Archive for February, 2016

ABD – Day 6 – Part 2

Posted: February 20, 2016 in Travel

So much happened after 3 pm it needed a second blog. Wish I could do 2 blogs a day everyday on holidays . Ya with me ? 🙂

So when last we left our hero he was relaxing after a long squawk. After much research the one pub I wanted to visit was the boxing themed The Pug on H street . Sadly it did not open until 5 pm and it was now 3 pm and a good 30 minute walk. Ergo, we need some time filler so lets start with Ebenezer Coffee which is highly regarded and strangely linked to a church. If there had been a confession box I would have to have said ” Your coffee is bad ”

My knowledge of the alphabet indicated that A was still a distance from H but still plenty of time so we shall go past first pub to second pub –Biergarten Haus. German theme so didn’t mention the war . 4 pm on a Saturday and the place was jumping. The outdoor garden was packed sausage to sausage so to speak but did find a place at the indoor bar and started on first half litre. Why drink one litre like the noobs when you can get two half litres with different varieties ? Time for some food too so got some pretzel rolls which came with cheese and mustard. I have had a sore throat for a few weeks now. In addition I now have a scorched throat – damn that mustard was hot .

By now it was 16:45 so time to enter the ring . Now this is a dive bar with a small front as per photo so was surprised with the line up outside but no matter . 5 pm came and went and starting to wonder when a guy starts walking down the line taking numbers on his iPad. The people in front were told 20 minutes .WTF?? The beers must come with lap dance as well . He comes to me and says ” Are u here for the turkey Raman feast?” or something similar . ” No pal I just want a beer duh!” ” Oh u want the pub ? It’s just that little door there to your right” Oops ” Thank you sir , you have a nice day y’all Yee ha ” Couldn’t let on I was an Aussie . So yeah it was a dive bar alright but still fun and a strong Ali presence

Left after just the one beer and walked straight past a Hookah bar . Now this was tempting . Did I mention this was very much a black neighbourhood- not that there is anything wrong with that . There were a lot of Rasta types though sitting in the lounge so thought would give it a miss as darkness was approaching and still had a fair walk ahead of me . May go back midweek

Forecast reminds for some rain next few days so just have to hope my usual holiday luck holds out

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I have a dream . One day they will ban internal heating. Seriously it is not Antartica . The Native Americans knit all those blankets for a reason you know . Use them ya clowns . And if have (locked) temp set to ” sweat at night” then why even have blankets on the bloody beds? And then the pump kicks in at midnight and the whole room shakes. The bed hasn’t moved around so much since that one odd encounter with Elsie the Epileptic.

So as usual get up early and head outdoors in shorts and singlet . Ok, that won’t work. Break out the beanie and try again. As detailed in earlier confidential memos I was bit concerned about my visiting window. Past the snow times but not Spring yet so places like Reflecting Pool were closed . It was pleasant walking weather indeed but I prefer “bone chilling cold” like NYC last year or pleasant like Dallas was . That way you don’t get caught out with wrong clothes on 5 k from home when it starts out cold and thaws rather quickly

NEWSFLASH Washington is dead at 7:30 on a Saturday morning . The only people out are runners and dog walkers . And one strange Cat Cuddler. The weather forecast was not so good for the next few days after today with some rain likely so thought would do the mall walk from Capitol to Lincoln and then around to Michelle’s place . A solid two hours taking my time but expecting to get breakfast first before walking meant by about 09:30 I was a tad hungry

UPDATE Washington is dead at 09:30 on a Saturday morning. Walked in general direction above White House but so desperate by 10 am I did the unthinkable and went to Starbucks. Now I had read they now do flat whites and to be fair it wasn’t too bad. It was still a grey overcast day but warming up a bit so thought let’s be devilish ( nudge nudge) and head out to Georgetown now and on to Foggy Bottom. I had not imbibed yet so Google maps and the transit app had me catching a bus nearby and getting off near Prospect Street to check out the Exorcist steps. Can I walk to Foggy Bottom from GW? Of course, but first need some sustenance after those scary steps. Ah at the Irish pub is open. Stayed away from National Cathederal as the Scalia service was on

Checked out the Watergate “Complex” as now called and also the JFK Centre for Performing Arts which was rather impressive. Then it was on to the Foggy Bottom Metro for trip back to Eastern Market. Now it appears that DC metro is notoriously bad on weekends and today was no different with a lot of ” single” track in use. By now I was rather warm in the winter woollies and the train was standing room only. Standing still for 10 minutes was not pleasant but eventually we moved again. Kinda like that time with Elsie……Now where was I ? Eastern Markets was in full swing when I arrived so had a look around but by now had been walking pretty solid for over 5 hrs so picked up some lunch and headed home. Will chill for a couple of hours and do some research before heading out later for drinking . Chill of course being a euphemistic term given the hole in the ozone layer has moved in upstairs

Once again a day with no real plans had been very productive. Have a walking Foodie tour booked for tomorrow so hope rain holds off. Now to search google for a Stumbling drinking tour nearby

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ABD – Day 5 – Dallas to Washington

Posted: February 19, 2016 in Travel

Final morning in Dallas all went smoothly but by time I got to airport I felt like an overworked Mohel with all the tipping I did! Check in was smooth and thought would see if my Qantas Club card got me into AA Admirals club – and it did. On way to said lounge did pass the Dallas Cowboys Bar and all its bright lights were somewhat enticing. Still can’t drink on empty stomach though eh so did go to club for some porridge and a change of incontinence pad with the other dullards. Before long though was drawn back to the lights …..

Boarding was smooth as well and we left on time and after a mere two and a bit hours landed at Ronald Reagan Aitport on an overcast and coolish day . While initially planning to use Metro didn’t feel like the hassle after sitting in plane and with a quote of only $15 for taxi why not. Got into house fine and all unpacked before going for a walk to unwind. Of course as usual the house had its thermonuclear heater on full blast – do these people walk around naked or something?? This did mean that I did wander out a bit under done in the clothing department . It was 3 pm and a brisk 5 degrees outside but walking quickly would help. It is the Capitol area near the Supreme Court and the streets were crowded . Had news leaked of my pending arrival ? Ah no that’s right the body of Justice Sciala was lying ” in state” today at the court.

I do need to stop walking around with a cheery disposition though as it encourages people to engage . Apparently. So am minding my own business looking at all the scaffolding on the Capitol when this clown walks up to me and says
” Do you know you look like Lee Marvin” . ” I am Lee Marvin . I faked my death. Now fuck off before I go all Liberty Valance on your ass ” Geez now I know how hard it is for Brad Pitt to walk the streets . Speaking of which time for some FaceTime with my Angelina. She must be gagging for it by now .

After that will need to plan the next few days as having seen Washington before need to dig a bit deeper beneath the surface to get most out of second visit.

Or at least line up a varied list of pubs to try

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ABD – Day 4 – Shallow Cerebellum

Posted: February 18, 2016 in Travel

These are the days I really enjoy on holidays when no real plans but they always work out well. Well , one small plan I guess – which is all my brain can handle – and that was to visit the Deep Ellum area. First up the search for a good coffee began. And ended . Stupid Good Coffee was excellent , simple as that . Now it was one bus trip to downtown and then walk to this coffee place and then another bus to DE. Have I mentioned how hopeless I am with Google maps and always head off in wrong direction. So standing outside coffee shop looking at phone puzzled when a nice old Yank wandered over and said “Are you having trouble Sir?” “Does Fox News hate Obama?” (I knew he was American because if he had been Aussie he would have said ” what the fuck r u doing mate ? ) So explained my goal and bus I needed and he pointed off in general direction of bridge and said well that is DE and…. ” that’s ok pal I can walk that ” keeping in mind significant eating and drinking was in my immediate future. He looked a bit puzzled and not sure walking is a concept familiar with Yanks. So headed off into a part of town I wouldnt walk through by myself in the dark trust me. Mind you it was only desolate and run down and not as if gangbangers on every corner . I didn’t get molested or even propositioned once.

Now of course it still wasn’t even 10 am yet so no place was open but this was OK as DE was well known for street art as well as alternative lifestyle and an active club scene. So wandered around snapping happily as got close to 11 and as luck would have it ended up at Braindead Brewery – the perfect place. Now there was no one apart from me hanging off the door handle at 10:59 but across the road they were lining up around the block at Pecan Lodge . That needed checking out later . But first , is that $3 beer specials I see?? So eventually stumbled across the road after reading that Pecan Lodge was a Texan BBQ place and well regarded . Well it was lunch time. Went inside and the line up inside was still massive but saw a sign that said ” Express lane >5 lb meat” Now in relating this and subsequent snafus I did have some beverage on board so my maths conversion was sub par. So line up and order my combo of 3 meats and a side of slaw and he just looks at me. ” You need more than 5 lb meat Sir” . Was about to pull down my pants when realised he meant the order size so embarrassingly went and lined up with the great unwashed . On a side note for those lucky in the bed flute department – USA toilets are already half full of water in bowl so if u sit down quick in a full relaxed state you could get a cool surprise . Or so I am told.

The line moved fast but have to admit thoughts of Soup Nazi scenario swirled in my head as I approached. All worked easily enough and before you knew it I was shortening my life expectancy with the best of them . Surprised there were only forks available but that tells you how tender the meat was. Time for another leisurely stroll back to downtown and some souvenir shopping- not an easy task mind you in Dallas. Wandered into Wild Bills Western Store and was pleasantly surprised and mildly successful. Even got myself a Duke T shirt

Then it was time to head back to unit and relax before that last beer or two. Time to pack as leave tomorrow for Washington. Given I was not convinced about my choice of Dallas have to say it has been a blast and though have likely ticked all the tourist boxes could easily stay a few more days . Maybe not very indicative of Texas in general but certainly different to next two cities. Very friendly people as most Americans are . A final anecdote to demonstrate

Standing on corner ready to cross when a 30ish guy says ” I will just move downwind Sir” WTF, do I smell and gave him a look. Ok remember earlier ” brain may be addled slightly” statement. Of course he would not move down wind if I smelt. On closer inspection he was smoking. So walked up to him and put hand on shoulder and said ” Thanks mate, that was very considerate ” His reply? ” Well Sir you look like a healthy fella and I didn’t want any part of that ” And we shook hands and laughed. Then I slapped him around as have appearances to maintain.

One of the reasons I keep coming back .

Beer is pretty cheap too ..

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ABD – Day 3 – For all its Worth

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Travel

Another glorious day dawned and even a bit of nip in the air . Today was a visit to Stockyards at Fort Worth so first had to get myself to Union Station. Now I am an early riser which is suited in Maryhole but trust me this place is dead before 8 am. I thought Union Station must have moved given it is hub for Amtrak et al. No one around really and you just walk across tracks and hope you heard the train a coming first. Anyhoo caught the TRE nice and easy and sat back for the hour long trip through extremely dull country . On arrival time to find a bus and head west young man. The stockyards are a fair way out of city centre and one could say in another county if not maybe another century. A couple of good old boys were jawing on the bus , in between spitting baccy, about how Taylor Swift had sold out . I told them my financial advisor was a huge fan and he suggested this trip so he knows stuff. When he rested his hand on his gun I broke into some Tim McGraw and it all settled down . If I had on me boots there would have been scooting

As per earlier fact it was still relatively early when I hit cowtown (09:30) and even the tumbleweeds were still tied up. Walked up and down the street a few times until saw a 10 gallon hat poking out a door and found a saloon open! Yee Ha. And they were playing Harper Valley PTA ! Again, an enormous beer came out in the thickest glass I had seen but hot diggety it was colder than a rattlesnakes stare. Then went and watched some calf roping before the cattle drive down the Main Street at 11:30. Everything is big in Texas – apart from this cattle drive. Looked like about 3 Longhorns and an over fed dog. So I went and lassoed me one and sat on it just because I could . Then it was onto Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk tavern and fair to say the love affair with size was back. The place is huge! Another beer and a ” photo opportunity ” before time to traverse back to ITC and catch train home . It all worked smooth enough but a lot of time was spent on public transport. Still, it was well worth the effort to be a cowboy for a few hours and even picked up some Spurs for CLP

As Union station is next to Reunion Tower and it was still a glorious day I did the observation tower thingy. Then some more buses just for a change . Have to say the integrated transport system along with the excellent GO app does make travel around easy .

Tomorrow looms as a fairly relaxed day with some souvenir shopping maybe and a general walk around downtown. There does appear to be a large population of disaffected youth wandering the streets and also a strong police presence. Always felt safe but could see some potential for disturbance . I wouldn’t say my nerves are rattled but better go out and have a beer in case

Can’t hurt eh ?

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ABD Day 2 – Presidents Day

Posted: February 16, 2016 in Travel

Yeah ok a day late but those Aussies won’t know. So a rough nights sleep as expected after all the travel didn’t exactly bode well for a long day but as soon as the the sun shone through on a bright blue day I knew it would be alright. Today’s plan was Segway and a visit to 6th Floor museum. First time to use the bus DART system so left nice and early for my 10 am tour. The designated meeting place turned out to be a fire hydrant in an empty lot so thought I may have been sucked in until remembered had not paid yet. Rang the guy and he said he would be there in 5 which was great as only 08:45. Duly turned up at hydrant with wifey in tow – it’s a small operation folks. Still in what was turning out to be a likely run of blister inducing knob kisses he said you are only person on tour so we can go early. ” Have u ever ridden one before ?” ” Do Texans shoot first and ask later mate?” Put them in their place early I say

So headed off with wifey and once again confirms that a Segway tour is the best way to see a new city. Saw so much and stopped for all photos all on a glorious brisk morning. As finished well before time decided to see if my 1pm booked tour of ” the naughty supply room” was transferable for 11 am . Pants down, flute pointing north – ” Of course sir” . Very informative visit indeed but really the highlight is being in Dealey Plaza and looking at the two “x” marks on street indicating the two head shots . Highlight may be poor choice of words but it is a slightly surreal moment . Scanned the grassy knoll for any shell casings but came up empty.

As day was going so well thought why not catch a bus and a train out to SMU today and see the George Bush Presidential library. All worked quite well with the excellent DART trip planner app and so arrived around 1:30 pm. Of course one has to sit in the replicas Oval Office and have photo taken. It’s a massive place well worth a visit and have to say the Cafe 43 lunch I had of Texan Chicken Caesar salad was simply superb. The transit back to my abode was a bit more tricky but still achieved and home before 4 pm. Relax for a bit and then out for another beer. Although the Beerita beckons may check out other places first. After all variety is the spice of life

Downtown Dallas is a rather sprawling city but very clean and no conglomeration of skyscrapers. All well spaced out. Hopefully tomorrow is off to Fort Worth for the day

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ABD – Day1 Sydney to Dallas

Posted: February 15, 2016 in Travel

Remainder of time in Sydney was spent watching final round of Pebble Beach Golf before starting to pack. Ok, so my TSA lock won’t open, lucky it was unattached at time. Across toad to QVB and a quick purchase of a new one and then time to catch train to International Airport. The airport link train is an excellent mode of travel. Of course I arrived in plenty of time and was pleasantly surprised to be able to book in 4 hrs before departure ! As it was a late upgrade I did not have seat confirmed but happy to see it was a window seat in middle of upper deck. The Qantas club is of course excellent but one does have to pace one self. Yeah right…….

Fairly smooth boarding and we left on time. On a 16 hr flight one is a little concerned when in a window seat but luckily had a small Asian woman next to me that was going to be easy to jump over even at full stretch. These are of course the refurbished A380s and they have skinted on some of the luxuries – like number of toilets ! The plane was showing its age a bit but these are first world problems. Have been fortunate to fly Emirates BC as well and would say the seat and cabin are better there but where Qantas excel are food and service. Now even though the possibility exists to get as full as a state school hat rack you never do because before u know it the shades are down and the Jammies are on. Yep, slipped into my Peter Morrisey Summer Bogan collection that would not look out of place at Station Square on Centrelink day. Comfy though. Now lie flat is a fine concept but never really get comfortable and my feet did actually touch seat bubble in front at full stretch. Watched The Martian at last which was very enjoyable and then a couple of 20 min cat naps and before you knew it there was only 10 hrs to go! Another fine breakfast served a couple of hours out which was actually 11:30 am Texas time so body clock could get confused . Now just have to see how the traverse through customs goes and hopefully there is a driver waiting outside to take me to Dallas lodgings

Got through Customs nice and quick with automated processing although the Sheila in uniform wasn’t buying I was old enough to be retired! A sista was there to take me to lodgings and she was very helpful and even took me to AT&T after check in to fix up phone. The apartment is great and in a good complex. A few lite groceries and then a walk around neighbourhood before jet lag sets in. Hey, look at that a beer garden….. Katy’s Trail is a well known walking running track in the area and of course smack bang in middle is the Icehouse beer garden. As expected in Texas the beers and burgers were huge and very reasonable price. Once again very friendly people although may get tired of hearing ” ya good Hon” ? after a few days .Mind you if she is serving beer it may pass. Or maybe it is a question unrelated to service at all and more of a challenge ?? I will have to go back and try the beerita – frozen Margeurita with beer upturned in it. Lovely afternoon despite current forecast of thunderstorms. Who would have thunk the bureau could be wrong here too.?

Will be early night after flight and then full on touristy clown starts tomorrow with Segway and JFK museum.

I think I could like Texas

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ABD – And the winner is Sydney

Posted: February 14, 2016 in Travel

And so , because 3 weeks galavanting around USA is not enough let’s have a weekend in Sydney first. As you do. The big bird to Dallas only flies from Sydney anyhoo so it is a necessity your honour. Booked into Hilton in George Street and asked for a high floor. 42 will do nicely. Basic room but everything u need including roll down blinds. Great location for discovering the city and some iconic erections. It was the month of Love in Sydney and also Chinese New Year or something so the place was full of lovers and Chinese. Just as well they lifted the one child restriction eh . We wanted to see all of the 12 “lanterns” littered around the city and were able to do this easily by foot over the two days. First up though was a walk to Darling Harbour for a walk and a bite . Such a lovely day we thought would be devilish and see if any cruises available at short notice and of course there were as it was that sort of trip so far. So off we headed with Gilligan for a 2.5 hr cruise – government cutbacks already! It’s a stunning harbour as we all know but does appear to be a free for all and why there are not daily accidents amazes me . Seems to be no rhyme or reason for rules of the sea except maybe big boat beats little boat for right of way. And there were some massive liners at dock. After our cruise it was back for a special dinner to celebrate my birthday and Valentines Day. We had booked into the Glass Brasserie on site which sounds a little low key but has a famous chef Luke Mangan so we gave it a whirl for the degustation and matching wine. Simply superb and trust me we have had a few degustations over time.

So after a rather rugged nights sleep the day dawned dark and miserable. Ah no, we left the blinds down again. Ok, another glorious day and those lanterns were coming down tomorrow so let’s head off . Walked to Circular Quay to see the great unwashed disembark at regular intervals and then around to Opera House etc. Then headed in opposite direction for Chinatown to complete our Lantern odyssey before back to room for a bed a lie down. Then it was time to check out the Lunar Markets over at Pyrmont Park which were nothing special to be honest but were located opposite Star Casino so instead we went to Skydeck bar and paid $10 for a Corona but the view was worth it trust me. A final dinner at Darling Harbour on way back concluded a rather wonderful 36 hrs.

It’s now 5 am Monday morning and CLP has just headed off to airport for red eye back to Brisvegas as she still has to work. Yeah tried to keep a straight face too but couldn’t manage it :). Just so the devoted fans don’t feel too sad for moi I was able to upgrade flight to Dallas to Business class using some FF points. Well, a lot of FF points but when you are #internationalbarfly they do accumulate over time ! So a lazy few hours to fill in this morning around hotel before head out to airport with feedbag and funnel in place . And then the real fun starts

It’s been a wonderful start to the holiday but will be glad when get to some cooler climates . One hopes for some snow maybe the following week but first up have to avoid pissing off the open carry brigade in Texas with my usual charm and sensitivity . I am representing Autralia after all

Have the cap to prove it!

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ABD – One Week and Counting

Posted: February 6, 2016 in Travel

In a sure sign of advancing old age as holiday approaches my excitement level doesnt rise but more the list of things that could go wrong expand! A lot can happen in 7 days – Old Whiskers may create another heaven and earth for example. Probably looked at the weather forecast and put it off a while. At least I should be able to tick off “severe head cold” because I have had that for the last week! Seem to have avoided the salmonella/spider laced salad treat as well so far.

First concern of course is actually leaving the country. Once you get on that first plane then at least anything that happens after that at least u r on holidays even if u suddenly find yourself in Cuba. I have asked for an upgrade on first leg on A380 as do not have ideal seats and may as well use the FF points. Of course Qantas dont tell you of your fate until about 24-48 hrs before flight because they are still hoping to flog the seats for full whack. Clearly not as much hope on our first domestic leg from Brisvegas to Sydney where I have been bombarded with emails from Qantas this week asking me first if I want to upgrade this leg and when that failed if I want to bid on an upgrade. Well clowns no because I have to keep all my points in case I get the international upgrade 2 days later which u aint telling me about yet! BC upgrade for such a short leg really isnt worth it when already a QC member so full on snout in trough before even get on plane.

Weather is always a concern but then you cant do much about that. Last year I was trying to keep one step ahead of Marcia Marcia Marcia as it slowly moved down the coast. As I have plenty of time I though as a sheer exercise in futility I would monitor predicted temps in the 3 cities I will visit for period I am there. When the overnight mins varied by 8 degrees in a 48 hr period I knew this would only be a frustrating exercise. My fave though had to be the one for NYC on March 4th. Ok this link will likely change over next 24 hrs but trust me when I say it predicts the temperature range for that day is 4 to 4. Yep, not a degree change all day! “Hey Frank , are you sure this is right?” “Yep, that is what the modelling says”

Weather NYC March 4th

Hoping for a bit of winter snow at least in Boston but may well be out of luck. Phil is predicting an early spring and lets face it has as much chance as anyone else of being right! Does anyone else think those bloody hats could be blocking the shadow! At least we know where failed Republican Presidential candidates end up

Any pending OS travel of course means interaction with Centrelink before ,during and after. Actually physically presented twice to downtown office and much smoother process than actually waiting an hour on phone. Confidence level still the same though. I have a letter confirming my notification of leaving country but the lassie said I will
still get the annoying reminders about reporting etc because “they are automated”. Well switch them off sweetheart, its 2016! Technology is wonderful until it aint.

We do of course have a very enjoyable weekend in Sydney first up and read an interesting blog this week comparing Sydney and Melbourne with the author coming down very much on the side of Sydney. I have always been a Melbourne fan but it struck me about a similar comparison between NYC and Washington. Like Washington, Sydney has some of the most iconic must see sights in Australia for any international visitor but does that make it the more interesting city? Dont think so but will be good to see for a couple of days with a very nice dinner planned for Saturday night and with both Valentines Day and my Birthday to celebrate … well if I can even walk onto the plane on Monday someone isnt doing their job properly eh!

So now just a case of waiting and filling in the week with usual mix of work, coughing and play. Still waiting to hear about possible White House tour but all I have are a few emails from Hillary Clinton so not confident but very well informed about US foreign policy!