Manchester to London to New York!
29.04.2011 - 29.04.2011
I awoke at 5am on the morning of April 29th 2011. I'd been waiting patiently for this day for two whole years. Two years of planning. Two years of planning and I was still packing and rushing around at 11pm on the eve of my trip. So I arose at 5am after having about 3 hours sleep and set off for Manchester Airport.
After a relaxed but also slightly subtly nervous coffee chit chat with everyone that came to the airport (Mum, Dad, Step Dad, Laura, both Sisters & Brother) we said our goodbyes. Most goodbyes would be for at least a year and a half. Tears flowed from most so I had to make the goodbyes fairly brisk as I didn't want to be crying as I entered the security check area.
I was on my own now. The journey had begun. The flight was delayed from 9:30am to 10:10, then to 11:00, which meant I got to see 90% of the Royal Wedding which was actually a lot more enjoyable than I had imagined it would be. It made me feel very British. The plane finally got airborne around 12:10pm with me arriving to London Heathrow at around 12:45. I had to run to find my connecting flight as my ticket said that the gate would close at 12:45! Luckily after some running, a bus transfer and some more running I arrived at the gate about 20minutes before it was now due to close.
Unfortunately at this point I was told that my backpack couldn't run as fast as me and therefore it wouldn't be boarding the connecting plane to New York with me. Balls. Big fat hairy sweaty balls stuck to a leg. I was assured that it would be put on the next flight later that day and then be delivered to my hostel within 24 hours. Hum.
The flight to New York was quite pleasant; I was sat in amongst about 30 American students returning to New York after spending a term ('semester') in London. So I got some first-hand lessons and tips in the New York way of life. Coffee is pronounced Cawfee. Talk = Tawke. The flight attendant staff all wore cheesey British flag plastic hats to celebrate the Royal Wedding and, quite impressively; our meals were served in boxes with the British flag and a photo of Prince William & Kate with the date etc. A great thing about the flight was the tv entertainment; I got to watch Jackass 3, Family Guy, Peep Show & The Trip! I got to watch Steven Coogan on a plane = awesome! It made up for the delayed luggage. A hardened New Yorker from the Bronx named Natalie gave me her email address should I need any advice while I'm here in New York. I think maybe she just liked the look of my laptop & camera though so I don't think I'll take her up on anything!
So I arrived in New York! JFK airport.. it still didn't feel like America yet though as I was just in an Airport. I followed the appropriate walk ways to the security checking area. The queue was HUGE. I knew I was gonna be stood here for at least an hour. I don't know how long I queued for in the end as I stopped looking at the time after around 30 minutes having only moved about 10% closer to the check point area. There was a really annoying Indian man behind me in the queue that spent most of the time in the queue alongside me instead of behind where he belonged. Every time we walked a few steps when the queue moved along, he would take 2 extra steps and try budge up alongside me - it became a bit of a game as I tried to cut him off. I won. Stupid beardy.
Then came the dreaded US security officer check that I'd heard of. I got in line for a woman, this felt less scary. Oh how I was wrong. She was a small fat Latina-looking woman with a scary Bronx New Yorker accent. She grilled me. Oh she really grilled me. It nearly got to the point that I had to admit I actually had a secret plan to blow up the Sex and the City actresses. But I prevailed, she didn't get in my head and I walked through, to the land of freedom.
I left the airport and had originally planned to get a few trains to get to my hostel, but after my long day and being annoyed with arriving on my very first day on my trip with no luggage I decided to get a cab. There was a huge queue with over a hundred people waiting for the yellow cabs. As much as I really wanted to get in a yellow cab I could not be bothered with any more waiting around so when a guy walked past asking if anyone wanted to go in his cab in the car park across the road, I was tempted. He was a fairly large black New Yorker offering a ride around the corner, risky? Yeah. Did I say yes? Yeah. To be fair I said yes after someone else also said yes to him; a middle aged Brazilian woman and her hotel was close to where I needed to go so we shared. So yeah I got in a possibly dodgy cab within 4 minutes of being in New York. It was all fine, I got here safely and he was a nice dude. Plus I figure I'll be able to sit down again in like 2 days so overall it was a good choice.
So early on in the drive before the rape part, (RAPE WHISTLES ARE USELESS) I quickly learned that the driving in New York isn't what I expected. It is chaotic. I thought with this place being one of the most advanced cities in the world the driving would be kind of orderly. Not sure why but anyway it isn't. It's crazy. It was a little like driving through a war zone, we're talking really really fast driving, dodging in and out of lanes, cutting each other up every second, pomping, at one point my cab driver was in a duel with this other car, side by side when there was only one lane, the other car nearly ended up being drove completely onto the sidewalk.
We went over the Queen's bridge and it was my very first image of the New York skyline, not only that, but the sun was setting right behind the Empire State Building. It looked epic, and immense. Epically immense. It was kind of comical because the cab driver was like ''ohhh I aint never seen dat!'' then he said this… ''wait..man I don't think that's the sun..?'' To which I first thought was a joke, then I looked at him and said ''what else would it be?'' so he conceded that the massive orange ball in the sky was indeed, the sun.
I finally arrived at the hostel late on; it was dark now so I went straight up to my room and got in my top bunk bed. The dorm is a 10 man dorm, and man, it stinks. I'm a guy right but some of these dudes are just…well, I entered and the first thing I saw was a hairy overweight 90% naked dude led on top of his bed covers, with just his small red & white stripy underpants on, with, wait for it, his hand lodged comfortably down the back of his underpants, holding his own ass. Plus he was snoring very loudly. I figured murdering someone with a pillow in his sleep only 2 hours into my visit was too soon.
This concludes my first day of travelling, things went wrong, things were risky; it was very long, I was very tired but bring it on, I wasn't bothered - optimism to the point of ignorance is how I live! Will I get my luggage back?? How long will I have to wear the same underwear and jeans and t-shirt?? Keep tuned to find out!