Much of this was written at 40,000 ft above the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Newfoundland and the Canary Islands.
Today I committed the biggest mistake of my entire trip. Last night I purchased my ticket to New York. I got a hotel out near Heathrow because the weekend rates there are cheap and I didn’t want to waste time in the morning trying to get there. TAP Portugal had the cheapest flights so I booked a 6:15am flight to New York with a layover in Portugal. There was also a 6am flight so I figured I’d give myself the extra 15 minutes.
I get to the airport only to find they do not have me booked in the computer. I’m sort of worried because I really need to get to New York. I go to a coffee shop in the terminal to check my email and get the booking information. When I check the email I realized I had made a huge mistake. The 6am flight was out of Heathrow, the 6:15 flight was out of Gatwick…nowhere close to Heathrow. I was at the wrong airport and shit out of luck. The ticket was not refundable.
I had sworn I saw Heathrow when I did the search, and I had seen Heathrow….on the other flight. I even went to the Heathrow website to find out what terminal TAP flew from the night before. It never dawned on me that they would be flying out of two different airports at almost the exact same time…. and I didn’t read close enough.
Prior to this the worst mistake I made was misreading the departure time for a flight from Samoa to Tonga. I arrived at the Apia airport just to see the Air New Zealand flight taking off. For that flight I managed to get the ticket changed, but I had to wait in Samoa a week for the next flight to Tonga. This time I had to buy another ticket. The price they quoted me at the gate was as cheap as the cheapest tickets I saw online, so I figured there was no point in going back to a hotel and starting over. I got a new ticket, took the 6am flight and rushed everything to get on the plane. I was just like OJ running through the airport (minus the murdering people part).
Getting the to plane was complicated by the small fact that I had a corkscrew in my backpack that I purchased in Florence. They ended up swabbing everything in my bags making my dash to the plane even worse.
Oddly enough, I never went through any immigration check leaving the UK or Portugal. There wasn’t one for me to go through that I could see.
On the plane I was given the customs card for US immigration and one of the questions on the card was “Countries visited on this trip prior to US arrival”. I think they were looking for a full list, but there wasn’t enough room to write everything down. I just put: 40. (I’m defining country for this purpose as places that were real countries or had passport stamps since I was in Hawaii for the second time of my trip in August 2007. Hong Kong, Macau Taiwan, Northern Marianas Islands would be included but Guam would not.)
Once I arrived in Newark I had surprisingly little trouble going through immigration. The guy at the passport desk was more impressed than anything else.
This is my first time in New York since the 2000 World Series between the Mets and the Yankees. I haven’t been here since 9/11. Despite the economic problems hitting the financial sector hard, the city seems nicer and cleaner than it was when I was last here.
My first day in New York i set out immediately to the Apple store in midtown Manhattan. Just prior to the start of my trip I saw the Steve Jobs launch of the iPhone. I purchased an iPod Touch in Tokyo which was one of the best travel items I’ve ever purchased. The new iPhone however had even more features which would help both travel and blog. If you are a regular reader, you probably have noticed that I haven’t been updating as much the last few weeks. My days have consisted of waking up, hitting the streets and getting back to the hotel/hostel at night really tired. I’m hoping to do audio updates for the site while I’m on the street. I’m also able to Twitter and upload photos immediately after I take them.
I’ll be here for another week or so before I fly off to San Diego for a few days to hang out at Comicon then I take off for Chicago for the Travel Blog Expo on the 26th.
If you are in New York, we are having a meet up with some other travel bloggers on Monday, July 20th. Just contact me for details if you are interested in attending.