I got to see a lot more of New York than I originally planned, thanks to American Airlines! Of course I did see some fantastic views of Manhattan from the Weehawken Harbourfront because the conference I went to was based there. Weehawken is a quiet suburb opposite Manhattan and the quickest way to get there is by ferry or through the Lincoln tunnel. From Weehawken you can also walk to Hoboken along the waterfront. I also saw the Statue of Liberty and the landmarks of Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Centre whilst on a luncheon cruise. But not the suburb of Queens.
Especially not in the misty early hours of the morning with a couple about to get married in 15 hours time, in Bermuda. That particular day New York experienced one of the worst storms ever, and I was on the way to JFK airport in a very expensive hotel car. My most expensive ride ever at US$150, because of the storm and the fact that Weehawken is not serviced by regular airport shuttle buses. NYC Taxis also don’t go there because Weehawken is in the state of New Jersey.
So it was me and the hotel driver in a 4WD for a couple of hours in the extremely slow traffic. The driver decided to take a detour to get there faster but then we came across a set of traffic lights flashing orange on our side which meant one way was flowing but our side was stuck, culminating in four lanes of frustrated drivers, backed up for who knows how long. Eventually people barged through slowly with much tooting, and it all looked and sounded like a scene from India.
So I arrived at the airport a little late, then I found out my flight was delayed a couple of hours anyway. A couple of hours later it was delayed another two hours, from a 5.15pm departure to 9.45pm. I managed to kill some time by walking up and down the modern airport shopping mall until I got bored of seeing the same branded stores. The Starbucks hot cuppa was well deserved.
I boarded the plane for Bermuda, put my headphones on and must have dozed off a little. Half waking I realised we were still on the tarmac and it was about an hour later. The pilot then announced ‘sorry to announce bad news but there is a maintenance issue which would be fine for national travel but it is not for international’. We were told it would take five minutes. Yeah right. Then we were told they were starting the right engine to test if the issue was fixed. A small maintenance issue ok for national travel?
Two hours after sitting on the tarmac we were told that the issue was not fixed and that there was another plane waiting for us, and we had to get off and go back into the terminal. Our luggage was moved to this plane and we got ready to board. The airport manager then came along and told us that no we could not fly out to Bermuda this evening. They would arrange taxi vouchers, meal vouchers and hotel vouchers but we would not be on a plane until 1pm the next day. That would have meant I would only have one day in Bermuda!
Myself and a few others managed to ask very nicely if we could get the few seats left on the 8.15am flight but our baggage would not go with us, they could not take it off the plane outside. We queued for a very long time to get vouchers and I made friends with a New York couple about to get married. Their family and friends were already in Bermuda having dinner without them. They had the wedding dress and suit as hand luggage, but no shoes or anything else. At least they had the dress!
I was booked into the same hotel and so we all got into the taxi expecting to be there within a few minutes. Yeah right. The hotel was at least 20 minutes away from the airport, and we arrived an hour later because the taxi driver went half an hour in the wrong direction using the GPS on his phone. Now it was 2am from a 5.15pm departure and we had to be back at the airport in four hours time. It took 45mins for another taxi to arrive and I arrived at the gate just as the flight was boarding.
I made it to Bermuda, my luggage arrived the next day and the New York couple happily married in the sunshine, quite possibly in bare feet and definitely lacking a night’s sleep!
So that is how I came to see the suburb of Queens in the misty early morning hours of New York.