I'm always in search of good beer and I decided to only drink locally brewed beers in each place & found some exciting commercial brews. There were some small scale breweries which I hope become a success.
Flying out of Australia takes a bit of effort, so I do recommend a stopover in Hawaii.
Once you've re-set your internal clock it's on to the U.S. I've highlighted some images from Honolulu, San Francisco, Massachusetts, New York City and Las Vegas.
This is Waikiki Beach
... and Aussies will marvel at how small it is, yet it is world famous.
The hardcore surfers are surfing on the outer islands, this beach is for relaxing and drinking exotic cocktails.
Stayed two night stay, and recommend the Aqua Waikiki Tides Hotel (415 Nahua Street).
They do keep changing the name of hotels so note the address for this hotel at a great location.
No ocean views, great price and a 3 minute walk to the beach and a sports bar downstairs and the International Markets just opposite.
No visit to Hawaii is complete without the Pearl Harbour tour which includes entry to the Pearl Harbour exhibit and a US Naval boat ride out to the Arizona memorial
There are separate tours available of the USS Missouri (pictured below) and USS Bowfin if you make it an all day visit.
And the beer?
Dungeness Crabs at Thanh Long Restaurant & drinking Mission Street Pale Ale, brewed in the region.
Roast Dungeness Crabs are a specialty at the famous Thanh Long Restaurant It's at 4101 Judah St, right on the Muni Line but be prepared to take a number and wait for a table... it's very popular.
Next it was off to the Wharf area which is a bit confusing because San Francisco has a long wrap-around wharf to explore.
You can begin at the Historical Ferry Terminal building (where you catch the ferry to Oakland). And check out the bars stocking draft IPA's.
To walk off some of the food and beer then walk from the ferry terminal right around the piers to those VERY touristy ones!
Pier 39 is the usual tourist trap and the big attractions are the Sea Lions which come and go as they please and fight and squabble for the best spots in the sun on those freezing cold, fog filled summer days...
Yes.. summer days are very cold in SF. It's actually warmer there in winter! Go figure.
Now keep walking and you arrive at.... Fisherman's Wharf
At Fisherman's Wharf street Vendors cook and bash crabs into submission for you. it's a novelty if you want a take-away pack but the huge pushy crowds, no seating and few garbage bins make it all a bit ... 'eewwww'... but I guess you have to see it, so toughen up, it's just for an afternoon.
This wharf precinct is packed with tourists and buses all the time so make sure you avoid during U.S. school holidays.
The nearby restaurants are overpriced and pack-em in, so if you can handle food while you walk, you might enjoy a handful of crab.
To get from the wharf to the city it's uphill all the way.
There is the cable car but get in line, because about 10,000 other tourists got there first.
Think ... Just another 'tourist trap'.
The Cable Cars might be famous but... to be packed like sardines onto a cable car and have your head in someone's armpit, just so you can say you rode it?
Give it a miss!
WALK up the hill a ways, and find a pub.
To be sure, to be sure, this is one place not to be missed.
Kennedy's Irish Pub & Indian Curry House (1040 Columbus Ave) is the place to try.
The sign says 33 beers on tap, but now I notice they advertise 69 beers on tap... they're mad I tell ya.
SF has a really great public transport system but after beer I can't manage bus... TAXI!!
It was time to walk all over San Francisco and check out the sights.
See the second largest Chinatown in the US, and wander through the mazes of junk shops.
Down to the end of Grant street to see the murals painted on old apartment blocks.
Yes, they do build houses on this much of an angle in San Francisco because the hills are very steep
Which is all very well until you see the steps you have to climb up to get to your front door!
And they can cram a tiny 3metre wide house in between 2 others!
I'm guessing you enter via the garage at street level and then somehow climb us to your home.
Some of the houses are plain, others are very ornate.
Not sure how the locals feel about people wandering around the streets taking photos.
I walked up telegraph hill... it's UP there, you can't miss it. The fire hose thingy on top is called Coit Tower.
The view from the top of telegraph hill give you a good idea of San Francisco city; the two bridges and the fog-shrouded bay with the famous Alcatraz Island.
Time to move on.
Ate clams and crabs and drank beer to excess.
Next stop... Massachusetts.
Nice wide highways, 4 or 5 lanes in either direction and plenty of power under the hood from a Dodge Charger.
It was big and comfy and it knew to stay on the other side of the road just fine - although the Chinese speaking GPS threw me for a while.
It's June, It's summer, it's 50 Degrees F [10C] that's cold !
Still there were plenty of clams dipped in hot butter to take your mind of the cold and some nice Sam Adams's to make me wonder what I was complaining about.
Lobster dinner anyone? With hot dipping butter to accompany them... **yumm**
You need a plan of how to get there!
One false exit and you're way off course so armed with map, GPS and a faulty sense of direction it was time to hit the freeways and head for the tunnels.
Hmmmm note to self... DON'T try to enter Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon ever again... that's when all the day trippers are coming in as well!
Tolls, tolls, and more tolls have plenty of cash ready.
Quickest way in from New Jersey is through the very long Holland Tunnel - more tolls and long delays as you try and run through residential streets to break into a line of traffic and into the tunnel.
Finally offloaded the rental car, check in to a 'downtown' hotel and begin the walking adventure.
The crowds will astound you!
How's this for an innovation? They block off the busiest square in the known universe and put out cheap garden chairs and recliners.... The City did this. Why?
So people will stop rushing and just sit, relax, talk, and watch the traffic and people go by.
Of course the Mayor was up for re-election at the time so perhaps he's trying to be noticed.
People go to New York for all kinds of reasons and 100's queue at each ticketing booth to get in to see the shows.
So let's go way downtown...
Staten Island FREE ferry ride.
Did you know that the Staten Island Ferry (the best way to see the city and Lady Liberty) used to cost 25 cents and now it's free! Bargain!
You ride the ferry over to Staten Island, exit the ferry and re-enter the terminal and ride it back to the city.
NY is a working harbour so all types of shipping is going on around you on the trip.
Once back on land you're at the bottom end of Manhattan so a wander through Battery park is a pleasant interlude.
There's artwork and street theatre... these are some sculptures in Battery Park.
There is a tribute to the immigrants the mangled golden sphere a memorial to 911.
This was the the original 'Sphere' fountain which stood in the World Trade Centre Plaza for 30 years.
It was damaged in 911 and it's battered remains were placed here as a memorial to that day.
As you work your way north you pass by the World Trade Centre Development.
The New World Trade Centre site is slowly taking shape, the ethereal glass building in the Right Photograph is complete at this stage.
From ultra modern steel and glass to timeless classical architecture of days gone by
And to see another icon, the Empire State Building
View looking Uptown past Central Park.
Or look Downtown to the Battery and the Financial District, it really is a stunning island.
Not France! It's the Paris Las Vegas hotel - a 1/3rd scale of the original thing....
... only in Vegas and complete with fountains
You've heard about it and you just have to see it... The Fremont Street Experience in 'old Las Vegas'
If you've dreamed of seeing Vegas at it's best, you might have missed it.
Yes the architecture of the Casino's is interesting as each place vies for your dollar.
The Paris, New York, Luxor all famous names along "the Strip" but the Old vegas is trying to be different.
They have roofed over their main street and have regular light and music shows. It's amazing and not to be missed.
What made me sad
Biggest change I noticed is that Las Vegas is so dirty now with litter in the streets and gutters and worse, the 'flicker' men - or pimps as they really are. They hand out cards for prostitutes although the graphic cards say the 'girls want to meet you and be your friend'.... lucky me huh?
The major Casino's try to move these sleasebags along but they flourish and touch you with their cards and flick them to attract you. Tourists take the offered cards and then drop them immediately in the streets so the ground is littered with thousands of girlie cards - try explaining those photos to your kids.
So how do you visit Las Vegas and beat the system?
The "big" hotels are rubbish these days, and I've stayed in quite a few of them. At The Paris and the staff all throughout the hotel were rude. The room I'd booked wasn't available... and now you read the fine print, they didn't have to give you that room after all! But if you PAY MORE suddenly a nice room is available.
So you're feeling sour from the front desk onwards.
But it's not just the Paris... The New York is dirty and the staff just plain rude as well... they seem to have this feeling of entitlement and now that the dollars are drying up they're mean and nasty and expect more tips for less service.
SO - Don't stay out on Las Vegas Blvd. - commonly know as The Strip.
Make hotel reservations in old Las Vegas known as "Downtown" or "Fremont Street".
Down here the Hotel Casino's are way better priced, staff actually seem to enjoy their work, their pokies and tables pay better odds, drinks are much much cheaper and there was a micro brewery!
They have a cute little rack thing they bring you with 5 sample beers for you to try.
The beer is brewing up on the mezzanine, pretty impressive although difficult to photograph behind all that glass
By the way if you're just into grabbing a beer and want to keep walking everyone drinks in the street and if you're staying around Fremont Street, the Main Street Station Casino runs a shuttle service up to the Strip or you can buy a 24 hour bus pass on the Deuce double decker bus.
With the Pass you can get on or off as you please, so you can stay for cheap in Old Las Vegas and visit the sleaze pits as you please.
Some random photos.... Some Casino's are trying to imitate classical art...
Or classic architecture & fountains?
Some have just given in and enjoy tacky
So that's it. A quick trip in seach of good Beer and fine Seafood