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Poor service reflects bad organisation in Day’s Bay Cafés

When you’re eating a rather indifferent toasted sandwich at ten past two on a fine September afternoon having first tried to order to order food at 12.45, you know things have not gone well. We called into Chocolate Dayz in Day’s Bay for lunch, a place which served me a stale, partly uncooked vegetable frittata the last time I was there. I stood in the queue to order food. I was tenth in line, and the line doesn’t move quickly. Twenty minutes later I am finally in front of the lady taking the orders. (Two other customers had abandoned the queue and gone elsewhere).  On the way to the front, I noticed a small sign by the till that meals would take about 45 minutes. Will it really be that long, I asked? What about if I order something from the cabinet? Yes it will be about that long, and no, ordering from the cabinet rather than the menu won’t hasten delivery. It’s now ten past one. I’d already wasted 20 minutes: to wait another 45 minutes (or more) looked
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A Walking tour of Boston published

A piece I wrote about the joys of walking around Boston has been published in Rotary Downunder, the magazine that goes to 61 000 Rotarians in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands
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Martin Luther King Museum Founder dies

  I knew of him but I never knew his name. This evening I learned D’Army Bailey, an activist who founded a museum where Dr Martin Luther King was shot and killed in 1968 had died. In 1982 he raised $142 000 to buy the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where King was shot standing on the balcony of his first floor room on 4 April 1982. Later $9.7m was spent to transform it into the National Civil Rights Museum. Today’s New York Times reports, “The two rooms that Dr King had rented were restored, the bloodstained concrete slab was reset on the balcony and exhibits were installed depicting five centuries of history. Last year, a $27.5 million renovation was completed.” The exhibits and displays are an impressive and well documented record of the struggle of a people for equality and justice and I was much moved when I visited in May this year. The pictures show the exterior of the motel, the bedroom King used – in the state he left it – and on the balcony dr King with
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An American Traveller’s Tale Part five

Santa Monica: chill out in an oasis of calm Forty minutes down the road from Los Angeles International Airport is the seaside settlement of Santa Monica, and a charming spot it is too. Very chilled out, but also modern, authentic not tacky, with great restaurants and cafes (always important for me), an interesting and historic pier, a thunderously good beach and no showoffs (go to Venice Beach for that). I spent several hours there last week in between flights in and out of LAX. What a contrast to the hustle and hassle of a busy airport. It’s dead easy to get there. Take a Flyaway bus from just outside the entrance to Tom Bradley (or any other terminal) on that great sweeping boulevard where buses are monsters. The Flyaway bus to Santa Monica comes past every hour at 45 minutes to the hour. $8 for a single journey. (It’s even cheaper if you take a shuttle to a carpark and catch the Big Blue Bus – then it’s only a $1.) Remember the song…..”until the the sun comes up.on …”
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You’re on your own, US travel industry tells three mega carriers

The United States travel industry is distancing itself from the country’s three mega carriers who want the Obama administration to take action against Middle East owned airlines whom they say are competing unfairly. Three US mega carriers, United , American and Delta says that Middle East airlines, notably Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, all owned by oil rich countries are being subsidised by their government which make it harder for US airlines to compete. However the US Travel Association which represents the travel industry says the U.S.” Big Three’s complaints about being net-losers in the subsidy game are suspect in the extreme. Their definition of subsidies for themselves is narrow, while their definition for their opponents is broad and imaginative.” USTA CEO Roger Dow told delegates at the Association’s conference for international buyers in Orlando that the inbound U.S. travel market was growing by an average of six percent annually, reaching a record 75 million international travelers last year. He supported more competition not less in international travel. “The open skies policy has led to a reduction of about a
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Commerce Secretary promises easier entry to the USA

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is promising to reduce the wait time for visas to enter the United States, and to make the border crossing easier and quicker. She told delegates at a travel industry conference in Orlando that the Obama administration was committed to raising the contribution that tourism makes to the national economy and was pursuing several strategies co-ordinated at a national level. “The waiting times for visas from Brazil and China is now down from several months to five days.” Under the trusted traveller programme passengers from certain countries could get expedited entry on arrival. “3.8 million people are now enrolled in that programme.” She also cited the visa waiver programme which now applies in 39 countries including New Zealand. “59% of passenger arrivals are now from visa waiver programme countries,” she said. Visas for Chinese nationals to enter the USA will now be valid for ten years (instead of just one year) following a landmark agreement signed by the two countries last year. Ms Pritzker also that the Obama Administration “aims to provide the best arrival
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A Traveller’s Tale in the USA part four – 17 May

This is an eclectic collection of observations about American life as we have encountered it along the way; nothing too serious, but some are worth savouring and there isn’t a place elsewhere for them. So here goes: A coffee shop in Princeton (where else) Don’t block the box is a sign regularly seen on the streets of New York which always causes hilarity downunder. But seriously, blocked intersections are a problem, as this shows. And this is a carpark in New York. You work it out. Solar panels are often attached to power poles, private houses and other buildings in Pennsylvania and the power companies are obliged to buy back the power generated. Is that an idea worth copying greenies? This is a sign outside a public toilet in a national park which says you can’t take your gun inside. If you can’t take your gun into the loo, what are you supposed to do with? In society where carriage of guns isn’t just legal but guaranteed, this restriction might be unconstitutional. Seen on a T shirt…..every fish has its
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Walking North Boston is easy

Boston is about history, and Boston is about walking. The city’s two best features merge in walking tours. We took two self-guided tours: the Freedom Trail which covers many of the historic sites particularly of the start of the American Revolution and War of Independence; and an eating tour of the North End formerly known as Little Italy. You can use guides or go on a bus, but it’s not necessary. Little Italy starts across from the Haymarket station on the orange line on the Boston Metro.  On the bridge crossing the road is a timeline of migrants. Jews and others used the area over the years. I was struck by one migrant’s testament: “My parents came from the province of Abruzzi. They came because as my father used to say, there is bread and butter to be eaten here.” On the corner of Salem and Cross Streets is Goodie Glover’s pub, the name commemorates Ann Glover, the last person hanged as a witch in Boston (1688). She been an Irish slave transported to the West Indies in 1650, who later
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A Traveller’s tale in the USA – part three 8 May

Coney Island Adventures I have wanted to go to Coney Island ever since I saw the 1979 cult thriller Warriors where Cyrus, a gang leader calls a summit of all the city’s gangs in Pelham Bay Park Representatives of the Warriors gang from Coney Island attend, but get framed for Cyrus’s murder and have to make it home. The result is a series of confrontations and escapes until the dénouement on the sands of the beach where the real killer is himself killed and falls bloodied to the sands. Today the souvenir shop at Coney Island still sells a wide range of Warriors memorabilia, T shirts from toddler to giant, hoodies, ashtrays (yes ashtrays), fridge magnets and the like, and the shop owner tells me they sell well. Coney Island is the world of Robert de Niro’s Raging Bull, a throwback to the 1904s/50s, now well faded and not even faking its former glory. While it’s rundown and even seedy in place, there are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent redeveloping it. Paul’s Daughter’s café reflects those times. It
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A traveller’s tale in the USA – part two 4 May

I’m not a big believer in karma, but sometimes things work out. We’d applied for tickets to be in the audience of the David Letterman Show while we were in New York, never thinking we had even a remote chance of getting in. Today we had lunch at Rupert’s Hello Deli around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theatre where the show is filmed. (Got the selfie with Rupert and bought the T shirt). An hour later we get a call from Jaimie an EA on the DL Show. “You’ve got tickets, but you have to answer one trivia question correctly” :Ok what is it?  “Well you know how David often talks to Rupert on the show. What sort of business does he have?” Duh, he’s got a deli. “Yes, that’s right,” said Jaimie and we are in: three tickets for the live audience for the taping of the show tomorrow afternoon. Today we walked into Central Park through the gates at 78th Street opposite the Dakota Building where John Lennon got shot, and paused at the Imagine star where
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