Eddie the Senior Breakfast Chef at the Vivre restaurant at the Sofitel is a bit of a star. It was his 30th wedding anniversary yesterday. He went to the Ivy in Maidenhead (or similar) with his wife. He has been at the Sofitel since it opened. 2006 or thereabouts. I’m sure they appreciate him. He livened up breakfast.
Now we are packed and chillin in the room. We have 5 hours before we take off. Better to be far too early and have no stress than to worry about whether the trains will run etc. Although I am on holiday and the out of office message is on I still have a bit of stuff to do but it will wait until the lounge.
I am wearing jeans but have packed some shorts in my carry on. It will be 22℃ when we land in New York City. Currently at LHR it is 10℃. I’ve also swapped a jacket for a fleece which will be more comfortable on the plane.
Quite excited about going on our travels again. This one has been a year in the planning. I’m in two minds about long haul travel. One the one hand it takes you to parts of the world that are different to your normal experience of life. On the other hand the concept of sitting in a tin can for a day and stepping out somewhere 5,000 miles away does feel strange. Unnatural. Certainly not environmentally friendly.
I could get used to the idea of slow travel. Not leaving the ground. The problem with this is both time and money. For example we are flying to Florence in October for a few nights away. I can’t remember exactly how much it costs but lets say £200 return each. £400 in business class. It’s a 2 hour flight.
To go overland would be at least a two day drive with a couple of hotel stays and a ferry plus a few hundred quid in fuel. Or a train I suppose but that would probably also be a couple of days. Anyway. Woteva. Next September we are planning a month-long road trip to the South of France. The beginning of our slow travels perhaps.
Back to today if you are in NYC this week we might get a chance to say hello.
The downsides of sitting in a Business Class Lounge is that you get to hear someone discussing a presentation. You can’t see the slides or hear the other person so it is slightly annoying. He is discussing the sterling crisis. Fortunately it doesn’t sound as if they have much exposure to sterling!
The upside is that the Lounges is at B Gates and is 100m or so from our own departure gate. What’s not to like?
A state that exists when you have not yet connected to the BA onboard wifi. This state will continue until that point in time when I have become bored with everything on offer offline. Currently I am listening to my fave playlist but I also have 15 BBC 4 programmes downloaded onto iPlayer.
There is absolutely nothing I want to watch on the inflight entertainment which is understandably geared to offer popular stuff favoured by the masses. Not my thang.
The new touchscreen interactive map is v good. You can zoom in and out by using your fingers. We think of this as part of our every day electronic device experience but airline technology is v slow to catch up.
My travelling companion has closed the shutter between us. You aren’t exactly close to each other in these seats anyway. Long haul airline business class travel is not a very sociable mode of transport. People climb into their cocoons. Hunker down into survival mode. I am content. A large tanqueray and slimline tonic has been ordered and my food choices already made.
There is no hurry for the food although it would be good if the Tanqueray arrived soon. Only 12 of us in this cabin so it will be quick enough coming.
Currently we are above Milford Haven (waves to @Nat Morris) and headed for Cork and the Dingle Peninsula. Out of the port window we should be able to see Padstow but I am not sat at a window. I’ve never been to Cork or Dingle. Will have to rectify that once our days of slow travel arrive. Bed and breakfast tour of Ireland methinks. Maybe with an occasional campervan night thrown in?
Next summer I have a week in one of the vans at the National Eisteddfod planned. Pwllheli. Will be like being back in my student days. I watched the highlights of this year’s Eisteddfod and was amazed at how many people I actually knew. Lots of folk I was at University with.
The Eisteddfod weeks are very boozy affairs. Nothing seems to have changed there. As a student we would go out to the pub every night. If you weren’t in by 7pm you probably wouldn’t get a seat. Times have changed. Kids don’t go out until much later these days. We would occasionally have a Sunday or Monday night in just as a firebreak. Not often mind.
Sunday night was typically a trip to the cinema to watch a movie and then a visit to theTaj Mahal in Upper Bangor for a curry. It was a laddish thing to do. The pubs weren’t open on a Sunday in Bangor in those days. If you wanted a beer it was either a private club (students union, British Legion etc) or a restaurant. Or you could head a few miles up the coast to Llanfairfech which had a different council and wickedly allowed the consumption of alcohol on the Sabbath.
I’ve downed the G&T and am now onto champagne. The T was flat and the ratio of G to T was inadequate. I moved on rather than trying to get the mix right. Pouring a large, fair play, glass of champagne is easy to get right.
I’m having some sort of avocado and edamame salad. Not totes sure what edamame is but I will find out soon enough. I think I’ve had it before. I didn’t bother to ask. My main is chicken Tikka Masala. I read a review on headforpoints or the pointsguy that it was the best CTM they had tasted on an aeroplane. I’ll soon find out. It will be my last curry for a few weeks. Not worth having one in the USA. Mexican yes, lobster in New England yes, burgers and steaks even. Curry no.
The attendant said she would keep an eye on the level of the champagne in my glass. Makesalorrasense. I assume I will have a kip on this flight even though it is only 7 ½ hours or so. A few sherberts, a bit of scram and then nod off. ‘Tis the way of things.
Food is on its way. It has made it to seat 5A which is the front left of the J cabin. That is only three rows in front of me. The smell of lunch has begun to permeate the aircraft. Looks to me like they are delivering all courses at the same time on the same tray. As long as my CTM doesn’t go cold.
Papa was a rollin’ stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home. Not talking about my own dad. It’s in my headphones. My dad did have a cap or two but no hat. He was a good dad. I am proud to be his son. He died a year and a bit ago. Just thinking about this makes me a tad melancholy. It is as it should be.
Dad was a victim of covid. Covid didn’t kill him but the isolation he had to suffer in his care home did. His death certificate mentioned a few causes of death that included “old age”. This was true. He needed to be in a care home because we couldn’t cater for his needs which were 24 x 7 availability of someone to help.
It didn’t feel great seeing him go into the home, especially as it was something he had fought against but we had no choice really. When he was there, on the rare occasions we were able to visit, I understood his reticence. Mam and dad both said that old age was a terrible thing.
It is. I’m not sure it informs our own life decisions but we certainly try cramming in as much as we can. Witness this trip to the East coast of the USA. following that we have Florence and Paris in rapid succession. Gottabedone. I’m not available for Thursday evening golf for a few weeks by which time the season will be over.
I have finished dinner and am now onto the last dregs of the white wine. The tray is sitting on top of the compartment that has the gadget in that allows you to call the attendant for a refill. I see someone patrolling the other aisle offering refills. I daresay she will make it around to this side. I also feel a cognac would be appropriate. See what they got.
We should hopefully arrive at the hotel in New York by 8pm. 9 at the latest. We then need to head out into the city to avoid going to bed too early., I get really bad jet lag regardless of the direction of travel. Staying up late on the first night is just one of those things you have to do. Maybs have a beer or a cocktail.
I recall one trip when I ended up at an airport hotel in Phoenix Az. Hilton Garden Inn or simlar. I decided to head to the bar and after some deliberation to order a cheeseburger. I was too tired to speak Americun so my interaction with the waitress was somewhat limited. She asked me what sort of cheese I wanted. The choices were Swiass, chuddur or Americun. Not really recognising any of the cheeses on offer I asked her to recommend one and her response was that if I wanted real cheese she would go for chuddur. I realised some time later that she was talking about cheddar.
There is a definite knack to speaking Amuricun. I’ve travelled a lot in the States and am fairly fluent. It includes using phrases such as “could I get a” with the relevant lilt in accent instead of “I’d like”. It isn’t worth fighting it. There will be many other phrases in use that do not presently spring to mind but into which I will lapse at the appropriate times. It is the way of things.
A cognac has arrived. It is good. The stewardess went forward to first class to source it and it has been served in a nice piece of cut glass. I have a champagne from Club to chase it down. This is not in the same league as the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle dished out up front but still acceptable.
John and I flew to St Lucia British Airways First class a few years ago. The destination choice was influenced by the fact that at 19 years old he would not have been allowed alcohol in California which had been the first mooted port of call. On the plane John observed that he wasn’t sure whether he liked champagne. Upon being informed that this stuff retailed at £140 a bottle he didn’t object whenever the attendant passed by and topped up his glass. He knocked back at least a bottle. The attendant was complicit in the plan. She had been informed of the dad and lad nature of the trip.
The next dad and lad trip is with Joe to NOLA and Havana in January. BA First Class. Seems fair. We finish off with two nights in Miami where hopefully Joe will have his Global Entry interview. Just like Irish passports and passing their driving test it is one of the things you do for your kids.
Anne doesn’t have Global Entry. This does create a dilemma when traversing US immigration. It just doesn’t make sense for both of us to stand in line unnecessarily when I could be in the baggage reclaim area picking up the suitcases. Two years ago when we landed in SFO I waited two hours for Anne to get through passport control. Apparently the weekend before it had taken 6 hours. We were fortunate that we didn’t have several flights arrive from China at the same time. Our friend Jackie, from Middlesbrough, who was picking us up from the airport had to wait patiently outside arrivals.
I’m hoping it won’t be the same at JFK (it wasn’t – we both breezed through). We arrive at Terminal 7 which is predominantly BA and I don’t think there will be the same congestion (fingers crossed). Also we are in Club Class so will be off first. First Class passengers have to walk through our cabin to get off. We were in first in SFO and that didn’t seem to make any difference but we shall see this time.
Once I flew to Istanbul as a guest of Hewlett Packard to participate in their CIO Council. V high end shindig. I was in economy but HP had paid 50 Euros or simlar for fast track through immigration. It was the best 50 Euros ever spent. A bloke met me off the plane with my name on a piece of card and I hopped on a golf cart that took me past several hundred queueing worthies to the front of passport control where someone stamped my passport and I was through.
Some time later I was just stepping into the shower at the Sheraton Hotel when the phone rang. It was a HP sales guy on the same flight saying he was looking around arrivals but couldn’t see me. HP hadn’t spent the same money on him. Hey…
That was a hell of a few days. We had dinner in the Topkapi Palace, notionally the best restaurant in Istanbul, and there are a lot of them. Armed guards in evidence as you walked through the gates. Only problem is it was classic Turkish fare. I decided this wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’m not complaining., It was a privilege to be there.
The next night, after a full-on day of meetings, we went on a Bosphorus dinner cruise and were dropped off at an outdoor night club where, in the VIP area, we consumed bucketloads of chilled Grey Goose vodka and Red Bull. That club was the scenario of a terrorist bombing a couple or three years later…
I left at 1.30am and caught a cab home. I had an early start the next day. Early flight back to London to have lunch with a journalist. As I was checking out some of the party goers from the previous night were just arriving back at the hotel. One of them was on the same flight. I’ve never seen anyone looking so much like death warmed up on the plane.
When I got back to London the journalist didn’t show. When I rang him he said he was in Norfolk and had gone away for the weekend. I never bothered with him again. Unprofessional arsehole. Can’t even remember his name now.
I’m still going strong on the champagne and brandy. I’ll need a refill soon. Either you fall asleep or have to keep going. I am currently opting for the latter. We still have 5 ½ hours to go before we get there.
A refill is in hand. Same source. First class brandy is much nicer than the stuff they dish out in Club. Fair play. Result.
Another refill. Been watching a programme on sheep gathering in the Lake District. Third time I’ve watched it. Compulsive viewing.
Been a bit of a whirlwind few days in NYC. So far so good. In chronological order we’ve done the subway, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Central Park, Broadway, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Macys, Empire State Building, MoMA and the Al Hirschfield Theatre to see Moulin Rouge.
The show was spectacular. A real work of art. We had front row seats which took me a while to decide on but you were right in the middle of the action.
We booked plinth access at the Statue of Liberty. I had no idea what this entailed but it sounded like the right thing to do. Turns out it meant you got to climb the 176 stairs to the top of the plinth/bottom of the statue. Unexpected and knackering. Contributed to my doing 62 sets of stairs that day. Worth it for the view though. There was a good view of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth which is in town for a visit. The crown of the statue is still not open to the public. A hangover from social distancing. Reopens next month you will be glad to hear.
It’s all been great. A few things have stuck in the mind. Breakfast at the Warwick Hotel was a one day experience only. V expensivo and not worth the money. The waitress had zero personality and was just going through the motions.
The bar at the hotel was good but also v expensivo at around $12 pint inc tip so really just for finishing off the night. Mind you I’m not sure how much beer was elsewhere. A little cheaper perhaps.
We have tried a few venues for market research purposes, obvs: Cassidy’s Irish Pub, The Whiskey Bar, Judge Roy Bean, Benihaha, Iron Bar, Connolly’s Irish Pub. Tonight it’s PJ Clarke’s. One of the oldest saloons in NYC apaz.
We are headed up the coast on Sunday but have changed our hotel reservation for when we get back to NYC. Cancelled this current one (Warwick) and moved it to the Midtown Hilton which is directly over the road on 6th Avenue. Same cost but double points, diamond member free breakfast and a room upgrade. Makes more sense than shelling out a hundred bucks on two avocado toasts with smoked salmon and poached egg.
Nipped out this morning and bought some croissants and pain au choc from a street kiosk. Ten bucks together with some fruit. Makes a lorra sense to me 🙂
Took us a while to figure out the subway system and we were nearly late for our booked ferry. The last ones on! Wouldn’t have mattered really but I booked the first ferry as I figured it would give us a head start on the day and the perceived wisdom was that the queues (lines) would be shorter. I suspect this was the case.
The next time we rode the subway (getting into the vernacular already) we were approached by first time tourists and I was amazingly able to help them. This is different to our experience where the first three or four people we asked did not speak English.
Having bought a subway oyster type card (can’t immediately remember the name) we of course did not use it yesterday and walked everywhere. Day one was around 17,000 steps but yesterday it was North of 20,000. Not sure exactly as my fitbit is still in UK time and something reset when the date clicked over at midnight and I’ve lost around 18,000 steps somewhere. First world problems.
Walking everywhere does come with its own challenges. The lights seemed to go against us at every crossing. I also had to look down before leaving the pavement (sidewalk) as there is a big step down and I didn’t want to go arse over tit when crossing the road. The speed of traffic in Manhattan is “dead slow”. Hardly worth taking a taxi. Fortunately the roads will be reasonably clear when we leave for the airport on Sunday morning.
Lots to get through between now and then. Stay tuned.
Hurricane Ian is wringing its spongy tail and is soaking NYC this morning. The streets of Manhattan were pretty empty when I headed out in search of milk and croissants. New Yorkers don’t appear to be early weekend risers. I understand.
The consequence of this is the absence of street vendors and the Ernst & Klein deli was still closed even though its website says it is open at 7am. I was accosted by a guy in shorts with a plastic bag over his top and sporting an umbrella. “Can I ask you a question?” No.
Yesterday I was accosted several times by young Jewish men asking me whether I was Jewish. It must have been my hat and feathers! I finally asked one of them why and got the answer “outreach”. Trying to bring more of their community into the fold. Probs.
We had another great day. Skating rink at the Rockefeller Centre and a 44 second ride to Top of the Rock. Views were spectacular and we stayed up there for at least half an hour. Figured we wouldn’t be doing it again anytime soon so we might as well take our time. It’s only 38 seconds down.
In the afternoon we met Eva, a friend of Anne’s from her time as a student in Germany and then meandered our way to PJ Clarke’s which lived up to its billing. Oysters followed by a burger with fries. Good and plentiful fries, fair play. Anne helped herself to some of mine, they were that plentiful.
All in all the trip is going well. I got 1.07 exchange rate at the ATM when I withdrew some cash which ain’t exactly great but could have been a lot worse. I’m going to tot it all up when I get home. It’s all going on the Amex which funnily enough everywhere seems to take over here.
Next up we are going to pack for an earlyish departure for JFK tomorrow morning. Coming up we have a full-on day of baseball at the Yankee Stadium followed by dinner at Mr Chows so I figured we needed to be mostly ready to go in the morning.
We will be back in New York for one more night on 10th October before we fly home. Catch ya later.
Well. New York was great. We are, however, now back to the normal unglamorous bit of travel, to whit, airline delays. I’m not too put out, yet. We had breakfast in the airport as planned and are now sitting patiently at Gate 1 JFK T5, waiting.
We have no lounge access but tbh even if we did I suspect I’d rather be at the gate to make sure we were on in a timely fashion to ensure I get my carry on in the overhead luggage compartment. I don’t like having anything under the seat in front of me as it cuts down on leg space.
We are in Row 3 Group A boarding but I don’t trust fu£$3rs with lots of carry on who stick it in the first available space up front and then proceed to their seat in row 36 or similar. Believe you me it is ridiculous how much luggage folk think is acceptable to take onboard.
I don’t even know whether airline travellers in the USA respect the boarding protocols. Does the airline even bother boarding by group
I’m using the JetBlue free wifi. Ordinarily I’d have my vpn on for a bit of security but it doesn’t work on my laptop since the certificate was changed and I’ve not got around to sorting it. Never mind. Life on the edge eh?
Next stop is Boston and thence to Rockport, Cape Ann. A different pace of life to the place we are just leaving. We have a hotel on the beach and expect to be lulled to sleep by the waves instead of the wailing sirens and horns that prevail on the streets of New York City.
We approached New York running and took to the city full on. Yesterday was the only day we registered fewer than 20,000 steps. This was partly because we spent the afternoon sat down at Yankee Stadium and partly because the rain drove us to using taxis.
Now I’m having to listen to some woman whinging to someone on her phone about her travel woes. Sorry love, I don’t care. She is telling the whole long drawn out story about how she failed to get on an earlier flight despite the fact that there were three empty seats on it.
Phew, she’s talking about something else now. Sighs with relief. Can’t stop listening to her conversation though. She has a dreary monotone voice. She’s gone now. Thank god. I note she has three carry-on bags.
Wandered over to the desk to see if there was any info on why the flight has been delayed and blow me down who’s stood in front of me? No other than our whinger. Now whinging more as the staff member has just told her the gate has changed, again. Ya gorra laugh. We have moved from Gate 1 (originally 5) to Gate 22. The plane, unsurprisingly, has not yet arrived at Gate 22 but I’m fairly confident it (probably) will as the crew looks to be hanging around the other side of the desk.
In NYC we stayed at the Warwick Hotel on West 54th. I can’t really recommend it. It’s an old hotel past its best. The three lifts were small and some people had long waits for one to arrive. Also I had to run the shower for a good ten minutes before the hot water arrived and I don’t think there was a day where we hadn’t had to call down to housekeeping because something had not been replaced: coffee cups/coffee/hair conditioner/take your pick. Also I bought a four pinter of milk to keep in the fridge without realising that the fridge didn’t work. The only real benefit of our 6th Avenue view room was that it faced the outside. I opted for this sort of room because I was under the impression we would have sweeping views of 6 avenue. In reality all you could see was the office block opposite.
We had originally booked in here for one more night on our way home but I cancelled that and booked into the Hilton Midtown, just over the road. The bar staff do merit a shoutout, especially Sammy the bartender who did a good job of looking after us whilst we were there:)
At least our plane has now arrived at the gate. Light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. Mrs whinger, who is in my line of sight but quiet, has been replaced by angry woman, bro. I can’t see here as she is directly behind me. Too much tension bro. Between Shevaun and an unnamed person.
Rockport, Cornwall, Wales.
Rocked up in Rockport. It was misty and wet when we left Manhattan. New England has a familiar Autumnal feel to it. We switched the heating on in the hotel room before heading out for the evening. The hotel is on the seafront and the balcony is not only windswept but has a magnificent backdrop of wild Atlantic rollers crashing onto the beach below. Reminds me of the Isle of Man in winter.
Rockport battens down the hatches early on a Sunday. In consequence I was tucked up in bed by 8pm. Couldn’t get into the last pub open, the Feather and Wedge. Apparently a crowd of punters just rocked up and have occupied all the bar stools. Bugger. Even that shuts at 8pm. The pursuit of filthy lucre is very much toned down here. Rockport is after all an artist’s enclave. Every other shop is an art gallery.
We found the one convenience store still open, run by some Indian folk. It’s the same the whole world over. They sold bacon, milk and bread but no beer. Breakfast is secured anyway.
Am looking forward to tomorrow. Bit of a stroll around the galleries and bookshops followed by a spin around Cape Ann. Am thinking we might cab it to Gloucester for dinner in the evening. Feels as if I’ve done the clam chowder and lobster. We made it into the Fish Shack with 15 minutes to spare. Last entry 6pm.
Quite bemusing btw to consider that the motel, Captain’s Bounty on the Beach, made a thing about the two “free” bottles of water whilst at the same time charging us over $300 a night for the room (can’t remember how much exactly). Still it is in a wonderful spot. Looks as if there are only 3 or 4 rooms taken out of around 28 or so.
Up early. Hard not to with the noise of the waves crashing onto the beach below our hotel bedroom. There is a memorial in Rockport to fishermen who lost their lives at sea. It isn’t hard to understand how that could happen here with the wild Atlantic on the doorstep.
Bacon has been cooked and eaten and to a certain extent we are now biding our time before heading out. Things don’t open particularly early in Rockport. This is our one day of “doing Cape Ann”. Tomorrow we are headed to Cape Cod stopping en route to visit Fearghas and Jezzibell.
I’m sat at the dining table looking out at the sea. Interesting to observe that this room, with a fantastic view, is cheaper than a room looking at a wall in New York 🙂 Also the shower worked straight away. There isn’t much competition for the hot water here.
We could easily spend a few more days in Rockport but time is limited and much to cram in. I’m not sure when next we will be on the East coast although having said that I am back in Miami in January.
Good morning in Gloucester.
This morning we meandered our way around the Essex heritage coastal path or some similarly named route that took us through Cape Ann suburbia. We only really caught glimpses of the coast itself until we arrived in Gloucester, the oldest harbour in the USA apaz. I can believe it. Next year Gloucester celebrates 400 years as a township. As the USA goes, that is old. v.
Gloucester itself was v pleasant other than it was cold and windy. The windy bit meant that none of the whale watching boats were sailing which didn’t really affect us as we had already figured that four hours out of the day was outside our time budget. We can revisit when we get to Boston. The whales probably really enjoy the peace they get away from tourists when it is windy.
We parked outside the Democrats Campaign HQ. This was in a former fish processing building down by the harbour. I’d stuck the car in the obvious carpark but there was no indication as to whether you needed to pay and all the cars sported some sort of sticker in the window that was clearly not a pay and display job.
I decided I needed to take advice but the first person I approached, in fact the only person in view, was an artist who had come for the day to take part in a competition. She had no idea. Neither in fact did the person in the Democrats Campaign HQ but she said we could park in their lot. Very nice of her and she was v helpful generally. I said I hoped they won 🙂
We had coffee and pastries in Sicilia’s Caff and I bought some olive oil from a specialist store over the road which offered tastings. This was good as the oil I bought was not the stuff I might have done without the tasting and I declined to buy any of the balsamic vinegar. Interestingly this shop imported oils from the northern or southern hemispheres based on the time of year. In this way they guaranteed to have the freshest oils. Currently they stock southern hemisphere product.
There was bugger all open in Rockport this morning but we are going to chance our arm there again later. There is also the Hammond Castle Museum to visit but we will assess that when the day is a little older. See how it goes.
Not that much more open this pm either but did stop in to chat at a couple of bookshops and bought some t-shirts. Popped in to the Fish Shack to discover that they are the only bar open today and they only open because the others are closed. Apparently they only allowed bars in Rockport in 2016. Wtf?! Discovered Jetty Juice. Top notch stuff. Check it out https://rockportbrewingcompany.com/
Rockport is v quaint but has a lot to learn in respect of milking the tourist buck. Many of the stores close for the winter. Picked up an end of season sale t-shirt for a tenner. Not 100% cotton but it was only ten bucks for goodness sake.
On the way back to the motel passed the nice lady from Bullseye Books-Flyboys. She recognised me from earlier and smiled nicely. People are nice innit.
Darkness has descended on Rockport. No spectacular sunset tonight. We feel robbed. In Room 32 preparations are underway for dinner. Salad is being sorted and then the decks will be cleared for me to sort the scallops with bacon and garlic butter and then the steaks. We like to eat well.
Farewell Rockport Farewell.
We enjoyed our time as your guests. We enjoyed the Fish Shack bar and restaurant and popping into the small shops that lined your streets, when they were open. I enjoyed discovering the local beer and we enjoyed our meal in our room on our last night as a change to constantly eating out 🙂
The weather was affected by Hurricane Ian further to the south but it didn’t really affect the quality of the experience, much.
I leave you with four more t-shirts that I had when we arrived plus a woollen beanie made in Nepal, purchased in the shop I called “the old people’s shop” but still went in anyway.
In the harbour we enjoyed our chat with the lobster fisherman who was packing away his pots for the season. Although lobsters only fetched $5 to the lb this season down from $8 last year he didn’t appear to have done too badly out of it looking at the size and newness of his truck. Lobsters, we are told, have been plentiful this year. A testament to conservation work done in the area. Apaz.
Mine, consumed at the Fish Shack on our first night, was very nice.
Farewell Rockport Farewell.
Sunrise Room, Lands End Inn, Provincetown.
We arrived at the Lands End Inn during a bit of a storm. Hurricane Ian still tail wagging. The views are terrific and we have a couple of large windows and a private balcony looking out onto the Harbour and Cape Cod Bay. Well they are normally terrific. Today the rain is lashing down and the balcony is unusable. Unfortunately the forecast for tomorrow is worse. Reminds us of Summer holidays in North Wales.
Our spirits are not dampened. For the moment we are sat in our wonderful room watching Liverpool v Rangers in the European Cup. The free wine gets dispensed at 5pm and we hopefully have a booking at The Red Inn restaurant for 6.30. I say hopefully because when Peter on reception called them to book the computer system at the other end was “down”.
The Red Inn was recommended on the basis that it was close. Walking into town is not really what we want to do on such a wild evening. We can see the inn from the balcony and it is one of the best restaurants in Provincetown. Their website says President Theodore and Mrs. Roosevelt stayed in The Inn when they travelled to Provincetown to lay the cornerstone for the Provincetown Monument. I daresay we will visit the monument tomorrow so we will be following in their footsteps in more ways than one.
Woke up this morning with low battery on both laptop and phone. The dearth of convenient electric sockets seems to have been a feature of our trip. There is one on a lead at the side of my bed but it doesn’t work and every other one already has something plugged in. Except the one next to the sink in the bathroom! And I’ve had to prop the laptop charger up with a tube of toothpaste as otherwise the weight of the power supply pulls the plug out of the socket.
I’ve adopted a technique for this trip of charging the phone overnight with the battery pack and then leaving the battery to charge somewhere during the day. Last night I plugged it into the socket but only realised that wasn’t working when I got up. Niver mind.
I’m not really complaining. All the hotels we have stayed in have been old buildings with an element of quirkiness. This particular one, The Lands End Inn, is by far the best we will be staying in on this trip. Better even than the Sofitel in T5 which is v good but of a formula. The Lands End Inn is like a home from home. Very comfortable and very welcoming and also with great views over Cape Cod Bay.
In other news I lost a small chunk of tooth filling last night. Worra nuisance. It isn’t giving me any gyp but will need sorting when I get back. Problem is the 3 month wait time for a slot at the dentist.
Anyway today we are “doing” Provincetown. We are nobbut a short walk from the beach at which the Mayflower pilgrims waded ashore to build sandcastles. Must have been a bit of a relief after 62 days on board a cramped ship. Just picture the arguments when they discovered that Boston had an airport which would have knocked 61 ⅔ days off their travel time. Would not have offered such a dramatic backdrop to what was after all a very historic moment.
They would not, I’m sure, have wanted discussions on who got window or aisle seats or speculations on the time it takes to get through customs to have distracted from the main purpose of the visit which was to get freedom of religious expression.
After the beach we plan to stroll into town along Commercial Street and take in the monument and museum. From the tripadvisor comments it seems that the museum is all about the efforts to build the monument which seems a bit odd but maybe I’m wrong. We will find out soon enough.
Turns out the reason the pilgrims didn’t stick around Provincetown very long was the absence of water. Nowadays it is shipped in from somewhere along the coast, apaz. The waitress did tell us where but I’ve had a couple of cocktails and a bottle of red since then and can’t quite remember the details.
Will report back
The museum turned out to be v interesting fair play. Didn’t bother going up the monument. You could hardly see the top of it from the base so we would not have had any sort of view from up there which is the whole point of going up. Nice little ride in the funicular to get there though. Bought a copy of Mourt’s Relation at the museum. Be an interesting read.
Purchaysed a few souvenirs along the route there including a couple of vintage American car number plates, an NYPD lapel badge, a bottle opener that was a surf board with a shark bite in it and the Japanese Emperor’s Imperial flag. I also wanted to buy the flag of Kazakhstan but they were out of stock and wouldn’t sell me the one on display. Huh! Finally dropped into a Hawaiian shirt shop and got a couple of bangers in the sale for $20 each.
Provincetown is a funky spot and unlike Rockport where the one bar closed at 8pm the local joints here are good until at least 1am. Not that we will be up that late. We have a cab picking us up at 6 (free drinks at the Lands End Inn from 5pm) and bringing us back at 10. Much later than that I turn into a glass slipper, or a pumpkin or similar. It is nearly Halloween after all.
Back at the Inn now having run up 10k steps so to speak. The place is a haven after doing the touristy thing. In fact this whole holiday has settled into a pattern. We do the sightseeing in the morning until sometime after lunch and then return to chill out a bit before heading out on the razzle. Half thinking of donning one of my new shirts tonight but it ain’t exactly Hawaiian weather.
The cab journey into town is only about a mile and you might think it’s a bit wussy to not walk. However the weather is still crap and the taxi will be used to taking people on short trips. I was chatting to the guy behind the desk at the museum and mentioned we’d walked. His response was “wow you guys have had an energetic day”.
Today btw is Yom Kippur. Some shops had closed for it. Fortunately other shops were available.
Had a great last night out in Provincetown. Bit of a pub crawl. Can’t remember all their names but one of them was called Heaven (big LGBT place is PT) and we ate at the Lobster Pot. In fact just looked at my FB timeline and I see that one was called Tin Pan Alley and Anne tells me we started off at the Governor Bradford.
Provincetown was fun despite the weather but we are unlikely to return. It isn’t exactly on the way anywhere. We got away in a reasonably timely manner at 8.15 ish and hit the road for Plimoth Patuxet, the Pilgrims settlement museum. Upon arrival the sun came out vindicating my choice of short trousers.
We were slightly disappointed to discover that the Mayflower II is not at the same location as the Plimoth Museum and weren’t sure that we would have enough time to see the ship as we needed to get the car back to Avis by 2pm. We remedied this by not dawdling too much and bought ourselves an hour or so for the Mayflower. Was pretty amazing to see the space that 102 pilgrims crammed into, including their animals up at the bow.
It was really well worth doing. Both museums were actually interesting. The onward drive to Boston was characterised by the arrival of “fall” in the trees lining the roads. Didn’t get any pics as I was driving but we have at least now seen some of the famed colours.
Today we are walking the Freedom Trail. The 16 historical spots that define the American casting off of the shackles of British oppression. Our hotel is smack in the middle of it all. To some extent it feels surreal coming here as a tourist. Our room is on the 8th floor. I can almost imagine looking down out of the hotel window and watching the fighting on the streets below. Redcoats v patriots. I imagine the doormen would stop any of it coming into the actual hotel. The comfort of the guests is a priority 🙂
Reminds me of the night of the Eagles concert in Hyde Park where 80,000 gig goers streamed out afterwards. We only had to stroll over the road to the Park Lane Hilton where only residents were being allowed entry.
Just a few nights left on our East Coast odyssey. Still loads to cram in and we don’t actually get home until next Thursday but I do sense that a quiet week in front of the fire will be in order.
Knackered. Traipsed around the Freedom Trail and now back in the hotel injecting sugar in the form of an M&M Cookie and caffeine in a milky coffee. I’m not going to describe the full five and a half hours but there are a few observations worthy of note.
You start off in Boston Common. A drone’s eye view would have shown many guided tours that were able to keep apart thanks to the many wide lanes criss-crossing the former cattle grazing ground. By attraction number four, the Granary Burial Ground the guided tours began to collide and clog up the pathways. Some notable graves were impossible to view as they were surrounded by groups huddled around their respective guide. The cemetery needs a traffic management protocol.
There were times when we strode ahead of a tour thinking that once we were in the clear we would no longer be troubled by them. This worked until we got to the memorial for Benjamin Franklin where we had sat down for a breather and to check WhatsApp etc. Before we knew it a group had caught us up. This particular guide had a very irritating high pitched nasal whine. I’d have been somewhat annoyed had I elected to go on her particular tour. Couldn’t have stuck that noise the whole way around.
We took a moment or two to find the next attraction, the Old Corner Bookstore. This was because it is no longer a bookstore but a Mexican restaurant. Fair enough. Many of the attractions had a $15 admission fee. We skipped going inside these. If we’d paid $30 for the two of us for every one of these places it would not have been a cheap day out.
As it was the $15 (inc tip) I paid for some bland mexican wrap in the Quincy Market was an unmemorable experience but at least it gave us the opportunity to sit down and recharge the batteries.
Many of the tours stopped at Faneuil Hall although we did see one or two make it as far as Paul Revere’s gaff. I suspect the average tourist and one or two of the guides might have struggled to make it the whole way around. Near to Paul Revere are lots of nice looking Italian Restaurants including Mamma Maria’s which I had booked for dinner on Sunday but since decided against as it looked a bit too posh for what we will want. More lobster than lasagna.
We did buy some nice looking Italian bread in a deli styled as the best Italian Grocery in Boston. We have picnic stuff in the fridge in our room and much prefer to make our own sandwiches rather than buy them. You can’t buy a small sandwich in the USA.
The hike across the river to Charlestown tested the dedication of the most fervent Freedom Trailer. This was especially true for the bridge which was having some work done to it and the crossing of which involved risking life and limb across a busy junction unaided by walk/don’t walk lights.
Towards the end we decided to skip Bunkers Hill and the site of the first battle of the revolution heading instead straight for the USS Constitution. Old Ironsides as she is known. The Bunkers Hill monument was a step too far. I doubt many make it up the hill.
So there ya go. We enjoyed the day out and caught the boat back to the wharf near our hotel whereupon we indulged in the aforementioned refreshments. Now relaxing in our room before deciding which bar to hit. No rush.
Unless you have the stamina to visit all the museums it only takes two or three hours to “do” Harvard. We went to the Peabody Museum and the Natural History Museum, both of which were in the same building. Although not huge displays the displays were very high quality and I particularly noted the meteorites. Not sure I’ve seen a meteorite before. Anne had visited here with her folks in 1969 and the crystal exhibits she had distinct memories of were thrillingly still on display.
We found coffee and ice cream at J.P. Licky’s and then sat in the sun for a while watching a chinese busker set up and start to play. His quite competent guitar playing was not really matched by his singing voice but he was entertaining enough and a few people threw in a few dollars.
We were meeting our friends Ren and Joe at Wusong Road tiki bar at 5pm and at 4pm spotted that the sun was already over a handily situated yardarm so repaired to Whitney’s for a couple before the party started. I’m a great believer that towns and cities need to be experienced through their pubs.
Nice chat with the bartender, Baptiste and purchaysed a pub t-shirt to add to my collection from this trip. Baptiste was very familiar with the IoM TT Races which was quite cool. The rest of the day is a bit of a cocktail induced blur that ended up at a packed out Mr Dooleys and watching game 2 of the Padres v Mets in the hotel bar. Mets won 3 – 7. @Huw Rees won’t be happy. Still one game to go 😉
Thus far I’ll be leaving some good reviews of some of the places we’ve been on this trip but especially of Whitneys and our particular hotel, the Hilton Downtown Faneuil Hall. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the breakfasts here but the stand out experience has been at the concierge desk. Lead Concierge John not only remembered my name, inc spelling, but was able to get us in to the fully booked Union Oyster House tonight and sorted us out for breakfast today at the North Street Grille.
Had we not booked a table in advance the wait would have been at least an hour.
Last night in Boston and our penultimate in the US of A. An action packed trip. We are currently relaxing in the room before heading out to dine at the oldest restaurant in the USA. Predates the American Revolution. Gosh. Gottabedone. We will also no doubt be visiting Mr Dooley for one last beer or two.
We have an easy enough start tomorrow. 11.11 Acela train from Boston to Pennsylvania Station arr 14.51. Gotta nip out and buy some nosh for the journey beforehand. There is a 711 somewhere nearby. If we get upgraded to first then they dish up food on the train.
They have a bidding system so I’ve stuck a medium chance bid in. Tbh the reviews on the difference between “business class” and “first class” on the Acela suggest there isn’t much in it which is why I didn’t bother going for first from the get go. Just free food and drink and lounge access at Boston station. Quite like doing picnics. The food on board is probably pretty mediocre anyway. 711 is unlikely to produce anything decent though.
Cab to Hilton Midtown. Plan is to meet John Bradley for beers then head to Birdland jazz club. Although I don’t have a bucket list, Birdland is on it.
Now working my way through the last three bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the fridge.
I stay in a lot of Hiltons. Two things made the Hilton Boston Downtown Faneuil Hall stand out.
First of all, the breakfasts were exceptionally good. It was helped by being A La Carte instead of a buffet but it was so good that we unusually had breakfast for three out of our four nights at the hotel.
Second was the outstanding service provided by Lead Concierge John. He got us tables at restaurants that were notionally fully booked including the Union Oyster House and North Street Grille. At the Oyster house people were being told that there would be at least an hour’s wait but we were straight in and at our table in a matter of seconds.
The North Street Grille had a similar waiting time – for breakfast! At the latter I mentioned that the table had been booked for us by John at the Hilton. The response was “John is great”.
He needs to be called out for his exceptional customer service. He even remembered my name including the spelling the second time we spoke.
Sung to the tune of Chattanooga Choochoo – revision of lyrics based on Tref & Anne visit to USA and ride on Amtrak Acela train between Boston Back Bay and Penn Station New York.
Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer, than to have your bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast with a cup of tea in Carolina.
Train stopped because the bridge ahead was open.
So a bit of a palava getting to New York today. 1st of all, the Acela train was over an hour late. We stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere while the mechanic or someone was called “ASAP”. Then we find we can move but we’d only allow to go a maximum of 125 miles an hour which I didn’t think it went faster than that anyway.
Interestingly when we got to Penn station it was a lot easier than I thought. We went out onto 7th Avenue and I asked someone who looked like a traffic manager or something was there a taxi line and where would it be. She just shouted taxi and a taxi stopped and in we got.
We get to the hotel and there is a massive queue. I look around for a Hilton Honors check in place. There isn’t one. I checked in online and got a digital key except I didn’t. The room wasn’t ready. I would get the digital key when the room was ready. Then I went to see the bellman and he took a look at my room and points out “you’re on the 39 floor they’ve got their own separate check in place” there. Ahah I think. Now we’re talking. We go to floor 37.
There was no queue at all at the check in on the 37 floor but it was also the wrong check in desk. It was for a timeshare. She sent us back down to the ground floor.
I couldn’t face the queue and then I thought hang on a minute we’ve already checked in. We might as well to sit in the bar and have a beer. So I ordered a beer and moment the bloody beer came the key for the room arrived so it was neck that and off we went.
Those last few paragraphs were written by voice dictation. Although I did some hand editing I couldn’t be bothered making it flow.
The brain is somewhat dulled this morning. We are relaxing in the relative calm of our 39th floor hotel room with a partial view of Central Park where we plan on repairing for lunch in a short while.
There is otherwise no urge to further explore the frenzy that is Manhattan. Our time in the USA is almost at an end and a gentle day is called for after the manic, full on two weeks that have just raced by.
Last night we met globe trotting rugby player John Bradley in Copper John’s on West 54th before heading over to Birdland. John didn’t have a ticket but we blagged a spot for him – result! I did buy a t-shirt 🙂 I’m going to wear it tomorrow night at the Royal Albert Hall. Along with my red chinese jacket.
Lag of jet
Birrovadozyafternoon. Intheroom. Readyearlyforthegig. PinkMartiniattheRoyalAlbertHall. Weneedtobethereearlyishtopickupticketsfromtheboxoffice. Doorsopenforusat6pm.