Sunday, September 03, 2006


I've always felt uneasy about driving in New York. Everytime I've ever been there the scale of the traffic and the amount of beeping (although I did notice some signs threatening a fine for 'honking') has made me think it must be the hardest place in the world to fact it wasn't so bad.

A friend of mine very kindly offered to let us stay in her flat in Gramercy. We found the flat and managed to park in a garage round the corner.

On the first night we went to a place in the Meat Packers (i'll post the name when I remember it). It was a very cool bar with a restaurant upstairs. Unfortunately the chef was rather too keen on chilli and lemon grass (a theme that was consistent throughout the meal). I had some belly pork to start ... think lemongrass.... and then a duck breast. The duck breast was a $30 lesson in how not combine duck with lemongrass. When we were offered desert I jokingly remarked that there was bound to be something with lemon grass on the desert! I politely declined.

Premium Outlets New York

We knew the end was nigh as soon as we started heading towards New York (only a few days to go -- strange how the last few days of a holiday no matter how long it was are tinged by a melancholy feeling).

We decided to head off for one more outlet extravaganza at the premium outlets outside New York. Last time I was in New York they had some great deals. Most of the shops were duplicated from our other outlet visits and the 'premium shops' fitted the premium niche rather than the outlet niche. In Gucci they were selling shirts for $400, a relative bargain from their original $800 price tag. Having been to the Gucci outlet outside Florence I can see that there are some hefty margins left in that price tag for Gucci.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sightseeing in Washington

The key to sight seeing in Washington is to get up early before the heat really hits, we started the day by walking up to the US captiol to get a free ticket for a tour, although you don't get to see much it is still a good experience. Then we ventured up to the Library of Congress, which is massive.

We headed towards the Eastern Market, but I didn't realise that there the numbered streets repeat in both the north and south parts of the city, so we ended up the wrong end of town but managed to find a festival that had the most amazing soul food. The heat was getting too much so we went back to the hotel for a siesta.

Unfortunately we didn't pre book a tour of the White House (you have to go through the British embassy) so we went to have a look around the white house centre and then headed up to have a look from the outside.

Luckily we found two amazing places in the evening, a mexican restaurant in Capitol Hill, a very friendly american saw us looking at our rough guide and asked if we needed help. She told us about a great mexican and then we went to Murky coffee for a coffee.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ben's Chilli Bowl

We went to Ben's for some authentic Chilli Dogs. Great hot dogs and great chilli. As with all the good places, constantly busy and fast albeit frantic service. Great Milkshakes too. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Started the day with a great coffee in Borders, at a placed called Seatle coffee which is much better than Starbucks. We headed down to Union Station to go on a duck tour. We have wanted to try a duck tour (in a 1940's amphibious craft) for a while, but to be honest it's not the best way to see the city, the trip on the river is just slow and boring and the general ride is pretty authentic 1940's.

We went to the Senate, but discovered you need to have a ticket for an internal tour, the earlier the better, so we will have a go tomorrow. Next stop was the Botanical Gardens, which are well worth a visit.

We strolled along the mall to the National Space museum, it is probably the best space museum in the world and Dan took about three hours looking in detail. We did pay to watch Einstein's Planetarium with all the latest discoveries in space. We decided to buy some space food to try which tastes exactly like the real thing, strange stuff a $4 oreo cookie - probably not worth the money but interesting nonetheless.


We didn't have much time in Pittsburgh so we just popped along to the Andy Warhol gallery. It's an amazing 7 storey loft style building. It was a great exhibition, in a very spacious gallery. We then set off for our journey to Washington. Unfortunately I decided to navigate rather than drive when we arrived in Washington and that resulted in a 1 hour additional cruise around Washington.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Niagara Falls

After a long journey we finally reached Niagara Falls, the traffic looked horrendous on the main route so we turned off and followed the map in the rough guide. I had been warned that the falls were surrounded by commercial food outlets trying to make money, but it is still worth a visit.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


We arrived in Toronto last night and went out with my 19 year old cousin into the bar area. Had a great time and got back around 1am ready for a full day of action today.

Friday, August 18, 2006




We decided to go and do some more white river rafting. Having spoken to the rafting firm they suggested the nearest hotel was in a place called Hawkesbury.

Well we booked for 2 nights and headed down there. Unfortunately, Hawkesbury seems to be the most boring place we've seen on our trip. Avoid at all costs.

I wasn't feeling too great so we took a miss on the rafting and checked out a day early from the hotel....oh the relief.

Montreal Underground City

We were amazed to find out that Montreal has 40km of shopping buried under the surface. Probably to save all the poor residents from the freezing winters. We went for a wonder, but I have to admit we didn't get close to seeing it all.

Went to a great place for lunch called Vasco de Gama -- a great food concept. Premium sandwiches and salads, premium prices and fast food ethic. I.e. get em in, charge em up and kick em' out. Dropped £20 on 2 sandwiches and drinks and didn't even feel i'd been robbed.


We decided to go for a slight detour into Canada given that we were so close. Montreal is a great city -- its got a nice urban feeling but isn't so big to become unmanageable. Went on a tour of the city which was tremendously boring.

On the first night we went to a restaurant called la rapiere. The food was truly superb and although the setting was formal the waiters were great and totally non stuffy which is always nice. We got out for about £100 for the two of us with wine and I would say that is about half of what the same meal would have cost in London (with the bonus of some nice service).