Barry & Sue are travelling to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, and the US during October, November and December of 2012.

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Queenstown January 26th 2013

Best country: New Zealand Best place: Queenstown Best experience: Hard to split whale watching in Kaikoura or helicopter trip to Grand Canyon Best journey: Amtrak train from San Francisco to Chicago Best hotel: Sky City Hotel, Auckland although the suite we had at Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas was stunning but an unfair comarison as it was an upgrade and we could not afford $1000 per night. Best meal: Too many good ones to choose an outright winner. Overall the quality and standard of food in New Zealand surpassed any other country visited.... read more

North America » United States » New York » New York » Manhattan January 2nd 2013

Our 100 day adventure ended in New York which was not as pretty as we remembered when we visited 6 years ago. Many buildings had scaffolding around them and construction work going on within. We couldn't decide whether it was post hurricane Sandy repairs or an upturn in the economy, focused on the building trade. We did the usual shopping and sightseeing and I wandered into Times Square during the afternoon of New Years Eve. Big mistake as the place was heaving and barriers were being erected to prevent vehicular and pedestrian access. As a result I got carried along with the crowd until I got clear of the restrictions. Sue had a similar problem trying to shop in Macy's and gave up in the end. We had a wonderful Gala 5 course dinner at Pera ... read more
Times Square
A view from a window
A New Year toast

North America » United States » Massachusetts » Boston » Back Bay December 30th 2012

Departed Washington DC for Boston, an 8 hour train journey via NY. The Manhattan skyline was different when seen from the train although it was not possible to photograph as it was raining and the windows on the train were fogged up. The scenery was beautiful towards the latter part of the journey as we followed the coast through the state of Rhode Island which is the smallest in the US. We have now traversed 20 states in our "road trip" across the USA and when we tell Americans they are astounded as most of them have not visited that many states, and they live here. Very cold and snowy in Boston and we been shopping for warm clothes (watch for a preview in future blogs). I have to say that I won't be sorry if ... read more
The Boston Public Library
Boston Library
Trinity Church

Christmas Day, cold but sunny, so what better than a walk to the White House. Not much traffic about, however when we got closer the pedestrian count increased. Jostling for position to take the best photo was fun and there was not a lot of time for posing but people were very courteous. Compared with previous years the Christmas tree was small and disappointing and the traditional yule log fire had been cancelled (I suppose the recession is to blame). They did make an effort with model train sets which appealed to the children and although we had missed Santa (he left the previous evening) his workshop remained. Had a lazy afternoon flicking the TV remote. At least 100 channels and, guess what, "there's nothing on the telly". Last sitting for Christmas dinner was 6pm so ... read more
Christmas shoes
A Christmas hat
Not a Christmas hat

North America » United States » Illinois » Chicago December 25th 2012

Only 20 hours on a train this trip with 1 overnight. Same arrangement with a tiny sleeper cabin, although the menu was slightly different which caught us out having left our specs in the cabin. Chicago is a city of skyscrapers, boasts the first one built in the US and, until recently, the tallest. It had a great feel to it and we had some wonderful food. Our hotel was close to a cinema so we went to see the Hobbit. We overheard a conversation between a group of teenagers who had obviously set out to see a movie but had not decided which. One of them said "let's watch the Hobbit" and another said "...but it's 3 hours long". Just goes to prove that, as a youngster, attention span is limited whereas, to quote Louis ... read more
Chicago skyline
Chicago water tower
Museum of crime and punishment

North America » United States » California » San Francisco December 22nd 2012

2 nights and 2.5 days on a train from San Francisco to Chicago. Whilst we had a sleeper compartment, it was smaller than the cells in Alcatraz and by the end of the trip we felt like prisoners as the food was becoming repetitive. We would not however have missed this trip for the world as the views were stunning and so far, it is the most scenic train ride we have ever experienced. We travelled through Northern California, Nevada, where we encountered snow, Utah, Colorado where the snow got deeper, Nebraska, Idaho and Illinois. The terrain changed from plains to forests and mountains with rock formations ranging from sandstone to granite. The canyons and rivers flowing through were equally spectacular since some rivers were partly frozen. The downside of all this snow was that the ... read more
Lincoln, Nebraska
Approaching Aspen, Colorado
Canyon country

North America » United States » Nevada » Boulder Dam December 22nd 2012

Helicopter flights had been cancelled for a few days due to bad weather but when we woke up on Sunday it was clear blue skies so our driver picked us up to head for the airport helipad. After a safety video all seven passengers got into the helicopter, 6 behind the pilot and 1 up front. It was a tight squeeze but we all buckled up and donned headsets, Sue of course had to sit facing the direction of travel. She went one better on the return leg as the seat next to the pilot was vacant. The views were magnificent as we flew east over the Nevada desert towards the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Colorado River. It got better still as we approached the Grand Canyon and pilot Dave kept us informed of ... read more
The co-pilot
Hoover dam
Grand Canyon

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas December 18th 2012

From bad to worse We left SF promptly to catch a flight to Vegas. The booking reference could not be traced so we had to queue for 30 mins to see an agent. After eventually finding the booking we were advised we had to pay $25 per bag checked in, although our UK reference stated 2 bags per person checked in free as had been the case the whole trip so far. We begrudgingly paid to check in 1 bag and proceeded to the departure lounge. After 1 hour we were advised the flight had been cancelled with no explanation. My view is that they bumped people on to later flights to save money (don't fly United Airlines if you have a choice). We then joined another queue (sorry line as we are in the US). ... read more
A view inward
Gone to the dogs

North America » United States » California » San Francisco December 18th 2012

Boarded the ferry for the 15 minute ride to the island. Grey and rainy when we set off but then we were going to a place with a grim history. Once on the island we trecked up the hill to the prison where we collected audio sets. The naration of the history of this once army fortress and more recently state penitentiery was first class and you got the feel of life for the prisoners. The stories behind some of the break outs and failed attempts was facinating. The walk back down the other side of the hill was pretty becuase it took in the gardens, all of which were man made since the original rock was barren. Army personnel and later prison staff had brought in soil and plants from all over the world. The ... read more
Failed the audition
Never mind escaping, how do I get in
Only 1.5 miles to San Francisco

North America » United States » California » San Francisco December 14th 2012

Left Hawaii in 28C and arrived at our hotel in LA just before midnight. Temperature was single figures and got colder as we headed for San Francisco. No coment about LA as it was just an overnight stop and from what we have seen and heard of it we missed nothing. 11 hours on the train to cover 500 miles to SF. The trains do not travel fast and there are numerous station stops. They even stop for smoke breaks but the route north up the coast of California is very scenic and a slow train is a good way to take it in. Spent the first day in SF sightseeing from an open top bus and even though it was sunny, the wind chill of the sea made it feel like just above freezing. What ... read more
Guess who
Sea lions of San Francisco Bay
City Hall

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