"What do you mean, 'Cancelled'!". I was about to embark on my lunchtime constitutional, and had already donned my shorts and t-shirt, as the sun was shining and the temperatures were very pleasant. "They have cancelled our flight to New York tomorrow!" was the response. I knew that my cousins' flight from London had been delayed, but assumed it was a precaution, due to the possibility of snow.
The airline had rescheduled our itinerary by the time I had reached my desk and checked my emails. Instead of a 'straight through' four hour flight, from Austin the Newark, we were now heading west, to Denver, and then up to the East Coast. Instead of arriving at 11:45am, we were now going to get in a little before five in the afternoon. It was a bit disappointing, but not the end of the world. It was when I heard that the snow flurries had turned into a storm, one big enough to be given a name, did I wonder if our trip would be going ahead at all!
Niko raged throughout the night. Our arrival at the airport on our new itinerary was an hour later than the original. We checked our bags, and sailed through security, and then waited for our flight. It was going to be a novelty to fly into Denver and not have to run for a plane! Our lay over was about two hours, and we had packed enough wool to keep us occupied for some time!
We purchased lunch, to eat on our next flight, and went to sit at the gate. Niko, it appeared, however, was not as easily rescheduled as were we, and continued to cause havoc along the eastern seaboard. A message hit our 'app' to say that our flight from Denver had been delayed.
With a last huff and a puff, Niko finally decided to move northeast, after causing 3500 flights to be cancelled! Samantha noticed that there was a message on our 'app' to say that we could, (if we could) change our flights at no extra charge. I called the airline and was put through to a very helpful lady, who informed me that a flight was due to depart within twenty minutes. A little dubious, as they normally close the gate twenty minutes before the flight, we packed up and ran. She told me that they would hold the flight should I want them to, and I was just about to agree, when I asked, "What about our bags?" Bags? Bags? I had not mentioned that I had bags! It was a 'no go'. Usually, for a short trip, Samantha and I can cram a vacations worth of clothes in a 'carry on', but we were able to check bags this time, and decided it might be a good idea, as the original flight was on a small plane, and it was possible that there would not be much overhead space. It was also going to be very cold,which required layers, and I did take a 'posh frock'. All in all, it cost us an earlier flight out of Denver. Or did it? The flight that we had almost been transferred to, was delayed!
The rather abrupt lady at the service center was not happy. A long line, which got longer and longer, was full of people with delayed, or cancelled flights. "No. I cannot put you on another flight, if you have checked luggage. There are no flights to the New York area. They have all been cancelled. It is a mess there. You really don't want to go there." I questioned, "All flights?", and she nodded rather emphatically. We headed back to our original gate and proceeded to unpack our crocheting projects, just in time to hear that there was a gate change! The flight was not cancelled, just delayed. The inbound flight, from Salt Lake City, had been late taking off. Niko had not been to Salt Lake City!
Eventually, we boarded the plane and were offered complimentary alcoholic beverages and free television. We ate our lunch, and watched a movie. The flight was quite long, but uneventful. We arrived at Newark and deplaned.
The bags took a long time to arrive on the carousel. We had packed our coats and warmer apparel in the cases, and were not going to venture outside until we were quite well covered! As I bent down to get something from my carry-on, I noticed a pair of feet wearing flip flops. I was horrified. The snow was several inches deep and the chill factor was minus several. A short time later, I saw a lady putting on a pair of socks and boots. "Were you wearing flip flops before?" I asked. She replied in the affirmative. "Well thank goodness!" I said. "I was concerned". She laughed a raucous laugh, and said that she had flown in with her daughter, from Florida, but was prepared. It had been warm in Florida. I told her that we were from Austin, and it had been warm there, too. We were both looking forward to our visit to the Big Apple, but agreed that we were looking forward to returning to many degrees warmer!
Eventually, the conveyor belt started to move. Samantha's case came along first, and then we saw mine, just as it stopped. The maintenance man arrived reasonably quickly, and took the two bags in front of mine from the belt, and the passengers belonging to the bags claimed them quite swiftly. Mine remained in limbo! He proceeded to repair the fault, with my bag sitting inches away from reach! It did not take long to repair the fault, and my bag was finally on its way down the slide!
"I'm sorry, did I cut in line?", said the sweet lady who knew she had cut in line, but presumably manages to get a cab much quicker by playing the same game. Her husband was still crossing the road with the bags when she asked. "You know you did, but that is okay, you obviously need to get there quicker", I said, as sweetly. The knowing look was enough to let me know that I was correct! We got the next cab. All was well until we exited the airport, and then the sliding began. Although the roads had been cleared, everyone was in a hurry, and no one wanted to give way. A couple of times our driver was forced to the side of the road where he skidded on the ice, but he recovered well!
The hotel was on 7th Avenue, just along from Time Square. I paid the fare, and the driver took our bags from the boot of the car. As I hauled my bag up the steps, I saw my cousin disappearing through the revolving doors.
After hugs and introductions to the 'new' member of the group, Deborah (sister in law of my cousin's friend, Harjit,) we went to reception. My room was ready. However, the four ladies from London had to negotiate with reception for a larger room than the one they had been offered.
We took our cases and found the appropriate elevator selection. In we walked with our bags and said, "14 please" to the person who appeared to be in charge. We stopped at floor 11, and then the fifteenth floor. We must have looked rather forlorn, as the gentleman who was exiting took pity upon us, and showed us how to work the lift! We were to use the screen outside, and select our floor. It would then tell us which lift we were to take, and then that lift would stop at our floor. Simple when you know how!
Our room did not have much of a view, nor was it very big, but we were in New York City, and not Oregon, or California, where we had been given rather luxurious accommodation. It had a coffee maker and a wardrobe, a clean bathroom with lots of towels, a television, and two large beds. We were delighted.
After a while we all met in the lobby, and headed out to find somewhere to eat! TGI Fridays was probably not the preferred choice, but it was the first restaurant we came to, and it was open. Although Niko's departure was as abrupt as his arrival, he left behind a strong wind, and below freezing temperatures. Anywhere that served food would suffice, and the nearer the better! The four ladies from London were also much more exhausted due to the time difference. We had a nice dinner, and walked very quickly back to our hotel.
Samantha and I were up rather early on Friday morning, and headed out to see what was around. We stopped to get a drink at Starbucks, and then came back to get ready for our day out. We had devised a plan the previous evening, so that we could cram in as much as possible during our three days. Lesley and Co., were not leaving until Tuesday, but they had also arranged some tours after our departure.
Ellen Stardust is a restaurant where 'would be' actors and actresses serve and sing! All are at acting school with a hope that they can tread the boards on Broadway in the not too distant future, and entertain as they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had breakfast and were treated to an array of songs from shows and films.
Central Park was beautiful. The snow had not defrosted and the lakes were frozen. The sun shone, and although it was well below freezing, our spirits were high, and we were warm in our thermals! We took lots of pictures, and found the Alice in Wonderland statue that Samantha had mentioned. Every corner held a photo opportunity, and phones and cameras snapped continuously.
To break with tradition, rather than go to the top of the Empire State Building, we chose to go to the 'Top of the Rock'. On our way, we walked past another 'Tower', one beginning with the same initial as that of the current President, and indeed, containing all the other letters of his name, in the same order! The Trump Tower was open to the public, and we decided to go in. After a very civilised drink at the bar, we headed upstairs to the gardens, which although were closed, afforded a reasonable view of the surrounding area, and a magnificent view of the drop to the basement! The police on site were also very obliging, and posed for photos, bearing their arsenals for the camera!
Although the Rockefeller Center is not as high as the Empire State, the views were just as impressive, and the crowds not as pushy! It was a far more pleasant experience. Once at the bottom, we stopped for some light refreshment, as we were all rather hungry, having not eaten since breakfast, and having walked several miles.
We had walked, according to the gadget Samantha wears upon her arm, over ten miles by the time we returned to the hotel. I was ready for bed! However, we chose not to have a nap, as neither one of us thought we would be able to wake up in time to meet for our dinner date, and so we called our respective spouses and got ready for a night at the Olive Garden.
We did not have to wait for a table, as the restaurant was not particularly busy. The food, as always was very good, and we had a lovely evening. After dinner we visited the M&M store and Hershey's. Then we waked up 'the steps' on Time Square, where we could survey and surveil our surroundings. We were entertained by a poor soul who was not completely compos mentis, and tried to convince everyone that he was a plain clothed policeman, advising all to 'quickly take your pictures and get off the steps', as they were going to be 'closed' very soon, due to the ice. However, the board that he held asking for 'donations', and the language that then spewed from his mouth, led all to believe that he was not genuine.
The next morning was slightly warmer. Although still very cold, the wind had dropped and the edge of bitterness had been rounded off. My throat had been sore for most of the night and as soon as the sun rose, Samantha and I went in search of some honey! The local Walgreen's store stocked what I needed, and we headed back. The bar in the hotel, which becomes a breakfast area in the morning, provided me with a couple of pieces of lemon, as Walgreen's did not have 'whole' or 'juice', and I prepared myself a soothing tonic before getting ready to go down to meet the rest of our group. We had breakfast and took the train to the booking office for Liberty and Ellis Island. The touts were out in force! "Do you have tickets. They are sold out!" was the feeble cry. "I'm with her!" I told one such person. "I'm with her", said Natalie, when he approached her following my statement. Despite our refusal to accept 'help', and buy tickets from them, they would not give up. "You don't understand. You will not be able to get any tickets", they continued. I wondered if their brothers were those who called and told me that I had a virus on my computer, and it was very serious! However, as we reached Battery Park, they stopped, and we realised they were not allowed to 'cross the line'. It would have been fun to taunt them, but our time was more precious!
"You do have tickets then?", said Lesley, tongue in cheek, at the window. "Oh, so you have met the lovely people outside the park", was the response from the cashier!
We did not have to queue for too long, but did have to take off our outer garments, to go through the security screening. The whole process was not unduly tiresome and we walked down the gangplank onto the boat, and raced upstairs to get a seat. It was another bright, beautiful day, and we saw Liberty in all her glory. With the 'traditional' photo having been taken, and a walk around to see the sights from a different angle, we returned to the boat. Our next stop was the 9/11 memorial.
The two holes in the ground, with a waterfall into the depths, were surrounded by onlookers. Names of those who perished on that fateful day, were etched into the tiles surrounding the chasms. The newly erected replacement buildings, towered almost protectively over the foundations of the original twins. We stayed a while, and then walked away.
Our walk back was quite long. We took another train and headed towards Grand Central Station. The building is indeed Grand, and the crowds combine those viewing and those travelling. We did not venture down to the food court or bars, as we had another agenda. We were going out to dinner at The View. The 48th floor of the Marriott Hotel, where we would revolve around the city and be served with a sumptuous three course meal!
I got dressed, in a lace black dress, and changed out of my cowboy boots into a pair of black heels. They were not what I would usually wear with my 'posh frock', but they were old, and I was prepared for them to be spoiled by the elements, should it have been more elementary! I put on a fluffy black jacket, made by me some time ago, and asked Samantha if she was okay with me wearing it, or was she embarrassed. She retorted that the embarrassment would be due to my having tucked the dress inside my undergarments and was, therefore, showing more than my ability to knit! We laughed, and I adjusted my garments accordingly.
Although we had booked, we were asked to wait. We had deposited our coats on the third floor, taken the lift to the 48th and walked down to the 47th. We were directed to wait outside the ladies room, and watched as the restaurant revolved. After a while, we saw an empty table for six being attended to. However, the speed at which the staff were working was so slow, that we perceived that we would have to walk half way around the restaurant by the time it was ready!
Dinner was magnificent. It was also a wonderful view! We saw all the sights and looked down over Time Square twice! I ate foie gras, followed by steak, followed by a variation on a black forest gateau that was delicious, despite being nothing like a black forest gateau! When finished, we headed back up the stairs to get the lift down to the third floor, and headed out. We walked back to the hotel, and agreed not to set a time to meet the following morning, but to just see how things panned out. Samantha and I did not make our usual 'midnight' run out, and fell asleep rather late!
Sunday morning was raining. It washed out all signs of Niko, and our first port of call was to get an umbrella. We had packed and had taken our bags up to Lesley's room, as we had to check out by 12! After opening our umbrellas and sloshing through puddles, we arrived at Macy's. Synchronizing our watches was not necessary, but we arranged to meet in forty five minutes at the mall on the next street. Samantha and I ran out and jumped into a cab, which took us to the Lion Brand studio. Sounding rather grand, we were rather disappointed to find out that it was just a shop, and not a particularly large one at that. The walls were lined with balls and balls of wool, but that was expected. Samantha bought two balls of yarn which were put into a bag, which she felt was worth more than the wool! We then managed to get another taxi back to 34th Street.
Due to the time constraint, walking was not an option today!
We joined the others and shopped for a while, then went to get some lunch, after which we headed back to the hotel. We sat for a while, and then Samantha and I went up to retrieve our bags. All too soon, we hugged farewell, and we exited the hotel, to a waiting taxi.
The airport was not particularly busy. We had expected a long line at check-in, but it was not there. Security was not very busy either. The concourse was buzzing but not overflowing. We decided that we would order dinner to take on the plane. Our plane was delayed by twenty minutes, but the estimated arrival time was earlier than the original. We put in our order for two burgers, and waited. The staff at Novello were very polite until asked "How long", and then they were either rude or very rude. "It's coming", shouted the first person. The second walked around me and totally ignored me. Feeling a little perturbed, I stood in the way of the lady delivering dinners, and side stepped to avoid her walking straight past me. "I think it's coming next", she said, and it was, albeit rather later than expected. I wondered if we had someone else's order, but did not question it.
We boarded the plane, and set up the tablet to watch the first of our two movies. It was a small plane. The crew were smiling and welcoming. "Wow, how do you keep your hair that colour?" asked the first to Samantha. The bright red keeps getting compliments! We took our seats, turned off our phones, and waited. We waited for the bags to be put on. We waited for the two planes behind us to move and we waited for our slot to be re-slotted!
As soon as we 'leveled out', we opened our tray tables and opened our dinner boxes. We had ordered regular burgers, with no extras. We had someone else's order! I hoped the people who ordered this checked their order before leaving, as all extras were a considerable amount extra! We enjoyed our dinner, and then sat back and watched our films.
We landed in Austin quite a bit later than scheduled, but we were home! Edward arrived first and loaded Samantha's cases into the car. Dana was nowhere to be seen. They had to drive away, and I waited. Samantha called and I asked if Edward actually told Dana that we were ready, as I had relied on Samantha texting Edward, and relied on Edward to tell Dana. He texted him. Dana was dozing. Dana eventually arrived and put my case in the car. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and fell into bed and fast asleep in no time at all.
It had been a great trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed the break. I was not ready to go back to work on Monday, but I did. It was a good week! I am currently awaiting a call which could come at any time, to say I have a new grandson. In the meantime, it is business as usual, including a trip to the radio station. That will have to remain ............. another story!