IN THE LAND OF PIONEERS; Brush Aside Everything You Know about North America and Step Back in Time to Discover This Continent's Real Treasures. SEBASTIAN LANDER Takes You on a Tour of America and Canada

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FOR countries but a heartbeat old in the history of the Western world, America and Canada are two rangy nations with biographies as colourful as any european rival.

They have both long been territories synonymous with the spirit of exploration - whether you look to the Pilgrim fathers who came to the new World in search of religious freedom and helped found a nation, or the gold rush that brought fortune hunters to what is now the city of Vancouver.

You too can emulate the gameness of those early pioneers and embark on a trail-blazing voyage of discovery, tracing America's musical heritage through the fascinating Deep south or kicking back on a road trip on the sunny West Coast.


WHEN the Pilgrim fathers landed the mayflower at Cape Cod in november 1620, little could they have imagined what this new-found land would become over the next four centuries.

A cluster of six states nestled away in the north-easternmost reaches of the us, new england is one of America's most historically significant regions. it is also a land of sandy beaches, lighthouses and neatly kept weather-board houses, with the ever-present promise of steaming clam chowder and succulent lobster.

The city of Boston, massachusetts, is considered to be the gateway to new england. it was here that ambitions of separation from the British simmered over into hostility at the famous tea Party in 1773, followed in 1776 by independence. Let the story of the American Revolution come to life by following Boston's freedom trail, a 2.5-mile walk taking in some of the city's historic landmarks. And you can go even further back and follow in footsteps of the Pilgrim fathers by visiting Plymouth, where the pioneers first settled.

New england is not only admired for its historic significance but for its abundant natural charms too - particularly the annual explosion of colour set off as summer hands the baton on to autumn. splashes of red, yellow and gold bleed through the region's aweinspiring forests each year. there is nothing better than enjoying an apple cider while breathing in the crisp autumn air and watching nature do her work.

It is a short flight or train ride from the wooded hills of new england to the forests of glass and steel of new York and it would be remiss to come so far and not stop in for a visit.

Whether it's to splurge on the grand shop-lined avenues, gorge on every kind of food and drink imaginable or see the city's sights, new York offers everything but boredom.

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BEFORE the french, spanish and British started squabbling over the lower mississippi valley from the 16th century onwards, the region was home to a number of indian tribes. And even after being claimed in the 18th century by the Americans, the Deep south's troubles were not over as the region became the scene for the Civil War, which raged from 1861 to 1865.

Luckily, the southern states are not just known for their embattled past but also for being America's musical heartland.

new orleans, Louisiana, was founded by the french in 1718 and is the birthplace of jazz, still as strong a life force for the Big easy as the great mississippi River. Wander through the french Quarter, past iron balconies, wooden shutters and hidden courtyards while the smell of Creole cuisine mingles with the strains of live music.

the Deep south's music trail will also lead you to tupelo, in mississippi, where elvis Presley took his first breaths in 1935, and on to the King's hometown, the cotton capital of memphis, tennessee. …