Friday, September 26, 2014

The Layover. NYC.

Flying over DC just as the sun was about to rise.

Yawn! That's how my long day's journey to Greece started. SuperShuttle was outside my front door at 4am!  Yes, 4am!  I had already been up for an hour and was eagerly waiting for the van to arrive.  There were already two other passengers on board and we had one other person to pick up before we headed to Dulles Airport.


Usually, the highway near my house is heavy with traffic but at 4am, it's empty.  The driver drove like a bat out of hell and the usual hour long drive took only about 40 minutes.  I was the first out of the van and it was barely 4:45am by the time I made it to the Delta kiosk to check in.  My flight to NYC was scheduled to take off at 6:20am so I had plenty of wait time.

Nearing JFK.
Luckily, the plane arrived and took off on time and we landed at JFK shortly after 7am. It would be nine hours before my flight to Athens so I had to kill some time.  My plan was to stow my suitcase in storage and take the train and subway into Manhattan.  From terminal 2, I made my way to Terminal 4 and found the luggage storage place.  For $6, I could store my suitcase for up to 24 hours.  What a good deal.

I made my way to the AirTrain station and boarded the train headed to Jamaica Center station.  There, I had to pay $5 to exit the station and $2.50 for a ticket for the E Train which would take me to the 5th Ave and 53 St Station - stone's throw from Rockefeller Center.

Split Rocker by Jeff Koons.

By the time I got off the E Train, it was close to 9am.  It was time for breakfast!  With the dozens of restaurants and food carts to choose from, I opted to go to the Evergreen Cafe, a simple diner located near by Rockefeller Center.  

On the way to Evergreen, I walked through Rockefeller Center to see if the the giant topiary called "Split Rocker", a whimsical live plant installation by the famed artist, Jeff Koons, was still there.  I had seen in back in July just shortly after it had been installed and the topiary plants had yet to really fill in the structure. Alas, it was gone today.

As I was walking on 47th St, heading for Evergreen, my cellphone rang.  It was Bro calling to tell me that he was just getting ready to board the plane.  His flight would arrive into JFK around 3pm and we would be taking the same flight together to Athens.  I was relieved to get the good news!

It was the prime breakfast hour and while I expected Evergreen to be busy, I didn't expect it to be full!  Luckily, I just needed a spot for one and there was a free stool at the counter.  I gladly took it.  When it comes to diner breakfast, I always go with my favorite - scrambled eggs with some sausage, hashbrowns, white toast, and a cup of coffee.  Classic meal. 

Though the place was packed and I probably should have eaten quickly so someone else could have my seat, I decided to take my time.  After all, I had hours to go before my flight.

After eating, I decided to head to Bryant Park.  It was a gorgeous day and I decided some time in a green space would be just the ticket.  Not to mention, I needed to walk off the major calories I had just ingested!


I found a bench and plopped myself down.  For a few minutes, I watched two guys play ping pong, yes, ping pong, on a table that had been set up in the park.  A bit of people watching, a bit of reading and the next thing you know, an hour and half had passed by.


After Bryant Park, I went to the International Center of Photography (ICP) to see an exhibition of photographs by a Brazilian photographer named Sebastião Salgado.  Several dozen of his stunning black-and-white photographs of wildlife, landscapes, seascapes, and indigenous peoples were on display.  It's obvious he is extremely talented.  Couple that with the heart and soul of an adventure traveler and you get some truly amazing images!  And....more ideas for remote travel destinations for me! :-)

Photo of nomadic Nenets.  Taken in Siberia by Sebastião Salgado

After the ICP, I decided it was time to make my trek back to JFK.  It was barely noon and the E Train/AirTrain ride would take about an hour.  It was more than enough time to be back at the airport for our 4:25pm flight.

Back at Rockefeller Center, they were doing a live taping of Access Hollywood.  Billy Bush and Kit Hoover were interviewing Tony Award winning actress Jessie Mueller who is playing Carole King on Broadway. 


I've never seen a TV show being taped before so it was fun watching it!  I stood around for the entire segment and then a bit afterwards when Jessie Mueller stood for some photos with fans.


Back on the E Train, I was heading to JFK.

At JFK, I retrieved my suitcase from storage and headed to the Delta check in counter.  For some reason, when I had checked in at Dulles, I only got the boarding pass for my flight to JFK; I needed the one for my flight to Athens.

I then went to the departure lounge and waited for Bro's flight to land. He would be arriving at the gate right across the way from our departure gate.  Lucky guy, only has to walk a few feet to catch his next plane!

Shortly after 3pm, he texted me from the runway and then called me when I had not responded to his text.  They had landed on time.  Yay!  I told him I was standing right outside his gate.  I was so happy to see him emerge from the arrival ramp!  Luckily for him, our flight to Athens was just starting to board.  He had just a few minutes to stretch his legs and use the facilities before having to board the next flight.

In a few hours, about 9 give or take a few minutes, we would be landing in Athens!  After all the months of planning, I am so excited that our trip is finally getting underway!