DONE4,USA & Italy-ver long.

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by drron, Sep 14, 2007.

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  1. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
    15,876
    Sunshine Coast
    I do not travel for the flying,it is a means to and end and that end is the land travel.However this trip has seen me reach AA Platinum and by years end Explat.It has also served as a defacto mattress run ensuring hhonors diamond for another year.This will be an ongoing saga.continue at your own peril!
    Another early start from the Sunshine Coast for Brisbane.As always the limousine pickup.I still can not understand those whose only object is saving a few dollars.The limousine costs $120 as against $90 for 2 on the bus however we can leave an hour later which is well worth the extra dollars.
    No problems with checkin and off to the QF lounge.Flying out on the AA codeshare so the 2 of us will complete the platinum challenge.Brisbane is not one of the worlds greatest lounges but still quite comfortable.
    Off to the plane.Have 11J & K upstairs.Good crew.Meal a little better than I last remember QF.Pork is done extremely well.Having reached retirement I have rediscovered the art of sleeping on planes and drift off after the meal.Awake long enough for 2 movies.Borat is certainly a thinly veiled attack on the American values.Glad though i didnt pay money to watch it.
    Arrive into LAX a little early.hardly a queue at immigration and are out in no time.Off to Hertz and even though in gold line at general checkin(having prepurchased booking as cheaper than through Hertz) the wait is much longer than Immigration.Had stopped off in LA as mrsdrron wanted to buy some pearls there but she changed her mind.No matter a couple of days to chill out suits us fine.
    Drove up the coast road to Oxnard to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn.Very good value and you know what you are getting with a large room,microwave and fridge and free internet access.Went out to do a little shopping.For those who say why Oxnard the answer is the Camarillo premium outlets.Mrsdrron can tell you about every outlet in the states.Great value for Aussies as you get the coming seasons fashion at great discounts.Then off to Red Lobster for lunch and those wonderful Maine lobster.Back to HGI for a little sleep.Awake about 9pm.Turn on telly and find someone has ripped the aerial lead out of the wall.No problems with reception.Someone sent up to check and moved rooms.Pantry and movie coupons given as compensation.
    Next day first call is Fedex to ship off everything to son in NYC so that there is more room for shopping.Generally chill out in the afternoon ready for next days drive back to LAX.No problems going back down Hway 1.Normally use 101 where traffic can be horrific.Always remember though in the states if there is an HOV lane it can be used if just 2 of you in the car-never many others in this lane.
    Once again no problems at LAX and through checkin and into Admirals club in about 20 minutes.Why people pay a lot of dollars to go to the AC and pay for drinks and food at prices higher than on the general concourse certainly intrigues me.No worries the QP gets us in and our drink chits.A grimace when told the premium chardy is Little Boomer with a boomerang on the label.So the pinot grigio it is.Not long to wait until off on AA1458 to Denver.Although we leave on time and arrive in Denver airspace early are put into a holding pattern for 40 minutes as thunderstorms over Denver.
    I liked the airport at denver.Easy to get around with a train between terminals.Once again off to Hertz and once again they impress with lenghy wait.Impressed even further when they offer me a midsized car when full size paid for.The coupon even says a Ford Mustang or similiar car-always have got a Ford Taurus in past but now they are not Ford owned you can get anything.But a Chevvy Malibu is similiar to a mustang!Told we will be upgraded to an Impala but thanks for nothing.Now the drive up I25 to Loveland.Why loveland-you guessed it another outlet but also close to the rocky Mountains NP.
    Next instalment-Colorado and Utah.
     

  2. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
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    Now for Colorado.Stayed at Hampton Inn.Usual reasonable standard and got the water and snack although also extra points as per my way.Dinner at Johnny Carinos.A chain serving large portions of Italian food at reasonable prices.
    Next morning off to Rocky Mountains National Park.Just after the entrance were a few elk.a lot more further in.Spectacular certainly is appropriate.You go from approx6000 feet to 12150 in not a great distance.First drama the smart car says check the left rear tyre and here we are at the summit.After coming down 6000 feet on the other side check tyre and everything Ok but car keeps telling me to service tyre monitoring system.Now along hway 40 to Steamboat springs to another Hampton stay.A word of warning this property has the highway on one side and the railroad on the other.Plus given room next to lobby so not that much sleep.This place is set up well with free transportation around.a lot of work going on around ski transportation centre at moment.Dinner at Riggios an Italian restaurant downtown with great mussels.
    Next day a drive down route 131 to Vail.A pleasant drive passing a few old coal mines.Vail again well set up and in summer with free parking.Nice public golf course and a good selection of restaurants.a place to return to.Next down route 24 and up rte 82 to Aspen.The highlight is going over Independence pass again reaching over 12000 feet,again spectacular.Aspen however costs,nothing free.A place for the rich and famous and not for drron.So continue on up 82 and on to Grand Junction and another Hampton.Upgraded to a spa room and once again water and snack as well as points.Dinner at the Rokslide brewery.As in before 6.30 the tasting of their 6 beers cost the princeley sum of $3.75.
    Next instalment Utah.
     
  3. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
    15,876
    Sunshine Coast
    Now off on I-70 to Utah.Took route 128 to Moab and this is reccomended.Spectacular scenery following colorado river through a series of canyons.A lot of rafting-arranged from Moab,plus a lot of people fishing.
    Into Moab and on to the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.These lose nothing when compared to the more frequently visited southern neighbours such as Zion and the grand Canyon.Stayed overnight at a Comfort Inn in Blanding-should have stayed in Moab,much more choice.
    Early morning start for drive through Monument Valley and this is a great time to see it with the rapidly changing light patterns.from ther off to the 4 corners where you can have a bit of yourself in Colorado,Utah,Arizona and New Mexico all at once-and that is the only exciting bit.it is on Navajo land so you pay to do this and there are mny stalls with Indian jewellery.Probably these places are the only places where they sell knockoffs of their own work.
    from there back into Colorado to Durango_On the way stopped off at Mesa Verde NP.This is worth a visit with well preserved cliff dwellings which yoiu can go down to.
    However whilst there noticed the passenger front tyre of our rental had developed a pronounced bubble so a slow trip into Durango.Mentioned it to the front desk of the hampton when checking in and before I had signed they had Hertz on the line and the Durango office had been notified of the problem.The road assistance guy told me I would have to fill out a tyre incident report but when i got to the hertz office at the airport the woman handed me the keys of a replacement car noting that this happens several times a year due to the altitudes you get to.The staff of Hertz at LAX,DEN and ATL should be sent to Durango to learn good customer relations.
    Durango is a town that has got its tourist act together.The main summer activity is a train ride to silverton which we didnt do but will be back to do later.the shops downtown stay open until the last train returns which was after 7pm on the Sunday night we were there.Had dinner at the Mahogany grill downtown and it was great.Shared a dish of quail for appetiser and I had elk and mrsdrron the crab stuffed trout.
    The next day drove north on 550 and once again altitudes in excess of 11000 feet.once again truly magnificent scenery including old gold and silver mines.Stayed that night at the garden Inn at Meridien just south of Denver.Half the price of places closer to the airport and very close to the tollway that runs past the airport so spent $5.75 in tolls but saved$80 on the hotel.Standard very comfortable Garden inn.
    This now set the scene for my 9/11 trip-Aa1032 DEN-DFW and AA474 DFW-ATL.Denver airport impressed me again.Easiest rental return ever.Virtually empty AC.Friendly staff.The AA crew on both flights were exceptional and worked togther as a team something i had not experienced on AA before.Jon from Dallas made our flight to ATL very enjoyable.Howeverdont expect luxury on AA first domestically.From DEN we got a snack-2 very small cookies.From DFW lunch-either a turkey wrap or a chicken pasta salad.about the standard you would buy on DJ.A warm glow though as this was the first time our boarding passes were stamped AA platinum.
    Next from Atlanta to Washington DC.Dont ever say the war was lost.
     
  4. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
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    Sunshine Coast
    In contrast to Denver the airport at ATL has seen better times and is a shambles.Hertz were no better.Wouldnt allow us on Hertz shuttle as our booking did not appear on list.produced our email and let on.At least no long lines but told virtually no cars so was a midsize or nothing.so into our chevy malibu and off to gadsen Alabama.Another stay at a hampton and dinner at Logans Roadhouse where the waiters dont do no singing or dancing so if any special occasion it is a YEE HAA.After dinner to the local Walmart to get some water as at hamptons i now choose the extra points.Sat down as mrsdrron went to look at the makeup and a good ole boy sat down and started talking.Knew I was not from round those parts."Youre not a northerner are you." No mate I'm a real southerner from Australia."Well i'll be darned never met an australian in Walmart before."
    Next day travelled up alongside the Tennessee river-a beautiful drive.To Scootsboro because mrsdrron had heard about the unclaimed baggage store on Oprh and Getaway.The BBC were there that day when we arrived.forget it.Just a big overpriced Op-shop.Then on the way through Georgia to commerce and another Hampton with dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse.The steaks were superb tender,juicy and great flavour.After another night at Concord Mills-you guessed it another outlet shopping mall.A good pair of Brooks Brothers jeans for $17.Now we are off to Charlottesville NC.A Hilton Garden Inn this time,on the way stopping at Appotamax to see where Robert E Lee called a temporary halt to the war.Started off the next day visiting Jefferson's home Monticello-very worthwhile.Will be back to visit Ash Lawn and Montpellier-Homes of the 4th and 5th Presidents.On the way into DC stopped off at Manassas(Bull Run to those damn Yankees).There is history all around here.
    Staying in DC at the Doubletree Suites at Foggy Bottom.A little away from the action and my conference location but half the price of other hilton properties in DC.Was not too hard a walk to the Smithsonian complex and a short walk to historic Georgetown.Good meals at the Thai Coast on L street and Miss Saigon on M street in Georgetown-absolutely best soft shell crab i have had.
    Tomorrow off to the Atlantic Coast for the slow trip back to Atlanta.
     
  5. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    Great stuff drron - I love the casual way you are happily just driving and flying across Amercia - although highly concerned about your outgoing baggage limits ;)
     
  6. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    Thanks for the TR drron. Sounds like you're having a great time. I notice you and Febs are both driving accross the US at the moment. He's just doing the opposite way to you. Enjoy the rest of your trip! :p
     
  7. Keith009

    Keith009 Established Member

    Mar 6, 2005
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    Nice TR drron! Looking fwd to more. :)
     
  8. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

    May 24, 2006
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    Great read drron! Even more interesting to me as, during the LOTFAP leg of our DONE4 in April, we have 3 weeks driving from PHL via Gettysburg, DC and Shenandoah Valley to Richmond visiting Civil War sites then another week driving from Charleston to Atlanta via Savannah. So our routes will cross. Look forward to more reports!
     
  9. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
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    Now for the trip back south to Atlanta.Down I-95 a short way to another of those outlets.This time Potomac Mills-huge.Here though you can leave the significant other for 2-3 hours and head 15 miles south to Fredericksburg and the nearby Stonewall jackson memorial.As I have been told before if he had survived the South would not have lost.Here we found a gas station that did not accept cash.
    Continuing on and switching to I-64 to Williamsburg.This is an area steeped in history.This year is the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown.Nearby is the battlefield of Yorketown where the British were finally defeated.The old centre of Williamsburg is preserved as an historical theme park.A word of advice,instead of paying $30+ for a days admission ask for a museum pass costing $9 allowing you to walk around with entrance to 2 galleries and the Rockefeller house.The restoration of williamsburg was started during the depression and funded by the Rockefellers.Spent the night at a Hampton and once again given a larger room with a spa bath.
    The next day continued down I-64 to Newport,a large naval base with several military museums and General Mc'Arthurs grave and museum.very informative.
    The bridges here are amazing and all combined with a tunnel so nothing to impede the navy.Heading straight for a naval vessel and then you go under it.4 aircraft carriers in today.
    Head south on route 168 to Kittyhawk.once again the National Parks annual pass pays for itself getting you into the Wright memorial.The rest of Kittyhawk is very forgettable though a very reasonably priced lunch of crabs at Dirty ****s crabhouse.
    Now turn west and head out on route 64 to get to our overnight at Washington,NC.Pas through bayou country and fields of baccy,cotton and peanuts making you feel very much in the south.Pulled off at a rest area at Plymouth,NC to find it a civil war battlefield site when the South retook the town in April 1864.The same we found also at Washington.The downtown historic area of washington has a lot of antebellum buildings and for the night we were there a festival with live music in the streets and a parade of muscle cars.
    This time our Hampton let us down with an ordinary room and their wifi down for the night.To be continued.
     
  10. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
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    Leave Washington,NC on 17 south.Soon after starting the only heavy rain of our driving tour but by the time we reach New Bern after 30 minutes it has gone.Having done my research I realise New Bern was important in the Peninsula campaign and Abe Lincoln visited the troops there.But I was wrong.New Bern is known for Brad's drink,known better today as Pepsi Cola.As this was a Saturday was able to go to their farmers market-liked the chocolate coated pecans.
    Continued south and once again found out that in the USA your reseach doesnt come up with everything as at Wilmington,NC there is the battleship North Carolina open for tours.Overnight at Mrytle Beach where again the Hampton recognised status by giving us a larger corner room.That night off to Greg Normans Australian Grille for dinner.Figured he needs the money now.Amazing though what the staff thought was typical Aussie dishes.
    From there south to Hilton head Island via Charleston.Had stayed there before but if you are into the civil war you must do the Fort Sumpter tour where the hostilities began.Also to the north of Charleston is the old Aircraft carrier Yorketown.A visit to one or two of the old plantation houses also reccomended.We have been to Boone Hall and the Magnolia Plantation Gardens.The Hampton at Hilton Head is old.All small rooms.Coffee in lobby cold and no delivery of morning paper.
    Final day of driving is now just a drive to Atlanta.Pass close to Savannah where again we have stayed before and it is well worth a visit.Just off I-95 though was the fighting eighth air force museum.Unfortunately again our Hampton at South Lakes let us down and am forced to go the heavy.Arrived about 2.30pm(lots of repacking to do) and given as usual a key packet with our name typed on it but getting to the room find it is 2 doubles not the king room booked.down to the desk and told this is what was booked and there are no king rooms left!Pulled out the hilton.com screen shot showing a king room was booked in October 2006 and my profile says king bed.Told sorry but nothing we can do_OK I am diamond and someone who is arriving later is going to go without their king bed or you are goinfg to call the diamond desk for me.Suddenly a king room is available all be it next to the lifts when profile says away from lifts.Diamond desk is going to hear about this anyway.
     
  11. Shano

    Shano Established Member

    Aug 17, 2006
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    Great report drron, enjoy the rest of your trip!

    One of the attractions of touring the US is that everything is reasonably accessible by either road or air, plus there are many diverse things to see.

    I visited Gettysburgh last year and it is quite amazing to see how such a significant battle was fought over such a small area. That, and the number of lives lost to fellow countrymen was quite disturbing.
     
  12. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
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    Well the next day didnt start quite as planned.The account slipped under the door was for an amount greater than what I had booked.Quickly fixed by front desk but after setting out for ATL realised I had left rental car contract back in the room so a later restart.fortunately I do always allow more time than needed.Returning car to Hertz was much easier than getting it so still left with an hour in the AC.Was hoping for some of those famous AA delays as flight due to get to LGA at 12.30 and checkin not until 4pm.However left on time,deplaned 12.05,bags off quickly and out to taxi queue with 40 taxis and no customers.Got to 53rd by 12.30 but then the UN came to the party-gridlock.At checkin at 1.30 and fortunately a room available.
    Staying in the Hilton Club on 6th ave,floors 37,38 of the Hilton.As it is UN General assembly week hotel accom.is at a premium so feeling very good about my investment.Also good is that obviously some UN personnel staying here so club lounge is virtually empty,a real bonus.
    So a good bit of advice,if you want a hint of affordability in NYC then avoid times when the UN is in session.On the other hand it is an experience seeing all the security that surrounds this event.
    Coming back from dinner last night past the MOMA and fellows in suits with wires in their ears and big bulges under their coats were everywhere.Then Bill Clinton comes out and this great motorcade takes off.Just like the movies with an ambulance bringing up the rear.Around the Waldorf is particularly well guarded.
    However even here at the Hilton lifts are held for these petty dignitaries and if you step in the way you will get shoved pretty effectively out of the way.Also in most of the shops.Macys,Lord and Taylors and today even in Crate and Barrel 3 Malaysian wives with 8 flunkies.Bloomingdales is ringed by big black cars.APEC eat your heart out.
    Back with a few NYC tips later.
     
  13. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
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    Well a few tips on NYC.We spend 2-6 weeks a year there.Our son lives in Manhattan and on October 5th his wife gave birth to our first granddaughter(we do have 4 surrogate grandkids who we will be taking to NYC for christmas).
    This time we went to the top of the rock.Much better view I thought than the Empire State.No queues.Fortunately a very clear day and we could see for miles and miles.
    Even before the rise of the Aussie dollar you could eat out in NYC without breaking the bank.Now it is so much easier.We went to restaurants where a 2 course meal for 2 plus a bottle of wine cost less than$A100.
    Sip sak on 2nd between 49 and 50th.Turkish restaurant that has really improved its performance though not now a real cheapie.
    Via Brasil on46th between 5th and 6th Ave.Great mussels and pretty good Paella.Very good service.
    Virgils.A tourist classic in Times Square.Pretty good American BBQ.The ribs were great.Took my neice and partner as she was in town having scored an internship with the UN.
    Sunday brunch was at the Cowgirl Cafe on Hudson at west 10th.Brunch is an American pastime and this one was pretty good.
    For really cheap restaurants try the East chain.We go to the one on 46th between2nd and 3rd.Japanese,pretty good quality and cheap.
    Mee Noodle House on 2nd at 49th.Very cheap,tasty chinese.
    Well the time has come to and end in the USA.Off to JFK and Iberia to Madrid and on to Venice.The J seat I liked.The service atrocious.The meal inedible and because we told them so didnt get breakfast.The AVOD crashed.So have rethought our 2008 plans and will avoid IB.
    Then the Dali lounge in Madrid.We both thought a shower would be nice but told we couldnt have one because of technical problems.Then watched several Spaniards being allowed in.Fortunately the MAD-VCE leg was uneventful.Though when we got to VCE I thought the fact that the baggage carousl was done up as a roulette wheel was a bad omen.Fortunately our bags came down on the right colour although a few anxious moments as they were nearly last off.Next instalment Italy.
     
  14. Keith009

    Keith009 Established Member

    Mar 6, 2005
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    Cheers for the dining recommendations in NYC, drron. I'd be sure to check out some of those places on my next visit. Mmm...ribs. :)

    Look fwd to the rest of the TR. :)
     
  15. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
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    Well now on my Italian adventure.Decided on arriving in Venice that a water taxi was best although dearest way to go.E100 to Hilton Molino Stucky.However got a good driver who took us an indirect route through some of the smaller canals and had a good intro to Venice.Hilton staff at dock to schlepp the bags(cant get NY out of the system).On arrival in the lobby there were queues at check in but having arrived by water taxi they assume you may be important and an assistant manager came out from behind the desk.Gave our name to be told we were expected and up to the exec. lounge for check in.This was a stay on points.175000 for 6 nights.One of the benefits of diamond status.The hotel was full as grand opening was on in 6 days and 2 large conferences on so whole of venice booked out.Yet put into a large canalside room on exec.floor.
    The lounge is not the most attractive but very functional.Virtually no windows as this was a refurb of a heritage building so obviously guest rooms could not have gone in this place.Fine selection of foods throughout the day.breakfast fruit selection extraordinary so although could have used downstairs restaurant any day we stayed in the lounge.alcohol available from lunch with sarnies and rolls.Great selection of cakes and pastries in afternoon and a good selection of small savouries at night.Great staff and very efficient.
    Everyday we got a selection of fresh fruit in the room plus bottled water.First night had dinner in the Il Molino restaurant-the a la Carte side.good enough food not great and although expensive not really more so than Italy as a whole except wine-but then we were sufficiently replete from the lounge.
    Another night went to their better restaurant-Aromi.This was much better with very good food and great service.3 courses,bottle wine plus desert wine was E180.However I felt this was good value for Europe so we asked about coming back the next night and having a table next to the window.No need booking we were told,if you come at 7.30 you can have your choice of tables.Arrived the next night to find reserved signs on most tables.Now mrsdrron is no slouch in letting people know she is disappointed and she doesnt have to say a word.The Maitre'D therfore told her they were booked by the GM as the official opening was the next day.Big mistake as a couple arrived early and shown to one of the window tables-americans we had spent some time with in the lounge.Restaurant manager was called so our meal was comped.At least mrsdrron went to her room happy which mens drron was happy.
    As I was attending one of the conferences not an excessive time for sightseeing.One day got a 12 hour pass on the vaporetto for E13.single ticket is E6.Went to Murano,burano etc and had a great day.Especially Murano where their were a lot less tourists.Several restaurants so we lunched there.Burano is prettier but lots of day trippers and therefore more crowded and menus were pricier.When we went over to Venice itself it is good just to go wandering and get lost.It truly is a maze.Interesting to see water police,ambulance boats and even a hearse going up the Grand Canal.
    The Hilton has a vary good shuttle service from 6.50am until 2am and every half hour with 3 or 4 missed services with change of shifts and refuelling.
    A great stay.Next off by Eurostar to Rome.Absolutely no problems and a very smooth ride.Next instalment Rome and the Hilton Cavalieri.
     
  16. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
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    Arrived at the Cavalieri rome hilton and proceeded to the hhonors desk.You need a key to get to lounge.A gold member was checking in and being told he was being upgraded to a city view room on 5th floor but no lounge access.As soon as I lined up another agent came out to take care of us.On giving my name she says come this way drron we have a special checkin for you-should have seen mr golds jaw drop.Details taken at desk separate to general checkin then taken to 7th floor and introduced to lounge staff before taken to room.Wonderful large room with view over Old rome and Vatican.Truly magnificent.Room comes with a privacy door which cuts down outside noise tremendously.A pillow menu with 20 choices,even a soap menu.Bottle of the fizzy stuff with some lovely Italian pastries were waiting for us.
    Lounge was good but I have experienced better.Again great views with tables on the balconies-always occupied by those on the wrong side of the hotel.Best part was finishing the night with a great selection of Grappa-sure lets you sleep well.
    Next morning off to the Vatican museums which we had booked direct.They give you a time to turn up so not even the waiting in the group tour line.As well at end of tour can exit to St.Peters basilica and bypass most of the lines there.Went back next day for a tour of the Vatican Gardens.
    Found a nice restaurant close to the Vatican on via germanico-Dal Toscano.Reasonably cheap,reasonable food and a wonderful Funghi special as it was porcini mushroom season.They were so good we went back again.
    Sunday was our history day-starting off on the Palatine Hill as there is a ticket office there so you can get your ticket to the Colosseum and again bypass the queues.1900 hundred years and I doubt they build stadiums any better.Next a ramble through the Roman ruins and then to campo Di Fiore where a morning market is held.A forgettable lunch at La Carbonara on the square.The people watching was great though.A walk back to the Hilton shuttle bus via P.Navona,the Pantheon and Trevi fountain. That night we had dinner at IL bagatto just near the Hilton.Food was good,price certainly less than the Hilton and they too have dining on a large balcony with good views of Rome.Also close to the Hilton is P.Medaglie D'oro where there is another restaurant,pastry shops,gelatteria as well as a post office and banks.If you are on a budget you can catch a bus from here into Rome.
    The highlight of the stay was dining at La Pergola on the roof of the Cavieleri.This is a 3 Michelin hat restaurant and the food and service was absolutely fantastic.E195 for a 9 course tasting menu but worth every penny.The last 2 courses were a cheese selection where a trolley of about 40 cheeses is brought to your table and you can have as much as you want.However to have too much would be a great error as the last course is The Grand Desert.WE counted 22 different deserts,fortunately mostly small but including a magnificent white chocolate souffle.
    Our time came to an end and we had to make our way to FCO on our way to BKK via HKG.
     
  17. parsonstrish

    parsonstrish Active Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    654
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    queensland
    I'm really enjoying your trip report, always makes it that even more interesting when you've been to some of the places being discussed.

    I loved the hilton Cavalieri and sounds as tho. we had similar room with same view. I am gold and was told by the receptionist that I wouldn't have access to the lounge as too many guests but when I queried it, one of the other staff advised the receptionist I would have access.

    One thing I'm learning on this trip is how friendly and helpful the yanks are and that their personas overseas from their country does not paint a true picture.
     
  18. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
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    Had a very quick trip to FCO from the Cavilieri.Why is it that the Italians who dawdle when they walk,Take hours off in the middle of the day and take hours over meals turn into F1 drivers behind the wheel.OK so 160 clicks is safe in a Merc but on a crowded freeway.Even more frightening were those who passed us.Still arrived in one piece.FCO to me was a shambles of an airport.Queues and crowds but no order.Immigration was on a par with Athens although there when arriving some walked off the plane and out a gate in the perimeter fence.Here at Immigration the fellow stopped talking long enough to the admittedly very attractive colleague,looked at our unopened passports and said Australian-through you go.
    The multi airline lounge wasnt too bad-didnt want to sclepp the bags back to the BA lounge.I keep selecting CX flights after seeing a lot of encouraging write ups.Now our 5th sector on CX J and finally scoring the fully reclining seat.Previously overnight HKG-DBX in a regional seat was a bit of a nightmare.The seat however was too hard for me and no sleep again.Service was a bit haphazard and food not that great.However you certainly make it up with the HKG lounges.On this occasion the last time we will use the business lounge as will make Explat in December.However a great shower makes up for a lack of sleep and off on the short sector to BKK-in the same aircraft that brought us from Rome.
    I fully concur with John-K.Thailand always makes me feel welcome and i am looking forward to the 6 nights recuperation besides the Chao-Praya.First time into the new airport and the first impression is of the long walk to Immigration and baggage.Things go smoothly and soon into the limo to the Millenium Hilton.A rather laid back driver compared to Rome.He only hits 130 clicks.
    Arrival into Hilton about 2pm and taken up to our suite on the 29th floor for our in room check in.A word of advice especially if you are diamond honors.Always book a cancellable rate and keep checking the website.Had booked about 11 months out and rates had kept going up.However 6 weeks out it came up may be available with diamond force.Luckily I checked as an Executive suite was $US30 less than our rate for an ordinary room-why take the risk of an upgrade?The lounge is much busier-first stay was only 2 weeks after opening,food selection and quantities not as good and wine service has been shortened.View from lounge still impresses me.
    I enjoy the river shuttle to either River City where mrsdrrons jeweller is.We usually take opals or other stones and have them set here-really good work at about 30% of aussie prices.Also the leisurely trip to the skytrain which makes getting around Bangkok so easy.Once again great shopping and food at very reasonable prices though our favourite vietnamese restaurant disappeared for this visit.You can still see the old Bangkok from the Hilton even if only the markets next door.However if you walk straight out of the Hilton and walk straight up the road opposite you will see sights that very few tourists now see.It is with a heavy heart we check out for the final stop in Singapore
     
  19. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
    15,876
    Sunshine Coast
    Well blow me down.CX reads AFF.No sooner have I denigrated them and they come up with the perfect reply.Walked up to the business class checkin at BKK and called over to the first class checkin as noone there.All was going as per routine until agent hands over the boarding passes and says "I hope you dont mind i have upgraded you to first class this morning".Is this woman silly?of course i dont mind.Quick off to the lounge before thy change their mind.
    The CX lounge at the G concourse is a combined fist and business lounge but it is right next to the departure gate,only 4 other people there and they have the champagne and dim sum out so we stay.
    On boarding-a real shambles as they first announce they will be boarding by rows from the rear creating a mass stampede for the gate but then say first and business classes to board first so you fight your way through the hordes-I find my seat is having a malfunction repaired.The FA comes straight up and says drron could I get you to wait in the front,i do apologise so could i bring you a glass of champagne.well the sun is over the yardarm in BNE so why not.When all is fixed and I am seated she comes to me again with apologies and asks whether I would like to sample all the wines they are serving this morning.Boy her info was spot on.Lets see I've already had the taittinger so thats 2 french whites,2 grand cru reds and an older spanish red-well why not.I cant tell you about the spanish red as the second of the french reds was just great and I continued on with that.Food was definitely a cut above that of business class though if you did need to cut it you did have real knives anyway.Service was fantastic.
    Only two problems.Firstly a flight of only just over 2 hours.Next mrsdrron announces that this is the way she wishes to fly in the future.Anyone with some red hot investment tips?
     
  20. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    17,721
    15,876
    Sunshine Coast
    Well coming to the end of a very enjoyable trip.We used to go to Singapore every year through the 80's but exchange rates and progress caught up and Thailand became our preferred Asian destination.This is the first time back in 11 years.Changi just as efficient as before.Only 2 off before us and 1 made a stop and the other picked the wrong Immigration queue.We were through just a few minutes after arrival at the gate but by the time we reached the baggage carousel our cases were already going around.Straight out the door into a cab and 40 minutes after touchdown we are in our room at the Conrad being checked in.Not on exec floor but lounge access.
    Mrsdrron suggests we must go back to Peoples park in Chinatown as in the 80's she bought numerous items of gold jewellery there at not much more than the gold price.Told her that was not going to happen this time but wouldnt you know it at the 10th jewellers we visit the fellow obviously has had insufficient sales,went to adelaide uni and we showed him our pictures of our half chinese surrogate grandkids and he comes up with a great deal-a little less than 15% above the gold content of a necklace.Well I know better than to refuse mrsdrron so a quick detour to get some more $S.
    Little did I know it was about to get worse.Off to Orchard road and Takayshima are having a basement sale.Mrsdrron comes away with handbags by balenciaga and charles Jourdan at 70% off.Handbags are the new shoes on this trip.So I thought we had better get back to the Conrad quick.However getting off the MRT at City Hall the ever alert mrsdrron spies a Robinsons department store and naturally we have to go in.There are the Samsonite carryons we have been thinking would be good at 70% off.Well this time I cant complain as our current ones are getting way to heavy to schlepp long distances around airports so one will become our third checked bag,the other fits easily within one of the new ones.
    I have fond memories of eating in Singapore and apart from one meal it doesnt disappoint.The first night we thought we would just go to the Gluttons hawker centre near the Conrad which are billed as the 10 best of Singapores old hawkers.Probably the 10 best of what was left over after 90% had already relocated.
    The Conrad gives us a generous late checkout so able to have a full day then shower and change before heading off to Changi for QF52 home.Not as good asI expected.The airbus seats seem much more uncomfortable than those on the good old boeings especially the cover which finishes half way across my backside so impossible to find a comfortable position when upright.Meal was quite acceptable but waiting half an hour for it to be cleared when I wanted to become supine was not.
    Finally back home.Fortunately no great bills,only the BAS to quickly fill out and pay.with retirement this has become a lot simpler.Now only a quick trip to Griffith and a week back in the Isa before heading back to NYC in December for christmas with our new granddaughter born this month.
    Will put the finishimg touches to our circle Asia trip in May and complete the planning for a Global Explorer trip in August visiting IPC,quito,the Galapagos and Amazon rainforest then on to some retail therapy in Florida before getting back to NYC.A quick sidetrip to YYZ for business then 2 weeks in Spain on the way home.Not however going to use IB but instead Aa to london and use the EVIP's I shoud get at years end.
     
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