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Following the Beatles to Abbey Road + Other British Treats

Sunday, Sept 18, 2016 – Day 5 of London

<—Previously, we avoided imprisonment at the Tower of London

We only had one thing planned on Sunday, and that was the walking tour with London Walks called Magical Mystery Tour, which obviously represents the Beatles! Yep, it was Beatles time. But that wasn’t until 11am, so we were able to sleep in quite a bit, which was nice. We then headed a block or so from the hotel to a Cote Patisserie for breakfast, and it was wonderful. French, and we no longer cared about making it British. :-).

The Magical Mystery Tour London Walk

This is the route we would walk throughout central London during this tour

Another cool thing after going back to the room was realizing the meetup point was the Tottenham Court Road station, which was walking distance and one we’d been to many times. SoHo is a great place to be. We met there and immediately saw a few cute guys also in the group, and all was well. There was one who looked so much like Liam Hemsworth, but cuter. Hard to believe, but yes. There was also a hot guy that looked a bit like David Schwimmer, but way hotter. Anyway, so the tour! We immediately learned that we had been staying and walking amongst music history while being based in our SoHo hotel. We learned that as the tour first went back to SoHo Park as that’s where Paul McCartney’s music offices are. HOLY SHIT. Then around the corner from our hotel is Trident Studios, where a large part of the 60s and 70s music was recorded, including a big part of the White Album, David Bowie’s awesome stuff, Queen, Elton John, Carly Simon, Genesis….etc. Lots of awesomeness.

The tour then took us over to the Palladium where Beatlemania was born, Carnaby Street where the Swinging 60s epicenter was, Savile Row and where the previous Apple HQ was and also the site of the last Beatles performance on its Rooftop, as well as the alley area that has both the hottest club where Keith Moon asked to be in the Beatles along with the art gallery where John met Yoko. CRAZY.

Off to Abbey Road!!!!!!!

But the absolute best was yet to come, as we all then took the Jubilee line a few stops north to St John’s Wood, which is the closest Tube stop to Abbey Road!!!!!

Yep, we ended the tour at Abbey Road Studios, which of course is where most of the Beatles output was recorded as well as the location of the crosswalk best seen in the Abbey Road album cover.  So yeah, after the tour ended there, we all took pictures on the crosswalk.  Larry & I got a few good pictures solo, but I finally asked someone if they could take our picture together on the crosswalk and it turned out fantastically.   Yay!  We then went into the gift shop at Abbey Road and ended up buying most souvenirs there that we’d bought the entire trip.  It was a magical place and a great gift shop.

Tea Time!

Once ready to leave, we then returned back into London. Larry had noticed a restaurant that indicated it had afternoon tea on our walk to the Tube station, and that was one thing I’d wanted to do. So we had filed that away and so came back to it, having afternoon tea! The tea was very good, but there’s a lot to it that I’m not sure about. Finger sandwiches really weren’t to my liking and most of the cakes were not something I’d like. But happily, there was also chocolate cake and a glass of prosecco. I’m glad to have done it. May not need to do it again, although the tea was great.

Strolling to Buckingham Palace and into the Churchill War Rooms

It was a great break though. At this point, with it being our last full day in London, we only had a limited time left to do stuff. So we decided to do a swoop of Buckingham Palace, St James Palace and end it with the Imperial War Rooms. We tried to walk by the St James Palace and see the Palace Guard you can take pictures with, but the entire place was fenced off. FEH. We did stop by outside Buckingham Palace for pictures (no inside visits), then to the Queen’s Gift shop off to the side of the Palace to pick up Oliver!! We have a new Corgi puppy now. Ralphie will be pleased, I’m sure. After that, we walked through the park until we got to the War Rooms museum. It is amazing. I went there back in 2002 and remember it a little, but kind of get it confused with the Imperial War Museum, I think. So it was a lot of fun and it’s very informative of a museum. I really do want to get some WW2 books into my collection and read about it more – Churchill is such an amazing figure. There really were some ‘right people, right time, right place’ situations. It’s hard to believe.

Back through Trafalgar Square to get some Indian food at Kishoom

After that, as we were there until it closed, we walked back through town, through Trafalgar Square, and then Larry navigated us to Dishoom, a fantastic Indian restaurant in London. There was a line outside, and it’s worth it. We probably had to wait an hour or so, but again, so worth it. The first stop after getting out of the line outside was downstairs to the bar, where we did chat with a solo black woman from Bermuda. That wasn’t too long though as we then had our table back on the main level. The food was amazing, the wait staff were so helpful, there was a super hot waiter that wasn’t ours but biceps for days, and was a wonderful way to wipe out the memory of the disappointing Ippudo. Larry was happy!!!

Then it was time to walk back to the hotel through our wonderful SoHo neighborhood. We were done with bars and food at that point and it was time to go back and relax. Yay! Sleepy time and a nice and great end to a wonderful trip.

Honeymoon Picture Pages:

Fun Times in Vegas

This past weekend was a wonderful getaway.  Larry & I flew up on Thursday night to Las Vegas to meet up with Fran and Joel.  They were in this neck of the woods because they were headed to a conference in Phoenix this week, so why not meet up in a fun middle ground?  So of course, we were in for that!

We all stayed at the Palazzo, which was unsurprisingly fantastic.  It’s a huge hotel and has a smallish casino, to be honest.  But it was good enough as I ended up having quite a bit of luck playing there.  Well, the first night, not so much:  I decided to try Blackjack that Thursday night before going to bed and immediately lost $100.  ROUGH.  But it was on Friday when I played some craps and holy shit, I had a fantastic roll.  I was at the table by myself, which is usually a risky move, but it was $10 and sometimes it’s nice to not have the pressure of others betting on you and your roll. But that morning?  I was on fire.  I kept hitting the points and rolling 6s and 8s like crazy.  Started with $100 and walked away with $450.  That’s a nice session.    Our first activity that day was walking around the Strip in that area, as Fran hadn’t been in Vegas for over 40 years so it was worth walking her through a lot of it.   We walked south from the Palazzo, past the Venetian, Harrah’s, through Flamingo, then past Bally’s and into Paris.  We finally took a drink break at Paris and enjoyed the ambience.

After that respite, we crossed the street over to Caesars Palace as that is definitely something that can’t be missed when looking at over-the-top splendor.  The Forum Shoppes suitably impressed them, as did the curvy escalators!  After that, it was time to walk on back to the Palazzo and past the Mirage, which we’d return to on Saturday night.

Another drink stop back at the Palazzo casino bar area, and then it was finally time to get some Roulette in!  I don’t usually play, but it was the game that Fran was up for as Jon had asked her to play some #s.  Well, crazily enough, she was able to get some wins in – hell, so did I!  The best one was 33 hit, which I had bet on, and on the next spin, it came up again.  Sweet, and I had put another dollar on there.  35-1 odds, buddy!

That evening we had dinner at the Lavo Italian restaurant in the Palazzo, which was pretty great.  Joel’s boss and wife were also meeting us there for dinner.  The food was great, but I ended up unable to finish off my veal parmesan as it was ginormous.  But very good!

On Saturday morning, we awoke and instead of having breakfast again at the Grand Lux Cafe, we found Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro – quite a trek to find, but sooo damn good.  It’s a French restaurant and oh man, their weekend menu is delicious.  I ended up getting one of the specials, chicken with waffles, and it was fantastic.  Perfectly cooked chicken…bacon in the waffles….delicious.

After breakfast, that day’s walking adventure was to take the Monorail down to the MGM Grand so we could then not only see that but also see the New York New York casino.  We had to show them the fun theming there, even if it is kind of lame.  We then walked through the Excalibur and into the Luxor, where we had another drink break.  It was a lot of fun to stop there as they were playing music videos and all of them were just a blast to watch.  Larry & I could have probably hung out there, drank, and watched videos all afternoon!  We did then check out Mandalay Bay before catching a cab back to the hotel in order to get some rest.

We still had a fun night ahead, as we had gotten tickets to see the Beatles’ LOVE show at the Mirage!  Yay!  Michancy also joined us, so it was a blast.  I was excited to see it again (yes, again, I know) as for its 10th anniversary, they changed it up a little.  After having seen it, I think I preferred the original version to the tweaks that were implemented.  It’s not a giant overhaul by any means, but there did seem to be additions and removals that changed the overall excitement, maybe?  Regardless, still a great show and the newbies all loved it.  After the show, we then headed back to the Canal Shoppes and got dinner at Sushi Samba, which is quite an experience.  Really good food in a fun atmosphere.  Michancy suggested keeping going, but both Larry & I were done at that point, so we walked her to her car and then headed back to the hotel.

And then it was Sunday and time to go home.  We actually did have a good bit of fun in the morning, as we had breakfast at the Grand Lux again (their beignets were so good and their French Toast is insanely thick) and then after getting packed, we killed some more time at the casino, with Fran able to play roulette for a while longer and I went over and played craps again.  It was great as I was able to win some money – although not as much as some guys who were playing one of the particular-table bets I’d not seen before – Repeater bets, in which if you roll two 2s or three 3s or four 4s etc before 7-ing out, you get insane paydays.  It’s of course bigger at the 6 and 8 (120-1), but the 2/12 is still 50-1 I think, and it just goes up.  For those rolls in which craps numbers get rolled a lot, which sometimes happen, these bets are ridiculous.  One of the guys at the table literally won $1000 on those bets alone.  But I know full well that those are sucker bets too, as those great rolls don’t come all that often!

Anyway, it was wonderful to see Fran and Joel even if for a little while.  They drove off to Phoenix while Larry & I took our brief Southwest flight home.  I freakin’ love flying to Vegas now – so much less stressful.

Heading Back to Vegas!

Larry & I are going to be back in Vegas for a brief few days this weekend to meet up with Alyssa and Jon.  Definitely looking forward to a small getaway and here’s hoping some successful gambling also occurs!!  We’ll also be enjoying the Beatles’ LOVE show at the Mirage – this will be my….5th time seeing it?  Yep…5th time.  And I’m just fine seeing it over and over…it’s that good.

Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight

This twosome from the Beatles on Abbey Road is possibly my favorite Beatles “song.”  It’s an emotional punch of sentimentality as well as hope – and will always have a huge bit of memory for me.  I was listening to it once while walking to work in NYC.  I think I had gotten off the NY Waterway bus as something must have pissed me off about that day’s commute?  Anyway, the headphones were on and I had this on and it gets to the “Carry That Weight” portion of the song, and that’s when I realized it was beyond time to be out at work. I hadn’t explicitly told anyone besides Arielle and Joe at that point, and while I’m sure most of my coworkers were quite sure about my sexuality, I still kept myself in a closet of sorts.  Who knows why?  It’s just when you are still afraid of being rejected by coworkers/friends (for clearly no real rational reason), you can decide to put up dumb walls.

So hearing these lyrics from “Carry That Weight” resonated like hell with me that day. I was carrying an enormous weight of keeping this “a secret” and it was draining me.  Especially since there was so much additional stress of the job alone!   So yeah, that day at work, I was ready to stop evading any questions.  I still remember that for lunch, I had gone downstairs to the Rockefeller Plaza concourse to get a chicken katsu plate at the sushi place downstairs and the very friendly staff there yet again tried to sell me on the wonders of Jesus Christ.  I nodded politely and sat down to wait and messaged Sharon that it was hilarious that I was getting proselytized yet again at the sushi place as they’d probably flip out if they knew I was gay.  She ‘lol’d’ via the message and then pointed out that I had just come out to her.  She was happy, I was happy, and that’s that.  It really is a miraculous weight to remove when you do that.  After that, it was never an issue and never a problem to talk about my actual life.  Just remembering how that felt and then remembering having to not have a personal life while in the Air Force still makes me cringe. What a waste.

50th Anniversary of the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl

Last night we had the 2nd of our Mila-sponsored Hollywood Bowl shows, with the first being the thrilling Janelle Monáe concert from back in June.  Now that it’s nearing the end of summer, our concerts are going to coming fast and furious, which is great!

Anyway, last night was a tribute concert to commemmorate the 50th anniversary of when the Beatles first played at the Hollywood Bowl.  Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics was the main director for this concert and enlisted a few of his musical friends to come out and play and sing on Beatles tunes.  The first act of the show was a recreation of the original setlist they played, which they reminded us was only 30 minutes long!  It’s kind of mind-boggling to think that a concert would be that short nowadays, especially with what you spend on it!

Original Bowl Setlist Recreation:

  • Twist and Shout
  • You Can’t Do That
  • All My Loving
  • She Loves You
  • Things We Said Today
  • Roll Over Beethoven
  • Can’t Buy Me Love
  • If I Fell
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand
  • Boys
  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • Long Tall Sally

There were a few different artists helping to perform these songs, including Vanessa Amorosi, Liv Warfield, and Dave Stewart’s son, Django (?).  Also, Billy Ray Cyrus… well, they can’t all be winners.

After the intermission, we then got some more of the later-era Beatles, which was amazing.

Beatles’ Setlist, After Intermission:

  • Sgt Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Come Together
  • Help!
  • Blackbird
  • Here Comes the Sun
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Something
  • Get Back
  • Hey Jude
  • Yesterday
  • Don’t Let Me Down
  • Got to Get You Into My Life
  • Let It Be
  • All You Need is Love

Some new guests came out for this round of songs, including Martina McBride and Mary Stewart.  There was also a ridiculously talented 14-year-old girl who came out and rocked “Don’t Let Me Down” – it blew the entire audience away.  Billy Ray was also back for some more songs.  Anyway, it was a fun concert – no surprise guests but I guess we won’t get that kind of happening EVERY time.

August 24, 2014 – Pictures from the Bowl from the 50th Anniversary Beatles concert show

The marquee
The marquee24-Aug-2014 18:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 4.5, 9.648mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 160
In the tunnel under Highland
In the tunnel under Highland24-Aug-2014 18:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 1600
24-Aug-2014 18:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 200
 
24-Aug-2014 18:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 200
24-Aug-2014 18:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 4.0, 5.645mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 200
Pretty nice seats and location
Pretty nice seats and location24-Aug-2014 18:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 200
 
Selfie time
Selfie time24-Aug-2014 18:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400
The stage
The stage24-Aug-2014 18:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.6, 40.171mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 320
Fancy
Fancy24-Aug-2014 18:17, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 200
 
24-Aug-2014 18:17, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 100
24-Aug-2014 18:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400
24-Aug-2014 18:19, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 
24-Aug-2014 18:21, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 12.0mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 200
Mila and me
Mila and me24-Aug-2014 18:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 4.0, 4.736mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 200