First stop on the new continent – Newark Liberty International Airport.
I have to admit, I wish I could’ve just teleported from the plane to our hotel because standing in line just kills the mood. About anything. If you spontaneously decide to go to a water slide you’ve been afraid to go on and then have to wait for half an hour to get on it… All the reasons to be scared – however irrational they might be – have a pretty good chance to come back and dissuade you. If you’d just had an awesome run down the ski slope and need to go back up there asap, while you still have that pumping feeling inside you and the chair lift is crowded and takes forever to get back up the mountain, and you’re already cold when you finally get there – it always ruins that next start at least a little bit.
So when we got off the plane at Newark Airport I was totally excited about being in the States. My elation didn’t wane even at the sight of a huuuuge – and I mean huge, I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of it now – line for passport control. It looked something like that: Not at first at least. Sometimes I like being in lines like that because I like to observe people. I like watching them interact, regardless if it’s a loving or enraging situation; I like spying on what they read; I like guessing where they’re from and what brings them here. But you can only do this for so long before you get bored with the same faces passing by you length after length with every U-turn you make. What saves me, usually, is a book, but the buzz of being in a new country doesn’t always let you focus. The commotion of possibly hundreds of people lining up around you, chatting, complaining, explaining over the sound of multiple screens playing alternating spots on airport security and various news, the latter of which seem interesting enough, but there’s no way to listen to them didn’t help either. In fact, it made the whole experience that much more tiring and annoying.
I also find it frustrating to I see that I’m constantly drawing the short straw when it comes to lining up. In this case – having to wait for another 40 min after we’d finally gotten to an actual pass-check desk and were out of the herd crowded between the endless airport line barriers and their belts. But we were not out in the wild yet, just out of the bullpen. And at the end of another line – this time much shorter, but also moving much much slower. It’s all a matter of luck, really. The line next to us was going like crazy, even though the border official had put up a sign that the line is closed now, people would see only a couple of people there and just attach themselves to the end. Especially people who can get away with the excuse that they don’t know what the sign says because they’re old and obviously not American. Hence, my annoyance.
We finally got through! Oh my god, success! Thankfully, the guy at our checkpoint was pleasant enough so my good predisposition came somewhat back.
And then we got out of the airport!
Sidenote: I still think it’s very weird that the baggage claim in the US is a publicly accessible area. I know they probably have a gazillion cameras there, but I’d rather not have to go look for whoever took my suitcase only moments after I’ve gotten off the plane. Especially after a transatlantic flight.
So we’re finally free to roam the great United States of America, hurrah! But not before we do what? Oh, of course, stand in another line. This time for a taxi into the actual city. I have to say, that taxi system did leave me rather baffled. A lady with a machine stood at the head of a line of about 80 people and managed to get a couple of them in a taxi per 5 or so minutes, while other cars war double parking beside the taxis and picking up people according to some sort of understanding that we were definitely not privy to. There was a sort of taxi dispatcher at the airport in Bangkok as well, and one in Dubai as well, but somehow the supposedly chaotic Thai and the laid back Arabs managed to provide a much more efficient service than capitalist America. Not only did we have to wait in yet another queue (I’ve lost track of the time spent already), not only was the taxi a relic from destitute times but the fare from Newark to lower Manhattan was $80!! And it might have been the last taxi in Manhattan that didn’t have a proper credit card terminal, so paying was yet another delay, but quite frankly I didn’t get exactly how that transaction went, so… I’ll just skip it.
At least once we got to the hotel things started looking up. Starting with us, looking UP this huge glass building, perched on a stilts-like base, towering over the busy Meatpacking District.
Next week: more pictures of the hotel (it’s really funky) and more real Manhattan stuff.
If you think this post was not exciting enough as an opener to a great trip, imagine how I felt enduring the whole thing. I’m telling all this as an illustration of how important expectations and awareness of the possible reality are when you set off on a trip like that.
Furthermore, now that arrival is out of the way we can get down to business. And I’m only sorry I didn’t have a Fitbit at the time to provide some statistics because I walked far and wide across and beyond that island. There’s plenty to tell, so don’t be disappointed with the amount of information here. Patience, my friends 😉