Holiday 2009: NYC I – Getting On, Getting There and Getting In.

Steven and I went to New York City, New York last week for a short but needed break from the monotony of sitting at a desk in front of a computer slowly declining our eyesight from various Excel spreadsheets and Word documents refreshing slowly onto our retina. The break was needed because my last holiday, last years trip to Turkey, was last year, and I hadn’t had a break from work for any length of time since a three day training course in March and that’s supposed to still be work.

So at 5.20am I left my parents house and in a daze picked Steve up from his mum’s house, and later we were standing in a queue at Glasgow Airport waiting for our passports to be scanned. After some question that I was tremendously worried about getting wrong (“Have you any bombs in your bag?” “Ye……No.”) we were sitting in the departure lounge waiting to board the flight.

Until… we got the call that they needed to get 15 people willing to give up their seat and transfer via London. This would add a whopping 8 hours to the flight, to which they would compensate us by way of a $300... no wait, $400 voucher. They were obviously getting more worried by the minute that no one would be getting off. I considered it, with the chance of getting a first class upgrade and free drinks part of my bargaining tools, we finally were allowed to board once they had managed to find some idiots who gave their seat up.

On the plane we were right at the back, having little legroom to move about. Excited by the prospect of being in a real city I suddenly realised that I might not get in. You see, even though we have a “special relationship” the UK traveller and the US state are not that friendly anymore. I had to email them in advance to say “Yo, I want to come” and then on the plane fill out two of the shittiest forms ever devised by a man. The first is the blue “Customs Declaration” from that asks me if I have brought anything into the country I plan to leave behind. This reminded me of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy joke about the planet that requires all tourists to offset their impact on the planet… like getting a receipt every time you do a poo. The second, and the one I made several errors on, is the Green One, the IW-95 or something, where it is confusingly a visa waiver form, but then asks me later on for my visa details. I only made three errors, mistakenly saying my sex was 09/09/85.

Once these are filled out we are then carted into a massive football pitch sized room at Newark Liberty (making me laugh at the Grand Theft Auto like name) where all manner of nationalities are lined up awaiting the moment of reckoning.

Here I am asked where I am staying etc and what I am doing here etc. But I also have to surrender my finger prints. Interestingly why are people so worried about that happening over here? I don’t do any wrong so I don’t worry how has my fingerprints… but the furore made over the ID cards in this country are ridiculous.

Anyway, luckily they let us in and suddenly, we were standing on US soil in the state of New Jersey. And in several minutes time we were using our dollars to get from NJ to NY, and later to NYC. And there, after some fumbling about in 34th and Herald subway station, we were at the Hotel unwinding and gearing up for some sampling of the New York lifestyle, and then found out the Manchester United – Arsenal Champions League game was on ESPN2, so we watched that. 3600miles to sit and watch Champions league football commentated on by an American-Scotch that had a cool accent and an Irish that didn’t know his Kaka from his Offside.

Coming Up:
Part II: Tall Buildings, Gorgeous Americans and the Dirty Subway
Part III: Lightning Strikes, Central Park Squirrels and Directional Assistance
Part IV: Empire Versus the Colonies
Part V: The TV, American style.