New York, New York

About half of the group meet up at a hotel near Heathrow for an overnight stay prior to travel. In the morning, the whole group got together at the airport for our United Airlines flight to Newark, New Jersey. There was a recent story about a United Airlines passenger trying to take an unusual pet on a flight. In the USA, you are permitted to take “emotional support animals” on most flights, and the passenger in question had tried to take a peacock. It had been refused. Apparently, hedgehogs and super gliders (?) are also out of the question. Gladly none of our guests had brought along anything dubious. However, even without a peacock, we were in for a surprise. The aircraft taxied out to the runway as normal, but just as the captain was due to turn left and take-off, he turned right and announced we were heading back to the gate. The ground staff had informed the captain that some of the luggage and freight had been loaded incorrectly and needed to be re-distributed. Richard is (apparently) keen to point out that the weight of Dawn’s suitcase wasn’t the issue.

Despite the take-off delay, we arrived into Newark pretty much on time and joined the US immigration queue. It was quite a queue, but eventually we are clear to go and with luggage collected, we join our coach for the drive to Manhattan. We’re held up in a big traffic jam heading into the Lincoln Tunnel, but luckily our driver decides to come out of the bus lane and pretend we’re a car. We bypass a very long row of empty buses and cut in near the tunnel. Next stop is the bright lights of Times Square and the Doubletree Suites Hotel, our home for the next three nights.

We reserved a parking space outside the hotel in advance, and we’re soon inside, receiving room key cards and newly baked cookies. Our luggage is delivered promptly, and we have time to freshen up before our private dinner in the hotel’s Gingers Restaurant.

After dinner, some of us pop outside to get our first taste of NYC. It’s bright and bold, and we’re bang in the middle of it! And so, to bed and a well-earned rest.