Tag Archives: Travel

It might as well rain until September…..

“The weather here has been as nice as it can be”…….not! Yesterday’s blue skies and hot sun turned to grey, overcast and, at times, just downright wet. But we had agreed we wanted to get up close and personal with Lady Liberty and, come on, we are Brits and used to a bit of weather. I confess to chickening out on the tour bus down to Battery Park when I opted for the inside seats rather than the open deck. Once there, it was fine again and I was giddy enough to persuade Carolyn that the top deck of the boat was the best place to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the New York skyline, etc. It was – but blooming windy so we both resorted to kagools rather than go down a deck.

We alighted at Liberty Island, took the ubiquitous daft selfies, walked the circuit and refused to contemplate climbing the inside of the statue. Poor lady, with all those tourists swarming all over the place! Anyway, we came, we saw and we left!

Next stop was Ellis Island, along with the announcement about America being the land of the free and a nation of immigrants. Nowhere is a better example of this than New York, but it would appear to an outsider such as I that, currently, any new immigrants must exclude Mexicans and Muslims. Just a thought.

We had, thus far, managed to stay dry, so emboldened by our good fortune (and as it was fine), we opted for the top open deck. Big mistake. Within 5 minutes of our 1 hour and 10 mins ride uptown, the heavens opened and the Big Bus was awash. Interestingly, as the bus moves quickly I found it a trifle painful to get heavy rain on my face. “On your right…..”, said the tour guide. “Ouch”, said I, (or words to that effect) as my left ear received a gallon of rainwater. Getting off at the end of the ride, I squelched and dripped. Carolyn suggested McDonald’s for a burger, a coffee and a warm, dry place to sit for a few mins. Of course the rain stopped immediately and only renewed its apparent challenge to soak us to the skin as we stepped out of the door. It was funny, especially after a hot bath and dry clothes.


Carolyn’s Curios & Musical Notes 🎼🎶🖌

Kath has a penchant for politeness and understatement – it was WET and we were saturated. It was not an unavoidable happenchance caused by the heavens opening unexpectedly. The forecast said RAIN; the skies said RAIN and, even when it was raining and we were asked if we wanted to go downstairs, inside and dry, we sat there resolutely like… ducks! However,…

I’d never been to Liberty Island and, other than from the air, had never seen the Statue in person, as it were. Somehow, as Kath alluded, the current political situation almost required me to remind myself that the history of the United States is one of multiracial, multilingual, multicultural and pluralism of religious beliefs. What is going wrong, I wonder? In the U.K., we have similar issues and it’s the very group(s) professing the more fundamentally literal views of Christianity who seem to be the most bigoted and, frankly, unChristian. It was reassuring to hear the commentary on the boat reminding us that America – and particularly New York – prides itself in being cosmopolitan and accepting of anyone who wants to come to this country. Still?! The sign on the left says it all, I think. Researching Daniel Boorstin, I came across another quote worth contemplating.

One of the snippets of information which our Bus Tour Guide related to us was about Peter Stuyvesant, a Dutch notable and benefactor, who built the original Wall from which Wall Street got its name. The wall was built to keep out the Native Americans from his part of the then New Amsterdam, now New York. Our guide suggested, I suspect tongue in cheek, that he got the Native Americans to pay for the wall. Of course, over history, the Native Americans have paid a far greater price.

The musical notes for the day? The first had to be, “Didn’t it rain, children” of which I remember a black and white Granada documentary version from eons ago sung by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. My second ear worm was Gerry Marsden’s version of “Ferry ‘cross the Mersey” which, related to the purpose of Liberty Island’s Statue, could be retitled “Ferry across to Mercy”.

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Finally, as a prelude to beginning the road part of our American Music Road Trip tomorrow, the driver for our journey… extolled in Stevie Wonder’s wonderful:

“Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
But just because a record has a groove
Don’t make it in the groove
But you can tell right away at letter A
When the people start to move

They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people
They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people

Music knows it is and always will
Be one of the things that life just won’t quit
But here are some of music’s pioneers
That time will not allow us to forget
For there’s Basie, Miller, Satchmo
And the king of all Sir Duke
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out
There’s no way the band can lose.”



Last day in Sydney… time to say goodbye… for this trip!

When I flew in early from Melbourne this morning I just knew I had to get the most out of my final full day in Sydney.  I took the train from the airport (the fastest route as I am now using public transport like a local) and dropped off my bag at the hotel.  Then I made for the top of Sydney’s tallest building (the Skytower) for an aerial view of the city and its spectacular harbour.

Not quite the top of the world but the tallest building in Sydney!
Not quite the top of the world but the tallest building in Sydney!

At the foot of the tower building is a very exclusive shopping centre where they have very cleverly fixed the escalators so that you need to walk past at least four or five shops to reach the next level.

I had no problem whatsoever passing Prada, Jimmy Choo or Gucci but Chanel caught me unawares with some stunning window displays and then there were the handbag shops….!  $5,000 didn’t seem to be an unusual price for anything!!!  Needless to say, I reached the Skytower ticket office unencumbered by purchases. Then it was into the 4D cinema to take a very unusual flight across and sail around Sydney.  The 4D effect came as an addition to the 3D through the coloured glasses.  It began with vibration through your feet, getting sprayed (literally) when you appeared to be in a sailing boat and a fine mist which provided the smell of the sea.  Impressive.  Then it was up to the top of the tower to step out and look down on one of the world’s most iconic views… although other tall buildings have taken part of the view of the bridge and confined the Opera House to being framed at the end of a street! It was a great experience but….nowhere near as much fun as being out on the water.  Decision made and down to the ferries.

As in London, the new buildings have dwarfed some of the city's heritage
As in London, the new buildings have dwarfed some of the city’s heritage
Fabulous harbour views
Fabulous harbour views
A different view of the Opera House
A different view of the Opera House

Having missed breakfast, a fruit smoothie felt like a good mid-morning option, and where do they do the best ones?  In Manly.  Therefore, the first ferry ride was to Manly, pick up said smoothie (a ‘Very Berry’), a quick wander to the beach to check that the surf was still in good order, which it was, and head back on the next boat.

Back on the water
Back on the water

The breeze in the harbour was wonderful and took the edge of the scorching sun, so long walks were not really a sensible option.  Everyone was out on the water as it was a public holiday.

Back at Circular Key, a Seacat was just about to leave for Rose Bay, Double Bay and Watsons Bay.  Having gone ashore at Watsons Bay to explore, I found the next ferry out was not for another hour and by then it was lunch time.  Fish and chips sounded a good idea (again) and the restaurant here came highly recommended by my son.  Thanks, James, a good call.

You can't see this and not say, "Wow!"
You can’t see this and not say, “Wow!”
All sorts of boats were out
All sorts of boats were out
Team Australia looked very impressive
Team Australia looked very impressive
At the Maritime Museum
At the Maritime Museum

The hub for all the ferries is Circular Quay and as I stepped off the Seacat there was another ferry just in and going to Darling Harbour, which I did want to explore properly.  Sitting at the top of the boat, right at the back, provided a little shade and some cool breezes and I was cool enough (!!) to have a wander around the Maritime Museum.  Then it was back once again to my starting point, just about done and ever so slightly ‘done in’.

I think my one regret is that again I have drawn a blank with a ticket for the Opera House.  Next time, I will book online and well in advance.  So, with the light fading, I have been back to my hotel and am ready to set off once more for a final look at Sydney by night.  I have done as much as it is possible to do within my limited time and, as on my previous visit, I have absolutely loved all things Australian.  But now it is time to go home and I am really excited by the prospect.  I will take off from here tomorrow afternoon and some 26 hours later (well, there is a refuelling stop in Singapore), I will reach Heathrow.  It’s only a day!!

Once again, I have been humbled by the experiences and opportunities I have had during the past 7 weeks.  (I know, it is a long time and I have travelled thousands of miles!).  But home is where I now really do want to be and I totally promise not to bore my friends and family with the photos… there are far too many and they can just look at the ones on the blog.  Thank you to all who have followed my adventures but it is worth repeating that this particular medium was simply my means of capturing my visits and tours so that I would not forget.  However, I really do need to say a very special thank you to my great friend, Carolyn, who allowed me to avoid all the frustrations of posting on a slow network by simply sending her the words and the photographs which she uploaded for me.  She has been a fantastic editor, used some techniques which are totally new to me and made the blog look great.  Huge thank yous and a definite ‘gold star’ award.

So, that’s it!  Travels done (for a week or two at least!) and now it’s back to the real world.

Goodnight Sydney....and Goodbye
Goodnight Sydney….and Goodbye