A Travellerspoint blog

Farewell to New York

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


View 2015-02 South America & 2014-09 Royal Princess on greynomadm's travel map.

Today was our last day and after a great breakfast we collected our bags and filled in time in the lobby. At just after 09:15 our shuttle driver arrived and assisted us with our luggage. He already had one passenger and had two more pick-ups to do. Out into the traffic. Wrong word, traffic implies movement, there wasn't much of that. I'm convinced that the pedestrians were making better time than we were.

After a lengthy time of stop-start bumper to bumper we were stopped by a police barricade. Something was happening on the East side and we couldn't go the way the driver had planned. He tried a number of alternates but was blocked again and again. He finally fought his way to Park Avenue and drove a long way North and with lots more turns arrived at the pick-up. The intended passenger was a no-show, he called it in and off we went for the final pick-up. At one stage he had to fold in both his exterior mirrors and assisted by the driver of the truck that was parked he managed to squeeze us between the parked cars.

Picked up the final passengers and we're off to JFK Airport. By this time we'd spent the best part of an hour doing the pick-up and our scheduled drop-off was 10:30. With some adroit lane changes, high speed stretches and bullying in on the other lanes we made it to Terminal 7 just after 10:30. Beats me how he managed it. Not that we were in a rush, our flight was not until 14:55.

Found the Cathay Pacific desk and waited for what seemed like hours but wouldn't have been much more that 45 minutes. Checked in our baggage, two large cases and the duffel, through to Sydney. Seat allocation and boarding passes for both legs of our flight home. Through the security check without too many dramas but I still can't work out why I have to remove my boots. Found our way to the departure gate at the end of a long concourse and settled in for long wait. Bought some lunch and waited as the crowd gathered for this flight. The flight was delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft but we were seated not long after 15:00. For those keeping track, that's about 6 hours and we haven't gone anywhere.

It took some time to manoeuvre the aircraft across the airport and finally we were airborne. On Demand movies in multiple languages, complete series of TV shows and my favourite the moving map. Our course to Hong Kong was over the polar region crossing Canada, Alaska, Russia and China. We finally touched down in Hong Kong just after 19:00 local time having spent 16 hours in the air. Travel time so far is 22 hours.

Through an abbreviated security check and we locate Gate 69 where we await the boarding call. Just after 21:15 we start loading the aircraft and we depart on schedule heading for Sydney. Travel time is now roughly 24 hours, a bed would look good about now !!

An uneventful flight to Sydney were we landed at about 08:20 after another nine hours in the air. Total flying time is 25 hours, total travel time about 33 hours. We find our way though Immigration and baggage collection and join the endless queue for Quarantine checking. One of the officials approached us, pulled us out of the line and asked if we had anything to declare, no we didn't, so she stamped our cards and directed us to the Yellow Exit.

No queue, no delay and we're on our way to the Murray's Coach bay. We were booked for the 11:15 coach but the flexible fare ticket allowed us to get on the 10:15 coach. Fully loaded and right on time the Coach set off for Canberra at 10:15 - add another two hours - now 35 hours in transit.
Along the by now familiar route onto the M5 and out through Sydney to the Hume Freeway. Lots of roadwork still but large sections should be ready for the Christmas Holiday crush. A straight forward run to Canberra with lots of signs of new growth as Spring taking hold.

Arrived at the Coach Terminal to be met by Natalie, Amy and Emalee. Add another three hours so now 38 hours on the go. Each of the girls taking charge of a piece of luggage and off to Nat's car. Home to Nat's where we transfer luggage and have quick cup of coffee. Jenny manages to bring Natalie totally undone with a custom built bear from New York.

We head off to the Olympus Motel just down the road as we're in no fit state to drive home. A quick shower and we hit the bed around 15:45. For those who have kept track we've now been on the go for close to 40 hours.

There's a lot more that could be said about this part of the journey but these extremely long flights at the end of a relaxing cruise wipe out any residual euphoria from the cruise experience. The flights to Copenhagen and the return from New York are the longest flights we've endured. I've asked out Travel Agent to look into changing our next two flights and see if we can have a break in Honolulu along the way. I suspect it will be very expensive, but if it isn't we'll certainly opt for extending the time away by a few days.

This was written some time after the event and I have no relevant photos to link to.

Thanks to all who have viewed and followed I hope it has provided an interesting read.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:20 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

More of New York

Monday, 29 September 2014


View 2015-02 South America & 2014-09 Royal Princess on greynomadm's travel map.

Great breakfast again at the Hampton Inn and a pleasant day. Decided we couldn't leave without visiting the WTC Memorial site. Made our way one block South to the 50st Subway Station. Two return tickets cost $11 and we travelled the E Train to the WTC in lower Manhattan where we joined thousands of tourists working our way past the construction sites.

We shared a similar feeling to what we experienced at the Vietnam Wall in Washington. The hundreds of names are totally unknown to us but we get the feeling of that tragic loss. The whole area is respectfully guarded by officers of the various authorities that lost members that day. By and large the tourists displayed the appropriate respect and walked around and stared in silence.

The walk around the extensive site left us both emotionally and physically drained. I'm still feeling less than 100% so we made for the subway and caught the E Train back to where we'd started.

Faced with overflowing suitcases we went out and bought a duffel to carry some of the overflow. We also booked a shuttle to take us to the airport in the morning. Did a quick trial-pack to ensure the duffel was adequate and it looks good. Visited the Cosmic Diner across the street for a late lunch. We ordered from the 'specials' menu again. Jenny had chicken and fries and the chicken soup, I had liver and onion with fries and a bean soup. I just managed to get through my meal, Jenny presented with half a chicken was defeated before she started. About half her meal went back to the kitchen. So what was the bill? $35 including a $5 tip !!

Back at the hotel I crashed out on the bed and didn't even get up to write this blog until after 17:30. Meanwhile the lights and sounds of the city pass by our window. Jenny says she'd like to spend months here and I agree there would be something interesting to see every day for months. Not likely to happen but despite my reduced mobility we've had a great time.

See some images from the WTC Memorial at [http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-29 and [http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-30]

Next entry likely to be from home.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:50 Archived in USA Comments (1)

New York & Yonkers

Sunday, 28 September 2014


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Slept remarkably well given our location on 8th Ave. It was certainly busy until after we'd retired. Great complementary breakfast in the Hampton Inn. Clear sky and promise of lots of sunshine. Jenny wanted to attend Mass and I wanted to take photos of St Patrick's Cathedral. After a relatively short walk we found the Cathedral by the outside was wrapped in scaffolding for restoration, undaunted I stepped inside for a few shots of the interior - that was also covered in scaffolding. Bit disappointed and left Jenny there for the 09:00 service. I walked down an almost deserted Fifth Ave and was fascinated by the famous brand names. Turned East on 42nd St and found Grand Central Terminal. There were few people about and I wandered the various concourses.

Walked back to St Pat's to wait for Jenny to complete her service. Then we walked back to Grand Central where we purchased train tickets to Yonkers. Friends we had last met in 2001 were determined that we should meet at the restaurant where their son is soon to be appointed Executive Chef. What an amazing location and awesome meal. We talked for hours having almost 14 years to catch upon. They wouldn't even let us contribute to the check. Promised to return the favour if they visit Australia.

Travelled back to Grand Central and walked back to the hotel via 42nd Street, Times Square and 8th Ave. What a contrast to the early Sunday Morning, hardly room to move !! Back at the hotel we both crashed having both walked a lot and eaten too much.

Last day in New York tomorrow, hope to visit the 9/11 memorial.

There's an image of the entrance to Saks & Company on 5th Ave at [http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-28]

This blog entry is from the hotel and while short on words covers a very busy day.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:20 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Arrived in New York.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


View 2015-02 South America & 2014-09 Royal Princess on greynomadm's travel map.

Our ship slipped into New York and found her berth at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. We had breakfast and vacated the cabin to give the staff a chance to ready it for the next occupant. We found our way to the Vista Lounge which was the designated venue for Elite and Platinum passengers. Talk about crowded, we were lucky to find standing room !!

The US Border Protection Authority was causing all manner of delays with their detailed Immigration control processes. A total of 5 biometric images for each person; right hand, right thumb, left hand, left thumb and full face. Given that my right hand was bandaged and my face looking the worst for wear I'm not sure what the value of all that was.

We had selected a 10:00 disembarkation, we finally left the ship close to 11:00. We made it to the end of the taxi queue by about 11:45 and got into a taxi almost an hour later. Our driver took us across the Brooklyn Bridge and then did a U-turn and headed South. I'm assuming he knew something I didn't but was surprised when we drove around the West side and past the World Trade Memorial. We then travelled very slowly Northward to our hotel on 8th Ave North of West 51st St. The total fare was not outrageous and it had filled in some time.

We were a little early for the 15:00 check-in but our room was ready. First priority was to checkout the fast wired Internet connection. Wow !! Spent sometime studying a map and went out to explore the immediate vicinity. New Yorkers are obviously accustomed to strange sights, no-one appeared to notice my massive shiner. Picked up some cough mixture for Jenny and some bandages for me. Out again to find somewhere for dinner, plenty of choices but we settled for the Cosmic Diner at 888 8th Ave - 'open 24 hours'. The menu was extensive, the service great and the prices quite reasonable. The size of the meal was more than Jenny could cope with and we hadn't eaten since breakfast.

My aches and pains seem to be lessening but my black eye and damaged right hand will certainly impact on my photographic activity.

There's a shot of lower Manhattan taken from the ship at [http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-27]

This blog entry was from the hotel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:52 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Last Full Day of the Cruise

Friday, 26 September 2014


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I didn't sleep too well and wasn't motivated to look for a sunrise. When we finally went up to the Horizon Court both the sky and the sea were a nothing grey. My hand is still painful and my ability at the keyboard has taken a backward step add to that an almost totally closed right eye and preparing this blog is more of a challenge than it normally is.

Most of the morning is taken up with administrative tasks, like what pieces of paper to keep and what to throw out. I've no doubt kept more than I'll ever need. Spent some time reconciling the on-board account and confirming that all entries are correct. One of the facilities on this ship is the ability to view the account on-line on the internal network.

At about 11:00 there was a "Man Overboard" announcement from the bridge. There was no "For Exercise, For Exercise" prefix so it was the real deal. I was in the cabin so didn't witness the reaction of the crew but Jenny was on Deck 7 and saw them through buoys and markers overboard. We were then instructed to return to our cabins so that a physical "Head Count"could be conducted. The room stewards knocked on each door and verified the presence of each passenger. Shops were closed, the ship was terned around and the rescue boat launched. According to witnesses the whole operation ran like clockwork - as far as the crew was concerned at least. There's a story going round that one woman in the casino wouldn't leave the slot machine - "My husband knows where I am, he'll tell them !!"

Despite small set-backs like that the count was completed, the reported object identified as a fishnet marker and the captain announced that all was well and we were back on course. Two other ships in the area were also alerted and they diverted to join the search if it had been necessary.
With that excitement over, we went to lunch (for the last time) and returned to the cabin to start packing our bags. I experienced some difficulty and not all of it attributable to my injured hand. The straps must have shrunk.

At 16:15 I went back to the Medical Centre for a follow-up consultation with the Doctor. He ascertained that any pain I was still feeling was within expectation and was pleased at how well the various scrapes and scratches were healing. He was surprised I was wearing glasses and I told him I carry a spare pair. He was impressed at that and also when I showed him our own dressings on the bigger cuts. We've learnt to be self-sufficient in many things when cruising. He handed me an envelope containing his notes and a CD of my X-rays. There was also an additional bill for almost $200. First class experience even if it comes at a price.

Off to dinner and farewell to Carol and Ray and our regular waiters. Back to the cabin to finish this blog. I didn't even pick up the camera today. Not sure that I could operate it. So I've uploaded an image from yesterday morning - before the fall. The image is at [http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-26]

Time back another hour and New York tomorrow. Next blog entry will be from the hotel.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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