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Twice around the world in 40 days

juddles

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S.......I understand the walk to the SYD INT J lounge, past the F doors is called the walk of shame. First time I've had to do it. I buried my face in a magazine lest any AFFers were about to see me. :oops:......
OMG, that is a sorry tale of woe!! That must have been shocking!!

I have never had to do such "walk of shame" yet, but many a time I move from the F to the J lounge so I can self-pour. Maybe you should tell yourself in future that is why you have to do the walk - then you will get a happy, sped-up bounce in your stride :)
 

juddles

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Are you sitting on my knee as I picked 1A when the TR opened? Or have I been relegated to the back of the bus as you take your usual seat?:p:D LOL
I'll sit on your knee any day you like LTL...;):):D.
I tell you what JohnM, I'll do the honourable thing and move to 2A! Not keen on 1A anyway. :D
What if you sit on my knee, then?...;):):D.
Sorry guys. I hate to use my weight, but as a true premium, top-notch, beyond-God flyer, I naturally have attained not just 1A, but the entire row 1 as my seat. I also enjoy a "shadow", which with my uber-status is not a seat, but a row. So row 2 is blocked out.

Whilst you kids fight it out in the peanut gallery, please rooflyer, keep up your great TR :)
 

RooFlyer

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Hopefully it only gets better from here!
It has. :) Sitting in the LAX (J) lounge and I gotta say - that was a great flight (QF11)!

Departed on time; great upper deck crew, just a touch under 'attentive' service but always about to be flagged down for anything wanted. My seat mate was a journo from Fairfax on his way to San Diego to test drive the new Toyota Corolla. Not sure how that works, but he was happy.

Meals were pre-ordered. Moroccan carrot soup to start, and then a beef curry (had a fancier name, but that's the gist). Both really nice. Minor grizzle was that they served lunch at abt 11am SYD time. I asked if they could serve me last (ie late) and was told "sure", but it came out with all the others. No biggie, but I really wish they would do dine on demand.

SYD5.JPG

Fruit and cheese for dessert. Brekky at 2.5 hrs before landing was muesli, a brioche thing and a rhubarb Danish. Much better than the usual horrid eggs and snags. The didn't illuminate the cabin, which was good for those still sleeping; in fact they didn't do that until we were on descent.

SYD6.JPG

Quite a smooth flight, minor bumps for an hour or so as we went over the equatorial region. I got more than my usual sleep and spent the rest of the time editing some uni work. Didn't touch the IFE.

We landed towards the east spot on 6am local, and taxied straight into the gate, which I think was the closest one to immigration. Amazing. The immigration hall was virtually deserted, looks like the first of one other flight's pax there.

For the benefit of anyone arriving with a visa, not ESTA, because they have been to Iran ;) (besides me that's just @JohnM I think), it was a breeze. Walk forward in the immigration hall, rope-lines for visas are on the middle right. By this time it was still only abt 6:10am and the desks were still sparsely manned. Queued 5 mins because of that. Only Qs were purpose of visit and amount of cash brought in (he has taken the Customs form as well). Fingerprinted. Through.

Main wait was for the bags; abt 20 mins (non JFK bags came out abt 10 mins earlier on a separate belt) and by that time the Customs lines had formed, again because the crew was just getting to their desks. My seat mate didn't have bags, but did have a (journos) visa to be processed. He walked straight through Customs and was landside 20 mins after we touched down! If he had an ESTA I reckon he would have been out in about 10-15 mins after touchdown.

TBIT re-entry security practically deserted (6:40am is the ONLY time to be here :)), so straight through; staff still smiling! In the J lounge and showered by 7:10am.

The J lounge is really nice. I haven't been here since it first opened (when they hadn't done the F lounge) and I like it (but no, I don't intend to get used to it ...)

So, after my usual rocky start (thanks HBA, SYD), my equanimity has re-surfaced, and all's right with the world. Back on the 747 in an hour for the flight to JFK.
 

RooFlyer

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Just checked into Crowne Plaza JFK.

Hotel from hell. Request on booking and on check in was for a quiet room. #1 was next to a big exhaust fan. # 2 is 1st floor by the freeway. #3 is 1st floor ALSO By the freeway. Currently waiting to see if this hotel can provide any rooms below 96 dB.
 

RooFlyer

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Normally when I fly long haul, I go somewhere up-market the first couple of night to get some good sleep. So what happened here? I wanted to stay out near the airport as I didn't want to schlep around with my bags. OK, so that was a mistake.

LH pic is 'Freeway view room' - and yes, the windows were like that. RH pic is current (final) room view. Don't laugh, its quiet.

NY1.JPG

I went back to reception after Freeway room #2 (above) and put on my best Aussie charm - but no, nada, nothing. Can I upgrade? No, nada, nothing. Can I wait for aircrew to depart? Try 15 mins, but I can't see anything.

Went back in 15 mins and nothing, nada available, only Freeway View rooms. I believe she was genuinely looking. Just as I was about to walk away, defeated, she says, 'I suppose there's that one, but you'll have to walk ALL AROUND the hotel to get there, and up some stairs'.

Ya kidding me? I'll take it. Its the same as all the others, except that it is, for the moment, quiet.

NY2.JPG
 

Cossie

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I'm guessing the auto journalist would have his trip paid for by the car company, happy to be corrected!
 

RooFlyer

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I was more thinking that its a Japanese made car being test driven in the USA (with LHD and all); but then a junket's a junket.
 

Cossie

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I was more thinking that its a Japanese made car being test driven in the USA (with LHD and all); but then a junket's a junket.

Spoke to my contact down at Hume who has a lot of dealings with Toyota, and he said it's not unusual for journalists to go to other countries, LHD included for new car releases.

Sounds like a good life to me, getting paid to drive, but then you have to write something......

Anyway, I'm enjoying your TR.
 

RooFlyer

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Today was interesting, with a totally unexpected outcome.

I had a day in New York; planned to be a bit cruisy, as a gentle lead into the trip. Walk across Brooklyn Bridge, visit the new World Trade Centre precinct and memorial pools, a few bookshops ...

However: A couple of former lives ago, I was in investment banking ... 'M&A' at Bankers Trust ... and we used to go to head office in New York about 3 or 4 times a year to pitch deals, schmooze etc. So got to know it pretty well, as weekends were free. This was in the '90s; BT's office was very close to the World Trade Centre, and we used to stay at the Marriott I think - it was destroyed when the WTC came down on 9/11 and the BT building I think became uninhabitable, and this will come into the story later.

So anyway, I didn't really plan on doing much, even though I hadn't been there for about 15 years.

But it was a glorious sunny day, although a bit cool. I took the subway to the east side of the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across.

NYC1.JPG

But walking across, you see the skyline again, the sun was getting warmer and I thought "This is New York. Waddayamean its going to be a cruisy day?" ;) :rolleyes:


NYC2.JPG


On the other side, I was reminded that New York is a very old city - this lot prop up the current archives and municipal library:

NYC3.JPG

I followed my nose and came across NY City Hall (LH pic), built about 1810, and then Trinity Church, the third on the site, dating from 1840 (RH pic).

NYC4a.JPG

Then a great wave of memories - the first of several during the day. I was here in 1991 when they held the 'Operation Desert Storm' welcome home ticker-tape parade. I got to Broadway early, and snagged a prime spot - on the slightly elevated base of the wall surrounding the church; I took a pic of the place today :). It was a full-on ticker-tape parade and that precious foot or so gave me a marked advantage. Edit: Just remembered some more. It stated off as a ticker tape parade. then they turned to toilet rolls and shredded newspaper. When that ran out, they started tearing up phone books and tossing the paper out. Then that became too hard and large chunks of phone books started landing :eek:. That was right at the end, fortunately when most people had dispersed ...

NYC4.JPG

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After the parade, I walked back to my hotel and saw the debris in the side streets - and that the police had stopped many people from joining the parade because of the crush of numbers.

NYC5a.JPG

Inside (RH pic) its quite plain.

NYC6.JPG
 
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RooFlyer

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I continued walking to the World Trade Centre precinct, first coming across the 'Oculus' - a structure over the WTC transportation hub and Westfield mall, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and finished a year or so ago.

Its brilliant. This is what I saw on approach (new WTC building behind):

NYC7.jpg

Or, looking in the opposite direction :)

NYC8.jpg

Inside:

NYC10.jpg

At the end of this space (walking west), I came across the WTC Observation 'experience', and as there were no queues, I went for it. Abt US$40 after tax, and I say worth it. You can book times, and you can pay about US$70 for 'priority'.

The lifts up over 100 stories are incredibly fast, but virtually no acceleration sensation. They are internal lifts, and have a brilliant set of screens on 3 sides which give you views outside (as if it was an external lift), with the scene advancing through time as the lift rises.

NYC7a.JPG

Imagine if they did that with the Burj Khalifa ;):D.

Its a bit of a shemozzle at the top. You first stand in a group and watch a flashy show on a screen, which ends with something nice (I'll leave it a surprise :)). Then led through to another area, where they try to sell you an iPad rental with some tour on it; moderate hard sell. Complete waste of money - the views the thing!! Then down stairs, and around a bit (complicated!), then you have to run the gauntlet of people offering to take pictures. No, thanks. Down some more stairs :confused:.

Then at last you are on the observation deck.

And more memories kicked in. In 199X I visited the original World Trade Centre and went up to the observation deck. Fortunately I had some of those pics scanned a while back, and here are some comparisons. 1990s on the left, today on the right.

I recall that the original observation deck was open-air. Todays is very much glassed in, so you get some reflections and more smog, as well.

NYC11.JPG


NYC12.JPG

NYC13.JPG

One last pair, both from today; New Jersey on the left and Hudson River on the right.

NYC15.JPG
 

RooFlyer

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Back outside, the tower is impressive:

NYC18.jpg

Walking around the two pools, marking the footprints of the WTC twin towers that were attacked on 9/11, I first felt very sad - its a very good memorial to that villainous tragedy. I then started feeling very pissed off, at what happened and how its affected us all, including, selfishly, the way its affected our air travel.

NYC19.JPG

Spirits lifted a bit when I spotted these 2 ducks perched perilously close to the 'edge' - reminded me of those very early prints showing sailing boats about to fall off the edge of the world.

NYC20.JPG

I then started my random wander, or not so random as I homed into Wall Street precinct, where I had spent a lot of time in years past. Came across Federal Hall on Wall St. Toquote from Wikipedia:


Federal Hall is the name given to the first of two historic buildings located at 26 Wall Street, New York City. The original, a Greek Revival structure completed in 1703, served as New York's first City Hall. It was the site where the colonial Stamp Act Congress met to draft its message to King George III claiming entitlement to the same rights as the residents of Britain and protesting "taxation without representation". After the American Revolution, it served as meeting place for the Congress of the Confederation held under the Articles of Confederation.

In 1788, the building was remodelled and enlarged under the direction of Pierre Charles L'Enfant becoming the first example of Federal Style architecture in the United States. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capitol of the newly created United States in 1789 and hosted the 1st United States Congress. On its steps George Washington was sworn in as the first President. It was demolished in 1812.


So a pretty significant site. Pretty plain inside, with a few exhibits re the signing and Washington. Also the vaults where the US Treasury used to keep a lotta loot!

NYC21.JPG
Having accomplished that by lunchtime, my plans for an easy day went out the window. There was Strand bookshop to visit, and I remembered I wanted to see Grand Central Terminal (usually called, including by me Grand Central Station (thanks @Hvr).

Subway up-town to Strand Books - also visited recently by @amaroo :) . US bookshops often have classic Australian history books at very cheap prices (low demand), so I was expecting to pick up a few bargains, but absolutely nothing - bug*er. Very small selections of Aussie history in general, and none in their 'rare' section.

NYC22.JPG

So, onwards. Up Broadway to Grand Central Terminal. I've always wanted to visit since I saw a program on its history a while ago. its absolutely huge inside - dozens of rail platforms and dozens and dozens of shops. There is a fantastic deli concourse - highly recommended to visit. meats, seafood, cheeses, sweets, prepared food, you name it.

NYC26.JPG

The grand hall is amazing of course. Off to one side a temple to Apple.

NYC25.JPG

Outside, it looks small, but there is now a big tower over the middle of the station. Mercury lords it over all.

NYC23.JPG

I never found out who this guy was. I assume Cornelius Vanderbilt,who built this version of the joint. You can read the amazing history of it here.

More to come - gotta board!

NYC24.JPG
 
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RooFlyer

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I started to work my way up-town. First, the NY Public Library. A number of beautiful public reading-rooms inside.

NYC27.JPG

Lots of decorative carving and grand entablatures. RH pic I thought was a nice contrast with the past, painted, and the present, bottom right. And I could use a candelabra like that!

NYC28.JPG

A couple of temporary exhibitions. The first, into the protest movement, was a baby boomer's delight:

NYC29.JPG

The work on the left below is by Joe Petagno, titled 'Ain't gonna work on Dizzy's farm no more" (Think Bob Dylan). Disney sued, and won. Petagno designed many album covers for Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin etc.

NYC30.JPG

Another temporary exhibition was a bit of a contrast - religious books :p

NYC31.JPG


Outside, spring is in the air in Bryant Park, behind the Library. Then onwards to Times Square - gaudy even in the bright light.

NYC32.JPG
 
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RooFlyer

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Although by this time I was beginning to flag a bit but I now had the American Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim in my sights (or on my Google map). They are on opposite sides of Central Park; I cheated a bit and got the subway again up to the Natural History Museum, giving me time to cut across the park for the Guggenheim.

Another fine building and out front is Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, a Native American who seems to be unidentified, and looking down on them are four full sized statues of American explorers and naturalists: Daniel Boone, John James Audubon, William Clark, and Meriwether Lewis. Roosevelt was known as the 'Conservation President' and this museum is sort of his official memorial. Exhibits inside to him, but main one is being upgraded at the moment.

NYC33.JPG

At the entrance, I asked the way to the mineral collection (they had to have one, right?) - the volunteer looked at me blankly and said 'Start on the 4th floor - that's where the dinosaurs are - that's what we are known for.'

So to the 4th floor I went :) .... And of course they are known for their dinosaurs - anyone who has watched Night at the Museum knows that!

Its DINO-TIME!

NYC34.JPG

Dozens and dozens of dinosaur skeletons, showing types, evolution, relationships etc; also extinct animals such as sabre-tooth tigers, mastodons etc The lot..

NYC35.JPG

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Anyone who doesn't believe dinosaurs could fly, just check out the LH pic. Lots of these exhibits. The guy on the right seems to be saying ... "Well, who do we have here?"

NYC37.JPG
While the rest of him is a postcode or so behind ...
NYC38.jpg

NYC41.JPG

Also brilliant exhibits on human evolution; dozens. All there .. the complete story, bone by bone.

NYC39.JPG

Unfortunately the mineral gallery as being re-developed, so I had to make do with more meteorites than I ever saw in one place.

LH pic shows the crystalline texture of an iron meteorite ... and the RH pic shows a 34 ton beauty.

NYC40.JPG

By which time it was close to 5pm and the Guggenheim got bumped. I got the subway back to JFK, then the airtrain to the hotel shuttle, then the shuttle and got back, exhausted.

So much for a 'cruisy' NY day ... completely stuffed, but very happy.
 
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