Of all the days to fly out of New York, we chose the day of the fifth worst blizzard in the city’s storied history.
Thus, our one day tour of New York City turned into three.
This was supposed to be my Christmas present to Lisa – a day in New York City. Christmas morning we boarded the Boltbus, which for $11 drove passengers from Philadelphia to New York City in two hours. It was one heck of a deal.
Christmas Day in New York City was a treat. I would recommend it to anyone. After checking into the Times Square Holiday Inn Express, we strolled through Times Square and Central Park. The day was brisk, but the sun was out, as were the tourists. There were droves of children and adults waiting in line to skate on the Central Park ice rink.
The path in Central Park was scenic, with barren trees towered over by the skyscrapers of downtown New
York. After grabbing lunch at a Korean restaurant, we took the subway to Rockefeller Center. This is where the famous New York City Christmas tree is lit and decorated.
The crowd at Rockefeller Center was even more congested than Central Park. It was elbow to elbow, and it seemed every tourist was from a foreign country, with families and couples speaking various languages jockeying for position to take a picture in front of the tree.
Every step we took, we interfered with someone’s family portrait. Of course Lisa and I had our picture taken in front of the tree, with several tourists walking in the middle of our photo shoot.
It took forever to shuffle around the tree to the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, adorned with the famous statue of Prometheus. It seems everyone in New York City was trying to ice skate on Christmas Day.
Our next stop was the TKTS booth on Broadway. On the day of a Broadway show, you can go to the TKTS booth and buy tickets for half price. It seems that everyone who wasn’t ice skating in New York was waiting in line at the TKTS booth. The line wound back and forth down the sidewalk of Broadway, like a line for a roller coaster at Six Flags.
Lisa and I patiently waited for an hour to purchase our tickets. Since I spent Christmas Eve watching Sex and the City 2 with Lisa, she let me choose which Broadway play we would go see.
My choice: The Pee Wee Herman Show.
Paul Reubens, AKA the notorious Pee Wee Herman, recreated his children’s show from the 80s, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, for the Broadway stage. The show was slightly updated and had a few adult-oriented jokes, but otherwise it was identical to the TV show, with all of the same characters including Cowboy Curtis, Miss Yvonne, Jomby and Chairy.
It was hilarious. Even Lisa, who had no idea who Pee Wee Herman was, enjoyed the show.
After the show, Lisa checked her iPhone and learned that her flight scheduled for the next day had been canceled.
Lisa was flying to India for a school trip. I was scheduled to fly to Iowa.
When I returned to the hotel room and checked my computer, I learned that my flight had also been cancelled.
Over the course of the next three days, several more flights would be cancelled, delayed, re-routed, you name it.
Because on Dec. 26, New York City was dumped with 20 inches of snow.
Luckily, Lisa and I had a hotel room. There were hundreds, probably thousands, of other travelers who weren’t so lucky.
That Sunday we didn’t leave the hotel. The snow wasn’t light and fluffy, it was wet and icy. The wind was
gusting up to 50 miles per hour and there was even thunder and lightning. We were not going outside for anything.
The next day, Monday, Dec. 27, the sun was shining, but there was still nearly two feet of snow on the ground, and it was higher because of drifting and plowing. Even though the blizzard was over, there was still no buses, trains or planes leaving New York City.
Suffering from severe cabin fever, Lisa and I spent one more day of sight-seeing. We took the subway to the Soho district, which is a famous for its fashion stores and trendy art museums. We spent many hours meandering through each. There was one art gallery we visited I did enjoy. The walls were filled with modern pop art, and I was able to recognize some of the depictions.
Lastly, we stopped by the Eastern Mountain Sports store and I was able to spend an hour perusing through the latest camping gear. By the time we left I had my next camping trip planned out.
I was able to schedule a flight out the next day, Tuesday, Dec. 28. However, it wasn’t out of JFK as originally planned. If I wanted to fly out of JFK, I wasn’t leaving until the 29th, or later. Instead, I found a flight out of Philadelphia. So I hopped back on the boltbus and returned to Philly.
In the meantime, Lisa scheduled a flight to Amsterdam, where she was to make a connection to Mumbai.
My trip to Iowa started out hairy. My bus left at 6:30 a.m. and was supposed to arrive at the Philadelphia train station by 8:30 a.m. It got there at 9. I then took the train to the airport. The train was running 20 minutes late.
I arrived at the airport an hour and 15 minutes before my flight left. If your baggage wasn’t checked 45 minutes prior to your flight, they weren’t going to let you on.
So I promptly got in the wrong line. The electronic ticket kiosk wouldn’t let me redeem my ticket, and told me I had to speak with an attendant. Instead of getting in the ticket line, I waited in the baggage claim line. They promptly redirected me to the right person, and I was able to get my ticket and check my luggage right at the 45 minute mark.
The security line moved surprisingly fast and the new security measures didn’t bother me in the least. Of course, my sense of decency is lacking than most.
From there, Delta took good care of me. They sat me in first class, which was a first. I highly recommend it. While the chumps in economy class are trying to cram their luggage in the overhead compartment, the stewardess was serving us juice and fluffing our pillows.
Anyhow, my schedule was to fly from Philadelphia to Memphis, where I had a four hour layover. I was then supposed to fly to Minneapolis, and then after another layover fly to Cedar Rapids where my arrival time was 9 p.m.
When I got to Memphis, I noticed there was a direct flight to Des Moines. My grandparents lived in Des Moines, and they had my car, since that was my original destination before everything got screwy.
I asked the gate attendant if there were any open seats. She said there were six available. There are always seats available on planes flying to Iowa.
In short, I was able to fly to Des Moines, pick up my car and drive to my parents’ house in Cedar Falls, four hours earlier than I anticipated.
Merry Christmas to me.
If my travel experience was cake and ice cream, Lisa’s experience was liver and onions.
She was able to fly to Amsterdam, except her flight out of JFK was delayed three hours. Her layover in Amsterdam was three hours, and she missed her flight to Mumbai. The airline comped her a hotel stay in Amsterdam.
She was re-routed to fly to Paris the next day, and make a connection to Mumbai there. Her flight out of Amsterdam was delayed, and she missed her connection in Paris by 10 minutes. The airline comped her hotel stay in Paris.
She could have flown to Mumbai the next day, but then she would be a day behind her tour group, who by that time had moved on to Goa. So Lisa would have had to spend a night in Mumbai by herself, then make a connection to Goa, missing one full week of her two week trip.
She decided instead to get her full refund and return to Philadelphia.
Her luggage, by the way, made it to Mumbai. For all we know, it is still there.
Due to three day flight delay, I wasn’t able to make all of my planned visits in Iowa. I wasn’t able to stop by
Marengo, which I deeply regret. I was truly hoping to visit with many of my co-workers and friends.
Since my stay in Iowa was only four days, I spent my time with my family, and mostly with my nephew Rohan who is now 10 months old. Somebody has to teach him bad habits.
In the end, the important thing is I was able to spend the holidays with my family, and return to Philadelphia safe, where Lisa also made it safely.
And next time I vow to make it to Iowa County.
Happy New Year!!!