Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 1: New York City (Sept 17)

Here's the Flickr set for today in NYC.

My trip was planned with a 9-hour layover in New York so that I could see some people I used to know when I lived in the area as a kid. For various reasons, nobody was able to come out, so I was stuck having to take a 7:50am flight getting in at 12:20 with no plans until my flight left at 9:30pm. So I figured I'd head down to the World Trade Center site and then spend the rest of the afternoon at Stout NYC, a bar conveniently just a block away from Penn Station (which is where I entered and exited NYC from Newark Airport).

The early flight was bad enough, as it meant that I had to take a 5:15am shuttle to the airport which also meant a 4:30am wakeup time, but I also got home at midnight from Linda's wedding and still had 3 hours of last-minute prep work to do around the house (laundry, dishes, etc.) before leaving. So I only got about 90 minutes of sleep Friday night. Then when I got to the airport, my problems with my tickets weren't resolved in enough time to get me onto my flight from Houston to Newark (IAH -> EWR), so they bumped me to the next flight which only got in an hour later, so no impact at all to the leaving time.

Subways are fun to me to figure out, it's like a logic puzzle, how do you get from point A to point B in the shortest number of stops and transfers? I managed to do Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Seoul a couple years ago, so New York is a piece of cake since I speak the language (though not with that accent).  Made it down to the WTC site in lower Manhattan and walked around.

I found out when I got there that the waterfall part of the 9/11 Memorial is what you need free but reserved tickets for, and that's for (a) crowd control and (b) there's still a lot of construction going around. When it's all done, the waterfall and park will be free and open, and the museum will require paid tickets. The last time I was in New York was almost exactly 5 years ago (Sept 8, 2006) I visited the site and they were still doing construction on the pit. Now there's a partially built tower there. Because the site is closed if you don't have a ticket, I decided to walk around the perimeter. There are ads on the fences for the upcoming museum and to tell people what's going on.  Part of the walk included sights of the new tower from various angles (and the silver glass looked quite striking against the gray overcast sky) as well as the memorial wall to the firefighters. I was told by a security cop at the site that if you go around to the nearby World Financial Center walkways, you can see some of the park, though only from a 2nd or 3rd story view.  After that, I took the subway back up to Penn Station and watched the last 3 quarters of the Texas/UCLA football game - Stout is the game-watching location for the New York Texas Exes, right near the Empire State Building.

I left just as the game was over and got back to the airport in plenty of time, only to find that the Virgin Atlantic flight was delayed about 30 minutes due to bad weather coming out of London. We left around 9:50pm but due to favorable tailwinds we weren't expected to be more than a few minutes late getting in.

The flight was uneventful. I got a seat near the back of the plane on an aisle and managed to sleep for about 3 hours. I turned my watch ahead to London time when we took off (making it 2:50am) and so I had a small post-dinner meal around 4am and then a morning snack at 7 when I woke up. Between Friday night at home and Sunday night on the plane, I had maybe 5 hours of sleep total, so I knew jet lag wouldn't be a problem - assuming I could manage to stay awake for the rest of the day.

And thus endeth my time in the US for the next (approximately) 70 days. My iPhone went on airplane mode and won't come out til Thanksgiving.

Here's the Flickr set for today in NYC.

(originally published 9/20/11 at 3:25am, London)

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