Our taxi picked us up today at the un-Godly hour of 4:45 am. We were sure we'd need a caffeine fix at such an hour, so our kind taxi driver drove us to several 7-elevens until we found one NOT cleaning their coffee machines and had a fresh brew. We were sure to get ourselves to the airport a generous 3.15 hours ahead of our scheduled departure flight, so as not to repeat the scene last time on leaving Mexico City.
We checked in with no worries, and had plenty of time to waste. No shops in the airport were even open at this time, so we just sat there. And sat and sat and sat. After about an hour of people-watching, the boredom was enough to drive us to drink. even though it was just after 6:00 am, we hit the bar, which was, mercifully, open. The rules of international airports dictate that it's always beer o'clock as it's the cocktail hour somewhere in the world...at least, those are our rules. Not that we need any rules to drink alcohol whenever we feel like it. Nigel had a few beers, and I had a few vodka cocktails, and we spent most of our remaining pesos.
The flight from Mexico City to Dallas/Fort Worth was uneventful. Unfortunately, we were on American Airlines, but nothing too bad happened. In Dallas, we got our bags, went through immigration and customs, re-checked them, then took the shuttle bus from the international airport to the domestic section. There were 2 soldiers in uniform on the shuttle, coming home from Iraq on a 2 week furlough. Nigel got his first taste of Texas when a few of the old men on the bus started clapping for them as they got off at their stops. Don't Mess With Texas. At the domestic terminal, we had just enough time to grab some lunch to-go and get on our flight to New York, knowing the American Airlines crew wouldn't feed us.
We arrived in New York around 3:00 pm, got our bags, and took a shuttle bus from La Guardia to Grand Central Terminal. It was so fun seeing New York with Nigel for his first time. I had been before, but I was 12. It was a short trip into the city, and from Grand Central Terminal we could have hopped on a free mini-bus to our hotel, but it was only about 12 blocks, so we put our packs on and walked. It was great to be in a city with huge buildings and long streets again.
We walked up Park Avenue South to our hotel, the Wolcott, on East 31st Street in Midtown, checked in, and checked out our little room. It's a really old hotel, so the rooms are small, but okay. After a shower, we took the subway to Chinatown in Lower Manhattan and walked along Canal Street. Tons of stalls and little shops line the streets, selling all of the knock-offs and copies of name brands, plus pretty much anything else really. It honestly felt just like China. We ended up eating dinner at a little place called Shanghai Cuisine on Bayard Street. The place was packed, so we knew we'd found a good place. We had dumplings and Tsing Tao beer and ate with chopsticks and really felt like we were in Shanghai again, the very beginning of our travels. It was awesome.
After dinner, we decided to walk a little way along Broadway and pop into some shops. We ended up walking from Lower Manhattan, through Downtown to Midtown and our hotel, over 30 blocks. But it was fun, we found some great shops, and we were just loving being in such a huge city with so much going on.
Back at the hotel, we watched some TV then went into the lobby to wait for Nigel's parents to arrive. We read some magazines and the newspaper, and waited and waited. Finally they arrived, and it was so great to see them! It had been nearly 11 months since we'd seen them. They were exhausted as they'd flown from Adelaide to New York in one go, but they did a great job of staying up to share some champagne before we all went to bed just after midnight.