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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New York - 10 days from April 15th to 25th/2016.....

On Tuesday, after breakfast, we walked to Times Square to the store BB Kings Blues Club and Grill (6 blocks)and picked up our tickets for the New York Pass, booked through Viator ($250), including the Hop On/Hop Off Bus.   The clerk told us the bus tickets were only good for two days, and we could buy an extra 3-day pass for $25.   We bought them, and then walked to the GAP store to wait for the Uptown bus as we were going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   We waited for 20 minutes - there are attendants to help you, keep you in line, and to sell you a ticket if you have not already bought.
Took the bus for over an hour and but did see lots, including Harlem. You put on headphones and the tour guide point out major spots. Interesting tour….

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can pick what interests you – so much to see. We used the New York Pass - regular price was $25. We were going to have lunch there, but were running a little late, so decided to wait. When you are leaving, there are lots of people sitting on the front steps – just like in the movies. The bus stop was not marked, but fortunately, the bus waits for a while. 


Took the Hop On/Off bus back to Times Square and walked back to the hotel for rest - had lunch at the Red Flame Diner – ice cream sundae.

At 5 pm, went to the ball game – New York Yankees vs Oakland Athletics ($120 plus tax).   We walked down to Grand Central Station (3 blocks) and took the subway right to the game.  We decided to eat at the game – I had a Nathan hamburger and coke ($12).   The Hard Rock Cafe is overlooking the field, if you would like to eat inside.   Lots of empty seats so sat in front row on the second deck – excellent view – and you have a foot rest.   Met lots of nice people – game went to 11 innings and a loss for Yankees.
After the game, you simply follow along because everyone is going to the subway. We got off at Grand Central Station, walked to the Red Flame Diner, had chicken noodle soup and half a corned beef sandwich, and walked back to the hotel. A very interesting day in New York....

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco

Monday, 30 January 2017

New York - 10 days from April 15th to 25th/2016.....

On Monday, for breakfast, we went to a diner just 3 doors away from the Iroquois Hotel – The Red Flame Diner (Recommended by Trip Advisor) had lots of seats (including a countertop), was very busy in the mornings, breakfast was good and only about $8 – 12.   We had breakfast there every day after that. 

We booked a tour through Viator ($24) to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.   We took the subway, turned towards the docks and followed the Statue of Liberty signs.  Our tour was at 10 am, but we got there early, so you just take the next ship.    
You can go right up inside the Statue – I went up on a narrow spiral staircase – a long way up – then there was a platform for about a dozen people to stand up inside the crown.  Used the same staircase to come back down - at certain places, one could step aside and, if going up, then either continue or walk back down.   

We had onion rings and a drink in their restaurant - reasonable price, and you sit outside enjoying the view.  Then took the ship to Ellis Island – nice to walk around and see what the immigrants saw – and then the ship back.  The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour was busy, but not jam packed.

For lunch, we went to the historic Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street  - about 4 blocks away.  The Tavern was built in 1719, and General Washington gave his farewell address to his officers. The seats were lined with faux animal skins.   I had chicken pot pie and a Weiss Bier served in a very tall glass ($30).   We sat in the back, which was quiet, after dealing with the crowds of people all morning, and had a very nice lunch.

Then, on our way back to the subway, we passed by the Sea Glass Carousel and stopped in for a ride ($5).    The Carousel was not busy - the shells are beautiful and catch the light. 

Then we took the subway back to Times Square, and walked back to the hotel for a rest.  That night, about 8 pm, we took a yellow cab ($12) there and back to the Russian Tea House – when you see it from outside, it looks very narrow, but inside, you do not notice.

The restaurant has 4 floors, but only the main floor was open – there was only about 10 customers there. The waiters were dressed up – you got the feeling of czarist Russia, and we enjoyed seeing the artwork and the antiques.   I had beef stroganoff and Belgian white beer and for dessert, cherry and cheese blintzes.  Dinner was expensive ($100) but well worth it to eat at such an old world  restaurant.

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco

Sunday, 29 January 2017

New York - 10 days from April 15th to 25th/2016.....

On Sunday, about 8 am, we took a yellow cab to Central Park ($10) – we were going to Loebs Boathouse for brunch.  We were dropped off at a side entrance next to the Boathouse - there are no cars allowed in Central Park on the weekend.  There was a marathon going on in the Park, so quite eventful.  Besides the restaurant in Loeb’s Boathouse, there was also a self-serve cafeteria with reasonable prices.   People with dogs sat outside – a very busy place.


The Boathouse is on a small lake with paddle boats and canoes.   No reservation allowed for brunch  – if you want a lake view, be prepared to stand in line.  The Boathouse opened at 9:30 and was already quite lined up.  I had eggs Benedict served with banana bread, coffee and orange juice ($30).     Very nice brunch in a classy restaurant, going back to an earlier era of New York. 

Then walked around Central Park – went to Belvedere Castle, and I climbed up into the tower and took some pictures.  Then came back down to the main deck and took some pictures of the turtles.

There was a pond with small rented sailboats (where we stopped for a snack), a couple of playgrounds, one with a statue of Alice in Wonderland, walked by the zoo, and ended up at the front entrance to the Park, where all the horses are.

Then we walked back to the hotel for a rest – it was hot and we stopped to have a soda at a grocery store with seats at the front.   So much to see, including the store windows, that you do not notice that this was a long walk.

Met with the Concierge about going to a movie, and we decided to see Batman vs Superman. About 6 pm, went to Pig and Whistle - fish and chips and Guinness ($30) – this was only about three blocks from the hotel. Then walked to AMC Empire 25 – about 5 blocks but good to walk after dinner - to see the movie ($13) and then walked back. The Concierge asked about the movie, and we rated it as 4 for the plot, but 10 for action, so a 7.

A very nice Sunday in New York.......  

Photos belong to Phil Bianco

Saturday, 28 January 2017

New York - 10 days from April 15th to 25th/2016.....

Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the Iroquois  –I had blueberry pancakes with fruit, orange juice and coffee – with tip, about $35.  The Iroquois had an upscale dining room and attentive waiters, but too expensive for breakfast every day.  

Then walked to Times Square and took the subway to Brooklyn Botanical Gardens  - we paid $10 to purchase metro cards at the automated machines, and we rode the subway for about $2.50/ride.   There are lots of stairs, but we found the subways to be clean and quite busy. 

We did not know, but the Gardens was having a free day to everyone, so it is a good thing that we went in the morning - very busy in the afternoon.  The restaurant was too lined up to eat - we just had a strawberry yogurt from a vendor outside on our way back to the subway.   There is so much to see, both inside and out - don't miss the Bonsai house.  The Gardens were a very nice spot to experience springtime in New York.
Then took the subway back to Times Square and started walking back to the hotel.  We stopped at  Times Deli and I had vegetable soup and a bun - about $5 - good place to eat;  and then back to the hotel for a rest.

We had booked a tour from Viator for a Night on the Town ($94) so about 5:30, we took a yellow cab ($12) to Gray Lines to pick up our tickets and go on the tour.   At the ticket office, there should have been a waiting room with couches, instead you stand in a line for about 30 minutes, and then board the bus.   We enjoyed the bus ride around – it was light enough to see everything - plug in the headphones and the tour guide will point out the major sights. 

First, we went to the High Line Park (an elevated railway)  – nobody wanted to walk, just observe the dressed-up people for an event that was happening.   Then back on the bus for a harbor cruise - this lasted about an hour, very interesting, and took lots of pictures.  A group of women passengers sang New York, New York and everyone seemed to enjoy the tour guide (Tip $3). 
Then to Little Italy – Grotta Azzurra for an included dinner  - steak, with boiled potatoes and vegetables and I had a soda.  Then back on the bus – the tour guide said we were going to Top of the Rock (top floor of Rockefeller Centre) but the tickets were good for two weeks , so got dropped off about two blocks from the Iroquois Hotel .  We really enjoyed this tour, plus a free ticket to Top of the Rock (Cost $32).

Photos belong to Phil Bianco


Friday, 27 January 2017

New York - 10 days from April 15th to 25th/2016.....

We followed this blogger on his Cruise and Land Tour in Provence, and now we are going to follow him to New York – 10 days to see The Big Apple.

Cost of New York trip – April/2016 - Airfare $376  - Iroquois Hotel $3176  (10 nights) American dollars.

I took a flight from Jacksonville to New York La Guardia, and then waited at the airport for my travelling companion – another solo traveler.  We both had our own hotel room, and each paid for meals.  We split cabs and tips – it is nice to have a companion in New York.

We had booked a Viator shuttle from the airport to the Iroquois Hotel for $34 for both of us, plus a gratuity.  After driving around the airport and picking up a whole van full of passengers, we left the airport about 9:30 that night.

Every person in the van was on vacation, so everybody was in a good mood.  It was about an hour ride in very busy traffic, including going over the historic Brooklyn Bridge. 

The Iroquois Hotel is located right next to Times Square (about 3 blocks) and it is on a one-way street, which made getting into and out of vehicles easier. 

We asked at the Front Desk for directions to the Perfect Pint Pub - it was only about two blocks away.  We arrived at the Pub about 11:30; it was quite busy even at that hour. 

rooftop patio

We noticed that all the buildings are quite narrow - I went up steep stairs to their rooftop patio – there were landings to take a breath, but a long way up, so we decided to eat on the main floor. 

I had a very nice Irish beef stew and a beer ($30 including tip).   Then we walked back to the hotel - there were a lot of tourists walking around.

Photos belong to Phil Bianco

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (4th week January/2017)....

From the local bike store, the obligatory souvenir cycling jersey and a T-shirt.  The cycling jersey has a full-length zipper in the front.

Souvenir jerseys are to be worn on bike rides around Montreal, and also in other countries.  For instance, I brought my jerseys from New Zealand, Tasmania, Reunion, Switzerland, and also a Canadian one with a big maple leaf.
The local bike store has a few road bikes to rent, for people coming for just a short stay who would rather not bring their own.  They have daily rentals for 30 € (with a 20% discount for a week-long rental) as well as hourly rental for 6 €.  That hourly rental seems like a good deal!  Sizes available are 56cm (x2), 54cm, and 52cm.

PS -  I like the coasters made out of little seashells. 
 Real estate prices......

Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (4th week of January/2017)....

Parque Nacional de Garajonay Park entrance, with El Teide in the background....

Much more vegetation here, than in Playa Santiago.

My training is going well - hope to go up there again this coming week. Maybe with a little extension to the north-west, if I can manage it.  PS: For those who do not bike, there is a Europecar shop here that rents scooters!

Fabulous views in Parque Nacional de Garajonay....

This was declared a national park in 1981 and a World Heritage Site in 1986.  It occupies 15 sq mi and it extends into each of the six municipalities on the island (Wikipedia).

  Like I said in the last blog, about 25K of mostly descent, in about 20 minutes.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (3rd week of January/17)....

Today’s ride up to Alajeró and the Parque Nacional de Garajonay involved 15K of climbing (about 3.5 hours including photo stops), followed by about 25K of mostly descent, in about 20 minutes.

Nearing Alajeró - about half the climb done - Tenerife's El Teide in the distance.

These two Spaniards passed me a couple of times on the climb up to Alajeró, but I passed them back when they stopped.  On this second stop, one of them was fixing a flat.  I guess they must have turned around, because I never saw them again after that.

Thought this was close to the summit of the road, but it turned out there was lots more left - this intersection really is the summit of the road.  

Routes CV-13, GM-2 and GM-3 on the Google satellite view..... 

Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (3rd week of January/2017)....

Today's short ride to neighbouring Tecina.

Big hill - looks impressive - but it is just a small fraction of the climbing required to get to the central part of the island.

 This is the dry side of the island.  Like Mallorca, the north and mountain tops get most of the rain.

Playa Santiago from high up in Tecina.

Playa Santiago is a small town on the south coast of the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands.  It has a fairly safe pebble beach, a hotel and a number of apartments and restaurants (Wikipedia).

 Tecina and golf course, east of Playa Santiago.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta