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2 October 2018

everything can change in a new york minute

expectation: concrete jungle where dreams are made of; reality: lumpy fold out bed, the thing of nightmares...

i did something i never usually do before a trip: i planned. i researched and booked and timed things - lots of things, for rebekah and i do to when we got to new york, so we wouldn't have to think about anything, and so we would have places to stay, and things to eat, and sights to see. i made a spreadsheet, and a map, and i plotted and picked things in each area for each day, so we'd see it all and not want for anything. and you know what they say about the best laid plans? something is still bound to go wrong.

the old plane switcheroo

it started very early on the day we flew out to new york, when our reputable norwegian flight was somehow downgraded without any prior info, to a "wamos air" code share flight. ever heard of wamos? no, me either. but a quick google of them advised that they have the worst trip advisor reviews of any airline in europe; worse than ryanair. so, that was something. the narrow, uncomfortable seats, lack of food and drink service, and zero wifi connection to access their content hub were something else, and after eight hours of being squished into a plane straight out of the 80s we were shattered. if you're thinking "ashtrays in the armrests", you're just about there...

half truths and twice the bodies

then there was the airbnb we had booked in bushwick. the ad claimed to have two humans and two dogs, and a private room with lots of light for guests. well, that was only a half truth. there were at least two humans - with another two or three others who came and went as they liked, presumably flatmates that lived in the lower level, and remain undisclosed to airbnb. and the room? was the front part of the dining room, wide only enough for a "murphy bed" - the fold out part of a sofa bed, that hid during the day behind a curtain. it was separated from the house by french doors, and for two people trying to sleep off jet lag, it was the thing of nightmares; especially when it was next to the social hub of the house, and the only way in-or-out of the room was via the noisy flatmates...

all downhill from here

you can see how the first 24 hours weren't the most satisfying, right? especially after all the planning. there were some incredibly amazing highlights, obviously; things that went exactly as planned, and were perfect and predictable, that surpassed my expectations. things like walking the brooklyn bridge, eating ramen burgers in prospect park, street art hunting in bushwick, and finally getting to the top of the rock. like the ferry views between red hook and wall street, getting to the front of the line at hometown bbq, and seeing the statue of liberty with my own eyes, but... no-one wants to hear about that. they want to hear what went wrong, what made my heart drop, my eyes get wet, and temper get lost to sheer frustration.. because it did. probably the lack of sleep didn't help, but as i'd booked it all, i felt totally responsible for how shit everything was turning out.

closed, closed, closed

then there was coney island. i'd booked us another airbnb for two nights on the brooklyn beaches, and it was already a zillion times better than the first room. it was one - a room, for a start, and the host was the sole occupant there, other than tiny jessica the chihuahua. we arrived nice and early after checking out as soon as we woke up, and thaaaaat's about when the next lot of disaster struck; as it turned out (and despite my thorough checking and checking and triple checking), 90% of the things we planned to see and do in coney island were closed. the restaurants we wanted to try, the brewery we wanted to visit, the museum, the boardwalk, the fair... it was all shut. so, on our first afternoon, want to know what we did? we went and got our nails done in little russia, because that's all we could find that was open that day.

silver linings

the second day in coney island was much better, and some things opened for us - like the clouds, which meant no layers and beers in the sun, and that was really very nice. we didn't have much options to us, but we made the most of it and made sure to enjoy our last day. we at pancakes and hot dogs and corn dogs and ice cream, we drank beers on the boardwalk and saw sharks at the aquarium, and we played with the dog. we made the most of it, despite the unfortunate fact that our stay in coney island was mostly a waste of time that could have been better spent elsewhere; made doubly annoying by the fact that coney was something i was looking forward to the most.

out of state, out of mind

we got out of new york for a few days, out to connecticut, which was awesome. very few things went wrong, in fact, in connecticut. other than the weather turning wet and the occasional closed restaurant, most things went to plan during that part of the trip - possibly because there was no plan, and we played a lot of it by ear... and those few days were some of my favourites, so... there's a learning for next time, eh? 

in many ways, new york was everything and nothing like what i was expecting. it was tall and loud, and busy and bright, but it wasn't what i loved. for me, brooklyn was more my speed - the colour and creativity, the great food and the nicest people - it was so much more than what i was expecting. then there was new haven - exactly how i thought the real gilmore girls world would be, and i wasn't disappointed in the slightest. we're talking yale university, new england lobster rolls, colourful houses, and changing leaves - perfection on many levels. I'll definitely be back to new haven, for sure. new york, though? i'm not so sure. some rocky starts are just too much to overcome!