Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2006-07

Longest day / Longest flight

Cautious as ever, I'd set my alarm for 0600 to allow plenty of time for packing. Considering the terrible weather late the previous evening, I couldn't resist a quick look outside : nothing had changed. The rain was bouncing off the streets - arguably not a bad day to be leaving. I considered myself lucky that this was happening now rather than during the time I'd had available for sightseeing. I seemed to get myself organised very quickly and was on the first K4 shuttle at 0630. For some reason - "additional security", they said - I was unable to use the in-town check-in facility for my New York flight and had to put up with the minor inconvenience of taking my suitcase to the airport. To be honest, it really made very little difference.

Once at the airport, I went through the now familiar routine of cashing in my Octopus card, checking in and proceeding through Passport Control and Security to The Wing, where I had some breakfast. I used one of the computers for a little while and it was soon time to make my way to the gate for boarding.  

(Link to flight log in side panel)

Passage through Immigration, baggage collection and Customs was just about the easiest and friendliest I have ever encountered on arrival in the U.S., which made a welcome difference from some recent negative experiences. Perhaps the new procedures and systems were settling down now and staff were a bit happier at their work. I was very quickly on board one of the iconic yellow taxicabs and bound for Midtown Manhattan. My first impressions of the new and friendly NYC had to be revised just a little when there was a bit of aggro between my taxi driver and the toll collector at the Midtown Tunnel. Oh well.

As I made my way towards Reception at The Barclay, I wondered if I would fare any better than at the Grand Stanford. The receptionist made a phone call while dealing with me and began the conversation with just two words : "Royal Ambassador" ... <pause> ... "It means I need a suitable room - a suite." Soundin' good, lady, I thought, trying to slip into the New York idiom   The upshot was that I was allocated a Parlour Suite on the fourth floor, which sounded just fine. As, indeed, it was. I was very happy that my final hotel stay for Part 2 of the big trip had turned up a good result for me.

After all that flying, I had a refreshing shower to freshen up a bit and hopefully wake up a bit as well. Although I was feeling a bit jet-lagged for the first time since setting out on 7 April, I was determined to use the remaining part of the afternoon to make a start on the process of re-acquainting myself with this great city. I set out towards the Empire State Building, noting with some amusement that most of the locals were wearing multiple layers, while I felt comfortable in a short-sleeved shirt. They must have known something I didn't, because some spits and spots of rain soon started, making it feel that much cooler. But I never felt too cold.

I was soon realising the importance of visiting destinations at the right time. All my previous visits to New York had been in summer, which meant very tiring heat and humidity, combined with massive queues at all the major attractions. It was both odd and very welcome to pass straight through all the roped-off 'holding pen' areas on the way into and up the Empire State Building. Despite the spits and spots, it was quite comfortable at the top and visibility was excellent. On the way back to the hotel, I had an early dinner at TGI Friday's, then returned to base and willingly surrendered to sleep at about 1930, having been up for over 25 hours