We went on a couple of rides at Harry Potter and did the studio tour on the tram. It is always a bit different and we saw some areas previously closed. A new area is the Fast and the Furious 3D where they have the tram feel like it is in a chase scene with the crew from the movie. Well done.
Strange thing. After dinner there was a note with the invoice that the hotel pay wait-staff proper wages and an additional 12% has been added to cover them in addition to the menu prices. We’ve yet to check this with the staff.
After dinner, we stopped by an upcoming regenerated area of Tempe with its river front development. There is an interesting collection of bridges in a row which was deserted except for a few joggers this evening. We also made the obligatory stop at the Capitol as we are in the Arizona capital. Everywhere cities and towns are putting up Christmas decorations, pity we won’t be here for these.
Afterwards we went down the Riverwalk, a canal / river below street level and took the boat ride around the area. The boat was full as were all of them and our captain provided a history lesson while we took in the view. The vibe is very fun and busy.
On the rest of the road to San Antonio we saw a Christmas lighted area off the highway. A bit of research had us returning to see the lights that had been set up in a trail ("Santa’s Ranch") for a small fee. They even had a bit of a shop. The lights were imaginative and spectacular in the quantity on the trail. Certainly, this is bigger in Texas, and that’s just grand.
We looked for a city sunset position but it was cold out. Returning to the city we located a night view of the skyline from the Edgefield Avenue. It was quick as the wind and the cold did not make this comfortable. Brrr.
Driving through the eventing by the time we exited Arkansas and entered Texas. Texarkana is one of few cities that has a State border running through it (Texas + Arkansas = Texarkana). This is a busy route but in no time, we entered the sprawl that is Dallas-Fort Worth.
Big Dam Bridge is a big pedestrian / cycle bridge over a dam in Little Rock. It connects to long trails and loops across the river and so is popular. In the early evening when we were there we were treated to the sun setting upriver with the beautiful reflections and fall colours surrounding us. We were joined by Rebekah’s Bobby to see the last of the sun before going to Izzy’s for dinner which was great.
In 1968 the Lorraine Motel was the scene of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Now it is a Civil Rights Museum and has been stopped in time. It is another moving monument to the great man and his unfinished cause.
We went further into town the Broadway area where the Honky-tonks and music museums etc are. Even at midday there is an easy casual feel to the place. There is a mixture of modern buildings around this brick bar area that is an interesting contrast.
After nightfall we returned to the monument area in the centre to see the Thomas Jefferson Memorial which is lit at night (like many of the others). We walked around the pool and it is a bit of a treat to see these monuments at night. Even though it is cold it appears that it makes it even clearer. The monument was dramatic and still busy at 7pm at night.
On the return trip Andrew reminded us he was a valuable resource for us to ask advice about Washington like “where to eat”. One of the tourists asked where was good to eat, “oh, there are places all over…ah…the place.” Finally the bus driver interjected with a couple of options, sigh.
As we approached through Baltimore to Washington it all came to a complete stop until our two lanes were split by emergency vehicles. We were just stopped for an hour without much more than shuffling closer. It was obvious there was a few that were getting extremely agitated by all this.
There was a bit of a commotion when an anti-Trump protest march passed through Times Square heading south to Trump Towers. There was a major police presence but nowhere near the provocation, helmet and shield action we would see in Australia and the crowd was loud. Just cops stopping traffic to let the march through.
We then decided to take in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET), one short confident subway trip away. Of course one wrong turn in Grand Central results in a lot of walking and we did a couple of those before making it to 86th Street station and started to the Met. It is a massive collection in an awesome building.
It was good to catch up with Alfredo what sights he had visited since we were together last. We have planned to walk across to Broadway to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Some broadcast stage was being assembled in Times Square, maybe for the announcement but there are still people everywhere. It was interesting how bustling it was for a Monday night, the ice rink in Bryants Park doing a good trade. Ellen’s had a bit of a queue but quickly we were seated.
Up in Chinatown, which was busy still, we found our restaurant and were impressed. Yummy, fresh and inexpensive. On our return, we had similar indecision with the subway and were returning to our PATH when a guy asked us for advice (crazy hey). After only one false start we could guide him (and us) there. Yay us!
Across to Central Park to check out the skyline from there. This ended the first part of our tour and we farewelled our new friends Jilllian and Denise from Ohio. They’ve been great fun and we’ve enjoyed their humour (and they seemed to get ours).
All the way through NY and Pennsylvania are amazingly neat towns and picturesque farms. Many of the fields are bare waiting for winter. Passing through one town we even spotted an Amish family in a horse-drawn buggy bottle feeding an infant. Can’t do that in the front seat of a car.
Unfortunately, it has clouded and started to rain so fingers crossed for tomorrow. Even though we didn’t arrive at our hotel until after 9.30pm we still decided it was a good time to go for a quick look at the falls – yes in the dark and in the rain. The Hotel is right next door, beautiful and quirky.
The Navy Pier is a bit of a tourist centre for tours and a couple of attractions including the Ferris wheel, one of its icons. The mega-scale-Ferris wheel was developed here for the world’s fair in Chicago in 1893 so it’s fitting they have one
Finally Rich delivered us safely back to our hotel, after an action packed adventerous day. This is one day that will be hard to beat. Rich was generious, knowlegable, and outstanding as our day's guide.
We came into Chicago in the dark and loved how decorated the houses were in the area by our hotel, lots of lights and blow up ghosts etc. Such fun. We're lookforward to seeing what halloween is like here tomorrow night.
Before dinner we raced out to the ruins of the Queen Bee Mill adjacent to the Big Sioux River. It was freezing and as the last light dropped and the falls lights came on we shivered back into the car and returned to the hotel.
Watching the sky, we hoped to stop for sunset somewhere. We just picked a road off the highway to an idyllic rural area complete with brook gurgling and horses snickering in the pasture. It was an okay sunset but I think it underlined that this is the countryside.