Tuesday, 14 August 2018

My New York Diary: Day 0

Day 0: Arrival

Normally, if my parents were to take me for a fool, I wouldn't exactly appreciate it. However, they certainly took me for a fool with this holiday. My brother and I had known for months that our folks were taking us away for a holiday to celebrate our university graduations, but they wouldn't tell us the destination. I thought I had things sussed when I spied a road map of Amsterdam on the kitchen table, and when I confronted my parents about it, they sighed and made out that they'd given the game away. But something still didn't seem quite right, and yet I couldn't put my finger on it.

All was revealed on Wednesday 8th August, which feels like a lifetime ago. We made the early-morning journey from Aberdeen Airport to London Heathrow, and it was only when we were sitting in the British Airways lounge that Dad finally revealed our final destination. It wasn't, as I had assumed, somewhere in Europe. We were travelling across the Atlantic to New York City.

I had had a feeling that Amsterdam wouldn't be our final stop, but I never would have dreamed that we would be flying to the Big Apple. And I certainly never would have dreamed that we would be living it up in Business Class on the plane. My folks had booked us seats in Premium Economy, but unbeknownst to us, we had been upgraded. And oh boy, I will never be able to fly in Economy again. Business Class made a seven-hour flight feel like two. The food was delicious, the seats were comfortable, and there were so many films to watch that I probably could have caught up on all of the films that I should have watched at this point, films like The Shape of Water and Love, Simon.

But the film that I went straight for was, of course, Avengers: Infinity War, which is a movie that I will need to write a whole blog post about at some point. It's pretty much a masterpiece, and I say that with no irony whatsoever. Since it was a seven-hour flight, I also had time for The Incredibles and the first fifteen minutes of The Greatest Showman, two other films that I love. Suffice to say that it was the most comfortable and entertaining flight I have ever experienced, as well as the most delicious.

Starter: cauliflower soup

Main: beef with potatoes and broccolini

Dessert: bread and butter pudding

Afternoon tea: finger sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream, and little cakes

Airline food that actually looks and tastes good? Um, yes please! We were absolutely spoiled, what with all of this plus a complimentary glass of champagne upon boarding the plane. Couldn't have asked for more.

We landed at John F. Kennedy Airport at about 4pm local time (which would have been 9pm our time, so we should have been tired at this point, but I was absolutely buzzing) and made a surprisingly short trip through immigration to meet our driver outside. I knew it was going to be hot, but I was certainly not prepared for the humidity! Luckily, the car was air-conditioned, plus it was huge and roomy, something that I had semi-expected since one of my few memories from a previous visit to the States involved being driven around in a massive car that was unlike any that I had seen in the UK. Our driver was lovely; he chatted to us about New York, and we all had a laugh as he drove us into the city.

My parents went to New York last year, so they had seen the city approach them over the horizon before on their previous journey from airport to hotel. My brother and I hadn't, and we were amazed by the scale of everything. Every building looked huge, but it didn't really become clear how huge they were until we were actually amongst them. The Chrysler Building was the first landmark that we saw up close, and I snapped photos from the back seat of the car, unable to believe that we were actually in one of the most iconic cities in the world.

When we got to our hotel, we were told that we were staying on the 32nd floor, my brother and I in one tower, our parents in the other. As someone who has never lived in a room above the seventh floor, it was bizarre to fly upwards in a speedy lift (which was a little terrifying, not gonna lie) and see a view from our hotel room window that made it feel as though we were perched in the sky somewhere over Manhattan. Standing too close to the glass and looking down at the streets below gave me vertigo, a word which I will inevitably be using a lot in these holiday posts since New York seems to be a place that just brings the condition out in people, but I simply HAD to take some photos of the view, especially since it was such a beautiful day and the sun was beaming down on everything.

After quickly unpacking, we all set out for a walk around to get our bearings, and also so my brother and I could get a taste of what we were in for over the course of the next four days. After a brief pit stop in the nearest Pret A Manger, we made our way out as far as Times Square, which wasn't as big as I thought it would be, but which was still bright and busy and full of life. We took a detour into Grand Central Station (which was stunning to see), got to see the sun set among the skyscrapers, then got back to the hotel to find that the staff had left a platter of fruit and cakes in my brother's and my room, a 'congratulations' for graduating. In short, the day couldn't have ended any better. The perfect Day 0 in a new city.


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