Saturday, Dec. 19
SeaTac is all ready for Christmas! Tasteful decorations, the Clauses running around gathering up the kiddies, along with Frosty and the Snow Queen. Even the handicap transport carts were decorated for the holiday. I had a nice walk last night, wandering around the hotel area, looking for a place to eat. Ended up at Wally’s Chowder House with a crab salad and a black russian. Haven’t one of those in eons, which is probably a good thing. It was too dark to walk on the beach though, darn it!
I haven’t been able to upload photos to Flickr for some reason (the internet at the French hotel is pretty slow-maybe that’s why?), so am using Google Photos instead-here’s the link: https://goo.gl/photos/gufFjQU7xsfDX4V87
I arrived at Newark, NJ, about 3:30 p.m., picked up my bag and started on the trek to the hotel in Staten Island. One AIR Train, one Amtrak train, a subway ride, the Staten Island Ferry, and a short bus ride later, I arrived. Four hours after I got off the plane. I had no idea of the distance. Four hours!! Needless to say, I canceled the reservation I had for my overnight stay on the way home. At the Amtrak station I chatted with one of the helpers, a Sudanese man who emigrated in ’82. He was all set to move to Alaska-that’s what I get for being too friendly-but I declared my dogs were all I needed, several times. By the time I got on the train, it was dark, so I didn’t see much on the way to the hotel. Except for the Statue of Liberty-it was well lit when we passed it on the ferry. Oh, and the great thing about public transport-there were helper people all over the place to get you in the right direction.
There are also buskers in the NYC station:
The hotel was a bit of an experience. The door was locked, so I had to call and get it opened. Then there was a bit of confusion over my reservation. I’m still not sure if I actually had one or not; when I get to the hotel in Paris I’ll confirm that the January 5 reservation is canceled. I finally struggled up to the third floor; by this time I was wearing out. Dumped all my gear and went back downstairs to search out a dinner location. Lots of choices; too many in fact! I found a small pizza joint, Tony’s Brick Oven, and had a chicken parmigian (spelling??) sandwich. It was HUGE! I only ate half, and the waitress kindly wrapped up the other half, which I didn’t eat the next day either. After a quick stop at CVS Pharmacy for some odds ‘n ends, I made my way back to the hotel, upstairs, and fell into bed.
Sunday, Dec. 20
The day was bright and clear, so after a skimpy breakfast of weak coffee and a bagel and cream cheese, I walked up to the ferry. The Verrazono bridge was off to one side, and I could see the New York skyline from the hotel. There’ll be photos on Flickr. The walk to the ferry was enjoyable, but not particularly exciting. Houses, businesses, derelict buildings and the lighthouse museum, which was sadly closed. After a short wait, I was on the Staten Island Ferry heading back to New York. This is the best deal in NYC-it’s free! We passed by the Statue of Liberty again and this time I got a couple of photos. Everyone was taking selfies or friends’ photos with the statue in the background. There must be a jillion photos of the statue!! I didn’t get any from the other side of the ferry-the NYC skyline-but there must be tons on Flickr, Google Photos and Picassa, not to mention postcards, etc.
The ferry has sniffer dogs. They and their handlers wait at the entrance to the big waiting room. All I saw were Labrador Retrievers. And super friendly little guys they were! The handlers didn’t mind you petting them, and of course the dogs just ate up the attention. My first sniffer dog wanted to come along with me LOL. Not much to do in the Lower Manhatten terminal, other than eat or drink, but the Staten Island terminal had two huge fish tanks to stare at. One had local fish, the other had exotics from Africa.
I walked from the ferry to the Fulton Street subway station, which I would eventually take to JFK. I walked through the financial district (skipped Wall Street though-hey, it’s just a bunch of buildings!) and found that there was plenty of wandering to do in the Fulton Street area. I wanted to find a shoulder bag to use instead of the day pack I brought with me; I was finding it a bit awkward. I had seen a darling bag at SeaTac, but for $105, it needed to be a lot more adorable! I finally found something I could live with for half that amount, bought it, and headed to the Fulton Street subway, where I caught the “A” train-the subway to JFK. Basically a straight shot to JFK, but of course I needed to change trains because the track diverged two stops before the JFK stop. So I took the scenic route to the end of the line, turned around and got off at Rockaway to switch trains. I had plenty of time, so it was no sweat. And I got to talk to this French guy, who was as confused as I was about how to get to JFK. We found someone else who seemed to know what he was doing, and between him, his girlfriend, and my experience with going the wrong way, we got to JFK no problem. Aqueduct Racetrack (Thoroughbreds) was the stop before JFK, so I got to see the track, but they were between races, so I didn’t see any horses. I thought about stopping off, but was glad later that I didn’t take the time.
Here’s the link to a photo of the hotel, the skyline from in front of my hotel, the Staten Island sniffer dogs, another skyline photo, and the Statue of Liberty: https://goo.gl/photos/4ZxPNZMTGpqP3pZ16
At the JFK stop you have to switch to the AIR Train, which I did, but was pissed because it was $8! The AIR Train at the Newark airport was free. Oh well! Now starts the nightmare: An hour and a half of standing in line, from check-in till I got to security. And when I got to the front of the line, I found out I was a priority passenger and probably could have gotten through the line much faster. But it wasn’t a big deal, I had lots of time, since I got to JFK 4 hours before I would get on the plane. It just meant that I wouldn’t get much down time after eating some dinner. And I found out that I needed to repack/rearrange gear, as I couldn’t carry on the camera, a small bag, and my rolly bag. Now I was glad I’d gotten that rather large shoulder bag. I put everything I’d need for the flight in there, and stuffed the camera into my suitcase and carried everything on. I didn’t get my phone charged while waiting for the overseas flight, which I was a bit worried about, since I like to listen to books on it and use it as a clock as well. Turned out not to matter, as I could charge it on the plane.
Monday, December 21
It was a good flight over; I was way at the back of the plane, in a row with only two seats. Nice little pillow and blanket for each passenger, inflight movies-I watched three-plus two free meals. That’s what flying used to be like! I may spring for first or business class on the way home, just because you get an individual little couchette thingie. I didn’t do much more than catnap and I am definitely feeling the results while waiting at Heathrow for the Paris flight. A little bit of coffee early on helped, and I found the “quiet area” and spent some time relaxing there. There sure is a lot of shopping to do here, but it’s almost all fancy stuff-Dior, Hermes, Tiffany, etc.I did get some pretty expensive postcards and stamps and got them sent off, but that’s about all.
The flight to Paris was short, about the same as flying to Anchorage from Bethel. Taking the train to the hotel was another adventure. Finding it, getting a ticket and getting on were simple enough. I went about 3 stops past where I needed to get off and switch trains before I realized I needed to switch trains. Oops! Not the first time I took the scenic route. And when I got off the train, it was sprinkling, and damned if I was going to dig out the poncho I brought for a few little drops. By the time I got to the hotel it had quit dripping, so I was glad I didn’t waste the time. Found the hotel easily enough, and yay! Mary was waiting for me in the hotel bar. We traded arrival stories while enjoying a glass of wine, and then went down the street for some dinner, more wine, Baba au Rhum & some awesome Chocoloate Mousse.