Today I decided to break from my original plan of only posting fuji instax photos from my travels around the united states of america. As of now I will try to write of my travels and give you an idea of the trip so far.
Let’s begin again…
July 30th, 2009
It never really hits you until you reach the check-in desk at the airport. When the person behind the desk asks to see your passport and you receive your boarding pass. You sit on the couches with your parents and a few friends talking about the journey ahead while constantly checking your watch, trying to squeeze a few more minutes out before you say your farewells and hold back the tears. Its not until that moment that you embrace the loved ones that you left behind, that you realise. Until then it all felt like a movie you were watching back home.
After holding back the tears you follow the arrows pointing to the x-ray machines and metal detectors of customs. As you pass through customs you enter the limbo that is traveling, where you are no longer ‘in the country’ but now ‘in transit’. You wait for the boarding call and file onto the plane like sheep and sit in your designated seat. You pray that you’ll be sat next to the cute single girl that you have loads in common with, but the cards are never dealt in your favour. The dealer places the cards one by one in each seat and you are left to make conversation with a 50+ mexican mother of 3 and early 30s married male from Oklahoma. This is the point where you can chose one of two options. Introduce yourself and try to make the most of the situation or plug into the in flight entertainment and create an electronic cocoon. Choosing the first option often pays off. The mexican mother to my left didn’t speak much but when she did she made the taxi to the run way, take off, landing and taxi to the gate entertaining and the married man from Oklahoma to my right chose to join me in ordering as many scotch and cokes from the flight attendants as possible to soften the pain of being cramped in economy on a 15 hour flight.
Once the wheels of the plane touched down on American soil it was time to get ready venture to the domestic terminal of LAX and find my connecting flight to New York. After navigating the construction sites of the surrounding area I arrived at my gate and waited for my connecting flight. After again joining the line to board the plane I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though I had paid for an economy ticket my seat was actually a premium economy ticket and entitled me to an extra 5 inches of leg room along with a seat that not only reclined but also had a foot rest which allowed me to easily sleep through the 5 hour flight to new york city. However before venturing off into the slumber realm, I decided I should again attempt to make conversation with my fellow traveller beside me. It turned out that the gentleman next to me had worked with a family friend in the Brisbane Airport traffic control tower. It blew my mind that even though I was over the other side of the globe there was still a way Brisbane would prove to me that it still existed. After exchanging stories and learning that his son had also recently departed to study abroad I utilised the extra leg room I had acquired and drifted off to sleep.
After landing at JFK I found my way to the airtain and transfered at Jamaica to another train bound for New York City. I had bought what I thought was the right ticket but it turned out you couldn’t use the subway ticket on this train and the conductor charged me an extra $6 on tp of the $10 train ticket, it turned out to be an expensive welcome to New York. I got off at Penn Station and ventured up the escalators (which I had seen a few nights before in a movie) to my first look at Manhattan.
A word of advice to all of you planning a trip to New York…
Remember to print out a map of where your hostel is and/or write down directions and what subway to catch!
I spent a good hour or two wandering around New York trying to fin a wireless internet hotspot to check the hostel’s website for directions. Finally at 8pm I stumbled into a park and found the miracle that is the internet. I then set off on the B line to West 103rd Street. At long last I arrived at the hostel and checked in. After a long shower I plotted my route to times square and went to go and check what all the hype is about.
Times Square is a strange place. I spent until 2am in Times Square that night and it never felt like the number people present ever dropped dramatically. The bright neon lights and giant digital billboards take the place of the sun and light up the streets as if it were midday. Shops continue to serve patrons late into the night and through to the early morning never closing or taking a break. After satisfying my tourist hunger with a slice of NY style pizza and a big mac meal I walked several blocks back towards my hostel in an attempt to burn some of the huge meal I had just consumed until I found a subway station and ended up back in my bed at the hostel.