A Travellerspoint blog

June 2011


Lexington, Paris, Louisville - race horse heaven

overcast 25 °C
View North America 2011 on Seanjo's travel map.

Day 23

Arrived at Lexington, Blue Grass Airport and it made you feel very comfortable with the wonderful horse pictures and statues. Hired a car to have first driving experience in the USA. Got to Hotel, and checked into a nice King room - such a change from a little double bed in Miami, New York and LA. Settled in for the night so hubby could watch the last round of the US Open. Rory played wonderfully for all 4 rounds.
Sitting in the hotel looking at the maps of Lexington you soon realise this the horse breeding capital of USA. Knowing that, i got very excited of what we could see in the next couple of days.

Day 24

Had an awesome breakfast at the hotel, and set off for Claiborne farm. Claiborne Farm is just outside Paris, Kentucky. Small little town that didn't have too much happening on Monday morning. This was the farm where Secretariat was trained and spent his stallion career (and is now buried). Was great to get to tour this farm. We even got to pat the 2 race horses Pulpit & Blame, which was awesome (some even fed them peppermint candy - cos they love that) Quite a large tour group with lots of kids (but that happens). We then went to the Kentucky horse Park and saw the statues of Man O War, and Secretariat.
From there we headed to Ashford stud farm (part of Coolmore's stud farm), and saw Giant's causeway (the horse not the amazing part of ireland's landscape). The country side however does remind us a lot of ireland. Ashford stud was a brief tour and a lot more commerical enterprise. Took the easy option tonight microwave dinners and a good sleep.

Day 25

Drove to Louisville today, to see Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby). Was a very impressive race course, and Sean would visit every week if we lived here. He was in heaven. The history of the Kentucky Derby is amazing. We even spent 3 hours in the museum (which is a long time for me), but there was a lot to see and do. Had small feed here and Jack was a great waiter. Even gave us some tips on making Kentucky Burgoo. When the ingredients start with with 1 fat hen it has to make you laugh. Jack recommended we try the Derby Pie dessert. It was pecan pie with choc chips and raspberry sauce. (Making my mouth water right now!) It was so yummy, and Jack received & deserved a good tip after this service.
Then we stopped at White Castle, so Sean could say he (just like Harold and Kumar before him) had been to White Castle. Do need to say the burgers are small and not as good compared to maccas cheeseburger.
Also stopped at Keenland race course where the only race 2 months of the year but the biggest & best horse sales. The track a polytrack which was made from sand and shredded car tyres, very interesting.
We decided to explore the part of Lexington where we were staying, and shopped up a storm at Wal-Mart. What a great place. We then found a great pub/restaurant for dinner called Saul Good, to cap off our time in Kentucky. Great chance to test 4 beer's in 200ml glasses for 8 bucks. What a deal! Stephen was our waiter and he actually met a Aussie girl in Honolulu so you knows how Aussies talk :-). After great feed, we nibbled on junior mints and drank Pepsi Max at hotel.

Posted by Seanjo 11:42 Archived in USA Tagged downs churchill claiborne keenland ashford coolmore secretariat blame Comments (0)


South Beach, Everglades and Seaquarium

sunny 37 °C
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Day 19

By the time we got to Miami the day was almost over, so went for a walk to Lincoln Mall and found a nice restaurant for dinner. It's like hardware lane or Lygon St in Melbourne where people stand out the front trying to sell their menu to you. The thing you need to watch for is adding in tips and taxes.
We did find a really nice Italian restaurant and most places do a cocktail happy hour, which lasts for several hours. Food pretty good standard, and
The guy at the front desk of our hotel kindly booked us a trip to the everglades for the next day which should be good. Weather was hot & humid when we arrived so it really takes it out of you.

Day 20

Got on bus for Everglades tour, and are discovering that if you want a job in Miami you need to speak both Spanish and English. Along the way the bus driver (Mario) pointed out the island where Ricky Martin, and Shakira and almost every other latino stars have houses. Didn't take long to get to Everglades, and Mario got us our tickets for our airboat ride. Miami is going through quite a severe drought at the moment so the airboats cant take you far, but we got to see some gator's in the water and some baby ones on the river bank. Then we went for a walk around the park, and Jo got to hold a 1 metre long gator. We even tasted Gator, they have gator bites, which I would suggest taste more like pork than chicken. When we got back to the hotel the humidity got the best of us and we crashed out and watched the US Open golf on TV. By evening we got our energy back and headed back up to Lincoln Mall for dinner - and sampled another restaurant - again the food was good. Found Macy's department store and plenty of value here. Decided to book tour for Seaquarium for tomorrow.

Day 21

Same tour driver (Mario) picked us up for Seaquarium. After dropping off people for city and boat tours we were the only ones left on the bus going to Miami Seaquarium. We got to see all the dolphin/sealion/more dolphin and most impressive was the Killer Whale presentations. Well worth seeing!
If it was for all the school summer camps visiting we may have almost had that park to ourselves. We watched round 2 of US Open again seeing Rory tearing them up. Another hot & humid night.

Day 22

No real plans for today. Although Jo had a craving for a grilled calamari salad for lunch, so we set off in search for that, (without being harassed by a Maitre D trying to talk us into other cocktail happy hour). We found (of all places) a book store cafe which was brilliant, and would highly recommend it to anyone travelling to Miami - it's called Books and Books (and also in Lincoln Mall, South Beach). Jo also found Macy's again and found some more bargins. Washing and packing was on order for the night. Also found quality Japanese take away just down from hotel. Went down a treat. Prepare for Lexington Kentucky.

Posted by Seanjo 18:16 Archived in USA Tagged lincoln miami everglades seaquarium Comments (0)

New York

The big apple

all seasons in one day 26 °C
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Day 15

Today was not much of a day. We got a taxi to the airport, and not many people checking in, so got our boarding passes and through security quite quickly. Grabbed a bite to eat, and went to our terminal. We found out our flight was going to be delayed by 50 minutes, so we just had to wait it out. Once we got on the plane - they told us we weren't going to pull away from terminal for another 40 minutes. Then we started Taxiing to the runway, and had to wait another 45 minutes (due to bad weather in New York). We finally arrived in New York and ordered our shuttle. When we were picked up, we had to pick up a couple of people from another terminal. We started to leave the airport, only for one of the passengers to get a phone call to say they had collected the wrong luggage, so we had to go back, and send her back to customs. We finally made it to our hostel at 8.15pm (instead of 4.30pm) and the guy at the check in counter was having an argument with a lady wanting a room for an extra night, and him telling her there was no room for her and completely sold out. After the day we had we figured he was going to tell us he didn't have our booking, instead, he told us, that since we booked back in Feb, we could have it for the old price, not the new one - which would have cost us an extra $160 for our stay, so it ended well. We then went out to find somewhere for dinner - and came across an awesome Lasagne place and that was that. Sean is now Magic Hat's Number one customer, and lasagne will never be the same.

Day 16

A very slow start to day, with our European hostel friends having a very late one. How late you wonder 5am. Oh the youth of today! Breakfast from the hostel contained a bagel, fruit, cereal and a cuppa. After finishing this we decided to walk the streets of NYC. Being based on 20th we walked all the way up to 52nd & 7th. On our way we ran into the Puerto Rico street festival. There was was some fantastic costumes and cars in the parade. After viewing this for a few blocks we made our way back to Lasagne for their Brunch special. I had another Magic Hat and a Salmon omlette. Jo feasted on eggs benedict (not the same as home tho). Full of energy again we wander back up to 34th street so we could head to Macy's. Arriving at Macy's was crazy. Fathers day sales and i could only compare it to pirhana's feasting on fresh meat. Ended the day on a mircowave meal and watching the Tony awards, with Martha Stewart.

Day 17

Today started with a Bagel with jam and a cuppa. Plan was to visit South Ferry and work our way back to hostel. First plan of attack was find right subway. Finding this was so so. Arriving at South Ferry we just missing the Staten Island ferry so we decided to give it a miss since we did see Liberty in 2007. We had the photo session with the wall street bull. They should have a ticketing system cause it so dangerous standing with people who have no idea how crazy the yellow taxi drivers are. (we do love you) After the bull we headed to 9/11 memorial and the plans for the freedom towers. Good to see things are going forward. Now Brooklyn Bridge was the plan to walk, and we did it twice. Great sights and 2nd industrial wonder we have seen in this trip. After this we wanted to head to Clinton Street Bakery. Word had it, food was quality. After walking thru so very different areas (and listening to conversation's around us like "when did you get out of prison?") we made it. And the walk was worth it. Food was amazing, esp the banana pancakes. This time we decided on subway home was best/safest trip. Had some dinner then headed out to 230 on 5th rooftop bar. Views were amazing, but the service was a little disappointing. But NYC on clear night was beau-ti-ful.

Day 18

Another bagel (bageled out now) and some Pop Tart's but today we had tickets to see Yankee play the Rangers. We had heard you could do tour of the stadium. But before we headed to the Bronx we wanted to see Central Park (John Lennon Imagine). It was handy to know that this was on the same line to Yankee Stadium D Line. Very peaceful at Imagine site and then we wandered around Central Park for 1/2 hour so we could head to The Bronx. Finally arriving at Yankee Stadium it was very impressive. Looked around Yankee store and then prepared ourselves for tour. The memrobilla was amazing. Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Micky Mantle, and Mr George Steinbrenner impact on the Yankee history is amazing. Then we had great experience of sitting in dugout. Got some good photo's here too ;-).
Since we had time we headed to Bronx Zoo which was a very tricky place to get too. We finally found a taxi and were not really keen on having the same experience of walking thru wrong areas again. Taxi driver got us there and we had just on 2 hours to see the zoo. It was good chance to see something in a different city. We got to see a sea lion show and 2 bears and the lions. They were worth seeing. Back to the gate we went, and waited 1 hour before our taxi finally turned up. Back to Yankee Stadium, but by this time a big ugly storm had arrived.
It was 30mins before the game started and the ground was electric. We found our seats in the bleachers (the best place to get seats) The fans were super die hard and it wasnt hard to get caught up in it. After devouring some pizza and jumbo coke, and 40 min delay the game was under way. Derek Jeter had withdrawn but A Rod was playing. But the star of the night was Nick Swisher & CC Sabathia. Yankees were leading comfortable and we decided at the top of the 8th it was time to go. Found our way back to subway and safe trip home with a fans.

Posted by Seanjo 14:36 Archived in USA Tagged yankees zoo stadium yankee bronx Comments (0)


Fenway, green monster, freedom trail, skywalk

overcast 25 °C
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Day 11

Arrived in Boston at 6.00am and was at hotel by 7.00 (check in wasn't until 2, but as we were very sleep deprived we slept in the lobby (on couches) until a room was ready at about 11.00am. Showered and got ready to make a day of it. As we could see Fenway Park outside our bedroom window, we thought that would be the best first location. We booked a 3.00pm tour, and got to hear all about the Boston Red Sox, and the cool things that have happened inside Fenway Park. We got to sit on the green monster, and even in the media box, which was pretty good. After that we caught up with Kelvin and Luke for drinks/dinner - and went to the rattlesnake bar (Poe's rooftop kitchen), pretty chilled bar, and after too many pina colada's and blue moon beers - was time to head home.

Day 12

Got up around 10 - to go and see more of boston. Heard that the duck tours was a good way to do that so after breakfast, that is exactly what we did. Boarded Captain Mack's duck and we were off an about. After touring the streets, we headed for the Charles river to see boston from the water. Was quite interesting - but Mack didn't let up the whole time. After we got of the duck - we headed for the Prudential tower to see Boston from the Skywalk - 50 floors up. Was a amazing view. After a busy day was time for dinner - so found a good bar called Cask and Flaggin for a bite to eat. We ordered entree eye fillet - each of our plates could have fed a family of four. Not bad for an entree. We watched game five of the NBA finals - and I guess we are still waiting for LeBron to fire. Yankees v Boston - would have been on but after 3 hour rain delay we weren't hanging around any longer.

Day 13

After hotel continental breakfast we were off to tackle the Freedom Trail. Set off for Boston Public and discovered boston's famous family of ducks along the way. Stopped by Quincy's market for lunch (Pepperoni Bagel's - which we are still digesting). But a must see in Boston. Then crossed the Charles Bridge to Bunker Hill, and constitution dock. And that about wraps up our time in Boston, got back to our room, to listen to NKOTB sound checking for their big gig tonight at Fenway. I think N'SYNC are going to be there with them as well. I actually thought the "right stuff" finished about 10 years ago - I was wrong. Ladies in their 50's were in our hotel lobby this morning with their NKOTB hoodies on (I am hoping they were their mothers).
Sean also had his first Dunkin Donuts experience - I think it will be his last.

Posted by Seanjo 09:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Las Vegas

Casino's, Hoover Dam, Lions, Shopping

sunny 32 °C
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Las Vegas Day 6

Our first full day in Vegas, and we were out to find the outlet stores. We got a 3 day pass for the DUECE Bus, that runs up and down the strip. (Also works on the Express bus, that takes us to the Outlet stores). We thought we would see the North ones first (160 quality stores), and it was pretty good. Sean’s highlight was getting his first pair of Jordon’s (the Tommy store was pretty good as well). Jo’s highlight was the Nike store as well (AIRMax) and the Lids store is also a favourite. Time to drop shopping back at hotel, so we can see some of Vegas. Headed to downtown, to the Fremont experience – which was worth seeing. Was really keen to ride the zip-line, but the line was an hour long, and at 11.00pm at night – we weren’t waiting that long.

Las Vegas Day 7

Started the day with Laundry, after a week on the road, it’s an unfortunate necessity.
Got that out of the way, and headed to the opposite end of the Strip. Had booked tickets online for the lion king, so thought we should go and make sure they were there (which they were). This was held at Mandalay bay, very impressive complex. Had a huge convention going on in one section (near shark bay), so we didn’t end up going to see the sharks. The Lion King was quite an impressive production, but wouldn’t be half as fun without Pumba and Timon.

Las Vegas Day 8
More shopping in order. We hit the South side outlet Mall. Jo’s dream shoes were right in the same store she found them in four years earier. Yeah for Jo! Jo loved these shoes so much she purchased 2 pairs. The second pair came at half price. I found the Lacoste store and found a sweet vest. Also I found a pacman t-shirt, yahoo! (the boxer not the old Nintendo game). After hitting the 155 stores, it was time to recharge the batteries and head to MGM Grand and see the lions. They were sleeping most the time but had some movement briefly. (photo’s to follow). While walking around we also booked tickets to see the Hoover Dam on Day 9. We crossed road to Cosmopolitan , the new casino in town. It was unbelievable! All high-end stores with amazing features that you cannot explain. Finally we made it to The Mirage to collect our tickets for 9.30pm show for Love (The Beatles) by Circus du Soliel. We decided to hang around for dinner there and the food was over the top! A side of fries was like 5 large servings of Maccas fries. It was 9pm and time to get in line for the show. Once inside the seats were in a great position (great job Jo) and the show began! I was in awe the whole time but singing at the same time. Crazy I know but it was breathtaking performance that I don’t think I can compare anything with. We walked back the last 3km’s to casino still singing the songs and talking about the amazing show.

Las Vegas Day 9

Early start today, with quick breakfast from Mickey D’s, then the tour bus picked us up from our hotel around 9am. We were on our way to Hoover Dam. Absolutely amazing place, who would have thought that 75 years ago, without the technology we have today, people could have a built such a Dam. We did a tour of the power plant, then got to walk across the Dam – from Nevada – to Arizona, and back to Nevada again.
Stopped at Lake Meade for photo opportunities on the way back, then at Ethel M’s chocolate factory (and Cactus garden).
When we got back we set of to find a US post office – found one behind the Strip (however it had closed in February) so ended up having to cab it to one in downtown (to make it there before it closed). Just got there – and spent $100 shipping stuff back to Australia. Was still cheaper than buying it back home.

Las Vegas – Day 10

Went to MGM Grand this morning and got to hold, feed and pat a baby lion cub (only 6 weeks old). Was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. It was so adorable and soft. Something I will never forget. As this is out last day in Vegas, needed to tick of as many things on the Vegas to do list, so went to the Flamingo to see the Flamingo’s and other wildlife. Then off to Mirage to the Dolphin habitat and saw Sigfred and Roy’s secret garden, with Lions, White tigers and Leopards. They were really great to see as well. Before we new it, it was time to head back to our hotel to get our things and head to airport – off to Boston.

Posted by Seanjo 08:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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