16 Sep 2015

My journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

As the day was fast approaching that I was set to leave the UK behind, American Airlines caused some major confusion & panic regarding my flight. The inability to check in online with it being a flight to JFK wasn't something they could just tell me over the phone and instead insisted that I needed an ESTA to travel to the states, regardless of the J1 visa I had already been accepted for. As if that wasn't enough stress, my mum then had to help close my suitcase with me. Try fitting 3 months of belongings into a case you normally fill when you visit Spain for two weeks. But alas! We did it! With my teddy safely stored away in my hand luggage, we left darling Cleethorpes for Manchester airport at 5AM. 
As we approached the Leeds/Manchester junction, the traffic hits and had us in stand-stills. I was again, starting to panic as I should have been there at 7.15. I was also beyond desperate for the loo at this point. After an hour delay, we arrived at the airport and I quickly said my goodbyes and thankyou's to my mum, brother and step-dad before making my way to the desk ready to check in. 
This check in desk was like no other I had experienced. I had to answer extra security questions at a separate stand alone kiosk. "What do you do for a living?" "Where do you study?" "What's your lecturers name?" etc... before I was even allowed to approach the desk. But there was yet another obstacle preventing a smooth check-in. This time with a new machine where I was to enter my details and print out my own boarding pass before finally having my bags weighed and I was able to reach the other side.
I spent a brief hour in the waiting lounge before being called up for boarding. But of course there was just one more security check as I was chosen out of hundreds of people to take everything out of my hand-luggage, jacket off and shoes off, they must have known I was born in Grimsby. Finally, as they concluded that I was not at all a threat to the aircraft and everyone on it, I was able to reach my seat for the next eight or so hours. This was only to find that my knees were in fact touching the chair in front, I'd forgotten to put my flight socks on and I knew my osteoarthritis was going to kick in. We were not off to a great start at all. But bugger it! I was only 3495 miles away from New York! The place dreams are made.
The service on board the aircraft was amazing in all fairness. I was constantly being offered complimentary drinks and a regular circulation of snacks were present. I asked for Sprite the first time and the hostess offers 'Sierra Mist ok?' Dumbfounded and obviously looking confused in my hazy state she laughs and says 'it's just the same or very similar' yep, tar that'll do just fine!
At 12 'o clock English time they announced that dinner (or lunch if you're American) would be chicken & potatoes or cheese ravioli for the vegetarian option, which I was excited for. Instead I was given a strange concoction of vegetables and rice which I barely touched, however I had a wholemeal roll with butter & balsamic vinegar with a side salad and fruit pieces for afterwards which saw me through for a while. At 5 they brought out another meal, just an hour before landing which was more pleasant than lunch but would have preferred the vegetarian margarita wrap and chocolate cake. I shouldn't have told them I was vegetarian when booking. At least I know for next time.
Because I had a window seat I was able to make myself comfortable enough to drift in and out of consciousness with the occasional interruption of huge turbulence. You know the ones where you can actually feel your belly drop. The seatbelt sign was turned on for the entire flight.
There was a slight drama with a child who had been found wandering around the aircraft alone, and an announcement soon after requesting if there was a nurse on board as someone had fainted. Other than this excitement I mostly slept for the entire journey yet managed to finish the final Bridget Jones book in the brief hour that I spent conscious.

Once arriving in America and after having a slight mix up with customs, I met up with three others who were heading to the same camp for a night in NYC. We paid $58 dollars for all 4 of us to get to Manhattan in a yellow cab, not bad at all!
We arrived at the apartment to find that it was a place that someone rents out when they're not living there, so it wasn't entirely spacious. Yet it  was ideal for one night's kip.
We headed out to Olive Garden in Times Square to eat where I experienced those huge American meal portions I'd heard so much about. At Olive Garden I ate this very unpleasant and overpriced wholemeal linguine with barely any sauce and rather just oil which wasn't nearly as good as McDonalds' mozzarella sticks and fries which I had on the way back to the apartment later than night. We then headed for the subway to catch a ferry which drives past Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty. It was a very windy and wet trip on the ferry, but amazing to see France's gift to America. We then walked to see the new World Trade Centre and the Ground Zero Memorial on the way too which was chillingly amazing. 
 The travelling finally hit us and we were knackered! Back to the subway, to 42nd street and a short walk to 46th where we were staying literally on Times Square. 

The next day we were up early to check our cases into Port Authority Bus Station and purchase our tickets to Hartford later on in the day where we would be picked up and taken to Camp Chinqueka! A little weight lifted, we walked to Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building and Central Park as some final sight seeing farewells to New York. We ticked off a lot of boxes in just over 24 hours of being in the Big Apple.
I was excited to start my journey with camp!

-Just Write About It.
Raven Twigg

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