Royalty Tours USA

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Royalty meets up with a few native Australians for dinner in Hornsby, Australia!‏

After the King & I spent the day at the Taronga Zoo seeing the animals, we went back to Circular Quay after taking a ferry back there. Thankfully I was able to get WIFI while I was there. By doing so, I was able to finalize plans to meet up with two special people. I'm referring to two guys I met back on August 23, 2011 when I went to Yankee Stadium after work. I was on the train with a co-worker of mine at the time. All of a sudden, we got involved in a conversation with two gentleman who came to visit our country from Australia. These guys I believe asked us if this train goes to Yankee Stadium. We told them it did. We spoke during the ride up. My co-worker who lives in upper Manhattan got off the train at 125th Street. I stayed on with these guys & I wound up escorting them right to their bar stool type seats out in short left field on the main level behind the regular seats that they bought online a few days before. It was great to meet them ‎& help them get to the game without a problem. Before I said goodbye to them, I took down their e-mail addresses & I gave them mine just in case. They told me if I ever go to Australia to let them know. At that time, I didn't know if I ever would go Down Under.

Last June, when I heard the Dodgers ‎& Diamondbacks were going to open the season in Sydney, I knew that was my chance to go Down Under. Once I booked the flights & the hotels, I decided to e-mail these guys, one was Joey Khoudair & the other was Jamil Mannah. Jamil told me his cousin played soccer there. Ironically his brother also now lives in Manhattan after he lived seven years in London, England. 

Hornsby Train Station
Hornsby Local Guide
A week or so later, I got an e-mail from Joey saying that he & Jamil indeed remembered me from when they came to NYC. He told me to call him when I got Down Under & we'll take it from there he said. We arrived on Saturday. I decided to wait until I got up Sunday morning to call him. True to my word, I called & I told him I'm with my friend. I mentioned that we had a day trip planned for Wednesday & a sight seeing bus tour on Thursday. I told him to e-mail me when he & Jamil were going to be available. It turned out that Tuesday night make the most sense for all of us. I asked him where they lived. He told me in Hornsby, which is North of Sydney about an hour away by public transport. So I looked on the map & I saw it. With that being said, I told them when we got back to the Circular Quay that we'll take a train ride there. It took about 45 minutes by train since it was rush hour & they skipped a few stops. I spoke to Jamil who e-mailed me back. He said to call him when we get to the train station in Hornsby. I did indeed. He told me to go outside by the taxi stand & Joey will come to pick us up. Shortly thereafter, Joey came along. We shook hands & greeted each other. I also introduced him to the King who I called by his real name which is Mike. We got into the car & we drove a short distance to a place called the Hornsby RSL Club. It was a nice place. In order to go there, you have to be a member which Joey & Jamil are. Mike & I signed in as guests. Once we did, Jamil who was already there, saw me & he came over to greet me. I proceeded to introduce him to Mike aka the King who never met these guys until that night.

Hornsby RSL Club
We proceeded to sit down at a table where we had some drinks then we all ordered dinner together. I wound up having a nice piece of grilled fish they call ‎barramondi. It came with mixed vegetables that consisted of cauliflower, carrots & string beans. In addition, it came with a slice of steamed pumpkin. It was a tremendous meal. The King ordered a burger with minimum add ons. Joey  & Jamil ordered burgers too with the works which included a fried egg on top. They told the King & I quote "this is what you missed out on". We enjoyed our dinner while we conversed back & forth. We told them of our plans for the rest of the trip as well as what we already saw. They got to relive their big trip to the States with us. They went to Los Angeles, Las Vegas & Houston before they came to NYC near the end of their journey. I met them the night before they were heading back home.

Me, Jamil Mannah, Joey Khoudair & The King aka Mike
As I told them when we were talking, this meet up was the highlight of the trip. We'll to be perfectly honest, it was one of the very many highlights of this amazing journey. I was so thrilled to that I got to meet them while I was there. It was such a wonderful passage of time. I want to personally thank them for their royal treatment. They unexpectedly paid for our meals. That wasn't necessary but they said they didn't forgot how I treated them when they came to NYC. With that being said, they wanted to take care of us. We were very grateful for their generosity. They also told us to go to a place near our hotel called Harry's Cafe De Wheels which is known for their meat pies. They said plenty of celebrities have been there. I told them I will definitely go there before we leave.

Joey driving on the right side
Me sitting on passenger side in front on the left
When we got done spending precious time with them, Joey drove us back to the train station. The King & I then went back to Potts Point to our hotel to get some sleep since we had to get up early Wednesday morning.

Stay tuned for another special post that will go into detail about that memorable day.

Thank you for reading ‎& following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Friday, April 18, 2014

Royalty schedule w/o 4/21

Here's the game plan:

Monday, April 21st Orioles at Red Sox 11:05AM Patriot's Day

                                Cardinals at Mets 7:10PM 

Tuesday, April 22nd Cardinals at Mets 7:10PM

Wednesday, April 23rd Cardinals at Mets 7:10PM 

Friday, April 25th Marlins at Mets 7:10PM

Saturday, April 26th Angels at Yankees 1:05PM

                                  Marlins at Mets 7:10PM 

Sunday, April 27th Marlins at Mets 1:10PM

                               Angels at Yankees 8:05PM
                        
Check back to see how it played out.

Hope all my readers and followers have a great week.

As always, if you need assistance don't hesitate to ask.

Stay tuned as I plan to finish recapping my memorable journey Down Under eventually. Please bear with me as I try to find time to catch up. I keep falling further behind. Please be patient. It will be worth the wait.

If you like to tweet you can follow me on Twitter too. @royaltytoursusa

Furthermore, we can hook up on Facebook and/or Four Square as well.

With all the ways to communicate these days, we should always be in touch.

Remember team work makes the dream work.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Royalty visits the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia!‏

Back on Tuesday March 25th, the King & I woke up, got ready & we enjoyed another hearty breakfast at the DeVere Hotel we stayed at in Potts Point while we spent time in Sydney, Australia. 

We took the advice that David Schaffer gave us the night before when we met him at the Lord Nelson Brewery in the Rocks. With that being said, we decided to spend the day at the Taronga Zoo. We left the hotel & we walked over to Kings Cross so we could pick up the train. For the second day in a row, we decided to buy the unlimited one day pass for $23 each. That way we could ride around the City & the surrounding suburbs however we wanted to all day long.

Taronga Zoological Park
Unlike the day before, this time we knew exactly how to get to Circular Quay. Once we got there, we boarded a ferry that took us to the Taronga Zoo this time. For a change, mother nature cooperated for us. The sun was even shining on us in the Southern Hemisphere. It must have been our lucky day. After taking a 12 minute ride, the ferry we were on docked at the Taronga Wharf. We got off the boat & we walked over to the lower level entrance of the Taronga Zoological Park. We went up to the window & we purchased tickets to see of our other friends. In other words, the animals.

Sky Safari
In order to get started, we needed to take a ride in a cable car which was called the Sky Safari. By doing so, we went up an incline to get to the main entrance where we started our tour of the zoo. On the way up, we got to see an aerial view of the gorgeous Sydney Harbour & the City of Sydney in the distance. What a spectacular view it was as you can see for yourself in the picture I took. 

In order to gain entry into the zoo, we had to show our receipt to the person on guard who marked it for us. After that, we began our walk around to see the different exhibits they had on display. We started with the alligators that were in the swamp & we went on from there. 

We then continued on to see the area called the bush birds where we saw a variety of various birds that they had on display in a number of different cages.  

Koala
After that, we proceeded to see the koalas who spend around 20 hours a day sleeping. So it wasn't a surprise that we didn't see any of them awake. They stretch out on branches of a tree & sleep. They have some life.

We then moved on to the area which was designated as reptile world. That exhibit consisted of an array of frogs which included the corroboree frog which is Australia's most endangered species. We also saw some white lipped tree frogs. In addition, there were turtles, iguanas, rattlesnakes & lizards. We even got to see a komodo dragon which is the world's largest living lizard. 

Giraffes
The next stop was the African Safari which is where we got to see giraffes, a sumatran tiger which is the smallest surviving subspecies of Tiger. We also saw zebras which are unique animals because like us human beings their fingerprints aka stripes are all different. In other words, no two zebras have the same stripe pattern. Furthermore, we saw bongos, barbary sheep,  chimpanzees, lions & a sun bear.

Spotted Deer
As we continued making the rounds, we got to see some Asian elephants, spotted deers & a fishing cat. As we kept walking along, we got to take a stroll through the gorilla forest. 

Once we finished seeing the gorillas, we followed the dotted path which lead us to the water animals. I'm referring to the seals who like to put on a show & the penguins who only live in the Southern Hemisphere. When got done there, we passed by some Australian pelicans.

As we looped around to finish seeing the rest of the areas we missed, it started to rain for a change. Luckily we saw the majority of the exhibits while it was dry. Regardless we didn't let mother nature dampen our day. We dodged the rain drops as we continued on to care of some unfinished business.

Tasmanian Devil
I went all the way to Australia to see some kangaroos & the tasmanian devils which are only found now in Tasmania. When we finally got to the tasmanian devil conservation centre, the two tasmanian devils that we in there were sleeping.

Red Kangaroo
After we left there, we wrapped up our visit by going to see the Australian walkabout. By doing so, we got to see some kangaroos who reside in Australia. in other words, we saved the best for last. It should be noted there were a few different kinds. One was the red kangaroos which are the largest. They live in family groups called mobs which are ruled by a dominant male. They also have other ones that are known as eastern grey kangaroos. They prefer to rest in the shade. Kangaroos in general, live on grassy plains. They have square shaped heads & broad square snouts. On the other hand, there are other animals that resemble kangaroos. They're called swamp wallabies who are smaller & more maneuverable. They live in damp forested areas. They have cone shaped heads & narrow pointed snouts. One thing that they both have in common is that they both hop around. 

In retrospect, it turned out to be a wonderful learning experience for us. When we finally got done after spending five hours there we went back down to the ferry area on a Sky Safari cable car. We timed it right as the park was getting ready to close & a ferry was getting ready to leave. All in all, it turned out to be a great educational day.

When we returned to Circular Quay, I was able to get WIFI again. As a result, I was able to finalize plans for a special get together that night.

Stay tuned for a special post that will go into further detail about how that turned out.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Royalty goes to visit the Beaches in Sydney, Australia!‏

After the weekend came & went while we were Down Under so did the baseball games that we saw. For those of you who thought our party was over because you thought we just flew 7,500 miles each way to see sporting events, think again. Just like we did when we went to Tokyo, Japan back in March 2000, we planned to get cultured as well. 

After getting a good night sleep Sunday night, the King & I decided to use our time wisely on Monday. First we cleaned ourselves up then we had a hearty breakfast at the DeVere Hotel where we stayed when we were in Sydney. When we finished, we left the hotel for the day to explore what Sydney had to offer. 
 
King Cross Train Station
We proceeded to walk over to nearby Kings Cross which is much different in the daytime. We went there because that's where the closest train station was to our hotel. It was only a 5-10 minute walk away. When we arrived at the train station, we decided to buy a one day pass for $23 which gave us unlimited rides on the buses, trains & ferries. It may seem like a lot of money for one day but when I did my research as I was planning out this trip it made perfect sense to invest in it. If you take a bus somewhere, you have to pay for each ride. They don't give you a free transfer either. That's $2.20 for each single ride. You can buy a 10 ride card which gives a ride for $1.84 each. In addition, what they charge per ride is based on distance on the trains so by my way of thinking those rides to go from place to place will add up fast. So with that being said, the one day pass was a no brainer for us.

Once we bought it, we hopped on the train. Unfortunately we got on the wrong one. We went in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go that being towards the ferries at Circular Quay. After we realized we were going the wrong way we got off the train after a handful of stops & we waited for the train to come from the other direction. After a short wait, we got back on the right track. It was a good learning experience. As a result, we got to see other areas of the Sydney suburbs. We had plenty of time on our hands for a change so it didn't really matter. When you couple that in with the fact that it was raining we needed to stay dry anyway. 
 
Manly Ferry
After taking a scenic route, we finally got to Circular Quay. We walked over to the ferry area. We saw that the next ferry to Manly Beach was five minutes away so we walked over to that wharf & we got on board. By the way, if we didn't wisely buy the one day pass like we did earlier, it would have cost us $16 each round trip to take that ferry ride to Manly Beach & back. More proof that we did the right thing. 
 
Sydney Opera House
Once we left Circular Quay, we passed by the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge on the left side of the ferry & the iconic Sydney Opera House on the right side. As we continued on, we passed by some amazing scenery along the way towards Manly. As we got further & further away, we saw the City of Sydney in the distance. We finally arrived at Manly about 40 minutes after we left the Circular Quay. 
 
Manly Wharf

Manly Local Guide
Manly Beach
We got off the ferry & we walked through the Wharf towards the beach. Along the way, we passed through an area where there were places to eat, drink & shop. Despite the less than ideal weather conditions we made the best of the situation. We wandered around by the beach area. We sat down & relaxed as we watched people who were swimming and/or surfing in the water. It was cool to watch the surfers took a beating as they fell off their surf boards as the waves came roaring in at them. After an hour or so, we decided to head back to the ferry area. Since the weather wasn't great, we decided to take the next ferry back to Cingular Quay.
 
Bus 333 to Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
People getting ready to surf at Bondi Beach
When we got back there, we decided to take a train ride to Bondi Junction which was the last stop on the blue line. When we got there, we saw a sign for the 333 bus that went out to Bondi Beach which is the famous beach in the Sydney area. After waiting a short time, we hopped on the bus which we didn't have to pay for since we had our handy unlimited day pass. Since it was later in the afternoon, I think the bus was making limited stops. It was a pretty good ride to get there nonetheless. All of a sudden, we saw the beach so we got off the bus. We wound up walking around for a little while. Just like at Manly Beach, there were some people swimming and/or surfing there. We walked around & we took in the gorgeous scenery. It would have been better if the sun was shining on us. After we decided we had enough, we went back to the bus stop so we could catch a bus back to the train which took us back to Circular Quay.
 
Lord Nelson - Sydney's Oldest Hotel
Lord Nelson Brewery
We then decided to take another ferry ride. This time we went to the other Harbour which is known as Darling Harbour. Since we had the day pass we were able to go joy riding to pass some more time. While we were doing so, I was able to get WIFI for a short time. As a result, I got in contact with fellow ballpark chaser David Schaffer who was staying in a hotel in the Rocks. I told him that the King & I needed to eat dinner. He said he was planning to go out for some drinks at a bar near his hotel called the Lord Nelson. We arranged to meet him there around 8:30PM. With that being said, it worked out well for all of us. We got to see him again & we got to eat dinner while we all enjoyed some drinks. The King & I wound up having fish & chips. It was a decent meal. The King was a very satisfied customer. Being such a picky eater, that's saying a lot. I'm glad we found a place to his liking. 

As for David, he wasn't hungry so he just enjoyed a few adult beverages as he likes to call them. While we spoke he told us that he was hanging out earlier in the day at a Pub called Fortune of War. All of a sudden, fellow ballpark chaser Ken Liu popped in. It was raining & miserable outside so they both lucked out as they got to enjoy each other's company again. They wound up spending three hours together he said. They also met some ladies from San Diego while they were there. As a result,  it turned to be a great day for them too. 

After spending a few hours with David, we said our goodbyes & we wished each other a safe trip back home. David was going home on Wednesday. We asked him about the Taronga Zoo since he had gone there when he arrived in Sydney on Thursday. He said he spent a few hours there. He said it was worth our while to go there. I told him we planned to. We appreciated his input which gave us an idea of what to expect when we got there.

Stay tuned for another special post that will go into further detail about our visit to the Zoo on that Tuesday while we were still Down Under.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Monday, April 14, 2014

Royalty schedule w/o 4/14

Here's the game plan:

Tuesday, April 15th Cubs at Yankees 7:05PM

Wednesday, April 16th Cubs at Yankees 7:05PM 

Friday, April 18th Braves at Mets 7:10PM

Saturday, April 19th Braves at Mets 7:10PM

Sunday, April 20th Braves at Mets 1:10PM Easter
                        
Check back to see how it turned out.

Hope all my readers and followers have a great week.

As always, if you need assistance don't hesitate to ask.

Stay tuned as I plan to finish recapping my memorable journey Down Under eventually. Please bear with me as I try to find time to catch up. I keep falling further behind. Please be patient. It will be worth the wait.

I would like to wish all my readers who celebrate the holidays, Happy Passover & Happy Easter.

If you like to tweet you can follow me on Twitter too. @royaltytoursusa

Furthermore, we can hook up on Facebook and/or Four Square as well.

With all the ways to communicate these days, we should always be in touch.

Remember team work makes the dream work.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Royalty enjoys dinner on the barbie at Phillip's Foote Restaurant in Sydney, Australia!‏

View of  Famous Sydney Harbour Bridge
After the King & I finished watching the MLB Opening Series games at the Sydney Cricket Ground, we decided that we wanted to start taking in what else the City of Sydney had to offer. With that being said, we were starting to feel hungry. Thanks to a co-worker of mine, I was told that we had to go to the Rocks which is the neighborhood filled with Pubs right by the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge for dinner one night at a restaurant called Phillip's Foote. When he told me about it, I knew I would find a way to get there. Furthermore, I knew I was in for an Australian treat.
Circular Quay in Sydney Australia
After we took a bus to the CBD aka the Central Business District by the Sydney Harbour & the iconic Sydney Opera House which is also known as Circular Quay which is pronounced "key". That's where you can pick up ferries to go to different parts of Sydney & its surrounding areas. We decided to take a walk over to the Rocks which was only a stone's throw away. Once we walked over to George Street which is one of the major streets in the CBD. We made a right turn & we followed the numbers until we got to 101 which was where Phillip's Foote Restaurant was located. The window signage said fine wine, fine food so I was reassured that it was going to be all good too.

Phillip's Foote Restaurant in the Rocks
We walked inside & we were greeted by a fellow mate who showed us around. In the front of the restaurant they had the bar where you ordered your drinks from. As you walked further in they had a set up that resembled the Outback. It was really cool. We wound up going to the back of the restaurant where we placed our order for dinner. Our meal consisted of a choice of different steaks which came with potatoes, daily fresh made bread as well as a salad & fruit bar. It was an all inclusive meal for $33. 

The unique part of the meal was that we got to make our own steak on the barbie. That way if it wasn't cooked right, you could only blame yourself for messing it up. They had signs above the barbies to guide you along on how to cook it just right to fit your taste buds. 
T-Bone Steaks on the Barbie
As for the King & I, I did the cooking. We both chose to have T-Bone steaks which I cooked to perfection. Both of us were very satisfied customers. Initially when I told the King I had a nice barbecue place for us to go to, he had his doubts. He was thinking it was going to be a pit style joint like they have down South here in the States. Since he's so afraid to try new kinds of food, I wasn't surprised. I knew all along it was a place he was going to like since he likes to have steak dinners from time to time. Once we got settled in, he realized I didn't steer him wrong. It turned to be an excellent choice like I was told beforehand.
Victoria Bitter aka VB
We ate like royalty Down Under. In addition, we got to have some local beer there too. One of the popular beers there is called Victoria Bitter aka VB. I had one of those at the Light Brigade upon arrival so I knew I liked it. The King decided to try it. He enjoyed it as well.

After we relaxed & finished our food & drinks, we decided to walk all the way back to our hotel in Potts Point. It wound up being a long walk but we had plenty of time to do it so we didn't mind. By doing so, we got to take in more of the CBD on foot. It was an interesting stroll to say the least. 
Once we finally got back to our room, we got a good night sleep in anticipation of a very busy & fun filled week ahead while we were spending time Down Under. 

Stay tuned as I will continue to recap this amazing journey as it unfolded.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Royalty sees Game 2 of the MLB Opening Series in Sydney, Australia!‏

Tickets to Game 2 for MLB Opening Series at Sydney Cricket Ground
After getting a decent amount of sleep, the King & I woke up Sunday morning, March 23rd & we got ready for a full day of activities Down Under.  After we cleaned ourselves up, we got dressed & we went to have breakfast at the DeVere Hotel. When I booked the room, I knew what the breakfast meal consisted of because they had a nice detailed description of it on their website. Needless to say, I got what I expected & then some. They had a wide variety to choose from. In other words, they had hard boiled & scrambled eggs to baked beans as well as other things such as cereal, toast, bacon & sausage. It should be noted that they did have small packets of vegemite but I wasn't daring enough to try it LOL. I knew it was worth buying. Since I put a lot of emphasis on eating breakfast, I wanted to make sure we got our money's worth & we certainly did. It cost us $13 a person but considering the prices of necessities there it turned out to be a sound decision. I know I did good when the King said he was a satisfied customer. Being such a picky eater, that was music to my ears.
Poster of Dodgers & Diamondbacks by Fan Fest area

Me & Stacey Flores in the special booth at Fan Fest
After we finished eating, we went back to our room to get the stuff we needed for the rest of the day. It was around 10AM so we decided since we had plenty of time before the game started at 1:15PM, we wound up walking all the way back to the Sydney Cricket Ground for game two of the MLB Opening Series. After feeling lost the night before, we became pros at getting around literally over night. It took a while but we finally arrived at the Sydney Cricket Ground shortly before 11AM which gave us some spare time to play with since the gates weren't scheduled to open until 11:30AM. As a result, we decided to walk around the outside of the venue in the meantime. When we got near right field, the King told me he was going to sit down on a bench to rest. I told him that I was going to walk around when I saw what appeared to be a fan fest type set up. By doing so, I got to take a picture in a special booth they had set up with the Cricket Ground & the Opening Series logo in the back drop. Ironically while I waited my turn in line, all of a sudden, Stacey Flores, another ballpark chaser who I met for the first time at the Light Brigade the day before, got my attention. I told her to join me so we could take a picture together. It was a pretty cool moment for both of us. Timing is everything. We were in the right place at the right time. We spoke briefly then I went back to where the King was. Shortly thereafter, the King & I proceeded to go inside. We wandered around the lower level before we headed upstairs to our seats in the upper level. This time we were sitting over the Dodgers dugout which was situated between third base & home plate in Bay 404 row A. For a change, it was nice to have a slightly different perspective to watch the game. Thankfully mother nature cooperated this time & the game started on time at 1:15PM.
View from our seats in Bay 404 row A at Sydney Cricket Ground
Unlike Saturday, I was able to get connected to WIFI which made for a really fun afternoon as I was able to let family & friends back home know how things were going thus far.
King's 7,423rd baseball game live in person
As for the game we saw, the Dodgers didn't waste time as they scored first again right off the bat. In the top of the first inning, they got a one out single by  right fielder Yasiel Puig then with two outs first basesman Adrian Gonzalez worked out a walk. They had two men on with two outs, center fielder  Andre Ethier delivered a clutch run scoring single to right center field to give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead. Ethier wound up getting thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double to end the inning. In the third inning, the Dodgers added to their lead when they got four hits which they turned into two more runs courtesy of Yasiel Puig who singled in one & Adrian Gonzalez who hit a sacrifice fly to plate the other one. In the top of the fifth inning, the Dodgers extended their lead against Diamondbacks' starter Trevor Cahill who lost his control. He walked the first two batters & he got pulled from the game. Josh Collmenter came on to pitch in relief. He wound up walking the first batter he faced to load the bases with no outs. Former Met Mike Baxter hit into a double play which drove in a run to made it a 4-0 game. Third baseman Juan Uribe followed up with a clutch two out run scoring double to left center field that made the score 5-0 as the book was closed on Trevor Cahill. On the other hand, Hyun-Jin Ryu threw five shutout innings for the Dodgers who tacked on single runs in the sixth & the seventh inning to extend their lead to 7-0. The Diamondbacks finally broke the shutout as they got a run thanks to a single to right field by left fielder Mark Trumbo in the bottom of the eighth inning. He also drove in their lone run in the opening game. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Diamondbacks put a scare into the Dodgers as they roughed up their bullpen for four more runs but Dodger closer Kenley Jansen was able to finally close the door in a non save situation after he struck out right fielder Gerardo Parra to seal the deal after he allowed a home run to Mark Trumbo which made it a 7-5 ballgame. That's the way it ended four hours & a minute really seconds later. Luckily we had no way to go so we didn't mind the extra long time consuming game. I was happy since I got to use the WIFI longer than I expected.

King & I after the game 
During the game, we did get a visit from fellow ballpark chaser, David Schaffer who came up special to say hello to us. It was great to see him again. He had a seat downstairs where you couldn't go to unless you had a ticket for that area. We did try to go where he was sitting but we weren't successful. With that being said, we did appreciate him coming up to see us. I know other people we met the day before said they were sitting in the outfield. We couldn't see any of them because in order to get to those seats, you needed to go into a separate entrance. With that being said, those people were stuck out there. Ironically, after the game as we were on our way out of the venue, we ran into Stacey Flores again. She was looking for her friend Evan Bates. They had seats on the lower level on the third base side she said. We spoke briefly then Evan came along. we walked outside together as we all said our goodbyes. They told us they were leaving on tomorrow which was Monday to go back to Phoenix. They had come earlier in the week so they already got to see the different sites. They were in a down mood since they knew their party was coming to a close.               

Stay tuned for the next installment as I go into detail about what the King & I did after the game.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Monday, April 7, 2014

Royalty sees the 2014 MLB season officially open in Sydney, Australia!

Tickets to 2014 MLB Opening Series Game 1 at Sydney Cricket Ground
After enjoying an overwhelming welcoming gathering, the King & I as well as other people we met including Martyn Bailey all walked over to the Sydney Cricket Ground to see the Arizona Diamondbacks who were designated as the "home" team for the 2014 MLB Opening Series Games. They played host to their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. We arrived there shortly after the gates opened at 5PM so we could take a walk around the inside of the venue, snap pictures & watch batting practice as we prepared for the official start of the new baseball season Down Under. In the process, we got to meet up with fellow ballpark chaser, David Schaffer who hung out with us before the game as we took in the pre game festivities & atmosphere together. We then proceeded to go upstairs to our seats in the upper deck which were right behind home plate the way we like it.
King & I at Tokyo Dome on March 29, 2000
The last time the King & I left North America to see the baseball season open up in a different country & continent was back on March 29, 2000 when we saw our beloved New York Mets host the Chicago Cubs at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The Mets lost the first game they played there but thankfully they won the second one. They did so in dramatic fashion as Benny Agbayani hit a grand slam in the tenth inning to to send us back home very happy to say the least. What a thrill that was.
 King & I along with David Schaffer at Sydney Cricket Ground
Now turn the clock ahead almost 14 years to the day & this time we were in a new country & continent doing the same. For those of you back in the Northeast, the first pitch was scheduled to come at 4:15AM which was 7:15PM local time in Sydney live on Saturday, March 22nd. Thanks to mother nature, the season was delayed an additional 45 minutes as we had to wait out a rain delay. Finally at 8PM local time, Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks delivered the season's first pitch to Dodgers' right fielder Yusiel Puig & just like that baseball was back for real.
View from Bay 446 row W at Sydney Cricket Ground
As for the rest of the game, the Dodgers drew first blood on the young season as they scored the game's first run in the second inning as center fielder Andre Ethier grounded out to second base but it was good enough to score first baseman Adrian Gonzalez who lead off the inning with a walk. He advanced to third base on a double by leftfielder Scott Van Slyke. The Dodgers added two more runs in the fourth inning when Scott Van Slyke hit a two run homer to right field to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. The Diamondbacks broke the shutout in the sixth inning when they got a ground out to second base by newcomer & former Angel Mark Trumbo who they traded for in the off season. He made an impact instantly as he drove in the first run of the season for his new team. Unfortunately for the rest of the Diamondbacks, they couldn't figure out how to beat arguably the game's best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw who pitched well for the first six & two thirds innings of the game. He allowed just the one run, he walked one & he struck out seven in the process. The Dodgers' bullpen shut it down the rest of the way as they were victorious in their first game to start the new season.
Dodgers win, 3-1!
After the game, the King & I wandered around the ballpark. When we finally got back down to the lower level, we ran into Stacey Flores, another ballpark chaser who was looking around for her friend, Evan Bates who she made the trip with. Needless to say, she was disappointed that her Diamondbacks failed to come away with a win. I told her hopefully they'll get even tomorrow. She smiled & thanked me.
After we parted ways, the real fun began for the King & I. We needed to find out our way back to the DeVere Hotel we were staying at in Potts Point. Since we stopped off at the Light Brigade first we didn't know exactly which way we needed to go. Luckily we walked a short distance & we saw a bus stop. We asked a guy who was waiting which bus goes towards our hotel. He kindly told us to get on the bus that showed up shortly thereafter. We took it down Oxford Street. He told us where to get off. He said to walk back a few blocks then make a left. He said it's about a 15 minute walk to our hotel from there.
Ironically, we wandered down the block in the opposite direction when we got off the bus. All of a sudden, Gavin who was Ken Liu's host in Sydney noticed us lost souls on the street right outside a restaurant they were eating at right at that time. He told us to come in. So we sat down & we spoke to them for a little while. He went on his smartphone & he googled our hotel when I told him the exact address. He confirmed that we were told the right way to get there. Since we were new to the country, we wanted to make sure we were going in the right direction. After we finishing speaking to them, we walked the way we were told. Thankfully we did indeed get to the hotel eventually. It turned out to be an interesting walk as we passed through Kings Cross, which is the red light district in the City. It was an interesting area to say the least.
Once we finally got to the hotel, we went up to our room & we got some much needed sleep after a very long day.
Stay tuned for another special post that will recap the way we spent our Sunday in Sydney.
Thank you for reading & following along.
Yours truly,
Gary Herman

Royalty schedule w/o 4/7

Here's the game plan:

Monday, April 7th Flames at Devils 7PM

Wednesday, April 9th Orioles at Yankees 7:05PM Tanaka's Yankee Stadium Debut

Thursday, April 10th Red Sox at Yankees 7:05PM

Friday, April 11th Red Sox at Yankees 7:05PM

Saturday, April 12th Red Sox at Yankees 1:05PM

                                  Marlins at Phillies 7:05PM

Sunday, April 13th Marlins at Phillies 1:35PM

                               Red Sox at Yankees 8:05PM

Check back to see how it played out.

Hope all my readers and followers have a great week.

As always, if you need assistance don't hesitate to ask.

Stay tuned as I plan to finish recapping my memorable journey Down Under eventually. Please bear with me as I try to find time to catch up. I keep falling further behind. Please be patient. It will be worth the wait.

If you like to tweet you can follow me on Twitter too. @royaltytoursusa

Furthermore, we can hook up on Facebook and/or Four Square as well.

With all the ways to communicate these days, we should always be in touch.

Remember team work makes the dream work.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

Friday, April 4, 2014

Royalty goes Down Under to see MLB baseball season start & then some!‏

Prince is ready to go Down Under from JFK
On Thursday, March 20th the King & I realized a dream when we boarded a Delta Airlines plane to Sydney, Australia that made a stop in Los Angeles, California from New York JFK airport. We left NYC at 4:45PM Eastern time. We arrived in LAX at 9:12PM Pacific time. We then wound up going right to our connecting flight that was getting ready to board for Sydney, Australia. We finally landed Down Under at 6:20AM local time on Saturday morning which is 15 hours ahead of our time zone here in the Northeast. In the process, we flew passed the equator & over the international dateline. By doing so, we didn't get to enjoy Friday the 21st. With that being said, on the way back we would make up the day we lost.

My Passport Stamp
Upon arrival, we went through customs to officially get into a new country & continent. Lucky for us, the process went rather quickly. Once we finished, we proceeded to go to the Travel Concierge at Sydney Airport since we didn't have a preset game plan as far as sightseeing went. Without further adieu, I spoke to a young lady there named Fatima who was very helpful at guiding us along. First of all, she told us they had a shuttle bus that we would take us right to our hotel. I knew from doing my research that the Airport Link train they have goes to an area called Kings Cross that was a 7 minute walk to the hotel. That was $16.40 one way. Fatima told me we could take their shuttle bus instead one way for $19. It would have been $32 round trip but since we needed to leave early upon our return to the airport, we decided to take her up on her deal. In retrospect, it turned out to be a smart move. For a few bucks more, we got door to door service right to our hotel. It was better than dragging our luggage around more than necessary. Since there were other customers on the bus we got to take a ride around the CBD aka the Central Business District if you will. That's what they refer to as their downtown area there. After taking a joy ride we arrived at our hotel in Potts Point which is a classier suburb of  inner Sydney. The lady who sat next to us on the plane told us that it's a very nice area. I think she gave us sound advice when it was all said & done.

Prince at Sydney Airport
In addition, we also purchased a one day trip to go to the Blue Mountains & Wildlife Park Tour & the Australian Explorer which is a sightseeing bus tour for another day. By doing so, we had something set in stone for a few of the open days we set aside to look around the City & the surrounding areas during the time we planned to be there.

DeVere Hotel in Potts Point, Australia
As for the hotel, we stayed at the DeVere Hotel for six nights which also included breakfast each morning that we paid half price for since we were staying at that hotel. Their slogan is simply comfortable & affordable. It wasn't the top of the line nor was it the bottom of the barrel. It was somewhere in between. It suited us just fine since the location turned out to be ideal for our needs. Upon arrival early Saturday morning, we were able to get an early check in at 9:30AM instead of the normal 2PM check in time. In addition, since we got there around 8:45AM they even gave us a voucher for a free breakfast while we waited for our room to be ready. Right off the bat, I knew I made a sound decision when I booked the room online in the middle of February. 

I also want to personally thank our pal, fellow roadtripper & experienced world traveler, Sean MacDonald who was vital in helping me plan out this once in a lifetime journey. He guided me along as I found a way to piece together this excursion to foreign land. When I first knew I was going there, I didn't have a clue. As it got closer, I did the best I could researching online & I also read a book called Australia For Dummies that a co-worker of mine had given me. He used it when he went there on his honeymoon last April. It proved to be a very helpful & informative tool in finalizing my trip plans. 

Once we got checked in, we went to the room & we got to catch up on sleep since we were exhausted from the long plane ride we took to get there. We managed to get three hours sleep before we went out to meet up with some Ballpark Chasers that I arranged to meet on our way to the Sydney Cricket Ground where the MLB Opening Series games were taking place between the Los Angeles Dodgers & the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Across the street from the hotel, there was a Woolworth's store that sold tickets for the bus that would take us towards The Light Brigade in Paddington where we were going to meet these people at 3PM for pre game drinks. We wound up buying a ten ride pack for $18.40 which was a discounted price from the usual $2.20 they charge for each ride individually. It turned out that we needed to take two different buses in order to get where we needed to go. That plus some help from some perfect strangers aka mates as they call people there. Thankfully we were able to find a few who were very nice & helpful. Without them, we would have never found the place without wasting more time. We did arrive later than planned because we had to wait for the first bus for quite some time. In the end, it all worked itself out.

The Light Brigade in Paddington, Australia
When we finally arrived at the Pub, I walked in & I looked around for familiar faces but I didn't notice any right away. All of a sudden, I heard someone yell out & I quote "Casiano" it was none other than Eddie Bultman who was present & accounted for along with a table filled with other Ballpark Chasers. Among those people who showed up were David Schaffer who's also from NYC. I've met him a few times. I arranged to have him join us there. In addition, Ken Liu who I had been in contact with online also showed up. He lives in Los Angeles & he likes the Dodgers. He was there with a guy named Gavin who he hired as his host for the time he was spending in Sydney. Furthermore, a young lady named Stacey Flores who I spoke to briefly online through the Ballpark Chasers Facebook page was there with her friend Evan who now lives in Phoenix with her but he said he's originally from Seattle. They were Diamondback fans. We also met up with a guy from Toronto named Martyn Bailey whose been to 66 different countries he said. I remember him mentioning on the ballpark chasers  Facebook page that he was going too. It was great to meet him. Last but definitely not least was a gentleman named Paul Tyson who was there with his lovely wife Susan. Eddie & I knew him from Twitter. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. He & Susan came up to see the first game. As a result, he's the reason we wound up there in the first place. It turned out to be a memorable welcoming gathering for all of us. We all got to share stories of our amazing travels.

Ballpark Chasers meet up at The Light Brigade
When we got finished we made our way over to the Sydney Cricket Ground which was within walking distance. Along the way, we lost some of the group & since communicating was difficult because I didn't get a data plan while I was there, I had to rely on WIFI & random meet ups. Ironically the King & I managed to run into some of these people along the way at the game. 

Speaking of the game, please stay tuned for a special post that will go into detail about the first MLB game ever played Down Under.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman