Cuba 2: Havana

After a brief rest period, Simon and Ang who were first to arrive at the pit stop at 4:00am, departed seven hours later at 11:00am to explore Havana.

Standard Havana photo

Their first task for this leg of the race was to complete a walking tour of Havana and map their route using a smuggled GPS logger.  This tour took in the Malecón, Centro Havana and Old Havana.

Havana building
Capital building and another classic car Capital building

Having been warned by their host, the team was easily able to spot the Jinateros, many of whom decided to introduce themselves to the team. A Jinatero or Jinatera is a girl or guy who has no formal employment and who instead makes a living by using ‘their mind to take money from tourists’. Typically they would make idle chat or ask if the team wanted to buy some cigars.

They were no worse than those in other countries and were easily ignored or defeated through questions.  Ang found it particularly fun to ask them what their job was, which usually meant perfect English was quickly replaced with confused Español and a hasty departure.

Cuban street art inspired by deadmau5

The team’s extensive walking tour allowed them to identify a variety of historic and famous sights. On this walk they were able to complete the first viewer challenge for this leg of the race.  This challenge was provided by Sandy and was to locate La Bodeguita del Medio (birth place of the Mojito). However, short on time, they did not enter the bar and restaurant at this point.

Typical Havana street

Changing their Euros into CUC was the next challenge of this leg of the race. They first located a suitable bank, and then proceeded to complete the transaction.

Before the team could leave the counter, the teller tried to sell them an Australian dollar note.  Simon initially thought they wanted him to check to see if it was a forgery, as the condition of the note was very poor and it was missing some security features when he held it up to the light (the teller quickly grabbed the note off him to show that it had the UV marker).

While actual inspection time was limited before she snatched it back, Simon thought it was highly likely to be a fake.  Simon’s main disappointment was the 30 CUC she was asking for the note was much more than the 5 CUC he was prepared to pay for the note as a souvenir.

Cuban cops walking the beat, defending socialism

The only other real problem the team faced in Havana was that at each government run Mercardo supermarket, the team was consistently short changed.  The simple solution was to consistently check their change and to challenge the teller automatically (sometimes even before checking the change), and by doing so they were able to avoid losing any CUCs.

Yes, please defend socialism

Food challenges include eating lots of traditional Cuban food in particular chicken and Moros y Cristianos (a recipe for fancy non-Cuban Moors and Christians). On two occasions, the team had dinner had in China town.  This amused Simon greatly as on one of the occasions, the restaurant was state run and staffed by Cubans who were not of Chinese descent.  They served an interpretation of Chinese food with a distinctly Cuban twist.  Simon and Ang liked the combination of rice, beans and fried chicken with Chinese five spices.

Later they walked through Centro Havana to Vedado where they sampled some ice cream at Coppelia (a huge cathedral dedicated to ice cream) before they headed to the National Hotel where the team enjoyed sunset mojitos.  This completed two viewer challenges for this leg, which were provided by Sandy and Callan respectively. The team received their next clue and set off for the pit stop.

Che neon by day (Plaza de la Revolución)
Dude fixing his car Moijitos at the National Hotel

Racing back to their casa, stopping only for dinner, the team checked into the pit stop for this leg of the race, once again arriving first.

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Cuba 1: Cancún to Havana

Previously on the Amazing Exclusive Race, one team of two spent a week relaxing and recovering at Playa Del Carmen. Simon and Ang both enjoyed a fantastic week in the stunning Playa, graciously hosted by Sandy and Gigi.  They lazed on the beach and visited ancient Mayan ruins.  After successfully completing the food challenge for this leg, they were given their next clue, provided by Callan.

Quickly packing, the team raced via ADO bus back to Cancún airport.  There they found that their Cubana de Aviación flight to Havana had been delayed.  The delay was initially 2 hours due to mechanical problems.  Checking their bag in, the team was told the delay was not two, but actually 12 hours, and that they would be taken to a hotel in Cancún to wait until their flight later that night.

Having previously experienced this, the team were hesitant to go to the airline hotel, as it rarely lives up to the hype.  However, the chance to see Cancún and hang out with the friendly Israelis they met at the airport convinced them otherwise.  Two hours of airport wait time later and the team was on a bus along with the other passengers to the Imperial Perlas, Cancún.

This hotel could be best described in nine words as a one star spring break all inclusive budget cheapie.  The team decided against swimming in the pool or the attached beach and instead set off to walk to the nicer beach about 8km away they drove past on the bus ride in.

After passing other establishments such as Temptation (an adult only hotel experience) and the big giant Mexican flag and with the sun setting, the team accepted they were not going to be able to swim in the nicer beach.  They returned, slept and a few hours later boarded the bus back to the airport.

Big giant Mexican flag!
Cancún sunset panorama

The rather interesting crowd of fellow passengers included Americans, Canadians, Russian, Mexicans, Cubans, a nice Spaniard named Juan and Israelis.  Bizarrely on the bus ride, Simon chatted with a nervous Mexican-America.  He was nervous because he regularly flew Cubana and in particular the aircraft that would be used for this flight.  He also had recently escaped from being kidnapped, was wanted by Mexican gangsters and probably suffered from post traumatic stress.

Being 2am, the airport was completely clear of people.  The racers were able to clear security in under 5 minutes, but had to surrender their toothpaste.  Ang and Simon then joined the other passengers in the departure lounge, waiting for the final boarding call.

Soon the team and their fellow passengers boarded the bus for the short drive to the aircraft.  Cubana fly the Cancún to Havana route using an old soviet aircraft, the Yak-42d.

The Yak for tonight’s flight had several unique features.  To enter the aircraft, the team had to bowed as the cabin door is about 4.5 feet high.  The luggage compartments were spray painted silver.  The seats had the capability to fully recline 180 degrees and the Cyrillic on the signs was supported by English, Spanish and a mystery third language.

Ang is thrilled to be on the airplane

The team was allowed to sit in any seat, so they wisely sat next to an exit door (one of seven) and awaited the flight.  Soon the safety briefing commenced and the aircraft was prepared for take-off.

Climbing out of Cancún airport, the air-conditioning started to vent thick smoke.  The team was unable to see people two seats away.  Other passengers were concerned, but an unfriendly hostess assured the other passengers that this was normal.  Both Ang and Simon agreed that it was like being in some sort of gloomy time machine.  They then resumed pretending it was a bad dream.

The Yak climbed to 24,000 feet and the next hour was relatively smooth with exception of one unfriendly incident involving the angry hostess and an ‘Americano’ oversized carry-on bag that was too large for the locker. No one admitted to being American to the hostess for the rest of the flight.

Burnt sesame treats anyone?

Soon the plane was on final approach to Havana.  Once again, smoke vented from the air-conditioning as the engines strained.  A British girl living in Cuba, who sat in the seat next to Simon, went to the toilet on final approach.  About 10 minutes later, the Yak was still landing.  Ang was getting annoyed at this point and wanted the plane to hurry up.  Finally, the plane touched down at José Marti International Airport, Havana.  The British girl returned from the toilet to her seat to collect her bags.

Next, they took a tour by bus of the airport precinct before clearing customs, acquiring some convertible pesos and getting into a taxi.

They were sped into Centro Havana, where to complete their journey back in time they were greeted by gloomy streets with classic American cars cruising past colonial buildings, stray dogs and prostitutes.  Their cab driver had some difficulty, but eventually was able to locate Rolando’s casa particular.  There the team checked into the pit stop for this leg of the race.

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Mexico 1: Playa Del Carmen

The main task for this leg of the race was to laze on the beach and relax.  The team set about doing this and were lucky to be hosted by Sandy and Gigi in their awesome condo.  Ang, who had suffered upon arrival from near instant Mexican two step, especially benefited from Sandy and Gigi’s generosity.  While most of the next 4 days were spent doing very little other then enjoying the beach and their host’s company, there were challenges to complete.

Lazy Playa, Ang pre two step

Andrew had provided a challenge for this leg of the race – locate and visit Señor Frogs for a drink. The team rinsed off under the provided shower and ordered a banana piña colada and some nachos.  They enjoyed the cheesy entertainment and finished their meal and drinks.  Having completed the challenge, team received their next clue.

We found the Frog Worst lunch but best colada
Da beach
Playa panorama

Once Ang had recovered enough, the team set off to explore Chichen Itza.  This famous ancient Maya landmark had recently been called one of the new wonders of the ancient world and is located a three hour bus ride from Playa.  The team set off before dawn by bus to beat the package tours.

No one wants to sell at 6am
Standard pyramid shot Another shot of the pyramid
Iguana Mayan skull decal
Mayan planet-air-terrium

Arriving at the Chichen site, the team commenced exploring.  They had arrived earlier than even some of the hundreds of vendors and so had most of the site to themselves.  They explored all the areas and even had time to complete a survey for some Mexican high school students.

Later, back in Playa, the team, along with Sandy and Gigi, completed the ‘eat a whole grouper fish’ food challenge.  With dinner finished, the team received their next clue.

Racing resumes shortly…

…to be continued.

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Puerto Rico 1: San Yuan

With only limited time in Puerto Rico, the team commenced their exploration of Old San Juan on foot.  They toured the town and visited the major fortifications that were the oldest Spanish constructed in the Caribbean.

Old town street Old town fort
Old town doors
Panorama looking south over old town

After getting information on local nearby attractions, the team hired a car and headed east.  Unfortunately they were unable to secure passage to Playa Flamingo on Culebra Island as the ferry was not operating and flight schedules were not achievable.

Instead, the team visited first the national park of Yunque where they successfully climbed to the summit of Mt Britton.  After completing this task, the team headed back north to Laquillo beach before they continued to the most north easterly point of mainland Puerto Rico, and swam at Seven Seas Beach.

Lizard in Yunque Just like a dinosaur
Lizard close up Gross snail
Laquillo beach In case you didn’t know where you were

The final challenge was to return to old San Juan and avoid all toll roads.  The team was able to successfully achieve this and once again went to sleep for a few hours before their flight to Mexico.

Plaza Las Americas

Returning the car prior to the car hire office opening, the team checked their bags in, then returned to pay for the hire in cash, despite protests from the customer service lady.  They then raced back on foot back to the departures terminal where they boarded their flight to Mexico.

Transiting via Miami, the team arrived in at Cancún, Mexico.  There they met Sandy and boarded an ADO bus to Playa Del Carmen, the pit stop for this leg of the race.

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Dominica 1: Dominica

Racing resumed the next morning with the team departing French Guadeloupe aboard a high speed ferry bound for the Commonwealth of Dominica.  Dominica is a small island nation, roughly half the size of Guadeloupe and with far fewer people and cars.  English is the official language, but many Dominicans are rasta types speaking Creole.  Many scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean have been filmed around the island.

I’m on a boat!

The team arrived at Roseau and after a delay through customs (island time processing speeds combined with fluid queues) commenced negotiating a taxi ride to the north of the island.  Ang was particularly aggressive in her negotiation and managed to get the team a ride that was half the original 100USD price quoted.

Soon they were heading up the coast in a minivan with other passenger Dominicans (“Wellcome to mi countray mon”) proudly pointing out the various points of interest along the drive.  Soon they arrived in the little hamlet of Calibishie where they were given directions to a swimming beach for an evening swim.

The team quickly set off back down the road asking directions along the way of the friendly rasta types until they arrived at the beach.  There they were along on the magic beach until Coral (a Welsh retiree) arrived and introduced herself.

Ang likes the beach

Later, the team had a few cocktails and chatted with an eccentric American, also retired and the friendly bar staff before they walked back along the dark road back to their honeymoon chalet.  They chatted to another friendly rasta type who was walking in the same direction and soon were back at their accommodation.  A private dinner set on the team balcony was soon followed by rest.

Waking before sunrise the next morning, the team headed to another nearby empty beach where they once again swam alone as the sun rose.  Ang loved this beach, but wished they had the time to go to the much talked about Batibu beach.

Dominican sunrise Dawn panorama
Looking for shells Looking east over the Caribbean

With the flight departure time fast approaching, they then collected their bags and transferred to the airport.  Exiting tax was paid in USD and Canadian dollars and customs was cleared as the officers watched cricket over the internet whilst they processed travellers.  With only a slight delay, the team flew first to Antigua and then on to Puerto Rico.

Arriving in Puerto Rico the team chatted with a friendly TSA customs official (who looked just like Lou Diamond Phillips) then met a nice Puerto Rican couple who showed the team which bus, train and bus to take to their hostel. This was not the most direct route from the airport (a taxi from the airport is much quicker), but both Simon and Ang enjoyed the company and journey through San Juan.

Arriving at the Posada San Fransciso, the team checked into the pit stop for this leg of the race and despite the time lost on the airport transfer, were the first to arrive.

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France 1: Guadeloupe

Waking a few short hours later, the team travelled by car service to JFK airport where they boarded a flight south to Puerto Rico.  There they changed aircraft and continued on to French Guadeloupe, to complete Merryl’s detour.

Flyin’ ova da Caribbean mon

Guadeloupe is a special administrative department of France and is located in the Lesser Antilles approximately 2170km southeast of Miami.  The two islands that form Guadeloupe, Basse Terre and Grande Terre are connected by bridges.  The team’s challenge for this leg of the race was to hire a car and complete a survey of all of the beaches on both of the islands.

The vehicle of choice on Guadeloupe is the Peugeot, so naturally the team’s hired car was a 303 hatchback.  Angela remarked “Guadeloupe, the land of the Peugeot, where Peugeots outnumber humans” and Simon was also impressed with the sheer number of cars.   The next few days involved driving the circumference of the two islands, pulling into the various beaches along the way before returning to kind hosts Camile and Vivien’s home each evening.

Arggg Ang is a pirate (note the imported Australian & New Zealand birds) Arrg Simon is also a pirate (what car hire place lets their birds climb on you?)
Beach at sunset Ya mon, we be on da beach
Drinking proper Gwada rhum Smashing some creole chicken
Waterfall in the middle of Basse Terre The mighty Peugeot conquerors the Col des Mamelles

Over the 5 days, the team swam with Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles, walked along white, yellow, coral and black sand beaches. They were also able to determine the answer to the second part of Merryl’s challenge by working out that that Gwada is the Creole short form for Guadeloupe.

Cute beach dog! The town of Basse Terre
Painted palms Ang is a fan of white sandy beaches
Working out on a beach Clear waters off Guadeloupe
What a beach Another beach
Mightly Peugeot next to some Gwada houses Just like a proper pirate
Gwada coastline Ruin!
Coral coast Off-road Peugeot
Red crab at a beach in Gwada The view from our room – suburban Gwada

With all the two island’s beaches visited, the main task for this leg of the race was completed. The team returned the car and checked into the pit stop for this leg of the race.

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United States 10: Brooklyn

Simon and Angela, who were the first to arrive at the pit stop at 6pm, departed at 10am the next morning to explore more of the city of New York.  Racing from Brooklyn, the team set off for the first task of this leg of the race.

Taryn had provided another food challenge for this leg of the race.  The team were tasked with eating ice cream from the Brooklyn ice cream factory and then they were to walk off the deliciousness across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Simon was impressed with the quality of the ice cream and would’ve had two if they weren’t racing.

Ice cream factory Bridge and the factory
So very true…

After indulging, the team walked almost back to the centre of Brooklyn to access the secured pedestrian walkway that gave access to the bridge. They crossed the bridge in record time and headed back to Brooklyn via the subway.  Completing this challenge, the team once again relocated to new accommodation, their final for New York.

Brooklyn Bridge panorama
Bridge towards the island Another shot of the bridge
Serious bridge crossing face

For the second task of this leg of the race, the team had to attend the US Open.  After more sightseeing on Manhattan earlier in the day, the team set off on Saturday evening to Flushing to watch the match. The team had earlier purchased tickets to what they thought was going to be the Woman’s finals (Session 25).

Only part of the bull without people on it
F line subway Inside the Empire State
Naked Cowgirl of Cowgirl industries

They arrived in time at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre and were able to watch some of the outside games before going to their seats in the USTA Arthur Ashe Stadium. Due to earlier rain delays, their tickets, whilst allowing access for the session on Saturday, were for not the quarter final session.   Session 25 had been rescheduled to the Sunday night, which meant two entries for the price of one.  Ang was stoked.

Serena in the semi finals Polish girl hits back Serena wins!

The quarter final match was fairly one sided with Serena Williams soundly defeated Caroline Wozniacki, 6–2, 6–4. This meant the Woman’s final would be Serena versus the Australian, Sam Stosur and the team would be there to support!

More sightseeing was completed the next day, before the team once again headed out on the subway to Queens.

Grand Central station More of the station
Streetscape, Manhattan UN building
Outside the Guggenheim Inside the Guggenheim
Central Park lake Central Park field
Central Park castle Central Park wedding (complete with giant flags)

They received yet another pair of promotional caps and took their seats.  The match could be best described as electric with Sam defeating Serena 2-6, 3-6.  As Australians, the team was suitably proud and made many friends amongst the mostly American crowd.

Back at the tennis An outside match
Racers take their seats
Panorama from the stadium of Manhattan
Game on! Sam thumps the ball
Will Ferrell on the big screen Where’s Will?
Serena hits back Sam about to thump the ball again
Sam wins! Queenslander! Celebrating with friends and family
Sharing a moment Flag to win ratio seems wrong
First and second place Winner!
Stadium panorama, after the win

Later that night, on the journey back to Brooklyn, the team visited the 9/11 site.  They walked around to the fire station where 10 years earlier many fire fighters lost their lives trying to save others.  The team was moved.  The 10th anniversary had been sombre, subdued event and this brief walk by of the fire station, for Simon, was the most poignant commemoration they witnessed.

9/11 lights

Having originally planned to leave New York on the Monday, they received a surprise detour from Merryl. Their task now was to make their way as rapidly as possible to Guadaloupe, France where they would receive their next clue.

Flights were rapidly booked, but before they would leave the city, the team raced to the Top of the Rock where they took in a sunset.  They then had a few evening drinks at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment with Andrew, before heading back to Brooklyn one last time to pack for their flight, that was once again only a few short hours away in the early hours of the morning.

On Top of the Rock Pinching the Empire State
Night panorama from the Top of the Rock towards the south
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United States 9: Manhattan, New York

Receiving their next clue the next morning, the team set out to explore as much of Manhattan as possible, before they were once again homeless.

Wise words from the sign
Subway art

Commencing with the neighbourhoods nearest to their hotel, the team walked around SoHo and ate in a restaurant in China town.  They took a subway ride to the Meatpacking district where they had some fantastic Thai.

Drying money like gangsters Freshpet in SoHo
View to the Empire State Empire state by night

Later, they walked the entire length of the Highline, a long elevated railway that has been converted to a park.  They walked around the areas of Greenwich, the Financial District and Wall Street.

Highline park benches Watching traffic on the Highline
Highline and watertanks Sad mouse next to the Highline
Highline panorama towards the Hudson
Highline panorama towards Meatpacking
Highline rail tracks
NYSE Federal Reserve
Brooklyn Bridge Mr Gecko wants his boat back
That is a lot of debt

Fashion Night Out was held on the Thursday with many shops staying open until late into the evening.  The team attended the event held at the Rockefellar centre.  Simon’s only regret was not bringing along a Generic Festival Clothing t-shirt wear on the red carpet.

Fashion night out model A sign for 30 Rock below 30 Rock!
Macy’s… epic Post Fashion night carnage

Later, the team made their way back to Greenwich to try some risotto in a gluten free restaurant.  Unfortunately it was closed, but, walking back to the subway, the team discovered perhaps one of the best pizza places in New York, Bleecker Street Pizza.  Famous previous Pizza Pie eaters included Edward Norton.  This place surprisingly served gluten free pizza even though it looked like a late night takeaway.  Rapidly, much wine and pizza was consumed was consumed in order for the team to receive their next clue.

Wine from a paper cup? Gluten free new york style pizza pie

There were two New York challenges provided by Callan for the team to complete.  These were to handstand in Times Square and photograph the Naked Cowboy.  These were completed in record time by the team.

Simon’s handstand Ang’s handstand
Challenge completed: Photo with Naked Cowboy Industries Times square by day

Later, the team checked out the east side and visited the UN building.  They then went to Magnolia Bakery, where they completed the other viewer challenge, provided by Taryn, to consume a Magnolia cupcake in Central Park.

Magnolia Bakery Ang eating a cupcake
Central Park underpass Central Park horse

Extensive searches for suitable accommodation had finally born fruit.  The team left their SoHo hotel and travelled out of Manhattan to Brooklyn.   There they arrived at the first of two places they had booked for the next four days, checking into the pit stop for this leg of the race.

Everyone needs a hardy mum
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United States 8: Manhattan, New York

New York building

Previously on the Amazing Exclusive Race, one team of two raced from Montréal via Niagara Falls to New York.  There they met a frequent flyer and embarked on the next leg of the race.

The team along with Taryn (The frequent flyer) and Mark, took a cab to the pier where they boarded a Circleline sightseeing cruise for a tour down the Hudson River.  This voyage covered half the length of Manhattan and took the team as far as Liberty Island.  The tour was the first introduction to New York for the team and served to give them a good orientation to the major neighbourhoods of Manhattan.

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Concorde
Mark and Taryn enjoying the view Liberty minics
Standard liberty statue Dudes taking the gunboat for a spin

Both Ang and Mark, who occasionally suffer from motion sickness, survived the journey well.  Taryn and Simon, as usual, had no such issues.

Following the cruise, the team raced to SoHo where they completed a lunchtime roadblock. Successfully finishing this meal, the team bid Taryn and Mark farewell and returned to the main task of this leg of the race – find accommodation or a suitable park bench for the night in Central Park.

Retreating to a nearby Starbucks where they resumed their seemingly fruitless search.  Out of frustration, the team gave up on the internet and set off on foot to the nearest SoHo hotel their internet search had located.

With some friendly banter, the team was able to secure accommodation for three nights at a reasonable price.  This challenge completed, meant that the team was then able to return to collect their bags from the Sheraton, and for the next few days at least, commence regular sightseeing racing in earnest.

Unfortunately we were unable to secure tickets

A short couple of subway rides later and the team checked into the pit stop with their bags for this leg of the race, earning a much needed rest.

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Canada 5: Montréal to New York

Racing resumed midway through the next morning with the team setting out on foot for the Montréal bus station. There they boarded the Megabus for a 546km journey south west to Toronto.  The bus ride was unremarkable but had the advantage of free wifi, which meant the team was able to conduct some research into upcoming destinations.

Arriving in Toronto, the team located some miniature accommodation (ceilings were about 6.5 feet high) and then set of on a ‘short walk’ around the neighbourhood.  This walk of course turned into a giant loop of Toronto, with the team covering an estimated 12 km over the evening. Both Simon and Ang wished they had more time in Toronto, but with the Clearway in effect they would only be in Toronto for a few short hours.

Toronto’s smallest room CN tower by night
Hire this guy! Toronto street posters

Returning to their accommodation in the early hours of the next morning, they booked the next leg of travel on the Megabus and went to sleep for a few hours.  Waking soon after 6am they set off on foot back to the bus station and boarded a bus to the town of Niagara Falls, Canada.

Their task for this leg was to spend approximately 6 hours walking the entire length of the scenic promenade on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls from the bus station to the falls themselves.  They completed this challenge with ease, photographing the impressive water feature from most angles.   Both Simon and Ang were in awe of the tackiness of the development around the spectacular falls. They then received the second part of the challenge.

Falls panorama

The team now had to “Journey behind the Falls” to discover the colour of the lights in the portals. However hours of operation were limited, so the team had an hour long wait before they could descend.  They chose to spend this time eating ice cream until they were allowed to enter the passages.

View towards the observation platform

The Journey began with a long wait in the line to be given a poncho before they queued to ride the elevators to the base of the falls.  Once they arrived there, they made their way through the underground madness of hundreds of people wearing identical poncho marauding through the tunnels. Moments later they reached the first portal.

Ang successfully journeyed behind the falls Ang completing a hotdog eating road block

The portals themselves are two viewing windows located at the end of a long tunnel under the falls.  In their fancy yellow rain protection, the team checked each portal.  Their lights were both green.  They then received their next clue on the observation patio in front of the falls – go to New York and rendezvous with a frequent flyer!

More of the falls

With the Clearway still in effect, the team had to arrive in New York by the 5th of September to rendezvous with a ‘frequent flyer’ or they might be eliminated.  So they raced up the elevators, back to the bus station to collect their backs then to the Rainbow Bridge.  There they paid their 50c Canadian toll, gave away the last Canadian quarter and walked into the US.

Halfway between Canada and the US in no-mans land

Entering the town of Niagara Falls again (this time the US version), the team made their way to where they thought the bus to Buffalo would leave from.  However, as this was the Labor Day long weekend for the US and Canada, the hideous amount of traffic heading back over the border had clogged the bus route. This meant the team was forced to first walk back to the bridgehead with their backpacks, then wait for 90 minutes while the bus worked its way slowly through the traffic.

This costly delay meant that despite an improved bus connection at Buffalo, the team would arrive at the airport hotel only 5 hours before their flight would depart.  Ang remarked “if we’d known, we could have just saved on accommodation and gone to the airport”.  Despite only having a few hours in the room, the team showered and continue looking for accommodation in New York.  They snatched a few short hours of sleep on the comfortable bed.

Soon the early morning wakeup call had the team up and at the airport and on the flight to La Guardia, New York.  Due to the lack of sleep over the last 48 hours, the team was hopeful that the pitstop for this leg of the race would be soon.  But this was not to be, as the team arriving at the New York Sheraton for the rendezvous with the frequent flyer was told they were still racing and was given their next clue.

…to be continued

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