Saturday, May 08, 2010

Saturday 8th May - Qualifying day!

Got up nice and early again today, had a quick bite (breakfast today was creme caramel, usually intended as a pudding, but it went down a treat this morning!), then headed for the train. Had a good run up to Montmelo, then popped in past the bakers shop again to buy a sandwich and a bottle of water to keep us going at the track, then headed up.

We noticed on walking up that the pavements were pretty sodden. The forecast today was for rain, but however when we got up this morning the forecast had changed to being mostly cloudy, it was a beautiful morning in Barcelona, so suncream was packed in the bag today! While walking up we came across the shuttle transport that was available to take folk up to the track, I just had to stop and take a pic of the 'trainie'!

Once we got to the track and got to where we wanted to sit, will was pretty clear there had been a fair dump of rain over night, the grassy bank was already soft sludgy mud, and that was to be out seat for the day!

Never mind, we started to make our way down the bank (it was very slippy), and popped down our (plastic backed) travel rug, my new shoes were caked in mud, so I took them off and left them to dry in the sun. We then had the entertainment of watching other folk try to get down the hill, so many folk fell, and then couldn't get up again! Not good. The sun was fairly warm today, so as time went on the mud gradually dried out.

There was a great atmosphere again today, there was a group of Spanish boys sitting in front of us, one of which was the life and soul of the party! He was interacting with everyone sitting around him, even us, although we didn't understand a word he said. There was a mexican wave going at one point too, which was caught on camera by the helicopter, it was on the big TV screens, don't know if it would have made it to the tv screen at home though ; ) See below a pic Rich got of Alonso when he passed, you can see the fists in the air by the fans, they did this every time he passed and every time he came on the big screen!

The red bulls seemed untouchable today! Rain is forecast for tomorrow afternoon by the looks of it, and although that will make things messy for us again, it will make the race a bit more unpredictable... we will have to see what happens!

We were a bit tired once we got back to the hotel so it was room service tonight, although listening to Rich ordering it was funny, the girl at the other end of the phone couldn't understand what he was wanting, lol.

We are going to get up a bit earlier tomorrow to catch the earlier train... this will be our last early start on the holiday though, we wont need to get there so early in Monaco (which early forecasts are also indicating rain!) We are not sure what is going on, rain forecast in usually dry and sunny Spain and France and this ash cloud is following us too! Barcelona airport apparently closed this evening, madness!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday 7th May - Friday Practice at Circuit de Catalunya, Montmelo

We caught the 8.30 train and was in Montmelo the small village beside the circuit about 30 minutes later. The walk up to the circuit was a bit up hill but plesant, we just followed the crowds!

We walked round the track today. Although we just have a general admission tickets, on the Friday a general admission ticket also gets you in to the grandstands. It was great to be able to watch the cars from different points, and we took the oppertunity to sit in the pit straight in the afternoon watching all the prep in the garages and people watching! We spotted Ted Kravitz (the pit lane reporter) and Jake Humphrey (BBC presenter), and also saw a few of the drivers too. Alonso was the only one to wave up at the grandstands, but the majority of the supporters at Barcelona are understandably Alonso fans! It was a great atmosphere in the main stand, there were a couple of men a few rows in front of us who had bagpipes, so they had the crowd going, and they were greatly received.

We couldn't get the English commentary on our little radio, so it was a bit more difficult to know what was going on, we did see Button hit debris coming out the pitlane in the morning though, which damaged his car and he seemed to go backwards from there. So we are hoping for better things for him tomorrow! The red bulls seemed pretty immense, if things are dry this weekend it may be a very uneventful red bull 1-2, but the forecast is still for rain, which will make things a bit more interesting.

Nico Hulkenburg had a bit of an 'off' at the other side of the track which resulted in a red flag for 10 minutes or so, here is his car being recovered back to the garage, it all looks very sombre being covered in the black covers, his mechanics will now have a long night rebuilding the car, but thankfully he was not injured.

Jenson coming back to his garage after a run, he seemed to try a few different things this afternoon, but didn't seem to be make him go any faster!

We avoided the crowds leaving after the F1 practice by watching the GP2 qualifying, then headed back to the station, got back on the train in about 10 minutes and headed back to Barcelona, it was very easy although I am sure things will be a lot busier tomorrow!

The forecast for today was just about right, mostly cloudy. The forecast for tomorrow and Sunday is showers/rain, so we will go prepared with our rainy day attire and look forward to some unpredictable action!
Thursday 6th May - Barcelona sightseeing

Today was a free day GP wise, so after a long lie we headed out in to Barcelona. We walked to the train station and checked out where to go tomorrow and bought our train tickets, 15 euro for ten journeys to Montmelo, pretty good compared to Scottish transport prices! The platform we had to go to was not very clear, but we found out where to go and headed back to the hotel via the shops to get some provisions!

In the afternoon we headed up to the Montjuic area, a place we had visited before but would like to go back to, luckily it is not far from the hotel so was easy walking distance. We walked past the magic fountains and got our photo taken from the top of the steps beside the art gallery (I think), which gave great views of the city (see the bottom photo - they don't seem to be in the order I uploaded them!)

We then headed up the hill further and spent a bit of time exploring the olympic stadium then headed up to a view point over the sea. We planned to take the cable car to Barcelonetta, an area on the coast just past the world trade centre, but it was not running, so we walked down to the bottom and got some lunch at the marina. We then walked up La Ramblas before heading back to the hotel.

In the evening we walked round to the magic fountain to watch the display, it was very pretty, the water was 'dancing' to music and illuminated by different colours too, it was pretty effective as dark was coming in.

It was then time to get sorted for our early start the next day, alarm set for 7.15am!

The Magic fountain display

Walking up La Ramblas

Inside the Olympic Stadium (it is currently being refurbished as it is hosting the European Athletic Championships)

The two of us posing for a pic with Barcelona in the background

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Fiona's 30th birthday trip - Barcelona and Monaco Grand Prix 2010

The trip got off to a sticky start- a no fly zone was announced for Scottish airspace from 7am on Wed 5th May and our flight was due to leave Edinburgh at 6.35am. We thought that we would be lucky and we should manage to leave before the ban came in to effect. However, about 8.30pm on Tuesday we got a text message from BA informing us that our flight from Edinburgh to London was cancelled! The BA help lines were closed for the night and we were unsure what to do next, try and make our own way to London and hope BA would sort us out from there (there was no way we would get down to London in time for our 9.10 flight to Barcelona), or stay put and phone BA the following morning.

After about half an hour researching options we decided we would have more chance of getting to Barcelona if we went down to London on our own steam, so we decided to book the train from Waverly at 5.50am which would get us in to Kings Cross for 10.10am. It would be fairly easy from there to get to Heathrow from which we hoped we would be able to get a flight out.

We went to bed for a couple of hours then set off for Edinburgh at about 2.15am, we had a great run down and got the car dropped off. The official word at the airport was that all flights were currently cancelled apart from a couple of Air France flights, but they were not guaranteed to depart. We jumped in a taxi to the station and collected our tickets from the machine and got on the train.

The train journey was very quick! There was also wifi available which was a new experience for us on a train! After the phone lines at BA opened we phoned up to explain our situation and to see what could be done... the lady was very helpful and booked us on the an afternoon flight to Barcelona - excellent!

Later in the journey Rich got another phonecall... this time from Mclaren Mercedes asking if we were still interested in getting a behind the scenes paddock tour in Monaco (it was a free draw that Rich entered a few weeks ago), so on Friday of the Monaco GP at 2pm we have to meet at the entrance to the pit lane for our tour!

We headed down to the gate for boarding and we first noticed Jock Clear who is a race engineer for Nico Rosberg (he was the engineer for Rubens last year) at Mercedes, there were quite a few Mercedes staff, all very obvious in their Henri LLoyd attire! We jumped on the bus to get to the plane and in the last group of folk to get on was Jenson Button! I was a bit unsure of what to do, ask for a photo or autograph or just leave him alone! We got on the plane, got seated and then Jenson walked past our seat, and was stood beside Rich for a minute whilst waiting for folk to get seated. He was talking to someone though, so best not to interrupt I thought...

A Henri LLoyd attired person was sitting next to me on the plane and it did not take long to get talking and it then turned out to be the quickest flight! It was so interesting to hear insight to the team, his name was Pez and he is a systems engineer and works with Nico's team. Although this was his job he cleared loves F1, and it was great to see that staff don't take it for granted what a great job they have! He has been taking a photo blog of the season so far and he showed us the photos on his iphone.

Soon it was time to land and Pez told us to ask for him when we get the paddock tour in Monaco, and I think we will do that for sure if we get the chance, even if just to thank him again for chatting to us and get a photo together.

Next it was baggage collection time. Jenson was stood next to us waiting for his case to come off! This time I thought I could not let it pass! I apoligised for bothering him and asked it he would mind if we got our photo taken together, he immediatley agreed and Rich got the camera out. The photo came out very well thankfully and I congratulated him on becoming world champion and for his success this season so far and wished him all the best for the coming weekend. I have to admit I did stutter a bit, and my face was probably a shade of crimson thoughout but who cares!

Here is the photo!

He was very polite, laid back and after thanking him he went to look for his bags on the carrousel, just a normal person!

The trip from the airport was very uneventful in comparison to the rest of the day, we then checked in to the hotel and got settled in. Hotel room is nice and comfortable, we are right next to the placa'espana and about 15 minutes walk from the train station. Went to bed about 10pm, so had a long day. All the upheaval was definitely worth it though.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Well, we are note quite in Scotland yet. Our flight back over the pond last night left the gate on time, but had to taxi for an hour before we reached the runway. The captain told us there was up to 40 planes in front of us waiting to take off! He said this is the norm when the weather is not good at JFK (it had been rainy all day and I think it got heavier in the evening once we were safely in the terminal. There was also little tail wind to help us make up time so we ended up arriving at Heathrow an hour late.

We queued up at the customer service desk for flight connections and listened to a lot of very grumpy folk annoyed they had missed their connection. The staff were doing their best to fix their travel plans. We are very lucky as we have got on the next flight to Aberdeen which leaves in about an hour and we have been granted access to the BA lounge which is a nice ending to the holiday! We are currently watching the GP qualifying and munching on some lunch.

Lovely day in London, and lovely too in Kemnay I believe. We are looking forward to seeing Hollie when we get home : ) And mum and dad too ; ) and having a shower!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day FIVE still

Well, it is now just after 6pm. We have spend most of the day at the shops believe it or not! I bought a pair of fit flops from Macy's with our visitors 10% off card and then we got bits and pieces. Unfortunately it has rained pretty much all day which is a shame, but it didn't dampen our spirits! It was mostly just a drizzle, bit it did pour at one stage so we had a coffee break!

The weather has really been kind to us up to now, and even though it was wet today it was not cold. We are certainly glad we did not have any plans to go up the observation decks or boat trips today, visibility is not so good.

We visited the Apple Store today. We resisted buying any gadgets, but it was an experience seeing all these Macs on show. The staff were all doing demos and trying to convert some PC folkies to being Mac folkies!

We are hoping for a smooth trip home, we leave at 10.30pm tonight and should get back into Aberdeen tomorrow about 1.30pm all being well.

Now we better get going to Penn Station to catch the train to JKF airport to start our journey home. We are sad to leave the city, but we have had a great time and here seen so much. We are looking forward to getting a welcome from Hollie tomorrow and hoping she will want to come home after her stay at mum and dad's and not go in a sulk!

See you back in Scotland!

Well, it is only 10.30am so there is not much to report from today as yet, I succumbed to the donuts this morning as it was our last day. Yum. Have to check out by 1pm, so may not get a chance to update again until we get home.

Today is the 8th anniversary of the September 11th Terror Attacks. We currently have the telly on showing the memorial service. There is moments of silence at the times when the towers were hit and then collapsed so far and the names of all the people who lost their lives in the attacks are being read out. They started reading the names over an hour ago and they are currently only on the surname L. It gives you a reminder of just how many people lost their lives on this day. Very sad.

We are just round the corner from Macy's, so we plan to head there this morning for a look and also to head up the FAO Schwartz store and maybe the Apple store. It is raining here today at the moment but the sky is not too dark, so it will hopefully clear.

Last night we went up the Rockefellar Centre to the observation deck. The sun was just beginning to set and we got some lovely shots of this. You got a good view of the Empire State Building all lit up, and you could see the expanse of Central Park. It was beautiful seeing the city lights sparkling.

After this we walked down 5th ave and then found the Grand Central Station. We had dinner at the steak house and it was really delicious. Such a tasty juicy steak cooked perfectly. The onion rings just melted in your mouth. My mouth is filling with saliva just talking about it! It was a lovely finish to our last day and something I would recommend hands down!

We then just headed back to the hotel and checked in for our flight home before heading to bed.

Off to enjoy our last day, it has really been a great trip with lots great memories!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Just back a the hotel for a quick break enroute to the Top of the Rock Observation deck then on the Grand Central Station to go to the Michael Jordan Steakhouse for dinner. Had another great day with lots packed in again!

Started after breakfast (healthy version today, no donuts) by heading to Penn Station and taking the subway C line to High Street in Brooklyn. Then walked up on to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked over stopping for photo opportunities at several points on the walk. Once we arrived at the Manhattan side again we walked down to the South Seaport area to visit the Bodies exhibit. This was really interesting, it was real dead bodies used to show skeleton, muscles and veins/arteries networks. The dead bodies were donated mostly, although I think that there were some that were 'Jane Does' as well. There was a pair of lungs from a person who was a heavy smoker, the lungs were disgusting, and I would hope smokers would take note of that and think twice about lighting up again!

After the Bodies exhibit we walked round the bottom of Manhattan, looking across to Liberty and Ellis Island and then round as far as the World Trade Centre site. There is the start of building a new skyscraper there now, called the Freedom tower I think. There will also we a memorial for the victims of 9/11. It is such a large area, and very sobering to think about that day when the towers collapsed.

We then walked straight back across via Wall Street and headed back to the South Seaport to board the Clipper Tall Ship for our boat trip. It was a bit too windy today for using the sails, one sail was used for a wee while, but was taken down again quite quickly once we turned around. It was a really nice informal trip, there was a few staff that were very friendly, you were allowed to help pull the rope to lift the sail if you wanted to.

After we arrived back to the berth, we walked up through China Town then back on to Broadway and back to the hotel. Now grabbing a quick coffee before heading out again. Phew!
Day THREE still!!

Ok, so that is us just back from the Lion King. Wow what a show! We had excellent seats just in eye-line with the stage and seven seats in from the aisle, at the start we had an elephant with its baby elephant walk past us down the aisle up on to the stage. It was all so close. It was so cleverly put together, it was just brilliant! The evening flew in! Not able to wear my fit flops with the trousers I had on tonight unfortunately, had to wear high heeled shoes. Have walked for miles in my fit flops without a problem. A 15 minute walk up to Times Square in my high heels and I have numerous areas on my feet where the skin has rubbed away. I had to walk back bare footed. Feet now a bit black!

Anyway, I was thinking that I have not posted a photo of our room yet, or posted the cheesecake photos, so here they come.....

The cheesecake! New York in the left and carrot cake cheesecake on the right. These two slices lasted us two days, so just bought one slice today.

View from our room - the Empire State Building! The one above taken on Labor Day therefore has the American colour scheme.

This is our room. A good size and a very comfy bed!

I will post tonights cheesecake tomorrow night when I upload tomorrows photos. I can report however that it is very smooth and creamy again. Yummy!

Good night!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Well, we went back to the initial plan for the day which was Central Park Zoo and the Museum of Nat History. We walked up 6th Ave to see the Rockefeller Centre, then crossed over to 5th Ave to see the Trump Tower. Just past there we came across the filming for the Sex and the City 2 film. We watched for a wee while. Didn't see any other the stars though.

Next stop was Central Park Zoo. A small zoo, but a good variety of animals to see. A new addition to their zoo family was the snow leopard which arrived in June, very topical in my family as that is the name of the new operating system for the Mac! It was a bit shy and stayed well hidden at the top of his enclosure.

Was also saw the sea lions getting fed and being trained. Saw a large variety of tropical birds and lots of other animals too, oh yes and the penguins. There were baby ones, and we watched one little one jump up the rocks to get on the higher level. Quite a funny sight a penguin jumping! It managed though!

After the zoo we walked up through the park (is it hard to believe it is in the middle of a huge city... it is so peaceful and quiet) and made our way to the museum of Natural History. Now, we have walked everywhere in Manhattan since we arrived, and have found everything we have looked for and got from A to B no problem. Did we manage to get around the museum without getting lost? NNN-oooo! We ended up outside the museum and had to show our tickets again to get back in! Crying out loud! It was really good though. Such a wide variety of exhibits to see. We were beginning to lag a bit, so got a coffee. It was not hot and I managed to drink it nearly in one go! So I can not recommend the (expensive) museum coffee! But it did the job and kept us going.

After the museum we walked back down the park and then onto 6th Avenue back down to Times Square. We passed Carnegie Hall and a beautiful building that was a hotel I think. We got to Times Square and went to get something to eat. Went to Planet Hollywood, food tasty but not overly warm again! After that we went back to Juniors cheesecake takeaway to get a slice to have later tonight after the theatre. Rich chose the Choc Swirl flavour, so will see how that goes down later! Then walked back to hotel and here we are! Leaving for the theatre in about 45 minutes, really looking forward to the show!

P.S. Donuts on offer again at breakfast today! Also had a cinnamon/rasin bagel. Yummy!

P.P.S Forgot to say yesterday, if you go the the Empire State Building I advise you not to wear a green t-shirt (as I did) as you get your photo taken in front of a green screen as you go in. When we saw it when we were coming out, I could not understand why I had the empire state building all over my t-shirt! I also have been trying to remember the name of the green sesame street character that was on the front of my green t-shirt since I bought it. The very nice security guard at the Empire State Building told me yesterday it is Grouch! So now I know!!

Just a quickie. We have just decided to switch our plans for day three and four. Rain and wind forecast for tomorrow, so going to do museums then and hoping to do our Clipper boat tour today instead and walk the Brooklyn Bridge.

Off for breakfast now... what to have today!

Slept well last night. Rich woke about 3am and Iwoke at 4am but we both got back to sleep no prob and woke again just after 8am. Got up, showered and had breakfast downstairs (yes mum there were donuts). Had some cereal a bagel and a donut (well it was to keep us going all day!)

Decided to take a chance and see what the wait was like for the Empire State Building. When we arrived the Doorman with the sense of humour told us the visiility was 10 miles today and the wait was only 9 hours... then he changed it to 10 minutes! Headed on up and didn't queue at all. Bought a map and the girl who served us gave us an audio guide for free which was really nice of her. Spent a good while up the top, was a little hazy but was still a brilliant view.

Next stop was the Madison Square Garden all access tour. That was really good, learned a lot of interest facts about the facility. Tomorrow (after the Liberty basketball game tonight) they start to make the ice rink for the Rangers season starting. Our tour guide was very excited about this! The place was huge! We are currently watching an Elton John concert on the telly which was recorded at madison Square garden. He has performed there 60 times so is a bit of a regular!

After the tour we headed out to the Intrepid museum. It was really interesting too, we walked through concorde and the growler submarine and then walked through the exhibits on the aircraft carrier. There were so many different kinds of plane, and so many different things to see. We both enjoyed this museum a lot, it was not too busy either.

Docked at the pier next to Intrepid was the cruise ship Aurora, the name was very familar to me, I wondered if someone I know has been on this ship before? We hoped that was would still be in the area when it sailed tonight so we could wave it off.

Next we stopped for a drink and picked up our tickets for the evening circle time tour which was next to the Intrepid museum, then we had a couple of hours to get some dinner. We walked down the Island about 20 blocks and found the Empire diner, which is still an old fashioned typical american diner. We both had a steak burger and it was delicious, very juicy. I then had a slice of oreo cheesecake (very creamy) and Rich had a coffee and a bit of the cheesecake. Yummy!!

It was now time to head back up for the circleline cruise, so we wandered back up to the Pier. Just as we were arriving, we spotted the Aurora was out of its berth and heading down the Husdon River, we stood and watched for a wee while, but it had appeared to stop moving. Anyway, time for the circleline tour so we headed off to board. We departed dead on time at 7pm, dusk now in NYC, and the skyline was beginning to illuminate, very beautiful site. We had a very informative guide on the tour, who started off by telling us that the Aurora had actually broken down and was now getting taken by tug boats back to her berth. We passed it as we started our tour and gave all the folk out on deck a wave, looks like they will be getting another night at least in NYC. Oh dear!

The river cruise was lovely, saw all the main landmarks. The two beams of light used as a tribute for the trade center attacks was also on tonight which was a poignant sight. They are not at the exact positioning of the towers as there is a lot of building work going on there now to regenerate the area.

Walked back to the hotel after the cruise and picked up a nice hot cup of tea from a dunkin donuts enroute. Got back to hotel and here I am! Ready to get some sleep now, but it has been a brilliant day!

Tomorrows plans are to head up Manhattan. Central Park Zoo, the Museum of Nat History, the MET maybe and will be in the area of filming of SATC2, so will keep an eye out for Carrie and Mr Big ; ) Will need to get back to hotel late afternoon to get ready for the theatre. Lion King starts at 7pm, picked up our tickets today. Very much looking forward to that!!

Talk to you later....