Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ready for home.

On our last day in New York we woke up to the sun and it was warm enough to wander around with just jumpers on(at times).  Since it was sunny we decided to make the most of the day and headed for 5th Avenue to wander and window shop.
We started off at Grand Central Station as Kathi had never been there.  It was as beautiful as I remembered it and is definitely a “must see” if you are visiting here.  A wander through their food court encouraged us to stop for coffee shortly afterwards.
Back on 5th Avenue we stopped to view the skaters at the Rockefeller Centre who were having great fun in the autumn sunshine.  

A number of shops are already being decorated for Christmas. 

A quick visit to Tiffany’s allowed Kathi to get information about a gift that she had received and then we headed for Central Park.  
Unfortunately the upper part of 5th Avenue was hoaching with folk because of the parade and the weather and it became really uncomfortable fighting our way through the crowds so we gave up and headed back to Times Square to have another attempt at getting theatre tickets.  There were a few tickets on offer but none at prices that we wanted to pay so we headed back to the hotel to crash and then go out for a nice meal.
Well tomorrow I’m heading home.  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.  Withe the exception of Santa Fe my trip has gone exactly as planned and it has been great fun.  I would tell anyone to do it.  There are places that I would love to go back to:
New Zealand
Santa Diego
One that I wouldn’t go near again - I think that you can guess that one.  
Like any trip there are bits that I would do differently if I was doing it again but there is nothing that I regret.  One or two things that I wanted to do but wasn’t able to and lots of things that I never imagined I would get the opportunity to do.  
I was asked earlier last week if I was excited about going home and I replied that I wasn’t but the nearer that I have got to today that feeling has changed. I’ve done what I wanted to do and I’m ready for home.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

New York

We arrived in a freezing New York, where there was still snow to be seen on the ground a few nights ago.  It was definitely a winter’s night.  The traffic on the way in from the airport was incredible.  It took us over 90 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel, which is 8 blocks from Times Square.
It was so cold that after having a meal and walking round Times Square we decided that the hotel beckoned us.  Next morning we set out to explore.  A bus ticket took us all over Manhattan from north - south, east to west.  When we found ourselves stuck in traffic again around 4.30 enough was enough.

Yesterday we decided to head down to lower Manhattan to take a trip on the Staten Island ferry, see New York from the harbour and visit the new World Trades Centre.  In our innocence we thought that we could could do that in a morning.  We might have managed it if it hadn’t been Veterans‘ weekend here so there was a ceremony at the World Trades Centre all morning.  Off we  went on the Staten Island ferry instead.  Since it was a dreich day the views were not splendid but the mist was beginning to rise as we came back over. 
From Staten Island it is clear to see the damage that Hurricane Sandy has done to the New York area.  Work continues to drain water, restore power, get businesses back to work etc.
The ceremony at the World Trades Centre hadn’t quite finished so we waited in line for a wee while before it reopened.  Then we had to go through security, queue again, wait and finally walk through the site.  I can’t say that I was really keen to go but everyone said that we should.  The new buildings are rising out of the ashes, the memorials are in place but there is something about the place that makes you glad to leave.  Both Kathi and I felt that it is not somewhere that we would be telling folk that it is a “must see”.

We left lower Manhattan just before 4pm.  It had been an exhausting day.  Returning to our hotel it felt as if tourists had been shovelled into New York during the day.  There just seemed to be crowds everywhere.  We had thought about going to the theatre but teh queues for tickets were big so we decided to leave it until today.  Instead we went on a trip round New York by night, which was fun if rather cold.  I do not want to go across the the top deck of the Manhattan bridge in the dark ever again!

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Nashville airport is an entertainment hub.  I’m not sure that it means to be but it is.  As I got off the plane a country duet was sitting in the lounge playing for all incoming flights.  I picked up my luggage and then sat down to wait for Kathi’s flight.  I can honestly say that I have never sat in a rocking chair at an airport before and I don’t imagine that I ever will again! I had quite a few hours to wait because her flight was delayed and I listened to several different types of country music while I waited.  In addition all the big music stars have recorded welcome messages etc and they were played over the loudspeaker as each flight arrived.  at one point I thought I must look like Granma Clampett from the Beverley Hillbillies sitting in her chair on the porch listening to music. Kathi was shattered when she arrived so we just made for our hotel, got a meal and crashed.  
Next morning we set out to explore Nashville.  It really is a surprisingly beautiful city.  We wandered downtown and got a lot of information from the Tourist info and then headed across Broadway to visit the first of the honky tonks that they recommended. 

These open at 10am and start serving beer etc immediately, the singers/bands etc also start then too, so there we were at 10.30 nursing a beer and listening to a very good singer/musician.  After one we decided that needed to go and explore the city and come back in the afternoon, so off we went on a trolley tour, which showed us most of what we wanted to see in Nashville and allowed us to jump off and on for 2 days.

One of the places we went back to visit was Rymans, the place that many think of as the original home of the Grand Old Oprey but it was actually its third home.  It was a really interesting place to look around and while we were doing so Snow Patrol and Noel Gallagher were setting up for a concert that night.
Unfortunately the weather started to turn quite cold in the last afternoon and since Kathi had a nasty cold we didn’t make it back to Broadway.
Next day we spent quite some time in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Music.  We could easily have spent the whole day there but since we wanted to get out to Music Row and see all the recording studios there and we were going to Rymans to hear the weekly recording of the Grand Old Oprey that night our time was limited. We did manage to see most things from all the platinum discs to the costumes to some cars.  

The Grand Old Oprey is actually still a radio programme complete with adverts for the different sponsors. It was a little like going back in time.  Kathi and I were amazed at the number of people who just got up and walked around the auditorium while the different acts were singing.  It seemed really rude.  After the show we decided to tour the honky tonks and try and catch up on the election results.  Some of the acts we saw on Broadway were really good.  One was atrocious.  Some of the folk in the various audiences were as much of an entertainment as the acts.  While we were listening to the musical entertainment the election results were coming in.  It wasn’t long after we arrived in one of the bars that Obama was declared the winner to the complete disinterest of most folk around us.  It was quite strange.  Tennessee is not a Democratic state but we thought there would be some reaction.  I stayed up to hear Romney concede and Obama accept the Presidency . 
The next morning we decided to go out to the site of the “new” Grand Old Oprey and we were advised to visit the Gaylord Oprey hotel.  They are situated a good half hour outside Nashville.  The hotel was huge but antiseptic.  It was beautifully decorated for Christmas but quite honestly it could have been anywhere in the world. The new site of the Grand Old Oprey right beside the hotel didn’t have the same ambience as Rymans. Kathi and I came away glad that we had stayed in Nashville and had the opportunity to visit Rymans.
Both Kathi and I have had a great time here. It’s somewhere we would both come back to. Tomorrow we are off to New York and by this time next week I’ll be home.  In many respects it doesn’t seem that long since I left. 

Monday, 5 November 2012


Well I arrived in Houston a few days ago and met up with Linzi.  Although I’ve met loads of nice and /or interesting people on this trip it was lovely to meet up with a familiar face.  I think I was just at the point where I needed that without actually realising it.
Linzi and I have been dashing about all over the Quilting world and parts of Houston ever since.  I really don’t know where the days and nights have gone. 
irst off we had to go to the Winners’ Presentation at the Convention Centre the evening that I arrived.  Just a small affair - about 1,000 people( we were told later).  Linzi came in 3rd in the Machine Quilting class and was awarded a prize of $300.  I was so proud of her -the only British, never mind Scottish, winner in the show.  
I won’t bore you with anymore quilty talk because I know that most of you are not interested but here is a picture of her with Sherry the Best in Show winner.
We went to several more events over the next few days.  Some of them were interesting and some of them were not but that is always the case at these shows.  
Houston was never going to be about sight seeing.  It was about the International Quilt Show so I’ve seen nothing of the city other than the streets around the hotel and a few places that we went to eat.  Two of Linzi’s friends from Wisconsin took us out to restaurants on Friday and Saturday.  On Friday we went to Goode Company.  a Texas BBQ joint.  It was a fairly basic little shack decorated for the most part with dead animals and cowboy memorabilia.  It wasn’t the best place to get photos because the lighting was minimal.  We ate outside on a porch on benches.  Our food choices- brisket, BBQ pork ribs, some fish dishes and an interesting mixture of vegetables.  The meal was brilliant and I got to try a Texan beer, which was okay.

The bar next door had a huge armadillo “ornament” outside which was beautifully lit up!?!

On Saturday night we went to Ibiza which, as its name would suggest, was Spanish based.  We had a lovely meal but it was at quite the opposite end of the restaurant continuum from the previous night. Both were equally good just different.

As I type this I am sitting at the airport waiting to fly to Nashville.
I have had a lot of fun in Houston with Linzi, met some really nice people, been entertained by them and seen some amazing sights - quilts and people.  Nashville will have to try hard to beat this.