Greenville and Beyond A Rural America

Trip Start May 15, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2010

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Flag of United States  , South Carolina
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day One - As always day one was a travel day, getting up at 5:30am after all the usual morning time activities and a quick double check of the contents of the suitcase and it was off to the train station, i had cleverly managed to pick a flight which meant i had to travel to London with the commuters. The journey to London on the train was not too bad as Southend is pretty near the start of the line, the issue came when catching a tube at tower hill to get across London, Tower Hill being in east london and Heathrow being in south west. In the end i found myself sitting on the platform at tower hill for about 35-40 minutes waiting for a district line tube which had enough space for myself and my suitcase. It was then a good half an hour to barons court where i needed to change to the picadilly line for heathrow and of course there i mis-read the line notice and ended waiting on the platform for 20 mins for the tube which left 15 mins earlier as i didnt realise i had to change again for terminal 4. On changing again and arriving at Terminal 4 it was then a mass of people trying to queue for the lifts up to departures. The checking in process was pretty eventless. And i spent the time in the queue chatting with an American man who was kind enough to tell me what to expect on a connecting flight (another travel first ticked off the list). After a trip through security and a walk down to the gate i had about an hour till the flight boarding (mostly due to the fun on the underground. As it was Armistace day i took part in the 11am two minutes silence and then after about another 45 mins we began to board the plane, since i was quite near the back i was boarding last. The captain announce that the flight was going to be 8.5hrs and then we taxied down to the runway where we sat for about an hour and 20 mins waiting to take off (due to weather apparently). We finally took off and the initial indication was that we would arrive in Atlanta about 15 minutes after my connecting flight was due to take off. About 2hrs into the flight we were served dinner which was a choice of chicken or pasta. I chose chicken which came with salad, cheese and biscuits and flapjack type biscuits for desert. The complimentary soft driks came around about every hour and then about an hour before the flight landed we were served the most cardboard pizza ever and ice cream which for me was over sweet. During the flight i watched a movie, chatted to the people either side of me and started on my english text book, i found that i only tend to sleep on flights when i am in a window seat, so i found the last couple of hours of the flight i was very tired but not enough to sleep sitting upright. Despite the delay we made good time in flight and landed with an hour till boarding of the connection. After a trip through immigration and baggage collection i deposited my suitcase on the connecting flight conveyor and headed to the gate via security. I managed to arrive at the gate with 15 mins to spare before boarding. The flight from Atlanta to Greenville was an interesting one as the plane climbed to 20,000ft and at that point the captain announced we were then about to decend into Greenville, the seatbelt signs did not have time to be switched off. Landing in Greenville i headed to the baggage collection where my cousin was waiting for me, the baggage collection was in the main entrance area which i thought was a little public considering all the security i had been through. We took a minor detour via the supermarket to pick up beer on the way back to my cousins flat and sat and chatted and drank beer until i could no longer keep my eyes open and then it was off to bed, that was a total of 25.5hrs awake.

Day Two - I woke up at 9:30am, which would have been good had it not been 9:30am UK time, so i had slept for 4.5hrs, for some reason i then couldnt get back to sleep. It was a nice slow start to the day as i wasnt expecting much to happen after the flight. As my cousin had stuff to do in town we headed out. For more on the local town tour see 'Anderson and Clemson - A Local Tour'. On returning from Clemson i was a little tired so we had a few games of football on the PS3 and then headed out to find somewhere for dinner. As the choice is so vast and i was way tired it was difficult for me to make a dinner choice so we ended up at a mexican restaurant, this was a good choice and the large beer which the waiter recommend was certainly that. I had the mixed fajitas which came with rice and salad. After dinner we headed back to the flat. After a while i headed off to bed with fingers crossed that the jetlag on this occassion would be mild. 

Day Three - Another nice slow start to the day, its kinda nice knowing on this trip that we will be doing stuff but that we dont have to get up at silly hours in the morning (on the whole) to do it. We kinda mooched around until lunchtime and then my cousin suggested a japanese steakhouse for lunch. So at about 12:30 we headed out for lunch. The restaurant itself was at the back of a car park and seemed very unassuming. It was one of those restaurants where the food its cooked for you on the grill at your table. The waiter came around and took our order which consisted of a drink choice and meat choice, very unsurprisingly i went for the steak option, the lunch also came with a choice of mild onion soup or salad, i went for the soup as otherwise i would have had to eat salad. After a large drink (not as large as the mexican beer beverage)  was delivered the chef came over to out table with his trolly, he fired up the grill and oiled it down, then after a bit of egg juggling with a spatula he broke the eggs to make egg fried rice, he then chopped and fried some veg and flavoured some rice. While that was cooking he cooked our selected meat choice and then served it all on the plate in front of us. Of course as we are in the US on this trip the plate and portion were oversized. After we had eaten and paid the bill the waiter brought over our to-go beverages. After lunch we headed to downtown Greenville to see the river and falls. To read more about that please see 'Downtown Greenville - An Afternoon By The River'. After a couple of hours back at the flat we headed back to Downtown Greenville for dinner and to watch the college football game, this of course was American football and now that my cousin is americanised he loves it. Not sure that i understand it at all, but the bucket of beers and the chilli nachos helped. As the game go on for some time we watched the first half and then about 10:30pm, after a couple of games of football (soccer) on the PS3 i could hardly keep my eyes open so headed to bed. 

Day Four - We had nothing planned for this day (it is Sunday) and intended to do it really well, i woke around 5:30am again and then dozed until about 10am, getting up i transferred to the armchair and played video games while my cousin scoured the internet for a flight home at xmas. This pretty much continued until 6pm when we headed out to find dinner, i found a useful itouch app called yelp which identified a thai restaurant which was close by and so we headed there for Thai green curry, after dinner we headed back to the flat to chill some more, with a PS3, internet access and TV the downtime is pretty much like being at home. 

Day Five - This day began around 8am, still broken a couple of time by jetlag style sleeping patterns. When looking out the window we had been given the rain that had been promised, the first in about 2 months. Looking at the things to do in South Carolina website it appeared that the things the state does best are all outdoor activities. So we decided to head to Frankie s Fun Park, unfortunately due to what we can only assume was health an safety all the outdoor activities were closed so we spent an hour or so playing the arcade skill games for prize tickets, the kind which are completey random as to how to play them and also in what prize you get. My cousin got lucky a couple of times and so we ended up with a few prize tickets which we were able to trade for some funfair style prizes, they had bigger prizes which i can only assume you had to keep returning to build up to as they average ticket win seemed to be around 100 tickets and the PS3 they had on display was 60,000 credits so i guessed we would not be getting that. After picking up a selection of tacky funfair prizes we headed home via the mall where we purchased coffee and cookies. My cousin had decided that i could not do the trip without a trip to Hooters restaurant, famous for waitresses in tight outfits and chicken wings, we took a seat and was served by a nice blond waitress. It had become apparent that over the last few days my cousins accent was loosing its american edge and i had no clue what any of the waiters or waitresses were saying as i didnt understand the southern accent or the southern terms. As such my cousin did most of the ordering in restaurants for us, this made him the focus of the attention as they considered this as an indication of who was picking up the check, non more so than hooters where the waitress came over every five minutes to ensure that my cousins meal was OK, at the same time i might as well have not been sitting there. As we were waiting for the food the Monday night quiz started we didnt sign up although we should have, as we got all but 2 questions right including the double your points round 'Who is this man?' (it was Gordon Brown). Wings and Tatertots served by a waitress who insisted on asking us if the food was OK every 10 minutes. We stayed until the end of the quiz and were even bought a beer by the table next to us for telling them the answers to a number of the questions. After dinner we headed back to the flat and after a little video gaming headed to bed.

Day Six - Another casual morning, with a 5:30am, 8am waking, we had been invited to dinner in columbia, so after a morning of chillin and video games (yep a pattern is emerging we headed off on the drive down the very straight interstate, to Columbia. To read more about Columbia see 'Columbia - The State Capital'. After around 2hrs we headed back to the truck to ensure that we made it back before the 2hrs was up (as 2hr parking has tow zones) and headed for dinner. Dinner was a plesant affair of meat and vegetables and it made a change to be eating home cooked food, not that restaurant food in the US isnt good quality (certainly those we have chosen to this point). For desert we had carrot cake, with enough frosting to counter any health benifit the carrot cake may carry (not that im saying it wasnt good). After we had eaten and chilled a bit we headed home. Getting home i watched TV for a bit, its pretty much the same shows as at home, but with the added bonus of advertising every 10 minutes, after watch a couple of show and only falling asleep during the ad breaks a couple of times i headed to bed.
Day Seven - The day started as most with a casual waking, this was about 8am and after six nights i had a nights sleep without the effects of jetlag. After we had both showered we headed out for a morning in the mountains. To read more about the mountains see 'Sassafran Mountains - In the Middle of Nowhere'. After we has driven back down the mountain road we headed into Greenville to get some lunch we headed to the a sandwich shop which my cousin had suggested was good and on stepping up to the counter the waitress informed us of the various bread types they did not have, including paninin bread which we wanted, this we thought was odd so we went to the diner down the street and i had a chicken burger instead, after lunch we headed back to the flat, after the drive and the walking we were both quite exhausted and so had a quiet afternoon which mostly consisted of playing video games.

Day Eight -  The day started at 5:30 so the pattern continues, i laided in bed until 8am when i got up as we were heading to Charleston which is across the state and would take 3.5hrs to get there. To read about Charleston (its another aquarium story) see 'Charleston - Another Aquarium Story'. Getting back into Greenville we decided to go to a pizza palour for dinner, i had decided that i wanted to eat traditionally american food on this trip, but wanted to stick with my plan of not eating in international chain stores. On arriving at the chosen pizza place it was packed and looked like we would have to wait for an hour so we walked down to a steak restaurant on the block. I decided that i would not skimp on the steak and so on this occassion i went for the porthouse (23oz) with fries, as an appetizer we had the tonions which were onion rings but slices rather than rings. After we had eaten we headed back to the flat and i was pretty tired, so after staying awake for 1 episode of Futurama i headed to bed at around 9:30pm. 

Day Nine - I woke around 7am and then mostly did nothing for the rest of the day, of course when i say nothing see 'internet, TV, video games and beer' as a reference. My cousin had to work today, so i spent the day chillin before dinner. Dinner this evening was pizza at a stone-bake pizza restaurant, as it was Fridya night there was a wait of around 30 mins, but once we got in we were seated at a booth for 8 (there were 2 of us) and had the 10 inch pizza which was followed the garlic bread sticks with mustard dipping sauce. After dinner we headed back to the flat for friday night tv and then bed.

Day Ten - After waking around 8am we got ready and at about 10:30am we headed for Atlanta, to read more about Atlanta see 'Atlanta - They Have an Aquarium'. Getting back from Atlanta about 10pm it was almost straight to bed. 

Day Eleven - This day was Sunday and pretty much passed me by, each time i sat or laid down i closed my eyes and slept, by the time i woke in the evening it was too late to eat as diners in the US close at 9pm taking last entry at 8. So we went to an chicken place. After dinner more sleeping. 

Day Twelve - Again on this day my cousin had to work in the morning, so i spent the morning pottering before getting dressed and packing my suitcase. An hour or so playing video games and then at around 1pm my cousin returned and we went out for lunch before my 4pm check in. Lunch was Copper River a diner/restaurant, i had the 10oz burger, probably the best burger i have eaten, this came loaded with lettuce (which i removed), tomato, pickle, onion straws, bbq sauce and cheese and a side of fries and of course the obligatory refill coke. But before that we had a plate of quasadillas as i wasn't sure when or what quality the food would be between lunch and home the following day. Arriving at the airport i was able to get my seat switched to a window seat. The guy sitting next to me decided to move seats to one where no-one would make him move, the flight was only 3/4 full. So i had 2 seats which didnt help much. After the dinner (some kind of microwaved chicken). I watched a movie. Then i tried to sleep, didnt do much for me, then i put the laptop on and played football manager for a while, this is where i slept as eat time i waited for it to process i fell asleep. About an hour before the end of the flight they serve a hot egg crossaint and a banana (breakfast). After breakfast i opened the blind and watched the flight in, dropping through the clouds was good fun. 

Day Thirteen - Landing at London around midday i headed through an empty customs and collected by luggage, with fingers crossed that they did transfer it from the connecting flight, they had and i made my way across London on the tube to Fenchurch Street, at the station i stopped to pick up a sausage roll and headed for my train. Getting off the train at Southend i dragged my suitcase home.  I had been awake for 22hrs at this stage and so came in through the front door and collapsed on the sofa, adventure over.

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