Ellie – Regis University, USA
Semester 2, 2016
One of the reasons I was so drawn towards studying abroad in the United States was my desire to travel. Being located in Denver means that I am pretty central to most states, making weekend trips easy to achieve. As I planned, I have been fortunate enough to visit a number of areas, with a couple more trips planned. Here is a list of the places I have been to and the highlighted activities I got up there:
San Francisco, California
For the Labor Day long weekend (my second of 2016), I spent three days viewing all San Fran has to offer along with two Swedish exchange students. We were super touristy and purchased a two day ticket for a hop-on hop-off bus that took us around to all the main sites. We drove through the streets, in gardens, along the Painted Ladies, by the family house used to film Mrs Doubtfire, to the Science Museum and of course, the Golden Gate Bridge among many other stops. A short walk from the Golden Gate bus stop is Marin Headlands, where you can get an incredible view of both the Bridge with downtown San Francisco in the background. We were lucky enough to have a fairly clear sky (as Carl the fog usually covers the entire bridge). Somehow we managed to find a popular, but kind of secretive rollerskating venue held in an abandon church called Church of 8 Wheels, definitely worth checking out! In order to have a break from the repetitive college food, we decided to treat ourselves to some seafood that an Uber driver recommended. The food at Scoma’s Restaurant was delicious and offered great views of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
My next trip was to Colorado Springs with my boyfriend who was visiting me in Denver for the week. Over the weekend we spent two days in Colorado Springs which is about 1.5 hours south of Denver. It is the second largest city in Colorado and has plenty to offer! On our first day we visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s only zoo to be built around mountain so that some of the animals are in their natural surroundings. It was such a great zoo with lots of animals, we even got to feed giraffes and a rhino. There was a chairlift that took us to the top of the mountain and over enclosures, it was definitely an experience. Later that day we visited the Garden of the Gods which is large red-sandstone rock formations that protrude high out of the ground. We then checked in to our hotel which was surprisingly really nice! It was called Quality Inn for about $100 per night and even had a mountain view from our window. For dinner we ate at Caspian Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant that was five minutes walk from our hotel. The food was delightful! For our Sunday we had plans to go hot air ballooning which unfortunately got called off due to the weather. Instead, we visited Seven Falls which I would highly recommend. It is where seven waterfalls come together in a canyon. You can even climb to the top.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Over Fall Break, a friend and I visited Las Vegas. Although it is exactly like the movies suggest, there is much more to do than just drink, gamble and party. While there we booked in to see Criss Angel and a comedy show. We spent a day exploring all the hotels and ate plenty of lovely food.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
While in Nevada, we did a day trip to Arizona to visit the Canyon, about a three hour bus ride from the Strip. We booked in for a helicopter ride over the edge and land on the Canyon floor, it was literally breathtaking. The rest of the day was spent at a number of viewpoints and taking lots on photos.
In order to visit a fellow ACU exchange student and friend from home, I flew over to Seattle for a quick weekend trip. I did not actually see much of the city on the night I arrived, instead spent most time catching up with her. And the next day over breakfast, we decided on a spontaneous road trip (as below).
After discussing it, we could not say no to an international getaway. We hired a car and Maddy quickly adjusted to driving on the opposite side of the road, three hours later we were in Vancouver. We went to a viewpoint at night up in the mountains for a great view of downtown, no photo does it justice. On the Sunday we went out for breakfast for waffles and of course, Canadian maple syrup. Later that day we visited Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which was about a 15 minute drive from our hotel. It was definitely worth the stop! We then had to head back to Seattle so I could catch my flight back to Denver.
The weekend just gone was spent in St Louis. Although we enjoyed our weekend away, there doesn’t seem to be much more to do there. The weather was miserable on our first day so we spent the majority of the day inside. The next two days were fairly busy, spent at a chocolate factory, the Missouri Botanic Gardens, the St Louis Zoo (which was free), the City Museum (a giant playground which is filled with adults at night), trying Imo’s Pizza, going to the top of the Gateway Arch and placing one foot in both Missouri and Illinois at the same time.
New York, New York
Los Angeles, California
In three weeks when the semester ends I will be off travelling again for six days in New York and five in Los Angeles, before flying home just in time for Christmas. Looking forward to it!