Project Konigsberg #2 New york? new york

So the cabin crew guy came and asked if I wanted another drink and I said, well, I don't suppose i have time. Sure you do!, he said, and y'know what? I did, I did have time for that second can of Tiger. He poured some of it very badly and I thought, oh come on, just let me pour it. Like in Tanzania. I know how to pour lager better than you.

Dorney lake, I think? 2012 rowing venue.

Strange racecourse and strange marina unconnected to a larger body of water.

Windsor Castle


We landed at 1225, a mere 4.5 hours after I left and didn't actually officially visit Norway, what with not going through passport control. Since there were only 2 of us in business it wasn't hard to be second off the plane, and second became first once I overtook Dave Slowcoach on the airbridge.

In the corridor several other recent arrivals were merging and it was pretty busy by the time I reached the flight connections centre. I briefly thought maybe I'd got lost as the fast track lane was full of people walking towards me but decided to proceed and hey presto, a guy let me past the rope and I was soon at a desk once the agents changed shifts. I handed her my passport and phone (boarding pass) and she scanned the latter then asked for the former. She then excused her ditziness because she'd been up since 5am. You and me both ...

I asked her to confirm my passport had been visa checked, because I expected a little stamp on it, but she said it was all done. So, up the escalators and into the slow and crowded "fast track" security queue. As usual people seem clumsy - and that's coming from me - about arranging their stuff so they can get through quickly. The guy in front of me wanted to take up loads of space waiting for his 3 trays even though mine was coming through first.

Also, I set off the explosives alarm or something. Definitely stuff beeped and I had my hands and feet swabbed and checked by a thing attached to a monitor that said 'explosives' on the screen. And then I was told I can go. Well alrighty then.

Back in the north lounge half an hour after touching down, I immediately checked my bag and broke the rules by walking out. I'd been asked to buy 200 fags for one of the Konigsbergians and was under the impression that buying fags in an airport was a simple task. Not so! I walked the entire length of the terminal scanning the shops and spotting no tobacco anywhere. For fucks sake. On the way back i finally spotted a shop called "duty free cigarettes", not hugely standing out, you can't see any goods from the outside. Odd.

Davidoff Classic were purchased and I set off back to the escalator. Oh. There's no escalator back up. Hmm. The entrance to the north lounge is on the same level as security but all the shops are down beneath, and now I don't know how to get back up there. Another wander and ooh, here's a lift. Thank fuck. Back into the lounge and get my bag out and go grab my favourite seat again and a beer.

The lounge was fucking heaving. Quite uncomfortably so. Almost every table had crockery and cutlery and glasses and what have you on it, because there's simply too much going on for the staff to keep up with. Ho hum. I added the previous blog post and chatted online with Chris, Nige, Mark, and Helen, as well as doing the whole narcissism thing on Facebook. And cancelling my original return flight, since I'm pretty bloody confident this ticket is sticking now.

It was about 2.5 hours until take off and the gate was apparently going to be announced at 1455. An extravagantly posh man ran over my left foot with his suitcase on wheels and I ate some butternut squash chilli with pasta. My phone beeped and told me I'd be boarding on a C gate, which is shit news because the C satellite is miles away and has no lounge and just meh.

Another beer and an hour to go and I thought, ah fuck it, let's go. Stopped at the ATM to withdraw some USD at a less than generous exchange rate, paying the premium just so I'm ready as can be once I get stateside. I had planned to use the walkway to the satellites but in the end the idea of the monorail got the better of me, obviously, and I shared a carriage with a bunch of Chicago-bound crew.

Reached gate C56 way too fucking early. This is the gate where I nearly missed one of my planes to Johannesburg 12 months ago. There were loads of people around and nothing was happening, so I wandered over to the other side of the terminal to stare at some A380s. Soon the infirm and those with kids were allowed on, and then club world and first. I fantasised about being upgraded since the flight was pretty full and I've a shiny card, travelling alone, etc...

The club world and first queue was full of people not travelling in club world and first, so thinned out pretty quickly when the gate agents turned people away and I got to the gate and there was no beep, no upgrade. Soon in seat 16A, one of the only 4 seats in the cabin where you don't have to climb over anyone nor be climbed over to reach the aisle. Couldn't put my bag in the correct overhead locker because it was full of headsets. Bleurgh.

Turned down a newspaper but accepted a champagne, which was much nicer than the mini-bottle on the previous flight. Couldn't remember how to use the seat and surrounds because it's about 18 months since I flew club world, and longer since I flew it even approaching sober. Took me a fair while to realise my table did actually work, likewise the privacy divider. Given how annoyed I was by the guy in the seat facing me still being on the phone while we were taxiing for take off I'm glad the divider worked in the end.

How to use the seat. I actually needed tghis manual :(

A Qantas A380 lands and it's 4.15pm and I think, what? I'm sure there's only 2 of them a day and they land at 9am and 1pm. We were delayed for some vague reason and the cabin was roasting; I fell asleep for 15 minutes and we were yet to take off. Eventually we were in the air half an hour after scheduled time and I picked a couple of films from the entertainment system. Everyone loves Jason Statham, right?

The world's favourite zero-trick pony

The menu looked appetising but I'd pre-ordered. Then they came to ask what i wanted to eat and I said I'd pre-ordered and they said, really? We have no record of that, what did you order? And I couldn't remember so fuck it, I'll have the cod... wait, did I pre-order the cod anyway?

Today's menu.

Champagne. Nuts. Amenity kit. Jesus, the BA business class amenity kit gets worse each time I get one. Instead of a film I start with 2 episodes of Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity and it is very sad. The food is pretty decent especially the cod which is great and I get a refill with each course. They insist on giving me a fresh glass when they are forced to change brand of champagne and I'm like, really? Come on. There is no port with the cheese and first world problems are first world problems. There are kids dying in the sea as their families flee terror, and I feel small.

I dick around with some photo editing stuff on my phone and imagine the difference between me and a photographer/editor is that I just fiddle about with filters until thinking "that'll do", whereas yer properly creative and talented people actually have an idea in advance of what will look good. But whatever.

Uninspiring leaves. Nice prawns.

Marks for style: 1; marks for taste: 8.

Crackers, not oat cakes? No port?

This did not taste as grainy as it looks.

The Statham film is called Spy and is great, standard disclaimer about my already low standards dropping further in pressurised air notwithstanding. But seriously Kevin, watch Spy. Even Miranda Hart is bearable in it, and there's a scene set in the road where the Manowar theme bar is in Budapest. Yay! Hello, Ian.

People keep leaving the loo door open all throughout the flight. What the fuck?

I feel quite tired and umm and aah about going to the "club kitchen" to get a beer, or sleeping. In the end I do neither and watch a History channel documentary about these two brothers who are attempting to solve the mystery of Oak Island. Really wish there was more than one episode on the system, damn it. Then I start writing this blog post while watching Better Call Saul, but am interrupted by a plate of sandwiches and sweet treats and a Heineken. It's about an hour 'til we land, and gone 2230 back home. Kinda not looking forward to the JFK/NYC ground experience. And why haven't I been handed a customs declaration form to fill out?

Hey, Manhattan, how you doing?

40 minutes from landing they say, in 20 minutes time we'll turn the seatbelt sign on and from then on you can't lose the loos. As soon as the sign goes on numerous people queue up to use the loo. Sigh. I ask for a customs declaration and the guy next to me does too. I'm sure they just forgot to sweep through the cabin dishing them out. New York looks nice out of the window and we land roughly on time, then we pause while taxiing and cabin crew tell us we'll have to hang around about 20 minutes while an ANA flight leaves the gate we're meant to be using after a thunderstorm related backlog. They also tell people to sit the fuck down.

Eventually we get to the gate and the seatbelt signs go off at 1900. Some LET ME THROUGH I'M VERY IMPORTANT types barge through the cabin from behind business class because they seem to think they are the only people with connecting flights, and that the 15 minutes late we are will scupper it. Seems unlikely that 15 minutes is a big enough gap to ruin a connection tbh.

I'd been warned that BA113 is the worst flight to arrive on at JFK. BA (and a few partners) have their own terminal and this flight is timed to arrive in tandem with one or two other big busy planes, so I am prepared for the worse. And, as with Bali last year, the scaremongering is outrageous - the immigration experience is actually one of the best I've ever had in the USA, San Francisco included, and from seatbelt sign off through passport check, immigration, customs, out across the road and up the lift to the AirTrain platform takes 25 minutes.

A crowded train takes me to Jamaica where I can't be arsed to queue and buy the ticket I need for the whole trip, so I nab a $20 thing to exit AirTrain and, I believe, let me on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Penn station. Originally I was going to check in at accommodation first but Facebook tells me to go straight to the pub. A conductor on the LIRR tells me my ticket isn't valid but doesn't bother selling me one so I end up fare dodging to Manhattan just by being an ignorant foreigner.

The pub we're going to is awkwardly placed for travel from the airport and it would take me two subways to get to even 2 blocks away. Andrew has told me to get a cab, I decide to walk - and like a boss, for the first time ever, I stride through Manhattan in precisely the right direction the whole way to the pub. No feeling of being lost. Down a bunch of numbered streets then Broadway, Madison Square Park, Park Avenue, and hello Taproom 307.

Perched outside are Mark, Murray, Andrew, Andrei, and Andrei's mate who's name I have already forgotten. Oops. Jeremy maybe? There's a beer waiting for me and some food, but Mark is unaware of my inability to eat chips. It's insanely humid and I am covered in sweat and don't really know how I'm still awake, since by then I'd been awake for like 20 hours. Nonetheless I manage to have 3 or 4 beers including the bonus half they gave us when settling up, and a bacon mac 'n cheese. We are convening at 0800 in the morning however, so decide to call it a day at 2215 or so.

Murray and Mark lead the way to the Seafarers and International House, a hostel we're staying in. We have private rooms but shared toilets and showers and no wifi and one of the least friendly customer facing people I have ever met in my entire life on the check in desk. Seriously. He is staggeringly abrasive.

My room is on the 11th floor, starting with an 11. There seem to be only 11 floors in the lift so I have no idea where those in the 16xx rooms are. My room is sweltering so I turn on the really loud aircon unit and then go across the corridor for a piss. Upon exiting the loo I check all my pockets multiple times and fuck me, I can't find the key. Twat. My drunken exhaustion must have made me leave it on the bed so I get in the lift to go back down and act contrite towards Mr Unfriendly, who is surely going to shoot me dead on the spot. As I take my phone out of my pocket to take a photo of the god-bothering nonsense on the wall of the lift, the key falls on the floor. Sigh. Down to the lobby and straight back up. The aircon is crazily loud and I put it on "low" and "sleep" modes, neither of which help much.

7. Contemplate your lack of en-suite toilet.

My alarm is set for 6am. Good god, why am I doing this?

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