In these times where travel is reduced to pedestrian or armchair varieties, Anecdotage posts will not be related to current travel or even to travel plans, as who knows when or where the next journey will be?
But all is not lost, reader, because travel for this writer began long before blogging. And along the way, hand-written travel journals began to accompany the journeys, so it is to these journals that I am turning for inspiration, with a little modern history included.
To provide some back story, this first set of posts concerns a 1997 trip to New York, taken very early in Husband and my relationship-five months in, in fact. That the idea had hatched during one of Husband’s previous dalliances might have been off-putting was something I set on to the back burner, the exciting thought of a visit to such an iconic city proving a more powerful pull than retrospective peevishness.
We began by booking a ‘Flydrive’, meaning to augment the week’s visit by a drive up to Niagara Falls via Boston-a cunning plan, as we thought. In many ways this only serves to demonstrate that detailed planning of trips does not always lead to holiday perfection…
We packed, we grabbed our tickets, we took advantage of a friend’s offer of a lift to Heathrow airport, then we were underway, a brilliant flight taking us in an arc over Canada and offering some spectacular views below. This is something I’ve continued to love about flying, the fascinating bird’s eye landscapes, but while I indulge in this pastime on flights, Husband will always have taken the opportunity to sleep, arriving refreshed and ready for anything, while I will be wiped out and needing an immediate snooze.
Arriving to JFK and getting through we duly found our way to the car hire depot to pick up our vehicle. There it was that we discovered neither of us had thought to bring a driving licence. It was a poignant, wince-making moment. ‘Could my friend fax it through?’ I asked the po-faced staff member, and ‘NO’ was the reply.
Without our own wheels we took a cab into the city and to the room we’d booked at ‘West Side Studios’. The cab cost a hefty slice of our holiday budget, the driver was taciturn and spoke minimal English. Had we been armed with more research we’d have known that the airport is served by a subway straight into the city.
It was late evening and dark by the time we reached the north Manhattan block but having deposited the luggage we gamely struck out into the locale and found a jazz bar where a competent trio were playing live. By this time I was struggling to stay awake and Husband was up for a late evening at the bar. And, remember, we’d not long been an item. There is nothing like travel for discovering compromise.
In the morning we set out to explore Manhattan, using the subway and our feet. My initial misgivings of riding the subway were quickly dispelled. It was safe, clean and easy to use. We were only a few stops from Penn Station so everywhere was accessible. We walked the streets, marvelling at the perpendicular nature of the city and craning our necks.
We’d been recommended a ‘Circle Line’ tour on a ferry that circled Manhattan; a good way to start, except that New York was shrouded in thick fog. It was, nevertheless atmospheric and informative, though cold and damp. We stood by the funnel to catch its warmth.
Meanwhile, as we walked, subwayed and ferried our way around we pondered on one knotty problem. How would we get to visit Boston and Niagara now, without a vehicle?