Liberty Island

Today we got up early to go over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. By getting to Battery Park at 8:30, we didn’t have to wait too long to get on the ferry.

We spent 6 hours touring around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – really interesting. We couldn’t get tickets to go all the way up to the statue’s crown, but we were able to go up the pedestal and look over New York harbour from there.

As for Ellis Island, the main point of US immigration from 1892 – 1954, they didn’t allow idiots, lunatics, imbeciles, and morons (actual quote from laws of the time). I’m intrigued as to how they distinguished between those four classes

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Yankee Stadium

Made it to Yankee Stadium to see some afternoon baseball. My original seat was in the direct sunlight on a 32° day, so I have downgraded to a higher seat on the shady side. I think lots of other people have done the same.

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Update: the Yankees won 4-2 in a rather typical Yankees game – one big inning, solid pitching, and Rivera easily closing out the ninth. The stadium is nice and reminiscient of lots of other new ballparks including Safeco in Seattle, but it lacks much character. A note to Liverpool fans – tis better to redevelop the ground than to built a new one.

Posted from New York, New York, United States.

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Waking up in Washington

We woke this morning to find the train had made it to Washington DC by 6:30 – about an hour early. How they did this when we were running 30 minutes late last night I’m not sure. I think they skipped some of the less-popular states.

We all slept fairly well on the train except for Rachel, who has a harder time sleeping in normal beds, nevermind a tiny train bed. For breakfast Rachel has made the greatest sacrifice and is having tea the American way – with honey and lemon.20110731-080136.jpg

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Georgia

The sun is setting and we’ve been traveling through rural Georgia for a likely while now. No more palm trees anymore; lots of pine forests though.

This is a nice pace of travel – the train moves quickly enough but you’re certainly not rushed. The sleeper rooms are small and cozy. Strangely, they have a little toilet right in the room.

Flash update! Due to a dodgy sink in the girls’ mini-room, they’ve been upgraded to a large room. Connie proclaims that they are the luckiest kids on the whole train.

Steak dinner in the dining car awaits

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Lunch in motion

We’re on the train to New York and meals are included as part of our sleeper car reservation. So far, two thumbs up

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Orlando

Our stay in Orlando will amount to pretty much exactly 48 hours, which is, I suspect, unusual for most people who visit here. In our case, we thought it would be nice to have a brief stopover at Disney World before continuing up the East Coast towards New York.

First day on the train

We left Miami on Wednesday morning; the train departed promptly at 8:20am. The journey from Miami to Orlando is only five hours, and we had regular coach seats which are equivalent to business class on an airplane – deep recline, leg & foot rests, long tray table, power at your seat, etc. The scenery was a mix of the coastal communities on running up from Miami, and then more open green spaces and orange groves in central Florida.

Dolphin Hotel

Orlando, of course, is unique unto itself with the proliferation of theme parks and resorts. We’re staying at the Dolphin Hotel at Disney World, mainly because we got a very good online deal. It will be the most opulent place we will be staying at on our trip. And while it is nice, I think we all feel that our style is a little bit more Miami hostel-hotel then Orlando resort.

With only one full day here, we decided a while ago that we would go to one of the water parks – cheaper and also appropriate in this summer heat (today it was 94°F = 34°C). It was a great day, sadly without pictures as I didn’t bring the camera to the park (I only brough the essentials as we didn’t rent a locker). We were there early enough to be first in line when they dropped the rope to let you walk briskly to the water slides of your choice. They also have a huge wave pool that generates 7-foot waves every 90 seconds — it is a memorable experience rising high on a wave seeing this sea of people below you about to be engulfed.

Rare picture of Mike

I will admit that I’m a bit of a Disney fan; these theme parks hold many fond memories for me as a child and it’s particularly enjoyable to pass that along to my own kids. Having said that, I’m glad we’re not staying longer – while Walt Disney may be the poster boy for the American Dream, I think there are many more places for us to explore that are more real and also undoubtedly less expensive. This is the first place I’ve ever been to where they made you pay a mandatory 13% service charge… at a cafeteria.

Tomorrow we leave Orlando for the overnight train to New York. I now have my iPhone set up and I hope to do a bit of live blogging as we make our way North.

Posted from Orlando, Florida, United States.

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Miami

So we’ve been here in Miami for a few days now – tomorrow we take our first train ride just upstate to Orlando.

Miami has been great. It’s pretty much as advertised – hot, sunny weather; miles of sandy beaches with warm ocean; a heavy latin-cuban influence. What’s been particularly nice for us on this trip so far is that we had very little planned for our few days here – just relax and enjoy our surroundings.

Our first morning on the beach

With the jet-lag we’ve been getting up quite early – Connie was up at 3:15 this morning. Each morning we’ve gone to the beach as the sun is rising — this photo was taken on our first morning with the fantastic sunrise at 6am.

Our hotel (Tropics Hotel on Collins Ave in South Beach) was nice if a little worn. It’s a cross between a hotel and a hostel – large rooms each with ensuite but also an open kitchen area beside the pool. And speaking of the pool, it was probably the warmest swimming pool we’ve ever been in — glorious! The ocean, too, was lovely and warm but not too rough – nearly perfect I would say.

On Tuesday we rented bikes and cycled alongside the ocean path. Rachel went for a run this morning down to the bottom of the South Beach peninsula.

Sunrise on Miami Beach

Renting bikes on South Beach

After three nights at the Tropics Hotel, tonight we’ve moved to a different hotel closer to Miami itself, ready for us to catch an early-morning train to Orlando. Our hotel here is a newer Hampton hotel; we’re particularly anticipating the free hot breakfast tomorrow morning.

Marble the Mouse

Marble at Miami Beach

We’ve attempted to start one little tradition by taking along a little ceramic mouse that we bought at a craft fair in Bristol. His name is Marble and we’ll be taking pictures of him in various locales on our trip. Here’s Marble on a postcard of Miami Beach, enjoying the sun

Our hotel pool in Miami

Tomorrow we’re off to Orlando where we’ll be for just a couple of days before moving on to New York. It will be our first time on the train so we’ll get a taste what’s to come. One minor inconvenience is that I have yet to sort out a SIM for my phone which means that I’m not able to get online and post as much as I would like. Hopefully this will get sorted out in the next few days.

Posted from Miami, Florida, United States.

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Arrived in Miami

We’ve arrived safely and had a good first night. Went to the beach this morning for the sunrise and dipped our feet in the ocean. More to come soon but breakfast awaits!

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On our way

Leg 1 of our trip is underway – so far so good. We’re at the airport now, awaiting our flight. We purchased some overpriced London 2012 souvenirs and the girls were security stars as we went through the security scanners disguised as a rainbow

Next up, a 9 hour flight to Miami!

We had a great last few days on England. Yesterday we enjoyed a great carvery meal out with Rachel’s family to celebrate her Mum & Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary. Then we drove back to Bristol and had a lovely evening with the Wynns who kindly let us stay at their place for our last night in Bristol.

More to come once we’re State-side20110724-120338.jpg

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Triathlon

Yesterday I did a triathlon with school. I got a medal and a t-shirt as well as a swimming cap.

It was very fun!

from Heidi ( age 8 )

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