Friday, 27 January 2012

Night At The Museum... During The Day. Plus a Bunch Of Other American Stuff.

So apparently there are other things to do in DC apart from kick ass BBQs. Has been a busy two days. Unfortunately our hotel charges an arm and a kidney for internet so I'm doing it on the cheap... at a pub down the road. Normally I wouldn't enter a shady establishment such as this but sometimes, sacrifices need to be made. Also they have Dogfish Head on tap. Woot. Woot.

The last two days have been a blur of amazing sights around this nations capital. We started off with a short tour yesterday seeing Watergate, some Clinton hangouts and the Smithsonian. Turns out the Smithsonian is not just one museum but eleven. We went to the castle as well as the natural history museum, which is the set from the movie Night at the Museum, and to a lesser extent, Night at the Museum 2: Battle for the Smithsonian. Was probably the best natural history museum we have been to all trip, and was free to get in. In fact, all the Smithsonian's are free to get in. Would have been rad to spend a few more days here but our our US non visa is fast running out. Have learnt so much about American history in the last few weeks that I can't wait to get home and start reading more.

Today we went to a bunch of memorials, saw The Whitehouse, Senate, House of Reps, FBI, IRS, DOJ, and a bunch of other acronyms. Also got held up by Obama and his secret service goons. We couldn't see much, but found out that it was the president, because apart from all the cops and secret service, he is always followed by an ambulance. In case of emergency. So cool. Took about thirty minutes for the whole shebang to go past but has been a pretty rad two days. Shame we have so many kids ruining it. And by so many, I mean one... 3 more days. 3 more days.

Currently listening to: N.E.R.D. Pharrel Williams the sexiest man in hip hop. I think so.
Currently drinking: Dogfish Head: 90 Minute IPA on draft. Amazing.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Washington District of Columbia, Meaty.

So we left Philadelphia yesterday. Caught another cheap bus ride to DC. $61 for the whole family. Took just under three hours. Bus wasn't quite as nice as the last one, but can't really complain to much for the price.
Staying at the Melrose Hotel in Georgetown. Seems pretty nice except that there is no inter web access. Going to have to look out for free wifi hotspots during the day. We got into the hotel at about 3:30pm so we dumped our bags, or the doorman did and we headed out to explore a bit. And eat.

We walked for about half an hour before stumbling across a BBQ joint called Old Glory Bar B Que. Smells coming out of this place were insane so we went in. Started off with some wings. They marinate them for twenty four hours in a local beer, then dry rub them and cook them and bring them out sauceless. They make their own sauces and had five different ones to choose from. Hands down the best wings I have ever had (Sorry Anna and Matt). The flavour that they managed to squeeze into this chicken was amazing. We ordered a giant hotdog for Z and B to share. It was so big that they couldn't even finish their halves. The rest of is got a meat platter to share. Pulled pork, beef brisket and my personal favourite, baby back ribs. I thought that nothing would beat the ribs from the Smoke Joint in Brooklyn but we have a new champion. There were tonnes of trophies decorating all the shelves from all the BBQ cookups they have won. So good. All washed down with a couple of local brews.

We only have a couple of days here, so will be pretty busy. Hopefully will be a good ending to our trip. Looking forward to going for a swim when I get home.

Currently listening to: Lamb of God - Resolution (still undecided about this one)
Currently drinking: Sierra Nevava Celebration

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Horribleness, Dinosaurs and Walking Philly Style. And Another Cheesesteak.

Arrrggggghhhhh! If anyone is wondering how long is too long to go on holidays with your family, the answer is three months. We are all getting sick of each other and need our own space. Last three mornings and nights have been horrible. Luckily the days have mostly made up for it. Vodka helps.

I stayed home with the horrible one while M took the others out. Ended up ordering takeout and watching Kindergarden Cop and Tommy Boy. Absolute classics. The others came home and we decided to check out the Natural History Museum. The butterfly exhibit was supposed to be awesome but was a bit of a disappointment. The dinosaurs were rad though. I never get sick of seeing fossils and statues. Pretty cool afternoon. Made up for the morning.

The next day started with another tantrum so the warden took the two good ones out and I decided to go for a long walk with the horrible one. She hates walking but I had a lot of stuff I still wanted to see and I was determined not to have my day ruined. First we walked two miles to get to Philadelphia Java Company. This is the coffee shop where the waitress from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia works in the show. Was rad to see the place and best coffee I have had in ages. Then another mile to walk to Penn's Landing to see the river. We stopped at Jim's Steaks on South St which supposedly has some of the best cheesesteaks in Philly. Verdict - They weren't joking. Meat was so tender and juicy and everything was cooked to perfection. Best cheesesteak yet. Then we walked three miles to get to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the steps that Rocky ran up in the movie. We ran up them too. So rad. There's also a statue of Rocky out the front. All in all, ended up being a rad day. Even the company turned out not to be too bad.

Today was the last time we could go to the Reading Terminal Markets. I knew nothing here could top my cheesesteak from yesterday so I decided to get a beef brisket sandwich from Herschels. So good. The warden went home to pack so I took the kids to the Benjamin Franklin Institute. Bad ass. It's an interactive museum where we all had so much fun. Quick bite to eat at the hotel bar. Then back upstairs to pack.
I'm going to miss Philly. We ended up staying here three extra nights because there's so much to do. We leave for DC tomorrow. Back home soon...

Currently listening to: Lamb of God - Resolution
Currently drinking: Harp Lager

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Philly walking, Benjamin Franklin, Liberty Bell and Some More Cheesesteaks

Today we had booked to do a walking tour around Philadelphia Old Town. I wouldn't call myself a total history buff, but history has always been something I've been interested in and was always my favourite subject at school. American history was not something that I knew a lot about as we didn't cover it in too much detail so I was looking forward to learning more about how this country began.

Quick stop at Donut King for breakfast and we were on our way. Started off with Independence House, where Benjamin Franklin penned the Declaration of Independence to King George. And when I say penned, obviously I meant quilled. Next headed down through where all the old government buildings were. So much amazing history from the birth and independence of a nation. I wonder if I will see anything like this in Australia in my lifetime.

Tour continued through the old Carpenters Hall, the first bank of America (which is on the $100 bill), Benjamin Franklin's house, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, and Benjamin Franklin's final resting place. One thing I didn't know was that Philadelphia was one of the first states to abolish slavery. George Washington didn't care about this though, and still kept slaves the time that he was president here. What a jerk. Was a great way to spend a few hours, and still enough time to squeeze in another cheesesteak at the Reading Terminal Markets. Even the warden had one today and agreed that they rule.

Finished the night off watching three NBA games before falling asleep. Only to be woken up during the night by a snow storm. So cool.

Currently listening to: New Vinnie Paz. Do it.
Currently drinking: Grey Goose Vodka

Friday, 20 January 2012

Reading Terminal Market Cheesesteaks, 76ers, Reading Terminal Market Cheesesteaks and Mac's Tavern

OK Philly rules. Hard. Haven't figured out how to describe the differences between NY but they are many. Every city we have been to has had a completely different feel to it but the differences between east and west coast are huge. 2 hours from NY and it is still a completely different city. NY is so busy, all the time. The city that never sleeps. Philly is still east coast, but not as busy. The architecture and buildings here are completely amazing. It's so cool to meet people that love their country/cities so much. It just doesn't happen very often in Australia. Not that I don't love Australia. I'm definitely missing the summer, swimming, BBQs and cold beers. But I also love this country, that everyone seems to hate.

Since the warden was incapacitated the day before, we decided to hit the market again so she could see what all the fuss was about. She opted for some kind of fried oyster situation, while I couldn't go past another Philly Cheesesteak. Quickly becoming my favourite thing ever. So beefy and tender and perfect. There is nothing in Australia that compares.

Since being here, I have fallen in love again with basketball again in a big way. This time I thought I would involve the family, and bought tickets to see the Philadelphia 76ers for all of us. Tickets were way cheaper than Knicks, and we got free hotdogs and sodas. Atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Stadium was nothing compared to the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden when the Knicks played, but the 76ers are having an amazing season this year. The kids had a rad time cheering, watching and dancing their asses off. Particularly Z. Brothers got some moves, and he's not afraid to show them. In fact he was busting some extra moves and was most disappointed that he wasn't on the big screen for being a super fan. Was an awesome game and went into overtime although the Denver Nuggets came away with the win. Disappointing and both Belle and I came away with barely any voice left.

Today M was taking the kids to the Please Touch Museum which was supposed to be a rad place for kids. I was keen to hit up the bar owned by Mac and Sweet Dee (Rob and Caitlyn from Always Sunny in Philadelphia). We went to the Reading Terminal Market for brunch again. Cheesesteak time. Tried a different vendor today. So awesome. Hard to decide which one has been the best, but if there were cold beers available, I would be happy to eat cheesesteaks for the rest of my life.

Walked the extra mile to get to "Mac's Tavern". Place had a cool atmosphere and ended up having a drink with one of the other owners and a dude who was in The Wire. Sunny in Philly pictures everywhere. So cool. Bartender was a rad dude and ended up having a long chat with him about the city. Walked home and the rest of the family got home a few minutes later. Kids had a rad time at the museum so good day all round. Nothing could ruin it. Wait. Yay. Tantrum time.

Currently listening to: NBA commentary
Currently drinking: Victory Hop Devil

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia... Except For Today.

Rolled into Philly on the bus yesterday. Took about an hour forty to get here from NY. Pretty smooth ride. We jumped into a couple of cabs and headed to our hotel. The place is a palace. Probably as big as our old house. It's nice to have a bit of space. There was someone fixing our bathroom sink so we headed out to get some dinner and I was pretty thirsty from all that bus sitting we had done earlier.

We found a little dive bar a few buildings down, which had a sign on it that said families welcome. I had been looking forward to an authentic Philly cheesesteak for months and held out until we got here. Verdict - Amazing. Came on a big roll with thinly sliced steak, covered in melted cheese. Steak was delicious, tender and so easy to eat. Almost like it was pre chewed. I felt like a little bird, who's mum had pre chewed their food for them and then spat it onto my dinner. And for over thirty years I have been chewing my steaks like a chump... After a few ales to wash it down with we headed back to our hotel to put the wiener patrol to bed.

I was keen to check out the hotel bar so I slipped out for a cheeky beer downstairs. Rad little bar where I met an Irish waitress who used to live in Mt Gravatt. She was super nice and I thought the warden would enjoy some civilized, adult conversation so I came back up and sent her down. Bad move. She stayed down for a few hours before coming back and sending me down. Some kind of crazy ass party going on. Drinks and shots were flowing way too easily. Being the responsible parent I am, I bailed early and sent M back down. Some time in the wee hours of the morning she came home. The rest of this paragraph has been censored to avoid embarrassment.

In the morning, the warden was in no condition to do anything so I took the kids out for some late breakfast at the Reading Terminal Markets. I had heard great things about the food here and it didn't disappoint. Over a hundred different stalls of all kinds of food. Was raining most of the night and looked like it was pretty set in. Only about fifteen minutes walk from where we are staying though, so wasn't too bad. I opted for a beef brisket sandwich. Was not as good as Katz in NY but was half the price and still pretty awesome. Going back for Philly cheesesteaks tomorrow. The kids all decided on crepes.

When we got back to the hotel, I dropped the kids off and went for a walk on my own to scout out the area. Did not expect to see tonne of police cars, a blanket covering a body and firemen hosing down the concrete. Apparently someone had jumped out of a top floor balcony in the hotel next door. I'm glad the kids didn't have to see that. Various reports saying shots were fired, others saying no suspicious circumstances. Either way, sad sending to someones life.

Currently listening to: Vinnie Paz - Pistolvania
Currently drinking: Grey Goose Vodka

Monday, 16 January 2012

Goodbye NY

Haven't had much to blog about in the last few days as we have been winding down our NY operations. Today we get on a bus that will hopefully get us to Philadelphia. We got a hot tip from a Chinese couple that the cheapest way to get to Philly or DC was to catch a bus from Chinatown. They weren't wrong. $13 dollars each and free wifi on the bus.

Highlights from the last few days include:

  • The Smoke Joint - Totally awesome BBQ place that we had already been to but the kids wanted to try it. Some of the best baby back ribs I have ever tasted. Corn bread ruled too. B even got a hotdog with extra roast beef on top. Totally Rad.
  • Chelsea Piers - I took the kids out for the day while M stayed home to pack. Its a massive sports complex with a heap of different things you can do. The main thing we wanted to try was the baseball batting cages. We all had heaps of fun swinging at the balls flying at us from the pitching machine. I was pretty much amazing. If I don't come home its because I have a new job, probably hitting home runs for the Yankees. Hopefully they had scouts watching me. We also had lunch at Chelsea Brewing Company. Its a special kind of dad that takes his kids to a microbrewery for lunch.
  • Times Square - One more time to pick up a few more things. Also had to hit up M & M World one more time. I don't think I would ever get sick of coming out of the subway and seeing all the lights and giant screens. So much colour and so much to look at. Have been in a few times and every time, I see something new.

Currently listening to: a jazz trio that we saw at brunch today
Currently drinking: Everything left in the fridge

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Date night, The Daily Show, Soul Food and The Colbert Report.

Booked a baby sitter again as we scored tickets to The Daily Show. Kind of a weird setup. Come early line up with your ticket reservation, get tickets (if you were early enough and lucky) go away for two hours, come back wait another hour, see the show, laugh. Was seriously one of the most fun nights I have ever had though. After we got our tickets, we headed to an Irish bar to have a few cheeky beers before the show. Squeezed in four pints but this was going to he a problem as you were not allowed to leave the taping (for a bathroom break) or they wouldn't let you back in. As any dude knows, once you break the seal, you're in trouble. I broke the seal way to early. Luckily the show was so hilarious that I completely forgot about my bladder situation until it was over, and we had to literally run back to the bar. Was a cool experience to see how they do the show and he was hilarious. Seriously funny and intelligent guy. Can't wait to get home and see if you can hear me laughing in the background. One thing I didn't know was that the first joke of the show every night is an inside joke from the Q and A before the show with Jon.

Kids were up way to late the night before so we decided we would have a quiet one. Yesterday we went out to Harlem to finally try some soul food. The place we had chosen was a famous one called Amy Ruth's. I went for the pork spare ribs with sides of Mac n cheese and some candied yams. The kids had waffles with various accompaniments while the warden opted for some gravy smothered chicken. Food was pretty good, but I was a little disappointed  We have been spoilt with some amazing meals and it just wasn't was good as I thought it would be. Sweet potato mixed with marshmallow and cinnamon sounds like it is going to be awesome but was actually quite sickening. One thing we didn't need was the kids having a conversation about power rangers on the subway and B yelling out "The big black guys the strongest" right in the middle of Harlem. Could have ended badly. M went to see a play of Richard the Third featuring Kevin Spacey while.I stayed home with the wiener patrol. Star Trek and beers was the order of the night.

Today I was lucky enough to score some more tickets, this time to the Colbert Report. The warden took the kids out to the Brooklyn Children's Museum while I stayed home to clean the house. I then headed into Manhattan to line up to make sure that we would get good seats. I waited in line for three hours before M met up with me but it could not have been more worth it. Guests included Jon Stewart and Mike D of the Beastie Boys. I didn't think anything could top the Daily Show from two days ago but this did. Was also interesting to hear him speak and answer questions out of character at the start of the show. Finished of the night with some craft beers from a bar we found called Valhalla. Awesome.

Currently listening to: Heavy Metal Kings - The Vice of Killing (seriously ABH listen to this) Vinnie is always awesome but Bill destroys in this.
Currently drinking: Steelhead Double IPA and Dogfish Head Brown Ale