Tags: London, NYE
Went to Albert Embankment near Lambeth Bridge to watch London’s fireworks. As they explode from the Eye on the same side you get a partial view but that’s fine.
Overall they were decent but not breath taking. It does make me wonder why London doesn’t make greater use of the buildings, river barges and bridges to make it a real spectacle alongside other major cities.
Glad I went to them but not something I have to rush back to.
Tags: New York, NYC, Travel, USA
This was at the end of a month of travel so was a chance to relax and wind down before returning to work so not much happened but that was great.
- Highline park – walked along the former rail line that’s now a park to get an above ground view of New York, the only problem is that it is narrow so it can get cramped at times, but it was very cool
- Brooklyn Smorgasburg – made it over to Brooklyn to check out an open air market, I bought a pie shake from Butter & Scotch. It’s literally a piece of (sweet) pie blended with ice cream that you can then drink. Very heavy but good. On a fine day it’s very pleasant to walk around and look over at the Manhattan skyline.
- Kinky Boots – watched this Tony award winning musical and enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away. Possibly because the happiness of the musical was soured by already knowing the reality of what happened to the people involved. Similarly none of the numbers made me want to go home and buy them. If you can get a decent price on a ticket do give it a go.
I enjoyed my brief time here catching up with various friends, trying faux cronut cronuts (ie I don’t remember the retailer and what they called it) and going from massive buildings like central station to the relaxation of central park.
Tags: Philadelphia, Travel, USA
- Eastern Penitentiary - take a few hours to listen to the audio guide and check out this abandoned prison, plenty of nooks, crannies and anecdotes to immerse yourself with
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Rocky steps) – the iconic “Rocky” steps were still getting plenty of use and photos by people (most of whom probably weren’t around when that came out). By the time I got to the museum it was quite late in the day and having already gone to a few galleries I gave the museum a miss (especially as I didn’t want to pay too!). Unfortunately I didn’t realise that on Wednesday’s it was open later and after 5 you can pay what you like. D’oh!
- Liberty Bell – Not a lot of information but does cover its creation, how it became iconic and its general history. The bell itself is smaller than I expected too! It may be hard to see it if there are many tourists or tourist groups in the way.
- Independence Hall – make sure you pick up a ticket first at the visitor centre on the far side of the park (hopefully there are some available), the tour is good and worth it and doesn’t take too long. You can also check out some of the other displays in the area or some other presentations. I didn’t though.
- National Constitution Center – large building, check out the live action presentation and then the displays about the constitution, its development, current status and implementation. I thought it might be quite kiddy focused but was pretty interesting and well presented.
- Reading Terminal Market – Large indoor food market with lots of lunch options, had my first hoagie and also an Amish doughnut
- Mutter Museum – relatively expensive compared to most other places I’d been to but at this medical museum you can find a number of oddities like slices of Einstein’s brain or books made with human skin. It and Magic Gardens were recommended by a local so something off the usual tourism path.
- Magic Gardens – I walked past at night so didn’t get the full effect, however a number of buildings in this district have colourful mosaics, a bit weird but neat to check out
- Jim’s – another local recommendations for one of the famous Philly cheeseteaks. Give it a go and walk around the area there are quite a few cool shops around South Street.
- 30th Street Station – wonderful interior for a station
There’s quite a bit to do in Philadelphia with things across the city and there’s even more than on this list. It’s great to walk around and explore.
Tags: Travel, USA, Wilmington
On my way to Philadelphia from Baltimore I took a slight detour with a few hours in Wilmington, Delaware. Probably the only time I’ll make it to Delaware. There doesn’t seem to be a lot going on here, it was quiet!
Walked the riverfront – it’s narrow and meandering and I imagine on some nights the pathway along it which has the odd eatery could be quite active but mid morning on a weekday not so much and there wasn’t a whole lot to keep your attention
Delaware History Museum – very interesting museum charting the history of Delaware and Wilmington
Overall there didn’t seem to be many things going on or things to do although I did wander past a lunch time market that looked nice.
Tags: Baltimore, Travel, USA
- Star Spangled Banner House – place where the flag which inspired the US national anthem was made, relatively small museum but quite interesting (for example the amount paid for the flag was a huge sum but they think the woman who made it actually lost out when you factor in the price of materials)
- Baltimore Civil War Museum – small museum covering the civil war period in Baltimore, interesting as Maryland would likely have split from the Union had the military not intervened and the federal government suspended habeas corpus
- Historic Ships – you can look through all of the ships or just a selection. I went through one of the subs, the lighthouse and the “lightship”, they were neat and I was happy with it but probably would have swapped the lightship for a tall ship. That or just pay extra and walk through the other ships (all depending on what your level of interest is).
- Federal Hill Park – park overlooking the main city skyline and quite relaxing
- Fort McHenry – unfortunately I didn’t make it here but if you get the chance it looks like it would be very interesting
Overall I was only here for a day but it was pleasant, particularly as I hadn’t scheduled a lot to do and it was also the first day in the US that wasn’t hot (possibly benefiting from the air coming off the harbor).
Tags: DC, Travel, USA, Washington
Washington DC 2013:
- The WhiteHouse – if you want to limit the number of randoms in your photos of the WhiteHouse do try and get there early, it’s as iconic in person as you’d expect
- American History Museum – Lots of useful American history pieces from technology and pop culture to the original star spangled banner.
- Natural History Museum – A great natural history museum with animals and human ancestors from various time periods
- National Archives – find the declaration of independence, constitution and bill of rights here, which is all very powerful. There are other exhibits here from the archives as well.
- National Gallery of Art – art and more art with quite a cool atrium on the upper level as well.
- National Portrait Gallery – very interesting and offers personal stories which provides a more personal view of the US that is very engaging. Do take the time to read through as much of the civil war section as you can as there’ll be less text in later areas.
- GeorgeTown – Lots of small shops and red brick buildings provide a more laid back atmosphere (unless you’re queueing at that cupcake shop that’s on TV)
- Congress – I booked a ticket online to get a tour of congress, it was interesting but if you didn’t pre-book and had to wait in line I might not consider it as you only go to some areas and not the high profile ones like the Chambers. Nonetheless you’re still in one of the most important buildings in the world!
- Native American Museum – Several people recommended the museum specifically for the food in the canteen and indeed it was good. The museum for the most part talks about the general experience of Native Americans as well as providing information on each grouping. Unfortunately because there are so many groups it can be difficult to read even the high level sections when you’re pressed for time. Still for someone with limited knowledge this was a useful museum.
- Air and Space Museum – if I hadn’t gone to the California Science Center I would have spent many more hours here exploring but luckily from a time perspective I could be more efficient and just wander through and pick and choose, still lots of cool exhibits.
A trip to DC would be incomplete without taking in some of its monuments:
- WW1 Memorial
- Korean Memorial
- Lincoln Monument
- Vietnam Memorial
- Reflecting Pool
- WW2 memorial
- Washington Monument
- Jefferson Monument
The Jefferson and Lincoln monuments in particular are great to walk through. When I visited the Washington Monument was still closed to the public but it’s still quite visible from around the city.
Overall, there’s lots to do which means you might need to be efficient with your scheduling or limit your selection of museums. It was also great to catch up with friends too.
Tags: LA, Travel, USA
Los Angeles in 2013:
- Page Museum and tar pits – I’d always imagined the tar pits as being massive but they’re relatively small with main section. Although Variety’s building overlooks it. The museum which covers the items found in the pits is pretty interesting and doesn’t take too long to go through.
- LACMA – LA’s museum of art is a complex of several buildings and has an array of art crossing time periods and geography, feel free to take a wander
- California Science Center – A science museum with exhibits covering space, exploration, nature, the body and a host of other topics. It also has one of the shuttles, the Endeavour, it was truly remarkable to stand by this feat of engineering. The imax experience was pretty cool too.
- Griffith Observatory – we didn’t go to any of the exhibits inside the observatory it was nonetheless very cool to stand by the observatory and look out over the city and also back towards the mountains and the Hollywood sign
- Hollywood Walk of Fame – we weren’t able to find a parking spot so just drove by the walk of fame and the other sights along the strip, did see a few of the pavement stones as we drove past, that was enough for me given the odds of actually finding a star for an actor I may know
- Paley Center for Media – when I went they had a display from various television shows including set pieces and props, which was quite cool
- Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach – quite a bit of a walk but the weather was good and it was great to walk in the water on the other side of the Pacific as well. The people watching was excellent too.
Overall I liked LA and it had a decent variety of tourism options. I enjoyed catching up with my friend and was very lucky that they were able to take me around some places as well (public transport is ok in some places but not most).
Tags: Australia, Brisbane, Travel
While back in Brisbane I took the chance to catch up with friends in the city, on the Gold Coast and swim in the Pacific at Noosa. All very relaxing so there wasn’t much tourist activity taking place, except for:
Mana Bar – Video game themed bar in Brisbane ’nuff said.
Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary – The sanctuary looks after injured Koalas, there aren’t many and it doesn’t take too long to go through the exhibits but it’s pleasant to walk around the sanctuary and if you wanted to, for several more hours around the large bush area that surrounds it.
Tags: Australia, Melbourne, Travel
In 2013 I went back to Australia for the first time in three years for a wedding and took the opportunity to visit Melbourne for the first time. Long haul flights are not my friend so inevitably I was incredibly jet lagged, which may colour my opinions.
As for Melbourne I went to:
- The Queen Victoria Market - Lots of stalls when I got there quite early most of the outdoor ones hadn’t opened yet but inside there was a lot of activity and I wish I was hungry enough to buy all the food
- National Gallery of Victoria - it’s a decent representation but sorry to say nothing here blew me away (spoilt from London I guess)
- Shrine of Remembrance – monumental structure to remember those who died in war with a museum underneath it. From the top you can go outside and get some great view.
- Botanical Gardens – get your fill of nature and greenery here
- St Kilda and the Esplanade – it was a very windy day as I walked to St Kilda and along the esplanade but I imagine on a sunny day it would be very relaxing
- Federation Square: Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Ian Potter Centre – ACMI had some interesting exhibits on changing media in Australia and the world from radio, TV, film and new digital forms like the internet. The IPC is an Australian art gallery that was interesting but nothing made me want to go and buy a print from the shop.
Overall I thought Melbourne was ok and the winding laneways offer lots of opportunites but the river didn’t offer the same impact as Sydney Harbour. Having said that I only saw a small portion of it and was quite tired so I could have just missed the spot that really sells the city.