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About markeb

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    Northern Virginia
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  1. Yeah, I'm thinking you're there on Saturday, but of course you're not. I know the Tower gets busier as the day goes on. When we went years ago, we were in London and just got there at 9:00 before the buses started arriving. That's not an option for you. The Tower Bridge Experience was definitely interesting. We did it a LONG time ago, so things could have changed. You see the inner workings of the bridge, etc., but it does take time, which is something you're not going to have a lot of. It might not be the thing I'd take time on... The Tower is worth the visit. You can probably Google average wait times to see the crown jewels, etc., and add that into your planning. Windsor, IMHO, is worth the time, but you are fitting a lot into your short visit. Just be flexible and try to adapt...
  2. If you're getting in that early, I'd probably look at Harbor East where there are things to do and not sweat the shuttles. The Marriott Waterfront is in a nice location, and I believe there are several other hotels in that area. The 5:00 pm departure will probably suck a bit. I know some folks rent cars (assuming their bags will fit out of sight) and spend the day in the area. Don't know if there are any decent day room options in Baltimore to at least have a place to leave bags and do something...
  3. I would expect the weekend to be busier at the Tower, but if you get there early, you're probably OK. Do you just plan to visit Buckingham Palace? If so, you can play that by ear a bit. The only thing that would be time critical would be if you were trying to catch the changing of the guard. Ditto the Tower Bridge; you can see it, easily, and walk across easily, but there's a "Tower Bridge Experience" that's more in depth and time consuming. I don't know that it's worth your short time. So the HOHO makes sense for an overview. You'll be on the South Bank next to the Eye, with Westminster Palace (Parliament) right across the bridge from you. There's a lot to see in the immediate area with a little wandering around, and it'll be light fairly late. For instance, you can pretty much walk past Westminster Abbey, etc., on the way to Buckingham Palace, unless you choose to make that a "hop off" stop on the HOHO, which would save you time on your first day. Get to the Tower as early as you can on Saturday. Check the opening times and be there early. If you can see the jewels, wander through the White Tower, and wander the grounds a little bit first thing in the morning, you'll have seen what you came for in a couple of hours or so, and have a lot of day left. I don't "know" if the Premier Inn will hold bags, but I've never had a hotel in London not...
  4. Four glasses at $13 + 20% gratuity is $62.40. I believe someone posted in an earlier thread that Caymus was going for $120 a bottle, so at 20% off (do you still pay gratuities back on a bottle?), that would be $96, so you'd be $30 ahead paying the upcharge per glass, more if there's a 20% gratuity on the bottle (can't recall, but I think there is).
  5. We lived in the Central Valley for a couple of years. We tended to go to Lodi and Livermore as Napa was such a zoo, and you pretty much had to go through it to get to Sonoma. Wente makes some great wines, but so few of the better ones get out of California.
  6. Or a really good GSM from Washington or Rhone...
  7. It's been a couple of years since we've been onboard, and I don't remember having a Zin. You have to remember the sheer volume requires they stay in a $7-20 a bottle retail range where they can get dozens of cases. Oddly, none of the Wagner wines, other than blending Zinfandel into Conundrum, lists Zinfandel. They're probably going to something from Constellation. Lodi Zins are great. Seven Deadly Zins was a Lodi product, but Michael David sold the brand a couple of years ago and is now producing single vineyard/single region Zins such as "Gluttony" from Amador County and "Lust" from Lodi. "Lust" is a heavy, high alcohol, Lodi Zin. If you really want something different, see if Klinker Brick Old Ghost is available at Total Wine on your way to your cruise. It's beyond spectacular!
  8. Beat me to it, Bo! They basically say "including", so probably some Merlot, and maybe some Syrah as well. I'm guessing mostly from Lodi, Central Coast, maybe Paso Robles these days. It's actually a pretty decent table wine, and the fact that it's a blend means they're not in love with a varietal that wasn't going to work that year.
  9. Being a momentary wine snob, Zinfandel is a red grape. One of the darkest and reddest. Any other adjective in association with Zinfandel reflects an aberration of a great wine... (YMMV, not judgement.)
  10. No longer true. Both wineries are owned by the Wagner Family, but Conundrum is produced in Monterey of grapes sourced all over California. It's a very nice wine, but the Wagner Family owns a lot of wineries... (many of which are found on cruise ships).
  11. Airlines have done this for years. The airline apps read the numerical codes at that bottom of your passport and automate the entry. That's all. I assume that's all the Celebrity app does. Eliminates data entry errors and simplifies the process.
  12. meadowlander has some good suggestions. Another option for Sunday is to go to LSP and take the ferry to SOL and Ellis Island (Ellis Island is an amazing location, but you can spend the day there...), then take the ferry on to Battery Park in Manhattan. It's a pretty easy walk up Broadway through through the "Canyon of Heroes" where the ticker tape parades are held, past Wall Street, and cut across to Trinity Church and say hello to Alexander and Eliza Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler on your way to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial. The memorial is worth seeing; there's also the museum, but it does take planning, and might be much for a 10 year old. You can catch the subway to Midtown, or SOHO, the Village, etc. If you go back to the 34th Street area, I have a self-guided walking tour I've posted over the years that gives you a great flavor of Manhattan without really crossing back to much, and would complement the idea of going from Central Park to Times Square pre-cruise. Central Park pre-cruise probably cuts down on pool time, but you are going on a cruise! PATH or NJT back to your hotel from 34th Street area. It'd be a busy day, but probably no worse than Disney. Manhattan is a big place, but you can cut it into bite-sized pieces that aren't too bad. One thing we've found over the years is that a lot of the city is closer together than you think. Different districts in and around Midtown, for instance, get discussed as though they're totally separate, but Murray Hill and the Flat Iron District are next to each other. You only have to walk a few blocks south of the most famous skyscraper in the world (The Empire State Building) to see the first skyscraper (the Flat Iron Building). The New York Public Library is actually only about 2-3 blocks from Grand Central Terminal, and 5 blocks from St Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. There are ways to see a lot of Manhattan, at least the better known parts, in a short amount of time and not a crazy amount of walking.
  13. That's a doable plan, and understand the early flight thing. Carol will probably chip in here with how to get to NYC on Sunday from the airport area. It's easier from Newark and Jersey City... You'll want to plan on getting a MetroCard when you get into New York. I believe the NJT will take you to the Penn Station area, and the 1 Train will take you to Columbus Circle, which is essentially the Southwest Corner of Central Park. Pull up Google Maps, and you can find info, including maps here. The south end of Central Park is at 59th Street. If you're up to the walk, there are several interesting options to walk back to 34th Street for the ride back to Jersey. Fifth Avenue will likely be a zoo, but you can at least go a couple of blocks if you want to, then cut over to 7th Avenue. You can walk by Carnegie Hall at 57th and 7th, and continue down to Times Square. If you're into pizza, John's between 7th and 8th is a favorite, and is in a converted church. Allegedly the largest pizzeria in the world. Let us know your other interests, and comfort level walking, and I can throw out some other ideas.
  14. Rooms at White Hart are great, and were nicely sized (traveling alone for business). Breakfast was wonderful. Stairway to 1st (UK) floor, steps down in hallway with bags, etc., were always somewhat more "entertaining". But the staff and location were great!
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