Jammed Overground and Lost Underground

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July 24th 2012
Published: July 25th 2012
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Hotel ViewHotel ViewHotel View

The view from our hotel room, looking south.
Unlike the last holiday, there were to be no driving adventures this year as it was back to flying again. This meant all the usual packing and worry about the weight of the bags. It was great to be able to just throw everything we wanted into the car last year.

We were flying from Heathrow, which meant having to battle our way there on the M25 so we left excessively early. The last thing we wanted was to repeat the stress of a previous city-break to San Francisco when we were within seconds of missing our flights thanks to the M25.

After a slight issue getting into the long-stay car-park as some idiot mistyped the car registration number when he booked it online, we eventually got through the terminal and had a very disappointing fried breakfast in the Weatherspoons.

For some reason our seats were right in the middle of a group of American school children. Our hearts sank, but needlessly as they were very well behaved. It was quite entertaining when all the customs forms were being passed round and we must have heard “BA-173” a hundred times when they all kept asking their teachers what
Music in Dempsey'sMusic in Dempsey'sMusic in Dempsey's

The casual music playing in this East Side pub.
the flight number was.

They had apparently been to London, Paris, Athens and several places across Italy, so it sounded like a phenomenal school trip – a bit better than the Lake District and Isle of Wight where our son and daughter’s school trips had been.

As we found when we last flew to America, the Americans seem to love to clap and cheer when the plane lands. I’m not sure if they are pleased to be back on American soil, relieved to survive the flight or congratulating the captain on the quality of his landing. A few thought the plane had landed when it hadn’t and had a little cheer of their own early on.

Once we were through immigration, which had a long queue, but was quite fast moving, we had to wait a while for our hotel transfer bus. This took forever. It didn’t help that it needed to take people to four different hotels at random places across mid-town Manhattan and we were of course in the last one. The traffic was not too bad through Queens, but when we got to Manhattan it was a total and complete nightmare, not helped by the fact that we criss-crossed all around it.

It was nice to see the view of skyline as we approached Manhattan and we went right past the Empire State Building.

When we got to the hotel, the kids went to the swimming pool to refresh themselves after all the travelling. Our room was on the sixteenth floor and had a fantastic view. We put the TV on and there was lot of talk about the London Olympics, which are only three days away now, albeit focusing on the Team USA, which is fair enough. They were very complementary of the facilities however. No mention of the bus load of American athletes that got lost a few days ago.

Apparently America is in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history. Things sound serious, and the Mississippi is too shallow for all the vital freight shipments. It a bit different to our drought, which was still in place after several weeks of solid rain. Also on the new is the aftermath of the cinema shootings and apparently there have been several attempted copy-cat shootings. My son asked why there is no gun control here – urr good question.

For the evening, we had arranged to go to a pub called Dempsey’s in the East Side where the brother of an American friend of ours back in the UK was playing in a band. We first of all had to work-out how to get there on the subway, which was easier said than done. It took us a while to make any sense of the map and to decide on the route. We then went to the platform and got on the train just to find that we were not going where we had expected. Fortunately a kind man on the train told us that we were on a different line as they both use the same platform. Lesson one for travelling on the New York subway – check the front of the trains. He also told us where to change and what line to change to. So far what they say about New Yorkers being unfriendly does not seem to be true.

Lesson two will no doubt follow whatever mistakes we make tomorrow.

I expected the band to be the usual kind, playing on a stage. What happened here is that people took their instruments and sat at their tables with their drinks and played their instruments. It was great to watch and was all very relaxed.

As it was our first night in New York and we were still all on UK time, the kids were on their last legs quite early on, so we went back to the hotel for an early night.


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