Stationed at Grand Central

Up early, of course, to hurry to queue and jump through umpteen rings in order to board the flight. Quite funny actually - Sarah got moaned at by some woman passenger at the gate…

After being questioned by an arrogant ass (G4 security - now there's a trusted reputation) at a small pedestal ("this is my office" as he idiotically put it, insisting I stand three inches further away in the crowded area), it's then necessary to filter back together with your fellow passengers to go into the security part proper; through the magnetometers and the 'it's-not-really-a-strip-search-machine' gate.

This particularly charming woman refused to let us filter in, wingeing to her husband. We had a few words, (we really didn't care where we were in the queue, but who needs to be moaned at at 8am in the morning?), then of course ten yards later you are left at the gate lounge to wait another hour to board. Advantage for the woman?

Nil. Niks. Nothing. Nada.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful, though for my second organisational error, apparently I forgot to confirm 48 hours in advance that Sarah wanted a vegetarian option. Not quite sure why that is necessary; I mean, what are the chances that someone who's been vegetarian for 35 years will spontaneously switch to the cave-man carnivore diet two days before they fly? Anyway, resolved by United cabin crew stealing some other veggie's dinner.

On arrival processing was very quick. Had another good encounter with USA border staff - as soon as we tell them our plans, they join in with our enthusiasm! So incredibly charming and welcoming. Just don't believe it if people tell you that you get a hard time at the border - we've found it just perfect.

At the exit we met Ahmed the Egyptian, who was about late middle-aged (what does that description say about me?). Cooked up a deal with him, and we took his taxi to Manhattan. Well, he took us in the taxi - we didn't carjack him you understand. He drove like he was still in Alexandria - at one point he nearly ran into the back of the car in front, then claimed it wasn't his fault because there wasn't normally traffic there at that time! Anyway - we got to know a bit about Ahmed on the way, including his life back home and his family. I would repeat it here but…. well, it's boring.

Arrived at the Hudson Hotel at about 2pm. Not a bad place, although the rooms are very snug. Having said that, the above is the view from our room. 

After dumping  our stuff, we went for a walk! First to The Flame diner one block down, to get our dinner, then on to explore Times Square and beyond. On the way we managed to buy a MIFI from Verizon, so from now on we should have our own internet. :)

As for the sights, I loved Grand Central Station (see below). Overall though, my most surprising impression was just how calm the city is. Lots of impatient car horns, but otherwise seems laid back. People actually move out of each other's way on the street! Can you believe that?? One business man stopped at random and welcomed us to New York, and asked if we needed any help. So typically American.

We headed back for a much needed sleep at about 2 am Amsterdam time (and therefore December 19th - my birthday.)

 What shall we do today, I wonder?? It's 7am, and we're about to head off for another day's adventuring.