Archive for the ‘USA Resources’ Category

On a previous trip I took a different phone from my usual one and bought a sim from 3 with a view to using their ‘FeelAtHome’ package.  It worked very badly. So this time I decided on a different course.

I made sure my iPhone 6 was unlocked and bought an AT&T ‘GoPhone’ sim from an AT&T outlet in Washington. This cost $50 and gave me unlimited phone calls and texts for a month, and crucially 3 Gb of mobile data. This “just worked”, as they say; I had good 4G coverage pretty much everywhere I went. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw it drop into non-4G functionality; there were a couple of places out in Virginia (e.g. on the Skyline Drive) where there was no coverage at all, but that was only to be expected. (more…)

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A quick post to mention a few places that we visited and used in Front Royal.

We were there for three nights so we had three dinners. We went to Main Street Mill and Pub for the first night; Joe’s Steakhouse for the second; and Osteria 510 for our last night. The first of these is basically a diner, and did what it did perfectly efficiently. Not what you’d call fine dining, but a tasty burger at a good price. Joe’s Steakhouse was exactly what it says, and we each had one of the tastiest, tenderest and most enjoyable fillet steaks ever. We thought that the accompaniments to the steak were a bit ordinary, but we enjoyed a bottle of Virginian wine with it, Cabernet Franc from the Rappahannock winery. Finally, Osteria 510 is an Italian restaurant run by a genuine Italian, Vincenzo, and provides a range of Italian-style dishes, from pizza to pasta to other Italian. This was our favourite meal taken as a whole, and we washed it down with a bottle of Primitivo from Puglia in Italy. Vincenzo, who’s origiginally from Bari, said that the winery was about 10 miles from his home.

During the days we snacked and had tea/coffee at a few places. One was The Daily Grind, a coffee shop on Main Street that also sold sandwiches. It was OK. We had an excellent cup of tea at Happy Creek Coffee and Tea, on High Street (just off Main Street). This is located in an old barn and was very characterful, and was busy. Finally we had another cup of tea at a small specialist tea and wine place on Main Street,but I can’t remember the name. But they had a range of teas in glass jar – I had a Darjeeling and Val had a rose petal tea, and both were excellent.

Finally, we stayed the three nights at WoodwardHouse. We had a great time there, and I’ll do a post about it later.

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I’ve been doing some travelling around on the subway.

I bought a 7 day, unlimited rides ticket for $31 (+$1 for the actual card). This gave me ‘unlimited rides’ for 7 days, even though I’m only here for 3 and a half days. Subway tickets work rather differently from London TfL tickets. Mainly, there’s no daily cap – if you buy a normal ticket with, say, $15 credit, every ride you make will eat into that credit even if it’s your umpteenth ride that day. You can also buy individual rides for $2.75, but that looked like hard work and fiddly. The ‘unlimited rides’ ticket breaks even if you do more than 15 rides in the week which I won’t, but having it avoided a lot of hassle.

There’s no ‘tap in, tap out’ system because you don’t tap at all. On the way in you slide the card through a magnetic scanner and if it’s accepted, this unlocks the turnstile. On the way out you don’t do anything – you just walk through the turnstile the other way. I imagine that everything depends on the magnetic strip, so it’s probably a good idea to keep the ticket away from mobile phones. (more…)

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I had a hire car for the for the first stage of my holiday and which I handed back intact – not a scratch. Phew. But I thought that readers might be interested in how I found the driving experience in the US.

First, there’s the whole “driving on the wrong side of the road” thing. This is actually not a problem – it’s such a glaring fact when you’re driving that I’ve never strayed onto the wrong (left) side of the road. That said, it’s much, much easier if you have an automatic – I really wouldn’t want to be driving a manual car in which the gear lever was on the wrong side. Of course, it helps that almost all cars in the US are automatics, or at least almost all hire (“rental”) cars. There was one situation in which being on the wrong side of the car become a real problem, and that was trying to do reverse (“parallel”) parking. I just couldn’t manage it at all. There was this small town in upstate New York where I had three goes at it, and failed miserably each time. It was something to do with the fact that I was on the wrong side of the car, and looking over the wrong shoulder – I just couldn’t manage it at all.

In terms of general driving, I’ve found US drivers to be more considerate than their UK counterparts. (more…)

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