Outline of trip.
Holiday Inn, Bath Road, London
The adventure starts with a night at Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel 118 Bath Road UB3 5AJ London just a few miles from Heathrow Terminal 3. Thanks to my membership of IHG we get a room upgrade, with a fridge! Plus 20% off food and drink, just as well really as I was having a hot flush with the high prices. Get tickets for Hoppa bus to take to terminal 3 tomorrow at 0636, with the alarm set for 0515 ……..
Todays Hotel view.
On the plane
I particularly liked the film about about a pork omelette. Also the one about the teacher with Tourat’s was a classic. Oh how how we laughed!
I’m asleep by 1300. As we’ve been to this part of town, and this hotel, before we just go to our usual local haunts for food and drink. Found craft ale bars so Dick is happy. Back to the hotel by 2300’ish and asleep by 0030.
Sightseeing in Seoul
The sun is shining and we set off to find the railway station for tomorrow’s journey to Bushan. En route we stop for brunch, at Myeongdong Shopping Street Seoul and have a local dish – clear soup with rice on the side. Beef seems to be the meat of choice, even if it is every bit of the cow that is used! Grilled Rectum! WTF! Other choices of food include ‘Hangover soup’ Stir Fried Cartilage’ and an olde favourite ‘The eldest Grandson of the hangover soup.’
Have a Starbucks coffee before returning to the hotel for a short snooze. Find the local post office so manage to get rid of the postcards. Onto an ale bar. Dick enjoys the happy hour prices and I sample grapefruit-ade. Very nice but couldn’t do too many. Eat close to hotel with a seafood pancake, also given what I think was a chicken see through soup. One last bar before returning to hotel and bed.
Travel to Busan
From Seoul you can take the train via KoRail They have an Englaish langusgae site. We booked the train tickets in advance. The main train station in Seoul is Seoul Station. We are taking the KTX express train. Today we are going by train (Hopefully, if we get the right one!) to Busan and then getting a 3 hour ‘Vomit Comet’ ferry to Japan. Then 2 nights in Fukuoka, Fuk-U-OKA, before a train to Tokyo.
Time for a coffee before boarding the 0900 train to Busan. Marvellous train service and we arrive a couple of hours later. It is a short walk to the ferry port where we await the 1530 jet ferry to Hakaka, Japan.
Busan Ferry Terminal
There had been all sorts of horror stories about this service and it’s high speeds in rough water. The safety demonstration tells you to keep your seatbelt on throughout the journey (We move at 40 MPH) as we sometimes need to swerve suddenly to miss Whales!
|Beetle Ferry Busan to Fukuoka Japan|
|Food Beetle Ferry Busan|
Well it was a breeze. No bouncing around so all good. Low cloud didn’t allow for much sightseeing or enjoying the views. Immigration and Customs at both ends of this journey were a dream.
|Map Busan to Fukuoka|
Hakata Nakasu Inn.
Taxi to our hotel, Hakata Nakasu Inn.https://www.hakata-nakasu.com/ As expected, the room is very small but comes with all mod cons and plenty of complementary bits in the bathroom. We pop out to find many restaurants and places of entertainment. We go to an Italian for food and return to hotel by 2200 for a quiet night in. We are now at Fukuoka Ken Kurume Shi Japan. Or Fuk-U as the locals call it for 2 nights.
Dreadful sleep again. Consequently we’re both knackered. Pop down to a breakfast of fried noodles, cabbage, a bit of omelette and a bit of mackerel. We need to buy the bullet train tickets today so that is our mission for the day. A short walk finds us Hakata railway station and we get the two tickets for about £150, which is half what we thought we’d have to pay.
|Hakata Railway Station Fukuoka|
Then on to the hop on hop off bus trip. Not one of the best. The audio channel didn’t work so we were none the wiser at the end of the drive. Back to the hotel as we are both knackered and we managed to sleep for four hours. Absolute bliss. We venture out to a couple of beer bars that were spotted on our bus trip. One bar we went to was the Crafty Bear, Sumiyoshi, Hakata – Ku, Fukuoka City. Some great cocktails and dodgy looking beer. This was an orange beer and very, very, nice. www.morris-pub.com
|Crafty Bear Bar, Hakata|
|Crafty Bear Bar, Fukuoka City|
Wandering around by the canal is really quite relaxing and peaceful despite the locals who have had half a shandy too many. Oh, found a Desigual outlet but didn’t venture inside. Maybe there’ll be one in a Tokyo our next stop. Back to hotel for more sleep and local Tv. Excellent time.
|Hakata Nakasu Inn Hakata TV|
|Hakata Nakasu Inn Fukuoka City TV|
Shenkensen fast bullet train to Tokyo
Quite an uneventful but productive day. Leave the hotel by taxi to get to Hakata train station for our 1010 Shenkensen fast bullet train to Tokyo.We should be grateful for the small things in life. Prior to boarding we decide to eat some food, Well at least we now know it is a food menu. Number 4 looks nice, but without the cheese topping.
|Shinkansen bullet train board|
There are direct Shinkansen trains which go from Hakata station. You can walk to Hakata Station from the centre of Fukuoka in about 30 minutes or take a taxi, which will cost roughly 1000 Yen. We tried to buy the tickets from the ticket machine the day before we travelled. It is not a problem, the ticket machine is in English. But ensure you get the correct ticket, we bought the ticket without the express part, and when we tried to go through the barrier on the day we were blocked until we bought an express addition to the ticket.
Each complete ticket was about £150. Book a reserved seat otherwise it is a 5 hour stand! Everything at the station, and on board the Shinkansen bullet train, is written both in Japanese and English. Get some food and drink prior to boarding as choice is very limited on board. There is a trolley that goes up and down the train.
Not much to see en-route.
|On Shinkansen bullet train|
Shiba Park Hotel
We stay at the hotel Shiba Park https://en.shibaparkhotel.com/ which was booked by the cruise company. On this note I need to recommend our cruise company arranger, www.cruise.co.uk/holly and firstname.lastname@example.org . She has arranged a couple of trips in the past for me, and she is very good. The hotel is great. Our room is four times the size of those to date with all of the required toiletries in the bathroom. There is even BBC News on the tv so Dick is happy. We’re still not over this jet lag thing so have a two hour kip. I present a show on SFM radio, https://www.sfmradio.com/ in the UK, so I did a live interview by phone to the UK about the trip. All worked well.
We pop out later in the evening for food and find an Indian restaurant not too far from the hotel, and my sag paneer hits the spot. New Namaste India Restaurant. which was very strong, but makes you sleep well. Telephone number 03 3431 7147. They had some Nepalese lager Return to the hotel bar at the rear of the property for a nightcap. You forget how annoying it is to have smokers in a public area, but overall the bar is very relaxing. Reminded me a little bit of the Commodore’s Bar on the Queen Mary 2.
The hotel Shiba Park https://en.shibaparkhotel.com/ has the longest flushing toilet in the world ever. However not the best hotel view in town!
Relatively good sleep so ready for a sightseeing day. First though we make use of the washing machine and dryer at the hotel in order that we can have a full complement of clothing for the boat trip. The weather is a bit drizzly but we make our way on foot to the train station to pick up the sightseeing bus,
although we have been there before we had not taken a tour bus. There is a very good hop on hop off bus service. There is a blue and a red route. Be aware there is no covered seating area, so wrap up warm.
|Tokyo Sightseeing bus in the cold.|
Cagoules are provided and you all look like giant condoms on the top of the bus.
There is no ‘downstairs.’
Not the best of tours but it was 90 Minutes driving around town.
Observation Tower Tokyo
|National Diet Building Tokyo|
|Japanese Building Tokyo|
Eating in Tokyo
We stop for lunch at one of the restaurants at the station.
I was quite cold as there was not an option to sit inside, however, we immediately went onto the one one hour tour which was even less informative than the first. We spot an Irish bar on our walk back to the hotel. It is not far from the hotel so the plan is to go back to the pub for pre dinner drinks, have a pizza and then return to the hotel bar for a nightcap. Mission successful. Did some people watching in the hotel bar – spot the cruisers ….. One thing that I will miss upon leaving Japan is the sophisticated toilets: the warm seat, the variety of flush modes. Wonderful.
Also we were promised a ‘fantastic cultural free gift’ if we took the open top tourist bus.
|Japanese Sushi gift|
Well here it is. What is it? The hotel receptionist looked at me as though I was a bit weird, and didn’t know either, perhaps sushi with rice on top? Tomorrow we start the Pacific Ocean Cruise.
We’re being picked up at 1100 so just pack and potter about until then. It took about half an hour to get to the port where there were lots and lots of taxis queuing to get to the Celebrity Millennium boarding point.
Our driver passes the queue to drop us off at the front! Our luggage is briskly taken care of and after a short wait we check in and are given our State Room key. We’re told our room is not ready yet so we pass the first hour in the Cellar Masters bar. Two vodkas on next to no food leads to a siesta later in the day. In the meantime we move in to State room 8151 Celebrity Millennium our home for the next two weeks.
|State room 8151 Celebrity Millennium|
The ship has been recently refurbished so everything looks very clean and smart. We just squeeze into the Oceanview Café before 1500 for lunch. Lots of choices. It is all too easy to overeat …. before the ship moves off we have our muster station drill and then we’re off.
|Celebrity Millennium leaving Tokyo|
We’ve decided to use the Oceanview Café for most of our eating experiences rather than limit ourselves to specific meal sittings in the silver service restaurant. Our entertainment starts with a four piece band, mainly for dancing but jazzy as well. Very nice. After eating we are entertained by a female soloist and guitar player, and we finish off listening to Bryan James, guitarist/singer. Singalong’ish. As long as it doesn’t turn into karaoke it’s fine by me.
|Medical evacuation Celebrity Millennium|
Food on board
We are at sea for 36 hours, in calm seas heading for Northern Japan.
|View from Stateroom 8151 Celebrity Millennium|
After 2 days we docked in the northern Japanese port of Hakodate. Early arrival at Hakodate, an island at the tip of Japan. The view is nice. A metal scrap yard!
|Scrap yard Hakodate|
|Where’s Wally Hakodate Celebrity Millennium|
We get the shuttle bus into town, primarily in search of WiFi but also to look for postcards.I should mention at this point that WIFI on the Celebrity Millennium is very expensive, $319 dollars for 1 device for the trip for 14/15 nights.
Bank Holiday in Hakodate
Anyway, back to the boat and a walk around deck 11.
|Celebrity Millennium Hakodate|
Strictly Come Dancing
Oh, this was after our Japan immigration departure admin in the Cosmos bar. All very official and well organised. Afternoon spent on lunch, watching an episode of Game of Thrones and listening to podcasts. Evening as before, drinks before supper but this time with the Bristol Fashion House Band this time. Clearly this is going to be groundhog day for the next 14 nights. We could be in worse places. More displays of Strictly Come Dancing from fellow South Korean/Japanese passengers (How do you tell the difference?). After our buffet supper it’s off to the theatre for a violin virtuoso concert by a Ukrainian lady.
Very pretty, very slim and very talented. Crumpet! I said to Sue that she keeps looking at me, I suppose she is only human after all. Having said that, I did find myself nearly dropping off a couple of times during the performance. Must have been the two glasses of champagne. Anyway I toddle off to bed after the show. The clocks go forward one hour so 2300 seemed fairly respectable.
Now 2 days by boat to Petropavlovsk, Russia
All day and night sailing.
Sue’s day starts with a meditation with Chris Luard, www.suchsweetthunder.org, a practising Buddhist. It was very much along the lines of Yoga Nidra. We meet for a very quick breakfast before a talk by Chris about the life of the Buddha. This talk was followed by retired Assistant DA Ronald Bowers, who was retelling a couple of court stories. Interesting but I found his presentation skills to be stilted and felt a little cheated that we weren’t told any real details. The afternoon slipped by in a long doze . Went back to the stateroom after lunch and that was it until gone 1900. Whoops…. down to the Rendezvous Bar for some music, then buffet supper, back to Café al Bacio for nightcap and music. The clocks go forward again tonight. Ground hog day.
Of course cruising along all day and night you do tend to miss some of the sights. Albeit, yesterday, I think, was just a lot of sea, or ocean. For instance this morning at 0700 whilst waiting for the kettle I spotted a snow-covered mountain. It’s somewhere on the coast of Russia but who knows where.
Clear sky today.
At 0900 I go to the Assistant DA chat and meet up again for a coffee later. Decide to have a lazy day so just watch the snow covered islands that we are passing en route to mainland Russia. Clear skies and not much else to be seen on the sea, the occasional fishing vessel and a few birds. As we get closer to mainland Russia there are many more of these snow covered islands. It makes you wonder if any man made footsteps have ever been made. I was talking to someone who has a balcony on the other side of the boat who said he’s been watching whales! But then he didn’t see our landscape.
Bristol Fashion House
Entertained by the Bristol Fashion House band, buffet dinner and then back to the stateroom for me for an episode of Game of Thrones, put the clocks forward another hour and then sleep. I did try sitting on my balcony one night but the artic southerly wind was a bit fresh.
Tomorrow we arrive at Petropavlovsk, Russia.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky celebrity Millennium.
After 2 days at sea we arrive in Petropavlovsk, Russia about 0615. I assume we only stop there to break up the long 7 day sea voyage ahead. A very welcome break even after 2 days. Petropavlovsk doubles up as the nuclear submarine base across the bay.
|Celebrity Millennium Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky|
This is the far end of the world! The far end of Siberia, The town is set on a peninsula that in order to get to you need to drive, what was this place like in the 1800s?
I have travelled through Siberia before and I wasn’t disappointed with how poor and grim this place was.
In an effort to vary my walking exercise I walk up the stairs from floor 1 – 11, twice. As we’re still waiting for our passports to enter into this Russian town at 1230 I guess I could have done quite a few more laps. We eventually leave the boat 1330’ish and have a short walk into town.
Sightseeing in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
|Celebrity Millennium Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky|
BE AWARE that although the Celebrity head office won’t give you a straight answer, you CAN go ashore independently and don’t need to purchase one of their very expensive shore excursions. There is only one way out to the town, and you have to exit through the security area where there are free maps and an ad hoc tourist office. Everyone is very helpful. Take a walk into town, keeping the sea to your left, about 15 minutes, and you find a huge square with one or 2 very local, and basic bars.
The houses on the hills look quite poor with corrugated roofs. I do wonder how they cope with the weight of the heavy winter snowfall.
|Celebrity Millennium Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky|
Looking for Wifi
Looking around I think there might be a ski run in view. There is not a great deal of colour around but there is a beach, pebbles, and lots of the locals are enjoying the sunshine. I wonder if it is a holiday. There is no advertising as to what is behind the shop doorways and the one we ventured into was a supermarket with beer taps behind the till for a carry out draft beer service. What a great idea. Carry on walking with the sea to your left and you will come to the Baker Street cafe, Petropavlovsk. That is the free internet cafe. There were about 40 passengers from the Celebrity Millennium there and the wifi still worked. Wifi Petropavlovsk.
So we did a bit of admin before returning to the boat.To be honest apart from the wifi, (obviously no food is required) and expensive souvenirs there wasn’t an awful lot there.
Back on the boat.
The first of seven days and nights at sea. Sue’s day starts with the 0900 meditation. Always nice. It’s got quite cold now. 4 degrees, apparently. Not bikini weather at all. Gosh but the wind is strong on deck 11 but Sue managed to struggle through for the meditation. Followed by breakfast and we meet for a quick cuppa before the 1115 talk by Chris Lourd. The food on here is incredible, albeit some of it is mystery food. They cater extensively for gluten intolerant needs.
Gluten Free Food
|Gluten Free Celebrity Millennium.|
|Gluten Free Celebrity cruises.|
The next talk was the DA guy about the OJ Simpson case. Afternoon passed by watching a Game of a Thrones, only series 7 to go now, a short yoga session and a quick kip before going out at 1900 to listen again to the Sailing Mood Quartet. I think it’s the Bristol Fashion House band at 2200. Meet some nice people at dinner, another six-some. Clocks go forward again one hour. A groundhog day.
Nearly oversleep for Sue’s 0900 meditation session, then some of the Mythologies of Buddhism before lunch. Never really wake up so watch a couple of tv episodes before a 30 minute doze, and then our 1900 schedule kicks in with a trip to the bar. I’m getting a bit stir crazy not being able to go outside – it’s just too cold and too windy for an outside walk. In fact, some of the upper decks are closed due to harsh weather conditions. We saw an Island today, wow. Land. But only for a short while as we pass between the Andreanof Islands.
Another Saturday 04.05.19.
As we crossed the International Dateline on an easterly course we gain a day, so as Saturday was so good we get to do it twice. This Saturday finds me a lot livelier, meditation, then yoga, then a noon lunch as breakfast didn’t happen. Watched a bit of tv before doing my CV workout of walking up and down the stairs – floors 1-11. I then went into the solarium and had a quick dip in the mineral pool and a sprawl on a sun lounger. It’s still too windy for me to walk outside and again some of the upper outside decks are closed.
Out at 1900 for pre-dinner drinks and watching the ‘Strictly wannabes’ strut their stuff. Joined two ladies for dinner in the formal dining restaurant, on to the café to be entertained by Bryan and then back to the Sailing Mood quartet for the last set of the evening. Clocks go forward again by one hour. The general sea state is now getting rougher.
If I thought we had a groundhog day everyday on here, to do the same day again is a bonus groundhog day.
Yoga Zen and cocktails
Sue starts the day with meditation and then an hour’s self yoga practice. Cappuccino in the café before meeting up for another early lunch. A talk with Chris on Zen Buddhism at 1330. Sea a bit calmer today. Watched a bit of tv then went for a walk on deck 11. It was lovely to be outside. Espresso martini as a pre-dinner/pre show drink. Nick Page Les Miserables was the entertainer.
|Theatre Theater Celebrity Millennium
A marvellous singer, apparently had lead role in Les Mis in the West End. Then buffet dinner. Bristol Fashion House band and then Bryan until 2300.
Awoke to a very misty morning, off to meditation and then a talk on the Tibetan book of the dead! Coffee, lunch and then a walk around deck 11 with the poles. An episode of Game of Thrones, followed by Bryan at 1500 in the café. Show at 1900 with Antonio Salci a very talented pianist, dinner in the formal dining restaurant. After dinner entertainment was the Blue Moon duo in the Café al Bacio.
|Café al Bacio Celebrity Millennium|
|Café al Bacio Celebrity Millennium|
Sue exits at 2300
The boat is not like a scene out of the Agatha Christie story, death on the Nile, where we all sit around drinking gin and playing cards, there is a lot to do for most of the day, just a bit cold if you go out on deck. There is a huge theatre that holds around 800 people and some great acts were put on for us.
Quite posh at dinner, and you are sitting with people you have never met. It is fair to say that UK and American humour don’t really mix. There were a few awkward silences after some of my great jokes were told.
Got Told Off
I got told off by the my cabin steward, I liked to refer to him as the butler, or cabin boy, depending on my mood. Anyway he told me I couldn’t wash my pants in the sink and then hang on them on a washing line in my cabin. I thought he was done for the day but forgot he comes in around 6 pm to turn down the bed and put the chocolates on the pillow. He caught me with my washing line I bought from the pound shop in Sittingbourne and all my stuff hanging up. You can take the boy out of South London but can’t take south London out of the boy.
|Dirty washing Celebrity Millennium|
Being posh I had a balcony but it was so cold out there my pants would have frozen and been more crispy than normal. To be fair I was invited to use their laundry service at $50 a bag. I stayed dirty!
Still a bit of mist about. Sue off to meditation at 0900, we meet for coffee before the presentation by Dr Gary Kramer. My first taste of this man, albeit I have seen him and his wife about the ship most evenings strutting their stuff on the dance floor. Later I see Retired District Attorney Ronald Bowers.
|District Attorney Ronald Bowers|
More talks and singing
Back to the Rendezvous Bar
Set the alarm for 0800. Feel really tired this morning. All of this drinking and entertainment is taking its toll. I am even saying I could do with a quiet night! How spoilt are we? Anyway Sue goes to the last meditation of the cruise with Chris and I go along for the last presentation from the DA. A quick lunch is followed by a walk around deck 11 where I see quite a few people sprawled out on the sun loungers and in the pools and Jacuzzis. As the sky is blue and the sun is shining I join them
The water in the pool is bath hot and very salty so it was lovely to just float with the warm water on my back and the warmth of the sun on my face.
|Celebrity Millennium swimming pool|
What a marvellous way to spend my time. We meet up, by chance, with a couple we met earlier on the cruise before dinner and so we grab a table for four and just gossip or the next couple hours. Bryan entertains us until 2300 when I collect another glass of wine to take to bed whilst watching another episode of Game of Thrones.
Arrive at Victoria, looks lovely as we cruise in. Good weather too. We are next to an even bigger cruise liner.
|Victoria Town Hall Victoria Canada|
Actually have breakfast this morning and off the ship by 0900. We walk through a residential area to the downtown area. All houses are detached, mostly different designs with quite a few blocks of flats. We find the harbour and a few government buildings en route to a WiFi coffee shop.
|Chinatown Victoria Canada|
Sightseeing Victoria Canada
The sun is warm and it is a very pleasant diversion. One of the city’s refurbishment plans is to maintain the old facades of buildings and just replace and modernise the inside, so there were quite a few building sites populated with cranes causing some traffic chaos.
There was also remnants
|Harbour Ferry Victoria Canada|
Find a craft beer bar just outside the cruise ship terminal before getting back on board about 1630. Watch a few of the seaplanes taking off as we wait for the ship to push back and head to Vancouver.
|Victoria Harbour Victoria Canada|
|Victoria Harbour Victoria Canada|
Café al Bacio.
The evening’s entertainment is provided by Sailing Mood quartet before supper, The Uptown boys in the theatre, finishing up with Bryan in Café al Bacio. Very nice night.
|Celebrity Millennium Stateroom 8151|
|Stateroom 8151 Celebrity Millennium|
Docked at Vancouver terminal by 0700, off the ship and at the Pacific Central train and bus station by 0830. No passport control, no customs. Super.
|Approach to Vancouver Island|
Greyhound Bus Vancouver to Seattle
|Greyhound coach Vancouver to Seattle|
Arrived in Seattle
a bit before 1700. I’d forgotten about the river/lake/waterways that make up Seattle. Beautiful. After checking in to Hotel Executive Pacific, downtown Seattle we find a bar on the ground floor that sells real ale, so I try the wares. Sue, Diet Coke.
|Hotel Executive Pacific Seattle|
We have been in Seattle before so went to the wharf area where it is pricey but nice and have a fish and hamburger supper.
|Another healthy Seattle meal.|
Fairly early night. Tomorrow is another travel day.
Wake up to a sunny and warm Seattle. We do a recce to find our route to the airport using the metro/tram service, get a coffee and a bun whilst strolling around. Take a photo of Starbucks first coffee shop, buy the statutory tourist Starbucks mug and then it’s time to rescue our luggage at the hotel.
|Original Starbucks Seattle|
Seattle to Los Angeles
The trip to Seattle Seatac International airport is cheap, $3 each, and we’re able to offload our bags for our BA/American Airlines codeshare flight to LA. The frustrating thing with the train was that had we known about it before we could have taken the train from the bus terminal to the nearby station to the hotel yesterday and not had to get the cab. We have taken this part of the journey by land before so to save time we flew. Usual airport activity whilst waiting for the flight and the two hours or so soon passed.
|American Airlines AA 6046|
Saw some lovely sights from the plane window – blue sky, sunshine and snow covered mountains, one looked more volcano shaped.
LA Mirage Inn, LAX Airport
Food for less
It’s Mother’s Day here. That would explain why we saw so many bunches of flowers being walked around the streets of Seattle yesterday. I did wonder who had died! Sunday morning was my initiation into Uber. What a great service, where has that been for all my life! A quick Uber into Union Station, Los Angeles where we’ll board the bus to Ontario near Chino airport for my fighter jet flight on Tuesday.Chino is about 40 minutes east of LA. Very suburban.
The coach company was Flixbus.
|Flixbus Los Angeles LA|
Hotel Seville Chino
Apparently our hotel there has an outside pool so let’s hope for sunshine. There was a slight delay on our bus departure as the driver was unable to operate a ramp to allow wheelchair access for one of the passengers. After a number of phone calls and another helper it was all sorted and we were on our way. The final destination of the bus was Las Vegas. We were the first stop in a place called Ontario in a shopping mall. Thank goodness for Uber as we used that app again to call for a cab to get us to Hotel Seville in Chino. Seville Hotel, Chino. https://www.hotelsevilleontario.com/
The cab arrived within about two minutes. Very good service. The hotel is very much based on the motel shape with ground floor and first floor rooms, lots of parking places and a very, very small swimming pool.
They used a wide angle lens!
|Hotel Seville Chino|
Colombo type hotel
The hotel is similar to the type of motel that Colombo used to investigate murders in, in the 80s. However it is a clean, bright, and very nice motel, except for the pool. The photo certainly overplayed it’s hand showing the pool. It is barely bigger than a plunge pool. Never mind! Our room, though, is spacious with the all important fridge and microwave.The locals here look at us like we have just fallen out of a tree as we don’t have a car and therefore walk everywhere. Something the locals here don’t do. It is great, you walk somewhere and the path ends and there are huge signs telling you no pedestrians allowed.
Eating in Chino
Live on UK Radio
Porridge is made in the microwave and we then set off on the 4 mile walk to Chino airport to get an idea of what goes on tomorrow. Sue has arranged a 1 hour flight in an L39, L-39 Jet. This was arranged through MiGFlug, I think they are based in Zurich and arrange flight sites around the globe. https://migflug.com/
Sue will have to fly out of Chino Airport. Fortunately the road is straight, albeit, long to our destination. They don’t like walking out here, at several places there is no pavement / sidewalk and we have to walk on the road or through bushes. Only one left turn and we’re there.
|Chino Airport MigFlug|
Istan the pilot
After a bit of a stroll around we find hangar 50 on B140 but the doors are closed, so we go for a bit of a stroll and when we return to the hangar we find Istvan, the pilot, and the plane. We introduce ourselves and all is set for tomorrow’s adventure and we bid him goodbye. On our way out a car pulls up and the driver asks if we’re lost. We tell him we’re looking for a café and he invites us to hop into the car and he gives us a tour of the little airport.
Apparently he is a retired fighter pilot and was enjoying telling us about all of the old planes on the airport. Very informative for those in the know! Anyway it was very kind of him to show us around. The lorries and their loads are huge, we find a lorry carrying giant tyres. You wouldn’t get one of them at KwikFit!
It’s close to 1500 when we get back to the hotel so I have a McDonalds and Sue returns to the room for hummus and avocado. Although the sun is shining by now, after a very cloudy start, there really is nowhere to go here to enjoy it so we remain in the room doing admin, and IT things.
It would seem that Sue has broken the memory stick and the Apple Mac no longer recognises the device so Sue may have to buy the last few episodes of Series 7 that she has yet to see. I guess the lesson here is that Sue needs to go to IT school. It would help if she had an interest in this technology but I don’t so it will be hard. But if that is my greatest worry I’m not doing too bad.
We get to Chino airport 1330’ish and Steve, the pilot, is already there, so he gets right on to the briefing.
|Captain Sue having a look. Captain Steve having a ‘look.’|
I have to say all the health and safety bits gave Sue a few heart thumps, especially when he’s talking about throwing yourself out of the plane if they have to bale out. Once briefed and kitted out its time to head to the runway.
|Preparing for MigFlug|
It’s flight time
|MigFlug flight over|
Sue has the time of her life doing a loop the loop, and flying upside down in the jet fighter over the desert close to Los Angeles.
Michael Angelo’s pizza restaurant Chino
Whilst waiting for a bus I asume this is a dentist’s company car!
|Metro link train station Upland|
A local taxi ride from outside the Los Angeles Union Street station is a set $10 flat fare.
|Los Angeles Union Street station|
Kawada Hotel, LA.
We stayed at the Kawada Hotel, on 2nd and Hill. Very nice place. I have incorporated the corner of the bed in order that you can see it is a real hotel view.
|Kawada Hotel Los Angeles|
|Kawada Hotel Los Angeles|
One day, if we spend some more money, we will have a good view. Nice room, a tad small but still very nice. 2 nights here then take an Amtrak train to New Orleans.
Next door is the Cherry Pick Café where we enjoy a late lunch. Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel for me with beet and orange juice. My sort of food.
Union Street Station
Do a reccy to Union Station to find out a few things about our Amtrak train on Friday. A very helpful chap tells us that our ticket entitles us to go to a lounge where our luggage will be sorted and we can help ourselves to the hospitality there. We pop up to the lounge and it will certainly be better than sitting with the ‘poor people’ in the public seating area! Having said that the public seats do look comfy, they’re like armchairs not hard benches.
Eating and drinking, LA
Anyway we then go to a bar called Down and Out LOs Angeles and that about summed it up. The national smell of Spain is everywhere. Cannabis must be given away on every sidewalk as you get wafts of the stuff as you walk along the streets. Popped into a pharmacy/grocery store. Full of weirdos! Got involved with a netball/basketball match on tv – Toronto vs Milwaukee. Eventually Milwaukee won.
|Raining in LA|
Although we knew about the change in weather from the forecast I certainly didn’t plan for it. I thought it would be sun tan lotion, shorts and t-shirts from the moment we got off the boat. We’re only having a lazy day so it really doesn’t matter.
Cherry Pick Cafe
We pop next door to the Cherry Pick café for breakfast and eventually venture outside and whilst looking for the hop on hop off bus decide to get a metro train to the Dolby theatre, the Chinese theatre and all the stars on the sidewalk. The subway is very easy to use. There are some sights on the subway, this chap had a French fries backpack.
|French fries backpack|
I buy a baseball cap and we return to Pershing Square and our hotel by metro train. We pop out to Bernadette’s bar Los Angeles, which serves good vodka and beer then a bar which was spotted last night to get an espresso martini. It also sells an IPA beer for me.
Not sure if it was a gay bar, but the barman was very kind to act in our mixing a cocktail video!
Bless …. Then onto the Grand Central Market for dinner/supper. Sue had a salmon and rice concoction. Me, a meat and rice burrito thing.
|Grand Central Market LA|
|Grand Central Market Los Angeles|
No drive by shootings
Been here for 24 hours and no drive by shootings! No car chases and no sight of the Kardashians! But we do have rain and a cannabis guide map.
|California Cannabis guide and map Kush|
Well that should come in handy, not! Return to hotel when supper venue closes. Watch nonsense on tv, then sleep.
Lovely, sunny day. Pack our big bags and then put overnight essentials in backpacks for our two nights on the Amtrak train. As the train doesn’t leave until 2200 we leave the luggage at the hotel and get the local metro trains to Downtown Santa Monica. It’s about an hour from our hotel at a cost of $1.75 one way. Golden sand, sort of blue sea but very blowy so quite a few waves.
|Santa Monica Beach|
|Beach Santa Monica|
We walk along Santa Monica beach all along to Venice beach, past Muscle beach where quite a few people were putting themselves through their paces.
Santa Monica is the home of muscle beach and weirdos.
|Santa Monica Pier|
|Pier Santa Monica|
Santa Monica Pier
As you walk along the promenade from Santa Monica Pier to Venice beach there are live bands featuring the oldest swingers in town, who play really well, to people talking themselves, trying to dance completely spaced out, one man was even dancing with a dog.
|Surrender your baby Santa Monica|
Everyone is good humoured, just a bit spaced out. Lots of bikes, electric bikes and electric scooters are available for hire but we stick to our goal of at least 10,000 steps.
|Electric Scooter Santa Monica|
There are some weird people ‘chilling out’ the closer you get to Venice beach, lots of over the hill musicians ply their trade. All very entertaining.
The smell of this area is one of cannabis.
|Santa Monica Police|
Saw three mounted police strolling around.
Miss ELASTIC and Mr MANTASTIC on Muscle beach.
|Muscle Beach Santa Monica|
|Muscle Beach Santa Monica|
Amtrak LA to NY
We will have a couple of nights stop over then make our way to New York where we will have completed the trip.
|Amtrak Union Street Los Angeles LA|
We took the sleeper carriage. If you have the money, and there is space available, then take first class Amtrak as the sleeper is very cosy for 2 people. You would be advised to check in your luggage, there is no space whatsoever in the sleeper. Be warned!! If you ever get an Amtrak train ensure you chop about 2 feet off of your height. I am 6 feet tall and trying to wind myself into a top bunk bed with only about 18 inches of head room is not fun.
I suffer from a serious medical disorder called snoring, especially after a couple of local beers, and was told that all the compartments were only separated by a vanity curtain. Fortunately they have now fitted doors so I didn’t keep too many people awake. The good news is that staying in a sleeper all your meals are provided, and they are of good quality.Our sleeper is small but adequate.
We do find that there is a slightly larger version but they are all booked. We sit in the observation car for a while until Sue gives in to sleep and throw herself on the bottom bunk, leaving me to enjoy more beer in the observation car. The distance of our train journey to New Orleans is 1670 miles, over 2 nights.
Overnight on Amtrak
Sleep relatively well considering the movement of the train. I am up a tad before 0600 for my coffee fix. I then change our bunk bedroom into our day room. The bottom bunk changes into two armchairs, one facing forward the other back with a big window for the views.
|Sleeper day cabin Amtrak|
At the moment there is a lot of brown earth, a few short trees and bushes, 8-10’ cacti and mountains.
|Amtrak LA to New Orleans|
|Amtrak Los Angeles to New Orleans|
We’re travelling through Arizona and our first stop, where we can get off, is Tucson. Don’t venture too far just in case the train leaves without us.
|Rialto cinema Tucson|
Whilst there a police car arrives and shortly afterwards a female is handcuffed and removed from the train. I’d seen her earlier in the observation car and wondered how long she would last.
|Observation car Amtrak|
Obviously having a wonderful time in her little world, slurping from a bottle of white wine at just before 0700 …. but they do seem to be strict on this train with regard to behaviour and safety. I go for a light breakfast of fruit and yogurt. Next stop, Benson.
Doesn’t even seem to have a proper station so we stay on the train. Clocks go forward as we enter New Mexico. Very dry ground, little vegetation, mountains in the distance otherwise flat. Just before 1500 we get to El Paso, Texas.
|El Paso Amtrak Station|
|Amtrak El Paso Texas Station|
Shortly before we see THE WALL, or a bit of it between USA and Mexico.
|The Wall between USA and Mexico|
I don’t think it will keep many people out ….. the Mexican side looks very poor. Able to have a little stroll at this station as some of the crew are changing. A couple more stops at very small towns, not even a proper station to speak of. Still dry landscape, a little more cattle but not much more. The food on board the train is surprisingly good so enjoy salmon for dinner. Follow this with an episode of Sherlock Holmes and it’s time for bed.
Sunday 19th May 2019.Considering it was nearly 11pm when I went to bed I was shocked to wake up when it was still dark and only 245AM. That was the start of it, awake and asleep all night. We stopped overnight at one stop for an hour and a half, between 4 and 5.30, if Sue had been awake I might have got off and had a look around, albeit there wasn’t much infrastructure there. Very low cloud today, not the desert weather we have been use to. The clock go forward another hour. Now very green and green fields.
First stop of the day
Houston Texas was the first stop of the day. An Amtrak only station so very little to do there for the one hour stop over.
|Houston Texas from Amtrak|
|Amtrak station Houston Texas|
|Wyndham Garden hotel New Orleans|
Wyndham Garden hotel
Monday 20th May 2019.
Wake up at 0800, visit the bathroom, return to bed and wake up again at 1045! Slow start to the day, obviously. Get a coffee from the ‘in-house’ café. Won’t be doing that again. The customer service around here seems to follow the Spanish training ..Rubbish!…. After a while we set out to find the Amtrak train station again to see if we can get an upgrade to our next train on Thursday. We’re told there are no vacant sleepers. We’ll try again Thursday just in case there are any no shows. We then amble down to the French quarter.
|Bourbon Street New Orleans|
|French Quarter New Orleans|
Sightseeing in New Orleans
Certainly not for wearing but beautiful.
|Creole Queen New Orleans|
Do a bit of people watching on the Mississippi river. There is a fantastic paddle steamer named Creole Queen that leaves New Orleans every couple of hours.
There is a very old Tram system in place.
|Tram New Orleans|
Bourbon Street, New Orleans
|Spirits on Bourbon|
|Spirits on Bourbon live music New Orleans|
Lots of happy, drunk people. I have a Po Boy for supper.
More sightseeing New Orleans
Very good couple of hours. Lunch is taken in a sports bar, a spot of cholesterol infused Nacos which a pint of dodgy Real Ale. Excellent.
Decide to explore Frenchmen Street for this evening’s entertainment. Again lots of nice house and bars, all with music. We stop at Boudoulas, or something like that. Very good band, the singer even added tap dancing to his routine and played the washboard-thing. Excellent. Had blue cheese omelette at 2300 before returning to the two piano bar. Not quite as good, but ok. Got home about 0100.
Another very slow start to the day. I leave the hotel about 1145 to go to Starbucks at the Sheraton hotel, Canal Street. We then stroll to the Riverwalk outlet centre and I buy two pairs of Levis. Sue nearly buys some Burberry sunglasses. We get to the market area close to Bourbon Street and not too far from the Mississippi and have a light lunch whilst listening to a good jazz band.
Regroup at the hotel before returning to Bourbon Street for more musical entertainment on our last night in New Orleans.
A bag of Doritos takes care of supper just before 2300. Another bad eating day. Set alarm for 0445 as we’re booked on the 0700 Amtrak train to New York tomorrow.
AmTrak 2nd Part
As expected the alarm went off all too soon and we begin the process of final packing and checking out of the hotel. We arrive at Amtrak station before 0600 and check in our bags and go to the lounge. Not much more than comfy seats. The toilet is very, er, umm, personal!!
|Cabin Toilet Amtrak|
We do enquire about an upgrade but at a cost of over $400 we decide to stick with our ‘cosy’ roomette! The distance of this journey from New Orleans to New York is 1169 miles. On time departure for New York at 0700. Tom is our sleeping car supervisor. Lovely expanse of water as we leave New Orleans, about 30 minutes into the journey, absolutely huge lake/inlet/outlet ……
|Amtrak New Orleans|
As our sleeping car is at the back of the train I’m not getting to see the station names as we stop, so I don’t really know where we are. About 1430 we stopped at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In the meantime we’re going through quite a few towns, all appear very small. There are swathes of forests with tall green trees, some areas look quite swampy too.
|Swampland New Orleans|
One bit of excitement. We had to go onto some sidings in order to let a freight train through, and then reverse for a while so that we could re-join the main track. Things don’t get much better than that! Managed to get off at Birmingham, Alabama for a quick leg stretch. Nothing to see from the platform though, not even the name of the station.
Heard a story from one of the staff. On one journey there was an elderly husband and wife travelling. The husband got off to have a smoke. All people were told not to wander too far as the train would be leaving soon. The train leaves the station and a short while afterwards it is discovered that the husband is no longer on the train. It appears that the husband had had enough of his wife and decided to delay the rest of his trip by one day in order to get some peace and quiet and had left the station. Love is …..
Start passing through Georgia 1900’ish. Rest of the evening was spent watching Netflix and BBC IPlayer. I’m in the top bunk tonight. Not the most comfortable. Still awake at close on 0200.
Get up about 0700. Not sure where we are. Atlanta was the last recognised stop about 2300 last night. Blue sky and sunshine. Passing tall trees, river inlets all very picturesque.
I think we’re going through Virgina, just passed through Culpepper VA station. Because of having to wait for the freight train yesterday we’re running about two hours late. Our friend in New York we are meeting is contacted regarding a new meet time. Lots of stations visited. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC and many more before our final station on this train of New York Penn Station. Baltimore does appear to be a toilet, well at least the bit I see from the train, I am assured it is nice.
|Baltimore from Amtrak Train|
During the couple of days on this trip I got chatting to some new potential step mothers for my daughters, I think their undercarriages may be faulty, so quick photo and they leave us at Washington.
Another love lost.
Quick photo of Washington skyline from Amtrak
|Washington from Amtrak Train|
and we are off again to New York, OUR FINAL DESTINATION.
Finally the skyline of New York, NYC comes into view,
|New York from Amtrak Train|
we have done it, circumnavigated the globe by land and sea.
|Cracked it. NYC.|
We get in just before 1600, rush to meet our friend at a nearby Irish pub. In total we have travelled 2839 miles on the trains. I celebrate our circumnavigation with a glass of beer, and Sue, a glass of champagne. Whoopee. A quick snack of hummus, an even quicker catch-up with our friend and then we’re back to Penn Street station to get the 1738 to Boston Bay Back. Due to arrive 2208.
The train is rammed as it is a long weekend here, Memorial Day, so you have lots of people clogging up the roads, trains and planes. Anyway we get a seat so we’re looking good. It got dark fairly quickly so not much to see on our journey to Boston Back Bay, arriving at just gone 2200.
Train and Taxi
A short taxi ride to the Hilton at Logan airport. https://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/massachusetts/hilton-boston-logan-airport-BOSLHHH/index.html Lovely room but as the bill for three nights if over $700, so it should be. Hotel view is up to it’s normal high standard.
|Hilton Hotel, Logan Airport|
We pop into the bar for supper, a couple of drinks and then bed.
Saturday 25th May 2019
A very slow start to the day. Gone twelve before we head down to the lobby for a Starbucks coffee. We are then advised the best way to get into Boston Proper is to take a free shuttle ride from the airport to South Station and then you’re there. We do that, find the hop on hop off stop and are told we need to buy a ticket at Stop one. So, the very nice lady driver takes without tickets to Stop one giving the commentary of her route as we go.
At Stop one we’re told that the buses stop running at 1700 so we don’t have enough time to complete all of the routes and to come back tomorrow at 1200. There is a delayed start tomorrow to the tours as there are two road races taking place.
We wander around the harbour area, view the pop up beer and wine spaces and the Starbucks outlets as we need to get Sam a Boston mug.
All done and we wander towards China Town to find the Corner pub which sells real ale! Stay there for a couple of drinks and make our way back to South Station on foot to get the silver line bus back to the hotel. We’re like locals now …… back at the hotel we have supper in Connoly’s bar, again, and get back to the room for some more rubbish tv.
Sunday 26th May 2019
We watch the Monaco F1 before we head into town for the bus trip. Fortunately we know where were going and buy our tickets with no problem. Very good tour, not too much ribbing over the Boston tea party. Not much history, either, but then we are in America which is still a young country.
It’s a lovely day so I enjoy the sunshine as we’re shown all the sights. I enjoy a couple of beers in a pub called Bostonia, https://bostoniapublichouse.com/ A very nice place to have a few beers. Sue is on Diet Coke Then we head back to the hotel to pack our bags and enjoy yet another good but expensive supper at the hotel. The alarm will be set for 0415 tomorrow as our flight leaves 0730.
Too early to be up but we are greeted by a wonderful sunrise which makes it worth it.
|Sunrise Logan Airport Boston|
No dramas leaving the hotel for the short walk to a Terminal 5 and our BA checkin. They wanted the best part of $300 for upgrade to Premium Economy so we’re stuck at the back. Row 27 for Dick and 29 for me, both aisle seats.
I get lucky with no-one in the middle of the three seats. It is cramped, you don’t get any service for about 90 minutes then it is all rushed. You get what you pay for. The flight is just under 6 hours so we’re at Heathrow by 1900 picking up our bags. Adrian our cab driver is there and we walk through the front door by 9pm. Trip over. Globe now circumnavigated over land and sea. A job well done over 9 years, too many laughs and experiences.
What will be next? …….My favourite place on this trip has to be Japan, and some of the cities outside of Tokyo. The people are really hospitable, eating mystery food is fun (Unless you are a vegetarian as you never know what you will get) and just the whole lifestyle, unless you are in business which I understand is still very draconian.
|1st August 2010|
|24th May 2019|
Photos of before and after.
Onwards and upwards!!