Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Planes and Trains and Automobiles

Saturday 23rd February 2013

So I finally finished packing. At 2am. After an eventful and hectic few weeks, I finally collapsed into my bed knowing that there was nothing left to do but sleep.

Until 5am, when I was rudely awakened by my alarm clock. I don't know why I do it, but whenever I travel I think it's a great idea to get the first flight of the day. For some reason, I always forget that a 9am flight means leaving our flat at 6am, to get to the airport, to check in and then spend an hour or so wandering around the shops just to keep myself awake long enough to board the plane.

We arrived at Edinburgh Airport at 7am, which (we thought) would give us just enough time to check in, drop our rucksacks at the oddly-shaped-luggage desk, get through security and go to Boots to buy the last few things I'd forgotten to pack, before boarding our flight at 8.15.

It all went smoothly (we'll ignore the fact that my rucksack was 1kg over the weight allowance – told you I'm bad at packing!), until we arrived at our gate. We sat down, exhausted by the rush of the previous couple of hours but knowing that in just a few minutes we'd be able to settle into our seats on the plane. Half an hour later, we were still sitting there. Just after 9am, when we should have been taxi-ing down the runway, we were still waiting. A short while later, an announcement came over the tannoy that our flight was delayed due to a “small technical fault”. Now, the last time I was given that reason for a delayed flight, five fire engines followed the plane down the runway as we came in to land. Excuse me for not being particularly filled with confidence at this point.

Two hours later, we finally boarded the plane. The technical fault – a leaking toilet.

Our flight was relatively uneventful – I think the highlight was probably the hilarity (caused by a mixture of over-exhaustion and being 35,000ft above sea level) that ensued whilst trying to work out the difference between the grapes that came with my meal (labelled vegan) and those which came with my boyfriend's meal (labelled Hindu. Ironic considering his meal was beef).

We landed at Newark Liberty International Airport at about 1.30pm and an hour later, after queueing in the hottest arrivals hall I have ever experienced, we passed through immigration to find our rucksacks sitting in the middle of the baggage reclaim hall being watched by two very lovely American security guards. I'm not sure how, considering we were among the first people off the plane, but we were the last people from our flight to come through immigration and the security guys were bored of watching our bags travelling on their own around the carousels. Phew!

From the airport, we took a train to New York's Penn Station. The train (which we had to wait an hour for – more waiting!) was a double decker train, and of course we decided the top deck was a good place to sit with our 70litre rucksacks. Note to self- the stairs on those trains are not wide enough for me, my rucksack and my hand luggage! 
On the train from the airport looking exhausted.  The label is a luggage label which got stuck in my hair somewhere between Edinburgh and Newark.  It stayed there until bedtime!

Most of the journey is through the industrial flatlands of New Jersey, until you enter a tunnel and all of a sudden you are at Madison Square Gardens – this took both of us by surprise! I'm not sure we were quite ready to arrive in New York, so when we walked out of the train station after 16 hours of travelling, we both just stood and stared like small children in an old fashioned sweet shop!

New York is SO TALL!

We giggled like school children all the way to our hotel, Hotel Wolcott, where we finally managed to collapse – we have arrived!

We wanted to try and stay awake for as long as we could to stave of the inevitable jetlag, so went out to try and find somewhere to eat. Just one block from our hotel there is a deli. Those of you in Edinburgh – imagine a cross between Peckhams and the Mosque kitchen. It's an amazing mixture of all sorts of fancy snacks, biscuits, crisps, wine and beer around the outside, with international food service counters in the middle!

Long story short - I was asleep by 7.30pm!

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