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Trip Report A long awaited trip to New York with a detour to Vegas

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This report is rather late as we had our trip in October last year. I hope that it may help someone who is planning a trip just as it did when I read about other Fodorites holidays. Also I hope that the wonderful people who answered my questions will know that each reply was stored for information and greatly appreciated.
I surprised my husband with a trip to the States for our 30th Anniversary. I spent most nights for 6 months checking flights, weather, hotels and reviews as I planned our trip. He had no idea until I gave him the itinery at our party. We had 7 nights in NYC followed by 5 nights in Las Vegas and a night at the Grand Canyon.

Day 1
Alarm set for 4.30am for a two hour drive to the airport in Brisbane. Of course I didn’t really need an alarm as I hardly slept from excitement. It was my husband’s first trip overseas and my first to the USA. I always worry about car breakdowns on the way to the airport so I make sure we arrive with plenty of time to spare. Line up at Qantas to hand over our luggage. It never bothers me to line up at airports because I am so happy to be flying somewhere. I love airports and people watching. As a few planes are leaving at the same time we snake our way through security check. Board the plane and head for our seats. With such a long flight I chose seats up the back where there are only two seats rather than three. That way if either of us needs to use the bathroom we only wake up each other and not a stranger who has to sit next to us. I would choose those seats again if I had to. It’s more private and I felt I could relax more with just my husband in such close proximity for over 18hrs. No need to worry if my husband starts to snore or I start to drool in my sleep. Brisbane to Los Angeles is a long haul. We left at 10.30am on Friday and arrived in LA at 6.30am Friday after flying for 13 hours. Gaining a day is great. Losing it on the way home not so great. I have no complaints about the flight. It’s cramped and boring when you fly over water but I watched a few movies, kept track of the flight (counting down the hours till it was over) and tried to snuggle under the blanket to catch some sleep. All the flight attendants are lovely and a smooth flight so no complaints. Finally we land at LAX and go through customs before heading off to the departure lounge for the next leg to NYC. I don’t know whether to cringe at another 5 and a half hours flying or be happy it’s not another 13 hrs. Set my watch for NY time and settle in for more movie watching but whenever the cloud cover clears I watch the changing landscapes from the window. My excitement builds as we get closer to NY. The plane dips its wing and suddenly I see Manhattan from the distance. The first encounter with American airport security and after reading some of the fodder threads I was a bit apprehensive but other than the fact some agents don’t smile it was rather painless.
I looked for somewhere to buy a throwaway phone for hubby and a new sim for my IPhone. Can’t find anything in our terminal. I also read to buy a subway pass too but couldn’t find anywhere to buy that either. There is a huge line up for taxis but it moves along at a steady pace. It’s quite windy and for us it’s more like a winters day so on with a jacket, hat and gloves. Didn’t realise it took so long to get from the airport but everything I look at is new to me so I don’t mind the drive. We landed at 5.30pm so by the time we hit Manhattan its dark and the skyline is lit. Straining my neck to see the Empire State and the Chrysler Building. It really is a wonderful sight to see. It’s strange to see the street signs with all these numbered streets I have only heard of in movies or TV shows. I could never quite understand using numbers for streets but once I studied maps it makes perfect sense. No matter where you are, as long as you know the street you are in you can find your way by using the numbers.
We book into The Beacon Hotel on the Upper West Side. Corner of Broadway and 75th St. Wonderful hotel in a beautiful area. I couldn’t fault it. Staff was always helpful and friendly. (A big thankyou to Kenny the doorman for exceptional service) The rooms were clean, well kept and beds very comfortable. There is a little kitchenette if you wish to do your own cooking but we end up eating out for every meal. There is a big market (Fairway) across the road with everything you need including readymade meals that would only require heating. I love walking around in it looking at the different types of food on the shelves. The cheese section was especially great. I even bought some black and white cookies after reading about them on fodors and yes, I liked them. (enough to buy them again)
After checking in we went to the Fairway to buy milk, water etc. and ended up having dinner at their steakhouse upstairs. I had crab cakes with a corn salsa that was delicious. My first meal in NY certainly made an impression. I am normally a shy person but this was not a trip to be shy. I struck up a conversation with the couple sitting next to us hoping they are locals and know of a phone store nearby. They were lovely and they told us there was A T & T just down the street plus two department stores close by (Loehmanns and Century 21) and we ended up discussing the election campaign which is in full swing. By this time it was around 10 pm so we headed back to the hotel for a shower, cuppa and a bit of TV and hoping jet lag didn’t hit us tomorrow. We don’t have time for jetlag! I am sitting in bed in one of the most amazing cities in the world and I love it.

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    Day 2
    Had a good sleep and showered and dressed after a much needed wake up cuppa. I had applied for a Big Apple Greeter for today but we weren’t lucky enough to get one. They left a message at the hotel for when we arrived to say no one was available but with the amount of tourists I hadn’t expected to be lucky to get one. A wonderful service though. Its chilly outside (for us anyway) and we decide on the Café Viand next to the hotel to have breakfast. We have a big cooked breakfast and my husband becomes addicted to your bacon.
    Head off down Broadway (even the thought of walking down Broadway is in itself exciting). Just over a block away is the entrance to the subway so we use the machine and buy a 7 day subway pass each for $29. Took a few minutes to understand what to do but we worked it out. Another block is the A T & T so the sales guy sets us up with phones. I also walked past Loehmanns and buy a winter coat for myself. Its NY….. I HAD to shop. Checked out Century 21 quickly on our way past. Bought us a Yankee hat each. Decide I will check it out further another time. I kept waiting for jetlag but it didn’t happen thank goodness. We kept walking around the neighbourhood and had lunch. A nice mixed salad for me and club sandwich for my husband. Still working out the tipping custom but I have to say the service is wonderful.
    For all those who gave me help with buying tickets to the hockey I say thanks. Unfortunately, because of the dispute the game didn’t go ahead. We got our refund and the day before we left I bought tickets to the Yankees game as they had made the playoffs. So back to the hotel to put our feet up, have a cuppa and put on warmer clothes and head off to the game. I had printed out directions on which subway line to get to Yankee stadium so armed with that we try our first subway ride. Thanks to Fodors for the very important tip of making sure we read the subway sign at the entrance so we go down the right flight of stairs. We were on the platform waiting and near us was a man in a Yankees jacket, hat, carrying a Yankees umbrella. I thought…. Good he is off to the game so I moved closer and asked him if he was going to the game and if the next subway was the right one to get. I thought if we follow him we will be right. No. He didn’t know where Yankee stadium was and he wasn’t going to the game. Each time we looked at each other we had a laugh but made it to the stadium. Police everywhere. Ok let me say this now. You have some fine looking policemen. One was very kind and let my husband take a photo of me with him. I promised the girls at work I would get a pic of one of New York’s finest. I thought I should be in the photo though. He had been to Australia so he had a little chat with us.
    I got seats behind home plate but very high up. Really quite spectacular to be there. The cadets from Wrest Point unfurled a huge flag and a girl from Glee sang the anthem. I know there is a great deal of skill involved but as a novice watching the game it got a bit boring. The Yankees weren’t scoring and eventually lost. It was funny to watch one lot of guys disagreeing with another guy a few rows away about the finer aspects of the game. They were quite vocal but equally passionate and it was good to listen to them talk stats and player skills or lack of skills in some cases. We had our first hot dog and can’t get over the size of your drink cups. Definitely not small medium and large. More like large, extra large and humongous. The cold wind got to us so high up so we left just before everyone else. Subway ride back and a walk back to the hotel. A hot shower, cup of tea and a bit of TV and we were nodding off.

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    Day 3
    Breakfast at Café Viand again. My husband loves the bacon and eggs so much we go there for breakfast every morning. I think I end up trying everything on the breakfast specials menu over the course of our week there. Today we take the subway downtown and get off at Times Square. A very different feel to the Upper West Side and very touristy. Having brochures shoved at you gets a little annoying but we get good at saying no before they start to give their spiel. Go for a quick look in Toys R Us and see ourselves on the big screen billboard. One building was the basis for a huge jigsaw my daughters did once so I post a picture of it on Facebook for them to see. We keep walking to escape the bustle of Times Square - no naked cowboy but there is a naked Indian. I have bought tickets to the Top of the Rock so we make our way over there. No line up so it’s not long and we are up the top and looking out to the most amazing view. One side is mainly Central Park and the other has the Empire State Building right in the middle and looking magnificent. I am glad I took the advice of regulars who suggested Top of the Rock was better than Empire to visit. ESB is like a grand old dame standing regally in amongst all the other skyscrapers. If I was in it I wouldn’t see it. Central Park is huge. Back on the ground we watch the ice skaters for a while and then continue our walking.
    Lunch is at a pub. A burger for my husband and a salad for me. Wonderful salads you have. There seems to be a parade so we follow the drums and come across blocked off street which happens to be Fifth Avenue. We wander along looking at the windows and the parade is the Latin Columbus day parade. I end up in Tiffany & Co and buy my daughters a little something and a lovely long pendant for myself. My husband waiting patiently outside and thankfully he had the parade to watch. It’s now getting late and we need to get back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I have booked us in at the River Café over in Brooklyn. We try to get a taxi but with the parade that proves impossible. We have to walk quite a distance before we are able to grab one letting out someone at a hotel. Eventually we are dressed up and out the front with the doorman trying to get us a cab. We get in and when we say Brooklyn he says we will have to direct him. Fat chance of that happening so we hop out and the doorman tries a few more cabs. None say they know Brooklyn. Eventually we found one who takes us. Get to the Brooklyn Bridge and it is closed for repairs. Diversion to Manhattan Bridge. Consequently all traffic is at a standstill and we creep over the bridge. After finally getting to Brooklyn we seem to go around in circles and our taxi ride ends up taking nearly 90 mins. We are so late for our reservation that I expect to not get a table but they are wonderful and take us through. We are in a bit of a fluster from the taxi ride but the staff get us a drink and we settle down to what ends up being the most wonderful dinner out we have had. The staff fussed over us and joked with us. Our food was absolutely delicious and my Tuna Tartar was the best dish I have had. We ate, drank and laughed while looking out at Manhattan at night with the Brooklyn Bridge right beside us. ( Two weeks later Sandy hit and destroyed it.) We got a town car back to the hotel. Much cheaper than the taxi over. It was a full day that ended with a wonderful dinner. I fall more in love with New York.

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    Sorry -

    Glad you enjoyed the city - but your last statement is confusing.

    Sandy didn't do anything to the Brooklyn Bridge. It's the River Cafe that is still closed for repairs - as a large number of homes and businesses immediately adjacent to the ocean or one of the rivers. At this point I suspect a financial issue - since any buildings just as close have been renovated and are back in business. Perhaps they didn't have flood insurance.

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    Day 4
    Today we are up early as we have to be downtown to meet up with a guide for a walking tour of the 911 site then down to Battery Park with a ferry ride over to Statue of Liberty. There is only a family of 5 from Philadelphia on the tour with us so it’s easy to keep track of each other. Our guide takes us on the subway and we get off on the lower end of Manhattan. He walks briskly so we cover a fair distance. We see the new building under construction and just past that is the American Express building that has a tribute to the staff that were lost on 911. It is a shallow pool in the foyer with the names of the staff and a few words (from family/friends/co-workers to describe the person they were). Suspended over the pool is a huge crystal and a little drop of water falls from the holes of the suspension wires and onto the words underneath the water. One drop at a time, falling on one name at a time causing a ripple on the water and symbolising the tears shed by their loved ones. People are walking in and out of the building but there is quietness about it as you watch each tear fall. It is a very moving and beautiful memorial.
    Even though we are early there is a big line up for the Trade Centre Site. It is quite noisy as there are a lot of people walking around. Very different to what we had just seen. School children running around yelling, guides calling for lost tour members. The sound of the water in the two pools is in the background and I would have liked to have been able to say quiet please – just for a few moments- so the only sound was the water. My husband and I didn’t want to talk; we just walked around looking at the pools, listening to the water and remembering. The pools are very well done and it gives us an idea of size but it is still hard to reconcile the area to the all the rubble we saw for months on the news. One man was imprinting one of the names on North Pool and as he touched the name gently I could only imagine his sorrow.
    We met back up with the tour guide outside and then it was off to Battery Park. We were able to go in the fast lane to board the ferry. There was a very big line up of people in the other lane so it was nice to miss that wait. Another trip through a security check and then our guide takes us up to the bow of the ferry where we have a wonderful view all the way over to the Statue. A bit of advice for people going to tourist destinations in New York. We went through a few security checks so don’t wear shoes that are hard to get on and off. If you don’t need to wear a belt – don’t as you will have to remove them. We certainly didn’t mind going through security checks. I had to wait for my husband to put his belt through the belt loops each time and it became a running joke with us. Just as we get closer to the statue my husband goes to take a photo and the battery runs out. We do a formula 1 crew pit change of batteries and he starts taking one of the many he takes of the statue that day. It is quite an impressive sight and lovely to walk around it looking back at the view of Manhattan. We had lunch there and bought some souvenirs and headed back to the ferry. We could have got off at Ellis Island but we didn’t. The others on the tour did as the mother came over from Italy as a child and they were going to look up her details. We had no ancestors to look up and we were a little tired so went back to Battery Park. I know it is a very interesting historical site but we knew we would not be able to see everything so we had to pick and choose on the day what we saw.
    Back at Battery Park we saw our first squirrel. Oh my, what cuties they are. I just wanted to touch those tails. My husband tried to take photos but he takes too long trying to get the right shot so consequently we had a lot of photos of grass because just as he pressed the button the squirrels would take off. Our daughters still rib him about squirrels. No matter where we were, if there was a squirrel he would try to take a photo. Squirrels in New York, squirrels in Washington, squirrels in the Grand Canyon.
    We noticed the Museum of the Native American History next to the park so we went in for a look. I liked the clothes and headwear they had on display. Interesting to see the beading they incorporated into the leather. From there we walked up to St Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church with its tribute to the rescuers of 911. We remember seeing it all on TV, the banner from Oklahoma, the volunteers giving comfort to the worn out rescuers. Some quiet reflection as we read the displays.
    It was getting late in the afternoon but we thought we would keep walking. The bull of Wall Street. So many people taking photos so I stayed behind the barricade and ended up talking to a lovely policeman who asked how Australia was faring in the economic downturn. My husband got a photo of me deep in discussion with him. We gave him a couple of little pin on Koalas to give his children. A little fluffy koala with arms that grip a pocket or lapel. Inexpensive but people loved receiving them. (especially the lovely girl at McDonalds in Boulder who helped us out when we stopped for a drink and snack on the drive to the Grand Canyon) and were confronted with a menu we didn’t recognise and an empty cup (we had never seen McDonalds with a self-serve drink station.) She was thrilled and kept saying to her co-workers. “Look it’s a koala”
    After Wall Street we went to a subway but it got cancelled so we had to find another station. We weren’t sure where to go as we were used to using the one line. Off we went heading back uptown and we figured eventually we would run into a subway station. We were tired but there is so much to see and we really like walking the streets. (at home we would be complaining about walking – in New York we never stopped) Two fire trucks pulled up near us with sirens blaring. Out popped some Firemen and while one was waiting near the truck I snapped a pic on my IPhone to send to my niece. Yet again a handsome man in uniform. *insert a smile here* It seemed to be a false alarm but we kept walking so we weren’t in anyone’s way. We pass streets in their forties so we figure if we are close to 50 we might as well keep going. I notice Grays Papaya when we are getting close to home so we grab a hotdog and drink and sit in the park area across the road and call it dinner. Eventually we make it back to W75th and home for the night. It was a long day of walking and it’s a very early wake up tomorrow. I do some washing in the hotel laundry. (Really convenient) We haven’t been to bed before midnight yet but tonight we collapse. My husband’s last words to me before he fell asleep was “my feet are barking”

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    Day 5
    Alarm goes off at 3.30am. A quick cuppa then it’s a walk to the subway for a ride to Penn Station. Even at that time of the morning we feel ok walking the street. The subway is quiet with just a few people sleeping on the seats and one or two other people. Today we are taking a day trip to Washington DC. I know it isn’t the ideal way to see it but with the uncertainty of my job contract I had to cull our trip and so it’s a day in DC or not at all. Our train leaves Penn at 5.30am. The only drawback of travelling in the dark is that I don’t get to see the countryside except for what the street lights illuminate. We try to have a snooze while we can and right on time we arrive at Union Station. Lovely old station. We grab some breakfast at a café. Vanilla French toast for me and bacon and eggs yet again for my husband. I must find out how you cook bacon American style. So armed with full bellies we set forth. I hadn’t booked anything except the Amtrak as I didn’t know how the weather would be. We end up getting one of the dreaded open buses to get an overall view of the monuments. It wasn’t too bad except for the repetitive voice over. It gave us information on each monument as we passed it. Once we had done a whole loop we changed buses to get the one going over to Arlington. My husband is ex-army so we wanted to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
    It is quite a walk uphill to the memorial and we found a spot and stood in silence as we watched the guard pace back and forth. We stood in awe as the guards changed and the Sgt did the inspection of the new guard. The movements to inspect the weapon and uniform are almost robotic in movement and is such a distinct march. There was a large group of vets from out of state for a visit and they laid a wreath. After the ceremony we walked around Arlington and saw the Kennedy gravesite. We met a lovely couple from Anaheim as we waited for the bus back. We changed buses again and went to the Lincoln memorial. What a beautiful place. The view from the steps down to the Washington memorial is stunning. All these monuments we have only seen in movies etc. and here they were in front of us. We then walked around all the war memorials and were particularly impressed with the one dedicated to the Korean War. The lifelike statues, the number of statues relating to the parallel that separates north and South Korea. You could imagine them walking around in the rain and mud wondering what was ahead. Really impressive. As we walked back to where we started we came across………. Squirrels… lots of them…. Coming right up to us. My husband was doing his usual trick of muttering under his breath. “Come back here you little bugger” so when I knew one was behind me I put my phone over my shoulder and took a photo. Turned out to be the best squirrel pic so far. (Much to my husband’s disgust)
    Our train left at 7.30pm so we had to start making our way back to the station. We thought we had missed the last bus so we grabbed a cab back which was much better than hearing the recorded voice again. A nice cab driver who gave us an informative chat on the way back. We grabbed some dinner and slept our way back to New York. Arrived back around 11pm and caught the subway back to 72nd st and walked back to the hotel. I didn’t plan anything for next day so no need to get up early. I never got to any of the Smithsonians but we still saw the things we wanted to see and had a wonderful day. Washington is so pretty. The beautiful old buildings were impressive. As I said earlier it wasn’t the ideal way to see Washington but it was better than not seeing it at all. If we ever get back we will definitely stay for a few days.

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    Day 6
    Not much of a sleep in. We can sleep after New York. Today I want to have a quick look at Macy’s before another walk around. Also need to buy tickets for a show. Catch the subway downtown and walk to 34th Street. There really is a difference in each area of Manhattan. It’s one of the reasons we have preferred to walk everywhere. Walk a few more blocks and it not only looks different, it feels different. Some small jewellery stores selling estate jewellery catch my eye and I find a lovely little diamond ring for my pinkie finger. It’s cheap but whenever I touch it on my finger I remember the day I got it in NY.
    34th St. My husband’s favourite Xmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street. He must watch it every Xmas. I get a photo of him standing under the street sign. It’s a buzz for him to be walking that street. What can I say about Macy’s? It’s huge and so very easy to get lost in. Probably a little bit too big. I am overwhelmed by the handbags and there is way too much choice. I narrow my choice down to four but as I can’t decide I leave them. As much as I love shopping and would love to stay in there I feel that there is too much to see out on the streets. I can always go shopping but I can’t replicate walking up 6th Avenue or 45th Street or any other street. Before I leave I buy a Macy’s tote and make up bag (another reminder I see every day). I also find the best eyebrow pencil I have ever used. The biggest department store and I walk out pleased as punch with an eyebrow pencil. We stop for lunch at an Italian restaurant. Spaghetti and meatballs except the meatballs are more the size of rissoles (a rounded Aussie meat patty) or a small fist. We are used to meatballs being the size of a golf ball. I got a nice fettuccine. We end up at Times Square again and see the line-up of people buying tickets is huge. We change our mind and go to the theatre and buy the tickets there for the show the next night. We buy some fridge magnets and pens for the typical souvenir gifts and head off for the walk to Central Park. We knew we would see yellow cabs everywhere but it’s the black SUV town cars that stand out. Have never seen so many. I must say we would grimace on every street corner expecting cars to collide. I have never seen so many near misses. Plenty of horns blasting and brakes slamming but it really is an organised chaos. The different crossing lights and signs had us a bit confused at first so we followed everyone else but eventually we understood what was going on.
    By the time we get to Central Park the weather has turned a bit cooler and it looked like it may rain. We decide to get one of the pedal bikes that take you around a part of the park. So we hopped on for a tour. Our guide was very nice and filled us in on the history of the park and facts about some of the nearby buildings. He took some photos of us with some nice backdrops ( we took photos of each other but it was good to have some photos of both of us) and we had a walk through Strawberry Fields. It really is an oasis in the park. No wonder New Yorkers are proud of it. The size of it stops it being just a local park. The canopy of trees, the wide paths, the playing fields. A relaxing retreat to sit and recharge when you become tired of the pace outside in the concrete. I can imagine sitting on a bench reading a good book.
    We slowly make our way back to the hotel. We don’t think it will rain after all. Again, we decide to forgo the subway and walk. I can’t explain it but there is something really special about walking around Manhattan. There is a feeling that I have never experienced before. It makes you feel special to be there. We grab a hot chocolate from Starbucks (first time I have ever been in one) and sit on a bench nearby and rest our legs and relax. We don’t really feel like a big dinner so decide to pick up something at the Fairway market across the road later. My husband is getting tired finally so he takes our shopping bags and heads back to the hotel. I go to Century 21 knowing I can take my time as there is no rush to go somewhere else. I pick a watch for hubby and 3 bags for me. One is a little evening clutch so it doesn’t count as a bag (or so I tell myself). Grab a matching winter scarf and hat made of lovely soft wool. I have picked up a few scarves already but none are for cold weather so happy with my purchase. I don’t bother looking at clothes as I am not sure of the sizing and frankly I am too tired to be trying on clothes. I stay away from shoes as I am worried about luggage weight. Finally get back to the hotel and the rolling eyes of my husband when he sees handbags. He doesn’t understand handbags at all!
    Around 9.30pm we decide to grab a snack. For some reason the market seems closed so we ask Kenny the doorman where to grab something light. He suggests a slice of pizza from Big Nicks two blocks up. A tiny entrance to Big Nicks Pizza with another entrance next to it for Big Nicks Burgers. We go in to order and decide to sit there and take in the atmosphere. Old photos on the wall suggest it is has been there for a long time. It is a little cramped but it isn’t touristy which is what appeals. Some places we have passed just scream out tourist trap and I have tried to use fodors tip of looking to see if locals are eating there. We decide against a slice as there is no ham and pineapple made up and that’s all hubby eats (we don’t eat much pizza). We order a small one to share and figure that will be all we need. Oh my god……. The small pizza was placed on our little table and it was nearly the size of the table. As I said we aren’t pizza fans but one bite and we agreed it was THE best pizza we have eaten. We had intentions of taking half of it back to the room to eat the next day. Intentions were good…… our taste buds disagreed. So we sat there and continued eating until it was gone. Every pizza we ever eat now will be compared to that one.
    A very slow and contented walk back to the hotel.

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    Your delight comes thru in your wonderful trip report. I loved your joy at the THE best pizza you have ever eaten in NYC.

    Very much looking forward to more. Carry on please.


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    Really enjoying your report, october_fun. If I could make one suggestion...if you could break your text into paragraphs, that would make it a lot easier to read.

    I'm looking forward to reading more about your trip. Thanks for taking time to report back on your experiences!

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    Day 7
    Today we are off to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum at Pier 86. We get off the subway downtown and head through Hell’s Kitchen until we hit water. All I can say is the USS Intrepid is certainly BIG.

    We buy a guided tour which ends up being a private tour as no one else is waiting for one. Our guide is a little over the top but that’s better than being disinterested. He is very informative and we go all around the ship. It certainly gives an insight into the life of a sailor on board during wartime. We check out the planes on deck and as my husband turns around after taking photos of the view from on board he nearly knocks himself out on one of the wings of the plane we are near. The guide asks him how he is…… “I’m ok” he says. Then he turns to me and whispers “Is there any blood?” So while he is cursing the wing I am trying not to pee myself from laughing. (2 months after our visit we were watching a documentary on the Intrepid and suddenly he yells out ... “there is that ******* plane!!!”)

    We paid the extra to see the Space Shuttle. It’s all covered in a big bubble which in all honesty looks silly on the aircraft carrier. I think the shuttle standing there in all its glory dwarfing the other planes would look better. We go in though, because we have seen them on the news so often and this would be the only chance to see one up close. I can now see the shuttle tiles that we heard about in the news bulletins. We walk up some steps to get right up near the nose. I take a quick pic of my husband standing in front of the nose but as my phone doesn’t have a flash and it’s dark in that spot all that come out is his head outline against the lighter part of the plane. It elongates his ears so it looks like an alien profile so we start saying “ET phone home”.

    We climbed up to the bridge but it’s very cramped and with people in front and behind it’s not really easy to have a good look. We shuffle through. On the walk to the Intrepid we didn’t see much in the way of cafés so we grabbed a snack in the cafeteria/mess. Probably the most mediocre thing we have eaten so far.

    We bypassed the submarine as the line was quite large and space limited inside. If you ever visit and the line-up isn’t big to the submarine, go then, so you aren’t waiting later. We had spent a good few hours there without realising. There wasn’t really that much time to see anything else as we are off to see Nice Work If You Can Get IT on Broadway tonight. As it is also our last night in New York I have to get all our washing up to date so we have clean clothes for Vegas leg. We walk along restaurant row (food places everywhere – if only I had realised) and catch subway back to UWS.

    Spend some time washing, but as we don’t have to be at JFK till lunch time I leave packing till the morning. Have a cuppa, put our feet up then get ready for night out. We go next door for dinner as we aren’t sure where to eat in Times Square or how hard it might be to get a table and be finished eating before the show. It’s so easy to get to TS from our hotel and when we emerge from the subway we see TS at night for the first time. If we thought day time was busy, night time is nearly bedlam. We have plenty of time so no need to rush.

    I didn’t know which show to see and my preference was a musical or War Horse but just before we left Australia they announced that War Horse was coming over (I bought tickets two weeks ago for the season in July in Brisbane. There are always limited performances over here so grabbed the tickets while we were there to see the Australian premiere of Driving Miss Daisy with Angela Landsbury and James Earl Jones. Absolutely wonderful by the way.) Anyway, back to Broadway. We have always enjoyed watching the old musicals so I hoped we would enjoy Nice Work. We did. Matthew Broderick was great and we had plenty of laughs. Old fashioned humour but we loved it. So glad we chose it. My husband especially loved it.

    I made the mistake of going to the Ladies at interval. Talk about regimental line up. The usher took charge and took no prisoners! She had us in line and scared to move out of line. Anyone who walked in the wrong direction retreated quickly. With limited waiting room and lots of ladies she certainly moved that line in time for the second curtain. Everyone was quietly laughing to the the person on either side. We felt like school kids but it did the trick.

    When we left the theatre after the show we noticed people weren’t moving much in one direction and when I had a closer look there was a police car in the middle of the road. Then I noticed a lot of men in suits, then earpieces and I leaned over to hubby and said. Secret Service. People were whispering the same thing so of course we stayed put. Heck, its not everyday Aussies see the Secret Service. We waited and waited and then one told us that we had missed the President by about 10 mins. He was already in the hotel next door. Darn it. So we walked on for about another 25 metres and there was another group of people and a barricade. So of course we waited and eventually Ricky Martin comes out after finishing Evita for the night. Snapped a pic on my phone quickly as he is the only celebrity I have seen besides David Crosby at the next table at breakfast the morning after Crosby Still and Nash played at the Beacon Theatre. So much for casually running into Hugh Jackman!

    By now TS is so busy we find it hard to walk side by side so we hold hands and hubby virtually pulls me through the crowd. Back to the hotel. A really lovely evening. We watch another episode of 48 hrs or something like that name. Reality show of police trying to catch murderers. It was always on late at night and my husband is addicted to it. It’s the only station he has watched since we have been here. What I cant get over is your television ads. They seem to all be pharmaceuticals advertising medication. What I love is the the very fast talking disclaimers at the end. I hope we don’t get those ads over here.

    Our last night in New York and I don’t want to leave.

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    Great report so far, hope you keep it up from Vegas.

    Those drug company adds that say "might cause blistering rash, heart attack or death" are pervasive. We all hate them and can't really think they encourage people to use the product.

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    We can our packing done and head off for a leisurely breakfast. Its raining quite heavily and we are so thankful we had no rain while we were discovering New York. Go back upstairs and check we have everything. Settle the Hotel bill and say goodbye to the staff who have been so friendly and helpful. We ordered a town car to get us to the airport and we have a lovely driver. We don’t envy his trip back as the traffic is at a standstill due to numerous crashes due to the heavy rain. Going to the airport the traffic is flowing well.
    Drop off the bags and do the security check. I got a good deal on a flight to Las Vegas on JetBlue. Settle in a bar to wait and have a snack as there is no inflight meal and it will be at least 7pm before we get to Vegas. The plane is delayed a little but with the rain its no surprise. As we taxi out there is at least a dozen planes lined up in front of us. Its quite a sight as we would never have a lineup like that back home. When our plane swings around to take off there are at least another dozen behind us now.
    The rain means I cant get one last look at Manhattan as the fog covers the city. I love New York. So much so I have to come back. There is so much I haven’t seen. Next time it will be museums, more shows. There was nothing I didn’t like about the city. The only people who weren’t friendly were the cashiers in the stores who didn’t like to give eye contact. Otherwise, people helped us with directions and they interacted with us when they knew we were Aussies. Yes, we were asked if we had kangaroos hop down our street. The funny thing is in our case its true. We live in a rural residential area so we have them come into our yard sometimes. New York was going to be for me and Las Vegas was for my husband. He loved New York as much as I did.
    I know we missed out on seeing so much and some might think we should have seen a few of the museums. After a couple of days it didn’t matter to me. I knew I would do my utmost to get back for another visit and I would be just as happy to spend it walking around the streets again. As the tshirts say. I heart NY.

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    What a wonderful report! Love your details and I completely agree about walking in NYC. A day trip to DC?! Good for you and what a great attitude about fitting it in your visit. Thanks for your report so far and I look forward to reading more. :-)

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    Sandy the hotel had a guest laundry which was a godsend.

    Emalloy, yes we had to laugh at the ads. The way they would tell you how good the tablets were but at the end they may possibly kill you. The first few we saw we just looked at each other and said. What the???

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    Starrs, thank you. Three and a half hours on a train is nothing for us. I will drive two and a half hours each way to go shopping for the day so as much as I didnt want to take a day away from NY, I really had to see Washington and the monuments.

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    What a great report! It brought back so many lovely memories. I stayed in the same area, quite near you. I was especially moved by your story of the man at the Rememberance Pool. The Americans laugh at us Aussies and how we gush over squirrels but don't they see how cute they are!? LOL! Thanks for the report and yes the city gets under your skin and demands a rerurn visit!

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    Day 8 continued

    Settled in for our flight to Vegas. Certainly different to our Qantas flight over. Our snack was a packet of blue potato chips (no food should be blue) and caramel popcorn chips. Both things totally foreign to us. Most of the way we try to grab some sleep. The cloud cleared and it was good to see lines of mountains. Was even able to see the Grand Canyon at dusk and the tiny lights of the village on the edge.

    We land in Vegas and collect our luggage. Surprised at how quiet the terminal is. Poker machines in the airport. Certainly know we are in Las Vegas. Wait in line for a cab but it moves along quickly. We have had lovely cab drivers on our trip and this driver was no exception. My husband points out the street direction sign as we drive under it. Frank Sinatra Drive. Gave us a chuckle. Now we know what everyone means by the size of the buildings. We are typical first timers. Pointing to each casino as we pass. We are staying at the Mirage for two nights and then we are driving to the Grand Canyon for an overnight stay and back to Vegas for 3 nights at Paris Casino.

    Walking inside we go past a lovely tropical garden setting and hit the foyer. People everywhere so we line up and watch the huge fish tank behind reception. Its not a long wait at all and check in is done in a flash and the receptionist is very helpful. The only downside is walking through the casino pulling luggage as we head for the lifts. The room is lovely and overlooks the Venetian so we can see down the strip. Its after 8pm and we decide to have a meal in the casino and settle back and relax. I really cant be bothered going out and we have a late night show tomorrow night with an early start the following morning so tonight is our lazy night. Freshen up and head downstairs to see where we can eat.

    We had a $75 food voucher from our room booking deal so we decide when in Las Vegas…….. head for the buffet. We take our time and I try all the things I have never had before. My husband sticks to what he knows and we leave there satisfied. We go our separate ways back to the room. Me via the gift shop and he goes via the casino floor.
    My husband isn’t a coffee drinker – only tea and while I knew we would have a kitchenette in NY, Vegas was different. We like to have a cuppa late at night, after a shower and in our pjs watching TV. The Casino rooms wouldn’t have a kettle to boil so I had bought sticks of sugar and tea bags and milk. From Australia we had bought a cheap electric kettle that we would leave behind when we fly home. It paid for itself so that we didn’t have to buy that late night cup of tea but more than that was the convenience of relaxing in the room as we drank it. So by the time we go to bed it is about 3am NY time.

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    Peteralan I am glad my report has brought back good memories. When those squirrels would sit up on their hind legs and look at me I just wanted to pick them up and take them home.

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    no no no no no! Squirrels are rats with bushy tails and a better PR department!

    So funny to read how cute people find them :-)

    Still enjoying your report, and your impressions, it's fun to read. Looking forward to hearing more.

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    I love the excitement in your trip report. I am returning this weekend for an annual reunion with my college friends. Thank you for reminding me how much I love the city I grew up in.

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    Day 9
    Nothing planned for the day except for shows tonight so we can sleep in a little. We head downstairs and find ourselves at the buffet again simply because it’s the first place we see and it’s still serving. The watermelon and pineapple were richer in colour than I was used to and they were very sweet and juicy. I nearly tried grits but chickened out. Hubby headed for the bacon and eggs of course.
    The Mirage has a lovely lagoon out the front of the hotel (I forgot to say we watched the volcano/fire show in the lagoon after dinner last night). Heading off for a stroll up the strip we crossed the road to The Venetian. It was rather warm in the sun so we went indoors. The ceiling frescos are very impressive. Once we got further inside the thing that catches our attention is the fake sky. It’s quite surreal being indoors but your eyes are trying to tell you otherwise. One of the gondoliers is singing as the gondola floats past. The Piazza is full of people eating and shopping. I buy a pair of walking sandals as my walking shoes from New York were ideal for the cool weather but a bit hot here in Vegas. There are nice shops but nothing that I want to buy. I don’t have a need for glittery dresses or ones that barely cover the nether regions of 20 something’s yet alone 50 something’s succumbing to gravity. Walk to the casino floor, have a quick look and leave.
    Go into one of the smaller casinos and we have a drink and share playing a poker machine for 15 mins. That is my limit to play as I find the noise of all the surrounding machines annoying and I don’t find playing pokies much fun. Continue walking the strip and discover the time share sellers. I quickly steer my husband away as I had forgotten to tell him about them. We had been out and about for longer than we thought and as we had 2 shows tonight we head back to the room to relax.

    Its nice to get a chance to relax as New York was go go go. In saying that, I felt we were wandering aimlessly up the strip today. In NY there is always something a little further along the street to see. It gave us purpose in our walks. You see so much on top of what you plan to see. In Vegas it was more of… ok we’ve seen that casino, let’s go to the next one. That’s probably my fault as I spent a lot of time researching New York as I knew our time would be precious. I didn’t with Vegas as I thought we would take it easy and decide at the last minute what to do.
    Dinner is at Kokomo at the Mirage. We didn’t venture out as the shows were here in The Mirage. We are going to the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil first and later the Ray Romano & Kevin James Comedy show. We ask the maître d if we would have time for 2 courses or only 1 as we didn’t know how long service would be. She assured us we would fit in both. She must have told the kitchen because our appetiser came out quickly and we had plenty of time to eat without rushing. My husband ordered a rib eye and when it arrived we called it the brontosaurus steak. Another food pic on Facebook for the family to see. (I only have my family on Facebook so it was the easiest way of letting them know how our holiday was going.) It was thick and huge and cooked just how he likes it. Steak rarely beats him but this one did. He couldn’t finish it. I had some and it was melt in your mouth.
    We are up quite high for the show and as we are sitting there waiting for it to start I look over at hubby and he is nodding off. Too much steak! I elbow him gently and have a laugh. I love the music and my eyes don’t know where to look. There is so much going on in the air and on the stage at the same time. All the while I am singing the songs softly to myself. Loved it.
    We have about half an hour to kill so we look for somewhere to have a cuppa. Didn’t want Starbucks as I wanted to sit and drink out of a proper cup. Paper cups are for take aways. Find out there is a coffee shop next to the theatre where the comedy show is. It also serves the drinks as takeaways. Disappointing.
    We have been fans of Everybody Loves Raymond so it was great to see him up on stage. Love his sort of laid back voice. Kevin James was funnier than I expected. There was one joke that totally cracked me up. I couldn’t stop laughing long after it finished. My husband looked at me as if to say. …I don’t know this woman, she’s not with me. We really enjoyed the show and the only downer was the young girls behind us who had to have conversations with each other.
    Back to the room and bed. Although we started the day still homesick for NY the great evening got rid of the flat feeling. Tomorrow it’s an early checkout and drive to Grand Canyon.

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    Miguel I am sure you will love New York and I am so jealous. There just isnt enough time in the day to see everything. There will be plenty of time to rest when you get home. something to remember. Dont suddenly stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk. (footpath for us) There are a lot of people walking quickly behind you and if you stop they bump into you. I remember reading that and tried to do the right thing but I forgot a couple of times when I turned to my husband to point out something in the distance or across the street.

    Nikki I am flattered my report has done that. Thank you and I hope your reunion is a blast.

    Toucan no no no they cant be rats!!! I hate rats. Those eyes, the pointy nose and that horrid leathery looking tail.

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    It has been interesting to read about your holiday in Las Vegas and glad your flight on JetBlue went well. JFK always seems to have a backup of planes.

    I agree with Toucan about squirrels. One got in our attic one time and they can do tremendous damage.

    "Stick sugar" not familiar with that term. I am an expat and it is quite difficult if not impossible to get a good cuppa here.

    Looking forward to the Grand Canyon portion.

    Any chance of any photos?


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    Wow, great reporting.

    What a pleasure to read.

    OMG I'm exhausted reading about all the walking you did (including Battery Park to 75th St.!).

    Two things that struck you are common strong impressions to first time visitors to the US: #1)squirrels and #2)cafe drinks in take-away cups even when you sit inside or on a terrace.

    I was born and raised here (DC) and still can't stand/understand #2!

    Enjoy your drive to the Grand Canyon.

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    emalloy thank you for the link. I will have a look and see if it is something I could master. lol

    Toucan, I didnt realise you could ask for china.

    bardo thank you. I cant believe we walked it either. Coffee shops have taken off over here and they have a European feel. Drinking coffee( or tea) is to be savoured. Tea is served with a single serve teapot. A take away is just that.... take away or drink on the run. If we sit we are served with crockery.

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    Day 10

    Checkout is painless and quick. Catch a cab to the rental car depot near the airport. I read that it was cheaper to collect from there rather than collecting from the hotel but the main reason was I wasn’t sure what the traffic would be like as we drove out of the hotel to the outskirts of town. We would be driving on the opposite side of the road I didn’t want to be in the middle of the strip for our first experience. Filled out all the paperwork and found the car. We took photos of the car from every angle in case they tried to hit us up for dents later on. Sat in the car and set up the sat nav and worked out where the lights/blinkers/wipers were.

    Hubby drove first and we did a very slow navigation out of the depot. Out on the road and the sat nav voice directed us. We don’t use one at home and so we learnt keep left doesn’t really mean turn left. So after a tour around the block we headed off. It’s not long and we are on the outskirts. As the passenger sitting in what is normally the driver’s seat I felt a little uneasy. I found my foot trying to ease on the non-existent brake a few times.

    We drove straight over Hoover Dam as I wanted to make sure we got to the canyon with time to spare. We would visit it on the way back. Let me say this, so far on this trip we have not had one disagreement. Put us in a car for an hour and I am gripping the seat and saying “watch it you are getting too close to the edge” “yeah well you try and judge the edge from this side and I wish you wouldn’t grip the seat” “what are you doing…. You will hit the ditch” “I’m pulling over I need a smoke then you can drive” We drive in silence for 10 mins but then have a laugh.

    We stop at Boulder City and grab a late breakfast at McDonald’s. Once we got over the initial hurdle of being on the wrong side of the car/road we settled in quite well. Travelling on a highway helps of course.

    We stop at a lookout. There are Native Americans selling jewellery and I get two bracelets. It’s very windy but the look over to the mountains is really quite stunning. We are going to detour to Route 66 as I want to say I got my kicks on Route 66. There is a truck stop /café sort of place so we turn into the access to cross over the other side of the highway into the car park just as a car is coming out of the driveway to get to where we are. Then we both realise.. We are on the wrong side because we turn left tightly. So we are both yelling. **** Wrong side wrong side. The right... the right”. The poor people are waiting for us to move and probably thinking “did they get their licence in a cereal box”. So highway driving is fine…… it’s the turning that confuses the brain. So each time we have to turn we are both yelling “tight tight” or” loose loose” depending on left or right turning.

    After grabbing an ice-cream and some Route 66 key rings we continue along the highway for Seligman where we will stop for lunch. The highway is in good condition and I found the drivers very good. Especially truck and motorhome drivers. They all kept to the slow lane and didn’t hold up traffic by sitting in the passing lane like a lot of drivers do over here. We stop at a café in Seligman(Westside Lilo’s) and order a club sandwich each. It was huge and delicious. It came with potato salad and we just couldn’t come close to finishing it not to mention even getting half way with the huge soft drink (soda). The table next to us had a family from Canberra in Australia so we were chatting to them as we ate. They were heading to the canyon too. It was nice to hear familiar accents.

    It was late afternoon when we drove into the National Park and paid our entrance. After a distance we wondered why cars were stopped. There was a few elk by the side of the road and everyone was snapping photos . Our sat nav decided to lock us out once we got to an area very close to the village so we had to park to find out just where to go. We knew the rim was close so we put on our coats and followed the paths and suddenly there it was.

    Every superlative you can think of describes it. Simply breathtaking. We walked along the path with my husband snapping pictures. After about half an hour we go back and retrieve the car so we can book into our lodge. We are staying at El Tovar Lodge. A beautiful old lodge built on the edge of the South Rim. We unload our bags and while I book in my husband tries to find a park which proves difficult. He had to drive around for a while and then luckily someone in the immediate car park pulls out so he grabs the space. As soon as we get settled we go back out to the rim (which is only a stone’s throw from the lodge). We have a dinner reservation for 8pm so we have time to go for a walk as the sun sets and the canyon changes colours.

    We have a shower and change for dinner. There is a wait for our reservation. There are a few waiting and they ask us to come back in half an hour so we go to the bar for a drink (or two) first. Reservations for the restaurant are a must for here and I had to book three months in advance. If you don’t book there is little chance of getting a table. There is a sign in the bar telling patrons guns are not permitted. We have never seen a sign like that and it reminds us that people do carry weapons over here. It’s a lovely rustic looking restaurant and the food is delicious. We are at one of the Seven Wonders of the World having a lovely meal and it’s a special feeling. We take our time and order dessert and coffee and eventually make our way back to the room and I think we are both snoring as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

    Set the alarm so we are up to catch sunrise. Plenty of layers and thick coat, scarf, hat and gloves. We go outside and there is steam coming out of our mouths. Its -3C which is as cold as it gets in the middle of winter where we live and then only for a few hours. There are two elk next to the lodge. Just small ones. We sit and watch the sunrise. The canyon seems to change shape as the sun hits another section and the colour changes. It’s beautiful to just sit there and watch the canyon come alive. The other lodges are lit up and it really is a little village here.

    Sitting there doing nothing works up an appetite and we have become so used to big cooked breakfasts over here that we head for the restaurant for breakfast. I order cornmeal pancakes with prickly pear butter. While waiting there is a large male elk walking through the bottom car park. Regal and almost intimidating. As if he is saying “This is my territory and I will walk where I want”. My breakfast arrives and the first bite is bliss. They are light, huge and the butter is perfect with them. I want to moan with each mouthful.

    After breakfast we take a walk down to the other lodges and gift shops. One is right on the edge and as we walk out to the lookout area to take a pic of my husband a squirrel jumps on a rocky ledge and poses for a pic. Too bad about my husband standing there posing! I snap the squirrel. Back in the gift shop we spot covered wagons and buy one to take home. My husband loves it. He has seen every John Wayne/cowboy movie ever made numerous times so it has pride of place on the buffet with our children’s photos.

    It would be nice to go for a small hike down but going down means getting back up so we play it safe and stay put. We are happy just walking along the rim. There are signs showing that the rock can crumble if you stand on it but some people ignore it. One couple walk straight off the path and over to the edge and looked straight down. My knees went week and my stomach knotted. I said to my husband. I can’t look at them I have to go. (I am no good at looking down from a height. Looking out of a plane is fine. But a building or a ledge. No way) We walk further along and on our way back they are still there. Sitting dangling their legs over the edge. Ughhhh.

    Its time to check out so we bid farewell to the canyon. My husband sleeps a lot of the way and as I am driving Garth Brooks comes on the radio twice. I am not a big fan of country but my girls and I used to sing to Garth Brooks greatest hits whenever we were in the car by ourselves. So here I was driving in Arizona singing along to Garth Brooks and I was in a very happy place.

    We don’t get to Hoover Dam until late in the afternoon so we miss the tour. We go over to the side and I go to take a photo – see the depth of the spillway and decide I am safer back against the mountain and let my husband take the photos and walk over the spillway.

    We make it safely back to the car rental depot and grab a cab to Paris Casino. Check in and get accosted by a girl trying to sell moisturiser who doesn’t want to take no for an answer. I really don’t think people come to Las Vegas for skin care products. We have a room overlooking the tower and the Bellagio fountains. We are unpacking and I hear a bang. Go to the window and realise it’s the fountains. They really do things big in Vegas. Beautiful to watch.

    We get changed and as we didn’t really bother with lunch we decide to try the buffet. We finally get a table but no one comes to take our drink order for a long time and there was no one close by to attract attention. For the first time on our trip we didn’t have instant wait staff. I don’t feel like checking out the casino so I go for a look around the shops while hubby goes to win his fortune. When he gets back he pulls out $400 in chips. He is happy. (that is short-lived though as it is the only time he wins and they eventually get their money back).

    Tomorrow we will go down to the older end of the strip.

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    It's great that you managed to get the right side of the road so quickly and made it to the canyon and back safely. I think it is one of those places that I could visit every week if I lived closer.

    Hope you do get the pictures posted would love to see DH and the squirrel in all those places you've been!

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    I mostly do my shopping when on 34st. in Conway. There were 3 Conways, 1 shut down, 1 right behind Macy's, 1 next to Wendy's. Prices are 1/10th Macy's and about 1/4th K-Mart and Target.
    Also, Joey's on 34st has some nice stuff for cheap. I use Macy's and B&H for bathroom breaks, as well as the Port Authority.

    There are many Century21 stores in NYC, one in Bayridge Brooklyn, and one across from WTC. In Brooklyn you can get far better bargains on 86st or Kings Highway than in Manhattan.

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    The Grand Canyon seemed a long way to go for one night but sounds like you enjoyed it very much. Would you share the cost of the lodge you stayed at?

    Glad you quickly adjusted to driving on the right.

    Looking forward to the remainder of your report.


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    Day 12
    We went downstairs for breakfast and tried Mon Ami Gabi. It was lovely sitting on the terrace people watching and enjoying a leisurely breakfast. After that we bought a ticket on the deuce to go downtown. We got an express ticket so there were fewer stops to get there. Took us a few moments to work out the vending machine but there was a transport person there who helped us with our questions. Word of warning. The buses can get very crowded. I think it was $8.00 and that was an all-day pass.

    We got off at the Stratosphere so we would go up to the top for a look over the city. As I bought the tickets my husband decided he would have a go on one of the rides up the top. I married a daredevil it seems. It’s a great view from the top but I can’t get too close to the floor to ceiling windows or my stomach churns. I have to do it very slowly and be arms distance. We start talking to a couple from Germany as we watch people free fall off the side. The look of fear in the jumper's eyes and watching them take that first step off - no way I could do it. Husband wants to but he has to think about it a bit longer.

    The next floor up is an open deck. Because of the wind 2 rides are not working. There is one that is right on the top and drops down to the deck roof. I go to look up at it, get giddy because I know I am up so high and have to grab the girder next to me. The only way I can look up is to wrap my arms around that. Great pair we are. Hubby decides he can live without free falling 100 floors and I have had enough of heights.

    Back on another bus and we go to the outlet shopping further out of town. A nice polo shirt for hubby and I get some shirts at another shop. Two little wrist purses for my daughters and we are done. I am totally surprised at how I haven’t really been interested on shopping this trip. I hate being indoors. I want to be out on the streets.

    Another bus to go back and we hop off at Freemont Street part of downtown. Go for a walk around and see the notorious Heart Attack Café. I had to laugh at Oscars lit up entrance “Beef, Booze and Broads”. Only in Vegas! A couple of bikini girls are dancing on an outside bar and a DJ is trying to entice more people to dance near the stage area under the light canopy of Freemont.

    Another tip, if you are looking for Vegas souvenirs, wait till you are downtown. There is a lot more to choose from and they are cheaper than buying in the casinos on the main strip. We look for somewhere to have dinner and I can’t remember the name of a steakhouse I read about on fodors so we end up at the buffet at the Golden Nugget. It was nice to sit down after being on our feet for so long but the food was pretty ordinary. I decided that would be the last buffet we went to. I think we were so tired it was an effort to walk around the stations to see what to choose.

    Had a quick flutter (or donation as we called them) and the canopy was all lit up and the people in costumes were all about. A bus pulled up and we both agreed it was enough so another crowded trip back up the strip. As we walk back to Paris we noticed the men with those clickers handing out the escort cards to all the men. Business card printing companies must do well.

    Before heading upstairs we sit and have a drink. My martini goes down very nicely so I follow it up with another. Very nice and very strong. We didn’t walk as far as we did in NY but we were on our feet most of the day so I went back to the room to relax and watch TV. Hubby made another donation to the casino.

    The next day would be our last full day in Vegas before we flew home. I have booked tickets to Jersey Boys and although it will be hubbys birthday the day we fly home , it will be his birthday back in Australia tomorrow so we will have dinner and go to the show to celebrate our last night and his birthday in Oz time.

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    Sandy I cant remember the exact amount but I think it was about $279. We got the basic room which was fine. We were only in the room to shower and sleep basically. There are lounges around the fireplace in the foyer and the bar so people milled about downstairs. The rim of the canyon is less than a minute walk from the front steps. El Tovar is the most expensive of the lodges and the others go down in price depending on what is provided. Some arent as close to the rim but there is accommodation to suit all budgets. Much better than staying out of the park and having to drive to and from a hotel to see the canyon.
    The web site is Xanterra (it is run by the park) and it will show you all the info you need to stay in the park.

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    Day 13
    Start the day with breakfast on the terrace at Mon Ami Gabi. It’s a lovely relaxing way to start the day. I am sure our waitress loved me back. I realised later I had left a $50 note and not a $20 when I left. Your notes are too close in design and colour. That’s what I get for not looking close enough. She was a lovely girl who chatted to us each time she walked past so I hope she enjoyed it.

    We spend the day walking along the strip. Held hands with George Clooney. Ok, so it was only his imprints on the wall at Planet Hollywood but one can dream. Checked out the Bellagio and Caesars Palace. It really does seem to go on forever. Had to stop and have a margarita half way through exploring it.

    We didn’t bother having lunch as we were having an early dinner before the show. We got an ice cream instead. I tried my hand at a bit of roulette but as much as I like roulette it didn’t like me back. Once again the day passed quickly and it was time to dress for dinner and the show.

    Because we have enjoyed Mon Ami Gabi so much we decided to have dinner there. Thoroughly enjoyed our meal and although I am not a great lover of apple desserts I had a taste of my husband’s Gala Apple Tarte Tatin and wished I had ordered it. Not that my Crème Brulee wasn’t delicious. It certainly was. When chatting to our waiter I told him how wonderful the Tarte Tatin was and he agreed it was his favourite dessert on the menu. I loved the food and the look of the restaurant. Much better than a buffet for me.

    Next was Jersey Boys. What a great show. Songs I grew up hearing. Chatted to the couple next to us before the show and during interval and their daughter was currently touring in Australia having a ball. No wonder the show was a hit worldwide. Just simply great to watch.

    A drink after the show, a few minutes playing a poker machine together and then we went back to the room. We are able to get a late checkout so there is no need to be up early. Another memorable night but tinged with sadness because it is our last.

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    Sorry for delay but a combination of things has kept me from adding.

    Day 14

    Our last day in the USA. We get dressed and go down for breakfast at Moni Ami Gabi again. A lovely way to start the day. I still miss those leisurely breakfasts and hubby definitely misses the bacon. Up in the room after breakfast it is time to pack. It’s amazing how all the “little” things you buy take up lots of space in the suitcases. The cases are weighed and they are under our limit so it’s all good. I had read of travellers waiting in line for ages to check in/out at Vegas Hotels but we have had no problems at all. Hand in our luggage to pick up later.

    No decision on where to have lunch but definitely don’t want to grab something at the airport. As we are heading towards the front entrance we glance at the lift up to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. I thought we may need reservations but we don’t. Might as well look out over the strip as we eat. There is a wedding lunch over to the side for about a dozen people but other than those there are probably only a dozen other people so it’s relaxing and quiet. Luckily we have missed the busy time for lunch. We have a table right at the window so have a view across the fountains to the Bellagio and Caesars. Our meals were delicious. To top it off the fountains start for the first show of the day. So we have an uninterrupted view of the dancing fountains.

    Collect our bags and line up for a taxi to the airport. A lot of people in the line but it moves quickly. Check in, do the security check and then onto a train/tram to our departure terminal. We have a United Airlines flight which is delayed a little but I have left plenty of time between our arrival in LAX and our departure flight back home so the delay is of no concern. We are not sitting together on this flight as I couldn’t prebook specific seats and as it’s a short flight it didn’t matter. Flight is so short the people at the back of the plane didn’t even get to have a drink before the descent.

    I was able to see the Hollywood sign in the distance just before we came into land. LA is very spread out and I can see why a car is recommended for tourists. Bit of a battle to grab suitcases off the carousel and then once outside we have to find the bus stop to get to the Qantas departure terminal. Get our directions and a bus is along in moments. I have to say everyone we asked for directions has been more than helpful on this trip. It’s a bit of a walk from where we are dropped off (well not really but with suitcases it just feels like it is).

    Another check in and then up the escalator into security. Bit of a jam ahead so we don’t move for a few mins. We are right next to a security person and strike up a conversation and have a laugh with her while we wait.

    As there are a couple of planes departing late at night the departure lounge has plenty of spare chairs but the bars/eateries are packed. Now it’s just a case of waiting. It’s quite foreign for us to be sitting and doing nothing after go go go for the last two weeks. Finally get the boarding call, pick up the duty free and head for our seats.

    My husband was uncomfortable flying over to NY and his back was hurting so he was continually trying to find comfortable positions. (Not that there are many options in coach) Flying back was different. I think he was so exhausted he was able to sleep for a lot of the trip. We landed early morning and after losing my reading glasses and being rejected by the automatic passport reader I finally got through customs. There to greet us with a big Welcome Home sign was our darling granddaughter. After a two hour drive we are finally home.

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    Miguel have no doubts that you will. New York has such a feel about it that you cant help but be on the go all the time. Wait till you are walking around, you will understand what I mean. The last thing you will want to do is sit in your hotel room. We would get an attack of laughter when we went to bed each night as we were so tired we would both sigh as soon as our head touched the pillow. It was the first time since we have been married that I had to wake my husband each morning. He usually gets up way before me.

    When do you go Miguel?

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    October_fun we became proficient at making tea in the coffee maker, although the water wasn't boiling. Sometimes we just heated up the water in the microwave. A couple of places we did get tea in china cups, one was the Tea Shoppe in New York, the other in New Orleans.

    I loved your trip report, we traveled from New Zealand to NY, New Orleans, Boston, and San Francisco this past November, some of the things we did were the same as you, but we spent more time using the subway in New York!!.

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    nelsonian we did use the subway to get downtown and we did catch it back a couple of times but mostly we walked home. The funny thing is we took our granddaughter to Sea World here at the Gold Coast a few months ago and we were so tired we had to sit regularly. Not at all how we were in NY. We even commented on it.

    We seemed to soak up New Yorks energy. Now that we are home and back to normal life the energy seems to have deserted us. lol

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    This report was wonderful to read. I know how hard it can be to write them and the time and effort it takes to do so and thank you.

    Glad you enjoyed New York and that you took that day trip to Washington; ditto for your stay at the Grand Canyon. Yes, it truly is breathtaking.

    Come back soon!!!!

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    Our trip had so many highlights for us. The worst part of it was losing my glasses between getting off the plane and getting through customs when we landed back in Brisbane. There really wasnt anything that went wrong. Not sure if it was luck or good planning but I hope it was the latter. I certainly spent enough time on fodors and tripadvisor and hundreds of other websites. Our flights went well and our hotels were all great ( with comfortable mattresses.

    We loved trying new meals and found the price of eating out very reasonable. Not to mention the size of the servings. We miss the exceptional service we got in most restaurants and the white shirts, black ties and black aprons of the wait staff. (yes i know they want us to tip but we really loved not having to sit and try to get someones attention).

    I thought I would like New York but didnt realise I would absolutely love it. I cant think of anything that disappointed us. There was so much we didnt get to see but even that is not a disappointment.I dont feel I could have liked New York anymore than I did.

    Washington was beautiful to drive and walk around. If I ever got back I would love to spend a few days there to see more. I know it was a rushed day but we got to see those stunning monuments and memorials. It was definately worth the travel.

    They say everyone should see Las Vegas at least once in their life. In hindsight it may have been better to see Vegas first. I think seeing it after New York was a bit of a let down as I didnt want to leave NY. Vegas was for my husband as he has always wanted to see it. He liked it but he liked NY more.

    Grand Canyon was spectacular. What else can you say about it. It doesnt have to do anything but be there. I am so glad we spent the night there. Watching the sun come up and hit the rock and change its colour was something else. You cant stop looking at it.

    Not forgetting the people we came in contact with. Everyone was friendly to us(the cashiers at Century 21 may have a different understanding of friendly I feel) and in a lot of cases took the time to find out where we were from, how we were enjoying our holiday etc. We have no horror stories.

    I am starting to look at planning another holiday for perhaps two/three years away. I want a week in Paris and some time in Italy. Found a vessel (max 150 passengers) that does a cruise up the Amalfi coast that sounds rather nice. There is lots of googling and fodors threads to read before decisions are made.

    Maybe a stopover in NY for a few days? lol

    Thank you for reading my trip report and once again thank you to all the people who answered my questions when I first started planning.

    To put it simply....... we had a ball.

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    october_fun, this is one of the very best NYC trip reports I ahve ever read! You really know ow to convey your enthusiasm in written form. The squirrels and eyebrow pencil from Macys were wonderful to read about.

    I LOVE NYC and since we live in the Northern VA/WashingtonD.C. area we frequently go there on the bus. We are lucky enough to have a $30 first class bus from our local metro stop in Virginia that goes straight to the Penn Station area in NYC; it operates on Fri, Sat and Sun and holidys so we go to NYC on the bus or train (if we splurge, lol) for long weekends about once every two months.

    So I have seen a lot of NYC over the years but your view of NYC was new and refreshing. I am plannng a 5 night trip to NYC for early May and am ging to go birdwatching in Central Park on this trip! After so many years and so many NYC trips there are still so many new things to experience there.

    Come back to Washington D.C. for a longer perod of time on your next trip!

    Eileen (emd3)

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    I assume you were joking about "stopping over" in NYC en route to Paris/Italy. You do know that all your Europe flight options will go through Asia (except Dubai) - and there are MANY stopover options: Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, etc.- but the USA is not one of them...

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    bardo unfortunately yes I know I will have to go the opposite direction. Now that Qantas have teamed with Emirates I think most will be going via Dubai rather than Singapore. Qantas had a sale on fares to Asia last week and I nearly booked us a short trip to Hong Kong or Singapore. The cost of it would mean an extra week in europe or that little cruise up the Amalfi coast or a number of other great things to do in Europe so Asia will have to wait.

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    Dukey thank you. We really do want to come back thats for sure.

    Bardo and emalloy thank you also.

    emd I am so jealous that you can visit New York every couple of months. It must be like recharging your life batteries when you visit. I try to tell people back here what its like walking around Manhattan but its hard to convey. In the end I just tell them that they HAVE to visit.

    Toucan it was my pleasure and I must say quite relieved people liked to read it. It would be embarassing if noone commented wouldnt it. lol
    Good luck with your trip. I have friends on Bribie Island just north of Brisbane who go birdwatching. I will ask them for some recommendations for you.

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    october, if you come to the D.C. area again, post something to get my attn. Would love to meet you for a drink ro a meal, maybe in Old Town Alexandria just across the Potomac River from D.C., where George Washington drank beer in his favorite tavern (which is still functioning). Alexandria is cool, very historical and nice for strolling, eating, shopping. George's mansion at Mt. Vernon is just south of there and is a great place to visit.

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    emd3 thank you so much. Thats a lovely offer and one I will gladly take up if we ever get over that way again.

    You are very lucky to live close to both places. DC and NY.

    I must admit I get a little thrill now when I recognise places/things seen on our trip. They will pop up in the middle of a TV show and for a few seconds I remember how it felt standing there in person.

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    Just as a footnote I have decided that life is short and we never know what is around the corner so I have just booked us a trip to Hong Kong in May.

    The humidity will curtail our walking but I hope it gives us a buzz just to be there like New York did.

    This time it may be pandas and not squirrels to give us the "awwwwww how cute" factor.

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