Posts Categorized: Travel

Mar 01 2012
2

Plane Food Time

Hooray – now I know this is what you are all waiting for. Plane food pictures from our holiday in Australia!

Flight 1 – JFK – LAX

JFK - LAX

JFK - LAX

Flight 2 – LAX – MEL

LAX - MEL

LAX - MEL

Flight 3 – Canberra – Melbourne

So horrific I couldn’t even get my camera out. Tuna on a roll at 11pm. The plane SMELT DISGUSTING.

Flight 4 – MEL – LAX

MEL - LAX

MEL - LAX

MEL - LAX

Awful delayed AA flight –

Zilch

Mar 01 2012
2

Goodbye Melbourne… hello New York

Our last Sunday in Melbourne was spent with mum and dad at friends of ours, Sofie and Michael’s place. They put on an unbelievable BBQ for us and we had a ball with them all afternoon just chatting away. Beautiful fresh food and taking it easy before the big flight home. When we got home last night the reality hit that we had only a short amount of time left! Ev came over that night to hang out and say goodbye and with that – we did our final packing and had our last sleep in a bed for 40 hours!

When we got to the airport we had an unbelievably smooth run traffic wise. We got a park close to the departures hall and checking in was hassle free. We got a seat at Hudson’s Coffee and sat there with mum and dad just passing the time. This is the worst bit of leaving. Just the waiting as you know what is to come.

We then decided it was time to go through the big doors into the immigration area. The hugs, tears and “I don’t wanna go” words were all happening. I just couldn’t stop crying – and it was the ugly, can’t breathe, face is all red and snot everywhere tears. It is the worst. I hate it. We got though and into the security area and I still couldn’t stop. Of course normally it would be so embarrassing crying like that but for it just doesn’t matter when you are saying goodbye. I buried my face into Bill’s polar fleece and tried to compose myself but then I’d think of mum and dad walking out of the airport and it would start again.

Once we were through into the duty free area, I had got enough emotion out that we thought it would be a great idea to buy six double packets of Tim Tams. We then headed to the Qantas Club for 10 minutes downtime before we would have to board.

This is when our adventure was just getting started. Our plan was the next couple of days was – flight from Melbourne 10.30am, land in LA at 7.30am, on the JFK flight at 9am, land at 5.30pm, home at 6.30pm, dinner, showers, bed and asleep at 10.30pm, alarm at 6am, at work at 8am. I have done it many times before… it works a treat.

We were putting on our compression socks on when there was “Attention passengers..” message. Our flight was delayed. This went on for another 4-5 hours. This was absolutely heartbreaking. Not because of the delay – I really wasn’t that fussed at the time. But it was all that extra time that I could have spent with mum and dad. We could’ve left the airport and come back. What made it worst was they would have known about this when we checked in. It was horrendous. I think I rang mum another ten times from the lounge in that time. We knew straight away there was also no way known that we would make our connecting flight to New York. We emailed work and said that in all likelihood the chance of us being in at work the following day was slim to none. Qantas can’t tell you what is going to happen at the LA end of things. So we were just going to have wait until we got there to sort that out. I’ll do another post about the flight itself – it was bearable and we slept a little bit.

When we got to LA we were booked on an American Airlines flight… FIVE HOURS LATER. Eeekkk don’t even go there. I have to say, my years of paying for Qantas Club paid off with these delays. While we were sleepwalking, we managed to pick up our bags, recheck them, change terminals and get to the AA lounge. In another mess up, the AA check-in guy tried to charge us multiple fees for all our bags – not realizing about all the extra allowances I get. So I had to argue that with him to get my post across that this is something I pay for already. When we got to the lounge there was no decent food and by this time we were starving. So we had our showers (BEST SHOWER EVER! BEST SHOWER OF ALL TIME!) and ended up leaving the lounge and hanging out at Chili’s trying to pass some time and stay awake. We then went to our flight gate as our seats had been separated. I was told there was nothing they could do. Uh-huh. So then we went back to the lounge, hung out some more while trying to stay awake some more and then went back to the gate. When we finally boarded I was pretty much out of my tree exhausted. Bill was sat behind me in the seat ‘beside’ me. There was a girl beside him and I had a girl beside me – both travelling on their own. We politely asked if either of them would swap… they both said no. I was in shock and just baffled. I would NEVER do that to another passenger. With the emotion of leaving Melbourne, being tired, feeling gross and all the flight issues I sunk down in my seat and just cried. I didn’t cry thinking it would change the girl beside me – I cried because I was just over the whole thing. The girl beside me then had a change of heart and said she’d swap and move to the seat behind us. I thanked her profusely and with Bill there I was able to just lean on him and try and stay awake some more. I didn’t want to sleep as I wanted to be able to sleep when we got home.

Of course, being an AA flight, we missed out on a lot that we had already paid for with Qantas. It is so convenient of them to do this SO often. We had no meal, no personal entertainment system and our paid in advance seat allocation was not honored. This is stuff that all Qantas passengers pay significantly more to use – I hate that they are able to push Qantas travelers on to AA flights because of their delays and nothing ever comes of it.

The only bonus on this flight was there was wifi ($15 – best thing ever) and so I did inflight shopping, did our Fresh Direct order and got a great Talbots order through. It was funny because my coupon code wasn’t being accepted so I was live chatting with Talbots representative and they had no idea I was flying!

We eventually landed at JFK at about 2.30am. We were meant to land at 5.30pm the previous day. The terminal was empty and all I could picture in my head was our bed, slippers and pyjamas. This all changed when our bags came off the carousel and they were both wrecked. Our small case had a huge chunk taken out of the side, a bolted in wheel was ripped out and it was basically unusable. My good Samsonite and the stand on the bottom all smashed and the guards all broken. So now, we had to drag our stuff to the baggage counter and line up and file a claim about our bags. While we were there, there was a couple from Melbourne on their honeymoon. They only had five days in New York – now only four because of Qantas. To make it worse, their bags were nowhere to be found. So after being on the same nightmare trip, missing a ‘night’ in their hotel, a day in New York.. now they didn’t even have their things. My heart was just breaking for them. It was so sad.

I was so angry by this point. We were told if we wanted them repaired WE had to return the bags within 30 days TO THE AIRPORT. Whatever – I just wanted to get home, so I stormed out and grabbed a cab. I could smell my shampoo waiting for me in the shower!

We got in the door at 3.30am. I called mum and dad to let them know I was still sane and we were home. By 4.30am we were sound asleep. We woke up at 11am and decided that some sunshine was needed so we walked to the post office to collect our two backpacks of mail. We went to the diner for lunch, I went to get my nails done and headed back home to unpack.

I stood the damaged little bag up so I could open it and just shouted to Bill “BILL – OH MY GOSH – BILL!!!” White powder was pouring out of the hole in the side of the bag and all over the floor. Of course, I was panicing and was heavily influenced by many episodes of Homeland Security and COPS. I was thinking we had a massive load of drugs planted in our bags.

I didn’t want to open it so Bill did. We were shocked. This was the case that we had all of our food in it. We love the refreshing drink Salvital, so we bought 4 cans of it back with us. It looks like salt or sugar when you open it. It was here we realized that security had opened our bags, punctured a can of Salvital (fair enough – it does ‘look’ dodgy) and then they actually threw it back into our case – OPENED. ARGH! WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?! So with that we had what was basically a bag of sugar tipped through everything and now, all over the floor. It was through everything. So now I had to deal with cleaning everything in the case, vacuuming and getting every little bit of this stuff picked up. UGH!!!!

Getting in to New York at that time of ‘night’ then set off two weeks of the most awful jetlag I have ever had. I am talking the kind of jetlag where I would be at my desk at 8am, work through the day, get home at 5, and stay awake all night and then be back at work at 8am the next day. Bill would be sound asleep through this.. then the next night, I would finally sleep and Bill would be up all night. We couldn’t kick it no matter how hard we tried. I don’t know how we managed to work, but we did. It was like those two weeks were just a complete fog. I am so used to my flight and sleep routine with so many international flights that I have not suffered from jetlag for years. This was just unbearable.

So it is safe to say that from the time we got to Canberra airport, Qantas pretty much ruined the end of our holiday and the next two weeks of our lives. It then took three months of fighting with them to get the $40 seat reservation fee for LA – JFK refunded. Passengers who are bumped are entitled to a refund so I did it on principle. It wasn’t until Bill made a rant on Twitter about the ridiculousness of the situation did they not only refund the $40 but all of our other seat reservation fees as well.

After spending a Friday night heading back out to the airport to return the cases, the broken bag was classed as unrepairable. That took about ten calls back and forth with the repairers to organize a replacement. My Samsonite was returned after about two weeks. We then also had to send multiple emails and make multiple calls to get our frequent flyer points credited to our accounts. To make it even worse, we found out that Bill didn’t even qualify for points for the MEL – JFK leg. Then of course, we also used up another day of our vacation leave. Vacation time is precious here – we are so lucky we have understanding bosses! So with that, I have made a resolution that I will now quite happily look at other airlines when travelling back and forth. If I get a Qantas flight, fine.. but I definitely won’t pay more (as I have done in the past) to be loyal. There has only been one time I have not flown here on Qantas out of all my trips here and that was because I had no choice as it was a group flight. Unfortunately, the relationship has been damaged beyond repair. My loyalty is no more… and that makes me sad.

I won’t lie, leaving everyone in Melbourne (not the city itself) was sad… but by golly it was SO good to be home after all that drama!

Read about the rest of our trip here –

Bliss on JFK-MEL
So we got off the plane…
Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Back to the ‘G
A sheep or two and a kangaroo…
Melbourne and Norflandz
Queen Vic Market / Grand Final Parade / Parl
One day in Sept… oops… October
Show Day!
Melbourne – Albury
Albury – Parkes
Parkes – Canberra
Canberra

Feb 28 2012
3

Canberra

We had a huge couple of days in Canberra.. here goes!

I am probably the biggest fan of Heinz Tinned Spaghetti ever. I was so excited to see that our Canberra hotel had it on the menu for breakfast. Hooray!

So this was a breakfast on the first morning –

Canberra

We then headed to Cockington Green to spend the morning with Camille and Eveleigh and have lunch there with them. It was the perfect place as there was a lot to keep Eveleigh occupied while we walked around in the manicured gardens and miniature villages. There wasn’t too many people there and thankfully, we got through the whole place before the rain started. It was so cute but we must have been too busy catching up as it was only afterwards that I realized we took hardly any photos of the gardens themselves. Oops!

Camille, Eveleigh and I –

Cockington Green, Canberra

Bill being a proud kinda-Australian –

Cockington Green, Canberra

Cockington Green Gardens-

Cockington Green, Canberra

Cockington Green, Canberra

Cockington Green, Canberra

We then sat down for a long, long lunch with lots of admiring of Eveleigh and she happily grabbed food to munch on and was just so cute the whole time!

Cam’s Chicken Schnitzel was somewhat epic –

Cockington Green, Canberra

My pasta dish was delish… you can just see our raspberry lemonades!

Cockington Green, Canberra

Check out the chippies Bill got with his lunch!

Cockington Green, Canberra

Of course, we needed some obligatory Eveleigh shots –

Cockington Green, Canberra

Cockington Green, Canberra

Could she be any cuter?!

Cockington Green, Canberra

Cockington Green, Canberra

It was so sad saying goodbye but we knew that we would all be together again soon enough. It was so good catching up on home soil and kind of surreal to think of the global friendship we now have!

Bill and I then scurried away to visit the War Memorial. One of my best memories of family holidays was when mum and dad took us to Canberra and of the time we spent at the War Memorial. It was still just as great as I remember, sans the disrespectful people that happened to be there at the same time and by disrespect I mean full on loud conversations at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I kid you not – Bill was furious and actually had words with the people who were just as oblivious after he told them how rude they were. It was infuriating.

Here are some shots from the Memorial –

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

View from the Memorial towards Parliament House –

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

We were emotionally exhausted by the end of the day. You could spend days in the exhibition areas of the Memorial and is definitely a reason to go back to Canberra. Hopefully by then there may be more of a push towards educating visitors on behavior and respect at such places. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking. 🙁

We got back to the hotel to find out that Steve Jobs had died. We watched the news for a while and then headed to the Harmonie German Club for dinner. It was a fun night there and we were certainly ready for an early night after a long day of being tourists!

The next morning we had to pack up our stuff and check out and we had another big day of being tourists before our flight back to Melbourne. We had the same breakfast as the day before. Spaghetti on toast heaven!

The first place we went to was Old Parliament House to see it a the now Museum of Australian Democracy. We could have spent all day there. We quickly joined a tour so we would get to see everything we wanted to. I nearly fainted when we joined the group. Our tour guide was none other than… Malcolm Mackerras!!! It was just too much!! He was so wonderful, we could have spent all day with him. We walked the corridors and he had so many fantastic stories to share with us.

Here are some photos from our time at Old Parl –

Old Parliament House, Canberra

Old Parliament House, Canberra

I miss THIS so much 🙁

Old Parliament House, Canberra

In the old Senate-

Old Parliament House, Canberra

Bill being Speaker of the House –

Old Parliament House, Canberra

The office of the Prime Minister –

Old Parliament House, Canberra

An office frozen in time –

Old Parliament House, Canberra

We then visited the National Library. I wish I had got the chance to work there when I was in Australia. They had a special area dedicated to Australian authors and they were giving different narratives about their life. When it got to Mem Fox talking about Possum Magic, it actually made me cry! Other bonus – the NLA bookstore is absolutely fantastic!

Old Parliament House, Canberra

We then spent some time at the National Archives –

Old Parliament House, Canberra

The weather was slowly getting worse so we jumped in the car and I gave Bill a look at all of the different Consulates around Canberra. We drove up to Parliament House and decided if we could get a car park undercover, we would run in for a quick visit. We drove straight in and got a great park.. so in we went for a quick zip around Parliament. I have to say, I’ve never felt in awe of the new Parliament compared to my love for the Victorian Parliament House. I thought this would change as I got older but.. nope. I still don’t have an appreciation for the new Parliament. It just doesn’t have that Parliament feeling to me.

View from Parliament with Old Parliament first and then the War Memorial further in the distance –

Canberra

Our dodgy self portrait in the rain –

Canberra

We then jumped in the car and headed to the airport for our flight back to Melbourne. It was then that mum rang us to say that dad had been put into hospital. &^!&$!$!##!#!#!##! I nearly ran off the road. Dad had choked on a piece of meat and they couldn’t dislodge it – so he was going to have to be operated on. Mum and dad were going to be picking us up from Tullamarine. So we made plans for mum to leave the keys hidden, we’d get a cab and just hope and pray that dad would be ok. I got an instant headache worrying about Pa and just wanting to get home. Then we got lost going to the airport, had a terrible time returning the stupid hire car and I jut wanted out of Canberra. Thankfully we checked in and got settled in Qantas club to pass the time before our flight and keep our mind off everything at home.

It was then that they announced that we would be delayed 30 minutes, then one hour, then two hours, then three hours. I kid you not. It was a nightmare. In the end, it would’ve been quicker for us to DRIVE to Melbourne than fly. I was SO angry, over tired and just in a foul mood. We eventually got in the air after being delayed four hours. To make it worse, you know what they served on the plane for a ‘snack’? The most DISGUSTING tuna rolls. Like seriously, it after 11pm at night, everyone was angry and then the whole cabin smelt of warm mayonnaise and fish. I nearly threw up. It was the worst in flight meal ever. One has to wonder what they were thinking when they planned that meal.

We landed at Tullamarine and ran to the taxi rank and there was about 100 people ahead of us. Mum was still at the hospital and dad hadn’t even been operated on yet. We had a fight with a taxi driver who only had room for one suitcase in his boot (!!!) and didn’t want a case on the seat. To which Bill shouted “THEN WHY ARE YOU PICKING UP PASSENGERS FROM THE AIRPORT?!” Seriously – Melbourne cab drivers are a disgrace and embarrassment to the city. Imagine if this was a visitors first impression of Melbourne? Exactly. They are useless and why I never used them when I lived there. The taxi attendants told him to get out of there and ended up getting us a cab quickly. By the time we got home it was 1am. Dad had just been taken away and mum was stuck there waiting. I couldn’t sleep so I went and hopped in mum and dads bed and waited for mum to get home. It wasn’t until after 3am that I heard her key in the door. We stayed up chatting until nearly 5am.

Saturday was a washout. Dad was ok – Mum was able to pick him up before lunchtime. He still had the texta mark on his throat when they thought they may have to do a tracheotomy. He was very sore and sorry for himself and we were all overtired and exhausted. We spent Saturday in our PJs looking after dad and packing our stuff. It was an eventful way to wind down our visit that is for sure. We only had Sunday left in Melbourne… wah!

Feb 27 2012
1

Parkes – Canberra

So I decided it is high time I wrap up our September/October trip to Australia before I do any other blog posts…!

We left off last time in Parkes, where we went out to see the CSIRO Dish. We settled in for a big sleep in the dodgy hotel room that came free with mouse traps and before we knew it, there was a knock on the door and our breakfast was ready! Brekkie was about the only highlight of this hotel!

Parkes

Parkes

We got ready, checked out and headed back to the dish to have a look inside the visitors centre and see the Dish in an overcast morning light. It did seem to look totally different. It was such a great place – I am so glad we went there.

Parkes

Parkes

Parkes

Another bush scene –

Parkes

We then got in the car and hit the road. We had a big drive ahead of us as this time, we were off to Canberra!

I loved driving through each of the small towns and watching the kilometres in between towns continually decline. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and so we stopped in the small town of Boorowa. One of those two pub, three church towns – the kind that I just love!

We chose the Boorowa Courthouse Hotel for our counter lunch. I think our meals were about $6 each. So good and such a bargain! I got rissoles and veggies and Bill got a chicken burger!

Boorowa

Our fellow patrons. Can’t you just smell what the pub smelt like? Old beer, chips and stale cigarettes. Such a good smell when you are part of it!

Boorowa

Boorowa

Boorowa
We then had a walk around the town to check out some of the sights –

The war memorial –

Boorowa

Boorowa

The Main Street –

Boorowa

Delivery vehicle and transportation around town. We assume!

Boorowa

Prime Roast!

Boorowa

The Post Office – the business was for sale. I just wanted to buy it and live there forever and ever!

Boorowa

St Patrick’s Church – you can see where it had been extended to make it bigger!

Boorowa

Boorowa

Boorowa

Boorowa

This hotel was for sale –

Boorowa

We stopped at the bakery for some sweets and a big M and then jumped back in the car for part two of our journey. We were travelling into Canberra and made good time. When we got to check in, we were surprised by how good our room was for a Best Western!

Canberra

Canberra

Then one of the best surprises ever was my most wonderful friend Camille drove all the way to Canberra from Sydney to spend some time in the Capital with us! We didn’t expect to see her until the following day but she got there early and we sat on the lawn on the Lake Burley Griffin waterfront and had lots of cuddles with Eveleigh and caught up on so much goss. I am forever grateful that she went so out of her way to catch up with us – while they were still waiting on their belongings to return from New York and in addition, it was her first big car trip with Eveleigh on her own. It was just like we were sitting and having lunch like we used to do.. it was so much fun!

We ended up heading back to the hotel and then I decided it was time that Bill experienced something I grew up loving – The Pancake Parlour!

Canberra

Overpriced and never changing, it was still a good meal. Bill was left speechless that a stack was so small and yet, so expensive. Welcome to dining in Australia, Bill! 😉

Feb 18 2012
1

Chicago and the Lake Shore Limited

Getting off the train in Chicago was exciting – we had a day to spend doing whatever we wanted!

It was really cold and early Sunday morning. So we had booked a zipcar and thought we’d just drive around Chicago. We see ‘city’ every day so we relished at the chance to see some suburbia!

First place? We drove up to the North Shore to gorgeous Winnetka to visit a house.

Not just ANY house.

Home Alone House

You know, Kevin, you’re what the French call les incompétents – HOME ALONE!

Home Alone!

If you are interested in the house itself, it is for sale!

Even better? Directly across the street is the real Mitch Murphy house!

It was great just driving around and looking at the houses and obviously with the snow it was like being in the movie itself!

As it was Sunday we decided to go to Mass at St John Cantius for a beautiful Tridentine Mass. I have wanted to visit there after seeing an amazing documentary about the restoration of the church. If you click on that link, you can watch the documentary too. It is awesome. Mass itself was beautiful and I think Latin gets easier to follow as you get used to it more. They had a book so you could follow what they were saying in English but, I wish I learnt Latin at school!

We managed to get a photo of the altar before Mass started but the whole church is just gorgeous – it was well worth the visit!

St John Cantius, Chicago

By the time Mass was over we were starving. So we had another little drive around before we had to return the car. Next stop? Deep dish pizza. This was a positively life changing experience. Giordano’s Pizza is ohmygosh amazing.

Inside it had the All-American-Italian-Restaurant feel – I loved it!

Giordano's, Chicago

And this could just about be one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten –

Giordano's Deep Dish

I cannot describe how good the base was – almost flaky pastry like. It looks like it could be totally over the top right? Well that is the thing, it isn’t at all – it is really nice to eat and while it is filling you don’t get that sickly feeling you normally can get after eating pizza with that much cheese.

We ended up hanging out in Giordano’s for a while as it was warm. I was truly struggling to stay awake and even after ordering a coke I was still falling asleep. We had planned to check out the Willis Tower but instead decided to head back to the station. We were both just truly beat.

Here we are walking around in the freezing cold.

In Chicago

We then did a bit of a walk around gorgeous Union Station. The last time I was here was in 2002 and it has changed a lot. They are going to start renovating soon.

Union Station, Chicago

Union Station, Chicago

When we got to the Metropolitan Lounge we hung out there until relaxed until about 8.30 when we got the call to board. The lounge felt very 80s but it was comfy and quiet!

I also thought it looked like a TAB –

Metropolitan Lounge - Chicago

Metropolitan Lounge - Chicago

Ready to hit the rails!

Ready to board!

This is the route we would be travelling –

When we got to our room, it already felt different to the previous train. We had chocolates in our room, soap and water all laid out.As soon as we there, our attendant Tom introduced himself. He told us to head down to the dining car for wine and cheese and he would set up our bedroom while we were there.

The Lake Shore Limited Dining Car –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

Sleeping car passengers get this before departure as it is too late for a dinner sitting –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

We were super tired and guess what? When we got back, our beds were made.. perfectly!

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

Now, when I was on the other train, I was chatting to mum on the phone. She mentioned that when they would get the train to northern New South Wales when she was young, there would be a blue night light in the room and the attendants would wake them up with tea and coffee in the morning. Well get this.. here is the blue nightlight we had too.

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

Just to note, the Lake Shore Limited is a Viewliner train – these are the only ones that can travel into New York City because of the tunnels. These are configured differently with lots of storage space near the ceiling. The higher ceilings mean this carriage felt a lot less claustrophobic than the Superliner fleet that we took to Chicago. The Upper Bunk has an upper window and in this you can see just how much room there is –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

It was awesome! Not only was the ride smoother but I felt a lot more comfortable laying on the top bunk!

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

You can see they even have a little storage bag up there to keep things in. Cute!

We slept and slept and slept. I couldn’t believe it when I woke up and realized I had had a great eight hour sleep and was so refreshed! We again got to watch the sunrise over Pennsylvania (we were in between Cleveland and Buffalo) and it was just as beautiful –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

Our attendant from heaven, Tom knocked on our door at 7.30 with you guessed it! Coffee, juice and the newspaper!

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

Now THIS was what we envisaged our train travel to be like. Tom was amazing and takes such pride in his job and looking after the passengers – we were truly lucky to get him as our attendant. When I got back, I googled him to find out he is one of the best Amtrak attendants riding the rails. He really made our trip fantastic.

We went down to the dining car for breakfast –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

And here we are walking down the different corridors of the Lake Shore Limited –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

When we went back to our room, our beds were all made, towels changed and the room tidied. Tom was an angel! I laid down and had a two hour nap thinking to myself about how great it would be if I could get Amtrak from New York to Melbourne!

We then got called for lunch – and I forgot to take photos. We were seated with a totally grumpy couple from Europe who thought they were entitled to sit on their own as it was more ‘romantic’. Uh-huh – on Amtrak. They were all fussy about their wines and beer. It was annoying to be stuck with them but we just ordered, ate and left! I ordered meatloaf, Bill ordered a burger and again, the meals were great.

We saw this old train just near the Utica station –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

And lots of natural Winter beauty along the way –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

After another 19 hours of train travel, it was time to get ready to sadly disembark –

Amtrak - Lake Shore Limited - CHI - NYC

In comparison to the airport, it was an amazing experience. We got off the train at 6.25, got in a cab at 6.30 and we were walking in the door at 6.45!

This cab marked the end of our adventure –

Home!

BUT the minute we got home we were back, checking out Amtrak guides. We really want to do NY – LA next and even do the trip we originally wanted to do, the Crescent back down south. Either way, even though both trips were so opposite of each other we understand that that is the nature of train travel. You either get really good or totally hopeless. We can only wish that more attendants become more like Tom – as he made our trip what it was. We are also more confident and we know what to expect next time. Basically, WE LOVE AMTRAK!

I hope you have enjoyed seeing what long distance train travel is like in America and also the little bit of New Orleans and Chicago you got to see. We squished so much in and time went so fast. Now.. the countdown is on until Europe beckons in April! We cannot wait!

Feb 16 2012
1

Our Great Amtrak Adventure

Back to our New Orleans trip, as I mentioned earlier, our original plans were to have a sleeper room on the Crescent from New Orleans to New York. So now, being booked to go to Chicago and then to New York, our departure time from New Orleans was later.

Funnily enough, we received another phone call from Amtrak the day before we left to inform us that the Magnolia Lounge was closed for renovation and to just make use of the normal waiting hall. As a sleeping car passenger, you are classed as ‘first class’ so this means access to the lounge. Anyway, we weren’t fussed and headed to the station full of anticipation for a real long distance train trip. I had only ever done long distance train travel in coach (and of course all the miles travelled on Greyhound) so I was jumping out of my skin. Check out how long the trip would be –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

We went to the automatic ticket machine to print our tickets and there was an error. When we first got our Crescent train reservation, we went to Penn Station to print our tickets. When they cancelled that train, we just decided to wait until New Orleans to get the reissued ones.

Of course, with the machine not printing, we had to go to the desk. We gave the attendant our printed confirmation so he could print our boarding passes. He then said “Do you have the original ones you were issued?” Yep – they wanted the old tickets for the train that WAS NOT RUNNING. EXCUSE ME?! I explained of course we didn’t have them because the train wasn’t running. He quickly said “Well they have the value of cash so if you want to get on to this train, you’ll have to pay the fare ($900!!!) again..” I nearly fainted there and then. Bill was SO calm yet, my voice was quivering. I said that even if we did still ‘have them’ they were in New York. He just shrugged and said “Well you’ll just have to pay..” We were very quick to point out NO-ONE told us that we would have to bring the old boarding passes for a train that was NOT running and that we were no longer booked on.

It was ridiculous and it was looking like we had no way out of it. We had no plane reservation home, our train tickets didn’t exist and we just wanted out of there. I explained that they already cut short our vacation and don’t you think with every email and print out I had there, if we were told to bring the stupid ticket we would have? It was the most infuriating situation to be in. He was being stoic and following the rules and we were just two passengers being jerked around by Amtrak. Tears welled in my eyes and Bill looked straight at me and said “Let me sort this out – we are getting on this train ok?” I tried to keep calm when Bill asked the guy to call the main office and sort this out as it was unacceptable. After twenty of the longest minutes ever and my pleading looks while gritting my teeth and saying to Bill “We are NEVER doing this again!” The attendant got off the phone and told us the situation had been rectified – they were ‘hot marking’ our old tickets (again – the train wasn’t even running and that booking no longer existed so nothing could be done with them!) and writing out our tickets for this trip by hand. I breathed the BIGGEST sigh of relief and thanked God that we got to the station so early so we could sort this out – otherwise, the train would’ve left without us. It was the worst way to start our trip but the drama was over and we had our tickets. Hooray!

The only thing left to do was pick up some lunch and see what the New Orleans Railway Station was like. It is shared with the Greyhound station so it is a bit of a transport hub with amazing murals in the waiting hall –

New Orleans Railway Station

New Orleans Railway Station

New Orleans Railway Station

We needed to grab some lunch and Subway was the only option. We really made a trip back in time. Picture it… I think the best description would be an early 80s pinball parlor perhaps?

New Orleans Railway Station

New Orleans Railway Station

There was a jukebox!

New Orleans Railway Station

There was also top secret slot machines behind these swinging doors!

New Orleans Railway Station

Pacman!

New Orleans Railway Station

I loved this room of vending machines –

New Orleans Railway Station

Before we knew it, we were getting called to board the train.

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

This was our staircase to our room on the Upper Deck –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The corridors were long and narrow – interesting to walk along these with the train bouncing around –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

We hopped on and got settled in Car 5800 Bedroom B. Here is a tour of our room!

Our little room letter was lit up –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The general coffee/tea/juice area for sleeping car passengers –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

This is looking out into the hallway –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

That carpeted area is the bottom of the top bunk that comes down from the ceiling. The couch Bill is sitting on reclined down to make a bed as well –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

We actually had our own shower and toilet in our room. Glamorous! I can safely say that showering in this little ‘room’ while going fast over the rails of the Midwest was one of the silliest things I had ever done.

The shower and toilet were together – so the toilet gets soaks when you have the shower on – it is super cosy! 😉

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Flushing instructions –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The shower was really nice and hot and had great pressure!

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The toilet paper is kept in a little plastic hutch in the side of the wall – so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet by the shower. They actually recommend you sit on the toilet while you are having your shower so that you don’t lose your balance. I was quite happy to stand.

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The bathroom door is where the backpack is –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The view from the sofa looking out the bedroom door –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Not long into the trip, our attendant came by to say someone would be coming by for dining car reservations and that he would set our beds up at 9pm.

We never saw him again but we did get our dinner reservation –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Here is some of what we saw along the way –

Outside New Orleans –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Hammond, Louisiana –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Jackson, Mississippi –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Not sure where this was –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

The track was extremely rough. Now, we take the NYC subway every day, I have done travels in Amtrak coach long haul and in all my international travels have been caught in severe turbulence. This train trip was basically unbearable. I was unable to read anything or do stitching. We couldn’t stand up comfortably, we couldn’t sit down comfortably. It was miserable. I have never got motion sickness before and this trip gave me a sickly feeling. We couldn’t wait for dinner to see if it was any better further up the train.

Dining on Amtrak is an experience in itself. Firstly, the food is REALLY good for train food. Secondly, it is communal dining. For every meal you sit with different people and chat while the world goes by. As sleeping car passengers, all of our meals were included and we could order what we wanted.

For dinner, we sat with a couple for Alabama who had just returned for a cruise. It was great talking to them and their friends and the hour long dinner went by so quickly!

The scene in the dining car –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

They started our meals with a fresh garden salad –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

I got the roast chicken and vegetables –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Bill got the steak with a gorgonzola butter sauce –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Pecan Pie for dessert –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Sorbet for me!

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

This was the viewing car – clear ceilings and lots of windows this place is the place to hang out during the day on the train –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

After dinner we had our showers and waited for our beds to be set up. As this was our first trip we were unsure of protocol or how anything worked as no-one had explained anything to us. We waited and waited and no attendent so we ended up setting them up ourselves. This was really hard work withthe train jolting around. I chose to sleep on the top bunk and when we pulled back the sheets there was a Skoal Bandit laying right there in the bed. A Skoal Bandit is like a wad of chewing tobacco. It was disgusting! We could only assume that when the attendant put the sheets on (they are all done before you get on the train) that the disgusting specimen had fallen out of his mouth or pocket. Bill was furious, I was overtired and the whole thing was just disgusting. This was feeling increasingly like a Griswold Vacation. Bill quickly pressed the attendant button as he wanted to express his non-happiness at the whole situation. But I was angry, wanted to sleep and wanted nothing to do with the attendant. When he came we just dismissed him and he asked what time for breakfast. With the train jerking around, dirty sheets and a tiny room we just tried to grin and bear it. I jumped up the ladder and hopped into bed.

Here is Bill ‘strapping’ me into the bunk. There are long seatbelts that come down from the roof and attach to the bunk so with all the jolting you don’t end up going for a sixer.

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

“Nigh nigh Bill – sweet dreams Bill!”

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

I lasted there 20 minutes.

Because of all the movement on the train, I didn’t feel secure in the bunk at all. So I jumped down and we huddled on the bottom bunk. All up we probably got about 4 hours sleep. Cosy much?

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

We booked for a 6am breakfast so at 5.30 we were trying to get dressed while bouncing around the carriage. We configured the room back ourselves and got dressed and went to the dining car.

We were sitting with an older European couple who hardly spoke English so we just said pleasantries and smiled! Breakfast was yum –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

One of the most beautiful things (and so romantic) was sitting in the viewing car and watching the sunrise over rural Illinois. It was just beautiful.

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

One bonus for train travel is being able to wear moccasins and tracky daks all day!

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

We only had a couple of hours until we arrived in Chicago so we went back to our room and started to pack up our stuff while bouncing around and still feeling so tired from lack of sleep.

Here is Homewood, Illinois –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

Snowy scenery outside Chicago –

Amtrak - City of New Orleans - NOLA - CHI

As for our missing attendant.. he just came by to collect pillow cases (no change of towels, nothing) and then we didn’t see him until it was time to disembark. We were VERY tempted to book flights from Chicago – NY.

However, when we disembarked in Chicago we made our way to the Metropolitan Lounge to check our luggage and sat down and decided to take the plunge and try another night of riding the rails. The adventure continues!

Feb 13 2012
2

New Orleans – Day 3

We had another early start – here are our brekky shots –

Day 2 - Room Service Breakfast

Day 2 - Room Service Breakfast

For this day, we were booked to visit the St Louis Cemetery for the Save Our Cemeteries tour. I will leave it up to you to do some reading on the cemeteries for New Orleans but a walking tour of them isn’t as strange as it sounds!

The tour started at the Basin Street Station – which was an old railway station that is now a museum. It had some great displays!

Basin St. Station

Even a display of railway signal lanterns! We actually have one of these that has been turned into a lamp – so it caught our attention right away!

Basin St. Station

A great historic view of the old railway lines of the South –

Basin St. Station

Basin St. Station

As for the tour, you can read Bill’s review on Trip Advisor. The whole tour turned into a rant – it was disrespectful and off-putting which was a shame because our guide really was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I just didn’t need to hear her whinge through the whole thing. We did get some good photos though. In some of these tombs there are whole families buried. All the bones end up loose in the bottom of the tomb.

St Louis Cemetary

Tomb that includes the remains of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

New and Old –

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

An elderly man has been decorating this tomb for many years – he is the only person who is allowed to come in and do this –

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

The ‘fake’ grave of Marie Laveau.

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

St Louis Cemetary

This pyramid will be where Nicholas Cage is laid to rest. Yes, he has bought and constructed his tomb in advance. Omnia Ab Uno, means “everything from the one”.

St Louis Cemetary

We then spent the afternoon at the aquarium. The aquarium got very badly damaged during Katrina and unfortunately, it shouldn’t even be open now. It is very depressing and like a trip back to the 80s. They are currently fundraising to redevelop the site – I hope they are able to get fully back on their feet. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a waste of an afternoon and was expensive considering what was there.

New Orleans Aquarium

We then went to the IMAX theater to watch Hurricane on the Bayou. It was a really good movie that touched on the environmental issues that contributed to how New Orleans was so badly affected by Katrina.

It was then time for dinner. We secured reservations at Commander’s Palace. Yes, The Commander’s Palace. It was a wonderful experience – very old school dining but the service was absolutely out of this world. To the point where it was actually almost over the top. As we walked through the restaurant to our table every.single.waiter said “Welcome!” or “Hello!” – it was like how people all line up in a single line to shake hands with the Queen… seriously! I had the most amazing pea and ham soup and Bill got a mixed salad to start – they were both amazingly over the stop and decadent! Then, I got a gnocchi with truffle and wild mushroom sauce. The gnocchi were like little pillows of potato fluff. Bill got the most amazing veal chop that was massive and cooked absolutely perfectly. We finished off with Pecan Pie. It was all so perfect and a fitting end to our time in New Orleans.

We got to back to the hotel and I fell asleep as soon as we got back. Packing up for the train had to wait until the next morning…!

Feb 13 2012
1

New Orleans – Day 2

We woke up early on Day 2 and had our delicious room service breakfast. One of the best meals ever invented is cheese grits. I could live on them. Here is our room service brekky –

Day 1 - Room Service Breakfast

Day 1 - Room Service Breakfast

We got out of the hotel and ready for a long walk through New Orleans. We had no definitely plans… just wanted to go for a walk around. Little did we know it ended up feeling like a little bit of a pilgrimage. I had no idea whatsoever that the churches in New Orleans would be so beautiful. It was a wonderful surprise!

We stumbled upon the Immaculate Conception church which was right next to our hotel. It was beautiful and so peaceful. It is a Jesuit chuch that has been going through a lot of restoration. Please excuse our iPhone photos –

Immaculate Conception Church

Immaculate Conception Church

The pews were wood and iron!

Immaculate Conception Church

Immaculate Conception Church

Immaculate Conception Church

We then took a long, long walk through the French Quarter. This was mid-morning and it was so quiet. Also – while we were there it was quite cold so the party spirit was still sleeping –

New Orleans - French Quarter

The street car tracks on Canal Street reminded me of Melbourne trams –

New Orleans - French Quarter

New Orleans - French Quarter

New Orleans - French Quarter

New Orleans - French Quarter

I love checking out the public transport ticketing machines in different cities. Here is one for the street cars –

New Orleans - French Quarter

Check out this.. the ticket machines are not at all stops. So they have a guy that drives around in a cart with a ticket machine on it and he stops at various stops to see if anyone needs to buy a ticket!

Some views of Bourbon St during the day –

New Orleans - French Quarter

New Orleans - French Quarter

New Orleans - French Quarter

New Orleans - French Quarter

French Quarter - New Orleans

French Quarter - New Orleans

I love these tiled street signs –

French Quarter

We wandered and wandered and ended up at St Louis Cathedral. It is quite a focal point of the city and seems like a bit of a meeting place. It was absolutely beautiful inside!

St Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

St Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

St Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

St Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

The Clamshell pulpits are a feature in all churches in New Orleans –
St Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

The stark white exterior really stands out in this part of the town –

St Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

After visiting the Cathedral we wandered through some more streets when we came across a little sign for a museum – it ends up it is for the Old Ursuline Convent which has been restored into a museum and opened to the public. It is the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley It was gorgeous! You can now see why this all felt like a pilgrimage!

Old Ursuline Convent

Old Ursuline Convent

This is the oldest staircase in the United States –

Old Ursuline Convent

The Church within the grounds was absolutely amazing. It was basically in perfect condition which is amazing considering all of the hurricanes and weather extremes –

Old Ursuline Convent

Old Ursuline Convent

The staircase for the organist –

Old Ursuline Convent

The ceiling was absolutely amazing –

Old Ursuline Convent

Confession booth in perfect condition –

Old Ursuline Convent

Closer look at the Altar –

Old Ursuline Convent

You can just see the library through the upper window –

Old Ursuline Convent

The church exterior –

Old Ursuline Convent

Old Ursuline Convent

We got a quick bite to eat for lunch and then hopped on the streetcar to see what that was like and they were just like the Melbourne W Class trams!

St Charles Ave Streetcar

St Charles Ave Streetcar

The chair backs move back and forth so you can face the way the streetcar is traveling –

St Charles Ave Streetcar

We went for another wander at the end of the streetcar line and came across the casino. So we went in to play some slot machines and came out $70 ahead within about 30 minutes. We were so excited so we took the money and ran!

Harrah's Casino

We had dinner booked at Dante’s Kitchen – which has become one of the best restaurants in New Orleans.

Dante's Kitchen

It was one of the best meals I have ever had. Absolutely amazing. There is no glitz or glamor here – it is in a converted house and out of the city. But it was absolutely amazing and the reviews say it all. I got shrimp and grits with red eye gravy – oh my gosh I could’ve eaten an never ending bowl of it. The best was yet to come with their chicken roasted under a brick. I have NEVER EVER eaten chicken like it. I can’t describe it but it was amazing!
Bill got the Trois Mignons and also enjoyed them thoroughly. It was one of those meals where we hardly talked as we were so busy savoring every bit of the meal. It was THAT good.

We got the streetcar back to the city and decided to go back and check out Bourbon Street at night. It was FREEZING but we were still very ohmigosh-I-didn’t-expect-it-to-be-like-this! We were really out of place! The streets we not packed at all but the bars were.

French Quarter

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

It was all too much for Bill! He scored some beads from the verandah of one of the bars.

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

After a lot of walking and sightseeing, we wandered back to the hotel and then prepped for day three!

Feb 13 2012
0

Arriving in New Orleans

I know that I haven’t even finished documenting our trip to Australia but I wanted to tell you all about our trip to New Orleans!

In early January we made our first visit to New Orleans and our first super-long-distance Amtrak trip. This little voyage was an absolute adventure and now when we look back, absolutely hillarious.

We got to LaGuardia early and it was fun to check out the new Admirals Club lounge. Could this be the best view from any airline lounge?

View from the Admiral's Club - LaGuardia Airport

As it always seems these days, our plane hardly had a spare seat. We settled in, ate Pringles and I drifted off until we were just out of Dallas/Fort Worth.

Enroute - NYC - Dallas/Fort Worth

The only other time I was at Dallas/Fort Worth was when I was waiting for a layover to Amarillo. I was so so so sick so I just sat in a chair for hours there. This time, we had 45 minutes and we made the most of it. We found the best BBQ ever. Seriously, Texas Airport BBQ is better than all of the New York BBQ restaurants combined… and a lot cheaper! If you are ever in the American Airlines terminal in DFW check out Dickey’s – it was really good!

Dickey's BBQ - Dallas/Fort Worth Airport

Dickey's BBQ - Dallas/Fort Worth Airport

Dickey's BBQ - Dallas/Fort Worth Airport

We even got time to do some window-shopping… here at Texas Marketplace y’all!

It was the best 45 minute layover ever!

It was then time to board the smaller jet for our flight to New Orleans. I told Bill he could have the window seat on this flight so he could see New Orleans as we flew over it. Um. Slight problem. We were put in the very last row and Bill’s window was covered by… the engine. So it was super noisy with no view on a very old plane.

Bill's Window Seat View

So for the next hour or so we just looked at the seat back in front of us and drank cokes!

When we landed at New Orleans the first thing we noticed was the different smell – it was strange – almost tropical but with a yummy spicy smell to it… it was actually comforting! We got a shuttle bus to our hotel, Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel and checked in. Here is the lobby –

Renaissance Pere Marquette - Lobby

Renaissance Pere Marquette - Lobby

This was all very exciting as we finally reached Gold status with our Marriott rewards! With this we were upgraded to a high room and were super excited to see this when we checked in.

Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel - New Orleans

These are the extra towels and pillow that I always have down in my reservation profile because there are never enough! Little did I know we already would have six pillows between us here! Also the rest of the room –

Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel - New Orleans

Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel - New Orleans

Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel - New Orleans

Now a quick rundown on this whole holiday. We booked our flight using points and then paid to come home on Amtrak on the Crescent train – direct from New Orleans to New York in a sleeper. The trip is about 30 hours – we were going to leave early Sunday morning and arrive in New York on Monday afternoon. A few weeks after booking, Amtrak contacted us to say the train was cancelled. Now our issue was – we booked on points so we’d lose big time if we cancelled our flights, so Bill got in contact with Amtrak. For the same price we could get home by leaving on the Saturday getting the City of New Orleans Train to Chicago, spending the day in Chicago and then getting the train to New York that night. We took that option as traveling by train was basically THE reason we were doing this trip. So that meant we had one night less in New Orleans. When I booked our hotel, I got a good price and added breakfast for both of us in the hotel restaurant each day for $20 more. I thought that was a bargain so was happy with what we arranged. Unfortunately, changing our booking to no longer stay on the Saturday night affected our reservation price and it went up. I didn’t think anything of it and it was only a few weeks before that I thought I should contact them and explain that the change in booking wasn’t our fault, just in case they would lower it. As usual, amazing customer service from Marriott – they did lower our price and still keeping our special of the breakfast every morning. When we checked in, the desk manager said that the breakfast was for the restaurant or room service. I just thought she made a mistake – but when we got to our room, we called the restaurant – nope. Definitely included room service! Anything we wanted, we could order. AMAZING. I am SO happy I chose Marriott as our ‘go to hotel chain’ when I moved here – we have never had a bad experience yet! Hooray!

So anyway, we were tired from the long day so we got room service for dinner and settled in for an early night, ready to explore New Orleans the next day.

Here is what we got for our room service dinner –

This looks average but it was awesome. It was a ravioli dish in a creamy cajun spiced sauce. A nice little intro into cajun foods.

Room Service Dinner - Ravioli with a spicy creole sauce

Bill got this delicious burger –

Room service dinner- Cheeseburger

And the highlight? Our dessert of Beignets! They were a-mazing! The chocolate sauce was just perfect!

Room Service dessert - Our first beignets!

Nov 30 2011
1

Albury – Parkes

It was an early start on the Tuesday as we had another day of driving – this time to Parkes.

Our hotel in Albury was the Hume Country Motor Inn. It was one of the cleanest hotels I have ever stayed in and with the brick walls it felt like so many other Australian country hotels!

I know this photo is dark but here is our room –

Albury

Love the paper on the toilet seat.. I don’t ever see that in hotels here!

Albury

Bulk toiletries!

Albury

Our morning view –

Albury

Out on the deck we were joined by some magpies –

Albury

Albury

Who loves hotel breakfasts? I do! Sadly, none of the hotels we stayed at had the breakfast hatch that would open and the food would come sliding in but nevertheless, here was our free breakfast!

Albury

Our first stop was the Ettamogah Pub. It has been closed down and it was actually quite creepy. I wonder what will come of it? Still, we took some photos!

Careful on the stairs, mate!

Ettamogah Pub

Closed 🙁

Ettamogah Pub

Our next stop was in Gundagai – I could easily live there. I thought it was absolutely beautiful and the main street was gorgeous. It has a little bit of everything and is full of old Australiana.

First we went to the Prince Alfred Bridge at the end of the main street.

Check out the old Bicentenary logo!

Gundagai

Luckily for us there was not an influx of people wanting to all jump on the bridge at once –

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Then, we went to the Dog on the Tuckerbox –

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Then we went to the pub for a counter lunch –

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

We then visited St Patrick’s Church. Country churches are so cute!

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

The old railway station –

Gundagai

Galahs on the side of the road –

Gundagai

The main street –

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

Gundagai

View from the lookout –

Gundagai

After grabbing an ice cream it was then time to get back in the car as we had to keep driving on to Parkes!

We got to the hotel at about 5pm. We were staying at the Moonraker Motor Inn. Yes, seriously that is the name. I would not stay there again… it was old and really blah.. especially for $130 per night.

Check out our room… I didn’t take a photo of the chipboard hand basin area… it was depressing.

Parkes

Parkes

Parkes

Everyone loves a radio like this –

Parkes

We decided to dash straight out to The Dish to see it at dusk. It was amazing and it was just us and another guy there. It was so quiet and peaceful and absolutely beautiful to not only be there but to see it move into it’s resting place as the wind was picking up.

We made a movie as we drove out to the site… yes with backing music c/o The Dish soundtrack.

The glow from the sun setting hitting the Dish –

Parkes

The Dish and the moon –

Parkes

We made it!

Parkes

Bill is so strong –

Parkes

Parkes

Parkes

Sunset –

Parkes

A little panoramic that I took –

Parkes

I felt like we could have been right in the middle of the story of The Road from Coorain

Parkes

Parkes

It got dark quickly so we headed back in to town and got some Chinese food for dinner. What is it with country towns having some of the best Chinese food you can find? They also all have the same light fittings –

Parkes