Silvia   May 28, 2020   blog, friends, travel

Most of this post was typed months ago and left to rot in my drafts but as I’m now stuck at home, pondering the meaning of life while the world as we know it is on the brink of despair, I thought it might be nice to relive those fabulous ten days.

I think it’s pretty much everybody’s dream to visit New York at least once in their lives. When I was growing up and way before I started getting into Doctor Who and British dramas, I wanted to move to NYC and live a glamorous life. As it turns out, London is much more accessible and my family is happy to have me pop to Italy for a long weekend every now and then, so the dream of moving to NYC got squashed along with my savings.

You all know me and my fangirling tendencies so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the main reason for my first Transatlantic trip in a long while was due to a certain brunette badass actress starring in a play about another kickass brunette and directed by an equally badass brunette genius. I guess I have a type. I remember when Mary McDonnell announced this new project and I’m fairly sure my dogs also remember the extremely high pitched noise that came out of my mouth. The girls and I immediately started planning our trip to Princeton. But what’s a trip to Princeton if you don’t also spend a few days in New York City? You just gotta take a bite of that Big AppleΒ  when you’re that close.

Let’s talk about the flight. I hate flying. I hate it when it’s only a couple of hours, so you can only imagine the anxiety, worry and dread which fills me when it comes to travelling outside Europe. Who wants to spend 7 and a half hours in a metal tin can, floating through the clouds in the company of their own thoughts? Let me tell you, not me. I am forever thankful for my trusty iPad, headphones and woollen socks who made it possible for me to not scream into the void for the whole duration of the flight. The first half of the flight was spent watching the deluxe edition of Dances with Wolves, one of the greatest movies to ever be created and the perfect choice for such a long flight. Where else are you going to find a movie that keeps you entertained until you fly over Greenland? During the second part of the flight, I kept myself busy reading Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions while listening to Guns’n’Roses, which to me is a winning combination. This is how I tried to deal with the anxiety gnawing at me while in the air. I, of course, still shook like a leaf whenever we hit the most minuscule turbulence but I kept my shit together long enough to touch down on American soil.

JFK is busy 24/7 and even after landing at 9.30 in the evening, the queue to get through customs was over an hour long. Ninety minutes of shuffling my backpack and handbag, while holding tightly onto my passport and any conceivable document that could possibly be useful in this situation. Ninety minutes of staring at a screen where a TSA agent on the chubby side kept telling us to not smuggle iguanas into the country and that we should really get rid of the mysterious ham sandwich we’ve been hiding in our bag because it might kill us. One long, sweaty hour and a half later, I was greeted by this strapping, bronze TSA god who stamped my passport and wished me luck on this late birthday treat. After clearing customs, I felt invincible. I casually strolled towards the baggage reclaim area and there it was, my suitcase, slowly making its way towards me. I couldn’t have timed it any better. If we ignore the long and exhausting flight, this trip was shaping up to be pretty sweet. Now it was time for donuts.

Julia, bless her sweet wonderful self, made her way towards Terminal 4 to meet me at arrivals and within minutes, we were at the small Dunkin’ Donuts stand getting started on our doughnut extravaganza. Over coffee and iced tea, we talked about our plans for this little holiday of ours, about our excitement for this play, about all the restaurants we were going to and all the food we were going to eat. And thenΒ  it was time for the third musketeer to join us. Maria emerged from the crowd like a beacon of hope. I have no idea how this woman went to work that morning in Madrid, then went straight to the airport and was now walking towards us with the two tiniest backpacks on the planet and the biggest, most genuine smile on her face.

Catching a taxi, Uber or Lyft at JFK is a nightmare, so, after the umpteenth failed attempt at getting a car to drive us to our hotel, we decided to take the Airtrain and then the subway… or what we thought was the subway. As it turns out, we were on a LIRR service. Five minutes on a stupid train cost us $14 each . Do you know how many donuts I could have bought with that money? As we finally reached our hotel, we immediately jumped straight into our pyjamas which in Julia’s case required some actual physical jumping and I still to this day laugh about it.

You would think that three sleep-deprived European ladies who had just spent the previous twelve hours travelling, would have immediately fallen asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Alas, we were up most of the night, constantly falling prey to exhaustion-induced giggling fits.

I think we maybe averaged two hours of sleep before we gave up and decided to be productive. So around 6.30am we started gettingΒ  ready to hit the town. A quick shower and a thick layer of concealer later, I still wasn’t feeling 100% human but the thought of getting coffee kept me going. Because we would be making our way to Princeton later in the day, Julia and I had to repack our suitcases and carry them with us to Penn Station where we left them in the care of a lovely woman who owns a small little craft store just around the corner and who also offers tourists the opportunity to store their luggage so they explore the city hassle free.

Breakfast was a success. We went to a diner called Andrew’s Coffee Shop which makes the best omelettes in Manhattan (either that or my hunger was almost feral and anything would have been scarfed down with so much enthusiasm) where I had great coffee (for the first and last time while in the States!) and the most delicious “Greek” omelette with spinach, feta and black olives. It was a true feast and it gaveΒ  me enough fuel for the rest of the day. From the diner, we could almost see Times Square and, once there, we hit the obligatory amount of selfie required to be a true tourist. We then walked toΒ  Grand Central Station and stared at the ceiling for minutes and minutes until we decided a Diet Coke break was much needed (and by we, I mean I decided I needed a Diet Coke fix). We then walked for miles all around midtown, stopping to peak into every single book shop, before making our way to Penn Station again where we would meet Camilla and Carol, the last two Europeans to join our quintet.

We sat on the steps in front of Penn Station observing the bustling streets and the incredibly blue sky we were gifted with on that day. We talked about the play, our plans to attend German Comic Con that December and our mutual dislike for the pigeons who kept trying to get far too close to us. We laughed about the old man who helped us get our bags back from the deposit and his reaction when, after asking us why we had travelled all the way from Europe to go to, and I quote, “Princeton, of all places”, we said “Gloria Steinem”. The shift in his demeanour had me laughing for days. He still wishes us a safe journey and a fun weekend.

Once Camilla and Carol arrived, hugs were exchanged (now that we live in the time of Covid19, even just the idea of hugging someone is a privilege) and we immediately and very excitedly started making our way towards our next destination: Princeton.

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