A Travellerspoint blog

New York to Washington

sunny 38 °C

G 'Day from Washington DC - Capital City Of the USA

Tues 31st July Day 18

As mentioned in our previous blog, we arrived in DC on Monday arvo and after a quiet night we hit the tourist trail big time on Tuesday morning (31/7/12). - where the camera truly copped a beating.

First up we decided to do hop on/off bus. The tour pointed out lots of sites, memorials and monuments along the way and the commentary was very informative. We then got off the bus at the Lincoln memorial, a very impressive and well known landmark to Abraham Lincoln, standing 19 feet tall and 19 feet wide. From here we walked up the mall, stopping by the White House (can't get too close these days...), the Washington monument (of course), and the World War II memorial.

We then went on to visit some of the many Smithsonian museums. All of these museums are free, so after the usual security check you are able to wander in and out at will. First we visited the American History Museum, the highlight was looking at Dorothy's Ruby slippers from Wizard of OZ, the last time my sister and I were here this museum was closed so finally got to see them after 4 years ( Hope you got my text message Lou). After this it was on to to Natural History Museum where the girls loved seeing the Hope Diamond and many other precious gems. Later we saw the missile like escape capsule used to rescue the Chilean miners in the Oct 2010 mine rescue.

After a brief look at the Hirshhorn museum of modern art and scultpure garden we went to the Air and Space Museum. After walking by the Capital for more photos of this amazing building, we made our way to Union station to grab a bite to eat before boarding another bus for a night tour of the Washington monuments. We visited the Korean war memorial, Martin Luther King Jr memorial, then back to the Lincoln memorial as the sun went down. We all voted the night tour was a great success, seeing the lights of Washington on the famous buildings was a sight to behold. It was a full moon as well and the temp was a pleasant 28 or so degrees.

We finally arrived back to the digs about 10-30 pm - very exhausted indeed.

Wed 1st August Day 19

After a pleasant sleep in we walked to our bus stop and ventured over the Potomac River into Virginia to visit Arlington Cemetary, Americas most famous war grave site, and of course where President John F Kennedy (and Jackie) are interred. Whilst we thought the temperature was fairly mild when we set out, it quickly became hotter, so walking up the hill we really started to feel the heat - by this time it was about 35 and climbing.

First visit was the grave of the Kennedy's and after to the Tomb of the unknown soldier. The tomb has a constant guard, who is changed every 30 mins in summer and every hour in winter. We were lucky, as changing of the guard took place while we were there, we were sweating while standing watching while the guards who were in full military uniform - no wonder they can only go 30 mins.

While wandering about the cemetary, we also witnesed from a respectful distance a full military funeral - horse drawn carriage - band etc........very moving indeed. We then hopped back on the bus to Washington and went past The Pentagon - no visits or photography allowed though.
Next up was a visit to the US Supreme Court, the highest court for the United States, a private tour which Marisa had arranged whilst in Boston on her conference. She had met the Research Librarian of the Supreme Court, so we were privileged to be shown behind the scenes where the usual public are not allowed including the Supreme Court library which has over 600,000 books, a very impressive collection indeed.

Next door is the Library of Congress - the worlds largest lilbrary so again we went on a short tour, checking out the Thomas Jefferson library collection, as well as collection of rare books - amazing................Walking out of the library the tempeture by this time had reached 38 deg, we had one more thing to go - Washington Botanical Gardens - where Leonie (aka Donna Burke, haha) was in her element, afterwards onto Union Station where a well earned ice cream was in order. We then got a cab home to our digs, tired from much walking, the girls voted to stay in for the night and Pierre went out to get pizza and of course a couple of ales.

Tomorrow (our 2nd Aug) Marisa goes back to New York and we fly to Vancouver to meet Trevor and Anne and commence part 3 of our wonderful holiday.

Did everyone see Rhiannon and Evan (and their friend Nick) live from London on Sunrise yesterday morning???

Until next time in Vancouver

Love and best wishes

Pierre, Leonie and Marisa

Posted by peterleonie2012 17:40 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Boston to New York

sunny 27 °C
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G 'day everyone from the Big Apple,,

Yes we are still alive and and flat out in NYC, although writing this from our digs in Washington DC. on 30th July,, was going to write this blog from the train but could not connect for some reason, and far too busy in NYC - and still only touched the surface of this most amazing city.

Thursday 26th July Day 13

An early departure from the digs to catch a cab to South Station in Boston for our 4 hour train journey into NYC. After some brekky on the go our train departed on time and we arrived also on time about 12-30 pm. Another cab to Hotel Elysee where we met Trevor and Anne and settled in.

We had a few quite beers before heading downtown on the subway to the Gramercy Tavern for our special dinner to celebtrate that Leonie was finally over her health problems. Coming out after a wonderful dinner, wines and beers we were delighted to see a black Limo waiting for any adhoc business, Trevor went into negotation mode and we were on our way back to the digs at a very good price, all on board were well and truly fed and watered!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday 27th July Day 14

We had prebooked a visit to the 911 memorial at the World Trade Centre site, so were out on the subway again and queued up to inspect what has been happening here since that awful day in 2001.

On the existing site of towers 1 and 2 they have built 2 enormous pools/fountains on the exact spots where the 2 towers stood, surrounded by in excess of 2900 names of New Yorkers and fire fighters, police and other emergency workers who lost their lives.
The new trade towers are being built on the existing sites of the World Trade Centre so no buildings will be built where towers 1 and 2 once stood.
After an hour or so here we caught the subway to 14th st, walked through Greenwich Village to the "High Line" a disused elevated old freight line which has been turned into a pedestrian walkway with eateries and restuarants etc along the way.
We took lunch and refreshment at "The Standard" and then walked back home through crowded streets for a well earned spell before heading to dinner to the "Pappillon " bar and grill "our local"

Saturday 28th July Day 15

This was "Central Park Day" and the girls started out with the obligatory horse drawn carriage ride through the southern part of the park, next we wandered along Literary Walk then onto the western side to check out the "Imagine" mosaic and "The Dakota Building" on the corner of 72nd St, opposite Strawberry Fields, this is of course where John Lennon lived and was shot dead in 1980. Yoko still lives here, and Pierre was nearly run over here because he forgot to look on the correct side of the road whilst taking a photo!!!!!!!
From here we walked back to the lake and boathouse and Leonie finally realised one of her dreams and we all hired row boats for an hour and sailed around the lake surrounded by the Manhatten skyline and lush trees and gardens of Central Park.
All of this work certainly works up a thirst and appetite so what else is there to do but brunch in "The Boathouse" restaraurant, which overlooks the lake. Leonie thought she had died and gone to heaven - to walk off brunch we strolled down 5th Ave checking out the apartment blocks and Tiffanys that overlook the park and back home before a rest before walking around the corner to Radio City Music Hall where we saw Cirque de Soleil "Zarkana", this show has got to be seen to be believed, some of the acts defy human endurance and skill - truly amazing.
Dinner after the show at Ruby Foos an asian fusion restaurant and then to Times Square to scheck out the lights etc then home to bed about 12-30 am - phew what a day.

PS T and D - "Chicago" is still playing at the Ambassodor Theatre on Broadway>.

Sunday 29th July Day 16

Today we where picked up by bus on 8th and 44th for our Harlem Spiritual and Brunch tour. (Rik, we checked out your hotel today - very close to Times Sq etc)
Shiela our guide was excellent, outlining the history of Manhatten and Harlem as we ventured into unchartered territory above 110th st, Harlem has had a makeover over the years and is now a very safe and sought after area to live and work. First settled by the Dutch in the 1600's and in 1800's by African Americans, it is the home of the Apollo Theatre where names such as Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few got their starts.

Onto the "Highway Deliverence Temple where we were the guests of the locals at church - again no words can describe this, drums organs, singing, dancing in the aisles while "praising the lord" - hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah bothers and sisters. --- unreal. Onto lunch at the famous "Cotton Club " for a soul food brunch before heading back south where we we finally had a quite night in having a light dinner in Trev and Annes room.

Monday 30th July Day 17

Our last day in the Big Apple so we all split up T and A to Wall St, Ris shopping and Leonie and I walked across Brooklyn Bridge, then Grand Central Station, United Nations, St Patricks Cathedral, Saks on 5th Ave and Banana Republic............
Back to hotel in time to check out and for 1 beer in the "Monkey Bar" before cab to Penn Station for train to Washington.

Wow and Wow - this is one of the most amazing cities in the world, so big and crowded but easy to get around and we felt very safe at all times.................

Rikki and Chris - get ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arrived in Washinton around 5-30pm and in digs, just ready to go to dinner,,,,,,,,,,

Love

Pierre and Leonie and Ris

Posted by peterleonie2012 16:56 Archived in USA Comments (3)

San Francisco to Boston

sunny 35 °C
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G'day everyone from Boston Massachusetts,

23/7/12 Day 10

After a full day driving around SFO we decided to drop the car early and spend some down time at the airport before our flight to Boston, also I thought it would give us time to correct any mistakes - and they did happen, despite our checking the car thoroughly I still managed to leave my reading glasses in the car. After a phone call to the rental car company , I jumped back on the air train, did a loop of the airport and arrived back in time to have a couple of beers before our flight.

Our Jet Blue flight departed 5 mins early and arrived in Boston 30 mins early at 6-15am - picked up our bags, into a cab and were sitting talking to Marisa in her hotel room at 6-55am!!!!!!!!!!!!(after a 15 min cab ride) - talk about American efficiency.

24/7/12 Day 11

As it was Marisa's last day of her conference, we went to our hotel and checked in to our room, after a short rest we ventured out to explore Boston, not long before it started to rain and it seemed we were back home as it was a typical southerly in Sydney. Later we went to dinner at the Union Oyster House (oldest restaurant in the United States), were Leonie finally had her Lobster!! in fact the meal was so big we all shared it and we had plenty.....

25/7/12 Day 12

Waking today saw a brilliant sunny day, the humidity had vanished and we headed out to tour the city on hop on/off bus and to walk the freedom trail.

After a couple of stops we jumped off bus and onto to subway to Harvard University where we wandered around grounds and checked out many buildings etc. Many US presidents are graduates of Harvard, the first being John Adams (2nd President) and current president - you know who he is....

Back onto bus we continued our tour which included the Cheers Bar - where we had lunch and a few beers, then finally commenced our walk around the freedom trail, which gives us an insight to the history of the American Revolution, ie, Paul Revere, saw his house, early graveyard of settlers going back to 1600's, battle of Bunker Hill etc and then onto tour of USS Constitution, the oldest battleship still in commission in America.

Caught ferry across Boston Harbour to the city and had a lovely dinner in outside bar and finally walked backed to our digs after a wonderful day exploring this amazing American city. Loved it - very British indeed...

Tomorrow, we catch train ti New York where we meet Trevor and Anne and so commences another phase of our holiday.

Cheers

Pierre, Leonie and Marisa

Posted by peterleonie2012 18:46 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Oakhurst to San Francisco

sunny 20 °C
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G'day everyone from San Fransico airport,
Day 9 Sunday 22/7/12.

Our departure from Oakhurst was delayed trying to get Adam Scott over the line in the Brittish Open but alas no joy.
Leaving the Sierra Nevadas behind We headed towards the coast and the town of Carmel by the Sea. On the way we passed through the food bowl of California with fields of Cherry trees, pistachio trees, tomatoes and cotton bushes for as far as the eye could see. We stopped at a road side stall and bought local cherries, nectarines and peaches to die for and chatted to the local Latino owner who was interested in Australia and if there were any Latino people there. We chatted about our multi cultural population etc.
We were held up for 1 hour getting past a bad accident but then on to Carmel and checked it to our digs. Drove down the coast to the area known as Big Sur, a very scenic coastal route of about 40 Kim's crossing the famous Bixby Creek Bridge. Camera was a bit quiet today until we reached the coast drive along to Big Sur.
In contract to our last week of 35 plus degrees the temperature here was cool and overcast at about 17 degrees.

Day 10 Monday 23/7 /12

Early breakfast then off to Pebble Beach and the famous golf course where the camera was in melt down mode! Wandered through the pro shop buying the usual golf shirt, hat, balls, markers etc and a walk on the famous 18th and 1st fairway, where the camera really took a pounding!
Later we continued along 17 mile drive to Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills golf courses.
Onto freeway to San Francisco thank goodness for Tom Tom getting us over the Golden Gate Bridge and back into Fishermans Wharf.
Drove down the crookedest St, Lombard Street that Zig zags steeply around 8 corners then onto the Victorian houses called the 'Painted Ladies' featured on many movies, TV shows etc. Afterward drove through Golden Gate Park and then headed for the airport and return our rental vehicle for our evening flight to Boston to meet up with Marisa for part two of our wonderful holiday.

After a couple of days in Boston catching the train to New York to meet the Backs.

Until next time, love Peter and Leonie

Posted by peterleonie2012 19:09 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Lone Pine to Oakhurst

sunny 34 °C
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G'Day Everyone from Oakhurst 33k's out of Yosemite National Park California

Fri 20th July day 7

Leaving Lone Pine after brekky we headed north 130 k's on a 2 lane hwy towards our next stop at Mammoth Lakes. During the winter months, this is a popular ski resort as it is located some 11000 ft above sea level (3350m in our language). We called in to the visitors centre to check out what we could do comfortably in the remainder of the day.

First we headed up Mammoth Mountain on a chair lift to the summit - beautiful views forever, A very popular thing here is to catch the chairlift up and ride your mountain bike down, next stop we caught a shuttle bus to a rock formation called the Devils Postpile and then a hike of 1 hour to Rainbow Falls. (Google it for more info). Later we were back in the car for a drive checking out the many lakes of the area, Twin Lakes, Horeshoe Lake, Lake Mamie, Lake Mary to name a few. Many spots to camp - pet friendly etc for the Happy Campers!!!!!!!!!!!
By this time it was beer O'clock so we checked into our digs at the Sierra Nevada Lodge, and wandered next door for dinner.

Sat 21st July day 8

Up early for brekky as we had a big day in Yosemite National Park. Headed further north towards Lee Vining and turned left on the Tioga Pass Rd heading into the park - spectacular moutain pass road - words and photos cant do it justice, then paid our 20 bucks for our journey through the park, probably the best 20 we have ever spent. Not really knowing what to expect we were blown away with the views everywhere we drove. Nature at its very best here, massive granite rock formations, deep valleys, and large rock views. Amongst the more well known we saw Half Dome , El Capitan, Bridalvale falls, Tenaya Lake, then into the valley floor to the visitors centre for some lunch and a short film on the history of the park and the changing seasons- well worth it. Next we walked to the Ahwahnee Hotel, (checked out the lobby David B)named after the Ahwahnee indians who first inhabitated the area.

Next we caught shuttle bus to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, these massive trees, including the Grissly Giant are estimated to be 1800 years old and are as tall as a 19 floor building. Then walked to the California Tunnel tree which you could drive a car through it was cut in 1895 to allow horse horse drawn carriage to pass through.

After a very full day, we had a 33k drive to our overnight stop at Oakhurst where I am sending this missive from..

Tomorrow we head further west to the coast and Carmel By the Sea, then upto San Francisco where we fly to Boston to meet Marisa and commence phase 2 of our wonderful holiday.

A few random comments and observations

- Since arriving here the service culture has been excellent - oz has still some catching up to do, people are friendly and very helpful, the roads are very good, no, beyond expectations, not a pothole to be seen yet, driving on the wrong side is ok, cant believe I have adapted so easily after a 5 year break from our journey to Europe. Leonie has excelled herself as co-pilot as I tend to forget sometimes. It has been easier because we bumped into a couple from oz in Honolulu who were on their way home after after driving through 25 states he said its easy - "just keep your missus in the gutter"- works for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The weather has been perfect every day - clear sunny days temp around 30 to 35 degrees.

School Holidays over here - very busy everywhere we go, but they cater well and we have not really been held up or hassled anywhere - even in Yosemite today they had shuttle buses to get the crowds around.

Food - yes no wonder they have an obesity problem - we are only eating 2 meals per day, then sharing some dishes, even the "drumsticks" icecreams are double the size - not that we have had any - well maybe 1........

The digs have been wonderful with The Bellagio in Vegas the standout - the best hotel we have ever stayed in.

The camera has been in meltdown mode ever since arriving in Honolulu.....

Tipping - still getting used to it but since leaving Vegas not quite as bad.

Speaking of Vegas - you must see this place to believe it............

Put on your bucket list

Grand Canyon

Las Vegas

Yosemite National Park

Well thats enough from here and me.............

Love

Pierre and Leonie

Posted by peterleonie2012 19:26 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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