Rambling Bears

Joined June 2017Living in: Redhead, NSW, Australia

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  • Day132

    Today - bus into Manhattan - easy. The bus stop is just around the corner from where we are staying and Ella had given us two metro cards to get us going. A very helpful young passenger we had met at our stop told us when we were coming up to where we wanted to get off - once again easy. After a strong cup of coffee and a hot chocolate at Pret we entered the subway and bought our unlimited 7 day metro cards - again easy. With cards in hand we approaced the gates and after a few swipes of the card the wrong way I had it mastered and we headed to Times Square to find the Tourist Information Office.
    Perhaps we were tired after the long day yesterday, perhaps it was the miserably cold, grey, windy day - who knows but it all seemed downhill from there. Times Square was packed, humanity as far as the eye could see and everyone appearing to be in a hurry. Rubbish blowing up the streets, dust in the eyes. We questioned some of the local constabulary as to the whereabouts of the tourist office. We were informed that is was more of a shipping container than an office in a building, like I had assumed, and that it was bright pink and just across the road. Now, bright pink would stick out like dogs balls one would assume, even in the colourful Times Square. Wrong. It just wasn’t there. To the complete surprise of the policemen it had just disappeared. Shifted - who knows but after a bit of searching in both directions we assumed that it no longer existed.
    By this stage, with the very cold weather and all, Noel needed to see a man about a dog. No restrooms were jumping out at us and I knew Macy’s was in the area so off we went on the hunt. Macy’s found now where are the restrooms. Macy’s is massive and in the midst of renovations but before a major catastrophe occurred we did find the restrooms and could now turn our attentions back to finding some sort of tourist information service.
    A light bulb moment. A train station - Penn Station is close. Found ourselves a tourist information office at the station so we got what we wanted at last. Found more restrooms so we availed ourselves again because you never know if or when you’ll ever find another and bought onward train tickets to Washington while we were there. Expensive tickets - we didn’t want to buy shares in the train but we do need to get to Washington somehow. For us from Staten Island Pen Station is an easier place to get to than the bus station at Hudson Yards or at least one less subway trip and a shorter walk.
    Over the crowds and the wind and the cold we headed back to Staten Island. The saving grace for the day was seeing The Statue of Liberty in the evening light - what a lady!
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  • Day131

    We had a 10.30am departure for our Megabus ride to New York from South Station. Ready at 9.30 I rang for a taxi. It was a difficult conversation with the dispatcher. Was it my aussie accent? Who knows? I spelt the street name out, explained what streets it ran between, gave the suburb and the zip code for the suburb. After a 20 minute wait I rang again. Yes ma’am, the cab was dispatched to Dorchester. It should have been there 15 minutes ago. That’s good but ........... we are in North End. We were sent another taxi but the time was ticking closer and closer to our departure time. The traffic was horrendous and it was not a simple as the crow flies trip to the station due to the one way streets. We jumped out of the taxi, sprinted up the escalator, along the corridors out to the bus terminal. Thankfully the bus was a couple of minutes late as it arrived just after my heart had settled and my breath was back to normal. Next time we’ll walk. We could have done it in half the time and without the acquisition of more grey hair!
    It was an uneventful trip to New York and we arrived in downtown Manhattan in the late afternoon.
    After a quick dinner we took on the subway system to South Ferry, caught the Staten Island Ferry over to the island, a train ride to Great Kills and a walk to our Airbnb.
    A slice of heaven - a great little unit on the ground floor of Ella and Victor’s home, in a charming suburb on the island. Americans go for the Chrissie decorations in a big way and it had been a very pretty walk in the early evening to get there.
    New York here we come!
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  • Day130

    When hundreds if not thousands of people have the same good idea it tends not to be such a great idea. I had one of those today.
    Let’s go to the Sowa Winter Festival! It was a looooong walk on a very cold day but we got there eventually without getting lost. The line up into the craft markets wound out of the markets themselves down the street and around the corner. I don’t think so. If we had been after presents for Chrissie we may have stuck it out but since we were only going to be browsing we didn’t need the wait.
    Instead we browsed the art galleries in the old warehouses and headed into the food tents outside for some warm mulled wine. My heart fell. All gone! What is a Christmas market in cold climate without warm mulled wine to warm the cockles of the heart. 💔
    We did see some very cool ice sculptures.
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  • Day129

    Boston is such a walkable city. Today, up through the town, across Boston Common, along Newbury Street (Boston’s answer to 5th Avenue) and more exploring through the streets on our way bank to Quincy Quincy Market for a bit of entertainment, a christmas tree light show and dinner in the market.
    Newbury Street is a very pleasant window shopping experience. Beautifully renovate old brownstone buildings have retail stores in the basement and ground floor levels and are described as being shabby chic to elegant, affordable to exclusive. The exclusive and perhaps bohemian style shops are at the end closest to the Boston Gardens.
    It was a great shame that we arrived a little late for the great band that was playing outside the Quincy Market. We caught the final songs. They were very high energy and had the whole crowd rocking.
    We caught a few more Christmas lights on our wall home.
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  • Day128

    No brilliant sunshine does not equate to warm. Brilliant sunshine today and a bucket load of wind = quite chilly.
    However, who can resist a walk along the waterfront of any city when the sun is shining regardless of an icy wind. And the waterfront of Boston is beautiful.
    Our walk eventually led us to the Boston Tea Party Museum and bit of a tea party for us as well. In the tea rooms you are able to taste a variety of teas that would have been relatively common fare in the late 1700’s. One I tried was a smoked tea. I’d have to say that it would probably take an acquired taste. Didn’t mind it but it left a strong smokey after taste. Had to drink a bucketful fo green tea to drown the flavour!
    The Boston Tea Party was a political protest in Boston, Massachusetts, in December 1773. The demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, in defiance of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, destroyed a shipment of tea sent by the East India Company. They boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government weren’t impressed and were harsh in their retaliation. The protest escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history.
    From the waterfront we located the post office to send off a postcard back home. Glad to see that is not only our post offices back home that are frustrating. For one simple international postcard stamp I waited half an hour. Patience is a virtue!
    From there we swung up through Chinatown and a zig zag path back to North End.
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  • Day127

    Today we hit the trail, The Freedom Trail, a 4 km path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States. Follow the yellow brick road - not quite. Follow the red brick line as it winds between Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. Stops along the trail include simple explanatory ground markers such as the site of the first public school, graveyards, notable churches and buildings, and a historic naval frigate, the USS Constitution.
    Some of the sites we saw yesterday but we followed the path religiously starting at the Tourist Centre, through the down town area. Into Little Italy and across the Charles River into Charlestown - and what a lovely Charlestown - a bit classier than ours! Along the way we read our little guide book so we understood the significance of each site and of course we read all the plaques that gave us a more in depth explanation of many of the sites. You could pick all the tourists. They’d be the ones walking the line, guidebooks in one hand and a camera in the other.
    Was a great day.
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  • Day126

    It is always good when you arrive too late somewhere to get some tucker in for the next day and beyond. Or perhaps not. Woke up starving. We have got a Keurig Coffee Maker though and there are some pods in the cupboard. Although they are decaffeinated when that is all there is to be had who am I to hold back or be picky.
    With a coffee under our belts we set out to find a supermarket.
    We are in a great part of town, the North End or Little Italy. Extremely narrow streets - some too narrow for cars. Just around the corner we head into Italian restaurant heaven. One after the other - two streets of them then across a main drag and we are downtown. Very central.
    Across the main drag we came to the public marketplace - an organic and artisan market. We had two pastry puffy things for breakfast. Mine was cheesy and I thought it was delicious. Neil”s cinnamon and he was not at all impressed. Can’t please everyone!
    The city is a mixture of very old and ultra modern, the historic, the not too distant past and looking to the future I guess. All the downtown area is on relatively narrow streets, some of which are cobbled. Nice! The whole area is abuzz with the locals gearing up for Christmas and putting up decorations ready for the official turning on of the various big Christmas trees. The lighting up of the lights are staggered over the next couple of nights.
    Groceries bought and stowed back in the apartment we were hitting the pavement again to find the tourist office for a map I can see and some literature on the sights. And of course a bit of a wander to get our bearings.
    Found the Quincy Markets on the way back - a hall with a wide variety of snack and light meal treats. Smelt amazing - will definitely be back there.
    Dinner completed and this dealt with so it is off to bed for this sleepy head. I am pooped!
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  • Day125

    The flight today was at gentleman’s hours so thankfully we didn’t need to get up early. We checked in and hoped for the best. And you can always be lucky! Those yesterday who were going straight to Halifax without a connector were put on a 1.30 flight yesterday afternoon and that flight was also cancelled - plane trouble again. Apparently tempers were a little frayed. Glass half full - it wasn’t us. Fingers and toes were crossed in silent prayer that all would be well today.
    The plane was delayed a little but we did get away and our connector flight in Halifax was on time. We arrived in Boston, collected our bags and were in a taxi on our way to our apartment in not time.
    The glass emptied completely however when we arrived at our apartment. I almost tripped over a broom and dustpan in the dark. Things did not auger well. The furniture was all pushed back on the walls, rugs were rolled and shoved under the furniture, dust covered many surfaces. The smell of fresh silicone or grout wafted through the apartment. I walked into the bathroom. A bag of new fixtures lay on the ground. I opened the shower recess - no shower rose or taps. Great! What now? We were tired and didn’t need this.
    To cut a long story short Domio came good with a few messages back and forth and responded to our needs quickly. If it was a private rental this would not have happened. The owner would have been on top of what was happening in his own apartment but this one was obviously agent run. Domio had another apartment available just around the corner a minute’s walk away.
    Unlike the original, the new apartment was not in the basement. Looking up. It was up another flight of stairs but beggars can’t be choosers. The replacement is a better option, more room, windows and a washing machine!
    Shower, cup of tea and bed!
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  • Day124

    Happy Birthday Neil we are going to Boston. Or perhaps not.
    Up at 3.30 so we could get the shuttle to the airport at 4.30. Check in went smoothly. Flight departure time came and went. The flight will be delayed was announced three or four times, each time the delay getting longer. I accused Neil of being a glass half empty person when he stated that he doubted that we were going anywhere as he had heard bad rumours about Air Canada. He was right again. We were going nowhere - the flight was cancelled — bags were on the carousel for us to collect then wait and wait to see what happens. In the end we received an email with new flights for tomorrow. I tried to change the flights to later ones today to no avail so tomorrow it is.
    I inquired about accommodation and Air Canada put us up in the Holiday Inn Express and a shuttle was organised to take us there. We were also given a food voucher covering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not princely sums but as the airline had already given us a food voucher at the airport that covered breakfast and we skipped lunch the hotel combined the amounts for a dinner voucher. As the hotel didn’t serve dinner we were shuttled to a Pizza joint to spend the voucher.
    Generally I don’t do pizza but that restaurant was our only choice or pay for it ourselves elsewhere. Being of good Scottish blood in my not too distant ancestry i opted we go for pizza. Well I was pleasantly surprised, not only did our Mediterranean Veggie pizza not kill me, I enjoyed it.
    Although we were not impressed that the flight had been cancelled Air Canada looked after us and although we have lost a day in Boston we are not out of pocket for the ordeal.
    Happy Birthday Neil!
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  • Day123

    This morning it was leave our lovely St John’s apartment and head out to our airport hotel in preparation for our early flight tomorrow. I was a little disappointed that we were unable to store our bags anywhere in order to see the Santa Parade. As it turned out the event was cancelled due to the strong winds so nothing lost.
    We were able to check in early which was good and so we had a day of rest. We probably needed it too!Read more