A Travellerspoint blog

Day 19

1 September - Washington DC to New York

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Pics today only of our New York room.

This morning we flagged down a cab outside the apartment building after breakfast for the short ride to the Union Station. We have waked it previously more than once but with all our luggage it was not an attractive option. We enquired on arrival at the Amtrak desk and were told to go to gate K. We did so but there was no room to sit and we had around 45 minutes before the scheduled departure so we went to a nearby store for tea and coffee while we waited. We had direct line of sight to the gate lounge so what was the risk?

We noticed the line extending outside the gate lounge and down the concourse. We initially thought the line was for another train using the same gate lounge so we didn't worry. Out of curiosity I got up and walked up to a Amtrak attendant to ask if that was the line for the New York. Sure enough it was. D'oh! So we got our luggage and joined the end of the line. We boarded and we had to walk forward through a few carriages but eventually found some coach seats. We didn't purchase Business seats this time.

The train trip was brisk but uneventful. It took around 3.5 hours travelling at speed of up to 110 miles per hour between stops. At Penn Station we had trouble finding a taxi big enough for the four of us and our luggage. Traffic was heavy and moved slowly.

The Hotel Receptionist saw we were staying 5 nights and offered us a complimentary upgrade to a spacious suite with separate living room as well as a bedroom and bathroom. The outlook out the window isn't great but given we have so much time here we will gladly take it.

We walked a few hundred metres to Grand Central Station and had a look around the shops as well as purchasing weekly subway tickets to help us get around. On the way back we spotted a number of restaurants for breakfast and dinner. Indian food tonight we think. We made enquiries with our concierge about getting tickets to some Broadway shows. Nothing under US $100 per seat at present for the shows we would like to see.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:19 Comments (0)

Day 18

31 August - Washington DC

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Not much to report today. We stayed in our apartment till lunch unable to find something else we wanted to do enough to brave the heat outside for. At lunchtime we walked to the local Walmart to get a few essentials we were running low on and got some lunch to bring back while we were out.

We did a bit of planning during the day for New York, looking at how we would get around and what we wanted to see and do. With a bit of help from Google we located an Irish Pub with a Happy Hour not far from here so we wandered down for a drink around 5pm. The wine was average and the food menu was not appealing so we returned to a Thai Restaurant we passed on our way that was also advertising half price drinks, if you ordered a meal.

We ordered different red wines and browsed the menu. Both wines were spoiled. I expect that the bottles had been left open for several days and were well past their best. We called the waitress over and explained and she replaced them with wine from new bottles and they were fine. The food was great but neither of us were able to finish our meals.

We returned to our room and started packing for tomorrow's train trip to New York,. That will be our last stop before we return home. The pictures show our living room and Kitchen and are views from our 14th floor balcony.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 03:55 Comments (0)

Day 17

Washington DC

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We set out just after 8.30 this morning with the plan to do a Whitehouse tour. We had seen conflicting information about if we could or could not walk up and do a tour so we decided to go and see for ourselves. So we walked to a nearby stop on the hop on hop off route. We waited around 45 minutes for the bus to turn up. We were told the tours start at 8.30 but alas it was 9. We had two stops on the circuit to get to the Whitehouse. The conductor told us with certainty we could not get in and tour bookings need to be made 3 months ahead. So we changed our plans and took their "Yellow" tour to Georgetown, a historical shopping district on the fringe of the CBD. It was nice enough but didn't compare to old Montreal or Quebec City. If you have been to those places don't other with Georgetown.

We caught the next bus back to town and after a light lunch at the Willard hotel near the Whitehouse we went to the Whitehouse visitors centre. This I recommend. They have a large building full of Whitehouse artifacts and information. We watched a short video which consisted of interviews from former presidents, partners and their children talking about their experiences living there. I learned that there were 2 bowling lanes installed in the basement in the 1940s that were removed about 10 years later when a different President wanted the space for something else, and that Richard Nixon had one new lane installed during his term. I assume it is still there.

After we left Lance & I walked out into the adjacent park for our obligatory photo of the Whitehouse. We then caught the bus back to Union Station and bought some dinner to take with us and eat on the night bus tour. It was an escorted tour rather than a hop on hop off. It was good and our guide, Malaya, was excellent. It was still warm but much more pleasant with a cooler breeze and temperatures in the mid 20s. They dropped us off on the way back about 5 blocks from our apartment. This gave us a shorter walk back to our apartments.

A few final comments about the hop on hop off buses. The staff have been really good. The buses all open top double deckers. The trees and bridges low enough to worry about. Both of us were hit by small low hanging branches. They were small and didn't do damage but it was disconcerting.

Washington DC is a very green city. Lots of trees and open spaces. Very hot this time of year but very cold with snow and ice in the winter.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 06:08 Comments (0)

Day 16

29 August - Washington DC

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We took our time this morning, eating our breakfast in our one bedroom apartment. We headed out just before 11 and walked in the heat (forecast 34 Celsius today) to Union Station. We purchased 2 day tickets to one of the hop on hop off bus and set off. We completed a full loop upstairs taking in the commentary whilst sitting upstairs in the hot sun snapping lots of photos as we passed landmarks. After completing a loop we hopped off and had a really good lunch in a cafe at the station.

Darlene and Karol remained behind and did some shopping at the adjacent shopping mall while Lance and I boarded a bus and hopped off at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. It is one of 19 Smithsonian establishments in and around Washington DC. I really enjoyed the NASA Space program section covering the moon missions and exploration of our solar system. They had Mercury, Gemini & Apollo space craft, a lunar lander, a lunar rover like the ones they drove on the moon. Lots of amazing photos, exhibits and so much more. They had a history of aviation with replica planes from the early 1900s on including the front of a 747 plane.

We left shortly before 4pm to rendezvous with the girls outside the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as we had arranged. Unfortunately we sat out in the heat for the next 45 minutes waiting for them. We went inside and Darlene and I had a bit of a look around. We saw maybe a third of the exhibits before it was time to catch the last bus back to the station.

We walked back to our apartment and I had a quick swim in the rooftop pool while Darlene had a cool shower. We returned to the bar downstairs for tea. They make the best burgers. Even Darlene had one and enjoyed it.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 04:29 Comments (0)

Day 15

August 28 - Niagara to Washington DC

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We packed up and checked out of our hotel early at Niagara on the Lake. We drove the short distance to the 405 and onto the bridge to the USA. Being as early as we were there was no wait. We drove straight up to the booth. We got a nice person who quickly asked the right questions and sent us on our way.

Once over the border our next priorities were breakfast and petrol. We accidentally took a wrong turn past Buffalo so we found a diner for breakfast and they directed us to a service station. It was closed but Lance saw the sign for another at the next intersection and we were all set. Back on the freeway and on the right road we steadily made our way south. Along the way we drove state route 66. Not the famous route 66, but still photo worthy. Our lunch stop was at Punxutawney. You may remember it as the setting for the movie Groundhog Day.

We found a restaurant and they had "hoagies" on the menu. I didn't know what a hoagie was so I asked. It turned out to be a long bread roll with a variety of fillings. I had one. All our meals were served with a side of potato crisps, must be a local thing. The waitress asked where we were from and then what we were doing in Punxutawney. I honestly replied we were passing through. She told us about the park up the street with the library and the window where we could see Phil & Phyllis - the groundhogs. Of course I had to go and see them. The burrow was much darker than the natural light outside so it was hard to get a photo. You can just make him (?) out.

After lunch we resumed our long drive arriving in Washington DC after 5pm. I arrived at what I believed was the location of our apartment but the building was not there. After two phone calls we worked out we were at 300 Massachusetts Ave NE and we should have been at 300 Massachusetts Ave NW. Union Station is in the middle of Massachusetts Ave and the numbers start from 1 in both directions from there. Bloody confusing. The guy on the phone took pity on us and offered to come and find us so we could follow him to where we wanted to be. In the interim a Police car drove by and asked what I was doing standing on the corner there. I honestly replied I was lost and waiting for a person to come to me and guide me to our apartment. They pointed out the direction we needed to travel in and moved on but we decided to wait four our guide.

Our guy turned up shortly after and was very helpful. He got a good tip. The apartment is spacious but the standard of cleaning didn't meet Darlene's approval. We wen't downstairs to a bar and had a late bite to eat and called it a night.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 05:10 Comments (0)

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