Archive for February, 2019

WFW – The Final Wrap

Posted: February 28, 2019 in Travel

Always mixed feelings at end of trip. You are keen to get home but you have to mix with the GU in droves. Now to be fair I have been very lucky with the level of comfort and luxury have had on flights and lounges this trip and the Flagship Lounge at JFK was a standout. But there are still morons everywhere you look. Whether it is the idiot who always has to be first in line to board – when clearly that is my position – to the Chatty Cathy in front of me now who wants to engage the Hostie in meaningless drivel when she is bringing my next drink there is always someone there to throw shade on your experience . Maybe the issue is that over years of travel have gone from cattle class to business class a bit quick and no looking back now really

You never say never of course – especially when in the middle of morons – and am sure will return to USA sooner rather than later. However, if I go to NYC again do us all a favour and shoot me. In fact, I really should avoid the middle of winter at least . Too many variables with travel and weather in general. Also really need to see new cities as clearly shown with San Diego experience this time. I could be drawn back to Chicago again but would like to see more of Texas and down south like New Orleans or over to Charleston et al. One thing that draws you to the old faves is the easier access by flights especially Qantas . Mind you, have to say American was very good this trip and really Qantas FF Silver status main attraction is the Ruby OW status u get . Of course it also may have helped me get those BC upgrades 3/3 😏

Busy end of year ahead with Daughter No 2 wedding , CLP retirement/60th and then a road trip down south for a month. Then around March next year we celebrate her birthday in style with an African Safari. So, a return to USA seems a long way off but I shan’t suffer folks. Of course most of the fun is in the planning and I can easily amuse myself for weeks planning a 2021 USA holiday even if it never eventuates

I do need to be a bit smarter though. Sometimes I find my day is driven by doing a number of things so that I can fill in my daily blog that night rather than just enjoying the day. It’s like the people who spend so much time taking the photo rather than enjoying the scene. Guilty on both counts your honour.

The hotel experience in NYC was very good but suspect it may not reflect all hotels. VRBO type rentals remain the preferred option but am getting a bit sick and tired of how they screw you over with “fees”. Uber is an excellent alternative these days to taxis but you do have to be careful. My taxi In Baltimore when arrived was $11 plus tip. This mornings Uber at peak time was $27 plus tip for same trip. At other times of course it is cheaper.

The AT&T sim remains an excellent product , if not cheapest, for easy data when in USA. Never missed a beat and allows you to always be “online” . All public transport was good, though varied, and well supported by “apps”. San Diego is a great walking city but also well served by the trolley system. NYC Subway is very efficient of course but old , crowded and dirty. Baltimore has a great linked bus service and the free Circulator. Another good walking city

Qantas 787 Business Class remains an excellent product. The food is rather superb at times and the Dreamliner set up certainly cocoons you nicely. Mind you these two assholes in front are really annoying me. Eurotrash 60 yr old with a fucking ponytail. Didn’t have a lot of luck with flights mid trip with 3/3 being cancelled or delayed significantly. You just have to be aware of these possibilities always and be prepared to act quickly. You travel regularly and shit happens

US TV remains crap. Luckily most places have on demand so can catch up with the shows you want when you want . They love weather reports especially if serious . Of course they embellish any possible drama with glee.

The people are generally very friendly and helpful. Baltimore had its dodgy areas in particular and SD has a significant homeless problem. In USA , in my experience, you wont go a day without being asked for money/food 5 -10 times. Its a sad reflection on a prosperous country. As always come home with a billion coins worth about $2.73 in total because of their bloody tax system. $6:50 becomes $7:13 😤

I am a very lucky fellow to have been able to travel so much in recent years and look forward to many more trips. There is no doubt though as each year passes I get a little more crotchety and easily annoyed . To be honest though I also think the world is getting dumber and more ignorant as well.

The one negative to this trip has been the shoulder rehabilitation. When I left I was ahead of schedule and progressing well. Certainly feel have not progressed in last few weeks. A bit slack with exercises but also some pain, whether arthritic due to cold weather or some slight damage time will tell. Within a few hrs of arrival back in Brisvegas will be seeing Physio for update

And also starting a diet

Later dudes

WFW – Top 6

Posted: February 27, 2019 in Travel

A lot of spare time in next 36 hrs so lets review WFW with a Top 6. Some good things missed out but thats life – Torrey Pines and Coney Island spring to mind

1. Hotel Del Coronado

A stunning place and a great trip over on ferry on a glorious day. Lived up to expectations and was surprised what a great beach there as well. Got opportunity to send a special message to my special lady on a special day so it was a well ….. a special early start to holiday

2. Beer Scavenger Tour, SD

The tour itself was nothing special, though fun, but the group was amazing . Especially my little group of locals that adopted me. Reminded me of Portland beer tour where group just took the old fart under their wing. Whenever I end up with a cigar in hand its been a good day. And going to be a bad tomorrow…

3. Santa Monica Pier

It was a nightmare Uber ride home – some self inflicted – but so glad mad effort. It’s kitsch personified maybe but on a glorious afternoon it was a little slice of heaven . Coney Island with a crowd

4. Billy Joel , MSG

I hate crowds but this was worth it. What a stunning performance without a break. Research had me in a good, well priced seat . Look Billy is probably not in my Top 10 artist list but his list of songs is rather impressive on reflection and you cant beat a live show

5. Baltimore Waterfront/Fells Point

On previous day visit this struck me as special and only confirmed this trip. Every morning enjoyed my slightly different route through Fells Point to the Inner Harbour. It’s a stunning vista from all sides but especially from top of Federal Hill. Never got the chance to check out all the varied eateries/drinkeries but tried my best honest

6. Fort McHenry, Baltimore

The surprise of the holiday and likely highlight. It was a surprise because , as CLP would attest , usually avoid museums and monuments with vigor. This was different . The history is simply amazing but to share the flag raising with some vets just struck this old codgers heart oddly. A memory that lingers and will treasure.

And so we come to the end. All packed and ready to get home but still have to get there. The reality is actually

Automobile(taxi), train, train, train, plane, plane, automobile(car)

A solid 32 hrs of travel and realistically no sleep. Plenty to eat and drink of course🤠 I was hanging out for BC upgrade LAX-Brisvegas so didnt request upgrade first leg NYC-LAX as did want to at least try PE once on the 787. Sadly now realise that stuck in AA lounge at JFK these days as QC member non BC rather than the previous excellent BA codeshare lounge. Yes, first world problems but I am here to edumacate my followers

7 am update – which I have failed at 😏 After I had checked in and the usual 24 hr notification period passed I thought why not try for upgrade on first leg as seem to have missed second leg and do have the full three hrs at JFK before leaving. Didn’t expect any success but of course during night two pings at different times indicating had scored BOTH UPGRADES. After getting caught with the LAX Switcheroo keep old phone with Aussie SIM in near me at night now. I have it on vibrate of course, so everyone’s a winner. Don’t want any more nasty surprises but two pleasant ones is a good start

Unlike its cousin in NYC , Penn st at Baltimore is a very quiet station apart from a couple of people always running for a train! Amazing , every boarding call was met by at least 2-3 people bursting through the door with coffee in hand running towards the platform. The train left on time but is quite crowded so no desk or two seats to myself. The transfer at Penn to LIRR is easy peasy and as is 2019 had bought ticket through app so literally a 5 min walk and hopped on train. Have done this before a few times so was a tad concerned when train left and empty as always crowded before. Anyway we made it to Jamaica for the air train

It was now still not quite 1 pm and history tells me Qantass dont open bag drop until 3 hrs before ergo 3 pm. Better grab some lunch then and paid $16 for a water and sandwich! I sat down and ate it at the Qantas check in with all my new friends. You know how everything just goes so smoothly when you have allowed a lot of time….

As luck, or the Good Lord himself, would have it check in opened at 2 pm for us Business Important Folk (BIPs). Pretty quick through security and Lordy Lordy I was in the Flagship Lounge ( and not cod ordinary Admirals Club) by 230 pm with a mere 3 hrs to fill in. This was an impressive lounge too and easily as good if not better than any other have been in. Man am I wishing I didnt have that sandwich. The food looks exquisite and the alcohol is self serve. What could go wrong? I suggest I could be as full as a state school hat rack by liftoff – the first one 😳

Luckily I dont have 20 hrs ahead of hand maiden service in my own little cocoon across the land and water caper. Oh thats right, I’m a BIP now 👨🏻‍🦳 Better sign off now while I can still see keyboard letters separately . This could get ugly…

Luckily you cant smoke cigars on planes 🇺🇸🕺🏻🤓

WFW – Day 23 . Bye Boh Baltimore

Posted: February 26, 2019 in Travel

Decided to catch the NV bus quickly back up Eastern Ave for one last quirky photo of Natty Boh tower. Busy time of day but had plenty of time. As always you notice the number of these “row” houses that have roof top areas with BBQs etc. Must be nice in summer

Then it was back to Fells Point and my usual Cortado while I worked out my plan of attack for todays target – Fort McHenry. I was at the excellent Ceremony Coffee Roasters at Harbour Point so Google had a slightly different option this time – water taxi! Sounds great . The theme today revolved around the “Star Spangled Banner” and Land of the Free so a free water taxi followed by free Charm City Circulator fit in perfectly

Caught the bus outside AVM and down to Fort McHenry. Impressive grounds and a good hike to visitor centre. Then I made one of those on the spur of the moment life changing decisions

“Sir, there is a very interesting short film about to start in the library . They are also about to do the flag raising at the Fort in a few mins?”

“Show me The Pole Chauncey”

Then followed what I consider the highlight of my USA trip. There were 3 other guys apart from Ranger. Two US Vets and a serving US Navy guy who was born in Australia and was a keen photographer. I mention latter as he took many photos and promised to email me some. Now I’m known to doze off with the best of them but the history of this place is simply amazing and enthralling. Look it up folks. Due to favourable weather conditions we were putting up the second biggest Garrison Flag they had but needed all four of us to help lower and raise . It was simply a memorable experience. I then stayed around talking to the group for another 30 mins

Took a leisurely stroll back through the grounds and also bought a couple of momentos. Then back on bus to Inner Harbour. It was now late enough to actually find a pub open . The choice of Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant was maybe a tad boring but had been in enough dark pubs for now. Their Golden Export was perfect and along with Blond Guinness my two fave beers of trip

So thats about it folks. Home to wash and pack and generally wait. Ready to come home but last 18-24 hrs always worst. Won’t relax until at JFK tomorrow around 3pm and see that red kangaroo at rest . Still have a couple of trains to line up first but as long as no calamities have allowed plenty of time

It’s been a blast Baltimore

It’s going to be a booteeful but very windy day so let’s spend 55 mins on a warm bus heading over to “The Avenue” for some quirk. Or not. First up some great street art have seen nearby and everywhere. You just come upon it and is actively encouraged in Baltimore

Caught bus at 8 am which seemed reasonable to moi given length of trip. Not a crowded bus and looked a nice street to get off on. When on bus in unknown areas tend to check the number of blocks between parked police cars. If less than 3, I dont get off 😏 A couple more police cars here would have at least doubled the people . It was dead at 9 am! I understand with pubs not open until 11 am but shops and cafes? Thought this was a hip and happening area of Baltimore. Pretty yes, Interesting no

It was bitterly cold on an empty street. Time to walk to Light Rail link in opposite direction and head back to civilisation. I knew Atomic Books was on way – Jon Waters personal Post Office – and no drama with it being closed . Interesting walk and the light rail, though limited, is very good

Back in Land of Almost Living had my usual Cortado at Felatio Zucchini or whatever it is called next to Convention Centre and then thought time for Top of the Deck Observation at Trade Centre on this glorious Day. Nope. Closed Monday and Tuesday just for something different . The sea was angry and I was getting a tad pissed off myself. Luckily I usually find some things that amuse me at least

Discovered a new entertainment precinct that looks like could go off like a frog in a sock on a Friday night but of course it was Monday mid morning

Nice day for a walk so lets make a little detour through Little Italy on way home. Star Spangled Museum was closed of course being a day ending in “y” but decided to have a Coffee and Cannoli at Vacarros. Oh man when will I learn. The attitude of owner should have been clue as when had no idea what a Cortado was and could care even less. So yep ordered the cappuccino like an idiot with alzheimers. It’s a vat of hot milk and the cannoli was pus in a tube, although more tasty to be fair. And it cost me $13.50!

Let’s keep walking along Eastern Avenue and give The Pagoda a crack as heard it gave a great view as well. It’s an impressive looking monument and doesn’t look like too many steps in that staircase. Behind the closed , locked door. Not even a sign indicating possible access hours. Fuck me slowly

I give up. Obviously Baltimore isn’t overly concerned with the tourism trade at least before midday and never on a Monday . Looks like only one thing left to do then on this glorious if cold day. Yep, its Baltimoron Bubbleboy time

Not sure its a word but its my birthday so my call. I know people who know things and they say Baltimore is known for 2 things – Crabs and Orange Crush. Not sure if the latter is used to treat the former or they are two unrelated delicacies – all will be revealed.

So basic plan is to sample these ASAP but am bound by some arcane laws that dont let pubs open at 7am – my “active” hour. Now that I am 61 I plan on taking things a bit slower so first up will watch the movie Billy C made about me just for my birthday

Ok , not what I was hoping for. I have another plan also that involves maybe being Irish Pub adjacent around 2 pm for the Guinness Engraving caper at Inner Harbour. This, like all plans for day, will depend on 3 things. Weather, crowds and laziness. Lets get that weather update now and open a blind. Much more accurate than the 17 weather apps I have

Ok so general gloom. Ah thats a mirror not a window 😏 One step to the left . Yep drizzly and dank. Supposed to clear around midday . The problem now is to fill in those pesky first few hours before it is sociable to be seen eating 🦀and drinking 🍹 . You know, 9 am. Also difficult to dress for a few hrs out where predicted to start wet and end up a positively balmy 15 degrees

Headed off in light drizzle and thought would check out the area nearby where the Claddaugh Pub was but not expecting it to be open. Aw Shucks, the Oyster Place was closed so at least added to the counter. The pub was open and literally packed already .Tried an Orange Crush as it was already 0830 . Seemed a bit bland so had another one. Then the vodka kicked in 😳 I need some coffee to sober up – well it is an Irish Pub. I did have a crab omelette which was very nice but dont consider that box ticked yet

Time to walk it off but of course now had a full bladder on a cold day. The first place that served coffee and had a restroom was a winner. Yep Starbucks 😏

Down into Fells Point area which is quickly becoming a fave. A quirky pub to check out, Poes last stop. Mentioned it was my birthday ( old trick but works well) and got a free beer

By now I had the wobbly boot firmly attached and only 11 am. Let’s explore a bit more of the area . If you see me smoking a cigar accept the day is gone ok

Tempted but no. By now Thames Street Oyster House was open so lets get some crab. Mission accomplished and officially full as a goog. Time to waddle home for a couple

Still plan to head down to Inner Harbour around 3 pm and see what is going on at Irish Pub( yep actually 4pm start not 2 pm) The walk will be pleasant as weather is clearing but could very well just turn around and head home if too crowded. I am old now and set in my ways

Had hit the wall to be honest at midday which happens at about the 3 week mark of holiday. Birthday of course reminds you of loved ones back home u r missing. Time to snap out of it again so started my 45 min walk and just the tonic. Got to Pub and it was crowded but being Irish it was in a good way. Bought my requisite Guinness to get my glass engraved but was actually quite enjoyable. Then stood around for 45 mins waiting for the two young colleens try to work out how engraver worked! Eventually they did and got my glass and by now was a glorious afternoon so all in all a great end to birthday. Took photo of glass in case have incident with packing 😰

Should be good weather tomorrow but couple of low key days ahead methinks. Plenty walking, less drinking . I’m old, hope dont get those two confused


WFW – Day 20. A Tale of Two Breweries

Posted: February 23, 2019 in Travel

Weather looks as predicted with a grey start to day and rain expected later. Only real plan today was to stay dry and visit Open Gate Guinness Brewery in Bumfuck, Idaho. Ok two plans. Seriously I find it odd that a place designed to well and truly attach the old wobbly boot is really only accessible by car. Or so they thought… more later

As said pub environs did not open until 11 am it was time for a leisurely stroll down to waterfront first . Not as spectacular as a sunny day but still a great stroll

Time for that morning Cortado and found a great place downtown called Filicoro Zecchini

Then the fun starts . Time to catch Yellow Link to Halethorpe as first step – described as “an unincorporated community in Baltimore County”. Got out at the local Mobile Home Park so things were looking suss. Then google says a 20 min walk to Open Gate . Not allowing for roadworks and u r basically walking on a highway. This better be worth it

Yeah, it was, but the fun wasn’t over yet. It’s a stunning place and was very enjoyable to visit almost a year to the day visited Dublin James Gate. The local product is very good too but had to start with the classic eh.

Now came the next problem. Still miles from nowhere and a few beers on board. My iPhone had somehow shrunk and become blurry in last hour but worked out could either stumble back down the highway and try and line up the once every 40 mins Yellow Link from my Mobile Home Park or get an Uber to Heavy Seas Brewery to reassess. Yeah I went sailing

Somehow I was not sobering up . I knew there was a Yellow Link bus stop nearby but wonder which side of road?? Traffic was light and thought could run/limp across road slowly if saw bus coming with UMBC rather than Mondawmin that I needed. Just hope something came along soon as this was one of those areas where people could disappear in the blink of an eye

Only stood around for 10 mins – did I mention no cellphone reception ? 😳 – when bus turned up and mixed with the GSU . A new term to cover GU who are also a tad scary . Back in downtown around Inner Harbour made me feel safe and almost relaxed to jump on my Navy Link to home

As expected Baltimore Licks is not open in winter so will likely call it a day. Certainly had enough of public transport here for a while methinks. A FaceTime with CLP, some golf and then will bring out Emergency Supplies for Rainy Days. Not raining yet but why wait until the last minute eh

Usually am OS for my birthday so as to make it last 36 hrs 😏 I may be old but I ain’t stupid. Back home I am 61, here I am 60, in my mind…… about 21 🤠

WFW – Day 19. Roaming…….On

Posted: February 22, 2019 in Travel

My half-formed, and even more accurately half-assed, plan to do day trip to Annapolis today quickly faded with some more research and a cloudy gloomy day dawning. While I knew it was a 90 min bus trip each way was not really aware still needed another bus trip and a cut lunch first to reach launching point. Instead lets fall back on some earlier research and find some quirk so lets

While still fresh and vibrant lets walk back up to Eastern Ave and get our zap on

Time to mix with the GU on the bus and over to Mount Vernon. Vernon wasn’t home and suspect he was with Beca in NYC. It is amazing the technology in 2019. It was a grey gloomy day and maybe Google picked up my general vibe and bugger me if it didn’t hit the nail on the head and even come up with a remedy. Odd Yank spelling of course 🤠

The actual district is quite interesting with some quirk and some monuments . I even had this novel idea to visit a library. What a stunning library the Peabody is. Strangely with that name no public restrooms which was a concern in this cold weather . They even had a special room dedicated to National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

As luck would have it there was a light rail link nearby so time to duck down and check out the NFL Stadium . Sadly, unlike Camden Yards access was poor and certainly wont be raven about this one

Actually it is walking distance to Camden Yards so wandered back there and checked out Dempseys. It was 11:01 and the beer lines not primed yet so had a Mai Tai while they made my heart attack burger . Very nice actually. By time my arteries were clogging beer lines were back in action so seemed only right to check them out given my intimate knowledge off all things beer lines related

By now it was midday and time to head home for a break. Could be an extended one too. Did a quick detour to get some supplies in case it does rain full on next two days . If ok in morning will try and make effort to get to Guinness Brewery but is so far out of town may as well be in Bumfuck, Idaho.

In meantime, the ankle has had enough. May duck across to park later for some fresh air but at this stage need to rest for a few as still have 4 full days here to go and it will involve a lot more walking. Help

WFW – Day 18. On The Waterfront

Posted: February 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

“ I could have been a contender and not just a man with a cute bum” or something like that . Let me check

Close enough he was always a mumbler. When I did a day trip to Baltimore a couple of years ago the waterfront area around Inner Harbour struck me as quite beautiful. It was a sunny clear day 😏. Today looks like cloud at start that will slowly lift and might get couple good days, couple bad, and then good again. Will check out park today as well because snow wont last with a positively balmy 11 degrees predicted. Then will wander down into general direction of water and see where the day leads. Of some concern back home is a cyclone may impact on my home area of Fraser Coast in coming days

Had heard one place to check out nearby was Baltimore Licks which I can only assume is a Local Lesbian Lair?

Ah, ice cream. Makes more sense. Only open Saturday afternoon from midday to 9 pm ? Hmm, i dont think it really is an ice cream parlour folks 💃🏻

Only took one morning to confirm that coming back to Baltimore was a smart idea. It was a glorious morning for a walk down to waterfront and ended up at American Visionary Art Museum – google it folks, thats a looooongway . But first the Park

Then a slow meander down to Waterfront and first Fells Point. Looks a great place and will definitely come back when some very interesting looking pubs may be open. Excellent Cortado as well

Then onto the more “tourist” section of waterfront I guess. Fascinating Maritime history there with some very interesting ships in dock. Not interesting enough to pay to go on board, if open, but well worth reading about

Simply stunning morning and its a great area to walk around when quiet

A snow covered Federal Hill was beckoning in distance and thought likely last time will be snow covered so what’s another Klm between friends

Of course now quite close to American Visionary Art Museum so of course had to check it out. What amazing value for $!5

Then it was back more to Inner Harbour for my one Baltimore tradition – Guinness Stew and a Blonde Guinness at Irish Pub Tir na nOg. Looks like a plan forming for my birthday already…

Only midday and already done so much. Time to Uber home and plan afternoon but may be a quiet one. I couldn’t possibly bore you with any more photos could I…..

The snow has melted, time to get my teeth into some public transport and hope i dont end up dead. You quickly venture into less desirable areas if not careful but was a man on a mission, admittedly one that was forming on then go. A grave set of teeth first

Ok, well that looks like Camden Yards within walking distance. It’s a belter of a day so why not. At least not Monday so Museum will be open. The access is to Camden Yards is quite amazing really

Time to plan trip home, just need a house that sells ale and not full of pratts. Yep this will do and the Navy Bus home stops 50 feet down stree. It’s time to head home then

Yes there are too many photos but you should see the pearlers that missed the cut! You never know what tomorrow may bring so dont be shy in getting out and about. Almost seems a shame to be indoors with daylight still there but ankle needs a rest and a reset

WFW Day 17 – Baltimore or Bust

Posted: February 20, 2019 in Travel

The forecast remains grim and so decided to pay the extra $100 and change my train to hit that sweet spot of just being snow before the sleet and icy rain hits which likely to cause more issues than snow. Making this decision at 0645 made it all a bit of a rush to get to Penn in time for 8 am train as had not packed much night before . Taxi was very slow of course in traffic but made it in time , printed up ticket and then lined up Red Cap . Once again no breakfast in rush so hit nearby Starbucks as time was running out and to be honest their flat white with extra shot is ok. Got a breakky burger as well as couldn’t be worse than from cafe car! Saw Red Cap lined up with bag and still waiting for dolt to heat my burger when she got it out of oven and dropped on floor. Looked at Red Cap and we both rolled our eyes. Friends for life . Made it in plenty of time and actually first on carriage. Won’t last but feels good for now . Of course dont know what awaits me at end of trip and then have to get to lodgings in potentially treacherous conditions. Will worry about that later

Made it to Wilmington before saw any snow. Only 40 mins north of Baltimore which is next stop so should be ok

Certainly snowing on Baltimore. Taxi driver didn’t seem fazed but some chains might have been handy. Said it had only been snowing since 8am but it was heavy on the ground and snow plows out. Canton Row house looks very nice and in a good area. They say there is a park across the road but cant tell yet🤓 The Hot Tub out the back looks tempting….

Did the requisite slosh through the snow to get some groceries about 10 mins away. Easier in this snow really then if it rains later on as predicted . Time to “Netflix and Chill” and yes no euphemism implied

Snow has abated for a bit so lets get out and suss the neighbourhood. Start with where the park should be and then the local coffee place

Coughing and spluttering has started again after a pleasant couple of days so hope that nonsens is not back again. Must be time to blow the froth of that first one and as us locals say when it is snowing ….. Baltimore Smaltimore

I think I’m going to like Baltimore