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Old 09-16-2012, 12:57 AM   #61
Mum from oz
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Sounds like a nice dinner and get some rest! Also enjoy the CX7, I drive a CX9 over here and I love it to death!
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:42 AM   #62
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Just stumbled across your live TR and subbing in

What an amazing itinerary! I can't wait to hear all about your adventures from coast to coast! Although it's probably best for our budget that I don't
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:57 AM   #63
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Hope you enjoyed the drive down the Keys....and all those Mile Markers! Glad you sorted out the Alamo extra.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:55 AM   #64
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Hey mate

Glad you made it ok, we too had ANZ issues, left Sydney an hour late and had to do the auckland 3K marathon.....why do they put you at one end then tell you to run to the other.....there were 25 of us doing the race, happily I have been going to the gym so wasn't too puffed by the end....They held the aircraft until we got there, although I was nearly a nervous puddle on the floor waiting at syd til they told us they would be waiting for us, I was going thru all the things I had to do to get us back on track

Inflight entertainment..hum mm...dinner and a show...nice

Enjoy the food, I certainly am...no soup in sight
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Old 09-16-2012, 06:08 PM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andona View Post
I'm starting this on the plane. We have about 2 hours to go until we reach Los Angeles and I've had enough of the inflight entertainment for now.

I never get bored with the in flight entertainment. If the children would just leave me alone I would be in heaven

Our first experience of Air New Zealand has had its ups and downs, but on balance we've been pretty happy with them. our taxi had arrived promptly and we arrived with plenty of time at the airport but were a little rattled by the news that greeted at checkin. Our Sydney-Auckland flight was delayed by an hour and a half which meant we would miss our connecting flight in Auckland. However the ANZAC spirit is alive and well so Qantas came to our rescue. The 20 odd passengers affected were to be placed on a QAntas flight which should get us to Auckland in time - just...

One bonus of the new arrangement was when the checkin clerk told us that we'd be able to claim Qantas frequent flyer points for the Sydney to Auckland flight

That's great that you got the added bonus of FF points.

The Qantas flight was ok, nothing special - the meal was a rather tasteless lamb curry but the Mango Weiss ice ream bar was nice. *The small plane was well configured with both A.C. And USB power ports. Excellent in flight entertainment selection.

We had a quick flight across and pulled into Auckland 10 minutes early. This was just as well because we were galloping as soon as we left the plane! We had to dash all the way up one end of the terminal to the international transfer area and go through security again before we had to go upstairs and dash all the way back again to reach our flight. At the transfer area an AirNZ official was waiting for us with a slightly anxious expression and crossed our names of his list before advising us to hurry. Of course, the customs people then chose me for their random pat down and explosives swab test!
- it seemed that everyone was already on board when we arrived breathless at the gate BUT as it turned out they were also waiting on a delayed flight from CHristchurch so we did have a little time up our sleeves after all.

I just hope our luggage also made the connection - we'll find out in a couple of hours I guess!

We are all pretty impressed with the AirNZ 777-300 . The seats are comfortable and there is plenty of legroom, even for DH. The entertainment system is good (I watched "Brave" and "The Avengers") *but they did have to reboot mine early in the flight after the system froze.*

Ooooh yay Brave, I can't wait to see that movie. Glad you found the seats comfy and plenty of legroom

We've all managed 2 or 3 hours of fitful dozing. I did have one uncomfortable moment when I opened the door of one of the toilets on an unfortunate gent who had neglected to lock the door. I don't know which of us was more embarrassed!

Later....

Our luggage was waiting for us on the carousel, yay! The queue for immigration was pretty bad, even for LAX but we eventually hit the head of the queue. The officer was happy to have a chat, we swapped notes about children at college etc etc. L.A. Was covered with its normal haze as we flew in well to the south of our previous routes, we came in over Long Beach and could see the Queen Mary in her permanent mooring . She is now a luxury hotel.

Yay for the luggage being there. That is one of my biggest fears

A brief wait for the shuttle and we finally arrived at our hotel. Our number one priority was to get our phone sims and my iPad sim working. It was a bit of a rigmarole but with the help of some free wifi in the lobby and a Starbucks cappuccino (also available in the lobby) we now have our American phone numbers up and running and my iPad is now getting 4g data, I'll be able to access google maps wherever we go ( or at least wherever I can get AT&T...)

The word rigmarole is making me very nervous in terms of the sim situation. Feel free to update me in detail on your return. I break out into a sweat just thinking about the phone situ.
Andona
Sounds like you are off to a flying start. Can't wait to hear more. Have fun.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:13 PM   #66
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Oh my digestion! Today I made an excellent start on my food mission and I'm suffering for my efforts....but somebody has to do it!

We woke to an overcast sky and a muggy morning. We hadn't realized last night that the balcony of our room overlooked both the intracoastal waterway and the Atlantic ocean - we were treated to the striking sight of a thunderstorm way out at sea and a colorful sky between the clouds. Our room rate included a hearty buffet breakfast , the breakfast potatoes were delicious and DS enjoyed his Apple Jacks cereal ( which seem to consist mainly of sugar)

After DH made a note of the car's speedo reading we finally hit the road - the first part of which included miles and miles of very plushy high rise buildings facing the ocean and backed by long lines of palm trees. It was Surfers Paradise on steroids!

As we drew closer to Miami Beach the roads grew busier until we turned onto the main cruising drag - Ocean Drive. The traffic here was very slow as the tourists, including us, admired the long line of pretty, pastel art deco hotels that look across the park to the ocean front. As we drove DS and I were treated to the first of DH's driving-music CDs. It seemed very appropriate to be listening to the theme from "CSI -Miami" and "Miami Vice" , amongst others :-)

Here's a pic of a couple of the hotels...taken while driving so I apologise for the quality



We headed inland and joined up with the Florida Turnpike on its long route down through the state. We hit our first rainstorm, very tropical and so heavy that it was almost Impossible to see through the windscreen. As we carried on south the skies lightened but they remained overcast for the entire day except for a brief, wonderful spell this evening ( more on this later...)

The upper keys From Key Largo to Islamorada is one long, kitschy American shopping strip, with "shell factories " and tiki bars and souvenir shops and multitudes of motels and shabby "resorts" lining the highway. In Australia we'd think it was horrible but as an example of American over-the-top tourism we loved it!

However as we entered the lower keys the land fell away and we finally saw more and more of the amazing views out to the gulf on one side of the road and the ocean on the other. We stopped just before the start of the colossal Seven Mile Bridge to take photos , and we're startled to see a small flock(?) of bright green Iguanas.

Seven Mile Bridge


The other flock of creatures that dominated the drive were the bikies. This weekend was the annual Harley Davidson Poker Run. Hundred of bikers drive the length of the Keys gathering a poker hand of cards at 5 stops along the way. The winner is the one who has the best hand once he/she reached Key West. The town must have been overrun by bikers yesterday as we saw hundreds driving back north and there were still a lot of them in town when we arrived.

Our hotel , Pier House Resort, has a marvelous location right on the gulf with its own private beach . We checked in and them went for a walk through the town looking for a late lunch. The top end of town in party central, there are more bars than restaurants and they were all doing a roaring trade- at 2pm on a Sunday, I can't imagine what it's like on a holiday weekend Saturday night!! We did find a pleasant cafe housed in one of the many old clapboard, Victorian homes that dominate the architecture here. My Lump Crab Cake sandwich was a delicious!

Key West homes


We stopped to take a photo of Ernest Hemingways home, surrounded by grand old trees amd bougainvillea as well as "Sloppy Joes Bar" where he did a lot of his drinking. After returning to the hotel DH and I enjoyed a dip in the water at the beach, it was just lovely. DS preferred to stay in the room and relax without us! The water was warm and we watched the jet skis and pleasure boats sail past the resort.

The restaurant and beach at our hotel


As the sun dropped lower we headed to Mallory Square, along with almost everyone else in Key West to enjoy the nightly sunset celebration. The weather was very kind to us and the clouds cleared so that we could enjoy a beautiful sunset, but I didn't see the famous "green flash" which is supposed to mark a particularly special sunset. Afterwards the crowd enjoyed the many entertainers and market stalls that set up each night. We watched a very funny chap do juggling tricks with burning batons while "walking" on a tall ladder before he switched to a 10 foot tall unicycle !

Sunset on the Gulf of Mexico


DS and DH taking photos....



Back at the hotel we had a tasty dinner in their restaurant that overlooks the water and I finished the night with one of the things on my "must eat" list- Key Lime Pie. It was wonderful!

My pie...


Andona

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Old 09-16-2012, 10:16 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by australiankaren
Glad you made it ok, we too had ANZ issues, left Sydney an hour late and had to do the auckland 3K marathon.....why do they put you at one end then tell you to run to the other.....there were 25 of us doing the race, happily I have been going to the gym so wasn't too puffed by the end....They held the aircraft until we got there, although I was nearly a nervous puddle on the floor waiting at syd til they told us they would be waiting for us, I was going thru all the things I had to do to get us back on track

Inflight entertainment..hum mm...dinner and a show...nice

Enjoy the food, I certainly am...no soup in sight
Karen, I'd checked your flight times and I knew you had been delayed too I don't know why they go for such a brief stopover, it looks to me as if this sort of thing must happen pretty often!

Glad to hear you ate bypassing the soup!

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Old 09-16-2012, 10:26 PM   #68
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Looks great. That area is on my bucket list!
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:29 PM   #69
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Thanks for sharing Andona.

You sound like you enjoyed Key West.
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Old 09-16-2012, 11:31 PM   #70
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Just found this Andona, have a great time!

We are going to the South/Texas/ New Mexico/ Florida in March/April of next year so I am subbing here and loving your photos!

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Old 09-17-2012, 01:14 AM   #71
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fabulous post & gorgeous pics -- thanks for the live TR
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:00 AM   #72
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Sounds like you're having a fabulous time! Great pics!
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:23 AM   #73
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Wow Andona. Loving the first picture update. Love the pastel buildings and that sunset, wowsers.

Jealous of the crab cake but Im planning on eating so many crab cakes on my next trip that I might even turn into one .

Keep the pics coming.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:56 AM   #74
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Thanks for the update. I'm loving the pictures. What a beautiful sunset! Thanks for the food porn too.
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Old 09-17-2012, 03:35 PM   #75
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It sounds and looks like you had a wonderful day Andona. I'm looking forward to the next installment
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