We decided against lounging round the pool this morning ………………. us oldies decided we needed a break from the hot sun! It’s 2.00 pm and at the moment the temperature is 101 degrees and is forecast to rise even further before the day’s out! 🌞🥵
I apologise in advance that most of today’s blog is only really going to be of interest to fans of The Hunger Games. Maybe now’s the time to pop out and put the kettle on!
After another delicious breakfast at Sadelle’s
Si had a healthy breakfast today!
we headed over to catch the monorail at Bally’s Hotel that would take us down to the MGM Grand Hotel to take a look at The Hunger Games Exhibition. We decided it was too hot to walk. We were very lucky because today was the first official opening day for the exhibition and for most of the time we were the only people in there.
Entrance to the Hunger Games’ Exhibition
If you are a HG’s fan then it’s a real treat. It’s not a large exhibition but there are a lot of the actual costumes from the films plus actual props including President Snow’s desk and chair, set recreations and hands-on interactive exhibit elements allowing visitors to engage with behind-the-scenes content and explore the technology that brought the films to life. The best part for us, apart from seeing the costumes was taking part in Beetee’s Archery Training. It was fantastic ……………… I’m thinking of taking up archery!
Here’s a sample of some of the costumes …..
Katniss Everdeen’s wedding dress
The Mockingjay dress
The Victory Party costume
The ‘Girl on Fire’ costume
The Tribute Parade costume
Peeta Mellark’s Tribute Parade costume
Tigris shop costume
Effie Trinket’s Victory Parade costume
Sat at President Snow’s desk and in his chair!
Sat on the train to the Capital!
The Capital Train
Katniss’ hunting costume
I haven’t seen a map laid out of Panem before but it was interesting to read where all the Districts are supposedly located. It’s based on a map of the U.S! For example, District 10 is in Texas/New Mexico. How did I never know that!?
A map of Panem
At the end of the exhibition we had our photos taken pretending to fire arrows and there was of course the gift shop! I’m now the proud owner of items of THG’s memorabilia. Who would have guessed it!?
Here’s me and Si in action!
On the way back from the exhibition we stopped off at one of the other casinos and this is what greeted us ……….. they must have known a shoe-aholic was about to walk through the door!
Now this is what you call a shoe!
We haven’t decided about dinner tonight so if we go anywhere very exciting I’ll report back tomorrow!
Hope you’ve got an hour or two to spare, today’s post goes on a bit!😱
It’s been very hot again, 92 degrees this morning at 8.30 a.m. with lots of sun, sun, sun.🌞
After enjoying another lovely breakfast at Sadelle’s
we spent a couple of hours round the pool. We found an excellent spot right next to the pool and with no smokers! Yesterday we managed to be sandwiched between three lots of ‘puffers’. It always comes as a bit of a surprise to us when we see people smoking these days. Of course, here, people can smoke in the casinos and round the pool. There are special ‘no smoking’ areas but they are smaller than the ‘smoking’ areas.
One entrance to the Bellagio pool area
Si having a dip!
Me trying to look cool in very hot conditions!
We were saying yesterday that another thing we tend to forget until we get here is just how much walking there is to be done. If you wanted to walk from one end of The Strip to the other you would be walking 4.2 miles! Still, it helps to keep us fit by walking off all the food we are eating and cocktails we are drinking!
This afternoon we’ve been doing one of my favourite pastimes …………… shopping!! Well, it has to be done!. We walked over to the Forum Shops attached to Caesars Palace Hotel. It is a major 677,138-square-foot shopping mall. Measured in terms of sales per square foot, it is the highest grossing mall in the United States! It has great shops. I could probably spend all day there!
On our way to the shops!
Adding Las Vegas charms to my bracelet!
I spent some time in the Pandora store buying Las Vegas charms for the travel section of my bracelet!
We then came across one shop where a young lady handed us body butter made from green tea. Before we knew it we were in the shop and I was being given a sample collagen treatment being assured that in a very short space of time I would look 10 years younger and where the key ingredient is black Caviar! According to the young man carrying out the procedure, it was a ‘Premium Non-Surgical Instant Wrinkle Eraser’. It’s to be used once a week together with a special moisturiser. Si was amazed at how it worked in such a short space of time! 😱The next time any of you see me, please tell me how young I’m looking because I ended up buying this ‘incredible’ product. 👧 It seems to be a big deal in the beauty world! I’m not going to tell you how much it cost but we did get an excellent deal with the moisturiser and face wash thrown in for free! I know what you’re all thinking ………….. suckers! 😂Time will tell!
Do I look any younger?
I’m going to break away for a while as we are having dinner at one of the new restaurants here at Bellagio called Largo by James Beard Award Winning Chef Julian Serrano who we are told “sets the evening in motion with his stunning interpretations of Italian, each packed with distinct and unmatched flavours.” Tour the bolder side of Italy with innovative small plates. All sounds rather interesting ……………. I shall report back later.
Hi-de-hi, we are back! Well, food excellent, seating excellent, we were right next to the Bellagio Fountains so magnificent all round …………….. except maybe the price for all that excellence!!
Small plates it was …………. you could call this Italian tapas. For a party of two they recommended having four plates to share but more could be added if required. We shared the two slices of Bruschetta Al Pomodoro, small Margherita pizza, two pieces of Cannelloni with pulled short ribs, Linguine Pesto, one Limoncello, two glasses of Merlot, one G&T, two coffees with liqueurs and a bottle of Pellegrino …….. grand total with tip ……….. $230 (approx £184). Well, “hello” Las Vegas! Would we pay that back home for the same meal, probably not, but will we pay it in Vegas …… yes! Expensive, but it was fabulous and I think we will visit again. For all those who like to see photos of the food here they come, apart from the one of the Bruschetta, that wasn’t fit to be published!
Si’s coffee and liqueur
For those not particularly interested in culture it’s probably best to look away now ………………… we saw the fountains play at least four times and one of the tunes was a heartstrings-tugging version of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. (theme tune to the film Somewhere in Time (1980) …………… fetch me a hankie please! 😢 If you have never seen the film then please, right that wrong immediately!
There are many versions to be found but this is just one …
I’ve now managed to find the actual one from the film, it’s a shorter version … enjoy!
Sniff, sniff, sob, sob ……… if that didn’t stir your emotions then you must have a heart of stone!! 😢
After all the indulging we decided to finish off the evening with a little flutter and I’m pleased to report that luck was on our side as we played $20 and came away with $140! 😀
Fingers crossed for more luck and lots of sunshine tomorrow! 🤞
Well, we’ve had a hot day today! It’s currently 95 degrees at 8.00 pm!
Our day started with our leisurely breakfast. They’ve revamped what used to be called Cafe Bellagio and changed it’s name to Sadelle’s. I was trying to think of how to describe it now and Si’s come up with “more sophisticated”. Si’s first holiday breakfast was quite restrained, he usually starts large but today he just had an omelette with smoked salmon, I just had the yoghurt parfait.
After breakfast we joined the ‘beautiful’ people (I’m not including us in that description!) at the pool but limited our time as its been a while since our lily-white skin has been exposed to really hot sun! 🌞This is just one of the, I think, five pools and it’s Olympic size.
We wondered down to the MGM Grand Hotel to check out where to buy tickets for The Hunger Games Exhibition (more about that later in the week) and managed to win a few bucks on a Monopoly machine. Mr Monopoly has always been very kind to us in the past.
On the way back we saw a very interesting sight ………… two young ladies advertising a night club, dressed, shall we say, very skimperly! It was a real eye waterer and something we’ve never seen in the 30 years we’ve been visiting. Unfortunately, we will not be posting any pics as this is a family-friendly blog!!!! Just use your imagination!! 😱
My early 3.30 start this morning caught up with me this afternoon and I had to retire for a nap. I now have my ‘second wind’ and we are off for a bite and a gamble.
It was my intention to finish yesterday’s blog when we arrived but we were so tired after the delay (more on that below) and the 10-hour flight etc, that we just fell into bed. I’m now writing this at 3.30 am because my body clock’s telling me it’s actually 11.30 am.
When we checked in at Terminal 3 and were told our flight was on time our hopes were raised for an easy getaway. Alas, our hopes were dashed of course and we ended up leaving 90 minutes late, due they said to the incoming flight being late on its stand and the time it took to clean etc.
We flew BA this time. We were flying on a 747-400, that means it would be about 30 years old and having read reviews I have to admit our expectations were not too high. The last time we flew it was on a Dreamliner so comparisons were bound to be made! But, credit where it’s due, everything turned out okay. The crew were all youngish, very friendly, attentive and helpful, the plane’s condition was good and the food was fabulous. They even offered us two drinks each with more to come with our meals! I wondered if they thought we were the nervous flying types 😱 but no, everyone were being offered two.
The result of too many G&T’s (I’d already had one in the lounge) was I filled in one part of the Customs’ form wrong and had to start again. 😀 Customs do not like amended forms!
We had ordered special meals, meaning, paid for. I ordered the ‘Vegetarian’, even though I’m not vegetarian because the reviews on it were 9 out 10 so I was hopeful. I was not disappointed! I’d recommend that to anyone. Si had the ‘Taste of Britain’ and included his beloved pork belly (Wiltshire, no less) and he couldn’t fault it at all. I’ll have to post a pic of his pork belly later, it’s on his phone and I don’t want to wake him up!
If there are going to be any problems with the plane then you know who the recipient of that problem will be ……………. Si of course! Sure enough, his TV screen wasn’t working (well, it wouldn’t be would it!) but in two jiffs one of the crew had it sorted and came back a couple of times to make sure all was well. I have to say, we were impressed.
Even the boarding was different, instead of row numbers we were boarded in groups, from 1-5. I wasn’t at all sure how that would work given the hundreds of people who were waiting to board and at the first sign of a door opening would all rush forward. Note: I’m always amazed how no matter what day of the week you fly to Vegas, the plane is always near to capacity!
Anyway, we arrived after a good flight (I slept for about five hours so it seemed fairly short to me), only a little turbulence, and made our way to the dreaded Customs and Border Control where we have been known to queue for some length of time. However, when we arrived we saw they now have six self-service style Customs’ machines and as long as you’ve entered the US once before on your current passport and have an ESTA (you are part of the visa waiver scheme) then you can check yourself into the country. We’ve used the machines once before so happily headed that way instead of joining the long queue to be ‘checked in’ by a human.
So, it should have taken no time at all but ……………. and you’ve guessed it folks, there was a problem with Si’s fingerprints (well there would be wouldn’t there!) where the machine just couldn’t ‘read’ his little finger. 😂 He pushed down firmly, wiggled it, even had a ‘helper’ come over and hold his hand down but it kept saying ‘try again’. After about six attempts (after which I felt certain someone would come over and declare “no entry for him, get back on that plane and go home”) it eventually said “okay, approved” and off we went, straight to baggage reclaim where our cases were among the first to be delivered, then outside into a taxi and straight here to the Bellagio where we are ensconced on the top floor of the Spa Tower with a wonderful view of the famous fountains and of The Strip. The temperature when we arrived was 90 degrees, so very pleasant!
Room at the Bellagio
We are going to take it easy today, have a leisurely breakfast, go round the pool for a while and take it from there!
Our day did not have the best of starts when our car didn’t arrive to bring us to Heathrow! Many apologies later a car arrived and whisked us here with no problems. It turned out that our driver lives just down the road from us and he too has lived in the area for as long as we have and he passes our house when he walks his dog but we had never seen each other!! Small world!
The next thing was when we passed through security and Si forgot he had his phone in his back pocket!! 😱 Needless to say the alarm went off and he was treated to a full body scan, had to remove most of his clothing, had a portable scanner run all over him and was eventually let through. Meanwhile, Mrs B is struggling to gather everything off the conveyer belt wishing she had four arms instead of two as she dropped all of Si’s loose change on the floor amidst everyone else trying to retrieve their belongings at the same time! 🥵
I’m pleased to say that everything else has been plain sailing. I’ve purchased my perfume (very opportune that we are here today as I run out of my favourite this morning), purchased a few other items including sweeties and cheese biscuits (we just can’t fly without our Chedders) and we are now ensconced in the lounge with a gin and tonic, lager and some rather tasty pasta.
For those who always enjoy seeing what Si’s eating, here’s the first meal of the holiday!
Well, just one week to go and today I “crossed the Rubicon” and as they say “alea iacta est” (the die is cast)! The decision on what to pack and not to pack has been made. 😱😅 I have been quite ruthless with clothes and even the shoe total has been reduced down to six pairs for me (plus two pairs of walking/hiking shoes) and four for Simon (including one pair of walking/hiking shoes). Well, he is a man after all and men never need as many clothes or shoes as us women. If only we could be more like men ………… a couple of pairs of trousers, shorts, some shirts, t-shirts and ‘boom’, they’re done. It’s so much more complicated for women ………. well for this woman at least! 😒 If there are any women reading this blog who are indeed like men when it comes to packing, then I salute you! 🙇♀️😀👍
Anyway, my furrowed brow is no more,😀 the gin bottle has been returned to the fridge, Simon has come out from behind the sofa, where he’s been hiding for a few days 😱 and I can now relax and look forward to our trip.
We hope you will join us on our next journey down the ‘holiday road!’
A creaking door opens and dust flurries hit the air. Well, it’s been a while since we were last here! Hope I can remember how to do this!
Welcome to our 2019 American Adventure.
This blog will be a little different as we are not visiting lots of different places as we’ve done in the past. We will actually be doing what I guess would be called a ‘two-centre plus’ holiday. We will be starting off in Las Vegas before travelling via Salt Lake City to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park before driving back, again via Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.
We’ve been to all these places before but never grow tired of visiting them. Vegas is like coming home to an old comfy pair of slippers whilst the Tetons and Yellowstone are beautiful places to visit with spectacular scenery and wildlife. There’s always something new to see and discover.
I hope I can make the first part of the blog interesting enough for you all. It’ll be difficult to make pool lounging, eating and shopping sound very exciting but I’ll do my best! To pass the time you could of course, always check back on our previous adventures.
Problem with this type of holiday is choosing what to pack! Vegas will be very hot whereas it’s going to be a lot colder when we reach the Tetons and Yellowstone. In fact it’s been snowing this week in the Tetons and more is forecast. For someone who finds it difficult anyway trying to keep packing to a minimum, this will be a challenge!
Now I know that Las Vegas to many is like Marmite ……….. you either love it or hate it! We’ve been visiting Las Vegas since 1988 so I guess you could say we kinda love it. Mind you, when we first started coming here it was a whole different ball game. Not at all like it is today. Lots of families visit now and there are many great restaurants, good shows and fabulous shopping.
Also, back in the 80’s of course there was no such thing as the internet. Back then you had to write to or telephone the local tourist office and they would very kindly post you a ‘Visitors’ Pack’ consisting of a hotel booklet, local information and a trusty road map! We weren’t able to visit Trip Advisor to read people’s thoughts and criticisms of the hotels, restaurants, things to do or to make bookings way in advance. You just had to make a choice and hope it was the right one. Either telephone ahead for a hotel reservation or just turn up and hope to get a room.
Funny story here! I remember on one visit to the west coast of the U.S. one of our stops was going to be in San Francisco. Well, armed with our trusty paper guide we decided on a hotel and telephoned ahead to book a room. There was a vacancy but thought it strange when we were not asked for a credit card to guarantee the room but didn’t ponder on that for too long.
When we rolled up and parked outside the hotel we started to have our doubts. It was in a rather dubious neighbourhood and didn’t look very welcoming. It turned out that it was the kind of hotel you book by the hour!!! Needless to say we didn’t bother to get out of the car!
We headed instead for the local tourist office and a very kind lady made us a booking at a motel next to the Golden Gate Bridge so it all turned out okay in the end. It was a lesson learned.
When we arrived at the bridge it was lovely and sunny and Simon said about stopping to take photos. In my wisdom, I said we could do that the following day! Well, anyone who has visited San Francisco will know about the famous fog that rolls in over the bridge. Needless to say, the next day and for all the days we were there we never saw the bridge again!
Also, back then it was a case of take your trusty camera, together with lots of rolls of film and cross your fingers that once you returned home you would end up with a few good ‘snaps’ of the jolly holiday.
I guess you could say it added to the excitement back then but I say “thank goodness” today for the internet, mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras!
So, we look forward to ‘travelling’ once again with family, old friends and hopefully a few new ones too, on this year’s adventure. It all kicks off on Monday 3rd June.
It’s always sad when we come to the end of a great holiday and today is no different!
After having breakfast at the hotel we headed for the Gettysburg Museum of History and what a great place that is. As it was just a stop-off for us on the way to the airport we only had about three hours to enjoy it all. We shall definitely put it on our schedule for the future and spend a good two days exploring everything.
The next time we visit I think we will need to come much earlier in the year as today was 100℉. and much too hot to be getting in and out of the car. It was our intention to do the auto tour but as time was against us we only did a small part of it.
Sand and Abe!
While we were waiting for a film about Gettyburg to begin we checked out a few exhibits at the Museum, they have one million artefacts of the Civil War! We found this one quite moving.
Drum used by Henry Mayo at the Battle of Gettysburg!
Civil War musician’s wooden snare drum. The drum measures 13 1/2″ high x 16 5/8″ diameter overall, the front of the drum features a brown spread eagle with a red, white, and blue federal shield at the center and a red banner in the eagle’s beak that reads “REG. NY INFANTRY”. This drum was carried by Henry Mayo of Company F, 147th NY Infantry at Gettysburg and he was killed on July 1, 1863. The drum was returned to the Mayo family some three years after the Civil War when it was initially picked up on the 1st Day’s Field at Gettysburg. Thirty-year old Henry B. Mayo enlisted as a Private at Palermo, NY on August 23, 1862. On September 22 he was transferred into Co. F, 147th NY Infantry. He was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. The 147th NY fought near the Railroad Cut on July 1 and fell back to Culps Hill on July 2 and 3.
We then watched the film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, setting out what happened at Gettysburg.
The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, is considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863. On July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade, at the crossroads town of Gettysburg. The next day saw even heavier fighting, as the Confederates attacked the Federals on both left and right. On July 3, Lee ordered an attack by fewer than 15,000 troops on the enemy’s center at Cemetery Ridge. The assault, known as “Pickett’s Charge,” managed to pierce the Union lines but eventually failed, at the cost of thousands of rebel casualties, and Lee was forced to withdraw his battered army toward Virginia on July 4.
Pickett’s Charge took place here!
Alexander Hays (July 8, 1819 – May 5, 1864) was a Union Army general in the American Civil War, killed in the Battle of the Wilderness
Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history.
The Battle of Gettysburg painting also known as the Gettysburg Cyclorama, is a cyclorama painting, a type of 360° cylindrical painting, by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting Pickett’s Charge, the climactic Confederate attack on the Union forces during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Four versions were painted, two of which are among the last surviving cycloramas in the United States.
The intended effect is to immerse the viewer in the scene being depicted, often with the addition of foreground models and life-sized replicas to enhance the illusion. Among the sites documented in the painting are Cemetery Ridge, the Angle, and the “High-water mark of the Confederacy“. The completed original painting was 22 feet (6.7 m) high and 279 feet (85 m) in circumference. The version that hangs in Gettysburg, a recent (2005) restoration of the version created for Boston, is 42 feet (13 m) high and 377 feet (115 m) in circumference.
Just a small piece of the Cyclorama!
The Civil War lasted four years from 12th April 1861 until 2nd June 1865.
If you are a lover of history as I am, then if you are ever that way then make sure it’s on your list of places to visit. You will not be disappointed.
After our visit to Gettysburg we drove to Newark Airport, the trip was quick and easy. Made easier in fact by listening and singing along to The Walker Brothers! A lot better than our nightmare of a drive the day before!
Here are a few pics of that we saw along the way ……………….
Perry T. they named a road after you!
Reminded us of that ‘huge’ snake we saw at Corolla!
Goodbye Pennsylvania, Nat, Terry and Ty!
Denise and Desiree, do you have a family member in the chocolate business?
I’m sure a lot of you remember the Boston Tea Party, a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773 when tea was thrown into Boston Harbour and the saying of “No Taxation Without Representation” was born.
Now it’s “Taxation Without Representation” which refers to the fact that the people of Washington DC have no representation in the United States Senate. In the United States House of Representatives, the District is represented by a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the House floor but can vote on procedural matters and in congressional committees.
Then, it was off to Newark Airport. We actually arrived before check-in opened but when it did we were given priority called ‘TSA Pre✔️’ which is expedited screening through Passport Control and Security! We didn’t have to take anything off (shoes, belts etc I mean!) because we were highlighted as being part of the programme. News to us at the time but I’ve checked it out and it seems that it all ties in with certain airlines. Excellent for us as were through in a jiffy. My first thought was that it was all because we were British!! 😀 🇬🇧
Mind you, I was having a series of little mishaps at the time in that I dropped our Airline ticket and didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me and then I dropped my boarding pass at Security but luckily Si was behind me and picked it up! 😔
Today – Tuesday 26th September 2017:
The flight was good and uneventful. We were told originally that the flight time would be 7 hours 5 minutes but once on board it was amended to 6 hours 5 minutes, I guess due to the tail winds. However, we were delayed 45 minutes so arrived back at Heathrow at the original time anyway. Then we couldn’t get on our designated stand as it was already occupied so we did a circuit of Heathrow until the stand was vacated, finally we get to Baggage Reclaim where our bags should have been first off, they came off almost last!!
Finally, we decided to go through the automatic gates at Immigration and my passport wouldn’t work, I was referred to a real person!! Si of course sailed right on through and was wagging his finger at me!
Luckily, our driver was waiting for us so once on the road we were back home in 30 minutes.
Here we are then! Back in good ‘ole blighty. 🇬🇧 We’ve arrived home in sunshine and it’s really quite warm.
Yet again, our ‘adventures’ in the USA have not disappointed. We’ve had a fabulous time, albeit a short one. We met up with good friends, Nat, Terry, Ty, Denise and Desiree. Chatted on Face Time with those we couldn’t get to see. Dot, you and JB are on the top of our list for next time. We are so sad that we didn’t get to see you on this trip. 😔 We met some lovely people on our travels.
We drove 2362 miles in ‘the beast’ a vehicle intended for eight people (at least we had plenty of space for the luggage!) and very comfortable it was too and saw lots of interesting things along the way. Margaret (sat nav) was on the whole okay although she did have trouble finding her satellites at times!
So, once again I say “many thanks” to those who travelled with us, read the blog and sometimes left comments. As I’ve said in the past, it’s always good to know that it’s not just us reading the Blog.
Before we go, I would just like to leave you with this rather wonderful song, ‘Four Winds’ sung by Neil Young together with some beautiful scenery.
So, until we all meet again, we would just like to say, as always, ………………..
arrivederci, adeus, hejdå, 再见, zoi geen, zai jian, tot ziens, au revoir, tschüss, shalom, ciao, じゃね, anyeonghi gasyeo, poka/Пока, adios, hejdå, tạm biệt, vΘleft, farvel, ya sas, tókša akhé
Another beautiful sunny day in Cary. We were ‘up with the lark’ this morning as it was our last day here with Denise and Desiree. We decided against breakfast in favour of brunch later as we were meeting up with Desiree and then travelling to Jordan Lake Dam and Cove to meet up with Denise to see one of her favourite photography sites and possibly some wildlife.
It was a really beautiful place and we were very lucky to see eagles, black vultures, turkey vultures, herons and an egret.
Jordan Lake Cove
Jordan Lake Dam
Three ‘non-feathered’ birds!
Brunch followed at The Mayton Inn, food excellent once again and we then had to say a very sad farewell. 😔 Our time together was short but memorable and filled with joy and laughter.
Until we meet again dear friends …………………… even though “there’s nowhere to go!!”
We left Cary for our onward journey to Gettysburg which should have taken us 5 hours 30 minutes but sadly, some things never go to plan!! Our journey turned into something akin to a nightmare …….. it took us 7 hours 15 minutes! The traffic was nose to tail for about 120 miles. By the time we arrived at the hotel we really needed to lie down in a darkened room with a wet cloth on our foreheads. Instead, as it had been a few hours since brunch we made a quick visit to the Appalachian Brewing Company for fish and chips for me and a shrimp and scallop flatbread for my dearest. All was delicious!
Simon at the Appalachian Brewing Company – you don’t really think that’s his drink do you?
Some other photos we took along the way …………..
These two have special significance, one for Desiree and one for our favourite UK spinning instructor, Bex Charker. 😀
Tomorrow we make our way via the Gettysburg Civil War site to Newark, New Jersey for our flight home.
The day started sunny and hot again today but the humidity was not as bad as yesterday when it was an absolute shocker!!
In the Inn today there’s been two birthday celebrations, one 70 year old gentleman and another who was 90 and there’s been a wedding. Being such a lovely hotel it’s very popular for celebrations.
Desiree came and met us for brunch this morning. Denise was unable to join us as she was going to be taking a charity spinning class. We would have joined in but alas we didn’t have our cycling shoes!! That was our excuse anyway!
Brunch was delicious. Si had shrimp and grits(!!!) whilst Desiree and I had the goats cheese and fresh herb omelettes. We were all set for the day!
After collecting Denise we headed out for Duke College in Durham. Duke University is a private research university. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Dukeestablished The Duke Endowment, at which time the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.
Duke students often refer to the campus as “the Gothic Wonderland,” a nickname referring to the Collegiate Gothic architecture of West Campus. The stone used for West Campus has seven primary colors and seventeen shades of colour. James B. Duke initially suggested the use of stone from a quarry in Princeton, New Jersey, but later amended the plans to purchase a local quarry in Hillsborough to reduce costs.
The buildings are magnificent. Unfortunately, the Chapel was closed today for a wedding so we were unable to take a look inside but Denise tells us it’s just wonderful. Note the blue North Carolina sky in these photographs.
Sandra, Denise and Desiree
During our tour of the campus we came across Sara and her Service Dog, Leo. What a great pair they were.
Our next port of call was to Historic Stagville. Those who know me well know that there’s nothing I like more than to spend a view hours soaking up some history and that’s just what we did this afternoon.
Stagville Plantation with buildings constructed from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, was part of one of the largest plantation complexes in the American South. The entire complex was owned by the Bennehan and Cameron families; it comprised roughly 30,000 acres and was home to almost 900 enslaved African-Americans in 1860.
The remains of Historic Stagville consist of 71 acres, in three tracts, and provide a unique look at North Carolina’s history and general infrastructure in the antebellum South. Among structures on the Stagville site are several historic houses and barns, including the original Bennehan House and some of the original slave quarters, which were in an area known as Horton Grove.
The Bennehan House was built in 1787 with a large addition in 1799, and Horton Grove, an area of two-story slave residences were built in 1850. The slave residences are well preserved and are the only two-story slave quarters remaining in North Carolina. Significant archaeological finds around the quarters have given archaeologists and historians a glimpse into the lives of the many enslaved people who lived and worked at Stagville and throughout the Bennehan-Cameron holdings.
We took a very interesting tour of the Bennehan house below, Horton Grove and the Great Barn.
One of the slave houses in Horton Grove
The bricks forming the chimney to the right of the house were all hand-made in 1850 and one of them bore the thumb print of the maker and one the fingerprints of a small child.
The Great Barn
An old stool in the Great Barn
The Great Barn was built in 1860 and stands today as a testament to the enslaved who built it.
The Bennehan-Cameron family sold their final holdings in the property in the 1950s and in 1976, Liggett and Meyers Tobacco Company, which had owned and worked the land for decades, donated some of the acreage to the state of North Carolina, which now operates the property as Historic Stagville State Historic Site, a historic house museum which belongs to the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
At the start of the tour we noticed something very strange on the way to the house! Had someone been playing tennis? No, these are actually Osage oranges. Osage orange is a small deciduous tree or large shrub, typically growing to 8 to 15 metres (30–50 ft) tall. The distinctive fruit, is roughly spherical, bumpy, 8 to 15 centimetres (3–6 in) in diameter, and turns a bright yellow-green in the autumn. The fruits secrete a sticky white latex when cut or damaged. Despite the name “Osage orange”, it is only very distantly related to the orange and is instead a member of the mulberry family.
The earliest account of the tree in the English language was given by William Dunbar, a Scottish explorer, in his narrative of a journey made in 1804 from St. Catherine’s Landing on the Mississippi River to the Ouachita River.
After all the walking and learning we were just about ready for dinner and Denise and Desiree thought we should be introduced to real North Carolina BBQ and so we headed off to a restaurant called Picnic.
On the way we stopped off to photograph the Catsburg Country Store in Durham, a great favourite of Denise.
This two-story, hip-roofed, frame structure is a well-preserved box-and-canopy store. Built in the 1920s by Sheriff Eugene G. Belvin.
Though no longer open for business, it is still widely recognized as a local landmark. Its renown comes from the large painted image of a black cat on the front parapet above the word Catsburg, which has led to the building becoming a favorite of local photographers and artists. This part of town is called Catsburg as a tribute to the late Sheriff Belvin, whose nickname was “Cat.” Belvin was an extremely popular sheriff in Durham County who earned his nickname through his ability to sneak up on bootleggers and moonshiners in the 1920s. Little to nothing is known of “Cat” but some say that his knack for finding local stills had much to do with him being a Distiller and wiping out the competition.
Well, Picnic turned out to be a great choice for dinner, the food was excellent. They even had Plymouth Gin which some of you will know is my absolute favourite beverage so Picnic scores 10 out 10 as far as I’m concerned. The waitress was very attentive and had a great booming laugh which tickled us all.
All in all, a great day with dear friends.
Our adventure continues with the ladies tomorrow morning and then we are off to Gettysburg before heading to Newark, New Jersey for our flight home on Monday night.
After breakfast this morning, which included some lively conversation with two other couples at the Corolla Inn, one of which was an English couple who now live in the US, we set out for Cary. It was an easy four-hour drive with the sun shining all the way. It’s been a very hot day here in Cary, up in the 90s.
We are now residing at The Mayton Inn and what another great find this is! This is our home until Sunday. I think we’ll be very comfortable here!
The reason we have come to Cary is to meet up with sisters, Denise and Desiree.
Some of you will know that Si’s a member of Flickr (the photography site) and way back in May 2012 one of Si’s friends on Flickr, Denise, won the landscape picture of the year in the Sony World Photographer of the Year Competition (sorry Denise if I haven’t got that 100% correct!) and together with her sister Desiree, they were both coming to London so that Denise could collect her prize and her photograph was to be shown in an exhibition at the same time so Si and I took the opportunity to go to London to meet them both in person.
We met them both again last year when we were visiting Charleston and they drove down to see us and this year we have come to their ‘neck of the woods’ to meet up again.
After a very pleasant afternoon of drinks and nibbles, we decided to go to dinner at the Academy Street Bistro. We had a lovely time chatting, laughing and generally catching up. We were enjoying ourselves so much that once again, I forgot to take the usual food pictures!! But we did manage a few anyway.
Here are a few pictures that we took on our drive today.
Not sure I know what a Red Wolf is!
Thought the lighthouse was rather fetching and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a Red Wolf. It’s been a long time since we saw a Piggly Wiggly so thought they deserved a mention.
Note to our dear friend Dot …………………. saw this on the way into Corolla, thought of you and made a mental note to photograph it as we left today. So, there I am camera poised for the moment and what happens? I look away for a second and before we know it the sign’s passed us by! Well, only one thing to do, a u-turn and that’s just what we did.
We have a full day planned with Denise and Desiree tomorrow so hope you’ll come back to share in our day.
After breakfast we headed for the beach. At 11 miles long there’s plenty of beach to go around, or so you’d think! Why is it that no matter where you decide to sit there’s always someone who decides the best place to settle themselves is in front of where you’re sitting? Yes, it happened to us. We arrived quite early with just a couple of towels and some sunscreen and then I found a very comfortable chair just sitting on the sand waiting for us and we settled in for a couple of hours. After a while along comes two families consisting of four adults and three children and they decide the best place out of the whole 11 miles to park themselves is right in front of us! Hey ho!
The remains of Hurricane Jose is a few hundred miles off the North Carolina coast and it showed in the waves this morning. A few brave souls decided it was just ideal for surfing, we decided it was just right for a paddle and a couple of selfies!!
There were loads of crab holes in the sand but no matter how quick we were the little devils always beat us by scrambling down their holes before we could even focus the camera. We were lucky though, as we left the beach we saw this beauty walking up the steps.
The origins of the Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs date back nearly 500 years, making them the earliest settlers of the Outer Banks, and some of the earliest residents, second only to the local Native American tribes. While historical journals, documents and ship’s logs hint to the wild horses’ origin, it’s hard to determine one specific set of events that led to their presence on the Outer Banks.
It’s possible that the horses were left behind by one of the first explorers to the North Carolina Coastline, a Spanish explorer named Lucas Vasquez de Allyon. In 1521, Vasquez de Allyon commissioned his commanders to explore and colonize the entire American eastern seaboard, and at least a handful of these commanders landed somewhere along the North Carolina shoreline. While many modern historians believe the majority of these initial explorations happened somewhere around Cape Fear, (due to multiple references to the large saltwater river), it’s possible that these expeditions led them all the way to the Northern Outer Banks.
Access to this part of the beach is only possible in a 4WD vehicle.
When Hurricane Jose passed by Corolla last week it didn’t dump much rain but the winds were so bad that 8 feet of sand was lost out to sea.
Every winter, pounding waves ravage the sand along the beach, exposing hundreds of ancient cedar and live oak stumps. It is an annual occurrence here and on other beaches but this year it’s happened early.
Resembling black teeth in the sand, the stumps dot the path of passing traffic along the beach. One of the larger stumps has been outfitted with bright red reflectors to steer travelers from damaging their vehicles – or worse.
It is estimated that a maritime forest existed here some 2,000 years ago but was decimated as the barrier island drifted west toward the mainland, covering the roots in salt water.
We were driven along the beach and through sand dunes in search of the wild horses and were lucky to see at least 20. They are amazing to see, they do not react to humans or noises of any kind. They are just minding their own business. They are magnificent looking horses.
Egrets love to sit on the backs of the horses and feed on the ticks and mites! Lovely!
On the way back Si was saying how disappointing it was that we hadn’t actually seen any on the beach when boom, as if by magic two appeared! They just stood there, not moving at all as all the tour vehicles pulled up and people starting photographing them.
After a full day we were ready for dinner and we decided it was time for some ‘fine dining’ and we did just that at Kimball’s Kitchen. I had a potato and caviar dish to start and Si a prawn cocktail (not quite as we know it Jim!!) then he had a 22oz ribeye steak!! while I had a modest 8oz fillet mignon. Everything excellent!
Some of you may recall from previous posts that I’m quite partial to a French 75! A gin cocktail that is made with Plymouth Gin. Well tonight I had a French 85, the difference being that it’s made with Bombay Gin instead and there is no mint in it. We learn something everyday.
This was the view from our table. Quite lovely I think!
Talking of beautiful views, this is one from our room at the Inn last night!
Well, today was our last day at Corolla. It’s been a short but very enjoyable stay and we will definitely be coming back in the future. This is a beautiful place to visit especially at this time of the year when it’s much quieter than in the height of the summer. Everything’s been wonderful.
Tomorrow we move on to Cary in North Carolina and are very excited to be meeting up with more dear friends, Denise and Desiree. Those who follow our blog will remember we met up with them last year in Charleston. This year we are meeting them on their home turf.
After yesterday’s grey and rainy day, we awoke this morning, as promised, to brilliant sunshine and then temperatures soaring to 90°F.
After a very acceptable breakfast here at the Inn and an interesting conversation with a poor lady who was telling us how she woke up in the night with a big spider running across her arm and how they couldn’t find it anywhere so she slept on the sofa for the rest of the night and now is worried about what tonight may bring ……………… gulp, lucky for us she’s on the second floor. Plus we had the ‘pleasure’ of a hawk flying past us with a poor little mouse in its mouth, he was having breakfast too, we set out to explore Corolla Light.
First of all some pictures from the hotel pier. This one is of our current abode.
Our first port of call was Historic Corolla Park where we booked a trip for tomorrow afternoon to go and see Corolla’s wild horses. They are the area’s oldest and most beloved residents, the Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Stranded on the Outer Banks for centuries, but still enjoying the laid-back beach lifestyle, these feral and wild creatures are tolerant of the visitors who visit their beaches for the warm sun, cool waves, and miles of space.
We then set out for the Currituck Beach Light Station. After the climb up Absecon Lighthouse last weekend with 228 steps we knew this climb would be a ‘piece of cake’ as it only has 200 steps. The only difference from the Absecon is that when we reached the top it was a case of straight outside, no where to sit for those who didn’t actually want to go outside and admire the view! Also, the rails around the top were not exactly my idea of ‘super safety’. So I became what is known in the trade as a ‘wall hugger!’
On December 1, 1875, the Currituck Beach Light was completed. Unlike its fellows, Currituck Beach Light was not painted, leaving its brick facade visible. In 1939, the lighthouse was automated. Since 1991 visitors have been allowed to climb the original 220 steps to the outdoor gallery. Access to the lens room is not permitted as the first order lens is not only the original lens, but it is still a functioning one. The light comes on every night and shines from 158 feet (48 m) at 20-second intervals to warn ships hugging the chain of barrier islands along the coast.
My hero! Just don’t look down.
The ‘Wall Hugger’ or ‘Cowardly Custard’ as my husband called me!!
We then took a walk along the boardwalk to the Currituck Sound. The Sound is a nature lover’s playground, offering ample access to wide open spaces of shallow, easy to navigate open water, dense thickets of maritime forest, and small, marshy islands that are covered in wildlife.
There’s a reason why some of the Outer Banks’ earliest visitors flocked first to the northern beaches of Duck and Corolla. With miles of soundfront providing a comfortable but temporary home to thousands of migrating waterfowl, the landscape proved ideal for adventurous hunters and provided a gorgeous and wild vacation destination for explorers who liked to escape to a locale well off the beaten path.
It was here as we walked along the boardwalk, Si in front and me five paces behind, I know my place, that my dearest was almost attacked by a snake!! As he walked in front of me, out of the corner of my eye I suddenly saw something rear up! OMG, what to do? “Snake” I screamed! Should I hit it with my bag, jump on it or fall down, grab it round the neck and wrestle with it ………………… or should I just wait and let it slide back into the marsh? Well, the survival instinct kicked in and we stood stock still and waited as it eyed first Si and then me. It eventually decided that neither of us looked very tasty and went on its merry way. What type of venomous snake was it, a Rattlesnake, a Copperhead or a Pygmy Rattlesnake? How does one suck out the poison from a snake bite!? The things that flash through your mind in a moment of danger! 😱
I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that we survived and the snake turned out to be a ……… well, we think it was a Ribbon Snake!!!? Ha, ha, ha, and completely harmless. If anyone knows differently please let us know. 😉
It turned out not to be Si’s day! Note to Malcolm T, they seem to have the same problem here in Corolla that you had in Canada!! 😀
On the way to the Sound we saw this rather attractive little bridge!
Well, after the snake scare we decided it was time for lunch and off we went to a restaurant that had been recommended to us by Natalie, who has holidayed here a few times. We went to the Upside Restaurant and after a very enjoyable lunch of fish tacos for Si and a chicken flatbread for me we set out for Kitty Hawk.
Now some of you may know that name as it became world famous after the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, made the first controlled powered airplane flight at the Kill Devil Hills, four miles from Kitty Hawk, on 17th December 1903.
Kitty Hawk is usually credited as the site of the powered flights because it was the nearest named settlement at the time of the flight. The Wrights chose the area because its frequent winds and soft sandy surfaces were suitable for their glider experiments, which they conducted over a three-year period prior to making the powered flight.
On the day, only five people witnessed that first flight, one of whom was John T Daniels. Daniels had never seen a camera before let alone taken a picture but on the day he was the one who snapped that famous “first flight” photo using Orville’s pre-positioned camera. The picture he took that day, below, was the only one to commemorate the very special event and is now world-famous.
Here we are stood on the very spot where Orville Wright first took to the skies in his airplane and human flight, that we all now take so much for granted, became possible. Note the difference in the landscape now compared with back in 1903 when it was all sand. It was eventually planted by the Army to make the area more tourist ‘friendly’ and stable.
We finished the day with a ‘little shopping’ and were jolly glad to get back to the Inn and out of the heat! Phew! 🌞
Sand and the ‘Beast’ back at the Inn.
I just know what the next question will be ……………… what’s with the blue horse!!??
Answers on a postcard please …………………………
Thanks for ‘travelling’ with us. More from Corolla tomorrow folks.
So we left Palmerton under grey skies this morning for our eight-hour drive to The Outer Banks (OBX). We had sunshine and very heavy rain along the way but we are promised sun for tomorrow.
As we’ve spent most of the day in the car, there’s not been a lot of ‘action’ so I’m afraid today’s post is rather thin on the ground.
The day didn’t exactly start very well when at 2.00 a.m. (US time) this morning I tried to book my spinning class for Wednesday next week at my Nuffield gym back in the UK. Basically, it wouldn’t let me book because booking doesn’t start until 7.00 a.m UK time! It didn’t matter that although it was 2.00 a.m. in the US it was was actually 7.00 a.m. in the UK. Just because my phone was saying 2.00 a.m. (five hours time difference) I wasn’t allowed to book! Crazy or what! I will be having a word with them when I get back, that’s for sure. Don’t they realise that people take holidays outside the UK time zone?
During the long drive here I was mulling over one or two things (well there’s nothing else to do except admire the scenery and eat crisps and sweets!) When I spoke with my two besties, Dot and Nat, this week the first questions they asked were (1) had I ordered my new iPhone and (2) which iPhone was I intending to get? Those who know me well know that I like to have the latest gadgets and usually order a new iPhone as soon as it’s released. Well, the thing is, having been away from the UK during the Apple Keynote speech, I haven’t had time to watch it yet, I’m not fully up to speed about the ins and outs of the three new phones, iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X (or ten as it will be known). I only know the basics but for those who are interested, my instinct is to wait for the iPhone X that will be released in November. I really think I just can’t live without the facial recognition capability! 😉
The other thing I was mulling over was the fact that I was overcharged $5 for a book I purchased in Jim Thorpe yesterday! I don’t think it was intentional, the lady was rather elderly, I just think she got confused. It’s a lesson learned, always check your change folks!
Those of you who have followed the blog over the years will know that we do like a
Cracker Barrel restaurant. Well, they’ve been very few and far between this trip. In fact we’ve only seen one and that was today on the way here. We did the usual of arms raised in homage and shouted “Cracker Barrel” out loud. We never got to actually see the restaurant though so was unable to savour its wares as it was off the Interstate.
We saw many interesting sights on our trip here, one of which was this! Nice to find another Harry Potter fan!
Many of you will will remember that when we do a ‘big’ trip to the US we usually like to play the Licence Plate Game and we usually end up with never having seen a Delaware licence plate! Well, as this is a short trip we haven’t bothered with the game but having driven through Delaware today we’ve seen dozens of Delaware plates. How typical is that? Well, I think when we get home we’ll be turning the little wooden plate over as I feel justified in saying we’ve definitely seen a Delaware plate or hundreds!
For our music pleasure today we listened to Brucie (Springsteen) that is and Jackson Brown. Who wouldn’t sing along to Brucie’s Thunder Road and Jackson’s Brown’s Lawless Avenues? Now’s your chance!
A lot of the places we drove through were named after loads of places from the UK, such as Kent, Sussex, Essex and Somerset to name but a few. We also saw Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. It’s all very confusing to the elderly! We even saw the Statue of Liberty in Virginia! Sadly, I was too slow to get the photographic evidence. The world’s gone crazy!
We drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on our way here. What a magnificent feat of engineering that is! Due to the very high wind and rain the sea was raging and we were only allowed to drive at 45 mph!
For the engineers among you, the Bridge-Tunnel project is a four-lane 20-mile-long vehicular toll crossing of the lower Chesapeake Bay. The facility carries US 13, the main north-south highway on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and provides the only direct link between Virginia’s Eastern Shore and south Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The crossing consists of a series of low-level trestles interrupted by two approximately one-mile-long tunnels beneath Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake navigation channels. The manmade islands, each approximately 5.25 acres in size, are located at each end of the two tunnels. There are also high level bridges over two other navigation channels: North Channel Bridge and Fisherman Inlet Bridge.
We eventually rolled in to Carolla, part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in the rain and are now staying at The Inn at Carolla Light. What a great find this is! We have a lovely suite that overlooks The Sound. Upon arrival, we were greeted with enthusiasm by JC, a great guy, who very manly carried our two very heavy suitcases up two flights of stairs to our room!
Here are a few miscellaneous photos that we took along the way today!
A ‘friend’ we passed along the way! I just love the wind in my hair!
On the recommendation of JC we dined at North Banks tonight. A small, but lovely restaurant and very busy. Si decided on the full rack of ribs and a beer and I had the Atlantic salmon and a gin julep. All excellent!
We managed to get back to the hotel in time for Si to take a beautiful sunset photo from the deck of our hotel.
Yesterday, hot and sunny this morning it was raining, windy and the waves were really quite high and breaking on the shore creating white water. Good job the Ironman was yesterday and not today.
We were told yesterday that the bar at The Claridge Hotel was the original from when the hotel opened in 1930. Just imagine the people who have sat there! Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to name just two.
These are photographs on two the lift doors, remembering Atlantic City how it used to be.
After breakfast and with our pockets a little lighter than when we arrived in Atlantic City on Friday, we headed out on our relatively short trip to Palmerton, Pennsylvania. Straight away we discovered we had trouble with Margaret (sat nav) again in as much as she kept wanting to take us the long way to our destination just as she did when we were travelling to Atlantic City. Our trip this morning should have only taken us 2.5 hours whereas Margaret was saying it would take 4.5 hours. What could possibly be wrong with Margaret!!??
Well, suddenly a lightbulb turned on in my head and I knew what the problem was! Click on ‘Settings’ and there it was! Whoever had been using the sat nav before us had programmed it to avoid all toll roads!!!!!! Hence, why she kept trying to either get us to do a u-turn or keep asking us to turn right or left off the Interstate. As soon as I turned ‘no toll roads’ off everything was right again with Margaret. Hooray!
By the time we arrived in Palmerton the weather was sunny and hot. If you read yesterday’s post you will know that we were meeting up with our good friends Nat, Terry and Ty today.
We spent some time this afternoon with Nat visiting the town of Jim Thorpe. Nestled in the breathtaking Lehigh Gorge, this Victorian town originally known as Mauch Chunk was changed to Jim Thorpe in honour of the Olympic champion.
James Francis Thorpe, (May 22 or 28 1887 – March 28, 1953) was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation. Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for his home country. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, and played American football (collegiate and professional), professional baseball, and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he had been paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place. In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee restored his Olympic medals.
The town has been called the “Switzerland of America” due to the picturesque scenery, mountainous location, and architecture.
Sandra with Nat in Jim Thorpe with the biggest lump of coal Nat had ever seen!
We all had a lovely dinner together but unbelievably we were so busy enjoying ourselves that we forgot to take a group photograph!! I know I have one from the last time we all got together so I’ll dig that out and post it instead!!
Tomorrow we head to The Outer Banks in North Carolina, a 200-mile-long (320 km) string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, on the east coast. Somewhere in the US that we have never visited before!
First of all, let me apologise in advance to all our readers if you find parts of this post do not make sense or have rather a lot of spelling mistakes. Si and I have been taking advantage of the ‘Happy Hour’ at the rooftop Vue bar and lounge on top of the hotel. It was such a beautiful afternoon and as all the cocktails and small plates only cost $5 each (£4.00 a pop) it seemed very rude not to!! 😉
Si took this great picture from the rooftop of our hotel reflecting next door in Ballys exterior.
Before I forget, I meant to say yesterday that it had come to our attention that the ‘maids’ looking after our room are male! Never really thought about it before but this is the first time we haven’t had females looking after us. Guess that’s a sign of the times!! 😉
The day started sunny and hot again and after a very special FaceTime call with our dear friend Dot in Upstate New York for a catch-up, we had breakfast in the Twenties Restaurant. We were told today that the bar area is all original dating back to when the hotel was built in the late 1920s early 1930s. I had the healthy option again and Si the Western Omelette. Both excellent. So, nicely full we set out to do some of the ‘touristy’ things in Atlantic City.
First port of call was the Absecon Lighthouse. It’s a coastal lightbouse and at 171 feet (52m) is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and the third-tallest masonry lighthouse in the USA. Construction began in 1854, with the light first lit on January 15, 1857. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 and although the light still shines every night, it is no longer an active navigational aid.
It was designed by George Meade and still retains its original first-order fixed Fresnel lens. The lens is made of lead glass and weighs 12,800 pounds (5,800 kg). As the light was fixed (non-flashing), it does not have a landward segment allowing visitors to look up in the lens where the keepers entered it for maintenance.
We climbed the 228 steps to the top (after six weeks with no real exercise, my poor knees paid the price!) and there was a great view of the whole of Atlantic City. We were greeted at the top of the stairs by a man called Bayard Moran, a very pleasant elderly gentleman who gave us a signed card in acknowledgement of our achievement. It turned out that he was an Anglophile having spent time in the UK when he was in the Service and also his son studied at Cambridge and so he had holidayed in the UK as well.
As we left the lighthouse we met Buddy. Now Buddy has been a volunteer at the lighthouse for eight years and has lived in Atlantic City since 1956. He will be 90 years old on 24th September and various events are being held to celebrate his birthday. He climbs the 228 steps to the top of the lighthouse every Friday and often on one other day as well!!! He is described as a volunteer treasure and a true keeper of the light. His aim is to reach 105 years of age as that’s the age his oldest relative reached before dying.
After the lighthouse we visited the aquarium. They had many species of fish, lizards, tortoises etc. I don’t know but keeping any wild animal in captivity doesn’t sit right with me!
Yesterday I mentioned that an Ironman triathlon was happening here today, well it turned out to be a half Ironman, that’s Ironman 70.3. The “70.3” refers to the total distance in miles (113.0 km) covered in the race, consisting of a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. Each distance of the swim, bike, and run segments is halfthe distance of that segment in an Ironman triathlon. Well, you learn something everyday! It was a very hot day for such activities!
Looking after everyone was the local Police in some of the strangest vehicles we’d ever seen!
Tomorrow we leave Atlantic City for Palmerton, Pennsylvania. It’s a very special day for us as we will be meeting up with our other dear friends Nat, Terry and Ty! 😀
It was Ty’s birthday today, he’s nine years old. So, “Happy Birthday Ty” hope you’ve had a great day. See you tomorrow. 🎂🎉
A strange thing happened at the hotel last night that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. I was sat here writing the blog and suddenly there was a ‘ding dong’ and a buzz and a man’s voice flowed into the room saying “regarding the emergency, don’t worry, the Fire Brigade 🚒says there’s no fire so no need to worry!” What the …. , what emergency, we hadn’t heard a fire alarm? Si called down to the front desk to ask what that was all about and they repeated what we had already heard. About an hour later, the guy came over the speaker again telling us not to worry as there was no emergency and we should just “carry on.” 😱 We meant to have a word with reception this morning to tell them we didn’t hear an alarm …… but we forgot. Must do that as we leave for dinner this evening. Scary!
We ate breakfast in the Twenties Restaurant here in the hotel this morning. Service was a little slow but as we are holiday and not in any particular rush we didn’t really mind. Si had the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict while I settled for the healthy option of Homemade Granola Parfait with fresh strawberries, blueberries and strawberry yoghurt. Both were magnifico. What do you think Si’s intentions are with that knife!! 😱
Alas, the restaurant does lose one star because they do not serve camomile tea! Now back in the 1980s when we first started visiting the US they couldn’t even serve a decent cup of tea, it was always made with lukewarm water but over the years things have improved dramatically and my experience for some time now has been that tea is usually served with boiling water and most places serve herbal teas. Luckily, I always carry my own supply of tea bags so I asked the waiter to just bring me hot water instead. He was most bemused by my request. All I can think is that the hotel is still serving the tea they were serving back in the 1930s when the hotel first opened!!
When we awoke this morning thick fog was covering the Atlantic Ocean but the sun soon burnt it back and it’s been the most glorious hot and sunny day. Having been born near the sea but having moved away long ago, it’s always a great joy to soak my tootsies whenever we are near the ocean and that’s just what I did this morning.
We explored the hotel this morning recalling whose footsteps we were following in. It really is beautiful. Note the lift (elevator) says ‘Car Up’ as it would have done in days gone by. There’s also a tribute to Frank Sinatra that includes his piano.
Frank Sinatra’s piano
We did a walk along the Boardwalk and visited the Tourist Centre where a very helpful lady recommended places to visit and very kindly pointed out where the Outlets were!! Si grimaced and thanked the lady for pointing that out to me!
Well, what would you expect me to do!? Of course we got the car out and made a visit. I wanted to check out the Pandora shop anyway. I’d bought myself one charm in Boston to remind me of our visit there and so it seemed a good idea to see what the local store had too. It was well a visit and I managed to find two lovely charms to adorn my bracelet. Also, one of the shoe stores was having a Sale on Vans Trainers so it seemed like a good idea to check that out too. We both managed to find some we just couldn’t do without!
There was a Zumba class on the Boardwalk this morning. Oooooh, if only I’d had my Zumba shoes I would have given the old hips a good shaking!!
We decided that we would try Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant at Ceasar’s Palace for dinner tonight but sadly, it was not to be. We arrived and were seated straight away, so far so good but alas, when I sat down the seat was so low that my chin was resting on the table. Ridiculous! Obviously, I couldn’t eat my meal like that so we asked to be reseated. Well, we waited, and waited and no-one returned to move us and in the end the waitress said it would be a good idea to go and stand at the reception area. Well, long story short, we left. An appropriately worded complaint will be going to Gordon Ramsey’s team and nil points will be going on Trip Adviser. Terrible, terrible customer service.
In the end we ate at the Twenties Restaurant again. It was us and six other people. As this is a non-casino hotel most people were out in the casinos eating dinner. Let’s say it was a very quiet affair.
I have been asked for pics of Si not eating ………………………… well, here he is drinking instead! He said that this little pinot noir is now his favourite wine! 😀
A little bird has told us that the weather back home is not quite as lovely as it is here so we’ll be doing all we can to send a little sunshine your way! 🌞
There’s an Ironman Triathlon here tomorrow so that should be interesting to watch. Si was thinking of entering but he didn’t want to embarrass all the contestants!! In his dreams!!
Before I tell you about our day, I remembered that I’d forgotten to add two things to yesterday’s post. One was photos of the covered bridge, the weir and the river at Taftsville just up the road from the Inn and second was a very short, quick video of the apple pressing at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. I’m starting to get forgetful in my old age!
This morning before we left the Inn we had a lovely breakfast with four new guests, a couple originally from Scotland who now live in East Sussex and an American couple from Guilford (I thought they said Guildford but apparently not!) in Connecticut. We had a very lively discussion about Scottish independence, Brexit and Donald Trump!!
The American couple, Ken and Naomi, were on their way to Stowe to partake in the 27th annual ‘British Invasion’ which is a weekend celebration and salute to the Great British motorcar and British lifestyle. They own a Jaguar and last year won first place in the Jaguar Sedans (1955-87) MK I/II, 420, S-Type, XJ6, XJ12, XJ6C section with their 1962 Jaguar Mark II. Fingers crossed they managed another win this year too.
So, it’s “goodbye” Vermont and “hello” New Jersey!
Now then, as we spent most of the day in ‘the beast’ I’m afraid there’s no ‘action’ to speak of but just what we could see out of the car windows as we hurtled along.
We departed lovely Vermont and headed out for Atlantic City. The drive was scheduled to take 6.5 hours but allowing for stops on the way ended up taking seven. It was a much easier drive than we were anticipating and arrived in brilliant sunshine and not the rain we had been expecting. To smooth our passage we listened and sang along to the tunes of John Denver. All together now, one, two, three:
We needed a smoothing tune or two because Margaret (sat nav) didn’t want to take us on the route to Atlantic City that we preferred (i.e. away from New York as we knew it would be too busy on a Friday afternoon), instead she insisted on trying to turn as around at every exit en-route! It’s not like Margaret, she’s usually so co-opertive!
A long drive like this one can be rather boring but a few sights along the way made it interesting including this rather pretty picture as we left Vermont of Echo Lake in Tyson and one of the Fall colour ‘in progress’.
At one point on the drive I began to wonder if I’d had a drink or two, albeit it rather early for a drink, because I realised that I was indeed seeing cows and a moose(!) standing on a roof!! Luckily, on closer inspection I realised they were not real after all.
I felt really at home when I saw this sign. My name before I married my dearest was in fact Weston! Pleased to see I was offering ‘luxurious accommodations and fine dining”, definitely my kind of place.
When we saw this one we were rather confused ………….. had we been transported back home and didn’t realise it!
It was very kind of the good ‘ole folk of New York and New Jersey to lay on a welcome for us!
and boy were we pleased to see this sign!
We are not staying at a casino but at The Claridge Hotel and Brighton Park here in Atlantic City. It has a very interesting history as it stands on the site where the founder of Atlantic City, Jeremiah Leeds, built his family settlement in the late 1700’s. The hotel opened in 1930 during the great depression and some of its famous guests included Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Princess Grace of Monaco, Al Capone and Nucky Johnson who was an Atlantic City, New Jersey political boss, Atlantic County Sheriff, businessman, and racketeer! Some of you back home in the UK may have seen Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire in which the character Nucky Thompson was actually based on Nucky Johnson. Great show!
Tomorrow we’ll take some photos of the hotel, I know, the excitement is just too much, but in the meantime, this is the view from our hotel room looking over Brighton Park and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Is that the UK I can see, I’m waving, 👋are you all waving back?
We were woken in the night by very heavy rain and thunder! But by the time we had partaken of an excellent breakfast here at the B&B the rain had stopped. This morning we were treated to a very delicious cheese and ham scone (no, not like a British scone, this was a flat cheese scone with the ham inside) together with poached eggs on top and tomatoes completed with a lovely red nasturtiumfrom the garden on the side. There were also homemade raspberry turnovers, fruit and cereals. We were the only two for breakfast but more guests are arriving today so it will be interesting to see who those other guests are and where they are from tomorrow morning.
After breakfast we left to drive to Waterbury. The rain had left mists everywhere, curling round the mountain tops it was a stunning sight.
We saw various warning signs along the way …….
but alas the only ‘wildlife’ sighting we saw today was a little bunny rabbit!
One thing that is always obvious to us as we speed along the Interstates is how well kept they are. Grass nicely cut and no rubbish at all.
Being in this part of the country always feels like home as a lot of the towns are named after places back home i.e. Manchester, Portsmouth, Windsor, Essex and Middlesex to name but a few. It’s pretty obvious who settled this part of the USA!
By the time we arrived in Waterbury the sun was out and it was lovely and hot. Waterbury is home to the original Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory. This is where the whole B&J story really started. From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, to far-off places, the journey that began in 1978 with two guys and the ice cream business they built is as legendary as the ice cream is euphoric. We decided to do the factory tour but were not really impressed as we had chosen the day production had been stopped to clean the machines ready for a new flavour run! Anyway, we were given free ice cream to try so not everything was lost!
They have an ice-cream graveyard on site and that’s where all the retired flavours go to ‘rest’. Each retired flavour has its own headstone. Here are just a couple.
As Si’s into cider at the moment we felt that a trip to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill was in order. We were able to go and see how the cider is made and this turned out to be very interesting as we had it explained about how our cider is known as ‘hard’ cider in America (i.e. alcoholic) but American cider is just pure apple juice with no additives whatsoever and confusingly enough, in American you can also buy apple juice distinct from cider because it does have additives and flavourings! Confused ………… we were. There’s a wonderful store in the Cider Mill too filled again with all those goodies we just have to have! I picked up a jar of Apple Cider Jelly (jam to the Brits) to bring home with us but sadly it didn’t make it to the counter as I dropped it, boom, glass and jelly all over the floor. They also make cider doughnuts and of course we just had to try them! They were fabulous.
Tonight we went back to The Mill at Simon Pearce for dinner and once again, it didn’t disappoint. We don’t eat lamb at home but Si decided that as we are in the USA it’s somehow okay as the lambs are American …………….. so that’s what he had for dinner!
I think someone somewhere wasn’t happy with his choice because as we tried to leave the restaurant the heavens opened and the rain lashed down! It was running in rivers down the car park. We had neither coats nor brolly! That’ll teach him!
Tomorrow (Friday), we leave the lovely Applebutter Inn here in Vermont for quite a long drive down to Atlantic City for the weekend. Just a little history note for all those historians reading the blog, the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as in 1854 it was the home of Edwin C. Emmons and he fought in the American Civil War for the Union.
By the way, that’s our ‘beast’ of a car on the drive. I can just about manage to climb out of it without falling but getting in is not a very lady-like affair as I have to put one foot in and then heave myself in by pulling on the armrest!! Hey ho, the perils of being short!
See you on the shores of the Atlantic ocean tomorrow folks.
We leave Boston today to travel to Vermont but before we do that let me tell you about last night’s ball game, Boston Red Sox versus Oakland.
We toyed with the idea of getting a taxi to Fenway Park as it seemed a lot easier than walking to the station and working out how to buy tickets. Our last experience of train travel was when we wanted to travel from New Jersey into New York City to go and see Ground Zero. Now we are quite intelligent folk and as some of you will agree, I’m quite a techie (Sandra that is, not Si, no tittering from anyone thank you!) but it really was a bit of a nightmare. We had to purchase them from a machine that really didn’t speak English, I think it had been imported from the planet Krypton! Anyway, we had to enlist the help of a very pleasant guard who explained it all to us. It wasn’t possible to buy return tickets, had to be singles. Alas, I ended up using the inbound ticket to travel outbound, the guard on the train didn’t notice and I was lucky that the inbound train guard didn’t either! Duh!
Anyway, I digress …………. last night’s ticket purchases was extremely easy, even though it was from a machine and only cost us $11.00 for two returns to travel anywhere. Now that’s what I call cheap. So we jump on board, packed like sardines in a can (we’ll never complain about the London Underground again!) and off we shoot to Fenway Park.
It was a great game and the Boston Red Sox won by 11-1. The whole thing about baseball is that it’s such a family event. Everyone having a great time. There’s no swearing and shouting of abuse like we have at football (soccer for our US followers) matches. At football, once the game starts everyone is concentrated purely on the game. No-one speaks or usually moves until half-time whereas at baseball there’s people on the move all the time but not in a distracting way. There are dozens and dozens of snack vendors going up and down the isles selling hot dogs, pizza, peanuts, candy floss and drinks. No need to go hungry or thirsty there.
First Ball! Can you spot it? Not bad considering I took it on my iPhone!
They were having a special event last night in aid of children’s cancer and they had families affected who came on to the pitch.
We had great seats just up from behind the batter. We were under cover and there was also a fine net so that no-one would get hit with the ball if it came behind. Sadly, there was a very small area where the net was not attached to the roof and we couldn’t believe it when a ball came through that small space and hit an elderly gentleman on the head! 😱 🤕 He had a little cut but seemed okay, the medics however insisted he went out with them to be checked over. He was very reluctant to go though and miss the game.
All in all a great experience. 👍
As we needed to go to the Post Office this morning and it was just along from the Paramount Cafe we decided we would go in there again for breakfast. As we entered the waiter welcomed us back which was a nice touch. Another great breakfast consumed, Si had the Avocado Surprise while I just had scrambled eggs on toast.
Just one side note regarding Boston ….. we were told this morning that there were gangs of young men on Boston Common last night with guns and one was critically injured!!
Now, onwards to Vermont!
Sadly, didn’t see any!
It was a lovely three-hour drive to where we are staying, in Taftsville, just outside Woodstock, at the Apple Butter Inn. An 1850’s farmhouse bed and breakfast and our hosts are Jill and Don together with Ginger a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The B&B is absolutely lovely. We are in the King David room and it even has a sleeping porch all screened in so that we can sit there in comfort with a nice glass of wine and some cheese. In fact, Si’s already been down the road to the little local store and purchased said items! 😀
As we had arrived rather too early for check-in we decided to go into Woodstock to take a look around. It must be at least 20 years since we were last there. It’s a wonderful little town with those gorgeous little shops that are always full of things we can’t possibly live without!!
There are a couple of lovely covered bridges locally that have been restored to their former glory.
On the drive into the B&B we crossed over the Ottauquechee River with its covered bridge and waterfall. Next to it stands a building that for centuries served as a woollen mill and is now home to Simon Pearce Glass and The Mill restaurant. We are booked there for dinner this evening. We are told no-one who eats there is ever disappointed! I shall report back later this evening on our experience. In the meantime, this is the setting!
Well, we’ve returned from The Mill at Simon Pearce and what a find that turned out to be. It was voted one of “America’s Most Romantic Restaurants” and we could see why, everything was magnificent. We were advised to book early and turn up about ten minutes ahead of time as we wanted a table by the window and it’s first, come first served. We did as we were told and bingo, we had the best seat in the house.
We may go back tomorrow evening. We both started with mashed avocado and lump crab on toast then Si had the fillet mignon and on a lady’s recommendation who eats there regularly, I had horseradish crusted cod, it was magnifico!! We shared Bakewell Tart to finish and the waiter was keen to know what we thought of their English pudding. We reassured him that it could easily have been made ‘back home’ so that pleased him.
For those who follow Si’s daily intake, here’s tonights!
Quechee Weir at sunset
Well, it’s been a long old day one way and another so it’s off to bed we go. Tomorrow we continue our tour of Vermont!
Night everyone! 😴
PS: Note for Sue P ……………. the gin and tonic lip balm is working a treat! 😘
So the day has indeed turned out to be a very lovely one, sunny and very hot. It was an early start because we were awake at 4.30 am, not being acclimatised yet to the time difference!
We decided to have breakfast away from the hotel so sought advice from one of the ladies on Reception. She directed us to The Paramount Cafe on Beacon Hill. It’s a small cafe that’s been in business since 1937. All the food is cooked to order in front of you and it was excellent. I’m sure some of you would like to know what we had for breakfast! We had omelettes, Si the Western consisting of ham, onion pepper and American cheese and for me the tomato, mozzarella and basil.
We first visited Boston about 25 years ago and it’s now a lot busier with many more tourists but it’s still a lovely place to visit.
Here comes the history ‘bit’ ……….
The history of Boston, the capital of Massachusetts plays a central role in American history. In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded Boston and helped it become the way it is today. Boston quickly became the political, commercial, financial, religious and educational center of the New England region. The American Revolution erupted in Boston, as the British retaliated harshly for the Boston Tea Party and the patriots fought back. They besieged the British in the city, with a famous battle at Bunker Hill in Charlestown on June 17, 1775 (which was lost by the colonists, but inflicted great damage against the British) and won the Siege of Boston, forcing the British to evacuate the city on March 17, 1776. However, the combination of American and British blockades of the town and port during the conflict seriously damaged the economy, and the population fell by two thirds in the 1770s. The city recovered after 1800, re-establishing its role as the transportation hub for the New England region with its network of railroads, and even more important, the intellectual, educational and medical center of the nation.
We walked the city today stopping off at the Old Granary Burial Ground. It is Boston’s third-oldest cemetery, founded in 1660. It is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots including Paul Revere, the five victims of the Boston Massacre, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. The cemetery has 2,345 grave-markers, but historians estimate that as many as 5,000 people are buried in it.
One of the most popular places to visit is Quincy Market. Built between 1824 and 1826 it is now a food court serving just about anything you could wish for.
Faneuil Hall has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1743 and is today’s Government Centre in Boston. It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others encouraging independence from Great Britain. You can see from these two images that not a lot has changed.
Other images from today are The Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the citizens of Boston from the front balcony on 18th July 1776 and the Massachusetts State House which is the State Capital and seat of government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Old State House
The Massachusetts State House
We came across some very friendly locals on our walk. This one was very interested in what we were up to. I think he was worried that we would be watching where he was going to hide that nut!!
Then on to the seafront and thought it only fair that we show you a photo of our yacht that is tied up in the harbour!!!!!!! Compared with the other yachts ours is just a little rowing boat but it was all we could afford at the time!! 😉
Here’s one of me telling Si that he needs to get himself a job so that we can buy one of those other yachts!!
We are off to see the Boston Red Sox tonight, lovely evening for it, so decided we should eat early. I know, I know, all we seem to do is eat! We decided on a place called Joe’s right on the harbour. It was very hot so decided we would take shelter indoors where Si tried the one cider they serve called Angry Orchard. He was impressed. It went well with his half-rack of ribs. As for me, as we were sat overlooking the ocean, I decided on the fish and chips washed down with a Ginger and Lime Rickey. I’ve heard of a Rickey but have often wondered why it’s called a Rickey. Well, I know have the answer ……. I think!
Si at Joe’s with his ribs!
The name Rickey is an English baby name. In English the meaning of the name Rickey is an abbreviation of Richard ‘powerful; strong ruler’.
I think I’ll start a book entitled, ‘Simon’s Eating Habits’, could be a best seller!!
A report on our visit to Fenway Park will follow tomorrow. I bet you’re all really excited to read it!!! 😱
Welcome back blog followers, lovely to see you all again!
Well what a day!!
So, the day dawned, the chauffeur in his Jaguar was on time, the same driver as last year and we headed off to Heathrow Terminal 3. The weather was a bit iffy, heavy rain, wind and sunshine.
As we had checked in on-line on Sunday, it was a simple job of just dropping the bags off and on to Security. No queues at all so we were both through in a jiffy. No need to worry about anyone seeing my lumps and bumps, we didn’t have to go through the body scanner!
Next it was off to Duty Free for the perfume purchase of the year and it was a lovely surprise when the lady at the checkout told me I had £15.00 on my Heathrow Rewards card!! I had no idea as I never check my account. Wonder if that bodes well for the visit to Atlantic City!! Fingers crossed.
The necessary goodies for the flight were purchased. Just wouldn’t be the same without Cheddars, some kind of chocolate for me, soft mints, Starbursts and a bag of Haribo for Si. We shall eat our way across the Atlantic. 👍
Talking of eating, it just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t start off the 2017 blog without a photo of Si’s first holiday meal ……….. so here it is! It was something healthy for a change! Smashed avacado, poached eggs and tomatoes on toast. I had something healthy too, the Pilot’s salad which consisted of flavoured(?) quinoa, creamed goats cheese and various minuscule vegetables. It was delicious. Probably all down hill from here. We ate in the Pilot’s Lounge (not literally of course, it’s just called that) and very pleasant it was too before heading to the Aspire Lounge to wait for the boarding of our flight. I know, it sounds crazy to eat before going to the Lounge but that’s what we do!!
So, next stop Boston where the temperature is currently in the low 80’s so if that keeps up we’ll be quite happy. 🌞
Will finish today’s post once we’ve arrived in Boston. See you ‘across the pond’.
Well, here we are ‘across the pond’.
First of all, we flew on a new Virgin Dreamliner 787-9 called Mystery Girl. Lovely plane, food excellent. We were called to the gate at 4.25 pm with take off scheduled for 5.25 pm. The plane wasn’t full and they had us all boarded so quickly that were ready to go at 5.10 pm, fifteen minutes early. The captain came on the intercom and said how good it was that we were all aboard and ready to go but then a minute later he came back on and said that there was a plane jam due to the weather. We had had intermittent heavy rain showers and we would have to wait twenty minutes before we could push back. Well, we all know what that means! We took off an hour late!!! One good thing was that we were originally told the flight would take 7 hours 5 minutes but now would only take 6 hours 38 minutes. We saw a rainbow just before take-off and that cheered us somewhat. Alas, that was the last piece of good fortune we were going to have for the remainder of the day!
In all of our 30 years of visiting the US our arrrival last night will go down as one of the worst we have ever experienced!! 😱
We landed literally with a very big bang as we hit the runway rather hard. We de-planed very quickly and headed for the Immigration Hall. Well, we couldn’t even get in the hall, we were stopped and separated into red rows and a blue row i.e. US citizens and those who had been here before and non-US citizens. While most of our travelling companions were whisked off down the red row, because we had to renew our passports and ESTA this year, we were pushed in to the blue row. We had to wait for about twenty minutes before there was even room for us to fit into the hall. When we did manage to get in it was like a scene from Wembley Stadium, thousands of bodies everywhere. What a nightmare! We could see twelve gates of which eight were closed leaving only four to process the whole hall. This is allowing for about 30 automated gates that the red row people were using so you can imagine what it would have been like if they were not there to speed the process! We had passengers from two other flights in front of us and more coming behind. Talk about lack of organisation. If anyone ever hears me say we’ll fly into Boston again, please smack me round the head!!
After 90 minutes of standing, we just got to the head of the queue and they opened up four more gates and we were lucky enough to get moved to one of those and be processed.
Given the amount of time we were held in Immigration we didn’t have to wait long for our bags because the carousel ours was on had by know ‘given up the ghost’ and had stopped so any remaining bags had been dumped in a corner awaiting collection.
After leaving the airport we got a bus very quickly to the Car Rental Center. Now you know what happened next ……………….. all those who were in front of us in Immigration are now in front of us at the Avis rental desk!!!!! I’ve got to say all the other car rental desks (Hertz, National, Budget etc) were empty, it was just Avis that had the huge queue with only three people serving! By now I’m ready to lay down and die!!
The guy who eventually served us was very good and efficient. The car had already been booked and paid for (of course, the car we had ordered wasn’t available so they did the usual and upgraded us, so we are now driving a monster truck, a Chevy Treverse) so all that was left was for us just to ‘do the business’ regarding the sat nav, fuel option and now the EZ-Pass too! Massachusetts has decided to introduce non-cash toll roads and tunnels so we had to have the EZ-Pass. Doesn’t matter that we are only here for a couple of days, we’ve had to pay for the whole time we will have the vehicle, although the guy at the desk did set a maximum charge limit on it for us. Thank you Kenny!
The sat nav (for those who have followed us before on the blog, will know that we call it Margaret) was