Archive for February, 2016

ABD – Day 15 – Swept up in Salem

Posted: February 29, 2016 in Travel

What pre pubescent boy in the late 60’s didn’t fall under Samantha’s spell and like to give her more than a twitch . And of course wonder why did she choose York the Dork?

So caught the Rockford train from North Station to arrive in Salem just after 8 am . Yep would think I would know by now . Still, it was a glorious day so time to follow the red line and get lay of land. As luck would have it the one museum and attraction u checked online were open today but plenty were not. Mind you most were seasonal anyway and did not open for another month. It’s a fun place to walk around anyway with its cheesy witch tie ins on every second corner. Did actually go to one museum but they were timed tours and didn’t need to mix with witch freaks today thanks.

I enjoy walking around these cities and taking quirky photos of things that amuse me and before you knew it the pubs were open . Salem Beer Works sounded like a fine place to rest and have a couple of brews and very nice scallop and burger conbo for early lunch. Bought a couple of souvenirs and saw my Samantha statue so all was good in Flashtown. Time to catch train back to Boston and chill for a couple of hours . Cold may have finally broken just as clouds start to roll in as predicted . They know their weather shit over here trust me

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Rest of afternoon will be spent wandering the neighbourhood looking for that quintessential Beacon Hill vibe they show in all da brochures . Plan tomorrow is to head out to JFK library. Now that cold is easing can actually stay in bed past 6 am!

Was a very pleasant walk around the neighbourhood under grey skies and finally got to sit on that bench. Plenty of squirrels around and they do indeed seem playful and indifferent to humans. That settles it – my fave reincarnation choice just changed.

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Not really sure why I buy weekly subway tickets as I pretty well walk everywhere and with an overcast and pleasantly cool ahead there seemed no reason to change plans. My nominated breakfast place was closed which was the first clue to how day may pan out. Not many suitable places nearby so figured would pick something up on way . Building on yesterday’s successful tour thought I would create my own walking tour or as it would become known as later – Flash’s Beer and Blisters Walking Tour to No Place in Particular

A couple on yesterday’s tour commented how good the Harpoon Brewery was so looked at map and only a 45 minute walk so why not. Picked up a very passable Cortado at Greg Powell Coffee in Boston Market on way and took a leisurely stroll pointing out the interesting places along the way as if I had a rapt audience hanging on every word. Given that there actually was no one with me fit in well with the fact I knew nothing about these places. Even Steven. Once again walking around the harbour on a slowly clearing day was tres pleasant . Given there were no geriatrics on tour I made it in plenty of time or as we say in the trade – the place ain’t open yet ya clown. It’s a slightly remote location without a noticeable array of cafes nearby to fill in time. Always surprised when places state proudly that they “serve Starbucks Coffee” as if that will draw in the crowd. In USA it probably does. I didn’t take any chances though and ordered a hot chocolate . Fool me once shame on me, Fool me twice and it was probably all the beer

Harpoon Brewery finally opened and was very impressive on inside. Didn’t do tour because I know how beer is made already. Much more interested in how it tastes and that don’t need no tour, just a seat and a wallet . Had the local brew which was very passable. Have to say the ” pretzels” they serve at these breweries are very tasty and filling. Next stop was the L Street tavern made famous in Good Will Hunting. Another 40 minute walk but by the unanimous vote of 1 nil we agreed to go for it. Nice neighbourhood to walk through and duly arrived at door and pleased to see no crowds. The “closed” sign was a concern but assumed it was typical Irish humour. The added ” broken pipe” note wiped smile from face. In fear of a revolting crowd coming for me quickly decided on going to Murphy’s Law a few blocks back . Quite ironic when you think about it

The day had warmed up a bit by now and didn’t really feel like the 60 minute walk home so did work out a bus route that only involved standing around for 20 mins at stop, 25 minute bus ride through molasses ( and having a wheel chair come on board) and then a short walk through Public Garden and home in 59 minutes. Sweet. To conclude the GWH theme looked for the ” bench” in public garden and in fitting in with days luck some geriatrics from a TV/Movie tour were sitting on it. Or at least think it was it , no real signage but more a treasure map to follow

Time for a relaxing afternoon before heading out a bit later. Off to Salem tomorrow so do a bit of research and work out Witch museum would be best to see

I’m here all week, try the veal

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Like Superman I drew energy from the yellow sun and was once more able to venture forth on booked Pizza and Tavern tour. I also look great in a leotard.

This was a great group . A tour of 3 hrs turned into 4.5 and no one seemed to care least of all the hostess. 3 Pizza stops and 3 Tavern stops meant plenty was drunk and enough eaten. Along the way some interesting facts. I have never had a bad foodie tour but this was likely the best. The pizza was nothing special I guess but did soak up the beer nicely. There was even a short ferry cruise at sunset – which should have happened before 4 pm apparently 🙂

It was a glorious day all round and while out and about the cold does seem less of a concern but when back home seems to kick in again. Oh well

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I am taking a sickie

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Ok I did do some things but really did sit in the sun for a couple of hours I middle of day just trying to get healthy. Boston is a great place but I am sick as a dog still so let’s pretend I am still a worker and actually just want to relax on this simply glorious ,if ball challenging , day . CLP would be impressed
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ABD – Day 12 – Train to Bawston

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Travel

Why break a perfect routine when you still have one lung left . Then usual breakfast before the walk to Union Station for Amtrak to Boston. Shock, horror we finally had a glorious day

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I use the red caps when train is originating from point so got on nice and easy and had pick of seats which doesn’t mean a lot really . This was a fairly crowded train and 6.5 hrs of mingling to go while gagging and sniffling with the best of them . Not a pleasant feeling in confined spaces . What could one do ?

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Good wifi on board so was at least able to catchup on some games and do a bit of research on Boston . I have a feeling it may be more fun than Washington or maybe it’s

Trains tend to run on time so arrived at South Station just after 15:30 and caught a taxi to apartment in Beacon Street. Seems like a great location near Boston Common and as a glorious, though very cold, afternoon headed out after a quick check of roof top. Had the obligatory beer at the real ” Cheers” and a quick squiz for the Good Will Hunting bench in Public Garden with no luck. By now the cool weather was taking its impact on my weary body so thought best to head home and rug up. On third floor so may be some traffic noise at night, only time will tell. If this cold ever pisses off could see myself enjoying the next few days especially if the ability to actually taste beer ever returns 😦

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ABD – Day 11 – Camelot

Posted: February 25, 2016 in Travel

No, not what some of you rude people are thinking but rather that magical time of hope and excitement that was JFKs presidency . But first , cough up a lung and then my usual breakfast across the road at Jimmy T’s. Early morning and the day showed some promise weather wise

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It was spitting when I left …..

Today’s plan was to visit Arlington Cemetery and Georgetown. Arlington is an impressive place indeed and can’t help but make one take pause. As with many memorials in USA there is an understated simplicity to most and while JFKs grave site is suitably restrained you can’t beat the simple white cross of RFK to grab your eye and make you stop and ponder . The Yanks do these things well

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Adjacent to the cemetery is the equally impressive Iwo Jima memorial . Against the magnificent backdrop of the more recognisable Washington monuments it is best viewed as the flag raised against leaden skies

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Then it was back on metro to Georgetown to track down the famous Martins Tavern where a young JFK proposed to Jackie most notably although a favourite haunt of many Presidents apparently. Booths are suitably marked and being there right on opening time enabled me to snag the cherished Booth 3 even if had to put up with the pitiful look from waiter when informed of ” party for 1″ . Hey it’s a romantic place , some hot chick might turn up. At this stage I would settle for a plain looking Respiratory Physician! The beer was cold and the food simple but filling. It was all about the atmosphere and cheesy photo opportunity so ordered the cheesy main course

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It was a cool pleasant day for walking around as all showers passed and was a productive morning. Caught the slowest DC circulator bus ever home to Union Station and then wandered home for last afternoon in town .Will head out for a coffee soon and pick up some dinner and then time to pack as relatively early train in morning. Still sick as a dog which has coloured the last few days and fair to say that initial concerns about a whole week in Washington were probably right. Everything needed to go right to make most of week. Baltimore was great and there were certainly some highlights but once the White House tour fell through the alarm bells were ringing . Still it is a great town for folk fascinated in US politics as I am and I know who I will be voting for in 2016

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Off to Boston tomorrow but first will catch up on Season 2 of Better Call Saul tonight . I could grow to like this On Demand gig. Wish weather worked the same way .

ABD – Day 10 – Not so Happy Birthday

Posted: February 24, 2016 in Travel

So , must have pissed off Old Whiskers along the way somehow. Nasty cold has returned and weather is miserable. I could take one or the other but both ? And remember already had the disappointment of missing out on my White House tour today . Insiders finally admitted that Obama had used an Executive Order to block me so that Michelle wouldn’t be tempted. The problems of an IBF/International Stud Muffin eh. So if you don’t mind for the next 5 mins…..

Ok that’s done lets get back to my usual cheery disposition. First up is breakfast at Jimmy T’s if for no other reason than it opens at 06:30 and have been coughing up a lung since 05:30

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Plan then was to swim down to Union Station and catch the Red DC Ciculator out to Jefferson Memorial et al. It’s a good service for $1 per ride. The one advantage of early start and gloomy weather is no crowds. Then onto FDR memorial and MLK memorial . Luckily had seen the first two in better weather with CLP several years ago but good to see the finished MLK one. Then it was back on bus to Union station and a coffee and some souvenir shopping. Then drop into supermarket on way home for some supplies . Weather is predicted to get much worse this afternoon but determined to head out at 11:30 for that birthday drink when pubs open. After that have my storm supplies in . Of course with my throat I can’t tell whether it is a Shiraz or a Merlot. Oh wait, there is a label duh!

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After pub visit will catch up on some TV. This on demand deal is sweet. Alicia and some Gallaghers will fill in some hours . If we lose power will simply smash my head on empty wine bottle and get some sleep

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Weather is supposed to clear tomorrow and if does plan is Arlington in morning and back to Georgetown in afternoon . And by then hopefully it will be

Wouldn’t you know it . The weather forecasters here didnt go to same clown school our Aussie folk do and actually get it right a lot if times. So rain has set in for day leading into my 40 hour birthday celebration. It’s the only reason I leave home for my birthday . If I could snag a few friends in San Francisco could stretch to 43 hours!

Will update this blog as day progresses and see how I go filling it in – not my strength folks. First up though can splish splash across the road to Jimmy Ts for some typical diner breakfast . As always very friendly people which means I have to talk. One other customer ( well it was 6:30 am) and just my luck he works at Capitol. Discussing rainy day options he suggested a Capitol visit and even gave me a card. Well why not , been there done that already but maybe will see something new . The pubs are not open yet . The problem of course is dressing for the 500 m walk in rain and then entering a climate controlled furnace with a few frisks in my immediate future. Hey, it’s almost my birthday after all 🙂 Did I mention I forgot to pack an umbrella ?

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The rain was a bit like Palmer United Party – mainly nuisance value – so set off around 0815 for first tour and was a little dismayed to see about 60 people lined up including school kids. We broke into small groups though so all good and despite having done a tour previously the small group allowed us to go into some small rooms had not been in previously. Sadly the rotunda inside was also full of scaffolding but had seen before and could easily slip in an old photo to fool you but I wouldn’t do that to such a dedicated bunch of ardent admirers. Then took the tunnel to Library Of Congress mainly because it beats walking in the rain. A morning well filled in with some edumacation and once again only Aussie in group so when explaining US politics to them I spoke slowly. Sadly spending so much time in artificial temperatures seems to have freshened up my nagging cold thought had beaten. This can only mean one thing . Time to switch to brandy

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So a quick team meeting came up with the not surprising vote of 1-0 to head out in the drizzle and go looking for Sailors at Navy Yard. And then maybe a walk to Jefferson Memorial . Google Maps was designed by a male so naturally when it said 45 mins walk more like 30. Well Hello Sailor is that Blue Jacket Brewery I see? And it is my birthday somewhere. And is raining . Team? Thanks guys

   
   

Alas when I stumbled out 3 hrs later it was raining more heavily so no Memorial today. A quick check of the baseball stadium and lo and behold is that the DC Circulator bus across the street? Yay, time to get home and out of these soaking wet clothes . Not a bad effort for a rainy day after all .

For a 57 yr old. Yeah it still the 23rd here ok 😉

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ABD – Day 8 – Wired for Baltimore

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Travel

The weather forecast held so full steam ahead for Baltimore. Up nice and early so still dark when left dressed like Nanook of the North. Up in Capitol Hill area more cops then anyone else around at this time of day which is a nice feeling. Also means there must be a donut shop nearby. Sweet. Lovely time of day for couple of quick snaps while wandering down to Union station. Arrived nice and early as is my want which left only real option of coffee from Au Bon Lotta Pain. Disappointing as expected but train boarded on time for leisurely hour ride to Baltimore

Alighted at Penn Station to a brisk and clear booteful day. Now my research ( note addendum coming) informed me about the Charm City Circulator which was a free service that shock horror went around city in circles. Gasp. I had planned a rainbow route mixing Purple, Orange and Green but first the purple one that served Penn St. Found a nearby stop and not sure if north or south but no big deal owing to aforementioned circular nature of conveyance. As my wonderful app said next bus in 4 mins did not want to go searching for other direction stop. Now you get what u pay for with free services and it finally arrived 20 mins later chock full of locals no doubt. A very slow NORTH ride and 20 mins later I was at the southbound stop for Penn Station and had already made 3 firm friends and a couple of possibles. After another 15 minutes of close quarter combat arrived at Inner Harbour and gladly got off vowing to walk wherever possible that day . And I did

There were 3 main items on agenda – harbour, Babe Ruth and American Visionary Art Museum. As the Loaf would say

The harbour was glorious and in the distance could see some stadium lights so headed in general direction and lucked out with easy access into ballpark itself. Then around the corner to the Babe Ruth museum . Then the penny dropped

NEWSFLASH Baltimore is closed on Mondays

Well the museums are anyway. And so in future will have that to add that to my rigorous research . Not a museum boffin of course but these two looked interesting . Still with the weather forecast saying rain from tomorrow on then today was really only day to come to Baltimore and the glorious weather confirmed that . Still decided to walk to other side of harbour to see AVAM as knew it was a quirky structure. Even climbed up to Federal Hill for stunning views of harbour. Google maps said 37 min walk to Penn station and that will do me. Of course when you walk the streets you find interesting sights like the Washington monument . And of course did find another Irish pub for lunch and beer. Talk about the luck of the Irish. I am growing very fond of Blonde Guiness . She is the barmaid .

So another day trip accomplished and tres enjoyable and still time for afternoon drinkies. 3 days left in Washington and not a lot planned after White House visit fell through and dreary weather on way . Time to google pubs with coat racks and fireplaces methinks. I wonder if there are actually any yank pubs here?

Later dudes

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ABD- Day 7 – Already? :(

Posted: February 21, 2016 in Travel

The forecast was a bit grim and by all accounts appeared on track for some rain. I do a lot of research for these trips . Pubs just don’t pop up on street corners in front of me ya know .As such I knew that DC metro on weekends was horrendous with track work so allowed myself over 2 hrs to make the 30 min 2 subway trip to U street for today’s Walking Foodie Tour. I like walking tours because it thins the herd and you don’t get the geriatrics coming along. Nothing ruins a fun day quicker than some whinny old 55 yr old tagging along and slowing down the parade . So stopped in for a very pleasant coffee at Eastern Market on way and was quickly on first subway heading to the central L’enfant Plaza . Yeah we sat at a station for 5 minutes but “sat” was the important word here . As opposed to standing with great unwashed. Hopped off at LE and had to go up escalators to catch a green or yellow train to U. Now due to single tracks in use all trains in both directions left from same platform. What could go wrong? If I see any train drivers in pub after going to ask him what Line he drives on! Approaching said platform a yellow train was there with doors open. Why not ? 50:50 chance , plenty of time. We headed off and then realised I was in wrong direction as Pentagon was next stop. Perhaps the Abrahams tank in the second carriage should have been the clue. So got off at Pentagon, inspected the troops, and hopped back on next train going back. Back at LE and waiting patiently, if a little ticked off when sure enough some Sheila came up to me and asked ” What train do I catch to Arlington?” ” A slow moving one Sweetheart! Do you see an MTA cap on my head ??” Seriously at this rate I may have to pull out my gay Aussie cap but then will likely get mistaken for Hugh Jackman and don’t need that hassle . Again

So duly arrived in plenty of time and checked out some street art ( note research done again) The Paul Robeson one was particularly impressive because if you download a free app every time you point phone at a circle on wall it plays a video and music . Our tour kicked off in a bunch of 6 including guide who was 7 months pregnant . More alcohol for me ! Started at Bens famous Chilli Bowl for a fat laden treat and then onto a brunch at Matchbox and some great empanadas at Fast Gourmet. The place was in a garage and looked a dive but this why u go on booked tours . Then a long walk filled with interesting historical facts (apparently) along the way until we arrived at Ethete for our Ehtiopian lunch. No wonder they are skinny bastards . Then an ordinary coffee followed by a very sweet tea ended the trip which only meant one thing. I needed a beer . Luckily there was a German beer garden a closed face 8 iron away and as luck would have it there was a stunning Liz Taylor mural on the wall adjacent . It was a great day

Then we had the Metro trip home . First leg was ok but at LE was ridiculous. Once again only one platform in action and the overhead display only showed times for trains normally using this platform. Not the trains heading in the other direction. So if it’s blue or orange and turns up at a non displayed time jump on. 20 mins wait and it finally arrived. And here is a tip MTA . Check the on board speakers for dead squirrels because there is no way can understand what is being said with that static and it is kinda important given the lack of info at the actual bloody station!

Tomorrow is off to Baltimore if weather is ok

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