I got up an hour earlier than my alarm was set for. D'oh! After quickly showering and dressing ready for my flight, jeans, my walking boots, and my San Francisco top wrapped round my waist, I left my room for the last time, and headed down to reception to check out. I left my rucksack, suitcase and hat case in their storage, before heading to the bus stop and back into Manhattan. When I got there, I had almost 2 hours before I was meeting the others, so i ended walking to Times Square ready for the meet up before turning off at the last block before the Square and ended up at a spot I was last at 6 years ago, when I visited New York with my brothers and sister. I walked by Grand Central Station
, and saw the Chrysler Building
a couple of blocks away, before walking passed Lexington and 40th Street to the Bedford Hotel
, where we had stayed all those years previous. It may be a bit longer than I wanted, but I finally returned to New York and that hotel, just like I said 6 years previous. I even tried to make that crossing of the road that leads up to Grand Central
but still didn't make it before the white man was showing! Six years ago, Rob was adamant that he did do it without running, but I always maintain that he was walking very quickly!
After that trip down memory lane, I made my way back to Times Square, and having still got there early, I took a seat on the bleachers in the centre of the Square, looking on at all the other visitors walking by, or sitting just like me, as the day slowly reached its midway point.
FInally Becca, appeared first, before Kristina and Joanna stopped by, and Annabel,Kylie and Scott finally joined us. We all said goodbye to Kristina and Joanna one last time as they went off for a cycle tour around Manhattan!
The five of us then headed to the Rockefellar Centre
to go to the Top of the Rock
for a fantastic view of Central Park and Upper Manhattan as well as the Empire State Building and the rest of Lower Manhattan. My word it was all magnificent, but just like how I remembered from atop of the Empire State 6 years before. Like that night, I could stay up there forever, it was just so amazing.
I did vow I would return to New York one day, and I had. Now I vow to return again for much longer.
After finally coming down from the top, we made our way over to <em style="font-family: Candara, sans-serif;">Tiffany's. For the sake of my friendship and Andi and mine's privacy on this matter, I will not go into details.
With adrenaline, or whatever it is that is running through me right now after what I had just done, we headed to the entrance of <em style="font-family: Candara, sans-serif;">Central Park to <em style="font-family: Candara, sans-serif;">Mickey Mantle's Sports Bar for drinks and nibbles, whilst taking in a repeat of the Yankees game from the previous day on the TV. Sadly soon after our drinks and nibbles came, it was time for me to take my leave, and after saying goodbye to Becca, Annabel, Kylie and especially my fellow beard monster Scott, I headed out of the door. The table was right at the front by the window, but as I left, I didn't turn back and carried on to the first cab waiting. If I looked back I knew that tears would flow.
Unfortunately the emotion was ended when the cab driver told me he didn't know where the Port Authority Bus Terminal was, despite me repeating it several times, and the address. As I left the cab I commented, very Victor Meldrew like, that I couldn't believe that he didn't know where the Bus Terminal is. A cabbie!
When I got in the next cab, this cabbie actually knew where I wanted to go, but then said that he had to drop me off a couple of blocks away, as he didn't want to get caught in all the heavy traffic. Understandable I guess. So I sat back, with my new Tiffany's
bag still in my clutches as we made our way to the Terminal. Just as we were about to pull up, I got my credit card out to pay that way, but the driver insisted that I paid by cash, despite the fact I told him I wanted to pay by card. In the end I handed over whatever notes I needed plus tip to let me get out of there. Tip for any travellers or vistors to New York. Do not use the yellow cabs. Especially if the drivers are Asian, like these two were!
I soon got my bus back to the hotel, and after getting my luggage, I waited outside briefly for my booked cab to the airport. The driver was really friendly but could't seem to fully understand the fact that I had just spend 9 weeks travelling America sleeping mainly in tents. Just as I thought I could relax in the back seat, the driver asked for a card to pay for the fare, but seemed to reject one of my cards, and even tried ringing it through, so I had to use another one. Fucking taxis and their drivers!!!!!
Soon after we reached the airport and after getting my luggage, I was left on my own at last. I arranged to get to the airport a little early in case there was any problems or hold ups with my extra luggage, but when I got to the check out, I was the only one there for my flight ,and after discovering that my extra luggage would cost me $64 (or whatever it was), I didn't care how much really I just wanted to get my stuff home, I made my way through security to the other side very quickly. By the time I got through to my gate it was 6.30pm, and my flight was not til 10.55pm. So just the 4 hours to kill!!
Somehow the time flew by, as I read through my journal I had kept and some more of the <em style="font-family: Candara, sans-serif;">Huck Finn book, and before long it was nearly 10pm. I even got a text from Annabel saying that they had just discovered that <em style="font-family: Candara, sans-serif;">Maroon 5 were playing in New York in a couple of days time. Dammit, I would have killed to have gone to that show!!!
We eventually got called and on to the plane and soon enough we were in the air and leaving America, my temporary home for 9 weeks.
I took in Date NIght
on the working entertainment unit (something I didn't have on the flight out) before listening to my music and sleeping.
Pretty soon we were landing London, and the glorious hot sunshine I had to deal with in New York was replaced by overcast cloud and the presence of rain earlier at LHR T5. Oh how good it was to be back in good Ol' Blighty!
After getting off the plane with my hat case and hand luggage, I quickly got all my luggage and headed through passport control and was soon in Departures waiting for Mum to arrive to take me home. When I turned my phone on in the airport, there was a message from her saying to wait for her, but when I got there I looked around to see hundreds of unknown faces to me. I called Mum who was just parking up and would be there shortly, so I took my place next to a large pillar, making sure all my luggage was right by me, and kept looking back and forth for that familiar face. About ten minutes passed, and I finally saw my Mum come into view as she was looking around to find me. Even when she was right by me, she had a long look at me to realise just who I was.
I guess she wasn't expecting to see a tall bloke (that part she should expect!) with an Indiana Jones hat on and a 7 week ginger beard, looking and smiling at her.
After a very rare hug, we headed to the car and then on to home. We told each other stories of my time away, and got greeted only by Saxon and Viking, my Mum's dogs, when we finally got home.
Once we got my stuff in the house, and I had a bacon roll, before Mum ordered me to sleep, (that freedom and independance I gained and experienced can almost be seen jumping out of the window!!) whislt she started washing all my laundry, and P King Duck. He had got really dirty travelling around in my camera case with his St George's cape almost as filthy as he is. Sadly P King would never be the same, as he loses a lot of 'weight' and the firmness of his feathers. Whether P King, or the rest of the office would ever fully forgive me remains to be seen!
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