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Unread 19 Aug 18, 04:27 PM  
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CrispyA
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Expedition East Coast: Travel Day, arrival in New York, Brooklyn Bridge

17 July - Travel Day

I'm actually going to start with the pre pre-travel day. For most of the day, it wasn't very exciting; I was at work, frantically finishing everything off while the rest of the family were packing, sorting things out etc. When I got home, I started my packing only to get a message from AirBnB to tell me that our host for Boston had just cancelled on us. Not the best start to a holiday. I was aware that this was a possibility with AirBnB but had deliberately booked with Superhosts with lots of positive reviews for this very reason.

If the host had taken the time to message me and explain that they had a family situation or whatever, I would have minded less but they didn't even bother to contact us. Ours was a Friday - Sunday booking and I suspect they got a request for a full week and so just cancelled us. AirBnB gave us the option of a refund or to book another property with an additional 40 to spend from them. So instead of a relaxing evening thinking about going on holiday tomorrow, we had a fairly fraught time looking for accommodation for Boston. And of course, as it was so late, there was nothing reasonable available. In the end we found another AirBnB, taking a chance that this host wouldn't cancel. It ended up costing us 200 more than our original choice though which was a bit of a kicker.

Still, once this was done, Pre Travel Day itself dawned and that was far less stressful! We finished packing and took Lulu the cat to the feline hotel. As ever, she wasn't keen on getting in a box and going in the car, but she seemed to like the look of her accommodation, so we got her settled before setting off to close up cases etc.

We were getting the train to Manchester, so set off in plenty of time to get to the station, arriving early enough for a quick drink in one of Paul's favourite pubs on the way.



The train to Manchester was fine, although it always amazes me how little luggage space there is on this train considering it goes to the airport. I moan about this every year!

We were staying at the Premier Inn at Cheadle, so got a taxi from the airport station and were soon settled in. We had spotted a pub nearby which did food, so we walked to the Griffin Inn. The beer selection was good and the food was okay. Then we headed back to the hotel and booked a taxi for the next morning. All very uneventful.

We were at the airport bright and early the next morning to get checked in and drop bags off etc. Terminal 1 seemed less crowded than Terminal 3 and we had time to have breakfast burritos and, most importantly, coffee!



The flight itself was fine. It was the first time we had flown with Thomas Cook and we were all impressed with them. The plane was comfortable and the food was okay for plane food. The free entertainment was somewhat limited (a choice of 6 films & 6 TV shows) but there was a huge music selection and plenty to entertain you on a 7 hour flight. We had pre-ordered duty free as well and they bring that straight to your seat which was a nice touch.

Disembarking at JFK was stressful - Hannah and I were a couple of steps below the boys as we got off the plane and we got ordered onto a full bus and not allowed to wait for them. Once we got off at immigration, we tried to wait for the boys but a very officious woman just snapped at me that I had to join the immigration line. I kept trying to tell her that my husband was on another bus, as ordered by her colleague, and that he had all our documents and passports but she wasn't listening. It was hardly a great welcome to a new country. I know they are busy and they just want to process people, but there was no point in sending me to immigration with no passport! Fortunately, another member of staff realised that we couldn't get in the line and allowed us to wait for the boys.

There was a very long wait to go through immigration, especially as Evan got an X on his slip of paper so we all had to join another queue. But at least all our bags were lined up ready to pick up by the time we got there.

As our hotel was in Long Island City in Queens, we decided to get the train as we wouldn't be going over the bridges to Manhattan and so wouldn't see much from a cab. We got the AirTrain to Jamaica Station and then the fun started. You have to buy an AirTrain ticket to get out of the station and we knew we needed subway tickets, but despite my searching of the MTA website, I was still struggling to work out which we needed.

We looked in vain for a member of staff to help but there was nobody. In the end we had to use the machines and found it really hard to work out what we needed. We spotted one that said 10 rides for $25, thought that would do and so bought four of those. Remember, we bought FOUR. All the tickets said "Metro" on them, so we thought they were right.

Next we headed for the subway, lugging our cases and trying not to be disappointed at how grotty and hot the station was. Then we tried to go through the barriers and our tickets wouldn't work. So we went to the desk to find out that we had bought tickets that gave us 10 AirTrain rides and no subway credit whatsoever. What's more, we had FOUR of them and had spent $100 on tickets that were useless. I'm not ashamed to say that I may have cried at this point. I was tired, hot, slighty hangry and not at all impressed with New York.

The subway lady was sympathetic and told us it happens a lot. But she couldn't transfer the credit and that we would need new subway tickets. All we could do was mail the AirTrain tickets to customer services and they would mail us a cheque. But she hadn't got any envelopes and we'd have to get those elsewhere.

At least she let us through the barriers for free.

It was a very subdued ride to the hotel as we were all feeling really upset about the ticket issue. Yes it was our mistake, but considering Jamaica Station and the AirTrain are the first contacts that international travellers have with New York, you would have thought some staff at the ticket machines would have been a good idea. When you get off the train at St Pancras in London, there are plenty of staff to help newcomers negotiate the underground but in New York there was nobody. And don't get me started on having more than one line being the same colour on the map . . .

Fortunately our hotel (Best Western Plaza) wasn't far from the subway stop in Queens and we made it there without further mishap. The reception staff were lovely and we were soon checked into our room, which was cosy but fine.

It was about 3.00pm by this point, so we got changed, the teenage boy got wifi connected and then we set off to get the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge as that was our activity for the afternoon. It wasn't a difficult walk from the subway but it was very hot, we were tired and still annoyed about the ticketing disaster and the boys were doing a lot of chuntering about how horrible New York was. Hannah and I were doing our best to be cheerful but everyone was pretty hangry at this point.

Fortunately, we had looked up some pizza places beforehand. There was no queue at Julianas and that took credit cards so we went in and got a table. Then we got the menus and looked at the prices and realised we were not staying! The large pizzas were $30 each and with a teenage boy in the party, we were going to need at least 2. I couldn't bring myself to spend $60 on 2 pizzas, with drinks on top of that, so Paul and I gave each other the nod and left.

Fortunately, Grimaldis is next door and the pizzas were half the price, even though it was cash only, so we went in there instead. The pizzas were really good and just what everyone needed.



Once the hungriness was resolved, hangry faces became more smiley and we set off to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and get a look at Manhattan for the first time.



It was very busy and noisy, especially as the pedestrian/cycle part is wooden and there was a constant stream of speedy bikes clattering over the slats. It was nice to be walking though and to see the water and the cars underneath.





We also saw this really cute police car and I made Paul take a photo.



Over the other side of the bridge we sat on a bench and people watched for a little while before catching the train back to the hotel and having an early night. We tried to stay up as long as we could but were almost comatose by 9.00pm so called it a night.
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Unread 19 Aug 18, 04:43 PM  
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Beaker's Fluff
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We love Grimaldis. We went on Boxing Day, we then went for ice cream down by the water.
Yum
I have a picture of that police car parked on the bridge itself.
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Unread 19 Aug 18, 05:20 PM  
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What a start with your Airbnb hosts cancelling on you. I think its things like that which explains why Ive never booked with them - Id worry like mad until we were there and can do without the stress. Glad you got something else sorted.

Yes New Yorkers can be a bit more abrupt than were used to, particularly at the airport.

The tickets at the station sound a bit of a nightmare and can see why it upset you. Glad that the subway lady was friendly and helpful and hope you managed to get it refunded.

Your pizza looks good and the weather looks fabulous! Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Unread 20 Aug 18, 04:28 PM  
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You had quite an eventful start to the trip with the cancelled Air B&B, train ticket nightmare and shouty immigration people. Glad you all got nice Pizza though and had a good walk over the bridge.
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Unread 21 Aug 18, 08:40 PM  
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Melbatb
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The start of your trip sounds as nightmarish as the start of ours!

Glad you managed to get out and about - pizza is always good to lift your spirits!
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Unread 21 Aug 18, 08:52 PM  
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good but long travel day
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Unread 22 Aug 18, 07:53 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by Beaker's Fluff View Post
We love Grimaldis. We went on Boxing Day, we then went for ice cream down by the water.
Yum
I have a picture of that police car parked on the bridge itself.
We really liked Grimaldis - nice staff as well. The police car was very cute!

Originally Posted by jocat View Post
What a start with your Airbnb hosts cancelling on you. I think its things like that which explains why Ive never booked with them - Id worry like mad until we were there and can do without the stress. Glad you got something else sorted.

Yes New Yorkers can be a bit more abrupt than were used to, particularly at the airport.

The tickets at the station sound a bit of a nightmare and can see why it upset you. Glad that the subway lady was friendly and helpful and hope you managed to get it refunded.

Your pizza looks good and the weather looks fabulous! Looking forward to the next instalment.
Unfortunately, it's really put me off booking with AirBnB in future as this was last minute stress that we just didn't need. We had a good experience with them in Maine and the apartment we got in the end was great but it's left me feeling wary.


Fortunately, most of the New Yorkers we met were much friendlier!

Originally Posted by katiebaz View Post
You had quite an eventful start to the trip with the cancelled Air B&B, train ticket nightmare and shouty immigration people. Glad you all got nice Pizza though and had a good walk over the bridge.
It wasn't the best start, but it did get better!

Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
The start of your trip sounds as nightmarish as the start of ours!

Glad you managed to get out and about - pizza is always good to lift your spirits!
Pizza is generally the answer. I think you win for worst start to a holiday though - I felt so bad for you!

Originally Posted by disney owl View Post
good but long travel day
I'm amazed we did so much on our first day looking back!
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Unread 26 Aug 18, 03:53 PM  
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Oh my what a stressful start with the Airbnb drama ( thats so bad) and I did feel for you at the airport getting split like that and people barking orders at you never listening to what you say . And then the tickets . I would have cried. For sure. Signage though in NYC is pretty poor though I think .
Bless you for persevering and getting out to the do the bridge. We ate at Julianas but had two pizzas for 5 of us so it didnt feel too bad for the price.
Lets hope tomorrow is better !
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