So after leaving Canada just two days ago we are now heading west across the northern part of the USA. Arrived into Chicago yesterday and it was Windy all right. Cleveland felt like a ghost town. Pretty desolate and quiet. Had a good feed at a Mexican Restaurant (although Brooke who is from LA pointed out the food was not real mexican) was decent sized. After that we wallked back down the empty streets back to the hotel for my first room party of the tour (i missed the others). Cleveland was a pretty basic hotel, but i wasn't complaining. From Cleveland we headed west to first Toledo, then to South Bend Indiana (home of the Fighting Irish). Then we headed into Chicago itself. Chicago was a big big shock. I didn't realise just how big the city was. Had my first taste of Chicago Deep Dish pizza last night. Now I am a big fan of New York Style Pizza. With big thin slices, I really enjoy it. But deep dish, although it tasted fantastic, I just wasn't a fan. I can see why over here some people call it Pizza Pie. After that we went up to the top of the John Hancock building to the World's Highest Bar (on the 96th Floor). After a very strong Dirty Martini it was home by cab. Today i did the archetecture cruise and then explored Millenium Park and checked out chicago. Tonight I am possibly heading to the game at Wrigley Field. Not quite sure should know in a few minutes when i head down to dinner. Till next time as we head west.. Current Location: Days Inn Chicago Countries Visited: 3 US States Visited: 16 Canadian Provinces: 2
Month: September 2009
Toronto has been an awesome experience, a fantastic metropolitan city that screams liveable city. Heaps of cool sport (although id have to go to Buffalo or Boston for decent football) and what seems to be a pretty laid back lifestyle out of work hours. Spent yesterday checking out the big tourist attractions like the Rogers Dome (the new name for the Skydome) and the CN Tower, also went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and also wandered the city a bit. Today went to Niagra Falls and it was amazing!!! We went on the Maid of the Mist and i managed to get through it without panicing to much. But it was crazy getting right up to the falls with so much water hitting you from just the mist. It was crazy!!! Also did a heli flight over the falls and took a whole heap of photos (i think about 300-400 all told today). Last night though... lets just say it was VERY messy. I am not quite sure how much I drank (it was a lot) but i think once i started doing shots of vodka... all downhill from there. Had a lovely chat with Mr Porcelain and we had a great time... but he doesn't like me now that i violated him last night.... a lot. Back over the border to the USA tommorrow so the State list should increase a bit! Will probably update in Chicago in 2 days time... Catch you on the flip
So after leaving Quebec City we moved onto Montreal. Montreal was not as beautiful a city as what Quebec was, but it was still pretty cool. Being french speaking things were a little hard. It was a bit of a rough few days dealing with some personal stuff but other than that it was ok. We moved onto Toronto today and all was good. Great weather, awesome scenery today. Tonight went to the Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners game. It was pretty cool. Watched the Blue Jays lose (which seams to be a common theme in baseball games i watch). Had to buy a new laptop in Montreal as the old one crapped itself. Not sure why but its now dead to the world, so dumped it and bought a new one. Will update more tommorrow! Current Location: Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown Countries Visited: 3 US States Visited: 13 Canadian Provinces: 2
We got into Quebec city yesterday afternoon and didnt really do anything until we went into the city last night. After dinner last night (yes i ate) we headed out for a little bit. After the first bar which was pretty cool (although hard to try and get everyone to understand Aussie English), we moved onto another club that was just fantastic. Great music great atmosphere. This morning it was off to Quebec City and exploring it. But it seemed two of the guys were missing.. no one knew why but rumours were flying they had only just got back. We explored the city and saw some of the amazing french/british architecture and i was blown away by it. After coming back the story of the missing guys came out. The two of them had walked back from the Club last night and had taken them 4 hours!!
So the last time i updated it was a about half way through the day before the tour. That night had the pre tour meeting then we all ended up heading off to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. It was a good night getting to chat to people and meet everyone. Then i managed to make it back to the hotel before crashing out. However... then things went down hill. Around 2am... vomiting and lots of it. Very very bad!! So yesterday was the first day of tour. I pretty much just rested as much as possible on the bus ride to boston. Tried to being the word. In between chatting and meeting everyone it was good though. We stopped at Newport in Rhode Island. Its a very small town but very very rich. It was a great day though, sun was out, nice blue sky. I ended up just walking around rather than finding anything to eat and just explored the harbour area. From there it was 4 hours on the coach till we stopped due to traffic in Boston. We did explore a bit in the city but that was mainly done today. Everyone went off to dinner and i stayed in and relaxed, did some laundry etc and all was good. Today was a good day, Got to explore Boston and see the city. Went on board the USS Constitution and checked out a 212 years old, Capital Ship. The ship is still an Active Duty Comissioned ship and it was amazing. I then explored the city checking out some amazing architecture and did a bit of shopping (160USD later). Probably off to watch the game tonight, UT is playing Texas Tech. Current Location: Holiday Inn Express Saugaus States Visited: 11
Tuesday 15th September Woke up a bit earlier than my alarm but not by much and packed up my things and checked out. It was time to wave goodbye to a beautiful hotel. Dragging a suitcase turned a 5 min walk into about 10 mins (it was slightly uphill and the lights were against me) from the hotel to Union Station. I picked up my prepaid ticket and was then told they dont allow checked baggage to New York 🙁 There was not a single red cap in sight either so that meant I couldn't even pay someone to take my luggage for me. I ended up having to drag it round while I picked up a coffee and a danish at Au Bon Pain before finding a spot to sit down. When the train was finally called for boarding I was “randomly” screened for security. Which prompted the usual questions “so your australian” “its so expensive to get there right?” So tired of those same questions now but then again thats about all they can probably think of! Washington DC Union Station to New York City Penn Station (WAS-NYC) Amtrak Acela – Train 2158 0900/1145 Business Class Boarding: 0845 Depart: 0900 Arrive: 1155 As they don't allocate seating on this train I decided I would head to the carriage furtherest from the entrance as this is where there should be the most amount of seats as if anyone is like me, they are lazy. The decision was right as when I got up there, there was only 3 other people in the carriage. I was surprised at just how much leg room there was. I was expecting maybe just a tiny amount of leg room like onboard a flight but there was a very decent amount. The tray tables were a touch annoying as you had to pull them all the way up and they did that with a very loud noise. Seats reclined enough to make the journey comfortable. It was nice and quiet and as we pulled out of the station we quickly picked up speed. Not quite sure what speed we were at but it was quite good. I had read online that all passengers get a complimentary beverage (but this was false) so a few dollars later I had a bottle of water to keep the journey going. The train was quiet and quickly smashed through the miles. With heaps of leg room, I can see why people would take this over the DC Flight Shuttles any day. Being dropped off right in the centre of the city would certainly have its benefits. I guess its probably part of its benefits. After passing through Baltimore, Philadelphia and Newark we were soon enough in New York and it meant I was off the training and dragging my bag to find a cab rank to find the hotel. A Short, comfortable journey with plenty of leg room, no real security or check in or baggage lines. What more can you want in a trip!
After a good couple of days exploring the heavens have opened and its hard to go outside now that its raining. I braved the wet and wind this morning to go down to the intrepid museum and it was amazing. Its so mind blowing to be walking around a real aircraft carrier (retired though) and speak to people who actually served on board. I had a good chat to someone who served onboard in the 50s up on the Captains bridge. it was amazing!!! Yesterday was spent onboard the open top sightseeing buses exploring the city and that was a good 4-5 hours. Then after that it was off to the Yankees game. New Yankee Stadium was amazing and it only cost $10 for the ticket! so awesome. Tommorrow it is off to Boston so will probably update in a few days!
so after a busy day in washington dc yesterday with the Capitol Tour and also the Pentagon Tour (which was awesome by the way) i caught the train to new york this morning. I wasnt sure what tp expect but it was such a good trip. I will do up a full trip report inb the next day or so but it was awesome to be able to sit back relax without to much security (ok i did get random screened) but other than that it was great. I just relaxed and everything went well. Heaps of leg room and comfy seats meant it just passed by with ease. I did get a good chunk into my book and i enjoyed myself. I loved every mnute of it. By the time i got into new york i was relaxed and ready to do some stuff i needed to do. Tommorrow is exploration day (and hoppefully going to see the yankees). Today was just time to go and get some stuff for jacqueline who wanted some stuff from a store on 5th ave and i was gonna go down to canal st but skipped that (maybe later). tommorrow its time to hit the streets and explore. at the moment im sitting in a little bar about a block from the hotel which has free wifi... which is awesome cause i can drink beer and update my stuff... now where are my onion rings... im hungry. Current Location: Playwrights Bar - 8th & 45th - New York City States Visited: 8
Well after 2 solid days of travelling as you can see from the below posts its been good so far. Checked into the Liason Hotel last night in DC and it is AWESOME. Big King Size bed and very soft pillows, just what i needed. But my body clock is so stuffed. Its like 2pm and im tired as, although that could have something to do with being out and about all morning walking around for 6 hours. I hit up CVS and Radioshack today to get some supplies and now im good to go. Tommorrow is the big day here in DC. Pentagon and Capitol Hill tours. Probably gonna go to the White house visitors centre and also gonna go check out a place called the "Good Stuff Eatery" The place is apparently run by an Ex Top Chef Contestant. If I have time i might try and see if i can find Bens Chilli Bowl which has been recommended by so many people. Anyway im doing fine, just adjusting my body. Now there is a big Pool party upstairs and im having fun watching all the hot females walk in 😀
Saturday 12th September Woke up fairly early. I was very happy to of slept 10 hours and was hoping to get out and check out the Narita temple or the aviation museum. Unfortunately as I looked out the window... Rain. So spent most of the morning holed up inside my room as it did have a good view of one of the taxiways and got some good spotting in. Around check out time, I decided to go and try my luck at check in and see if they would let me check in, way to early. Got some weird looks from a couple I had been chatting to the night before who knew I departed at 4:30 and here I am sitting on the 11am shuttle. When I finally got around to Terminal 1 (most people get off at Terminal 2 as that is where JAL is located). The airport was much, much bigger than I expected and it felt like a small city! When I found the Skyteam area at Terminal 2 (which was a large section actually), I rocked up to an empty business elite check in, and they let me check in, no questions asked. The check in agent asked me what sort of seat I wanted so I must have been fairly early in the check in numbering. I just said I wanted a Window seat, didn't mind where. Whoever that girl was, she is awesome because she gave me Seat 10A which according to Seat Guru is like the BEST seat on the Lower Deck of the Delta 747's. Once checked in, I went up to check out the Observation Deck. I was trying to avoid the rain but it wasn't really around at that point. I did manage to get a heap of awesome photos of stuff I had never seen before, like Finnair, KLM, SAS. The rain started again so I decided to go through security and go in search of the Skyclub. From what I could see from the Observation Deck one of the lounges had a fantastic view down the active runway. Turned out it was the Skyclub near gate 21 that was the perfect spot and this is where I sat, for several hours, with a pc in front of me and the camera next to it. I managed to get even more good stuff like Aeroflot, Aeromexicana, heaps of Delta, The SQ A380, Continental and much much more. I had to change sky clubs after a little while as the gate my flight was going from, was at a different side of the terminal. Boarding time rolled around and it was a mad house at the gate. It was packed solid and there were people everywhere. This was obviously a full flight. Boarding commenced as they pre boarded Business and I made my way down the business class air bridge. Tokyo -Narita to Minneapolis St Paul (NRT-MSP) Delta/Northwest - NW 20 Boeing 747-400 1625/1320 Business Elite – Seat 10A Board: 1540 Push Back: 16:20 Take Off Roll: 16:45 Top of Decent: 1235 Touch Down: 12:57 Pre Departure drinks were offered and I had decided I would at least partially pay attention to doctors orders still, so took the Orange Juice over the beer. Amenity kits where already at the seat and Slippers and Menus were soon distributed (all went straight into my bag mind you). A very long taxi to the active and we had a very bumpy climb out. Seat belt sign was on for quite some time as there was a bit of turbulence about. Unfortunately the IFE was not working at all to begin with so for about 2 or so hours, no IFE. I was expecting a very very long flight with no IFE but it did eventually come on line. We had a very big tail wind which seemed to speed us across the pacific quite quickly. I was really happy with the seat. The Northwest World Business Class seat (now Delta Business Elite) was actually pretty comfortable. It was good to watch movies with the recline right back. Managed to get in only a couple of movies in between bumping the AVOD remote a number of times and the late starting of the system. We tracked over Alaska and Canada for the arrival into Minneapolis. We were in a holding pattern for like 15 minutes which destroyed the advantage of the Tail Wind. The reason the flight deck gave for the holding pattern. Well it seems President Obama had just landed at MSP. I had been joking earlier in the day about what would be my plane spotting catch of all time and I joked Air Force One with Obama on board. I was just joking, but now it seemed possible! We landed nicely into MSP and made our way to the gate. We arrived pretty much on time (love schedule padding) and I made a mad dash into the Security to get through asap. I made it through and was one of the first people waiting for bags. That's when I lost my timing, my bag (even though tagged “Priority” came out fairly late so I still had to then make the mad rush through the TSA screening point which took a good 20 mins. Managed to walk all the way across the airport to the gates I needed, found a good vantage point to shoot some really nice shots of AF1. As I was waiting at the gate I could see a whole heap of limos pull up to AF1... Obama was on his way out! What a score!! Got AF1 taxiing out just before boarding commenced. Minneapolis St Paul to Washington DC – Dulles International (MSP-IAD) Delta/Northwest/Compass Airlines – NW 5665 1500/1828 Embraer E175 – N635C7 Coach – Seat 5B Boarding: 1435 Push Back: 1505 Take Off Roll: 1520 Top of Descent: 1750 Touch Down: 1815. Boarding commenced with First class and elites first, then the back half of the plane, then everyone else. Again the awesome girl in Narita had gotten me a great seat. Again if you check out seat guru apparently a great seat. I wasn't expecting much on this flight. I was really about this time ready to pass out. I had my ipod ready in hand, plenty of trance and was planning on resting. We spent a good time at the gate while person after person brought in oversize suitcases. That stuff would not fly in Aus, I don't know why they let the get away with it over here in the USA. It was a full flight and as soon as everyone was set, we were off. It was a bit of a taxi to the active but since this was the first time I had ever been on an Embraer aircraft I was a little excited. The take-off was violent as it felt like he was trying to do a burn out. Up in the air quickly and climbing up, again more bumpy stuff as big cloud base but soon we were pointed towards DC. Did get offered a drink, which I took just a coke and then just tried to rest my eyes. Next thing I know we are at Top of Descent and we are heading down. Not having been in an Embraer before you can really feel the movements on descent in this thing, its crazy! We touched down on the far side of Dulles and had to taxi all the way to the B gates. Since we went to the B gates I was ecstatic, that meant one thing. MOON BUGGIES!!! The one thing that is unique to Dulles and no where else are the iconic Moon Buggies that you use to go from terminal to terminal. It was about 1830 when we stepped off the flight and the time taken to get to the moon buggies, wait for the next one, get my bag then wait for the Super Shuttle it was about 1930. 25 minutes later I'm at my hotel, checked in quickly and about to get straight into that king size bed. It has been a very long 24 hours.