Sunday in London

We woke to grey skies. Well hello London! Where is the blue sky of yesterday.

The man on the door assured me that there was just going to be a sprinkle.

I took his advice and left without an umbrella just a light jacket. Mmm

We walked to Hyde Park and strolled whilst others cycled and ran.

We passed the new Queens Gates.

We passed the Australian memorial and walked toward a Buckingham Palace. The crowds were out and so were the umbrellas! But not for us!

It started to rain. There were only trees to shelter under so on I went getting wet.

We headed for Guards Chapel for the Sunday morning service. It has beautiful singing and a band who look as good as they sound. Beautiful red uniforms!

I sat and dried out and shivered. Steve kindly gave me his jacket to warm me up.

By the time we left the sun was out so we made our way across to St James Park and wandered along in the sun looking left toward Buckingham Palace and right towards Horse Guards.

Coffee at the cafe in the park warmed us and gave plenty of opportunity to people watch. There are many tourists from all over the world all strolling peacefully through the beautiful gardens.

We then zigzagged our way back to the hotel passing some familiar sights.

The sun was out but it was time to catch a train to the airport for our next adventure. A swim trek in Kas Turkey.

The train was fine, the airport busy but our flight was something else.

I have never been on such a noisy flight. English families going on a beach holiday. Steve likened it to a school excursion! The noise!

Two rows in front of us were two big guys with more tattoos than teeth. They and another mate and children the odd wife and newly made friends stood in the aisles or knelt on their seats facing the rows behind telling jokes that only they thought were funny.

It went on and on for four hours. There was a wedding announcement which everyone applauded. There were multiple drinks and crisps purchased, a baby being passed around like a parcel and constant loud chatting! It was funny and awful all at once.

Four hours later we arrived in Dalaman and one of the men – Mr Yellow t shirt, gets up while the plane is still taxiing in and starts handing out luggage from the lockers. The hostess asked him over the loudspeaker to sit down and put his belt on so he joked around and sat in the aisle!

When we finally were allowed off, he pushed and ran to immigration and then called all 12 members of the group to jump the queue to be with him. What happened next was just and fair!

He went up to the immigration window. Next thing the officer is on the phone. The last we saw he was standing on the side waiting for someone to let him into Turkey! . Hopefully they sent him home!

We met up with Lesley another swimmer and Betty our friend and found our driver and made it down the coast to Kas by 2am!

A big sleep in is called for before swimming starts!

First Stop Doha

We landed 🛬 in Doha at around 6am after a 15 hr flight. We were pretty comfortable in business class and Qatar Airlines was very good. I’ve decided it’s probably better to get the long haul over with first and then do the shorter haul second. But it will still be a long day.

We made our way to the lounge and it is huge. After a shower and a cup of tea we went searching for the Qatar City Tour desk. It had been recommended as a good way to fill in the hours of waiting.

It meant leaving the airport and joining a group to explore this big, new looking city.

Like Dubai it’s full of big shiny buildings, lots of palm trees, oversized public buildings, sand coloured public buildings and a distinct lack of people. They are all inside out of the cruel heat.

We arrived on a Friday which is like a Sunday over here. Everything in the city seemed to be closed. We didn’t get to go inside the Islamic Art Museum or the big mosque. We did get to the bazaar but it was mostly closed and had no atmosphere. And the heat!

Us in the heat with the Islamic Art Museum behind.

It was 40 degrees plus! Way too hot to do anything much. Our air conditioned coach took us to various landmarks and we wandered in the heat trying to be interested. I failed I think. I walked around with a scarf over my head to provide shade.

Doha was renowned for its pearls.

A small mosque in the cultural part.

The massive amphitheatre in the cultural village. Seats thousands. In the sun!

I don’t know how the city will cope with the Soccer World Cup here next year. It’s going to be at this time of the year. Our guide said they were going to roof and air condition six stadiums! There is plenty of money around, thanks to oil and natural gas. So it will happen, but the poor tourists getting out and about in the heat will be a challenge.

We continued onto the the souk. Very interesting but as it’s their holiday very little atmosphere and people and nothing much open.

We arrived back at the airport by lunch time and only have another two hours up wait until our London flight.

We’re looking forward to meeting up with friends and enjoying our few days there before the Turkey swim trek.

First stop Sydney

Welcome back to my travel tales.

We’re off again!

This time London , Turkey and back to London.

But first a mini stay in Sydney as Steve has a board meeting before our flight tonight.

Last night we met up with my sister Catherine and David, nephew George and niece Helen.

Today a gorgeous ferry ride to Double Bay to visit my sister at her school, Double Bay Primary, where she works as a teacher librarian. So no lunch with her!

Then lunch with nieces Pip and Clare and little Max. We were so busy talking I forgot to take a photo.

But the ferry ride was wonderful so lots of photos. It’s a world beater ride. The views in the sunshine are breathtaking.

I haven’t been to Double Bay in years. It’s still has it’s Village feel but there are as many Beauty bars as espresso bars.

The little beach next to the ferry wharf is a beautiful place to chill.

The public Library is another place to spend time. It’s so inviting. Libraries are not dead!

I’m waiting on the ferry back to Circular Quay , meet up with Steve then out the airport. A Qatar flight to London.

So follow along for the next few weeks as we rediscover London and swim along the coastline of Turkey. Another swim trek based in Kas.

Sight & Sounds of NYC.

Finally made it to The Whitney Museum. It’s at the start of the High Line walk in West Village.

Unfortunately 3 floors were closed due to installation of the Biennial due to open on May 16. Get there if you can.

Having limited floors to cover actually allowed us to take our time and really enjoy the exhibitions.

So what we saw were 2 great exhibitions:

I love the work of Edward Hopper and Georgie O’Keeffe and they both featured in the ‘Where We Are’ Exhibition.

Leaving the Gallery we headed uptown to Mykonos Blue in 29Street. We met friends Lynn Sherr and Lois Dubin from our Galapagos swim trek two years ago.

Such great ladies who have become great friends. Both still involved in their professions – Journalism and Landscaping. Lois did the landscaping on Roosevelt Island several years ago. It’s worth a visit.

Walking down 29 street we noticed many trees and flower shops. Turn out it’s one of the main wholesale place for larger trees and planets. The hydrangeas the lillies and the orchids were fantastic. There was also every accessory imaginable for arrangements. Ribbons, vases, coloured sands. Etc etc.

NYC is great for walking if you have the stamina. It’s set out in a grid system so easy to follow and you just count how many blocks you have to walk. We decided to walk back along to the High Line. It’s like a spine running along the east side of the city for about 20 blocks. The sun was out and so were the walkers. It was crowded.

We started at the Hudson Yards. It’s newly finished with it’s new sculpture feature. The Vessel.

It an amazing honeycomb type gold copper type material. It has steps going up and down like a maze. It reflects what is going on around it.

We didn’t climb it. 2.500 steps if completed it. That would be too many! So we viewed it from the new shopping centre. It’s all shiny and filled with big brand names.

We enjoyed the walk in the sunshine and couldn’t help but comment on the building projects and street works going on.

We are staying right near Chelsea Market so got off there and explored the markets. Lots of great eating places and great little shops. It’s an interesting area to stay if you’re wondering where to base yourself in NY. It adjoins West Village another terrific area to stay. If you watched the TV series Friends then this is where the apartment is set. And Magnolia Bakery is here. It’s smells delicious!

In the evening we made our way to Time Square. We all had tickets for the The Temptations. We collected the tickets and had a drink nearby. We got back to the theatre and found like all the theatres here, there is no real foyer area so the line forms outside on the footpath. Somehow everyone gets into their seat on time.

We had great seats in the balcony but so close there was no room for legs!

The show told the story of how the Temptations formed with all their ups and downs. There were something like 42 guys making up the Temptations over a 25 year period!

Interval came and we decided on a quick trip to the restroom and boy did we get a laugh out of that. The queue went zig zagging up and down stairs with at least 100 in it.

Elizabeth and I decided we were chatting anyone so we’d try our luck. The lady who we christened the ‘toilet monitor ‘ was directing with all the energy and authority of a NY Police officer. Perhaps more because you wouldn’t want to cross her!

Sure enough they managed to get everyone through when the bells rang. Perhaps it works the other way round. They don’t ring the bell to return to your seat until all the ladies have been through the restroom!

The night finished with us all dancing and singing all the way home.

Staten Island, Brooklyn and the East River

You need to plan your days in NY. There are so many things to do and see.

Today we made our way down to Battery Park. The Lady Liberty looks small from the park so we decided to get the infamous Staten Island ferry for a closer look.

If you are wanting to take this ferry you’re in luck. It’s free! And it only takes 30 minutes over and 30 back. You have to get off the ferry at Staten Is and then re board it. It’s a good way to rest the feet!

We arrived back and walked along Water Street then Fulton’s Wharf area towards the Brooklyn Bridge. there’s some great street art.

We walked through Dumbo and stopped at the little beach near the children’s playground . It’s an oasis.

Wandering around this area is always interesting but we thought seeing it from the river would add a new perspective.

The East River commuter ferry came along so we jumped on and continued up the river towards Williamsburg.

We had 5 stops before getting off just near the United Nations at 34th St.

And then we walked. Through mid town and across town past Union Square and into Chelsea. We only just made it ready to go out for dinner!

Jordan has booked Buddakan. https://buddakannyc.com

If you’ve watched Sex and the City, it’s the restaurant that Carries and Big celebrate their engagement.

We had a beautiful dinner. It’s Asian fusion style and our group of 6 had the $75 pp banquet. It was delicious.

It’s big and showy and very dark!

There’s a big stairs where you can make a dramatic entrance- and hopefully not fall down it and really make an impact.

Elizabeth & Peter McGregor and Pippa

Three of the desserts!

A little Shopping and Sights to Behold!

As were were close to some shopping (how can you not be in NY?) we thought it was a good chance to do some whilst checking out of one hotel and into the next.

So off we went. Headed for Macy’s as they have a huge selection and always discounted. Steve has a thing for shopping. He does it maybe once a year and just goes crazy! I don’t. I tend to take too long and feel I’m wasting time.

So we separated and decided to meet up back at the hotel.

I walked to the New York Public Library. I’ve been to NY several times but never to the Library.

It’s magnificent.

The inside is massive and marble and so welcoming. Take a peek.

The reading room has gold lights where Boston had green.

Spring is finally coming to NYC! And the plantings are everywhere.

We met up and moved to our new hotel in the Meatpacking area. The Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel. It’s great. Just near Chelsea Markets and the High Line walk.

We have a great room overlooking 14th Street. It’s a pretty trendy place! And they upgraded our room as I said how disappointed Steve was to hear the pool was closed for maintenance.

We got settled and waited for our friends to arrive. Elizabeth and Peter McGregor from waterpolo days are here with two other couples staying in an apartment a block away.

We met for a drink on our rooftop and then we made our way down Bleeker St for dinner with Rob & Jordan. We were joining in their traditional “West Village Wednesday” dinner. They eat somewhere new every Wednesday!

Tonight it was Loring Place.

https://www.loringplacenyc.com

The food was great , particularly in the small plates section. Gorgeous asparagus, charred spiced cauliflower, ricotta with greens. So many lovely veggie dishes.

It was so good for Rob to meet up with his waterpolo mate Sam’s parents again. He shared a flat with Sam back in Sydney Uni playing days and played together for about ten years all over the world.

Back in the Big Apple 🍎

Travelling by train can be quite relaxing and it was great leaving the car in Stamford for the 45 minute fast train to NYC.

We arrived at Penn Station and walked 2 blocks to our hotel the Holiday Inn. It’s not the best area – pretty unexceptional street but handy and good for a night.

We came back a day early and our hotel near the Chelsea Markets didn’t have a spare room!

We got ready for our dinner with Rob & Jordan and took off in the Red Line 1 for Wall Street and Manhatta restaurant.

https://www.manhattarestaurant.com

Check it out because it was amazing.

The view, the food, the atmosphere and the restaurant itself. It has a $80 a head, 3 course set menu. If you pair with wines add $58, or choose from a well-selected, well-priced wine menu. There are about 5 choices in each course. They give generous breads with pate to start and 2 lovely chocolates at the end.

So you know what you are going to be paying. And it’s all delicious. And NO tipping! In NY that’s amazing. They practically chase you down for tips here. But this restaurant has a no-tipping policy and the staff couldn’t be nicer.

It was lovely spending time with the kids.

We started with drinks and admired the view. You can see Rob’s office from here. Right on Wall Street. See the arrow in the photo pointing at it.

It was a great night and even the subway trip home was entertaining!

The Mansions of Newport. And the Craft Beers

Yay. The sun is shining.

Somehow everything looks gorgeous when the sun is out.

Our hotel right on Thames Street is perfect. We slept in, then decided to make it a walking day. The mansions, the cliff walk and the museums. Too much? Keep reading.

When planning a walking day you start with coffee. We had bananas and blueberries at our hotel. Enough we thought. We just needed coffee. So along Thames Street we walked and found a great Italian place open for breakfast. Suddenly Steve needed a French toast.

Oh my, was it delicious. I had a few mouthfuls. Must return tomorrow!

Then we headed up to Bellevue Avenue. Apparently it’s one of THE most beautiful streets in the US. First stop. The Elms.

Now if you haven’t been to this area you won’t quite understand the wealth on show. These people were wealthy and building big opulent houses was how they displayed their wealth.

We walked along Bellevue Ave and checked out the houses. They are amazing.

The Elms

The home for the Preservation Society.

As well as the houses, the fences and gates are so decorative.

We walked and looked.

Loved this clock on the corner of a park

A modest sized house!

Next stop was Marble house. Not so modest!

“Marble House is a Gilded Age mansion in Newport. Designed as a summer cottage for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt by the society architect Richard Morris Hunt, it was unparalleled in opulence for an American house when it was completed in 1892

Alva was quite the woman. She divorced William and married another multi-millionaire and moved down the street. Money attracts money!

Her daughter, Consuelo Vanderbilt was a encouraged to marry royalty! Her marriage to The English 9th Duke of Marlborough has become an emblem of the socially advantageous, but loveless, marriages common during the Gilded Age. She became a friend of Winston Churchill. ”

So off we went further down Bellevue Ave. Finally to the start of the cliff walk. It’s a beautiful walk along the cliffs in front of many of the grand houses.

Read more about it here.

https://www.newport-discovery-guide.com/newport-cliff-walk.html

They warn on a sign that it involves some rocky walking – and they were right. In lots of places there was no path. Just rocks.

We got talking to a lovely local couple. They gave us lots of information about the area and even suggested a drinks party tomorrow evening. It’s a pity we’re leaving !

Next stop was Breakers. It’s the big one! They are all big but this one is really big!

Another Vanderbilt mansion.

“The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial pre-eminence in turn of the century America. 
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century.
 

It is an amazing house. The Vanderbilts had 7 children and one daughter became a prominent sculptor.

The baths were wonderful and oh how I would love to have had a soak.

We continued walking after leaving the Breakers. We passed the Catholic University which looks so prestigious.

Finally arrived at the car museum – Steve loved it! And the tennis Hall of Fame Museum which we both loved.

The buildings are lovely and the museum has so much memorabilia. I felt so proud of the number of Australians in the Tennis Hall of Fame. Mind you we haven’t had any in recent years. I don’t think Tomic or Kyri – whoever, will be there any time soon!

The ticket officer was lovely and chatted to us for ages while we took photos in the photo booth!

He even suggested a good place for Steve to enjoy a craft beer. It’s called Pour Judgement.

We went there and it was indeed a very good place for locals. Great beers, food and friendly staff.

Huge meals. We ate about half each!

So I’m writing this with my feet up. The 22,000 steps today have taken their toll!

Bye Boston. Time for Island life. Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Is

The sun was shining . Of course it is – we’re going to drive!

No problem picking up a new hire car. I looked out our sixth floor window and said farewell to Boston. And to our city view. The Airbnb has been great.

We took the 93 South heading to Hyannis and Cape Cod. Who hasn’t heard of these places and then thought of rich Americans – the Kennedys on holidays!

The drive was fine. Not that much to look at as we travelled along. Then we moved onto a smaller roads and wound our way around Hyannis , the port and the cove and looked at the sun bleached houses. It would be pretty crazy here in summer.

Lovely homes and quiet deserted beaches.

We headed for Woods Hole. We decided to take the ferry and an island tour. Martha’s Vineyard!

I had emailed Sue Bennett from

https://marthasvineyardexcursions.com

It worked well. We parked and got a shuttle bus to the wharf. There’s no parking near the wharf, so leave time to park and ride.

The ferry trip was a relaxing 45 mins. And during that time it clouded over !

We were met at the wharf by Dave our guide. He’s a local, having lived on the island for 40+ years. He raised his family here and had one of the only ‘fast food’ places on the island. It’s right at the Chappaquiddick ferry. They don’t allow chain store food here on the island . So no McDonalds, Chico, Wendy’s, Subway.

He had a little take away place selling burgers fries etc and obviously did it well. He sold it 8 years ago when he got ‘an offer too good to refuse.’

Dave started our tour in an anti clockwise direction and gave us a great overview of island life. There is a before summer time and SUMMER. Then it’s full on. The population is around 17,000 normally to over 150,000 in summer. There are 6 towns on the island and 4 of them are dry! No alcohol is sold at bars, shops, restaurants! They can bring it over from the other towns and drink at home. but it’s not sold!

He says there is also no crime to speak of! No wonder!

We cruised around and once again I loved the houses.

Especially this one above. It’s actually the local jail! He said crime is low, so the criminals they get are for traffic violations and drunks (obviously bringing their own alcohol in). They stay there in the house but let themselves in and out. Sounds good to me. Cheap rent!

We stopped at the ferry to Chappaquiddick and heard more ‘tales’. Dave is a very good storyteller!

The film Jaws was filmed here and the film crew stayed 6 months and Dave had to drive a lot of them around. He said Director Steven Spielberg was very nice and easy to get along with and lived in this house at the wharf. See below!

The man who played the Police officer lived here.

Dave was full of knowledge. Gossip and otherwise.

Now the gossip on Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick was most interesting. We heard the ‘ local’ version of what really happened and Ted stayed near here!

The houses are lovely and worth millions. The sad thing is that many are used for about 3 weeks a year! That’s it! In between they pay people to do the upkeep on them. So we saw plenty of workers hammering, nailing and painting! New shingles shone brightly. They are a yellow colour when new, then fade to a soft beach grey.

Needless to say. I loved them.

We heard stories about Joe Kennedy Snr paying the rent on Gloria Swanson’s (actress) house. Why? Well those Kennedy boys loved their women. Apparently.

I’m just repeating what Dave told me.

We saw the house Emily Post, a journalist had. Including her garden where in summer the dahlias are huge!

And then we reached Oak Flats

This house, owned by the man who developed Norton anti-virus software, was completely rebuilt after a fire. His father built the original house and he, the rich son, has rebuilt it exactly.

The Obamas – who holiday on the island for a month each year, sit as guests on this verandah to watch the fireworks put on by the Norton’s on the 3rd weekend of August. Love it!

The stories of the wealthy were staggering. Palm Beach in Sydney and Noosa in Qld. need huge doses of steroids (and money) to reach this level!

Obama plays golf about 3 days a week and flies friends in to play with. Pick me I whispered!

Then we reached the cutest part of the island. The Gingerbread houses!

Google https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.countryliving.com/real-estate/news/gmp3613/marthas-vineyard-gingerbread-houses/

These houses are just great. I quote…

” The 318 whimsical Victorian cottages found in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard are an exceptionally well-preserved collection of Methodist camp meeting houses. Laced with fanciful gingerbread details in an array of shapes and colors, they also happen to be the most adorable homes we have ever laid eyes on.”

The homes evolved from humble roots. In 1835, a half-acre of rural land bordering a sheep pasture was selected as a place to hold a small Methodist camp meeting. Originally in tents …..

But by the 1860s and 1870s, as the camp became a more permanent, year-round establishment, the tents were replaced with small cottages, most of which display the whimsical Carpenter Gothic style that was popular at the time.”

They are amazing! They are tiny, close together, colourful, and cost a fortune to rent! I think my friends would love to all rent these at the same time. By the sea , in summer. Perfect!

Then we passed an outdoor tent like structure used for concerts and church meetings. Apparently, James Taylor, a favourite musician who was ‘discovered ‘ here. returns and gives a charity concert every five years.

By now my head was swivelling from house to house.

This tour was so much fun!

But the rain had started and Dave was out of stories. He dropped us near the wharf with time to explore the little Main Street. Steve felt like a beer but remembered that it was a dry town. So we had a coffee.

I explored a few of the very cute shops. And it was so quiet. Lucky summer is so huge and the locals can make some money!

We headed back onto the ferry and continued our journey. It’s Newport, Rhode Island now for two nights.

We have a lovely little apartment right at the wharf.

Tomorrow the Mansions! And a car museum! And a cliff walk.

Keep you posted. Hope you like a Martha’s Vineyard as much as I did. Let me know?

Boston. We love you ❤️

Despite the cool. Despite the rain – we decided we love Boston.

It’s easy to get around. It’s a great walking city. There’s lots to see and the food is great.

This morning, we had coffee, did our washing and headed off. First a visit to Faneuil Hall. What a great market place for food. The fresh food markets are nearby and the cooked prepared foods are inside.

We jumped in an Uber and were at Harvard Sq by 10.30. Our guide Mike was quite the performer. In fact half way through the tour he told us in was in a drag show that night.

He was a good fun guide and kept the large group informed and moving along.

We heard lots of stories about how Harvard got its name, how women were not admitted until the 90’s. Women studied at Radcliffe. Now it is coeducational and women are dominating the numbers. We heard about living in the houses. 90% live on campus.

We heard about the buildings. They are grand and lovely.

One of the houses for students. JFK lived here.

The Library in particular is stunning and built with money donated.

Unfortunately you have to be a student to enter but Mike told us to visit the Boston Public Library as it had a reading room identical to that at Harvard.

After the tour we visited the Harvard Art Gallery. It’s a very good collection. Much has been donated by past students.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Man Ray. I thought he only did photography!

Now it was time for a good piece of American history. We went out to the JFK Museum. It’s a very grand structure about 20 mins from the city centre facing the Boston Harbour.

An orchestra performed in the atrium.

Lots of film clips if JFKs speeches. He was charismatic.

Beautiful rooms with memorabilia of the times

Then it was back to the city to the Boston Public Library. What a wonderful building. Old at the front and linked with a courtyard to a new serviceable part at the back.

The old………

And the new

We walked back to North End past

Trinity Church

The Boston Common with a Japanese festival!

Through the theatre district, Faneuil Hall and straight to the Oyster Company. It was at this stage my phone died so no pictures ! 😢

But I can describe the big succulent plump oysters, the Prosecco to give them life, and the smart jokes from the oyster shuckers as we sat at the round oyster bar chatting to a lovely couple from New Hampshire. These Americans are so friendly.

We called into book a table at one of the many good Italian restaurants in North End. Tonight it was ‘Strega’. Steve was over the moon with his veal chop stuffed with prosciutto. I loved my risotto de mare. again!

We finished with a limoncello and planned our trip tomorrow.