A Travellerspoint blog

28 Still in Toronto

Out and about plus a family visit.

sunny 26 °C
View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.

Monday 8th Sept.

Spent next day just walking around our local area, taking in the sights, homes and general environment. Bought a cabin suitcase on 4 wheels to help travel smarter not harder, as Ralph was carrying his laptop in just a carry bag since arriving in USA. Bought some lovely New Zealamd Organic Kiwi fruit and some strawberries to take to dinner as Dominic (a 3rd cousin of Ralph's) was picking us up to go to dinner with him, his wife Cathy and their 3 children to their home. We met had Dominic and one his son's stay with us in Wellington about 7 yrs ago. He and his family lived in Nelson then for 3 years. We had a lovely evening and Thai dinner with them and it was nice to meet Cathy in person and the other children too. They are made keen Ice Hockey and Soccer kids, ages 13,11,8 and 6. A lovely family and nice to have spent time with friends and family here in Toronto.

NIAGARA FALLS DAY

Tuesday 9th Sept. Out and waiting for pick up at 8.15am as advised. Still waiting 10mins later and had a feeling I should call them. Front desk of Hotel did for me and no, they were waiting for us at some cafe. Oir vocher said Hotel pick up.....So the driver said see you soon then! Pi ked up some other people at various Hotels, recognised a Kiwi accent so asked them....yes they were from Napier. Later I asked if they happened to know Noel and Karen Hawkins in Napier(good friends of ours), yes they did....small world.

Took about an hour and a half to get to the falls. Wow, great to see the water rushing towards 'the point of no return' and over the edge. Canadian side the best side we had been told and would have to agree. They weren't as big as we perhaps expected them to be but spectacular none the less. Our tour included a Buffet lunch on the5th floor of the Sheraton Hotel and overlooked the Canadian and American falls. Avery spectacular view. It was great watching the boats, The Maid of the Mist from the US side andThe Hornblower from the Canadian side, taking loads of blue or red poncho sporting tourists up to the foot of the falls. It was our turn on The Hornblower after lunch and what fun it was. Hannah a young woman from Melbourne and us were getting along great so we shared some photos of the occasion. The whole boat load of us were like little kids caught in a very windy rain storm, laughing our heads off and trying to take pics while getting soaked and trying to keep our ponchos from blowing up over our heads.

It was such fun and the falls looked great from down there ...I think!!

Back on the bus with very wet shoes and socks, to head for a look at a little town called, Niagara on the Lake. This is where the river down stream from the falls, flows into Lake Ontario. A beautiful town with gorgeous preserved/restored buildings, very quaint shops and lots of beautiful planted flowering borders and baskets. And some fantastic bakeries and icecream shops so of course we sampled both.

Next stop was a vinyardthat had ina German family since 1600 and something. We sampled a white and a red....nothing startling we didn't think, nor did the Napier coupleor many of the others. But the area specialised in Ice Wine.....leaving the grapes till December/January to harvest until they have had some snow and been frozen a few time. Draws the sugars out and intesifies the flavour....'a sticky' or dessert style wine results. Very nice, but $43 CAN a small bottle.

Before heading back to Toronto, we stopped at an area called the Whirlpools. Downstream from the falls and where the river goes over some rapids,....lovely and with a cable car sort of cage that went out over the river and sort of swung there for a while. No we didn't go on it.

Got back to Toronto later than expected and Napier couplestarting to get a bit anxious as they were off to a show at 7.30pm - no time for dinner first for them. They were supposed to do the tour the day before, but waited at the given time and didn't get picked up......not a good advert for the company.....glad I phoned or it would have been the same for us. Driver/Tour Giude pretty average, I must do a Trip Advisor review.!!

Posted by RuthWinmill 09:30 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

27 Moving On-5,6,7th Sept

Unexpected rewards

sunny
View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.

Had booked another Hotel close to San Fran International Airport as flight for morning was at 6am to Chicago.

Quite inexpensive ride to Airport in the city via shared van and then found the Hotel had a courtesy shuttle from the airport. Yay a nice change as it gets pretty costly transport to and from Airports.....then there is the tipping on top!!!! A really nice Hotel, Days Inn

Saturday 6th Sept. Up at 3.15am for airport shuttle at 4am. Free breakfast here but it was too early so had leftover pizza with us from the night before.....best bought pizza ever!

Shuttle driver was born in Fiji, had lived and worked in NZ for 8 yrs, had brothers still in NZ and visits regularly. A character indeed with our sense of humour.

Arrived Airport checkin to find our 6am flight to Chicago cancelled due to storms there the evening before. Nexf flight 12.30pm, ....no good for our connection to Toronto at 4.15pm. Let's not Panic but treat it as an experienceand see what develops!!!!! 20 minutes later we were booked on a flight to LA, still leaving at 6am.....cool.....then a 2 hr wait in L A then a direct internatioal flight to Toronto leaving at 9.45am and arriving Toronto 2 hr earlier than we would have done via Chicago.......sweet. We had been skiting that we weren't going to Las Angeles this visit. The cold Pizza tasted great at LA departure gate E52. Just goes to show you!!!!!

A great flight right across USA. I had a window seat and loved to look at the vastness and mostly desolate land below. I loved seeing the mountains, dry rivers and fault lines, the more irrigated areas of the great plains of the mid west and then the long lines of huge flat blocks of inhabited farmed land.

Arrived Toronto, (very flat with lots of stand alone apartment buildings) and got Taxi to Hotel. Very pleased with our Hotel - more like an apartment with full sized fridge with freezer, twin top cooker, pots pans and toaster, and a big microwave cooker too. Decidedto fimd the nearest Supermarket and get some supplies.....tired of meals out and cheaper. Poached eggs, toast and a piece of chichen each for dinner which ended up being about 9pm but tasted great. Glad I haven't forgotten how to cook!!

Sunday 7th Sept.

Next morning found our way on foot to the CN Tower where we were meeting friends we made on our Alaskan cruise, for lunch in the 360 degrees Resaurant atop the tower.

Great to see Claudia and Gian again, wonderful lunch, company and views. The CN Tower was the worlds tallest tower from 1976-2010 at 553.33mtrs.

After farewells to Claudia and Gian we waited to meet up with our Wellington friend Susie's daughter Anna, who has been living and working in Toronto for just 3months. Great to see her and spent time looking around tne downtown and stopping for a beer.

Back to Hotel and got a big load of laundry washed and dried, and only for $3.

Posted by RuthWinmill 09:21 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

26 San Francisco

Alkatraz and the Gate of Gold

semi-overcast 19 °C

SAN FRANCISCO

Wednesday 3rd Sept.

Good flight to San Fran and caught shared van ride to our Hotel, The Grant. Settled in ans went fora walk, but Ralph quite tired as has had bad cough for about a week now. Went back to Hotel for a rest/sleep. I think the heat in Vegas has taken a toll in our energy too. Realised our Hotel in a good location and the streets are all so straight and long.

Next day is Alkatraz Day.....looking forward to that.

ALKATRAZ DAY.

Thursday 4th Sept.

Both feeling rested and Ralph's cough improving at last.

We had checked the map and decided to walk the half hour to the Alkatraz Ferry wharf. Just straight down the street our hotel is on, turn left and walk a mile or so. Nice easy walk downhill then on the flat. Great to see the place close up. Arrived at across the street from Pier 29 (found out later in the day that is where the arrival area was after each America's Cup race) and mad our way to Pier 33. Nice and early so a coffee and relax before our boarding time. The ferries are pretty cool with 2 wind turbines on each and solar panels too. All helps with their renewable power mobility and great to see.

Really good to arrive on Alkatraz. Great intro talk and then up to cell block for audio guided self tour. A popular place. Really enjoyed this tour and the history. Al Capone, & the Birdman(didn't actually have any birds here) were on Alkatraz. It as closed in 1963 by Senator Robert Kennedy as it was becoming too run dow and woild have been expensive to upkeep. Now a tourist mecca and bird sactuary.

Great to have been,see and heard all about the place. Spent about 3 hours here before the Ferry back to Pier 33 and then walk to Pier 39 and the famous Fisherman's Wharf seafood late lunch/early dinner. Sometimes only having 2 meals and just a snack for evening or lunch.

A bit of a look around then got tickets for Hop On Hop Off bus back to near our Hotel. Ticket valid for 24hrs so that's tomorrows plan.

GOLDEN GATE

Friday 5th

Walked along Grant St to catch to bus for town tour. The Old Trams travelled up and down the hill street just on the nextcorner from our Hotel. They look really quaint and cool to travel on for the experience, but we didn't do that. Can't do everything!

Good bus trip as far as the Fisherman's Wharf stop. Saw the Church that Marilyn Monroe and Joe Demargio got married in. On the another bus for over the Bridge Tour. Hought about biking over or walking but quite a strong cool wind blowing so decided to must bus it. I took a video as we crossed, tablet almost blew out of my hands. Quite hazey but still a thrill to be on this famous piece of engineering and architecture. Not a lot over the other side, but you could go tk a trendy nearby are called Salsalito???? spelling? We didn't have the right ticket or time o go there though. Back on our bus and over tne brigde again to the Presida, the oldest part of San Francisco where the original Spanish Fort and Barracks was when they founded the city, whicn they named after St Francis of Assissi. He has come up so often since we began our trip in South America.....remember the Cathedral with the burial area underneath in

Lima. A big area and still lots of wel, preserved buildings of nice design. This area wasn't affected by the 1906 earthquake or resulting fire that destroyed much of San Francisco. Back along Lombard street which divides the city and is very attractive. Spent quite a lot of time just hanging out back at Fisherman's Wharf area, just looking about.....came across a submarine and old Naval Supply Ship.....intersting.....people watching and chilling out over lunch....way too big.....strolling and just being in the vibe, until it was time to catch our next Hop On Off bus back along its route through the city to near our hotel. the city reminds us of Wellington even weather wise, but has much longer straighter streets, but also similar weather. Much cooler here, even quite chilly especially after Vegas.

Posted by RuthWinmill 09:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

25 Fun in Vegas

And the Shows

sunny 40 °C

SEPT 1ST MONDAY

Labour Day Holiday here in the States.

Decided after breakfast at our Motel, to go and do a rekky to see exactly where to go to pick up our

Tickets for our Sirque Du Soleil Beatles Show in the evening. It was at The Mirage, which we could see from the Strip outside our digs. Didn't look that far, but the biuldings are huge and look closer than they are. Walked, looked, ogled and wowed our way there. This place is not 'tacky' like we thought it may be, but so well done and amazing. The Paris area and the smaller version of the Eiffel Tower were on the way and the huge complex that is Caesars Palace too. Nothing tacky about these.....they are amazing as are the statues and water features. Finally arrived at The Mirage and collected our tickets. Had lunch there. Looked at the Pokies and other Gambling dens there and in several other places along the way. Lots of tables and macines, not much action. Spent an hour or so after lunch and a part wander back to digs, just sitting at a cafe bar with a huge long cold fresh fruit drink, with mist sprinlkers spraying over us and people watching. The Strip was packed with visitors, due to the public holiday and we found it a great place to just be for a while. Back for a Siesta and get ready for faster walk back to The Mirage for the Show. Had to be seated at 7 for 7.30 start. STILL ABOUT 36 deg C.

What an amazing Show....we loved it.

Made our way back to our Motel, stopping to watch the wonderful display fountain at Bellagio. Took a video of it that I posted on FaceBook. Enjoyed a salad and crab cake dinner at Serendipity.

JERSEY BOYS DAY AND TITANIC.

Tuesday 2nd Sept.

Another very hot day...104deg F expected and reached.

We wandered off towards Paris area to collect our tickets for Jersey Boys Show at 6.30pm. Not so far to walk as the Mirage and on the way heard Lorde song Royales being played over speakers at Cafe we had our drinks under the mist sprayers. Very cool to hear and not the first time since the Cafe in Lima. Paused a while to listen and feel Kiwi pride.

Quite early so not as hot yet, or are we becoming acclimatised! Also not so many people as the day before with it being their Labout Day, so easier to get around.

Arrived at the Eiffel Tower, pretty amazing and inside the building, the legs continue so that it all looks like a street with lovely French Shops with trees and even blue sky with scattered clouds and even a gentle breeze. We clollected our tickets, checked out the Conveniences......amazingly lovely prcelain basins with lovely patterns. Took photo.....then thenwe had a very nice coffe and people watched before heading off in the opposite direction on The Strip from yesterday's explore.

We were keen to see the Titanic Exhibition at The Luxor. Another long hot stroll but all very fascinating, like the Cocoa Cola store with everything you could imagine dedicated to the drink or logo. Then the Hershey Store, the Roller Coaster near the Disney Castle and heaps more.

Arrived at Luxor with it's Shrinx statues and everything else on the inside of a huge Pyramid. All these themed places in Vegas have/are Hotels and Casino's and shops, restaurants and cafes.

We found the Titanic Exhibition and were blown away with it. Original footage of the planning, construction, launching and voyage until it's demise. First hand accounts of the passengers and all that lead to it's fate. Also video of the finding of the resting place of the Titanic in the depths of the freezing ocean. Very moving and many original belongings and personal effects of passengers that have been carefully brought to the surface and are now preserved as a poignant reminder and memorial to the passengers and event. A crate of dinner plates from 1st class still stacked in rows as they were originally....only with the outer crate rotted away. Even a large section (although small in terms of the total size of the ship) had been brought up and is preseved by covering with a wax coating to prevent it from rusting away in the air now.

We bought a replica of a little glass sweet dish from 1st class, thought it a nice reminder and also the money goes towards the continued preservation of the artifacts. Very worthwhile and very sobering indeed. Would recommend you go and see for yourselves if in Vegas - on there until 2017 I think.

The nextdoor place was Madalin Bay....walked past and OMG, a full sized beach with deck chairs, surf and waves. Looked very inviting as very hot again....about 40degC. You don't perspire in this heat that you notice as any moisture just gets evapourated straight away. Get very thirsty though, so need to drink lots.

Jersey Boys, was fantastic, - loved learning the story of the group and had wonderedwhat happened to Frankie Vali. Now we know...

Late dinner at the Harley Davidson BBQ Cafe next to our Motel. Lovely eating outside with the lights and colour, but still about 35 deg C at 10pm.

Early up tomorrow, getting picked up at 8am for Airport and flight to San Francisco.

Have really enjoyed Vegas, but 3 nights, 2 full days is plenty.

Posted by RuthWinmill 08:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

24 Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

A great drive


View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.

SUNDAY 31ST

Grand Canyon and Las Vegas with Mark.

We had to go down the spend time at the Canyon Rim again...We found it had a magnetic quality and was ever changing. Walked along the rim track for a few hours, stopping, looking, enjoying. Even saw a couple of Condors flying and two young ones. Waited with camera poised for about 15 mins to get a pic of the young ones flying and hoping to get the giant adult too. But no....

Watched and listened to a Native American Indian talk, song and dance performance.....very moving! They got a pretty raw deal and had no Treaty unlike in NZ.

Very hard to turn our backs on this magnificent piece of natural wonder ut eventually had to as were getting picked up by our Detours mini bus at 2.30pm. New driver Mark, and only me and Ralph to take to Vegas.

Very long but interesting miles across the vast Mojave Desert. Very straight roads, very few houses or fences. Learnt the history of the demise and then the re opening of a section of Route 66. Stopped at small now famous town f Stigman on Route 66 where a Barber got a bunch of people togetherto reopen a section of the once famous highway and turn it into a much sought after destination for motor cyclists and car enthusuists to gather and ride/drive the only real remaining section of any note. Also found out that this small town is the town that the Movie, Cars represented. Sat in the Barber's chair and chated to some locals. The best cup of coffee for ages too.

More amazing desert landscape and American outdoors. One area of a whole bunch of volcanoes withing a huge crater too.

Arrived qute late in the day at the Hoover Dam after travelling across thenew Tillman Bridge. Very strick surveillance before the dam as it is 2nd to the White House as a 'terrorist target'.

We had to take our suitcases out of the bus and open them for the Guard to inspect. No explosives in thereso we were alloed to proceed to the Dam. Very impressive and intigated by Edgar Hoover. Not to be confused with J Edgar Hoover, the corrupt CIA boss.

Then on through the town of Bolder, - the Dam constuction town....a bit like Twizel was, only now a quite big town and flourising.

Next stop Las Vegas......dropped off at our Hotel/Motel right on The Strip. Great location and Wow of a different sort. SOOOO HOT, even at 7pm. Phew, a dry heat but boy.

Lots of billboards and colourful lights to see from our room doorway.

Time to rest then a little walk to find some food. Well it was a Subway 6" each, fast and it tasted fine. VERY THIRSTY SO big drinks here.

Posted by RuthWinmill 08:22 Comments (0)

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