Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

New York - Day 1

Fern's birthday was in early April, and she had always wanted to go to New York City. What better birthday present than ten days in the big apple?

First, the logistics: driving to Buffalo, NY takes about 2½ hours, and shaves several hundred dollars off the cost of flying. A couple of JetBlue tickets (a low-cost US carrier) ran about $200 each, including tax, compared to the ~$600 each Air Canada would have charged out of Toronto.

Accommodation was an interesting dilemma, also neatly solved by the Internet. We found a listing on Craigslist put up by a woman named Lamia, who wanted to rent out her apartment while she was away for 10 days - almost exactly the 10 days I had wanted to take off - and made quick arrangements by e-mail, followed by slow arrangements by money order and post.

Crossing station at LewistonWe had a little problem driving across the border. You know when you pass through the US, and get given one of those little green cards, part of which you're expected to keep? No-one ever explains why, or what it actually does. It's a visa waiver, which lets you enter the country without explicitly being issued a visa, and it's valid for 90 days. If you re-enter the country less than 90 days after leaving it, and don't have the green card, you're in trouble. They actually make you pay $6 for its re-issue after they're convinced you're not going to be bad. Hint: don't say "we've rented an apartment", because even though you mean "for 10 days", they hear "forever".

Fern at JFKBuffalo Airport was pleasantly simple - you still get the checks on US domestic flights, but they'll let you on even with just a strange looking drivers' license, The flight was peaceful (the seat-back TV, instead of being on-demand, was live satellite TV, so I watched a little Battlestar Galactica and followed the US election on Faux News) and after just over an hour, we arrived at JFK.

In a complete contrast to Toronto's useless transit, JFK has a simple link with the NYC subway. Strangely, you pay $5 for the 10 minute AirTrain ride from the terminal to the subway station, and then $2 for the 45 minute subway ride into Manhattan.

The subway was stereotypical - by the time we got to the line we needed, both carrying suitcases and carry-on bags, we were abused by New Yorkers for taking up too much space. After a couple of changes it was a two-block walk to the apartment.

Lamia's room-mate is a painter named Russell, who met us at the apartment and told us a little bit about things to do. Unfortunately that was the last time we saw him, as he only came down to NY for the weekends.

Craig and stromboli.We went for a walk to get our bearings, and see how far away things were. The apartment was in the shadow of the Empire State Building, and Macy's on 5th Avenue was all of 5 minutes walk away. We walked up to Times Square (about 20 minutes uptown) and back, before grabbing some dinner - stromboli from Empire State Pizza. (Verdict: as with most North American pizza, too much meat and not enough onion/peppers/extra fillings.)

Check out the gallery for day 1 (including lots of great photos Fern took from the plane).


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