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Rockin’

Posted on Saturday, April 10th, 2004

McHappy!I finally managed to get my lovely case of food poisoning under control. Unfortunately, I still wasn't in any condition to go to work, which means that I'll be working on Easter Sunday tomorrow so I can get caught up. Bummer. Today was mostly a wasted day of washing clothes, watching television, reading my book, and not much else. About the only constructive thing I managed to do was work on my DaveCafe Hard Rock site for a bit. It's still got a long way to go before it's completed, but it's a start.

DaveCafe Cast

Unfortunately, my ambitious plans for a table-free CSS layout have been dashed thanks to the lame non-standards compliant browser that Microsoft built: internet Explorer. No matter what I do, the CSS I constructed for layout refuses to render properly in IE (even though it had no trouble in Safari, Opera, Firefox, and Navigator). Stupid Microsoft. This left me with little choice except to take a giant step backwards and go back to tables for layout.

This will be DaveCafe version 3.0. I was actually quite happy with the previous version 2.1 design, but I had seen it copied from time to time so I thought I would try something completely different. I hadn't seen any other Hard Rock fan sites with cartoon characters, so there you have it.

   

Hard Rock SLC

Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2004

Dave!The Hard Rock Cafe in Salt Lake City is a bit different than other cafes in two respects: 1) Due to Utah State liquor laws, there is no bar in the cafe... instead, you must purchase a "membership" to "The Brickhouse" which is a private club upstairs where the bar resides. 2) Since the number of rock bands out of Utah are fairly limited, local flavor is a bit sparse. Despite these two small quirks, HRC-SLC is a very nice property in the historic Trolley Square area of the city.

Hard Rock Salt Lake

The memorabilia is packed to the rafters, which is what a Hard Rock is all about! Sadly, some of the more recent properties seem to have forgotten this. If you look carefully, you can see the entrance to "The Brickhouse" up the stairs...

Hard Rock Salt Lake

Of course, there is one famous rocker to come out of Utah... Donny "I'm a little bit rock-n-roll" Osmond! Naturally, there's a nice section of memorabilia from the entire Osmond family, but the Donnie and Marie dolls are classic...

Donny & Marie

Salt Lake City is a bit out of the way for most people, but the Hard Rock is worth the effort if you find yourself in the Southwestern USA.

   

L.A. Rocks Hard

Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2004

Dave!This was destined to be a very long day, as I had two appointments at entirely opposite ends of the map. Of course, the distance is made even worse by the phenomenally bad traffic here (still better than Seattle though!). But at least the natives know how to drive in traffic... all you have to watch out for are the tourists, which is a nightmare in itself. Indeed, driving in Los Angeles is not for the faint of heart.

My day started with a drive to my first appointment in Santa Ana which is just 30 miles away, but takes around an hour to drive. After I finish up, I've got just a quick 10 minute drive to Newport Beach and my first Hard Rock of the day...

HRC Newport Beach

On the way to my next appointment up near Hollywood, I make a detour to my second Hard Rock of the day. Interesting to note that though the cafe is billed as "Los Angeles," it is actually located in Beverly Hills. They've made a few changes since I was last here, including changing the paint to black and adding these bizarre "flames" which I don't think looks as classy as it used to (and what's with the two dead palm trees up there?)...

HRC Los Angeles

After my last appointment, I head up the 101 to Universal Studios for the "Hollywood" Hard Rock (which is actually located in Universal City). This is the journey I debated whether or not to take, because you must spend $8.00 for parking whether you actually visit the theme park or not! And you had better have the $8.00 in cash, because they don't accept credit cards and will refuse you entry if the money is not in your hand as you drive up (this happened to me once before... who doesn't take credit cards anymore?!?). I finally decide to bite the bullet and pay the insane parking fee, since I'm just a few minutes away...

HRC Hollywood

Naturally, it's 5:15 when I leave Universal Studios, meaning that I'm in the height of rush-hour traffic as I head back to the car rental place. Oh well, I suppose it's worth it to say that I managed to get in all three L.A. area Hard Rocks in a single day.

   

Hard Rock Hollywood Florida

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2004

Dave!The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida is an impressive property, and it isn't even done yet! Apparently they are adding another 1000 rooms, a shopping court, and Hard Rock Live venue as well. In comparing it with other HR Hotels I've been to, it kind of falls short... for now. It doesn't have the grandeur of Las Vegas, the class & history of Chicago, the fun attractions of Orlando, or the sheer magic of Bali going for it, but it is still a heck of a fun place to spend your time...

HRHhollywood1

HRHhollywood0

When I arrived my "King-Style" pool-side room wasn't ready, so they upgraded me to a "Ruby Suite" at no extra charge. The room is amazing, but pretty ugly... I like "eclectic" but the hodgepodge of random colors, patterns and textures is a bit overboard...

HRHhollywood4

The sense of humor that makes Hard Rock resorts so entertaining is everywhere. This is my favorite...

HRHhollywood5

Sadly, the cafe is built into the hotel instead of being a separate building. I hate it when they do this, because the cafe does not have a separate identity outside of the hotel...

HRHhollywood3

The interior is kind of boring... just a square room... but the nifty slatted rafters and the HUGE memorabilia wall is great...

HRHhollywood2

I'm not much of a gambler, but it would be a shame not to go play the slots while I am here, so I suppose I am off to lose my hard-earned money. Wish me luck.

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Un-Gambling

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2004

Dave!Well, I spent $40 and somehow ended up with a total of $218.04, so I am guessing that I must have won, though I have no idea how I won. The "slots" here are pretty lame... as in that they are not actually "slots" at all. They are BINGO machines. All the spinning wheel graphics are just for show, because whether you win or lose is based solely as to whether you "daub" your virtual "BINGO card" faster than other players. So, if you get a BINGO, the wheels come up with a winning combination. If you don't BINGO, you sit there and watch the wheels spin, knowing they won't display a win because you've already lost.

It's all pretty stupid, and not very entertaining. I'm guessing Las Vegas has nothing to worry about if this is their competition.

Fortunately, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino of Hollywood, Florida does have a really nice pool area, so you can enjoy the place even if you don't like their crappy imitation slot machines...

HRHhollywood6

HRHhollywood7

Today was a pretty boring day. Originally, I was here to work, but that got cancelled... so now I am just killing time until I'm off to Tampa tomorrow. Tough life, I know.

   

Tampa

Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2004

Dave!So here I am at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa! This is a "vacation day" for me today, as I am trading it for next Monday's holiday (Memorial Day) at work. The reason I am here is to visit with a friend in New Port Richey this evening, which is over an hour away. Sure I could have gotten a hotel much closer, but it wouldn't be a Hard Rock now would it?

HRH Tampa

As with the hotel in Hollywood, they have somehow messed up my reservation. Furthermore, there was some arguing with the reception desk over my Hard Rock Pin Club discount of 10%... his response?

"I am sorry, but we are not affiliated with the Hard Rock."

Now, to fully appreciate this absurd comment, you have to know that he was standing next to a card with a Hard Rock logo, wearing a Hard Rock name badge, while handing me a welcome kit with Hard Rock written on it. How in the hell they could be "not affiliated" with the Hard Rock is a complete mystery to me. It isn't until I hand over an e-mail I received with "SAVE 10% AT THE NEW HARD ROCK HOTEL AND CASINO IN TAMPA" that he confirms I have my discount. Odd.

While smaller than the Hollywood property, I think I like this one better. Like last time, I was supposed to get a pool view, but again did not. I did, however get a nice corner suite upgrade with a lovely view of the Tampa skyline. When I actually visited the pool, it is pretty small (and not nearly as remarkable as all other hotels), so I guess I have nothing to be upset about after all...

HRH Tampa

This Hard Rock Hotel has music lyric quotes everywhere, even in the elevator, which I thought was cool...

HRH Tampa

The rooms are a bit eclectic, but much nicer-looking to me than the mixed-up Hollywood decor...

HRH Tampa

The merch store has this sweet Harley sitting in the window... I think I want to steal it...

HRH Tampa

They don't have motorcycle helmet laws here in Florida, which is kind of bizarre to me. I can't imagine being foolish enough to bomb down the highway with no protection for my brain.

   

Hard Rock Vault

Posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2004

Dave!The Hard Rock Vault Orlando is a kind of museum which features some of the organization's most precious and valuable memorabilia. Since every cafe in the chain is home to some pretty amazing stuff, I was always curious to know how it could get any better. The building itself is far-removed from the hotel and cafe in Orlando, and sits off the incredibly congested International Drive, just south of Universal Studios.

The building exterior is funky and dramatic... but mostly decorative, it would seem. As far as I know, there is nothing up in that inverted pyramid...

Hard Rock Vault!

A ticket costs $15 and gains you admission to the "hub" where photography is permitted...

Hard Rock Vault!

I have to hand it to them, they did a pretty amazing job of cramming a heck of a lot of stuff in that room in very inventive ways. It makes me wish that the city of Cleveland would hand over their lame "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" to the Hard Rock and let them make it much, much better. Nobody can take a load of old crap and make it come to life with warmth and interest better than the Hard Rock. It makes the "Hall of Fame" look cold and boring by comparison.

A cool piece that I almost missed is Elvis' Green & White Harley-Davidson motorcycle! The story is that he gave it to his chauffeur as a gift, and it was eventually sold the the Hard Rock. What a beauty...

Hard Rock Vault!

After wandering around the exhibits for a while, I was called for my tour into the actual "vault" where no photography is allowed. Since I was the first (and only?!?) visitor of the day, I was all alone on the tour which was very cool. There are 5 different rooms, each themed differently. The first room is the Punk Room, which I loved. The second was the Dressing Room which had some of the more outlandish costumes from rockers of the ages. The third was the Psychedelic Room (just like it sounds, mushrooms not included!). The fourth was pretty much all the Beatles Room (incredibly cool... my favorite piece being the back of the cereal box that Lenon wrote out the lyrics for Help on!). The last was an Elvis Room (complete with those stupid Vegas lounge singer duds he wore late in life).

If you have any interest in the history of Rock and Roll, the Vault is an absolute can't-miss opportunity, though I think the $15 entrance fee is a bit stupid, as I don't think very many people are going to be willing to pay that. They should have the entry be free, and then clean up on merch sales.

   

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

Posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2004

Dave!I have already been to this hotel a couple of times and absolutely love it... staying here is not only really cool, but it has the added benefit of moving you to the front of the line at Universal Studios attractions, which comes in handy. Today I have to get back to Ft. Lauderdale for my flight in the morning, but I thought I'd at least stop by, take a look, and maybe buy a few pins...

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

Here you can see what a real resort pool should look like...

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

I found this photo from my previous trip... I like the rooms here better than either Hollywood or Tampa (but not as well as Bali)...

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

If you are even remotely a fan of the Hard Rock and plan an Orlando vacation, this is the place to stay!

   

Mummy

Posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2004

Dave!The only thing I really had on my list for Orlando was the Hard Rock Vault, and so I was left with five hours to kill. There are a lot of things to do in Orlando, but most of the things I'd want to do I have already done on previous trips. I then remembered that Universal Studios had just installed the new "Revenge of the Mummy" roller coaster a few weeks ago, so I thought that would be something interesting to do. Unlike Disney, where the rides keep getting lamer and lamer, the Universal stuff always seems to be pretty cutting edge.

Tolls: $4.00
Parking: $8.00
Admittance Ticket: $58.00
Spending $70 to ride one ride in 100-degree heat on Memorial Day Weekend when the crowds are the worst that they can possibly get: Priceless

Mummy Revenge Ride!

Actually, thanks to Universal's "Single Rider" line, I was able to ride the thing twice in under 20 minutes which was pretty sweet!

The ride itself is excellent. Short, but really excellent. I think "Mummy" is meant to compete directly with Disney's "Space Mountain," as it too is a "dark" roller coaster ride. The difference is that Space Mountain hasn't changed in decades, and Revenge of the Mummy is fresh, hi-tech, thrilling, and a great run! Highly recommended. IMHOTEP! IMHOTEP!!

Since I didn't spend all day waiting in line at Revenge of the Mummy, I decided to see what else was new since I was at Universal Studios last. About the only thing left was "Shrek 4-D" which is a film that bridges the gap between Shrek and Shrek 2 rather nicely. Problem is... A) I had to wait in line for TWO HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES!! which was excruciating (Universal is over-selling their "express pass" and "priority club ticket" badly). B) I am not a Shrek fan... the humor is dated very quickly, the animation is crap compared to Pixar, and I've had more than enough of Mike Meyer's ridiculous Scottish accent. And, C) The reality effects consist of spraying water in your face and moving the seats... and neither one of these are done as effectively as their amazing "Back to the Future" ride. On the other hand, the 3-D effects were pretty top-notch...

Shrek!

After blowing nearly 3 hours on Shrek, I decided that anything else I waited for had better be worth it! Unfortunately, nothing at Universal Studios really did it for me. The good news is that I could upgrade my ticket for $20 so I could be admitted to "Islands of Adventure" where I could ride my most favorite roller coaster ever, THE INCREDIBLE HULK...

Hulk Coaster

Again, thanks to the Single Rider Line, I was able to ride twice in under 25 minutes! Man, I love that coaster! I've been on dozens, and this is the one that gets my blood pumping the most. Something about the way they shoot you up that Gamma Chamber provides a sphincter-puckering moment that's hard to beat when you drop off the other side. Nothing at Disney even comes close to touching it.

And, of course, the most excessive Hard Rock Cafe Orlando is just outside the gate...

Hard Rock Orlando

This has been a really expensive day. Only three rides and it cost me nearly $100.

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Buh-Bye

Posted on Sunday, July 25th, 2004

Dave!So long suckers! I'm off to meet up with some friends in the U.K., and then I'm off to Germany (and the Netherlands) with a fellow Hard Rock fanatic for a run through a good chunk of Europe's Hard Rock Cafes. After months of non-stop work and business travel, I am pretty happy to finally be getting a bit of a vacation...

Hard Rock Run 2004

Hard Rock Run 2004 Map

I will be blogging the run daily but, since I am not sure if I will actually have internet access each day, posting to Blogography may be infrequent for the next couple of weeks.

   

Hard Rock Dublin

Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Dave!After the raging tragedy of metal and plastic that is the Hard Rock Belfast (which looks like a slick sports bar masquerading as a Hard Rock), I was a little bit nervous about visiting the new Hard Rock Dublin. Turns out I needn't have worried. The Dublin location is quite nice, returning to the classic design formula that we know and love.

The exterior is a bit boring, but acceptable, and fits in nicely with other classic properties of the chain...

HRC Dublin

Though the dominate materials are the lush dark woods that define a Hard Rock, there's still a few modern touches, like the glass and brushed aluminum area dividers. As you can see, the memorabilia is a bit sparse, and there is no massive "museum wall" anywhere that makes up for it, which is about the only real downside here...

HRC Dublin

The interior looks quite intimate and small until you realize that you're only seeing half the cafe. A small bar and larger seating area is downstairs, extending underneath a nicely appointed merch shop that, unfortunately, suffers a bit from traffic congestion near the counter area...

HRC Dublin

Oddly enough, the architect has chosen to not repeat the glass and metal in the lower dining room. Everything here is classic Hard Rock, though the memorabilia is still lacking...

HRC Dublin

The staff is eclectic, hard working, and very friendly (much like the city itself!), and I very much enjoyed my dinner here. It would be nice if they could cram in a bit more "stuff" but, other than that, I wouldn't change much. I can only hope that one day Belfast will have a cafe more like this one so that the Emerald Isle will have two good cafes, both in Northern Ireland up north and the Republic of Ireland in the south.

   

Day Seven: Cologne

Posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2004

Dave!HRC Cologne: A quick hop with the most excellent (and amazingly cheap) GermanWings airlines, and Perry and I were off to the beautiful city of Cologne. Our first stop on Hard Rock Run 2004 was (naturally) the Hard Rock Cafe there, which is a fairly nice dual-level property with an enthusiastic and helpful staff...

Hard Rock Cologne

Hard Rock Cologne

We had planned it so that we could attend the Pin Club Meeting that was going on today and finally meet the famous Hard Rock personality Jens Beckmann (shown here with Perry)...

Jens & Perry

The turnout at the meeting was better than at any other I had seen, and had guest-traders from all over (including Shanghai, China, believe it or not!).

Dom: Just down the street from the cafe is the breathtaking Cologne Cathedral. Its massive size and enclosed location makes it very difficult to take a photo that does it justice (they are repairing it as well, so the scaffolding didn't help either). The structure itself is just amazing...

Cologne Cathedral

Now it's off to Amsterdam.

   

Day Seven: Amsterdam

Posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2004

Dave!Onward to our second Hard Rock of the day in Amsterdam. It's a nice 2-1/2 hour drive from Cologne (plus a little while spent in confusion while navigation through the city streets). This is a great cafe that has a premium location on the canal. It was a beautiful day with boats cruising up and down the waterway and flowers in bloom (which was quite a change from my previous visit in the dead of winter). If only I had remembered my polarizing filter...

Hard Rock Amsterdam

Amsterdam Flowers

As always, the staff was terrific. Here we are with Vellah from the merch shop, who was quite happy with the custom pin and laminate souvenir we gave her. I look either really smug or half asleep here (probably a little of both)...

Vellah

Tomorrow we're off again with a five hour drive south to Munich.

   

Day Eight: Munich

Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2004

Dave!Black: The five hour drive from Cologne to Munich was made a bit longer by a slight detour towards Baden-Baden so we could see the beginnings of the Black Forest. Like you might imagine, the trees are a very dark shade of green, making them appear black in the shadows. Sadly the trees we saw looks scraggly and dying, an effect of acid rain (which scientists estimate has damaged over half of the trees in the entirety of the forest). We should have taken time to see a bit more into the forest, because it sounds as though it might not be around much longer.

HRC Munich: The Hard Rock here is kind of boring on the outside, but is pretty sweet inside. Memorabilia isn't quite as packed in as I'd like, but there's still a pretty good assortment. Unlike many cafes, this one has a rather large dining room that's entirely open...

Hard Rock Munich

Hard Rock Munich

Concerto: On the way back from the cafe, we ran across a group of astoundingly talented musicians playing classical selections in a building underpass. The acoustics were as good as any concert hall, and a large crowd had gathered to listen. What a great way to end our first evening in Munich.

The drive down made for a short day today. Tomorrow it's more of Munich and off to the wonders of Neuschwanstein!

   

Day Ten: Berlin

Posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

Dave!Driven: As we made our way to Berlin, we passed mile after mile of traffic piled up behind a serious accident on the A-9 back to Munich which made us seriously happy we weren't heading in the opposite direction. Of course, karma has a way of balancing life, and so we ran into serious congestion due to poorly planned construction detours. Our five-hour journey quickly became seven hours, which took a huge chunk out of the time we had available in the city.

Rock: The Hard Rock Berlin has the distinction of being my only truly horrible HRC experience. in my previous visits, both the food and the service were abysmally bad. This time they seemed to have managed to get their act together a bit, because both the service and our dinner were fine. The cafe itself is pretty sweet, so I'm glad they're improving.

Charlie: About the only thing we had time for on our sightseeing list was a visit to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum for the Berlin Wall. It's a great museum (but unbearably hot) filled with fascinating memorabilia of a country divided. I particularly like the displays showing the ingenious methods East Germans used to escape to the West. The wall has long since gone, but you can purchase souvenir chunks and see a panel that's been preserved here...

Berlin Wall Remnant

Checkpoint Charlie

Tomorrow it's an early flight back to London and the bulk of our Hard Rock visits throughout England and Wales.

   

Day Eleven: London

Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2004

Dave!Our first stop whilst back in England was the Hard Rock Cafe London so we could visit with the "Lovely Rita," on "Rita Day" (which is the first Thursday of every month). Rita is the first waitress from the cafe back when it began, and now serves as an official ambassador for the organization. Unfortunately, this particular "Rita Day" was Rita-less, as she was away on holiday. Both Perry and I had met her previously, but it still would have been a hi-light of our run to have our photo taken with her.

The front of the cafe has been boarded up (again)... not for remodeling this time, but actual repairs. Apparently part of the front facade has fallen off of this grand old building. Given that this is the "original" Hard Rock Cafe, and the oldest in the chain, I guess it shouldn't be entirely unexpected. No big deal though, I had plenty of other photos from previous trips.

From the cafe, we made our way across the street to the Hard Rock Vault London. Unlike the spectacle that is the Orlando version of The Vault, this is an actual vault which was used when the building was formerly a bank. Also unlike the property in Orlando, if you ask Jimmy the tour guide really nicely, he'll also let you take a closer look at the goods (including the original guitar that Eric Clapton hung on the wall, which started the entire Hard Rock Collection in the first place -- it's the red one in front)...

HR Vault London

HR Vault London

That's me with Jimi Hendrix's custom Gibson Flying-V guitar, insured for a cool two million pounds sterling (about $3,700,000 US!). Needless to say, actually being able to touch rock-n-roll history makes this a more personal experience than what you get when visiting Orlando.

Next up was the Hard Rock Casino over in Leicster Square. It's more like a personal gambling club than an actual Vegas casino... small and intimate (pretty much just a few slot machines, and some gaming tables, with the clear favorite being roulette). Even so, it's a pretty nice place...

HR Casino London

Now we're off to the new Hard Rock Bar in Bristol.

   

Day Twelve: Bristol

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2004

Dave!Bristol (at the Western-most edge of England) is home to the first Hard Rock Bar. We had actually stopped by last night, but it was jam-packed and a band was playing, so we didn't get much of a chance to look around. As this is a bar, food-stuffs are at a bare minimum, but we were told that they did open up for a limited breakfast menu at 8am, so here we are. They advertise wireless internet access from British Telephone, but it's pricey and isn't worth a crap... the speed is painstakingly slow, and drops out constantly (even though I am getting full signal strength).

All that aside, it is a pretty cool property. I think it's kind of nifty that the Hard Rock is coming up with new ways to promote their brand, even in cities like Bristol that may not be able to support a full cafe...

HR Bar Bristol

HR Bar Bristol

Onward to Cardiff in the neighboring country of Wales...

   

Day Twelve: Cardiff

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2004

Dave!Many people don't really understand the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, and it's hard to blame them because it is a bit confusing (even for those living here). With that in mind, I offer this quick guide to the British Isles...

  • Great Britain refers to the entirety of the island west of the North Sea. It is divided into three separate regions known as England, Wales, and Scotland. Many people refer to Great Britain as just "England" which is completely wrong (and no doubt offensive to the Welsh and Scottish peoples).
  • The United Kingdom refers to all of Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) along with Northern Ireland (a big chunk of the Emerald Isle that was given to the British in exchange for the independence of the Republic of Ireland from British rule).

All that being said, the Hard Rock Cafe Cardiff is located in Wales of Great Britain of the United Kingdom (and has the distinction of being the first Welsh cafe). My heart sank as we approached the entrance, because it sure didn't look like it was going to be much of a Hard Rock at all. It looks more like a hole in a wall...

Hard Rock Cafe Cardiff

Looks can be decieving. Once inside, I was very pleasantly surprised at how nice this property turned out. The restaurant branched out into three separate levels, including a fantastic bar and even a terrace with outdoor seating in the back...

Hard Rock Cafe Cardiff

Hard Rock Cafe Cardiff

A wonderful, wonderful Hard Rock, and well worth the trip to lovely Wales.

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Day Twelve: Birmingham & Manchester

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2004

Dave!Continuing north, we stopped at the nicely appointed Hard Rock Cafe Birmingham and then onward to our last stops for the day at Manchester. While we had both visited these cafes on previous occasions, the new Manchester Hard Rock Casino would be new. As it turns out, it's very much like London's casino (more like a private gaming room than anything Vegas has to offer), but a bit larger with some video games tossed in the mix...

HR Manchester Casino

The entrance doesn't look like much, but it is perfectly located in the trendy Printworks complex which was really hopping this Friday night. Tomorrow our run comes to an end, with final stops in Leeds and Nottingham.

   

Day Thirteen: Leeds

Posted on Saturday, August 7th, 2004

Dave!The Hard Rock Cafe in Leeds is a bit hard to figure out. It's not a bad cafe, but it a bit of a departure from the Hard Rock formula with a cold look of glass and steel instead of the warm and inviting brass and dark woods we've come to expect. It's not quite the embarrassment that Belfast turned out to be, but could have been better had they worked on it a bit more...

Hard Rock Cafe Leeds

Next up... the very last stop on our Hard Rock Run in Nottingham.

   

Day Thirteen: Nottingham 100!

Posted on Saturday, August 7th, 2004

Dave!When I visited my first Hard Rock Cafe in Maui back in 1986, I had no idea that it would lead to an obsession that would carry-on for over a decade. For the past 18 years, I've included Hard Rock visits on my travels wherever I can, and have seen some wonderful parts of the world that I probably never would have travelled to if not for the Hard Rock Cafe. When Perry and I planned this run through Europe, I knew that my 100th visit would occur at the end, and worked the schedule so that it would be someplace special, namely the beautiful cafe in Nottingham, England (home of Robin Hood!)...

HRC Nottingham

HRC Nottingham

What I thought would be a private celebration of an event nearly two decades in the making, ended up being quite a bit different thanks to some sly planning on Perry's part. It turns out the cafe celebrated with me. They gave me a cake along with a T-Shirt signed by the entire staff! What an incredibly memorable way to mark my 100th Hard Rock visit (I turned the cake sideways so you could see the HRC logo that's behind the "100" candles)...

HRC Nottingham

HRC Nottingham

HRC Nottingham

A huge thank you to my very good new friend (and fellow Hard Rocker) Perry and everybody at the Hard Rock Cafe Nottingham for such an amazing, amazing event. I can't imagine a better (or more surprising!) way to celebrate such a crazy pursuit. The Hard Rock has always been so much more than "just a restaurant" to me, and things like this remind me why I love it so much.

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Cafe

Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2004

Dave!Finally managed to add my visits to the Hard Rocks in Cozumel and St. Thomas to my fan site: DaveCafe. Along the way I checked in with the official site and noticed that there are some new Hard Rocks in the world, adding to the recent openings in Destin (Florida), Foxwoods (Connecticut), and Dublin (Ireland)...

  • Panama: Looks like an amazing property. Unless I take a Panama Canal cruise or something, it seems unlikely I'll ever make it here, unfortunately.
  • Gothenburg: I loved my time in Sweden, and would absolutely return to visit here if given a chance.
  • Athens: I have wanted to visit Greece for as long as I can remember. I never really needed an excuse to go, but now that I have one I suppose I should start making plans! From the few photos on the site, this cafe looks fairly modern, but not obscenely so.
  • Hurghada: A city I have never heard of before. Joins Sharm El Shek and Cairo, giving Egypt a trio of interesting properties to visit one day (along with the pyramids, of course!).

Also on the "coming soon list" is Kuwait and Caracas (Venezuela). Still nothing for Seattle, however. I remain dumbfounded that the city which gave us Heart, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pear Jam, and a multitude of other influential artists remains without a Hard Rock Cafe. Somebody at HRC Corporate needs to be bitch-slapped.

Conspicuous by its absence is Oslo, which was billed as "coming soon" for a long, long, time and was supposed to open early this year but never did. Now that it's missing from the site completely, I wonder if it has been scrapped?

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Day Two: Louisville

Posted on Saturday, November 27th, 2004

Dave!"We're the sixteenth largest city in the US" she proudly proclaimed, leaving me slightly dumbfounded. I understand keeping track of the top 10, that's only natural, but who could possibly care about number sixteen? Unless there are sixteen places on the list, in which case you would be last, which would then mean you probably wouldn't go around bragging about it would you? Oh well. "That's great" I reply, not really meaning it.

Anyway, here I am in Louisville. Which is pronounced "Loo-eee-vhil" with a silent "s"... unless you live here, then it would be "Loo-uh-vhil," for reasons that escape me. Something to do with the regional dialect of a southern accent, I'd imagine. For my international friends (or domestic friends that just don't care), Louisville is in the northern part of the state of Kentucky, and is probably most famous for The Kentucky Derby horse race and Louisville Slugger baseball bats. I'd buy one to take home with me, but I doubt they'd allow it on the plane. That's really too bad, because my extracurricular activities could only benefit from an authentic Louisville Slugger...

DaveClown2

I arrived near midnight at the famous Seelbach Hilton (opened 1905), which is a magnificent old hotel right in the middle of the city. I love old hotels (The Menger in San Antonio, The Shelbourne in Dublin, The Vance in Seattle, etc.) because they have a history. Stuff happened here. F. Scott Fitzgerald loved The Seelbach (and, if the legends are true, was also kicked out of here after a drunken brawl). People and events at this hotel were inspiration for his most famous book, and one of the greatest novels of all time: The Great Gatsby. Al Capone was a frequent guest, and eight U.S. presidents have visited (draw your own conclusions). As I said, stuff happened here...

Seelbach

After waking up very late, I made my way to Hard Rock visit #103 just across the street (Muhammad Ali Boulevard, which was probably named something different back in 1905) in the "Fourth Street Live" complex...

HRC Louisville

HRC Louisville

The exterior is nothing really special, but the inside is kind of cool. The entire cafe is laid out in an arch around the bar, with stone-wall accents and plenty of memorabilia packed in every corner...

HRC Louisville

While dining, I struck up a conversation with another couple of Hard Rock fanatics on their 17th visit and was asked to join them for lunch. Just one of the many reasons I love being a part of the Hard Rock community is the nice people you meet, and this visit was made even more special because of it (and here's another opportunity to plug my Hard Rock fan site... DaveCafe.com).

Directly across the way from the Hard Rock is a really cool bowling alley called "Lucky Strike Lanes," that is stylish to the extreme. So stylish, in fact, that there is a dress code enforced... "Dress to Impress" the sign says. I have no idea what that means, but just by looking through the windows I can see that this would be an awesome night out with a group of friends. Nothing is quite so entertaining as getting drunk and throwing heavy balls with your closest mates...

Lucky Strike Bowling

And now I'm off to wander the streets of Louisville for a few hours before I hop on a plane to enchanting Milwaukee. I'm trying my best to be optimistic, but am told that low clouds at O'Hare (my connecting flight) are causing delays of 60 minutes or more. I can't wait.

   

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