“They’ll always be an England, even if it’s in Hollywood.” ~ Bob Hope
While we are setting down some roots for a few days in Vegas we are back in the swing of some serious story-telling with our continuing A-Z of travel sagas. We’re up to H – as random a selection of locations as you can imagine. From a bovine-inspired excursion to Hereford to the bright lights and star stalking of Hollywood. Almost as diverse as the people watching going on here at the MGM right now. If you’ve missed previous installments check out A, B, C, D and E here and take your own trip down a Dee & Tracey lane.
UK. We made it! To Hereford! (Thanks to Trace’s Dad – who works for the Hereford Association - for making the word Hereford so much a part of our upbringing…) Hereford is a city of great antiquity. Its medieval bridge across the River Wye and the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Ethelbert towering above it, stand as monuments to its distinguished past. The City dates from the 7th century and the Cathedral from 1079 AD, making it one of the oldest in England. Its true origins may be earlier, its strategic position being based on geography as much as politics. Hereford is situated amid extensive rural landscape close to the Welsh border. The birthplace of the famous Hereford breed of cattle. And surprisingly, a small town we really enjoyed visiting. Memories: Taking illegal photos of the Mappa Mundi, dinner and beer at the Spread Eagle, buying Hereford T-shirts, the Green Dragon, sunset on Hereford Cathedral, small country lanes, not fully coming to terms with the fact that we were actually in Hereford.
Japan. A region abundant with natural beauty. Hokkaido is an island at Japan’s northern extremity, surrounded by sea in all directions. It is an extensive land, accounting for 22% of Japan’s total area. In Hokkiado we’ve enjoyed so much ‘happy nature time’: Daisetsu-zan National Park, which forms the roof of Hokkaido; the secluded Shiretoko-hanto Peninsula; Kushiro Marsh, home to lots of wildlife, such as Japanese cranes; the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, which is full of volcanoes and lakes; and the ever-changing Shakotan Coast. We’ve also stripped-off and gone nude in many a Hokkaidan hot spring, like Noboribetsu-onsen, Jozan-kei-onsen and Soun-kyo-onsen Hot Springs. In winter we’ve visited the Sapporo Snow-matsuri Festival twice and been awed by the snow and ice sculptures, and flown to Abashiri to see the amazing Ice Floes coming in from Siberia. We saw the rural landscape of Furano and Biei, (too early for the lavender but just in time for the nearby tulips and pink moss). Memories: sub-zero temperatures in winter, the rainy roadtrip, catching the ferry (first class…don’t ask), Hokkaido drivers are the slowest (safest?) in the world – Dads would fit right in here, Sopporo beer, bears, foxes, fog, some of the most beautiful landscape in Japan.
California, USA. Hooray for Hollywood. This is one of the most clichéd places we’ve ever visited. AND WE LOVE IT! Hollywood is where you can visit your favorite celebrity grave or drive past celebrity homes and famous houses. Whilst driving we also recognized many famous film locations. The world famous Sunset Boulevard and Sunset Strip are just a few minutes away, as is the Hollywood Bowl, and opposite is the historic “Barn” where the worlds first full length movie was made. We stopped in at the grave of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe to pay our respects, had fun along Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard and ate hotdogs at the LA icon “Tail of the Pup” hotdog stand which has appeared in numerous films. Memories: getting lost while trying to find the Hollywood Sign, Walk of Fame, watching movies at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (after trying to match handprints with the stars), sitting in Captain Kirk’s chair and on the set of Cheers at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, the Wax Museum, Studio Tours, Frederick’s of Hollywood Lingerie Museum, looking for ghosts at the Hollywood Roosevelt, walking the red carpet (imaginary) to the Kodak Theater, movie premieres, Hollywood & Highland, dinner by Wolfgang Puck, so much fun. No time just now to do up a photo collage of all that is Hollywood – but we will gather the pics shortly and perhaps sneak them into L.A in a few weeks…
Japan. Restored from the devastation created by the atom bomb. Hiroshima City facing the Hiroshima Bay in the Seto Inland Sea is one of the most prominent cities in the Chugoku region (the southwest end of Honshu). Six rivers flow through the city, so it is also called the “city of water.” It was devastated by an atomic bomb in World War II. All structures vanished, but one miraculously remained standing. It is called the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome, and Hiroshima is now internationally known as the city of peace. You can’t fully appreciate the devastation that occurred here in 1945 until you visit the museum and park. It’s sobering, it’s gut-wrenching – and it’s so important for everyone to see. We come away emotionally drained after every visit – each time no less traumatic. Other places we love in Hiroshima are Hiroshima Castle, built in the 16th century, the Shukukei-en Garden, and Okonomiyaki Mura, where we feast on Hiroshima style, unique flour crepes fried with vegetables and noodles that are different at each restaurant. Memories: the origami cranes, Sadako’s memorial, ringing the peace bell, praying for peace, being caught in the rain, trams, accidental porn on pay TV, lost passports, seeing an important part of the world’s history and hoping it’s never repeated.
Somewhere in Texas, USA. We think. What a town. Of course we visited just for the name – not the movie. It was only a few streets but so worth the detour. According to Wikipedia, Happy is a town in Randall and Swisher counties in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 647 at the 2000 census. The Randall County portion of Happy is part of the Amarillo, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area. No real memories to speak of. Just a few blockies and lots of fun and smiles. No frowns anywhere in town.