Published: December 7th 2009December 5th 2009
You can’t help but wonder if you're actually welcome when you travel to the USA. We’ve been since 9/11, but the security just seems to keep stepping up and up. It starts with a series of questions at the check in desk. When did you pack your bags? Where have they been since you packed them? And so on. We didn’t get seated together. I wasn’t expecting to, having tried to check in online the night before and not being allowed to. Also, our travel agent seemed to have already pre-booked all of our seats on the other flights we took, but not the Manchester to Newark leg. We were on opposite sides of the plane, one row apart, with a promise to move us if possible. We waited for our name to be called at the check in desk, but it just didn’t happen. As I boarded, the guy at the gate asked me if I’d bought anything other than in the airport shops since checking in. I answered no. Then he asked me what I’d done with things that people had given me. Great trick question! I said nobody had given me anything, and then he let me on the plane!
A reasonable flight on Continental. Nothing special. Food very average. Well, mine was, poor Roy didn’t even get any! They forgot about him and then gave him lasagne, instead of chicken. He did ask again but eventually gave up. He wasn’t missing anything, I’d had the chicken and it wasn’t great.
We landed 30 minutes late at Newark. Then we had the dreaded immigration to get through. The airport was really busy, and it took us just over an hour all told. Mind you, at least once you’re through immigration all the bags are out. We then joined a line for a cab - it was snowing and so very cold standing outside. Because it had been raining, the snow wasn’t sticking, thankfully.
Before we knew it we were in Manhattan and at the Affinia Manhattan hotel. Check in was quick. We’re on the 9th floor and I debated whether to ask for a higher floor (there are 28) so as to try to avoid street / traffic noise. We decided to stay put. The room is ok - nothing special, but clean and quite big, with plenty of room for the cases and all our stuff. We pretty much went straight out for a walk. Quite a stupid idea really as it was snowing hard, really cold, and we had no umbrella. We walked north as far as the bottom end of Times Square (where it meets 42nd Street) and then, cold, wet and absolutely knackered, we turned back. Found a little restaurant called Jacks, and had a good filet mignon with some extremely garlicky mash and broccoli. We shared a bottle of Californian Cab Sav. Then we braced ourselves for the walk back to our hotel. We were in bed by 8.30pm! Slept pretty well, woke on and off - the taxi horns beeping all night - and got up just after 6am.