge. Grand Canyon is a mile deep, 4 to 18 miles wide (6 to 29 kilometers wide), and 217 miles long (349 kilometers or 35 Swedish miles).|
Me and my brother and our friend Håkan visited Grand Canyon at sun-rise. First it was dark and it was difficult to see anything. Then we could see the other side, perhaps 10-20 kilometers away, looking like a big wall-like mountain glowing red in the morning sun and covered by tiny tiny black dots that were the bushes and the trees. Then the dark void in between opened up to the light and the deep and awesome canyon unfolded itself. What a sight. We also took an aeroplane and flew over the canyon to see it from right above, one of the cliffs looked just like snoopy. One may wonder what went through the heads of the first pioneers who unexpectedly came upon this canyon.
New Mexico has many indian reservations, Apache, Navajo, Zuni, Acoma Publo, Military reservations and areas, and a large missile range (white sands), which makes large portions of the state unaccessible to the public. New Mexico also has good skiing which I didn't try. There are many famous or interesting places to visit in New Mexico. Santa Fe (oldest capital in the U.S.) is a world famous art and cultural center; indian villages like the one at Taos; Acoma Puebla the sky city on top of a mesa; Bandalier national monument, a canyon with a 1,300 year old indian settlement; shiprock; Billy the Kid mementos at Lincoln; etc.But two places that really impressed me were white sands national monument and Carlsbad caverns.
White sands national monument is a white dessert with 20-40 feet high snow white sand dunes. White sands national monument is the largest gypsum deposit in the world (so that is what the white sand is). Carlsbad Caverns the largest cave in the world (not the longest that is mammoth caverns i kentucky), has a huge caveroom, which is 1000 feet under ground, has an area of 12 football fields, is 300 feet tall, contains one million stalagmites and stalactites, and has a pretty decent underground restaurant (I think they had pizza hut too). After walking through the walking/crawling through the pathways and the large room, we saw a grand bat show. One million bats exiting from a cave opening while the sun set. I have never seen so many animals all at once in my life. In fact, even counting all the mosquitos I have seen in Northern Sweden, I think I saw more animals in 15 minutes here than I've done all my life.
|Florida is a place teaming with family oriented tourist attractions. In Orlando we have DisneyWorld, Epcot Center, 7 waterparks, Universal Studios, and Sea World. All places that kids, and adults are crazy about. Close to Tampa we have Bush-garden a combined amusepark and zoo, and on the east cost we have Cape Caneveral where the rockets go up in space, Daytona beach the party place. There are many other tourist attractions too, water parks, amusement parks, alligator farms, haunted houses, fishing, diving and good dining. But above all the endless sandy and hot Florida beaches.|
|Skiing in Colorado is just as a great experience as skiing in the Alps, actually better. There are huge ski-slopes surrounded by comfortable cabins and hotels. Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge are great ski-resorts. But Colorado has other things than skiing. The Rocky Mountains and the scenery it brings are simply amazing. There are many natural monuments to visit and see.|
|The Niagara Falls is one of those things you have to see, but don't plan on staying too long. The falls are huge and awesome, the boat tour--the maid of the mist is breath-taking. But when you are done watching the falls there is not much else to do. Great place to visit, but stay only one, max two days.|
|Los Angeles the second largest city in the United States
York. It is not as concentrated or vertical as New York, but instead
out over an enormous area. Once I interviewed for a position at the
department at JPL in Los Angeles. I was told that one of the employees
at the robotics department at JPL had a three hour drive one-way to
Los Angeles is big, very big and it also has a lot of tourist
among them Disneyland (above), Universal Studios (much better than the
one Florida) (see Jaws to the left), Knox Berry Farm, other Amusement
(magic mountain), and beaches.
|New Orleans is a pittoresque city with an interesting atmospere. It is a wild party town in a very old-fashioned part of the United States. It boasts of the French quarter, old buildings, cajun food, alligator boat rides, markets, jazz clubs, and above all bourbon street.This picture is from a famous pub "Pat O'Briens" close to bourbon street.|
|San Antonio is an old Texas town. The city is built around Rio Grande and there are restaurants, cafes and shops along the river as well as boat rides. The famous Fort Alamo is located here (the war against Mexico 1845).|
||San Fransisco is off the coast of California. San Fransisco is a hilly and pittoresque city surrounded by national parks and natural monuments. There are high-class seafood restaurants by the navy pier, cafee's, museums, historic artifacts, and above all the famous golden gate bridge and Alcatraz island.|
|Chicago is the third city in the U.S. after Los Angeles and New York. It is not as vertical and building wise as impressive as New York and it is not as large as Los Angeles but still a quite impressive city, and Sears Towers is the tallest sky-scraper in the United States. Chicago is famous for its vry thick Chicago style Pizza which everyone who come here should try. Some good places to visit are the Museum of Industry and Science, the natural history museum (very impressive), the shedd aquarium, the art museum, but above all the navy pier. The navy pier offers boat rides, speed boat rides, an amuse park, good dining pubs, dancing, music, and a very festive atmosphere.||
|Another interesting place to visit is Toronto. Well Toronto is in Canada not in the U.S. but it easily accessible from the U.S. (New York State) and worth a visit if you are in that neiborhood. Toronto is a very clean and modern city which boasts of the tallest building in the world, the CN tower.|
Atlanta is probably the city with the most impressive sky-line/down-town for its size in the U.S. Once I presented my research at a conference in Atlanta and the hotel across the street was a quite impressive building. It was a very tall sky-scraper that was built with the inside having an "open ceiling" almost all the way to the top of the sky-scraper. I test rode the elevator in that building and it was both cool and scary. The coca cola museum is definitely worth a visit.
Las Vegas, Nevada
This is the place were you get lucky, or unlucky. I was offered the worlds largest diamond for only $20 in a bathroom in Las Vegas. I didn't buy it. I thought it resembled those plastic/crystal ornaments on chandeliers too much for me to take the chance. Maybe I was lucky maybe I was unlucky, you be the judge, maybe you will get lucky here.
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