A Travellerspoint blog

The road trip begins....Off to Vegas leg one

overcast 17 °C

How was my trip..?

How was my trip..?

Oh what a day. Hopped a cab and drove into LA to the next Avis office. The weather is ok but the smog is awful. The driver coming into the city yesterday said something about mist off the sea......sure.

Nice guy at the office wanted to talk cricket, naturally he's from Sri Lanka so I obliged him. Because of the stuff up he upgraded our car to a Jeep which was good of him.

Finding the Avis office was one thing.....finding the car was another challenge

Finding the Avis office was one thing.....finding the car was another challenge

Eventually found the car in the back of the parking lot.

The Jeep that will take us safely on our road trip

The Jeep that will take us safely on our road trip

I have been dreading this part of the holiday. The challenge of driving on the wrong side of the road, finding our way around the freeways and keeping to the speed limit with Mandy watching me like a hawk. The GPS is under the command of Mandy and our first problem is that we can't understand what it is telling us. Need to fix that. Miles to Km also will help.

Our first stop is to Hollywood Boulevard to look at the walk of stars and see if we can view the Hollywood sign through the smog; sorry mist.

Mandy goes to Hollywood

Mandy goes to Hollywood

Tony has to figure out the parking meters first

Tony has to figure out the parking meters first

This is certainly a seedier side of town and probably up there with the worst area that we've seen so far. Maybe Dallas downtown was as bad. Clearly it is a tourist mecca and this brings in the problems. Still have to visit it to say we've been there.

The chinese theatre

The chinese theatre

More Hollywood

More Hollywood

And still more Hollywood. The area has more closed shops and sex outlets than anything decent. Not sure whether this is where they still hold the Academy Awards, I suspect it is held elsewhere now. Every street corner and invariably in between, people are trying to sell us tours of one thing or another.

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I had seen people taking photos of a vacant block of land and thought WTF. Could only be investors or there is something else to see. I was right on the 2nd count.

The icon found through the fog.....mist.

The icon found through the fog.....mist.

Need Mandy for the photo shot.

Mandy after her arrest. Oh look there's Hollywood behind her.

Mandy after her arrest. Oh look there's Hollywood behind her.

Right, done the tourist thing off on our road trip. I can't delay any longer my fear of driving a different vehicle, on the other side of the road and along a web of freeways. Just to make it interesting everyone is travelling at the speed of light.

Look Mandy both hands on the wheel......

Look Mandy both hands on the wheel......

Getting out of LA

Getting out of LA

I won't even begin to outline the problems with driving out of LA. Needless to say we took many a wrong turn, heard the bitch on the GPS (no not you darling) say recalculating too often and ...........drove on the wrong side twice. Driving should not be this stressful.

Finally go onto the right freeway and heading in the right direction to Las Vegas.

6 lane freeways are the norm as opposed to unique in the US

6 lane freeways are the norm as opposed to unique in the US

Six hours later and a short stop for a bite to eat we reached the hotel. Thank you world, we're still here. The number of semis on the road is extraordinary and it is a battle driving. Not an enjoyable task that's for sure.

So we arrived at the Venetian in Vegas and this should not be confused with the blind. This place is enormous and the amount of money spent to build the strip in Vegas is obscene. Let me tell you it's not for the rich. The amount of trailer trash in this place has to be seen to be believed.

Just the book in at reception has crowd control. The problem with these resorts is that they are open to the public and the accommodation areas only are for guests. Everyman and including his dog walks through the premises.

How was my trip..?

How was my trip..?

The venetian reception area

The venetian reception area

As an Ambassador member we were upgraded to a suite and I shit you not, you could have a party in this place. Without question this is the biggest room we've ever stayed in.

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So after sorting out our luggage it was off to explore the Vegas strip and casino. You can gamble anywhere here including on any event. Its again in my view obscene. We walked along the strip at night and the lights are something else. Every hour there is a show of some kind with fountains, fire or other crowd attraction.

We shopped at the local supermarket and had a few beers and chicken salad for dinner. An early night again for us because tomorrow it's the Grand Canyon and a late check out from here.

Posted by mandt0413 08:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

American Airlines John F Kennedy airport to Los Angeles

all seasons in one day 0 °C

We put in 2 wake up calls to make sure we were awake for our 5am limo pick up from the Intercontinental out to JFK. We lucked out and had a really nice driver that gave us some insight into the local population and areas. JFK is further out than La Guardia and we passed through quite a bit of residential areas. He was of the opinion that NY is fairly safe and as safe as most areas. In other words go where you feel comfortable, if in doubt don't.

The check in through JFK was pretty quick but security was probably the tightest that we've experienced. Getting through security took nearly 30 minutes and I shit you not, when I return to Oz we may need to get a check for radioactivity. The number of times we have been through xray. Still it's a necessity when we fly...

JFK on the way out

JFK on the way out

A mighty big airport

A mighty big airport

The American Airlines lounge (Admirals) is very basic with crappy coffee and a limit on the number of freebies. I will never complain about the Qantas Club again.

The AA Admirals Club a respite from the crowd but very basic.

The AA Admirals Club a respite from the crowd but very basic.

The flight to LAX took nearly 6 hours and it was not enjoyable. The attendants offered a cup of coffee/water on takeoff and that's the last we saw of them. Heard them lot's chatting in their cubicle which was opposite us but they never offered a snack or lunch for the rest of the flight. The movie was crap and we had no individual units at our seat. Such is holiday travel but whilst the short leg flights with American Airlines is ok, longer hauls forget it. Makes Jetstar look like a five star operation.

Arrived into LA slightly late and caught a shuttle onto our Hotel in Beverly Hills. The Crowne was clean and well located in a good part of town.

Took a long walk to stretch our legs after the flight and to look for the car rental site. I had booked this accommodation based on it's proximity to Avis so that we could walk to collect our car.

Stopped for a nice late lunch at a cafe in Beverly Hills Drive and it was great. At last found a good cup of coffee so things are beginning to look up. Walked to the Avis office to find that it had closed.......6 years ago.

No matter, we have a nice cup of coffee.

Posted by mandt0413 07:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York day 4 and wash day

The continuing search for that premier wash facility

snow -4 °C

We awoke to a very cold yet again New York morning. The temperature was still in the minus but at least it wasn't raining. From our room we could see a marathon being run and as keen on exercise that we are, we went back to bed.

Finally got out of bed at 8.30 and decided to head off uptown to find a laundry.

Uptown New York near Columbia University around 107th Street

Uptown New York near Columbia University around 107th Street

Sunday in New York is clearly not laundry day as my research had failed to see many open. Spied this little beauty and the best thing about it was that the drying units were in full use and therefore it was really nice and warm.

Broadway Bubbles.....not to be confused with Mr Bubbles

Broadway Bubbles.....not to be confused with Mr Bubbles

A really clean establishment and 2 loads later we were done. Whilst uptown it was worth visiting Central Park and low and behold it still had snow on the ground from yesterday and quite frankly it felt like more was coming. It was as cold as a mother-in-laws kiss.

Snow in Central Park

Snow in Central Park

On the way to the park we saw a game of football being played in a park in the same style as touch football only difference being this was "stop start" and in the freezing cold. This is not a means of getting your recovery rate up with running. Sooo boring. The area here is definitely more residential than around times square, very liveable and sociable.

Uptown toward Harlem

Uptown toward Harlem

Mandy's really feeling the cold

Mandy's really feeling the cold

Finished our washing and it was back via a sardine can to downtown. How is it the crowds arrived on a Sunday to fill the subway. We struck up some conversation with our neighbours. The outstanding thing that we've noticed about the yanks is how friendly they are, will talk to anyone.

Back to the hotel with our washing and then a walk around town. Off to shop again at Abercrombie and Fitch then some more specials at Macy's. Walked a few blocks to look at the sites and we passed the Rockerfella Plaza. Wow what a site. This was built in the 1930's and architecturally it was ahead of it's time. Even now it looks amazing.

What a structure

What a structure

THE ANGEL OF ROCKFELLA

THE ANGEL OF ROCKFELLA

Found a policewoman on a horse facing the buildings for over an hour doing nothing. Tony couldn't help but to ask her what she was doing, how cold she was, how long she would be there, how many hands is the horse and did she need to go to the toilet.

The horse is 17 years old and very docile. Part of 75 other units in the Manhattan area and she has been riding him so to speak for 5 years.

Facing the wrong way in my opinion but what do I know.......

Facing the wrong way in my opinion but what do I know.......

I had a drink in a local bar and then dinner overlooking 6th Avenue with the most beautiful person in the world; how lucky am I.

Miss Wonderful

Miss Wonderful

I ordered a clam chowder soup (got a ministrone), had fish and got fish. Great view and company but the food was so, so. Met a couple of Poms and lucky that Mandy was around, they were on the hunt for some meat........barking or meowing up the wrong tree here.

A couple of cougars after some cat food......

A couple of cougars after some cat food......

One last stop in Times Square and a last chance to buy some cosmetics and it was off to bed. An early start tomorrow to catch a 9am flight to LA. We have to allow at least a 2 hours drive to Kennedy and allow for delays. A 9am flight means we need to get up at 5am and get the limo at 6am.

Times Square a few blocks south

Times Square a few blocks south

Last chance buying at the pharmacy

Last chance buying at the pharmacy

Posted by mandt0413 20:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York Day 3

World Trade Centre, Statue of Lib, St Patricks Day parade and a Show

snow 30 °C

A relatively early start saw us brave the cold. An over cast sky and prediction of snow later in the day was leading us to the view that it was going to be a long day.

The subway is right out the front of our hotel so we caught it downtown to Battery Park. This park overlooks the Statue of L across the water and is near to the site of the world trade centre before it's demise. The subway is pretty good running every couple of minutes. If you know the difference between uptown and downtown, you can't go wrong. The ticket machines are a bit of a challenge but we stayed with the single trip option at $2.75 per trip. This lasts up to 3 hours and is good value depending on the distance that you ride.

Mandy in a sub at rector

Mandy in a sub at rector

The weather is getting colder by the minute and whilst it started off at -1 downtown has wind coming off the water and it's more like -4. Out of the subway and down to the 9/11 Memorial. Glad that we started early, it was 10am and the crowd was starting to form. Passed through the ever present security check, not sure why given the memorial is in open area and anyone could blow the shit out of the public areas in a subway or street. Only the yanks could think of this. There were so many NYPD police standing around and the cost must be extreme.

One of the 2 holes in the ground or Pool's as the brochure says

One of the 2 holes in the ground or Pool's as the brochure says

The 9/11 memorial opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. It consists of two pools set in the footprints of the original twin towers. The names of the nearly 3,000 victims are inscribed in bronze parapets around the pools. When its all complete there will be a museum incorporated into the site and this will chronicle the events of the day. The site still has two steel columns and part of an escalator kept as part of the museum. Like everywhere in the US donations are sought.....

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Enough morbidity for the day so off we go to play "avoid the vagrants and tour operators". So many seeking donations, hand outs and trying to get you onto a tour. The best strategy is to walk fast and look like locals. Not easy when I'm dressed for summer........

Battery Park was next on our agenda to have a closer look at the Statue and Ellis Island. Not enough time on this visit to actually go to the island and its also undergoing renovation.

The Battery Park Ferry terminal

The Battery Park Ferry terminal

Overlooking the Statue it was amazing to me as a 20 year old some 35 years ago to find out that it's actually green. Mandy wasn't so amazed; only freezing.

The lady from a distance...

The lady from a distance...

Our next stop from our to do list is the National Museum of the American Indian which is located just up from Wall Street 15 minutes from Battery Park. The museum opened in 1994 in the old US Customs House. It features all native peoples of the Americas from as far south as brazil to the Alaskian Eskimos.
Extremely interesting exhibition and really makes our Aborigines look untalented in terms of artistry. After again passing through security, remind me to get a check for radiation when I get back.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Before hitting the theatre, we had just enough time to have a look at the St Patricks Day parade. We shared this experience with about 2 million other spectators of which 1,999,998 were drunk......and it was only 1pm.

The big parade from 44th on 5th up past Central Park

The big parade from 44th on 5th up past Central Park

The parade was well spaced and this allowed traffic to cross 5th Avenue between each segment of the parade.

A good space between the groups and everyone was in green. I was in red and blue. Blue being the colour of my exposed skin.

A good space between the groups and everyone was in green. I was in red and blue. Blue being the colour of my exposed skin.

Time to head off to our Broadway show. Wicked.

I had booked the seats three months ago and selected what I thought would be memorable for Mandy. She loves live theatre and I probably hold her back as being less enthusiastic.

Front row AA overlooking the stage. Can't get better baby louie...

Front row AA overlooking the stage. Can't get better baby louie...

The cast were waving to us.....

The cast were waving to us.....

A couple of Aussies at the Oz

A couple of Aussies at the Oz

The Gershwin Theatre was in 51st street a few blocks up from our hotel. It needed to be; as we left the theatre the snow hit us and the temperature had dropped to -5 at a minimum. We initially thought it was rain but were quick to realise it was snow and getting heavier. Time to get pizza, red wine and back to our room. The locals weren't feeling a thing by this stage of St Patricks day.

And the snow begins.....

And the snow begins.....

And I thought that was dandruff on your coat......

And I thought that was dandruff on your coat......

And so ended our Day 3; what a day, a bit of culture and just a little cold.

Posted by mandt0413 19:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 2 in NY

A visit to the Empire and we're not talking Star Wars here

sunny 7 °C

An early start for one of the first lifts up the Empire State Building. Built in 1931 at a cost of over $25m ( a lot of money then). There were no queues and the yanks sure have visit down pat. First plenty of security, inspections and X-rays. Then line up to go through various lifts and floors until you get a photo. We finally reach the 86th floor and the viewing area.

We felt like sleepless in Seattle without the freezing cold. We couldn't bring ourselves to walking outside too many times so largely we stayed inside. Took a few leaps outside for photos....probably a bad turn of phrase here.

The empire from broadway

The empire from broadway

Hard to believe this was the largest building for over 50 years

Hard to believe this was the largest building for over 50 years

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The Statue of liberty from the empire

The Statue of liberty from the empire

After the token photo's and picking up postcards, t-shirts and other must haves; it was off up 5th Ave for some shopping.

Tony doing the tourist thing

Tony doing the tourist thing

The stores here are numerous but not necessarily large. That is with the exception of Macy's which is enormous both in length, width and height.

Mandy on fifth avenue

Mandy on fifth avenue

Brought some nice clothes and needed an iPad so off to Grand Central Station and the Apple Store. Purchased an iPad with retina display and had it set up by the computer geeks. Nice unit and it comes with a case which seconds as a typing pad.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

A new iPad

A new iPad

Then it was time to change hotels and move back to the Intercontinental Times Square. Pretty seamless move with the taxi but when we arrived back into Times Square the room was not the one promised. Cleared up the problem and I have to say the staff have been very good despite the problem.

The room is superb with a view on three sides down 8th Avenue. We have lucked out and this room whilst not the size of a suite, it has definitely style and is set out wonderfully. Probably the best of the rooms so far.

Our Times Square Room

Our Times Square Room

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Looking up 8th Avenue toward Central Park

Looking up 8th Avenue toward Central Park

And the other way toward Times Square

And the other way toward Times Square

It was pretty late by the time that we settled into the room so we decided on a stroll to Times Square. Everything here is busy, so our definition of a stroll differs greatly to what we are used to with the number of people on the streets. Holding hands is a challenge because it is so congested.

Times Square is one of the warmest outdoor places in this city, the amount of electricity that must be generated from the large screens just astounds me. The heat coming from them is noticeable and it's like standing in front of a couple of hundred television sets at Harvey Norman.

Times Square at dusk. Maybe it's perpetually dusk here.

Times Square at dusk. Maybe it's perpetually dusk here.

Mandy in Times Square

Mandy in Times Square

And more of Mandy in Times Square..that's her on the big screen.

And more of Mandy in Times Square..that's her on the big screen.

Posted by mandt0413 05:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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