Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An early Christmas present from Carrie

Be careful watching this! Could cause muscle cramps, hysteric laughing fits and floods of tears.
A very happy day indeed

Today I'm very happy as I've booked the ferry to go to Belgium. We're leaving on Sunday, with the Landrover unfortunately, as the new VW Passat Estate won't be ready on time... We still have about 30 crates of Bollekes to take back to Belgium, so we can now stack those to the ceiling. I'm very much looking forward to our week in Belgium, meeting up with everyone and going shopping in Breda with mum!

I'm even more happy today as I've booked our flights to Florida! Weehee. Three weeks of sunshine in February, can't wait!

And I'm even more excited about the fact I've discovered today that Iceland sells the Dr. Oetker Pollo pizzas! I have looked and looked but couldn't find any shop in England selling my absolute favourite flavour until today. I've stuffed the freezer! And Stu's in Brighton tonight so I'm very much looking forward to dinner!

And lastly, Kaddy (our BBC Weather girl - the fantasy of all men living in the South - for those who have no idea who Kaddy is) just announced that we might have snow at Christmas. What more do you want?

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Although I've been back in the UK for 2 weeks now, I still need to write about Florida. My final destination of my month's trip. And with the right weather, right people and lots of shopping, how could it not have been the perfect ending? Andrew & Carrie's came to pick me up from Orlando station, which was the dodgiest place in the world. I had such a rough night, with a big black mama sitting next to me, singing along to Celine Dion most of the journey, screaming kids left right and centre and smelly feet close by, I hardly slept that night. Not at all, actually.

Being in Orlando, we couldn't miss out on a Disney fun filled day. We drove to 'work' with Luerne who was going to get us in for free. Yeah magical days!! I saw Luerne perform in Finding Nemo, the musical which was amazing; the costumes are genius and the music is very catchy. No thanks to listening to the cd for days after in the car when shopping...

We also went to Epcot this time, the 4th park (actually the very first one) which I hadn't been before. Epcot is the park with the massive golf ball which Andrew tried to get in the picture above, resulting in Carrie's head being chopped off half way (and still no golf ball). Somehow this picture is one of my favourites!

Thanksgiving day was started with the Wilson tradition of running the 5K Turkey Trot. Can I just say I woke up at 5.50AM for this event?! Surprisingly enough, half of St. Petersburg was there to run... (I saw a number 12.000 something) Having hiked and biked for 3 weeks prior to arriving in Florida, I thought it'd be a peace of cake running this! John got us numbers (I was 41) through his running club and it's a known fact that people with low numbers are generally the really good runners. Literally everybody was checking us out wondering we on earth we had such low numbers... We ended up walking the whole trot, mainly because too many people were walking; had nothing to do with my running abilities! (yeah right) John then bought us all donuts afterwards!!

Thanksgiving meal was spent at Jack & Nancy's in the garden where Ryan deep fried the turkey with a specially designed lowering device. I had some typical American dishes, mainly involving sweet potatoes and pecan, which was delicious. Oysters were flowing and Jack even got an entire pig roasted, lying on the garden table, head and paws still present.

My last day was spent decorating the house and making yummy nibbles for Andrew's 30th birthday party - or as he put it 'the first anniversary of his 29th birthday'. The house looked all lovely and I think everyone really enjoyed the buckets of cocktails, beer, food and tacky tourist-theme. Andrew had previously that week cleared up the garden and cleaned the swimming pool so in combination with torches and pretty lights, the place looked like a fairy tale. This was also the first time in my life I tried and made a Smore - a delicious combination of two biscuits with melted marshmallow and chocolate in between; making you come back for S'(ome)more... Genius he.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Washington DC

First of all, I’m an auntie! Emiline Bax was born on 13th of November and is an absolute cutie judging by the pictures I’ve been sent by Granny Jacky.

Now. DC.

I arrived after 17 hours on the train, this time in a coach seat and not a private bedroom. I didn’t like it much. It’s definitely not as snug and sleeping is painful at times. Not only is it extremely cold on the train, but the seats weren’t as comfortable as I hoped they would have been. I was lucky however that nobody was sitting next to me and so I spread myself over two seats. I woke up every hour because of pins and needles in my feet and legs. As a result, I might have been slightly grumpy the next morning.

Darcy picked me up from the station and drove me around DC quickly to give me an introduction into Washington buildings and monuments. I don’t think there is any other city in the world that has so many remembrance monuments as DC has. There’s one for every war America took part in, every president that reigned, I’m sure they would put up a sign - This is the place were Abraham Lincoln produced his most famous fart – if it weren’t for the fact there’s no space left any more.

Over the next 3 days, I saw all the famous places up close, including the White House, the Capitol (which are 2 separate buildings and aren’t on top of each other – dumb ass!), the Lincoln phallus symbol, the reflective pool (but it’s an artificial lake really), the famous cemetery, the (let’s celebrate) WWII memorial, the famous museums, etc. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Portrait Gallery which are all free in DC and had some very enjoyable tea sessions in the afternoon! Darcy took me to Le Pain Cotidien, after telling me how much she despised chain restaurants and how wonderful this lovely French inspired tea place was, I had to disappoint and inform her we also have one in Antwerp, and my favourite one is actually in Nice. Nevertheless, it is a very lovely place to have tea and their tarts are exquisite!

My favourite part of staying in DC was probably Delia! Darcy and Andy’s ‘Oh I could so eat her as she’s so cute’-7 months old baby daughter. She must have been the happiest and content baby I’ve ever seen in my life. Her smiles are unbelievable. She’s currently in the phase of testing out her vocal cords and there’s a soprano hiding in there! Cutie pie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chicago - the city of architecture

Rose and I drove down to Chicago on Sunday and arrived when the sun was setting. Having been so scared I was going to be cold - as it generally snows there this time of the year - we were pleasantly surprised we had to take a jumper off! First on our list for the afternoon was checking out Frank Lloyd Wright's art studio. Wright is a very famous architect and designed a bazillion houses and buildings in this area. Because it was kind of dark by the time we got to the address we'd found on the internet, we weren't 100% sure we'd found the correct house. (it was definitely his style, but then again, the entire neighbourhood looked like his style) His art studio is open during the day for visitors and is sort of a museum these days, so we thought we'd check it out a little closer. Although there were lights on inside, we still weren't sure if we'd found the right house. And when I saw a flat screen tv when looking through the window, I was sure we were trespassing on someone else's grounds... So we ran. Giggling.

We then drove into town and checked in at the local YH. As Rose had once lived in Chicago, the only thing I had to do was just follow the guide. Chicago by night was absolutely beautiful and the architecture was amazing. It's a city full of art. Not only are most buildings designed by very famous architects, there are random sculptures and art installations spread all over the city, and all for free. The most amazing one was something that looked like a giant reflective silver kidney bean. With the lights on everywhere and the fog hanging above the city to reflect the light in the air, it was quite spectacular.

Rose and I then walked to the second tallest building in Chicago and went up to the 95th floor where there's a mighty posh restaurant. As our overdraft limits don't allow for dinner near one of their windows, we went to the toilets which provides you with an even better view over the city. Having somebody with you who knows where to go is great!!

I couldn't leave Chicago without trying their famous pizza. It's big, it's thick, it's got a massive crust, it's yummy. And the one thing that helps me digest my food better is ice cream, so Rose took me to the biggest Rock-n-Roll McDonalds in the world for a McFlurry lookalike. (they were playing Jazz though - very suave!) Exhausted from all our sightseeing, I climbed in my bunk bed, put my ear plugs in - which are now as much part of my sleeping garment as my PJs are - and fell asleep like a log despite the ER metro trains racing past underneath our window.

Next day, we started off having pizza left-over breakfast in the park where a bunch of scary looking squirrels joined us. We spent the morning at the Chicago museum of Fine Arts and oh my, was I impressed! They have a superb collection of Impressionism painters and I also got to see a couple more Georgia O'Keeffe's. In the afternoon we managed - just about - to get on the architectural ferry trip around the city, where I was even further impressed with what this city has got to offer! If you like architecture, this place is like one big museum. The tour guide literally blew me away with her knowledge and the speed she produced all this information at, making me wonder if she automatically continues when she's asleep...

We finished off the day with a nice cup of tea and some shopping in Macy's department store and headed back to pick up our luggage. Rose dropped me off at the station where we said our goodbyes. Staying with Rose has been a wonderful and very entertaining experience and she's without doubt my favourite travel partner if she wishes to join me on the Trans-Siberian one day!! I really do hope she gets the position at Oxford University next year... Can't wait for more Rose-fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I got to Rose's on Thursday evening and immediately went for a drink at the Student Union. Rose is my age and is in her final PhD year Micro Biological Something Something (it's not like I'm not paying any attention, it's just impossible for my pea size intellect brain to comprehend the subject). Madison, the capital of the state Wisconsin, is one of those place where the majority of people walking on the streets are 25 or younger as literally everybody is a student. And although Madison is the capital, it's about as big as Tunbridge Wells. Most of the centre consists of university faculties and studenty bars. I immediately felt at home.

As Rose had to work on Friday, 'do science', I walked around town, visited the Capitol and did some window shopping. The city centre is based on an Isthmus - I had never heard of this word before, but it's basically a strip of land that divides 2 lakes. It's beautiful up here! Water everywhere, lovely houses, nice neighbourhoods, I feel at home here. Rose's flat is cool - it reminds me a little of Bridget Jones' flat, funny layout. It's in the roof of a house and so the living room has slopey ceilings and about 16 corners. Her bedroom looks out over this amazing lake!

After Rose was done working, I walked to the Microbiological faculty - trying to find this building on the campus was like participating in a Scavenger Hunt. I then got to see her laboratory and also got to 'do some science'. We played with dry ice - the thing you see in films with all the white smoke coming out of test tubes - and I got to dress up as a scientist! (note: this is not what Rose looks like when she's working!)

Today Rose toke me to this fantastic brunch place which looked like you sat in somebodies living room eating an omelet. They shout out your name when your food is done, so we gave them my unpronounceable name, which was quite funny when it was our go. After brunch we went to a Scrapbook Store, as I'm now fully ready to start with my new hobby when I get back home. I'm loving the weakness of the $dollar$ - perhaps I haven't said that enough yet - everything is 50% cheaper here for me!!

We then got some take-away tea and went for a walk in the arboretum. Although it's mighty cold here, it was lovely to be outside and get some fresh air in my brains. I'm wearing 4 layers of jumpers when I'm out and that seems to be doing the trick fine so far!

Tomorrow Rose and I are driving down to Chicago, where we will stay the night in a YH. As my train to D.C. doesn't leave until 7pm on Monday, we get to hang out for another 2 days. Tonight we decided to get pizza, Ben & Jerry's, Pride and Prejudice and a big ass duvet to snuggle up in in front of tv. Aaah, girly evenings rule.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Californian Zephyr
I hardly slept the last night in the YH. I was so paranoid I might miss the bus to the train station that I woke up every half hour all through the night. I had never been so happy when it was 6AM and I was allowed to get up and get moving. I got to the buss stop with 20 minutes to spare, better that than having to run with 20 kilos on your back.

On the train I was greeted by our attendant, Gwendolyn, the tallest and loveliest black lady I’ve ever seen in my life. She made me feel so welcome, it was like coming home. I was shown my little personal travelling capsule where I’d be spending the next 3 days and 2 nights and I loved it. I was lucky that my cocoon was on the south side of the train for the entire journey, meaning I had sunshine all day and as it turns out, also the best views! It turned out my sleeper was a lot bigger and more comfortable than I thought it would be, so I settled in and was ready for the ride. As we were leaving the station I had this weird feeling of sadness leaving SF. I’d been there for 7 days and I had really come to like it.
On the train we were joined by tour guides from the Amtrak History museum. They travelled with us for the first day and every now and again got on the intercom and told us about the history and different things we could see left, right and centre. They even announced great picture opportunities! Dear photographers, get your cameras ready, we’ll be approaching a magnificent view in 2 minutes. So everybody ran to the lounge area. The lounge area is a great place, on the top deck, and has windows from floor to ceiling allowing for great picture taking and admiring views.

The first day we mainly travelled through dessert. I must have taken about 150 pictures of the landscape that day. I spent half the day in my cocoon, which was snug and comfortable beyond belief, just reading or listening to my iPod watching the scenery go by. The other part of the day, I sat in the diner having breakfast, lunch or diner (all included in the price of my ticket) or in the lounge area. Everybody chats and has different stories to tell, it’s great. Not once have I felt I’ve been on my own. People travelling on Amtrak or mainly older people; those who have time to travel. I have yet to meet one backpacker.

The second day was even more spectacular than the first one. We’d left the dessert and hit the start of the Rocky Mountains. We’d left California and were now cruising through Utah and Colorado. We slid through canyons, mountains, prairie and followed the Colorado river for many miles. I had this overwhelming sense that you shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature here; it’s so massive and beautiful. It really felt that humans could try as hard as they like, they wouldn’t be able to win from Mother Nature in this place. I took another 150 pictures or so in between reading and dosing off because of the rhythmic movement of the train.

I’d slept fantastically the previous night, mainly because I hadn’t slept at all the night before. But still, lying in your bed, watching the landscape go by is amazing. I tried to watch a film on my laptop but it didn’t feel right. This trip takes you back to basic. Writing in your diary and reading books, playing cards and meeting strangers. Never mind the digital camera.

The next morning I read my complementary newspaper and had breakfast with a doctor from Manchester. At that point, I had started to smell rather. (I lost my deodorant – which is not a good place when you’re stuck on a train for 3 days!) So I decided to try out the showers. I’d never had a shower on a train (lovely memories about the sleeping train in Russia!) but it turned out this one was big, warm and powerful. I’d nearly say it was better than the one in the hotel in SF.

We stopped at various places on the way and at one of the stations, where we would stay for 40 minutes, I asked Gwendolyn, who by now had adopted me as her long lost daughter and called me sweety all the time, if they would let me in the drivers engine room. She told me that they only let people up there on very special occasions and because of security issues etc. it would be impossible. But I could give it a try she said. I walked all the way to the front, grabbed on the drivers (there are 3 of them I found out) and he said, sure, no problem! Ha. I climbed about 4 metres in the air and entered the driving cabin which is nearly as impressive as a cockpit. With the biggest smile on my face, I walked back to Gwendolyn who then had to tell everybody on the train that I managed to persuade the drivers with my flashing eyelashes and smouldering eyes.

Again, I had a great night sleep last night and managed to hang out in the lounge area until midnight together with 6 other guys. Great fun. The scenery today looks a lot like the English countryside and I guess it’s somewhat of a disappointment after the dessert and the Rocky Mountains. A lot of little villages have appeared next to the rail tracks and most of the trees have lost their leaves so it’s a bit of a bare and wintery landscape. The skies aren’t as blue anymore but I guess all that means I’m getting closer to Chicago where it’s about 0 degrees at the moment.

I’ve got about 5 more hours to go on the train and I’m sad that this one is coming to an end. I can see why people say that the Californian Zephyr is the most beautiful and scenic train journey you can take across the US… I’m so pleased with myself for having stuck to the idea of training it in America. It has been an incredible journey which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

It’s a shame Stu couldn’t travel with me, however he’s been phoning me twice a day on my American phone so it’s like he was here after all. I would need to pack a tailored children’s ‘fun bag’ for Stu just to keep him busy for 3 days I feel. However when I described this journey as 3 days of sitting in CafĂ© Nero, he was warming towards the idea. If there were Indians and Cowboys riding next to the train on horses, he assured me, he’d definitely come next time.

As I’m typing this, I’m ready for the next part of my adventure. Taking a 3 hour bus to go to yet another state, Wisconsin, to stay with Rose for 3 days. From then on, I’ll make my way even further east to see Darcy in Washington D.C. and then it will only be a few more days before I get to see Andrew and Carrie down south!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Last day in SF

Today, I was going to take it easy. I was going to sit down in a nice coffee place and drink tea all day reading my Ewan McGregor book. Did I manage to chill and relax today?! My feet were unstoppable. I started off taking the bus in the direction of the Golden Gate Park but saw this beautiful building and decided to get off early. My Lonely Planet told me it was SF's town hall, which stood out in this city, it didn't really fit in with the architecture I'd seen all week. Just across from the city hall was the San Francisco philharmonic Orchestra building and opera. A notice indicated that guided tours were organised on Monday's so I thought, why not?

I walked in and thought I might have missed the 10am tour as it was quarter past, however, 3 old men (friends with my French lady?) were waiting for anybody who was interested in taking the tour. It cost me $3 and it was the best tour in the world! I got my private tour guide (or docent they like to call it) and he told me I was lucky this morning as the San Francisco Philharmonic orchestra was rehearsing! So not only did I get to see the building and was told about its history and conductors but I actually attended part of the rehearsal... He then guided me to the opera house where we entered back stage. He showed me the opera hall, took me back stage and on the stage and in the orchestra pit. It was absolutely amazing - and all that for 3$!!

I then started walking to a park with apparently beautiful views and wauzers, they were right! As with all journeys in SF, it was quite a hike getting up there but well worth it... After lunch I made my way to the Golden Gate Park through one of the hippy areas of SF. Rainbows everywhere. I wasn't all that impressed with the Park, the biggest man-made in the world. As you get closer to the Pacific Ocean, it becomes a lot colder, mistier and windier. And as today was a working day, hardly anybody was in the park which freaked me out a little. Quite a lot of homeless people live in the park - I probably would if I was homeless as the scenery is quite nice. My original plan was to have tea at the Japanese Tea Gardens but the tea was served outdoors and I was already freezing so I declined.

I then walked up to the Botanical Gardens, which are massive. If it weren't for the cold, mist and wind, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. Once I made my way back into town, I found myself a nice comfy seat in Starbucks and drank tea for an hour, reading my book. At last. I bought some snacks for on the train, in case I get hungry half way between meals, and I also bought another book, just in case I run out of things to read.

Back at the YH now and me and 3 other girls in my dorm have had a right old laugh tonight. Two Aussies and one Dutch girl (who's the President of the Robin Williams website and she was in SF to see him - he lives here - and another thing, she's scarily tall!! 1.91m!!). They basically put a big black mama in our dorm who snored for the world. It was fun to start with but then the 4 of us got increasingly annoyed so I decided I wasn't having it! They've now put all 4 of us in another dorm where it's nice and quiet. I still like YH...

Got to sleep a little now as I need to wake up at 6am to catch the Amtrak bus to the train. No blogging till Friday at the earliest! Laters.

Monday, November 05, 2007

On my own

Hurrah for wireless network everywhere in this city!

I packed up this morning and made my way to the Youth Hostel. Olga backed out last minute as she'd been out last night and was severely drunk and sick when she got back to the hotel in the middle of the night. I didn't mind going out on my own today, I think I'd rather preferred it that way. I started off having breakfast outside Starbucks with Renee, a 73 year old French lady. She eats the same Haagen-Daz ice cream every day. I got her life story and she told me I needed to get married to Stu. I guess I should now.

I dropped my bags off at the Youth Hostel - which is on top of a hill in a park. Beautiful views but rather sweaty by the time I got there. I'd decided to go biking today and make my way over SF's famous Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was beautiful today, sunny, hardly any clouds and about 25 degrees, so perfect biking weather. I can't remember how many times I got off my bike to take pictures, but it must at least have been 2 hours in total. I set off around lunch time with a big bottle of water.

Climbing up to the bridge I had to work my gears but it was all worth it. Bikers go on the West side of the bridge, with views over the ocean, pretty amazing. It took me about 20 minutes biking over the bridge, including some photo stops. It's a lot longer than you think. The next picture made me laugh out loud, although I know it shouldn't...

Once I got to the other side, I biked to the next village which was all cute and lovely with pretty boutiques, seafood restaurants and gorgeous views. I got some take away lunch and sat near the bay contemplating where I'd go next. One of the options was visiting a park which has the highest trees in the world, and as a dedicated member of the tree hugging society, I made up my mind. Although biking trails are pretty good, the signs for them are rubbish. I didn't get lost once but I had a constant feeling I was.

Getting to the park was a mile stone, 23 kilometres to be precise. There were indeed some pretty huge trees and I did hug a few, however, these were not the highest trees in the world! I'm 100% sure I've seen them a whooooole lot taller. Biking through the park was weird because the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees as the sun couldn't get through. After a short wee break, I got back on my bike and headed for the ferry. There was no way I was biking another 23km back! I think I must have done about 32km in total and am getting increasingly worried about the muscle aches waiting for me tomorrow...

On the ferry back home I started talking to 2 guys, one from England and the other one from South Africa. The English one came from Maresfield (small world!) and both were pilots; one with Virgin and the other one in the army. We nattered all the way back and they invited me for dinner tonight with the rest of the crew as he was flying back to London tomorrow - literally. I kindly declined as I knew I'd be too tired once I made it to the YH. (I needed a shower at that point, badly!)

I've just had the best shower ever and am sitting in the common room of the YH. I love YH no matter what anybody says. These days every person seems to be travelling with a laptop! People are reading, mailing, talking, playing chess. It's all lovely. The average age of people sitting around me is about 40 - which surprised me slightly. It seems Youth is no longer a prerequisite.

One more day to go and I've decided to take it easy tomorrow. I'm going to get on a bus/cable car to the biggest park in SF and spend the day walking, drinking tea and reading my book.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Lots to report on!

After 3 days exhibiting and doing my presentation - the only woman on a panel of 8 men - the conference has now finished. We packed up our booth at lunch time and dropped it back off at the hotel. I feel that it wasn't as busy as when I went to Phoenix a few years ago, but I've done some networking and might be in for a job as project manager for a translation company here in San Fran if I can get my visa sorted! I've told Stu to enquire with his company about a country transfer. I was strolling to the exhibition this morning and decided I could quite happily live here for a year or so. It's weird how this city feels like a big village. Although this is America and everything is twice as big as in Europe, this city gives me a very cosy and homey feeling.

I'm still amazed by the mix of architecture in this city. There's skyscrapers next to brick buildings, old next to new, modern style next to typical San Francisco style. I'm sure J.K. Rowling got some inspiration in this city as banks here look a lot like Gringotts Wizarding Bank, I'm half expecting Goblins to walk out any minute.

Olga decided to have a nap when we got back to the hotel, so I headed out on my own this afternoon, which was brilliant. I like being on my own when discovering a new city and as they say, the best way to do this is to get lots; if it weren't for my amazing (amazing?!) navigation and orientating skills. Basically, I have huge issues getting lost. I decided to get lunch at Taco Bell - oh well - and to sit myself down near the waterfront overlooking the bay.

I studied my Lonely Planet guide and decided to start hiking - which is to be taken quite literally in this city. I followed some off the beaten track routes and ended up in some very cool neighbourhoods. One of the nice things was seeing the publisher's house and bookstore (Jeez - did I just use the word store?) which originally published some of the Beat Generation's work, including Howl. Went in the bookSHOP's poetry corner where lots of pictures of Kerouac and Ginsberg were hanging on the wall. Never knew Albers' lectures would get me this excited. At some point during the walk, the guide said, now look to your right. I'll tell you... the picture isn't half as good as what I saw for real. This city is simply breathtaking.

The next walk took me through Chinatown and this is probably my favourite part of the afternoon! As soon as you enter the Chinese gates, the sweet and sour chicken flied lice smell hits you around the ears. If I wouldn't have known better, I could have been in Beijing. Not one tourist in sight. At this point, I was getting quite thirsty and thought I'd go for a cup of tea somewhere. I walked into a shop with lots and lots and LOTS of pots filled with tea leaves and asked for a cup of tea. I was told 'we don't do tea' - erh... - 'we do tea tasting'. Even better! (Tessa, you were in my mind the entire time I was here!!) If you ever get to SF, this is the place to be for the ultimate tea tasting experience!!! I met an American couple who sat next to me and we enjoyed the hour of tea tasting together. We got to try about 15 different teas and were given a 5 minute explanation about the tea and what effect it has on your insides. Loved every minute of it! I bought some tea leaves - and yes, Tessa, start saving up for a bulk buy by the time you get here, they have over 150 different teas specially imported from China, some even 25 years old. It was about 7pm by the time I left the tea shop. Had some more strolling through town, spent an hour in Borders, as you do, and headed back to the hotel where I'm sitting now. Tonight is my last night in the hotel and I'm moving to a Youth Hostel for the next 2 nights before I take the train to Chicago. I'm not sure if I will have internet at the YH, so in case I don't, I'll update you when I'm at Rose's.

As the last picture of this post, I thought I'd share my utter amazement when I saw this in Bloomingdale's shopping centre yesterday. When the Americans do something right, they do it brilliantly! A bending escalator... how's that for geniousness?!