A Travellerspoint blog

New York! New York! Quebec City. Sunday, 16 June 2013

rain 20 °C

Awoke to a sunny day and breakfast was complete table service which means that we were given a menu and everything was brought to the table.  It's takes a lot more time for everyone to be served so just as well we were up early and had plenty of time to get on the bus.  Both Phil and I have tried to send a couple of emails but they won't go so we're not sure what is going on there.

Our local guide joined the bus and off we went on a tour of Montreal.  Of all the Canadian cities we have visited, Montreal would be my least favourite.  Yesterday walking around the city was nice but I think the architecture in the other cities has appealed to me more. Our guide's name was Dennis Britain and it was his birthday.  I am guessing that he was well into his eighties but he was spritely enough and very knowledgeable.    Unfortunately, everyone is getting a bit tired and as we didn't get out of the bus very often, a lot dozed off!  Montreal is in the middle of an island, not that you would know and it has a mountain on it, or rather a large hill.  It is a French speaking city and there are signs in French everywhere.  Too bad if you don't speak French like us!  Formula One races were held here recently and the international tennis will be held here in August. The streets were almost empty this morning as the shops don't open until 12.00 noon on Sundays.

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We went to the World Trade Centre where there is a lovely statue and reflection pool, with the water flowing over the edge and hardly making a ripple.  We all had to put our fingers in the water just to check that it was there.

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The group, listening intently to our guide.

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There are two pieces of the Berlin Wall in the centre.

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We passed Notre Dame Basilica again and our guide told us that Pavarotti performed a Christmas concert in there because the acoustics were so good.  It would have been amazing to hear that. We went to St Helen's Island, which is a natural island and took photos back towards the city.

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First there were none ... and then ...

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These buses bring school children to this area to an amusement park and when the kids are ready to go home, the buses are called to pick them up.  All school buses Canada and America are yellow, because when families move to a new town, the children always know what the school bus looks like.

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This dome on St Helen's Island and is called a biosphere.  It houses the Museum of Nature and teaches people how to conserve water and how to save the environment.The agricultural industry is the biggest employer in Montreal, followed by IT, then the service industry, eg health, education and tourism and lastly, diamonds and fashion.

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McGill Hospital Complex

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After the tour we all went to a shopping centre for lunch then hopped on the bus for the drive to Quebec.  It started raining at about 11.00am and is now quite heavy. Ben played a movie, Cool Runnings which is very funny, but I dozed a lot on the bus.  I had a lovely minestrone soup for lunch, and a cinnamon scroll and a mocha coffee, so with a nice full tummy, warm and snuggly inside the bus and pouring rain outside, it was a perfect time to have a snooze.

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We arrived in Quebec in the pouring rain.  This is the Quebec bridge.  They built this bridge and it fell down.  They built it again and it fell down.  They built it again but no one would go on it, so just the trains use it.

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Quebec is just beautiful.  It is so French.  I am looking forward to exploring it tomorrow and having a guided tour.

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Our hotel, the Hotel Chateau Laurier Quebec is nice and in a very good position overlooking the old armoury.  Our room is a bit small by recent standards but still perfectly okay.  We are here for two nights.

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We all went out to dinner to the La Cremailliere and it was very nice.  Phil took a bottle of Australian wine with him but they wouldn't allow him to drink it as they don't have BYO here.  We had dinner with Louise and Doug from Canberra and Linda and Derrick from Adelaide.  I had watercress soup, salmon and creme caramel and Phil had the soup, chicken and creme caramel.  It was all very delicious. We drove around the streets on our way home from dinner.  Quebec is just lovely.  I hope it is fine tomorrow so we can stroll around the streets because it is a photographer's delight.

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Posted by gaddingabout 02:37 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

New York! New York! New York, Friday, 21 June 2013

New York

sunny 28 °C

We survived the night in our minimalist room, had a little sleep in and then headed up the street to the Holiday Inn for breakfast. We then headed off to Ground Zero to see the 9/11 memorial.

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I had already booked on line, so we went to the office to pick up the tickets and then walked a couple of blocks to join the queue to get in.

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A lot of people come to this memorial, but the line moves pretty quickly. There is pretty strict security as you would imagine. It is a very moving and amazing memorial. The architect needs to be congratulated. It's hard to describe and the photos don't do it justice. There is the constant sound of running water. The water flows 30 feet over the top wall into the pool below and then that water flows down a deep hole into the centre of the pond. You can't see the bottom of the hole and you get the impression that the buildings and the victims just disappeared down the hole. It is very moving but sort of nice, at the same time.

The names of all the victims are engraved on the edge of the wall. We saw a few women's names with "and her unborn child" engraved next to her name. So sad.

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This is the survivor tree. It survived the bombings, then being ripped out of the ground in a storm!

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We left the memorial and headed for the museum which is next to the Liberty Street fire station, some of whose members were killed trying to save people after the planes crashed into the World Trade Centre. The museum is dreadfully moving and we felt very, very sad looking at the photos and reading the stories. How could such a dreadful thing happen?

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This picture needs no explanation at all. I took it in the museum.

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Just as we left the museum, the fire engine came out, much to the delight of the onlookers.

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We walked around the streets and came across Trinity Church. Some of the headstones are from the 1700s. We went into the church for a look around. It's lovely.

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Then on to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, since 9/11, it is barricaded off and members of the general public can't go inside.

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A typical New York sight.

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Photos of the fabulous buildings.

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Called into an Irish pub for lunch. I had a very nice salad and Phil had, yes you guessed it, bangers and mash. The noise level in there was incredible but it was good to sit down after being on our feet all morning.

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Called into the Holiday Inn on our way home and made contact with our tour guide to Washington tomorrow. We then get another one for the rest of the trip. Our hotel in Washington is an Omni hotel and looks pretty nice, so maybe this trip won't be the disaster we are thinking it might be!

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back to the other side. Pedestrians are supposed to keep to one side and cyclists to the other. It is really quite dangerous as people are a bit preoccupied with the view and wander onto the cycle path, and some of the cyclists are going a bit too fast for the conditions. We saw an accident and the pedestrian was lying on the ground and the cyclist had grazed legs.

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A lovely group of girls on the Brooklyn Bridge.

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On the struts holding up the lights over the roadway, people have put locks. They put the lock on the strut, declare their love for each other for ever, and throw the key into the river. Very romantic!

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We went back to La Nonnas for dinner and this time took the camera. The waiters remembered us and we were welcomed with open arms. The atmosphere in that street, Mulberry Street, is fantastic. And the sangria tasted just as good, second night in a row!

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On the way back to the hotel, we passed this parking station, which is quite a unique way of utilizing space in a space poor city like New York.

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Okay, well that's it for this blog. We have had an amazing time and seen some fabulous sights with a fantastic tour guide and a lovely group of people. Tomorrow we start our new trip and you can follow our adventures on my new blog called New York to Miami - Heading South.

Posted by gaddingabout 19:28 Archived in USA Tagged new york Comments (0)

New York! New York! New York, Thursday ,20 June 2013

Boston to New York

sunny 25 °C

Goodbye Boston and before we knew it, we were at Newport, Rhode Island. What a stunning place. These are the holiday "shacks" of the rich. As luck would have it, or rather "bad luck", I was sitting on the wrong side of the bus for some of the most fabulous homes I have ever seen, however, here is a taste of some of them. Apologies for the quality of some of the shots. Very difficult to take photos from a moving bus through glass!

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Jackie Kennedy grew up here and this is a photo of the church where she married JFK. Again, I apologise for the quality of the photos.

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Left Rhode Island and stopped for lunch in Connecticut. Not a lot of choices; Wendy's, MacDonalds or a supermarket. However, we have discovered that these supermarkets have great deli sections where you can buy a heap of stuff and even though they have ready made rolls and salads, they are always happy to make a sandwich for you. I asked for a ham, cheese and tomato, 6inch roll, with only a couple of slices of ham and the guy looked at me like I was crazy. Usually their sandwiches have about two inches of meat piled into them. Then his supervisor came along and told him to put more meat on it and he said, she doesn't want it, so for once I could have a normal sized sandwich. We are so over the food thing!

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A photo of Phil and me with Ben, our fantastic travel director.

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Our trip is almost an end. We are approaching the outskirts of New York. Here are some high rise apartments Brooklyn.

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We arrived at JFK airport dropped off some people and then the rest of us continued on to the Marriott Hotel in the city where our tour had started two weeks ago. We were all getting pretty sad by now. What chaos! All the bags were offloaded onto the footpath, then we were all trying to kiss each other goodbye while the New Yorkers were trying to make their way along the footpath. We hopped into a taxi who took us to our new hotel in Soho, the Azure Hotel, right next door to the Holiday Inn where our tour to Miami leaves from on Saturday.

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We are now in Chinatown and Little Italy which is a far cry from the Helmsley Park Hotel overlooking Central Park! The foyer of the hotel should have been enough warning that perhaps we had come a little downmarket! We can hardly fit in the room, in fact our bedroom and ensuite at home are twice as big as this, and we just live in a normal house! Anyway we feel like we are experiencing the real world. At least wifi is free in our room which is just as well as there are no seats in the foyer! There is no breakfast either, but we can go to the Holiday Inn for breakfast, so that's what we'll do if we survive the night! The sirens just never stop in this part of the world.

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We went for a walk and found a street of Italian restaurants and chose La Nonnas where we sat outside on the footpath and had a lovely pizza and I had a sangria. It didn't take much to imagine that we were back in the 1920s in Little Italy, New York. It was totally atmospheric, and the evening was warm and the restaurant hawkers yelling out in Italian totally set the scene. Though our Italian waiters turned out to be Albanians!

Into bed and feeling sad at leaving our great travelling companions from the last two weeks.

Posted by gaddingabout 13:50 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York! New York! Boston, Wednesday, 19 June 2013

sunny 25 °C

Did a guided tour of Boston with Ben.  We started at the old North Church where the faithful lit lanterns at the top of the spire to alert Paul Revere that the British were coming.  Boston is just oozing history.  We went inside the church and sat in pew boxes and listened to a women telling us about the history of the church.  Apparently Rose Kennedy was baptised and had her funeral service in this church.  It was very austere with not a stained glass window in sight, just plain glass and white walls.

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We followed the freedom trail which is a line of red bricks in the footpath, that will take you to all the historic sites in the city. We came to the narrowest house in Boston.  It is 9 feet wide and slopes to 6 feet at the back.  It is four stories high.  The owner was out the front and said that she paid $300,000 for it a few years ago, but it is probably worth about $600,000 now.

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There was a little cemetery opposite the little house and there were graves in there from the 1800s.

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We then went down to the dock to see the USS Constitution.  It is a lovely old sailing ship and is the oldest commissioned sailing vessel in the world.

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This modern building was built opposite this lovely old church and the people weren't very happy, so the architect made the windows reflective so the church could be seen in the building's windows. We drove around the city looking at the beautiful buildings and the city park.  This is a photo of our bus reflected in the windows.

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Back to the hotel to drop some of our group off and then the rest of us went to Harvard University.  Harvard is an ivy league university and is the best university in the states.  It costs about $50.000 a year but if you are bright enough and can't afford the fees, they will pay your fees.

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This is a fence with lots of ribbons tied on it, in memory of the people killed in the Boston Marathon bombing.  Also there is another fence near here where lots of runners have hung their shoes.  Quite a powerful scene. We drove across the finish line of the Boston Marathon and you would ever know that a bomb had exploded there.

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This is a memorial to the Irish famine victims who migrated to America.

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Had a cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel for lunch.  It was yummy and then back at the hotel, bought a Boston Cream Pie for dessert.  It was very light and not too sweet.  Very nice.  Apparently the Boston Cream Pie originated at this hotel, Omni Parker House, Boston. Also, JFK stayed at this hotel and at this table in the dining room, he proposed to Jackie.

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Had some free time this afternoon which gave us some time to repack the bags ready for the next phase. We all congregated at 5.30pm for our farewell dinner.  The bus was a bit late in coming so I took photos of everyone standing on the footpath.  Then the bus was stuck in a traffic jam as everyone was on the road going to the Bruins ice hockey game.  So we got out and walked to the Italian restaurant for our farewell dinner. As usual, heaps of food.  It was all very nice but too much.  We were given two free drinks with our meal and I had a Sangria. I'm getting a taste for them and have one with my evening meal.

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Ben made a lovely speech and Phil made a nice speech too to Ben on behalf of everyone. Then Ben handed out a gift to those of us who were on their second Trafalgar trip. That was us and we received a nice print from Quebec and a Bruins cap. Actually, it was a very emotional night.

On the way home Ben played "Running Bear" which has become our theme song and we all sang it as loud as we could. It has been a very good tour, with a great tour guide, excellent coach driver and a wonderful group of people.

Posted by gaddingabout 19:26 Archived in USA Tagged boston Comments (0)

New York! New York! Boston, Tuesday, 18 June 2013

overcast 19 °C

Not a huge amount to write about today as it was a big day for travelling. We drove from Quebec to Boston. Bags out at 6.45am and on the road at 7.45am and we arrived in our hotel in Boston at 6.30pm.

I slept a lot on the bus today. We crossed the border into the USA without any drama. We did a bit of duty free shopping first and then went through customs.

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We stopped at a shopping centre for lunch. We had four choices - Chinese, MacDonalds, a pizza place or a supermarket. We chose the supermarket as they usually have a pretty good deli section, which this one did, and a very helpful lady made us some sandwiches. We complimented her service to her supervisor and hopes she gets the employees award at the end of the month.

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We stopped at Flume for a comfort stop. They are famous for their ice creams and because we had some bus trouble at the beginning of our trip, Trafalgar shouted is all an ice cream! Very thoughtful and nice.

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The country side all the way along has been green and dense. We have been in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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We arrived on the outskirts of Boston and got caught up in a bit of a traffic jam which delayed our arrival at the hotel by one hour.

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It was a quick change and then back on the bus for a dinner at a local sea food restaurant. It was nice and we had bon bons for dessert, which are chocolate balls filled with ice cream. Yum! After dinner, some of our group went back on the bus and the rest of us walked back with Ben and got a taste of Boston at night. We walked through some very posh areas, which reminded me of Bath in England. This is the Governor's office at night.

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Off to bed now as it is almost midnight. Our hotel, the Omni, is very nice and has been in Boston for a long time. Lots of wood paneling and apparently JFK stayed here and we all had our photos taken at the table in the dining room where he proposed to Jackie!

Posted by gaddingabout 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged boston Comments (0)

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