Archive for October, 2011

New York

Sunday, October 30th, 2011
new york laundry new york diner
new york record store woodbury common
carlyle hotel drinks carlyle bar walls  

After Las Vegas we flew across to New York for the last part of the holiday. We were there for 5 days and in that time we met up with friends Peter and George who live in Malverne, Long Island and Mike, Monique, Luke and Dante the dog who live in Brooklyn.

When we arrived in New York the most important thing was to get some washing done and near the hotel we found a Laundry which for $8.50 did 5lbs of washing, drying and folding. We became regular visitors. Just across the road was the Morning Star Diner and that became our favourite place for breakfast. Once we had our washing and our breakfast in place we, apart from a view visits it museums, did a lot of shopping. Bill found a classical record where he browsed the records happily and I watched the rather strange people, Bill excluded, browsed through the shelves. It was clear that all the clients were regulars. We also went shopping with Peter and George who took us to Westbury Common, a very large outlet mall. This is the first of two malls they took us to and we managed to buy some new winter clothes.

We ate out with Peter and  George in an Italian and then a French restaurant. With Mike and Monique we ate at their home and also in a Japanese restaurant. Then with Monique we went to see the Frick Museum followed by a visit to her favourite place for cocktails – the Carlyle Hotel’s Bemelman bar. The walls of the bar are covered with drawings from the Madeleine stories written by Ludwig Bemelman. It is a very cosy bar and serves lovely cocktails. I went for a Mule, Bill went for a Manhattan and Monique went for a gin Martini. After one drink everyone was feeling very relaxed!
carlyle hotel bill and monique

Roller coaster in Las Vegas

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

las vegas big dipper

After helicopter rides in Hawaii and the Grand Canyon we decided to be very brave and try the roller coaster ride which runs on the outside of the casino called “New York, New York”. We were already on the ride and slowly setting off when Bill told me it “looped the loop”. The seats were uncomfortable and formed in a way to provide minimum support to neck and head and they rocked from side to side and back and forward in time to the swerve and curve of big dipper. A very rattling, scarey experience which costs $15 dollars for the first go and only $7 dollars for a second go. We passed on the offer. We also passed on the photographs which were taken at 3 different points on the ride – they didn’t make me look my best.

We heard later that a few years earlier a safety inspection on the ride had shown that 7 or 8 of the bolts holding the ride to the outside of the building were almost sheared off and that the whole thing could fall sideways at any time. From my experience on the ride I can only assume they are near to shearing again.

Shows in Vegas-2

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011


The second show we went to see was “Divas”, a drag show in which the host of the show comes out as Joan Rivers and the other cast members come out as various pop stars such as Madonnaa, Tina Turner etc. Normally I am not a big fan of drag shows but have to admit this was very professional and very enjoyable. The Joan Rivers character was very funny if incredibly blue while the divas were supported by an excellent dance group plus great staging which meant the whole show went with a swing. The show has been running for 25 years so perhaps it is doing something right.

Shows in Vegas -1

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
jubilee show jubilee

Dima very kindly got us tickets for a couple of Vegas shows. The first one was Jubilee which is similar to the Moulin Rouge in Paris – i.e. lots of dancing girls and boys. Apart from the routine dancing the show also had some very good acrobats, and a couple of extended scenarios which had great scene changes. The first scenario was the stoy of Samson and Delilah in which we went from lavish court live in the land of the Philistines where they meet, through to Samson being captured and his hair cut off and ending with Samson pushing apart the pillars holding up the Temple of Dagon and the whole temple collapsing before our eyes. The second scenario was the Titanic where we went from Southampton Docks as the ship prepares to leave dock, to the first class lunch where everyone drinks cocktails, to the engine room where a first class lady passenger comes down for to dance with  the  engineers. This scene was interrupted with the news that an ice-berg was approaching and followed by a scene of the ship sinking in the background while a row boat sailed through the smoke from the dry ice to the sound of the hymn “nearer my god to thee”. All in very questionable  taste.

Gambling in Las Vegas

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

slot machines

Bill and I are slightly behind the times when it comes to gambling. When we put our first money in the “one arm bandit” machines we reached up to pull the lever. It didn’t move. Then we noticed the push button to start the machine rolling. With the slot machines we only used the “1 cent” machines. On our first day I lost 2 dollars on the machines and Bill won 6 dollars. The next day we again started to play and Bill opted to play a new “Batman”  game. The guy sitting beside Bill put in 40 dollars and lost it all. Bill put in one dollar and won 16. I also tried with a couple of dollars and immediately lost them. With Dima we went to play Blackjack where I bought 20 dollars worth of chips and again quickly lost the lot. Obviously Bill is more favoured by Lady Luck and so from now on he can buy the lottery tickets.

Meeting Dima

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011


One of the reasons for going to Las Vegas was to meet Dima Zemskov. We hadn’t seen Dima for 15 years who when we first met him was a dancer with a touring Russian ballet company. Now he lives in Las Vegas and earns his living as a supervisor in a casino with some ballet teaching on the side. We met briefly our first evening on our first evening as he was working. He works 5 days a week from 8.00 p.m to 4.00 p.m.

 The second evening we went out for a meal in his favourite restaurant on the strip – a Frence restaurant whch we reached after a walk through indoor Paris street scenes. The restaurant’s terrace overlooks the Bellagio hotel which has a spectacular water fountain show every 15 minutes as well as being unde a half size Eifel Tower. We had a great meal and caught up on old times. Dima had to leave for work and so, on his recommendation, we up the Eifel Tower for a view of Las Vegas by night. 

las vegas eifel tower
eifel tower in vegas
las vegas view from eifel tower
view from tower

It was great to meet him again after so long. He was very kind to us during the stay, making sure we enjoyed our stay and very kindly got us some free tickets for a couple of shows.

Reaching Las Vegas

Friday, October 21st, 2011
las vegas view from hotel las vegas view from hotel
view from hotel during the day view at night

Leaving the Grand Canyon at 8.30, we arrived in Las Vegas at 1.00 p.m. We were heading for the airport and finding it was not made easy by the poor signage. One exit from the freeway had a small sign but once on the main roads signs were very few and some of them simply had the word “Mccarran” and not something useful such as “international airport”. On one 6 lane highway we were fortunate to notice the very small sign for the airport over on the left hand side and at the last minute Bill was  able to cut across a couple of lanes and make the turn.

Once we dropped off the car we went by shuttle bus to the Mirage Hotel. Its a hotel in the centre of the strip. Checking in we were offered a room with a view of the car park or for $10 a night extra we could have a room on the 23rd floor with a view of the strip. We opted for that and were really pleased with the room and with the view which included a view over the Venetian hotel complete with the campanile and the  Doges Palace.

Grand Canyon

Friday, October 21st, 2011
grand canyon grand canyon

We arrived at the Grand Canyon on the evening of the 16th Oct. We had the 17th there and left in the morning of the18th. The first thing we noticed was how cool it was. In the evening and even more so in the morning a pullover was needed. In fact the morning we left there was frost on the car. Luckily during the day it was beautiful, blue skies and pleasantly warm.

We went up to see the canyon in the morning. Having seen it 40 years ago I noticed that it hadn’t changed much. It was still awe inspiring. The thing that had changed was that I had a bit more cash this time and so was able not only to walk along the edge of the canyon but also take a helicopter ride. Yes, after our experience in Hawaii we were eager for more.

So at 12.30 we got into the helicopter along with 3 French persons. My school boy french deserted me and so we simply smiled at each other. Then to the sound of Frank Sinatra singing “fly me to the moon” we lifted off. It took about 10 minutes to reach the canyon but when we did “Wow”. It is even more amazing from the helicopter. It gives an even greater impression of the size. On the flight there was a commentary about the canyon in both French and English by the time they had finished we were flying, to the sound of “What a wonderful world”, back to the helipad. It was all over too soon. In fact, we both agreed that instead of paying for the 30 minute tour we should have paid for the 1 hour trip.

Which was better  – Hawaii or Grand Canyon? The canyon is more awe inspiring in terms of the size but the helicoper is enclosed and the flight is fly out, circle gently round and fly back. In Hawaii the scenery is spectacular and more varied, but with the sides open and the steep banking of the helicopter it was a really exciting ride. So for me Hawaii has it.

Phoenix – Sedona – Grand Canyon

Friday, October 21st, 2011


Our flight from Hawaii arrived in Phoenix just before midnight. We were booked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Glad we were only staying there for one night. I had first come to the USA 40 years ago and travelled across the stats on a Greyhound bus. The Crowne Plaza reminded me of the hotels we stayed in then. In other words, the hotel could do with a make over.

8.30 the next morning we collected our hire car and we drove to the Grand Canyon via Sedona. Sedona is situated in the “Red Rock Country” and has featured in many westerns. It has grown up into a tourist town and an “artistic centre”. As we wandered round the town we came across some italians. Another opportunity to find people from Pesaro. We didn’t even talk to these italians as we were able to understand everything they said, meaning they spoke very clear italian and therefore not from Pesaro.
The other thing that we noticed in the shops were indian carvings. These were Hopi carvings and each indicated a spirit or a power. We went to a store specialising in Hopi carvings (Kachinas), pottery, bows, arrows, peace pipes, feather head dresses. It was a great shop and we ended up buying a Kachina (not the one in the picture but hope we like the one we bought when we get home).

From Sedona we drove for another couple of hours to reach the Grand Canyon at about 5.00.

Hawaii worth the effort?

Friday, October 21st, 2011
kauai streets kauai bar

We had a really good holiday in Hawaii. Glad we went to the Big Island first as it is a really interesting island but not the image one has of Hawaii. Kauai was nearer to the image with its tropical vegetation, tree covered mountains and beautiful beaches. The hotel on Big Island was rather isolated and we ate in the hotel. At Kauai there were a couple of small towns within easy driving distance of the hotel. The small towns and villages are mainly main streets with one or two storey buildings on either side, all in various states of repair, and mostly consisting of cafes, bar and shops selling souvenirs. There were a few up market restaurants but most were mid price, very relaxed, with a laid back feel. As always in the states the portions were very big, iced water was brought to the table as soon as we sat down at the table and when we had finished eating the bill arrived on the table within a minute (very different from Italy).

Would we go back to Hawaii? Yes to Kauai and if wanting to try another island would go for Mauai which is meant to be very beautiful.