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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Boston and New England Cruise - 13 days from October 3rd to 15/2016.....

On Tuesday, we had breakfast at the hotel, the Moo restaurant.   I had waffles with strawberries/maple syrup and coffee – with tip, about $30.   The XV Beacon had an upscale dining room and attentive waiters, but too expensive for breakfast every day. 
Then we took the Hotel courtesy car to Paul Revere's house (Tip $5).  The senior admission was $3 – a very good history lesson here.  Besides his great ride, Paul Revere also had two wives, each of whom had 8 children, and made himself into a wealthy man. 

Then we took the Hop On/Off trolley bus ($35/day) from the Paul Revere house (Stop #2) to (Stop #3) for the Charleston Navy Yard and Bunker Hill.  We wanted to go to the Visitor Center to see their smaller Charleston Navy museum, but before you can go in, you have to go through Security.  Another good history lesson visiting this museum…..

In Boston, you follow the Freedom Trail - this is a red brick lane in the middle of the sidewalk – 2.5 miles long, and takes you to various Historical sights.   We walked on this to Bunker Hill Monument -  you can climb the stairs and look out the tower – quite a few walked up the stairs, but we passed.  Then we walked back to (Stop #3) - just follow the red brick lane - and went on the trolley to (Stop #5).
There we went to the Old State House museum - 2nd floor Old State House - where the Constitution was first read, and is read on a balcony annually on July 4th.

We had lunch at the Omni Parker hotel, only two blocks away.   I had scrod (fish) with rice and vegetables, and we split a Boston Cream Pie ($35).   The Omni Parker hotel invented the Parkerhouse Rolls – which were served on the table – and Boston Cream Pie in the 1920s.  There is a table in the restaurant where JFK proposed to Jackie (seen below) and Charles Dickens resided there for five months in 1867/68.

Then back to the hotel for a rest.  At 4 pm, the courtesy car (Tip $5) took us to the wharf, because a Boston Harbor boat cruise is included in the Hop On/Off tour.   This lasted for 45 minutes - we sat on the top deck outside and enjoyed the cruise. 

Then we walked (about 3 blocks) to the Oceanaire Seafood Room to have dinner.  They served a complimentary antipasto plate, which had pickles, olives, radishes, etc.  I had the white clam chowder – excellent - and then stuffed flounder and a beer ($55).   Very good, and then joined the many people outside, and walked back to the hotel. 

Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Monday, 27 February 2017

Boston and New England Cruise - 13 days from October 3rd to 15/2016.....

We followed this blogger on his trip to New York, and now we are going to follow him to Boston – 5 days in Boston and a week-long Holland America New England cruise. 

Cost of Boston trip – October/2016 - Airfare $213 (used mileage)  - XV Beacon Hotel (5 nights) $2266.10 - Cost of Cruise from Boston to Montreal - $2364  American dollars.

On Monday, I took a flight from Jacksonville and got into Logan Airport about 7 pm.  I met my travelling companion at the airport – this is the same solo traveler that I met in New York.  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 Boston.  

We took a cab to the hotel ($30) and in Boston, you go under the water driving in from the Airport through the Big Dig Tunnel.

We stayed at the XV Beacon Hotel, right downtown.   The hotel was located on a one-way street, which made getting in and out of cars easier.  It was good weather in Boston – very nice for the 5 days, even though Hurricane Matthew was blowing down south. 

At about 9 that night, we went right across the street to Emmet’s Irish Pub.    The Pub was not busy - I had bangers and mash with bone marrow with a beer ($25)  - a very nice historical pub. 

Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (late Feb/2017).....

One of the lookout spots above San Sebastian.

A fancy tourist place/hotel on the cliff overlooking San Sebastian.

Ferry arriving from Tenerife - the Fred Olsen ferry also arrived.

Back in town, checking out an art exhibit at the local tourist office.

A quick photo from the departing bus....


Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (late February/17).....

Views from the harbor...

A park on the east side of the harbor - had to climb up that thing!

Mountain cats!

Downtown San Sebastian....

Climbing up the cliff, to get a better view....

Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Friday, 24 February 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (late February/2017).....

Last time I was in San Sebastian was a little over a month ago, when I arrived on the ferry from Tenerife - at night. This morning, I took the bus from Playa Santiago to San Sebastian, and did a bit of sight-seeing. The bus ride is 3.50 € each way, and quite an experience in itself.

The bus station in San Sebastian is a fair distance from the ferry port.  That is why new arrivals generally take a taxi instead, which is far more expensive.

 San Sebastian municipal park......

Close to the marina....

 A square rigger in port!   Had to go check that out......

 Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (2nd week - February/17).....

Back in the port of Playa Santiago - the weather here is nice and warm - usually low 20's.

Bought myself a Bontrager "Ion 100 R"headlight for my bike at the local bike store in Playa Santiago - tiny little thing weighs almost nothing, yet has quite a powerful light. Just what the doctor ordered, for that long dark tunnel on the GM-3 from Los Roques - last time down, I went over the median because I could not see it. Battery is rechargeable via USB plug - very convenient.

Dead end road in the abandoned part of Santa Ana.  The hill on the right is actually the airport of La Gomera, code GMZ.

This path heading down to and along the escarpment in Santa Ana, is only partly navigable by road bike, with stairways in a few places.

A garden in the gated community in Santa Ana.

Just west of Playa Santiago, high upon the plateau, is some land that looks like it was being developed for a new community, however, most of the project was abandoned, leaving only a couple of small gated communities called Santa Ana.


 Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (2nd week of Feb/17)....

This is one of those little valley roads on La Gomera, that starts out with a nice gentle slope ( CV-20 from Tecina / Playa Santiago ).   As you get deeper into the valley, the slopes start getting steeper, but the scenery gets more interesting.

Calle Guarimiar (CV-22) is a short branch off of CV-20, that ends with a wall. The route profile shows a max slope of just over 31%. That would explain my heart rate pretty much maxing out as well (along with the lowest gear I have on my bike).

Nice quiet road though – saw more hikers than cars (no other bikes). Good thing there was a little flat spot at the top, where I could actually stop and take a few photos.

A road with stairs on the side - turns out this is just a short driveway to a couple of houses.

Someone taking pride in their gardening.....

View north towards CaƱada De Jorge, La Gomera's famous tourist spot.


Photos belong to Jaro Franta

Friday, 10 February 2017

Jaro and his bike are now in Spain (2nd week of February/17)....

Second time up to the top of La Gomera. The climb was much less strenuous than the first time - good progress in fitness!   Today, there was no one at the "Mirador" (look-out).

The main limitation is that you always need to get to the top of Gomera - a long climb. Once there, it is fairly easy going and a good number of roads.  As planned, the last circuit was extended to the north-west, out to El Cercado and Las Hayas, and even a little unplanned detour to Arure (took a wrong turn).

Route GM-2 through Parque Garajonay involves quite a bit of climbing, from Las Hayas going south-east, but it is just long and not very steep. The rain forest in Garajonay is quite interesting to see, but not that great for photography.   Return to Playa Santiago by way of Los Roques, like last time.
I just found out, at the local bike store, that there is a boat that goes from Playa Santiago to Valle Gran Rey, twice a week, for 10 €.  Very interesting - that means I can go to Valle Gran Rey without having to climb Gomera twice in one day!  Something to add a bit of variety in my bike rides....

A nice lookout near El Cercado, looking west towards the ocean.  A little over 5.5 hours total, so a pretty long day on the bike.
Photos belong to Jaro Franta


Monday, 6 February 2017

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

On the last Monday, we went for breakfast at the Red Flame Diner, and then, at 11 o’clock, left the Iroquois Hotel in a private van to the airport - $65.   I flew to Jacksonville and arrived home about 6 pm that day. 

The New York Pass, with the extra 3 day bus ride, was $275.   Using the New York Pass, we saved $194.95 in admission tickets, and we quite enjoyed the bus ride around Harlem.  We did take the bus 4 times, but the one time, we could easily have walked.  Next time, we will not buy the $25 – 3/day pass, then the New York Pass would be just the $250.  For the one extra day, we could easily have taken the subway.  

The most convenient way to get around New York is to use the subway – we found the subway to be cheap, clean, safe and quite busy.  Be sure and check out the subway tiles at the stations.  Lots of stairs and walking- all the women on the subway were in sneakers.

The Red Flame Diner, just three doors away, was a perfect spot for breakfast, for a quick lunch, and a soup and sandwich after the baseball game.  The Diner kind of reminds you of the Diners in your town.

The Concierge was a big help and I met with him just about every day – we left him a tip, and one of the valets was very interested in seeing what we were doing and we also left him a tip, and a tip for housekeeping. 

We really enjoyed this hotel – The Iroquois has a very convenient location where you are away from the crowds at Times Square but certainly close enough to walk.   You will enjoy using the older elevators, the library, and you will certainly enjoy the room.  The staff were attentive – the Front Desk would print out street maps to follow and, the one morning we got up early, complimentary coffee from the kitchen.  We stayed on the top floor so hardly heard any street noise.  You will feel very comfortable staying at this hotel, and you will enjoy New York – the trip of a lifetime!

My next blog, published about the beginning of March, will be of my trip to Boston, including a Holland America cruise ending up in Montreal.  Hope you are following….

Photos belong to Phil Bianco