So after five years of planning, our big adventure has actually started.
As I start to write this, we are in a small bar near Long Island. Vanless. Living in the back of an S.U.V.
I am hoping to update you to this point; explaining the Shipping process, flying over and our first few days in New York.
We first contacted (started to harass) the shipping company, way back in February, which as we later found out was way too early.
If you ever want to ship a vehicle between the UK and the USA, I would definitely recommend contacting Stephen Shores at Kingstown Shipping. Steve has helped organise the transportation of Ruby, and at a very reasonable cost of £965.
With a rough date agreed, we prebooked our flight tickets, in an attempt to keep costs down. At some point you just have to commit right?
As the shipping date creeped ever closer, we received our final shipping confirmation from the freight company, only to find that there was a slight issue… the date the van would arrive in New York was delayed.
Even worse, the time scale to collect the van was 5-10 days after arrival. This meant that we would arrive in New York on the 28th, our Airbnb booked until the 1st (the original date Ruby was due to arrive). Ruby however,would now be arriving on the 3rd, with us in a worse case scenario, not able to cllect her for another 5-10 days after arrival. With our Airbnb already booked by someone else after our booking, we decided to wing it and look into arranging something when we arrived. It was too complicated to try and predict when she would be back in our possession.
The day of our flight out finally arrived, and we were both filled with both intense excitement and a sheer disbelief that it was actually happening.
Willow made sure she had packed the majority of her bag the night before, I however, chucked everything in on the morning of leaving. Job done!
The morning seemed to pass very quickly, an before I knew it, we were en route to Gatwick. Although there was some pretty bad traffic, even the journey to the airport semed to go quickly and after a very rushed goodbye to Willow’s parents, we set off to check in.
We had a baggage allowance of 20kg, which as you can we, we nailed!
Bags dropped off, we set off to Wetherspoons, for a quick beverage.
Unfortunately, by the time we had worked our way through security, our flight was already being called, so with great disappointment, we passed the bar and headed straight to our gate.
With under an hour before our flight left, I quickly contacted my parents to say a final goodbye, before we boarded the plane.
There was literally no turning back at this point.
The flight was actually quite pleasant. I finally watch Bohemian Rhapsody (wasn’t impressed), I got to catch up on some reading (I would definitely recommend ‘The One’) and we had 2 vegetarian meals. Both of which weren’t completely terribly.
We arrived in New York at 8pm, and just had the final hurdle of passing through security. I won’t lie, I had been having regular nightmares about being turned down right at this moment.
We were directed to a fast track machine, Willow got her ticket no problem, after a bit of faff, I received my ticket… with a big cross on it. Directed to a specific point, this was the moment I had been dreading. The security officer was very polite, however went on to interigate me about my reasons for visiting the U.S.
At this point, I was bricking it. Although slightly panicked, I explained that we had been planning the trip for over 5 years, and had painstakingly rebuilt a van specifically to travel the U.S and Canada. He seemed really excited, and eventually said I could enter, after informing me that in normal circumstances he would have said no. And with that, we were in!
Shattered, we attempted to ordered an Uber (which was far more stressful than we needed at that moment in time).
In the cab, we were en route to our Airbnb, emotionally and physically exhausted. About thirty minutes later we had arrived and met Omar, our Airbnb host. Willow had booked us a room in a shared apartment.
Omar led us inside, introduced to his flat mate and his cat. A fifteen year old tabby called Iris. After a quick chat, we hit the sack. I was definitely looking forward to exploring New York after a good rest.
Annoyingly, a good night’s rest never came. I think I had gone past the point of being tired, however I still woke with a renewed energy.
With Willow desperate for a cup of tea, I set off down the road to a little convenience store, roughly five minutes from the apartment.
It was on this walk where I witnessed my first Brooklyn mugging.
It all happened quite quickly to somebody across the road whilst I was walking down the street. It took me a second to realise what was going on, as a few people, only a couple of meters from the incident, stood and watched on. I couldn’t believe what I had seen, and the incident served as a reminder, that we would both need to be careful on this road trip.
For our first day, we got ourselves a Metro card and headed to Prospect Park to see some local sites. As the weather was fantastic, we decided to head to the beach. Brighton Beach to be precise. Apparently, you can take the girl away from Brighton, but you can’t take Brighton away from the girl.
Rather burnt, we headed back to the apartmet for an early night. Still needing to adjust to the new time zones.
The next day, I was determined to get a better breakfast experience, before heading into Manhattan to ramp up our site seeing. We found Tina’s dinner, a proper American diner with bottomless coffee service.
Fed, we set off for Manhattan, with the Empire State Building our first destination.
The weather was on our side, and so we had a spectacular panorama over the city.
From here we set off to Central Park. Passing a few more famous sites on the way.
We met some people who weren’t fond of Trump Tower.
I got to fulfil a childhood fantasy, and saw The Plaza hotel from Home Alone 2.
And then we arrived in Central Park.
At this point, we had hoped to fly Steve up into the Central Park skyline to take some videos of Manhattan, however upon turning him on, he uploaded new firmware which prevented him taking off. Apparently most of New York is a ‘no Steve zone’.
From Central Park, we got the subway to Ground Zero.
The site of the World Trade Centre has been made into a marvelous memorial park, to honour the victims of the September 11th terror attacks.
Visiting the site was heartbreaking. Seeing the scale of the park and the actual amount of names of people was tragic. We later spoke to Omar, our host, who informed us that as part of his job, he still deals with claim cases of people who are still dying due to after effects of that day.
From the site, we then went to sit by the Hudson River, and unwittingly broke the law by drinking a bottle of beer, whilst imagining Ruby sailing past that very spot in a couple of days time.
We then decided that we wanted to get a flavour of proper American bars and so set off to check some out. Casually passing a section of the Berlin wall on the way.
Our first stop as punk dive bar, named Clockwork. It was decorated from floor to ceiling in terrible graffiti. It was pretty cheap though!
We followed the punk bar visit with a fantastic veggie chinese meal in China town. At this point, we hadn’t really considered the difference in portion sizes. The portion sizes here were ridiculously big. Probably three times what you’d get in England!
The next day’s itinerary had us down for more tourist action. This time the iconic Statue of Liberty. I must admit, this one I was very excited to see. Unfortunately, once again Steve was not welcome. So we would have to make do with ground level shots.
From the Statue, we headed to Brooklyn Bridge, for what was a crowded walk across from Manhattan over to Brooklyn.
Later, we ended up at a food festival named Smorgasbord, a gathering of artisan bakers similar to Digbeth Dining club.
The food selection was impressive. Both of us particularly keen on a macaroni doughnut.
Our next stop was Brooklyn Brewery, for a selection of their finest beers. The brewery was apparently a very trendy night spot. With crowds of hipsters drinking sour ales whilst playing Jenga.
As it was our last evening staying at Omar’s apartment, we headed out for what turned out to be a messy, but entertaining night.
The next morning, we had a repeat visit to Tina’s Diner, it certain was appreciated (if not desperately needed).
With Ruby still on the freight ship, and Omar’s apartment booked up, we frantically searched for cheap alternative accommodation. Finding nothing at such short notice.
Eventually, we settled on hiring a cheap SUV jeep that we have named Jeepy, and would sleep in until Ruby arrived.
So far we have had to sleep in it twice. It has not been fun.
As I finish writing this, Ruby has actually arrived at the dock. We are now just waiting fo confirmation to pick her up.
We have spent the last two days on the beach. Yesterday was our first miserable day in New York. Today has been gorgeous however.
Hopefully the next post I write is about collecting Ruby. I don’t think either of us can cope with one more night in Jeepy.