Searching for locations: New York, again

After arriving latish from Toronto, and perhaps marginally disappointed that while in Toronto, the ice hockey didn’t go our way, we slept in.

Of course, the arrival was not without its own problems. The room we were allocated was on the 22nd floor and was quite smallish. Not a surprise, but we needed space for three, and with the fold-out bed, it was tight but livable.

Except…

We needed the internet to watch the Maple Leafs ice hockey game. We’d arrive just in time to stream it to the tv.

But…

There was no internet. It was everywhere else in the hotel except our floor.

First, I went to the front desk and they directed me to call tech support.

Second, we called tech support and they told us that the 22nd-floor router had failed and would get someone to look at it.

When?

It turns out it didn’t seem to be a priority. Maybe no one else on the floor had complained

Third, I went downstairs and discussed the lack of progress with the night duty manager, expressing disappointment with the lack of progress.

I also asked if they could not provide the full service that I would like a room rate reduction or a privilege in its place as compensation.

He said he would check it himself.

Fourth, after no further progress, we called the front desk to advise there was still no internet. This time we were asked if we wanted a room on another floor, where the internet is working. We accepted the offer.

The end result, a slightly larger, less cramped room, and the ability to watch the last third of the Maple Leaf’s game. I can’t remember if we won.

We all went to bed reasonably happy.

After all, we didn’t have to get up early to go up or down to breakfast because it was not included in the room rate, a bone of contention considering the cost.

I’ll be booking with them directly next time, at a somewhat cheaper rate, a thing I find after using a travel wholesaler to book it for me.

As always every morning while Rosemary gets ready, I go out for a walk and check out where we are.

It seems we are practically in the heart of theaterland New York. Walk one way or the other you arrive at 7th Avenue or Broadway.

Walk uptown and you reach 42nd Street and Times Square, little more than a 10-minute leisurely stroll. On the way down Broadway, you pass a number of theatres, some recognizable, some not.

Times Square is still a huge collection of giant television screens advertising everything from confectionary to TV shows on the cable networks.

A short walk along 42nd street takes you to the Avenue of the Americas and tucked away, The Rockefeller center and its winter ice rink.

A few more steps take you to 5th Avenue and the shops like Saks of Fifth Avenue, shops you could one day hope to afford to buy something.

In the opposite direction, over Broadway and crossing 8th Avenue is an entrance to Central Park. The approach is not far from what is called the Upper West Side, home to the rich and powerful.

Walk one way in the park, which we did in the afternoon, takes you towards the gift shop and back along a labyrinth of laneways to 5th Avenue. It was a cold, but pleasant, stroll looking for the rich and famous, but, discovering, they were not foolish enough to venture out into the cold.

Before going back to the room, we looked for somewhere to have dinner and ended up in Cassidy’s Irish pub. There was a dining room down the back and we were one of the first to arrive for dinner service.

The first surprise, our waitress was from New Zealand.

The second, the quality of the food.

I had a dish called Steak Lyonnaise which was, in plain words, a form of mince steak in an elongated patty. It was cooked rare as I like my steak and was perfect. It came with a baked potato.

As an entree, we had shrimp, which in our part of the world are prawns, and hot chicken wings, the sauce is hot and served on the side.

The beer wasn’t bad either. Overall given atmosphere, service, and food, it’s a nine out of ten.

It was an excellent way to end the day.

Searching for locations: New York, again

After arriving latish from Toronto, and perhaps marginally disappointed that while in Toronto, the ice hockey didn’t go our way, we slept in.

Of course, the arrival was not without its own problems. The room we were allocated was on the 22nd floor and was quite smallish. Not a surprise, but we needed space for three, and with the fold-out bed, it was tight but livable.

Except…

We needed the internet to watch the Maple Leafs ice hockey game. We’d arrive just in time to stream it to the tv.

But…

There was no internet. It was everywhere else in the hotel except our floor.

First, I went to the front desk and they directed me to call tech support.

Second, we called tech support and they told us that the 22nd-floor router had failed and would get someone to look at it.

When?

It turns out it didn’t seem to be a priority. Maybe no one else on the floor had complained

Third, I went downstairs and discussed the lack of progress with the night duty manager, expressing disappointment with the lack of progress.

I also asked if they could not provide the full service that I would like a room rate reduction or a privilege in its place as compensation.

He said he would check it himself.

Fourth, after no further progress, we called the front desk to advise there was still no internet. This time we were asked if we wanted a room on another floor, where the internet is working. We accepted the offer.

The end result, a slightly larger, less cramped room, and the ability to watch the last third of the Maple Leaf’s game. I can’t remember if we won.

We all went to bed reasonably happy.

After all, we didn’t have to get up early to go up or down to breakfast because it was not included in the room rate, a bone of contention considering the cost.

I’ll be booking with them directly next time, at a somewhat cheaper rate, a thing I find after using a travel wholesaler to book it for me.

As always every morning while Rosemary gets ready, I go out for a walk and check out where we are.

It seems we are practically in the heart of theaterland New York. Walk one way or the other you arrive at 7th Avenue or Broadway.

Walk uptown and you reach 42nd Street and Times Square, little more than a 10-minute leisurely stroll. On the way down Broadway, you pass a number of theatres, some recognizable, some not.

Times Square is still a huge collection of giant television screens advertising everything from confectionary to TV shows on the cable networks.

A short walk along 42nd street takes you to the Avenue of the Americas and tucked away, The Rockefeller center and its winter ice rink.

A few more steps take you to 5th Avenue and the shops like Saks of Fifth Avenue, shops you could one day hope to afford to buy something.

In the opposite direction, over Broadway and crossing 8th Avenue is an entrance to Central Park. The approach is not far from what is called the Upper West Side, home to the rich and powerful.

Walk one way in the park, which we did in the afternoon, takes you towards the gift shop and back along a labyrinth of laneways to 5th Avenue. It was a cold, but pleasant, stroll looking for the rich and famous, but, discovering, they were not foolish enough to venture out into the cold.

Before going back to the room, we looked for somewhere to have dinner and ended up in Cassidy’s Irish pub. There was a dining room down the back and we were one of the first to arrive for dinner service.

The first surprise, our waitress was from New Zealand.

The second, the quality of the food.

I had a dish called Steak Lyonnaise which was, in plain words, a form of mince steak in an elongated patty. It was cooked rare as I like my steak and was perfect. It came with a baked potato.

As an entree, we had shrimp, which in our part of the world are prawns, and hot chicken wings, the sauce is hot and served on the side.

The beer wasn’t bad either. Overall given atmosphere, service, and food, it’s a nine out of ten.

It was an excellent way to end the day.

Searching for locations: The Mary Valley Rattler, Gympie, Queensland, Australia

I have a passion for visiting transport museums, to see old trains, planes, buses, cars, even ships if it’s possible.

This has led to taking a number of voyages on the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Many, many, many years ago on Puffing Billy, a steam train in the Dandenongs, Victoria, Australia.

The steam train in Kingston, New Zealand, before it was closed down, but hopefully it will reopen sometime in the future.

The London Transport Museum in London England, which had a lot of buses.

The Workshops Railway Museum in Ipswich, Queensland, where once the many steam engines were built and maintained, and now had only a handful of engines remaining.

However, in the quest for finding and experiencing old transportation methods, we came across the Mary Valley Rattler, which runs out of Gympie, Queensland, Australia.

The ride begins in Gympie at the old Gympie Railway station, and as can be seen below, is one of the relics of the past, and, nothing like the new more modern stations.  Thankfully.

If you’re going to have a vintage train, then you have to have a vintage station.

The Class of engine, seen below, is the C17, a superheated upgrade to the C16 it was based on, and first run in 1903.  This particular engine was built in 1951, although the first of its type was seen in  1920 and the last of 227 made in 1953.  It was the most popular of the steam engines used by Queensland Railways.

The C designation meant it had four driving axels and 17 was the diameter of the cylinder, 17 inches.  It is also known as a 4-8-0 steam locomotive
 and nicknamed one of the “Brown Bombers” because of its livery, brown with green and red trimming.

Also, this engine was built in Maryborough, not far from Gympie by Walkers Limited, one of 138.

This photo was taken as the train returned from Amamoor, a trip that takes up to an hour.

The locomotive is detached from the carriages, then driven to the huge turntable to turn around for the return journey to Amamoor.

This is the locomotive heading down to the water station, and then taking on water.  After that, it will switch lines, and reverse back to reconnect the carriages for the trip to Amamoor.

The carriages are completely restored and are extremely comfortable.  It brings back, for me, many memories of riding in older trains in Melbourne when I was a child.

The trains, then, were called Red Rattlers.

This is the locomotive climbing one of the hilly parts of the line before crossing over the Mary River on a trestle bridge.

This is the engine at Amamoor near the picnic area where young children and excited parents and grandparents can get on the locomotive itself and look inside where the driver sits.

And, no, I didn’t volunteer to shovel coal.

This particular locomotive spent most of its working life between Townsville and Mount Isa and was based in Cloncurry, Charters Towers, and Townsville, before being sent, at the end of its useful days in the late 1960s, to the Ipswich Railway Workshops.

Searching for locations: From the Presidential Suite to almost walking the plank, Auckland, New Zealand

This is something you don’t see every day of the week, or once in a lifetime, perhaps.

We arrived at the Hilton Auckland hotel somewhere between one and two in the morning after arriving from Australia by plane around midnight.

Sometimes there is a benefit in arriving late, and, of course, being a very high tier HHonors guest, where the room you book is upgraded.

This stay we got one hell of a surprise.

We got to spend the night in the Presidential Suite.

The lounge and extra bathroom.

Looking towards the private bathroom.

A bathroom fit for a King and a Queen

And the royal bed

There was a note to say that we should keep the blinds closed for privacy and that a ship would be arriving in the port, but I did not expect it to be literally fifty feet from our balcony.

aucklandhotelandship

It’s hot outside, time for a moment of nostalgia before the doom and gloom

Whilst I can’t be where I would like to be, it’s not that bad inside thanks to the air conditioning.

And I’m studying up on how far I would need to wind down the air conditioner in order for it to snow inside the house.

A foolish notion maybe, but oddly enough living in a country where most of the inhabitants rarely see snow, if at all, Hollywood has a lot to answer for my expectations of a white Christmas.

But, venturing outside for no reason, in particular, the heat hits you as bad as if you walked into a brick wall.

It reminds me of the first time we visited Singapore, the plane arrived around midnight, and we were heading to an overnight hotel before picking up the next leg into London.

Yes, another trip to the cold side of the world.

We thought, late at night, how hot could it be. We soon found out. The short walk from the terminal to the waiting limousine was like wading through head-high water.

What does all this waffle have to do with anything?

Nothing.

Just wallowing in nostalgia.

I was once hoping with our impeccable COVID record, that places like New Zealand and Singapore might allow us to travel there again, but no. The government decided to open the borders to everyone and COVID came marching in.

I’ve lost count of the number of waves we’ve had, but now, unlike every other time, people are dying in larger numbers, and case numbers are heading for 7 figures, and for a country with only 28 million or so, that’s nearly one twenty-fifth of everyone.

Now we have so many people in isolation with Omicron, there’s no one left to work, so, no staff for cafes or supermarkets or essential services like hospitals and ambulances, no one to deliver the fuel (or anything else for that matter), no one to harvest and process the crops, in which case, it means we’ll be roughly in the equivalent of dire straits.

How long before the lights go out because there’s no one to tend the generators.

We were, and are, not prepared and never have been.

No one saw this coming? I think people just closed their eyes and made a wish that it would just go away because we had so many vaccinated. Sorry, doesn’t work that way. The vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting it, just helps not to let it kill you.

Now the Israelis are saying a fourth booster is useless against Omicron.

And, of course, Omicron is not the last of the variants. I’m sure there’s something nastier waiting in the wings. Sorry if I’m sounding despondent, but there’s isn’t any good news. None. Zip. Zero. Even our chief health officer, a person who should be trying to calm the population, is telling us everyone is going to get Omicron, and there are going to be deaths.

Wow!

I’ve locked myself away, trying to keep COVID at bay because of a compromised immune system, but my children, their partners, and partners’ families have all got it, and it’s far too close to home.

I can’t see how I’m going to dodge the bullet, and if I get it, then my chances of survival are small, even being triple vaccinated because all the studies prove the vaccine is useless against Omicron.

I was looking for a doomsday scenario for a book. The problem is, it’s here, right now, and I may not get to finish it.

Time to stop this, and get on with it.

Searching for locations: The Mary Valley Rattler, Gympie, Queensland, Australia

I have a passion for visiting transport museums, to see old trains, planes, buses, cars, even ships if it’s possible.

This has led to taking a number of voyages on the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Many, many, many years ago on Puffing Billy, a steam train in the Dandenongs, Victoria, Australia.

The steam train in Kingston, New Zealand, before it was closed down, but hopefully it will reopen sometime in the future.

The London Transport Museum in London England, which had a lot of buses.

The Workshops Railway Museum in Ipswich, Queensland, where once the many steam engines were built and maintained, and now had only a handful of engines remaining.

However, in the quest for finding and experiencing old transportation methods, we came across the Mary Valley Rattler, which runs out of Gympie, Queensland, Australia.

The ride begins in Gympie at the old Gympie Railway station, and as can be seen below, is one of the relics of the past, and, nothing like the new more modern stations.  Thankfully.

If you’re going to have a vintage train, then you have to have a vintage station.

The Class of engine, seen below, is the C17, a superheated upgrade to the C16 it was based on, and first run in 1903.  This particular engine was built in 1951, although the first of its type was seen in  1920 and the last of 227 made in 1953.  It was the most popular of the steam engines used by Queensland Railways.

The C designation meant it had four driving axels and 17 was the diameter of the cylinder, 17 inches.  It is also known as a 4-8-0 steam locomotive
 and nicknamed one of the “Brown Bombers” because of its livery, brown with green and red trimming.

Also, this engine was built in Maryborough, not far from Gympie by Walkers Limited, one of 138.

This photo was taken as the train returned from Amamoor, a trip that takes up to an hour.

The locomotive is detached from the carriages, then driven to the huge turntable to turn around for the return journey to Amamoor.

This is the locomotive heading down to the water station, and then taking on water.  After that, it will switch lines, and reverse back to reconnect the carriages for the trip to Amamoor.

The carriages are completely restored and are extremely comfortable.  It brings back, for me, many memories of riding in older trains in Melbourne when I was a child.

The trains, then, were called Red Rattlers.

This is the locomotive climbing one of the hilly parts of the line before crossing over the Mary River on a trestle bridge.

This is the engine at Amamoor near the picnic area where young children and excited parents and grandparents can get on the locomotive itself and look inside where the driver sits.

And, no, I didn’t volunteer to shovel coal.

This particular locomotive spent most of its working life between Townsville and Mount Isa and was based in Cloncurry, Charters Towers, and Townsville, before being sent, at the end of its useful days in the late 1960s, to the Ipswich Railway Workshops.

I fell asleep in front of the computer screen

And when I woke up, I realised that I had just had a very bad dream. Or don’t they call bad dreams nightmares?

Can you diagnose yourself as having depression?

Of course, if you were to tell someone else, in one of this very serious tones, “I think I have depression” they will ask you what you’ve got to be depressed about.

It’s a good question. My first answer would be, “why did the doctor put my on anti depressants?” You know the stuff they give you, some derivative of serapax,

Then, if you tell anyone you’re on that stuff, they turn around and tell you just how bad it is and get off it right now.

That’s all very well, but you tell them you still have depression, and so the argument goes on.

But…

These days, they use low doses of anti depressants to manage pain, and in my case back pain. The first pill they gave me was lyrica, which slowly took my memory away so that I couldn’t remember what anyone had said earlier in the day.

I thought I had early onset Alzheimer’s, or worse, dementia.

So I got off that, got the pain back, and moved to anti depressants. Now I’m seeing things.

That might help with the imagination for writing stories sometimes, but telling people you see the patterns on tiles moving is not a good start to any conversation.

Back to depression, though. It might be caused by being locked down and not being able to go anywhere, but that has never bothered me because I hate going out.

It might be a result of my childhood coming back to haunt me, and, believe me, you would not want the childhood I had, but it’s a maybe. A lot of old people find their past creeping up on them, and what happened 60 years ago seems more relevant than what happened 60 minutes ago.

You might think you’re badly done by, that everyone else is responsible for the mess you made of your life, if it is indeed a mess, but no, that isn’t true. My life is exactly what it’s meant to be, though how I got here remains the biggest of mysteries.

It’s why I’m writing the autobiography of a very ordinary nobody.

OK, that might be a hint, thinking I’m a nobody. After all, when I go out I always feel like I’m invisible.

A friend of mine tells me he always cries when there’s a sad part of a film on, and that’s his determination of depression.

I do too, but I don’t think it’s that.

After all, I did psychology and should understand the nuances of the human psyche, what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what makes us us.

So, rightly or wrongly I’ve stopped taking the anti depressants.

If suddenly my blog suddenly stops, you’ll know I’ve made the wrong decision.

It’s hot outside, time for a moment of nostalgia before the doom and gloom

Whilst I can’t be where I would like to be, it’s not that bad inside thanks to the air conditioning.

And I’m studying up on how far I would need to wind down the air conditioner in order for it to snow inside the house.

A foolish notion maybe, but oddly enough living in a country where most of the inhabitants rarely see snow, if at all, Hollywood has a lot to answer for my expectations of a white Christmas.

But, venturing outside for no reason, in particular, the heat hits you as bad as if you walked into a brick wall.

It reminds me of the first time we visited Singapore, the plane arrived around midnight, and we were heading to an overnight hotel before picking up the next leg into London.

Yes, another trip to the cold side of the world.

We thought, late at night, how hot could it be. We soon found out. The short walk from the terminal to the waiting limousine was like wading through head-high water.

What does all this waffle have to do with anything?

Nothing.

Just wallowing in nostalgia.

I was once hoping with our impeccable COVID record, that places like New Zealand and Singapore might allow us to travel there again, but no. The government decided to open the borders to everyone and COVID came marching in.

I’ve lost count of the number of waves we’ve had, but now, unlike every other time, people are dying in larger numbers, and case numbers are heading for 7 figures, and for a country with only 28 million or so, that’s nearly one twenty-fifth of everyone.

Now we have so many people in isolation with Omicron, there’s no one left to work, so, no staff for cafes or supermarkets or essential services like hospitals and ambulances, no one to deliver the fuel (or anything else for that matter), no one to harvest and process the crops, in which case, it means we’ll be roughly in the equivalent of dire straits.

How long before the lights go out because there’s no one to tend the generators.

We were, and are, not prepared and never have been.

No one saw this coming? I think people just closed their eyes and made a wish that it would just go away because we had so many vaccinated. Sorry, doesn’t work that way. The vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting it, just helps not to let it kill you.

Now the Israelis are saying a fourth booster is useless against Omicron.

And, of course, Omicron is not the last of the variants. I’m sure there’s something nastier waiting in the wings. Sorry if I’m sounding despondent, but there’s isn’t any good news. None. Zip. Zero. Even our chief health officer, a person who should be trying to calm the population, is telling us everyone is going to get Omicron, and there are going to be deaths.

Wow!

I’ve locked myself away, trying to keep COVID at bay because of a compromised immune system, but my children, their partners, and partners’ families have all got it, and it’s far too close to home.

I can’t see how I’m going to dodge the bullet, and if I get it, then my chances of survival are small, even being triple vaccinated because all the studies prove the vaccine is useless against Omicron.

I was looking for a doomsday scenario for a book. The problem is, it’s here, right now, and I may not get to finish it.

Time to stop this, and get on with it.

Searching for locations: From the Presidential Suite to almost walking the plank, Auckland, New Zealand

This is something you don’t see every day of the week, or once in a lifetime, perhaps.

We arrived at the Hilton Auckland hotel somewhere between one and two in the morning after arriving from Australia by plane around midnight.

Sometimes there is a benefit in arriving late, and, of course, being a very high tier HHonors guest, where the room you book is upgraded.

This stay we got one hell of a surprise.

We got to spend the night in the Presidential Suite.

The lounge and extra bathroom.

Looking towards the private bathroom.

A bathroom fit for a King and a Queen

And the royal bed

There was a note to say that we should keep the blinds closed for privacy and that a ship would be arriving in the port, but I did not expect it to be literally fifty feet from our balcony.

aucklandhotelandship

Searching for locations: Taurangi, it’s an interesting town

Located at the bottom of Lake Taupo, in New Zealand, staying here would make more sense if you were here for the fishing, and, well, the skiing or the hiking, or just a relaxing half hour in the thermal pools.

I saw a sign somewhere that said that Taurangi was New Zealand’s premier fishing spot. I might have got the wrong, but it seems to me they’re right. On the other side of town, heading towards Taupo, there’s a lodge that puts up fly fishermen, and where you can see a number of them in an adjacent river trying their luck.

It’s what I would be doing if I had the patience.

But Taurangi is a rather central place to stay, located at the southernmost point of the lake. From there it is not far from the snowfields of Whakapapa and Turoa. Equally, at different times of the year, those ski fields become walking or hiking tracks, and the opportunity to look into a dormant volcano, Ruapehu.

It is basically surrounded by hills and mountains on three sides and a lake on the other. Most mornings, and certainly everyone is different, there is a remarkable sunrise, particularly from where we were staying on the lake, where it could be cloudy, clear, or just cold and refreshing, with a kaleidoscope of colors from the rising sun.

I don’t think I’ve been there to see two days the same.

However, Taurangi, on most days we’ve visited, is even more desolate than Taupo, both on the main street and the central mall. The same couldn’t be said for the precinct where New World, the local supermarket, a Z petrol station can be found. There it is somewhat more lively. The fact there’s a few more shops and a restaurant might help traffic flow.

There is also a mini golf course, and in the middle of winter, it is a bleak place to be, especially in the threatening rain, and the wind. It had also seen better days and in parts, in need of a spruce up, but it’s winter, and there are no crowds, so I guess it will wait till the Spring.

In the mall, there’s the expected bank, newsagent, gift shop and post office combined, and a number of other gift shops/galleries. But the best place is the cafĂ© which I’ve never seen empty and has an extended range of pies pastries and cakes, along with the fast food staples of chips and chicken.
Oh, and you can also get a decent cup of coffee there.

There are two other coffee shops but we found this one the first time we came, we were given a warm welcome and assistance, and have never thought to go anywhere else, despite two known change of owners.

But despite all these reasons why someone might want to stay there, we don’t.

We have a timeshare, and there’s a timeshare in Pukaki called Oreti Village. That’s where we stay.