Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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 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

WFW Day 16 – Bauer Time

Posted: February 19, 2019 in Travel

The clock is ticking and only have 24 hrs to complete mission – what would Jack do?

It’s a cold clear start to day as predicted and snow still expected tomorrow afternoon after I have left. Would have been nice to be here for a dump of snow but at this stage just want to get out of Dodge and into Baltimore with no rail issues . Snow will hit Baltimore in morning before I leave so , as always the case in life, it all comes down to how many inches. The only difference here being less is better of course 🤠

I have my Columbus inspired trek across the continent in plan but then an Aussie mate suggested checking out Hughs place?Sadly in different directions and a fair distance between. Also have that pesky last wash to do. Went with Wolverine of course and headed down to Tribeca but Beca wasn’t home so missed out again 😏 Found Laughing Man easy enough near Chambers Street station and again a small little cafe that doesn’t encourage lingering. Flat White was ok, nothing special

The issues then became do I head back to 14 st and walk home? Google said it would take 92 mins . I thought Columbus, C would get a kick out of joining those two numbers, spooky eh? However , my ankle piped up and said “Get Serious” and so we Chambered back to Times Square and decided to slowly walk up 5th Ave to Guggenheim and then cut across back through CP to home. In all, it only took 97 mins. Hmm. But I digress. Meandering through Midtown decided to make this an Aussie Coffee morning.

After quick detour through the always stunning Grand Central next stop was Little Collins

This was better. Time to sit and relax and Google The Guggenheim. Came up with Googlheim , a Jewish deli in Brooklyn so not a great help. Onward and upward 5th avenue. A slight detour through Central Park on way and I do love how they let you know when the pubs open

It was a glorious but brisk day and it was a struggle taking photos and keeping warm. I can multitask with the best of them but definitely needed a third hand to blow my nose

Back out onto 5th Avenue as could smell that Bluestone Coffee. The one coffee place that is cashless and have struggled with Apple Pay so far but was determined to use it this time. “Sorry Sir, our Apple Pay is down” Fark… Anyhoo, its a lovely location they have next to Guggenheim and part of a church I assume . I prayed for a good coffee and suitably rewarded

Now it was time to head back through Central Park at a nice leisurely pace. Beautiful day for a walk and great to see another part of CP

Made it home and noticed that my subtle hint of leaving the laundary on the bed didn’t suck in the maid. Oh well, that is the next 90 mins sorted . Time to rest up anyway before heading out to Late Show mid afternoon. Quick check of weather forecast for tomorrow . Yep still grim 😰 Needless to say will be a tad pissed off if the only snow in 8 days here stops me leaving. Already screwed up arrival . Off to The Late Show

3pm was the designated time for opening of “Priority Ticket” line up. Got there at 5 to and already 40 people lined up 😏 Stood outside in cold for 45 mins, then inside for 45 mins while they did a bizarre “toilet run” one line at a time. Seated in very comfortable seats and show kicked off around 5 pm with stand up and then the band. Bit of QA with Stephen and then show . Guest was FBI guy doing his book tour, intersting enough but knew it all anyway. You are much closer to stage than appears on TV and it was agreat experience . Just wish there was a better way to get people into these studios

Weather looking very grim for tomorrow and not confident at all will leave at time if at all 😰 NYC will be ok when I leave at 11 am but weather already hit Baltimore and Philly by then so basically heading towards it. Doubt the snow will be the problem but rather the icy sleet following

WFW – Day 15 . Another 48 hrs

Posted: February 18, 2019 in Travel

I get the “red sky in morning, sailor warning” deal but what does an orange sky mean? Ah , of course its Presidents Day 🤠 Actually its grey and gloomy so even more appropriate really . Supposed to clear January 2021. Ok, enough political humour

Plans are loose today as tomorrow looks like a belter as we say back home. Colbert tomorrow afternoon to round out trip nicely. Will wait and see if this weather does start to slowly clear as predicted and then head into general midtown and linger leading to a definite loiter. I may also duck into Amtrak and see if can change train ticket on Wednesday to an earlier time as weather bad that day with snow predicted by midday and want to make sure at least get to Baltimore. What happens after that will deal with.

Think its fair to say have overstated my desire to spend time in NYC. This is 4th significant trip (ie> month stay total) and as solo 60yr old who always comes this time of year then its all been done for me and NYC is not really a city to sit and chill for a few days . Not a complaint, just a PERSONAL observation. Not suggesting either that I have barely scraped the surface of what is on offer but with so many different cities to see in USA spending another week in NYC may have been a mistake. As great as Hotel Beacon has been UWS is probably not ideally suited to my preference to walk the neighbourhood but is certainly well served by the Subway

Then I had an epiphany – quite common in older men and you can get special pants. “You are in NYC you moron, what are you complaining about” Yep , fair call. Let’s rock – 60 is twice as good as 30 after all #myTina

Weather ain’t clearing in a hurry and there is the definite “90 min window to do last wash” beckoning on such a day but would rather get max value from my last roll of quarters tomorrow. There is an excellent range of On Demand TV like True Detective to catch up on but rather get out of room in morning and let the service ladies work in peace. Not sure what is closed on PD of course but assume all Wallmarts are open? Sorry couldn’t resist . 9 am update

So a friendly forum friend suggested Box Kite Coffee on 72 nd street was the go for coffee in UWS and after taking ages to find it under scaffolding and minimal footprint would have to agree. I can usually find a kite shaped box in the dark but this was hard – ya with me .

Then it was onto the subway to land in Times Square and radiate. I played tourist for an hour or so and although gloomy no rain and quite pleasant walking around

As luck, or poor planning would have it , I was now adjacent to Trump Tower on 5th Ave. Well why not , it is that day after all. Looking at the two cops with RPGs in the doorway I decided to be on my best behaviour. Rather impressive place I guess but you would hardly know it was a Trump hotel. (Insert sarcastic emoji here)

Thought I may as well walk home from here and get some exercise . A quick detour via Columbus circle and I was hotel adjacent just as the first glint of a break in the weather appeared . It will be a slow process

Morning sorted which leaves a potentially pleasant afternoon to follow. Realised on way home have not had a slice of pizza yet and still have a couple of TShirts to buy for grand kiddies . Seeing Columbus inspired me to travel from West across Central Park and visit East Land. Or it could have been seeing that fat fella that reminded me to do more walking. Think will leave that to tomorrow morning and head back down around Penn St this arvo and tick off those other items .

Weather slowly improved and sun was poking out by 2 pm. Found a slice of pizza which fit the bill nicely and then to complete my 2nd tradition in NYC – oddly both involve Pubs – and have a beer at The Australian. And say hello to Chapelli of course

Finally picked up those T Shirts and time to head home. That bottle of red wont finish itself

What started as a potentially lost day once more filled in nicely. I did see about changing Amtrak ticket to an earlier time on Wednesday but as got such a good price initially they wanted $138 to change to one hour before. Ah, no thanks will stay on track and go with the flow . A little railway humour there

Very little

WFW – Day 14 . Snow Coney?

Posted: February 17, 2019 in Travel

Plan today, weather permitting, was early morning visit to Clooney Island to hang out with da booteeful people and fit right in. 68% of weather apps predicted sunny morning and light snow in evening. Early indications were they were 101% correct – looks a glorious day. Now just get my glasses and check this subway map for directions.

Ah, so its actually Coney Island. Makes more sense I guess. It’s a long subway trip with the old switcheroom from 1 to Q trains. I wasn’t sure whether to line up at the near Q platform or the far Q platform….here all week, try the pizza. Of course this trip always reminds me of the classic Seinfeld episode but doubt there will be too many naked guys on this ride. It was brisk

It’s a great subway clip in fact and was also amused by Feb 14th Daily Show and Trevor Noah commenting that they should put the subway entry turnstiles at the border and no one will get through😅 So true. Anyhoo back to Coney Island on a simply stunning day

It was closed

Of course , I knew it would be quiet and it was great walking along an almost empty boardwalk. Ziggy had mentioned to me about the 911 memorial wall at the MCU park. Always unsure how to post images of these as seem to be intruding on peoples memories so try to be respectful. The lasered images of the individuals who tragically lost their lives were certainly thought provoking.

Back on train to Manhattan and such a glorious day got out at 57th street to walk through Central Park to home. First time in a while had seen it without snow on ground.

Lovely neighbourhood to walk through to home but man it was cold . Time to rest up a bit and just sit in the sun in what has been a brilliant room at The Beacon. Hope I wake up before the snow starts

Wow, that cloud came in quick. Literally 15 mins from crystal clear blue to full cloud cover. This arvo the plan is to continue the Seinfeld theme and win The Contest . Oops, wrong episode. Actually need to find a black and white cookie.

So Google screwed me over good and proper. Assured me Levain Bakery nearby had some of the best BW cookies in NYC according to 2018 reviews. Crowded as usual and waited in line for 10 mins even though “BW” not listed on menu. Menu was truthful duh. So, not waste my time I bought their new famous “choc chip walnut” Hmm,not bad

So back to research and top 2 were in East Village so a fair walk – lets check website first. Yep, both closed now 😰 Ok, lets try Zabars just up the road on 79th. Yay , look to the cookie Elaine!

Ok, that was pretty bad. I will be going back to Levains for my cookies now. I need something to wash that down. Yep this place will do. Later folks, over and out.

Plans for today revolved mainly around weather and how day dawned so was a bit alarmed when very dark and grim at 06:30. Then I remembered the blackout curtains😏 Scrape, slide….ah thats better. Looks a great day , so plan A is in place .Down to Dumbo for the “most instagrammable view in NYC” to help me become an Instagram Influencer. From this day forth shall be known as FlashII but pronounced flashee . Risked molestation on an empty subway platform but certainly worth it with no crowds on a glorious day

Beautiful area to walk around with majestic views across the river of the Manhattan skyline

Then it was time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and just need to find entry to Pedestrian Promenade. Ah there it is, too easy. And isn’t it great they now have this specific walkway for pedestrians, when did it years ago very crowded

Hmm, that bridge over in distance looks vaguely familiar. Now in my defence, research had indicated that actually walking across the MANHATTAN BRIDGE was a better view so maybe my subconscious took over. I am great at research but fall down a bit in implementation. But from now on when it comes to bridges…

More stunning views across at that half assed bridge in distance


Of course “issue” with Plan A.2 was I landed in Chinatown. No concern of course but as had posted online already thought half a billion Chinese fans may turn up and cause gridlock. As me old cobber Confucius says though “be prepared” so quickly organised some men in blue for crowd control


As had had no breakfast and it was now about 9 am I did the only thing worse than going to Starbucks for coffee. Yep went to Maccas for a sausage egg McMuffin! Hit the spot actually and then back on tourist trail. As not far from Wall St saw the usual things a tourist does before catching the 1 train back home for well earnt rest. Mission accomplished, quiet day now

Such a glorious day couldn’t just sit inside so caught the 1 train down to Greenwich Village area to complete my one, strangely odd , NYC tradition – a beer at The Slaughtered Lamb. Maybe its the fruit they add to your beer that brings me back. Nothing else pops out, I mean pops up in my mind

As was in area thought I would give Meg one last chance. She didn’t take it so had my requisite coffee at Bluestone and started the slow hike home. Glorious day it may be but I need a break from the GU

Sadly NYC is just dead on a Saturday night so I am going to sit back and relax and finally open my free bottle of red. It came with 2 glasses (suffer in your cargo shorts Meg 🤓)so can drink it twice as quick . Yay

Wait a sec, there is someone else in the room hooking into my wine 😳 Handsome devil, guess he can stay

WFW Day 12 – Dantes Diner

Posted: February 15, 2019 in Travel

Has dawned a cloudy day as predicted by 73% of all weather apps. It is amazing how 3 different sites have 3 different forecasts. Makes it difficult to dress for venturing into world when room is invariably constant temperature – you know, oven! Actually at least at The Beacon, fast becoming my fave hotel in NYC, you can set own temp. Mind you is only hotel ever stayed at in NYC.

Think it was between “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Only the Good Die Young” that I got a message last night that Ziggy could squeeze me in on his Hell’s Kitchen Tour today. Spooky eh. Sadly the Brooklyn Tour tomorrow is a no go and he has been great trying to get me on another tour this week. Only 4 hr tour but also in an area likely not usually visit, at least while still alive.

That leaves morning to fill in and still quite sick but I am an intrepid traveller so lets see if any aircraft carriers near by and then maybe head into Meat Packing District and Chelsea. Reminds me, think I put too much starch in boxers yesterday …

Of course now that I have the Thermonuclear jacket and dressed like Nanook of the North going to be a balmy 13 degrees C today or 5 or 22 . You pick

Yep it was warm especially walking a lot and dressed in new jacket . Burning calories at least which is good because one day soon just going to plant myself somewhere and eat and drink for a couple of hours. At least my new jacket is attracting the ladies and finally got a date – doesn’t talk much and dresses purty so basically perfect

Found myself a big boat suitably not going anywhere soon. As had seen USS Midway last week didn’t bother with another tour.

Then it was time to pack my meat and head to Chelsea. The High Line was looking a tad sick but did have a good coffee on way – to go of course as standing room only

Then onto Chelsea Market which is always good and had another coffee as remembered place from last visit – and they serve Cortado. By now I was jumping

Time to head home and rest for a couple before food tour at 2pm. I haven’t really worked out the 1,2,3 local/express caper yet but all stop at 72 nd so not an issue. I do have an issue swiping metro card and not just me I notice. Seems to take a couple of tries each time. My goal this week is swipe on first go, watch clown behind me struggle, turn around and say “bloody tourists”. I also picked up the two essentials for my week in NYC

Ziggy tour was great even though stuck with a family of 4. Very nice people just doesn’t mix well when 2 teenagers thrown in. The pitfalls of solo travel. Food was varied and plentiful. Interesting history thrown in along the way and plenty of walking. Good to see NYC Inside Actors Studio HQ

Been a big 36 hrs so a bit Shaggus O’Murphy and time for a cuppa and early bed. Has been a very quiet few nights here so far but fear with a long weekend starting now that could change . Plans are loose for next few days but if day dawns bright as 47% of weather apps suggest then may head over to Brooklyn Bridge early but lets cross that bridge when we get to it….

WFW Day 10 – The Daily Show of Snow

Posted: February 14, 2019 in Travel

Seems a quiet room at present which is great for a hotel. Body clock a bit out of whack still but slept ok. Decided to head for Central Park while snow still on ground and it was booteeful as always

The thing you need to remember about NYC is wind chill, it can be biting. Still sickly which makes it that much harder to get temperature right. Some cars were going to have fun getting out this morning and interesting to see the impact of Trumps cutbacks on the police force

The Hotel Beacon is an impressive building from all angles and being in a corner studio on 22nd floor gives great views

The Daily Show at 3 pm today so may be time to make up for that alcohol free day yesterday not that I can taste much of course. It would be better if still worked as could feel I could just relax for a few hrs and do nothing but as that is the norm back home seems kinda pointless here 😏

Got my weekly metro card and then hopped on the 1,2,3 (I forget which) which is very close at 72 nd street and went to Times Square for no real reason. Had a walk around, remembered why I don’t come here, and headed back home. The only real trick with subway, as easy as may sound, is remember if going uptown or downtown! Dropped into Amsterdam Ale House for a quenching Ale and a bite to eat and then will rest up for a couple of hours as ankle not good at all. Made sure I didn’t break any laws in the pub either 😏

Headed off a bit early for the 25 min walk which turned out to be 40 mins, thanks Google. Still was first to line up even though it was 4 pm which was advertised time for “guaranteed seat”. Slowly people turned up but we still stood outside for 90 mins. Then we moved inside, went through security, and stood for another 30 mins. Finally seated in full studio by 6 pm which was same timeframe from Jon Stewart show. Then we sat for 45 bloody mins with head splitting music playing. Still sick, overdressed warm wise for hike home and sitting between 2 big men. Not fun. Finally stand up comedian came out and he was very good. Pretty well straight after Trevor started and also very good. No exciting guest but a great show. Then the 40 min walk home in freezing weather. It was a great 45 mins of entertainment but the other 4 hrs wasn’t . I need sleep

And when it comes to cold its the “real feel” u need to look at. Trust your Uncle Flashy

WFW – Day 9 . The Joys of Travel

Posted: February 13, 2019 in Travel

Rough nights sleep with cold and noise of planes. Also a hopeless AC in room that kicked in every now and again with full blast in your face and in between room was warm. Still only had to get through to 0530 and then off to QC club at TBIT and a relaxing flight in PE to JFK. Or so you would think

As always a quick check on Qantas app to see all ok. Flight is on time…..What the fuck. It’s a 0900 AA flight in economy! QF 11 just cancelled no idea why. Some snow in NYC but AA are flying at present. I carry my Aussie Sim in old iPhone as some messages still set up with that number. Sure enough a message from Qantas but basically only saying ‘ flight chnaged’ check online. So quickly have to accept the hand dealt and quickly choose a seat, check in and see if earlier flight . Not ideal at 6 am in morning with cold and no glasses. All full, you can go on standby and your luggage will go on 7 am flight, which is full, even if u don’t ! Ah no thanks that has disaster written all over it. Breathe Breathe. Settle into Admirals Club and at this stage just hope we get to NYC. Main issue with economy is still being sick. It’s a 5.5 hr flight

So flight left on time and had decided to upgrade , for nix, to exit row in AC and seriously had the most room ever. Pretty good flight. We picked up 20 mins and then sat on tarmac for 21 mins😏 . Very basic snacks and no grog – not a bad thing – so all in all not that bad but be chasing down Qantass for my credits and eligible flight to maintain Silver FF Status. (There was a muffin top though) Not for Qantass mind you but the Ruby OW status which has been a god send this trip. Oh, and The Irwins were on the flight. Walking past arrivals info and you would think QF 11 had landed!

The flat rate $52 taxi fare to Manhattan is good deal but soon adds up with tolls,surcharges and tips so hand over $80 and walk away. Treacherous road conditions, he did well. Check in smooth enough and do have my “deluxe corner king studio above 18th floor” as booked so very happy. Will be interesting to compare a hotel stay to usual apartment one. Think worse aspect will be laundary

Amazingly that is 3 flights in a row either cancelled or significantly delayed . Yes all worked out ok in end but a lot of stress and quick action required. Plan now is to start holiday again, in Winter, as no flights for two weeks! Just need NYC weather to co operate. Miserable at present after snow so just slush now. Supposed to improve over coming days .

Just hope I do