A Travellerspoint blog

New York! New York! Niagara Falls, Wednesday, 12 June 2013

sunny 23 °C

Hilton Hotel, Niagara Falls - Room is1208

Breakfast this morning was on the 33rd floor, overlooking the falls! Only problem, the sun was in the wrong spot for photos, but that didn't stop us behaving like idiots and snapping away furiously. It was amazing.

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On the bus at 9.00 am and we went down to walk by the falls. We were so close and the power of the water was incredible. Every now and then when the wind changed, we got sprayed but who cares? We are standing next to one of the natural wonders of the world! A group of Amish people came by and I was talking to one of the men. They came from Iowa. What a shame they can't take photographs. For me, Niagara Falls is more awe-inspiring than the Grand Canyon.

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Sun in the wrong position again but you get the general idea.

Then onto the Maid in the Mist for our boat ride to the falls. We are all extremely excited. The queue moved very quickly and we were given our rain ponchos.

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Our lovely tour guide Ben Conte. He is always laughing and smiling.

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We boarded the boat. Phil went downstairs under cover and I went upstairs. The trip was 20 minutes long and we all agreed that it was the quickest 20 minutes we had ever experienced. As we approached the falls, the wind and spray were furious. Maid of the Mist! More like Maid of the Hurricane! It was exhilarating! The water pounded us but we were very well protected by our ponchos but my feet get soaked. And because I had red leather shoes on, my feet are now stained a lovely shade of red!

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We all hopped back on the bus and drove to the very picturesque community of Niagara-on-the-Lake where we had lunch and wandered through the town. We chatted to a nice English couple while we were eating our lunch, Deb and Bob Bee.

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Six of our group were taking a helicopter ride over the falls, so we dropped them off and the rest of us walked around a shopping centre while we waited for them, then back on the bus and back to the hotel to have some down time before getting ready for our Be My Guest Dinner.

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We left the hotel at 5.45 pm for the half hour drive to the Vineland Winery for a wine tasting and dinner. The winery was lovely, Andre our host was very knowledgeable and taught us how to taste wine and the food was very nice too. It was lovely to taste Ice Wine again, as we had our first taste of it in Vancouver last year.

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A great night was had by all and on the way home in the bus, Ben played songs from the sixties and we all sang along and the bus ROCKED!

A mushy photo to end a stay in a very romantic place.

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Posted by gaddingabout 19:48 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

New York! New York! Niagara Falls, Tuesday, 11 June 2013

overcast 21 °C

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sunny when we left Lancaster county but heading into rain, again.  Pulled in for a comfort stop and the power had just gone off and it wouldn't be back on for one hour, so we were prevented from shopping.  There was a Christmas decoration shop there but it was closed.  I like to buy a Christmas decoration from all places around the world. We have a new bus today, which is not breaking down! Driving over the mountains.  Very lush and green.

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Big driving day today. At lunch time we pulled into the Corning Ware Glass Factory where we spent two hours, having lunch, looking at the exhibitions and SHOPPING!! The items for sale were amazing and plentiful. We went to a glass blowing demonstration as well. All these photos are of things made of glass.

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Crossed over into Canada at about 7.00 pm and had no problems with Immigration. We all went duty free shopping in America before we crossed the border. It was very cheap. A 1.14 .lt bottle of Bombay Sapphire was $21. Our hotel, the Hilton, is just lovely. We can see Niagara Falls from our room. We also overlook the casino. When everything is lit up at night, it is very reminiscent of Las Vegas.

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Posted by gaddingabout 12:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York! New York! Lancaster County, Monday, 10 June 2013

rain 23 °C

Washington to Lancaster County - Amish country. Monday, 10 June 2013

It's raining this morning and as we are leaving Washington, we are driving past some fabulous looking homes.

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Now out on the highway and it is really pouring.  The bus has stopped a couple of times and Debbie, our bus driver is still having trouble with it.  Apparently it was a bung sensor yesterday - don't know what the problem is today.  But help is on the way in the next town. Called into the Harley Davidson factory for a comfort stop and a photo opportunity.  What fun!

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The weather is dreadful. Pouring, pouring rain. Stopped at the Kitchen Kettle Village at Intercourse, PA for lunch. Yes, that's right, Intercourse. Other aptly named towns in his area are Virginville, Blue Ball, Paradise, Fertility and Bird-In-Hand. For those of you who know the road from Canberra to Sydney, Kitchen Kettle Village is a lot like Berrimah, New South Wales, Australia. We had a nice baked ham roll and salad for lunch and then wandered around village, sampling their wares. About 10 minutes before we were to board the bus, Barbara pointed out the Quilt Shop. I raced over but it is not the sort of thing you choose in 5 minutes. VERY DISAPPOINTED!! But at least we got to try the local ice cream which was very nice.

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After lunch, our guide for the Amish tour, Tony, hopped on the bus and off we went in the pouring rain.  The country side is lush and green, in fact they say this is the most productive area in the USA because they don't need to irrigate, because they get so much rain.  I believe it!  40 inches of rain a year and 30 inches of snow. We drove around the countryside looking at the houses and listening to Tony's very informative commentary.  He was full bottle on the Amish.  Amish families and English families live side by side.  The only way you can tell the difference, is that the English homes are connected to the electricity grid, and the Amish aren't. We stopped at a local tourist farm and Phil tried on an Amish straw hat but he has such a big boof head, that it wouldn't fit.

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Next we got off at a local farm and while the boys headed for the barn, the girls headed for the quilt shop.  There were a lot to choose from, but I found one with a traditional Amish pattern.  I will use it as a throw over for the lounge in our family room.  It is lovely and has the name of the lady who made it on the back.  They are posting it home for me. It is still pouring rain.There are too many stories to write here about the Amish, but here are a few facts.They don't drink alcohol or smoke.  They don't take drugs.  They don't listen to music.  They don't own cameras or have their photos taken.  They are not allowed to own a car or drive one, but can accept a ride in one.  They don't have electricity but their three main appliances, fridge, stove and washing machine are all gas powered.  They don't have arranged marriages.  They only have one wife.  They don't get divorced.  The women never cut their hair.  Married men have a beard.  They pay taxes.  They don't contribute to a health fund.  They look after each other if they have high medical bills.  They only go to the eighth grade in school.  30,000 in this area.  Church on Sunday lasts for 3 1/2 hours.  They are not allowed to wear belts.  They wear braces and have no zips on their clothes.  They don't ride push bikes but are allowed to ride scooters.

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Arrived at our hotel and we all love our rooms.  It is an old farm restored.  It's called the Inn at Leola Village, Room 515. We have free internet in our rooms but the signal is not very strong and I can't download my photos into my blog. We all assembled for a group dinner of salad, beef, ham, chicken, and vegetables, served by Amish and Mennonite girls.  We had apple and shoo fly pie for dessert. White dogwoods everywhere, but no pink.It was Linda's birthday, so she was chosen assist the chef make Whoopie Pies.  We all had a taste but it was a bit too rich, even for me.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York! New York! Washington, Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Capital Hilton Hotel - Room 636

Up at 6.00 am, down for breakfast by 6.45 am and on the bus at 8.15 am for our tour of the Washington monuments.  The hotel is quite nice and our room is quite large.  The bed and the pillows are lovely because once my head hit the pillow last night, I was out like a light.

Just a little story left over from last night's walk to the White House.  There is a protestor in a little lean-to tent opposite the North Lawn.  By the way, the White House doesn't have a front or back door.  They are referred to as North and South Entrance.  Anyway, back to the protester.  Her name is Concepsion.  She was protesting to Ban the Bomb.  If you want to protest at the White House you have to apply for a permit.  She did this back in 1981 and at the end of her 24 hour protest, the police came to move her on.  However, the person issuing the permit had omitted to fill in the date when the protest should end, so she has been there ever since!  She is not allowed to ever go to sleep in the tent as that would be camping and you are not allowed to camp there, so obviously there are a group of protesters on a roster who take it in turns to stay in the tent.  Who knows when it will ever end.

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Now on to today.Washington is just the most beautiful city.  The buildings are stunning, the roads are wide and clean, the parks and trees are fresh, green and inviting.  This place just oozes history.  I took hundreds of photos today. We started off with our local guide Mary and we went to the White House South Lawn.  From that side you get a fantastic view of Michelle Obama's vege garden. We don't think the President is in residence because there are no sharp shooters on top of the White House.  He is probably up at Camp David, which by the way, President Eisenhower named after his favourite grandson, David.

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I took some photos of the Washington Monument which is currently undergoing a renovation.

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We then drove past the Smithsonian's museums, which we will be visiting this afternoon.  There are a lot of them including things like the aeronautical and space museum, the art gallery, the American Indian museum, the American history museum, the natural history museum, the botanic gardens, the modern art museum.  It just goes on and on.  You really need six months in this place to see everything!  They are also building a new one dedicated to African Americans and it will be opened in 2015.

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Then on to the US Capitol Building.

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We called into the World War II Memorial.  This is a photo of Phil teaching the volunteer at the memorial what the capital of Australia is.  No one in the world knows, so we have made it our quest to teach them!  For those reading this blog who don't know, it's Canberra.This is a photo of me and Halina at the WWII Memorial.  Her daughters may be reading my blog.  She is from Coffs Harbour.

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Then on to the Korean War Memorial.  What an absolutely outstanding memorial this is.  I have never seen anything like it ever, any where in the world.  There are 19 figures 'on patrol' in some low bushes.  It is mesmorizing.Running alongside the statues is a black granite wall with images etched into it.  Fantastic.

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Next stop the Lincoln Memorial.  We have all seen this on television or in books, but nothing quite prepares you for the enormity of this memorial.  It is huge.  There is a plaque on top of the steps that says, "I HAVE A DREAM" and it is there because Martin Luther King made his famous speech from that very spot.There are a lot of people around but they are all quite well behaved, respectful and quiet.

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Then on to the Vietnam Vets Memorial.  First we saw a sculpture dedicated to the nurses of the Vietnam War.  It is very moving and our guide told us that on the day that it was unveiled, it was raining and cold and the organisers didn't think they would attract a very big crowd.  Well, how wrong were they?  There were thousands and thousands of people there from all walks of life.  For as far as the eye could see, there were people, paying their respects to the nurses.  Starting to get a bit teary here.

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We walked along the path for a small way and came to the Vietnam Vets Memorial.  The famous black granite wall with 58,000 names engraved on it.  The ones with diamonds next to their names have been buried somewhere, but the ones with a cross have never been found.  So sad.  The names aren't alphabetical but rather in order of when they died.  If you are looking for a specific name, there are a lot of staff around with records to help you find it easily.The wall was opened on 11 November 1982 and our guide told us that the Vets had problems with so many people coming to see their memorial, so the government would bus them in from midnight to 3.00 am so they could just sit on the grass and reflect or do whatever they wanted to or needed to do to help them recover mentally from that terrible war and the way the public treated them on their return home.  There were also padres and counsellors there as well.  Very sad.

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Next off to Arlington National Cemetery.  I told you it was a day of memorials! Nothing, I mean nothing, could prepare you for this place.  There are rows and rows and rows and acres and acres of headstones, set amongst magnificent trees and rolling hills of green, green grass.  There are 300,000 buried here.  We saw the graves of JFK, Jacquie, Bobby, Ted and Joseph Kennedy and Audie Murphy, America's most decorated war hero (and movie star). We watched the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier which was fascinating.  The inspection of the incoming guard's weapon was a display of military precision that you sometimes see on display at Westpoint or at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  On Memorial Day, an American flag is placed in the ground beside EVERY grave.  Can you just imagine how fantastic that would look.  But the logistics!  How could they possibly put 300,000 flags out.  It would take forever.

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After all that we headed back to the Smithsonian and we went into the space and aeronautical museum.  DEFINITELY NOT MY CHOICE!  I found it quite boring looking at space craft and aircraft, however the guys seemed to love it!  Had a quick lunch then back to the hotel for a bit down time before our night time excursion.

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Opposite the Smithsonian is a large piece of land covered in bones (man made) to draw attention to the plight of many minority groups and the atrocities they have suffered, all around the world.  It is quite a powerful sight.

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On the bus at 6.00 pm for our evening excursion.  On the way to the restaurant, we drove past the Australian Embassy.  It is huge, not very impressive, in fact a bit boring, in comparison to all the other fabulous buildings in Washington. Dinner at Carmines Italian Restaurant.  Huge family type restaurant and the huge platters of salad, spaj bol, pasta, and chicken and veal dishes just kept coming.  There was such a lot of waste but the food was good and substantial. After dinner we went on an illumination tour of Washington.  We called into the Washington Railway Station which in 1903 was the biggest in the world.  The ceilings were extremely high and nicely decorated. We stopped for a photo opportunity of the Capitol Building and the Jefferson Memorial, all beautifully illuminated.Then on to the Martin Luther King Memorial.  This was quite stunning and it's a shame that I don't have a flash on my tablet as my night photography leaves a lot to be desired, but hopefully you get the idea.

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We were looking for the Iwo Jima memorial, but the bus driver took a wrong turn and we ended up at the Air Force Memorial.  What a bonus!  It was stunning.  Three huge silver columns curving into the sky, just like jet planes taking off into the sky.  Sorry, couldn't take a photo, too dark.  In fact the streets are very dimly lit, not at all like you would imagine the capital to be.

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We found the Iwo Jima Memorial and drove around it but didn't stop.  That was one memorial I would have liked to have seen up close.  But there is so much to see, you can't see everything. We drove on to see the Pentagon.  What a massive building that is!  You are not supposed to take photos of the building.  How silly - it's just a building!

Our final stop was the Kennedy Centre.  What an impressive place that was.  Lots of theatres and shops and the deck outside was a cantelever, which means it was suspended over a four lane highway!  Orrefors crystal chandeliers from Sweden. Back to the hotel by 11.00 pm but too tired to finish this blog.  I still have to down load all today's photos.

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Posted by gaddingabout 16:58 Comments (0)

New York! New York! New York to Washington - Sat, 8 Jun 2013

overcast 23 °C

Up at 6.00 am, breakfast at 7.00 am and on the bus at 8.00 am. Drove around New York for a little while and saw Times Square, the Empire State Building and a few other things and then entered the Lincoln Tunnel and travelled 1.4 miles under the Hudson River and came up on the other side in New Jersey. Passed the town of Hobokin where Frank Sinatra was born. Stopped for half an hour for a comfort stop in New Jersey. At about 11.00am the bus broke down at the Jersey turnpike. We were probably out of action for about half an hour. I don't know what was wrong or how it was fixed.

We passed over the Delaware River on the way to Pennsylvania. The country side is lush and green with stacks and stacks of beautiful green trees, oaks I think. It is also very clean, no rubbish lying around.

We arrived in Philadelphia for lunch. These are the steps that Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stalone) ran up and down in the movie "Rocky".

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We had a local speciality for lunch - a Philly Cheese Steak Roll. It was like ground up beef with cheese and onions in a roll. Quite nice, but still way too much food for me. We ate our lunch in a highly decorated shopping mall.

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Some photos of Philly.

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The Liberty Bell

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Phil coming out of the ladies toilet

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Back on the road and we passed huge mounds of rock salt. Sand is added to these and spread on the road when it snows.

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Philadelphia is a very special place as the Declaration of Independence was signed there.

We have travelled through many states today. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and finally arrived Washington DC?

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Washington is lovely. Lovely buildings, wide clean streets and plenty of trees.

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We only had 45 minutes to change for dinner and we were back on the bus and were taken to Clyde's restaurant. The food was very nice but the waiters were very entertaining. They carried the food to the table with all the plates lined up along their arm. Amazing!

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After dinner, Ben our guide took us for a walk to see the Whitehouse. Our hotel, the Hilton is within very easy walking distance of it. You get a totally different perspective of
it at night. Looking forward to seeing it in the daylight.

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Posted by gaddingabout 19:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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