Where have the days/weeks gone?! It feels like forever since I was in New York at the beginning of Feb, but I promised a second instalment – and here it is, just a little later than planned! (Also have part two of Cambodia blog posts too…stay tuned!). But here’s part two of my NYC photo diary, where I cover off a few of the things we did – especially food wise (food was a big feature in the trip).
The weather when we were there was a bit all over the place. The first day was absolutely bitterly cold, then we had a couple of lovely days – cold, but sunny. Then day where it was sunny and not that cold (when we went ice skating and didn’t need a coat), then the final day it went crazy with blizzards and inches of snow…resulting in an absolutely nightmare of a journey with Delta Airlines which I’ll tell you more about at the bottom of the post, if you’re interested!
As much as I wish I could, I think it’s a good job I don’t live in America as I would certainly be obese if I did (mainly due to a love of macaroni cheese and a dislike of exercise). But one of my main highlights of a trip to the US is the food, and I most certainly indulged for the days we were there. In my defence, we did do a lot of walking – so a stack of pancakes plus bacon and eggs was definitely an essential start to the day…
But beyond breakfast we planned in a few special meals – starting the first night at the gorgeous Gramercy Tavern. This place is seriously special, we had booked for an early dinner as we went the day we arrived and jet lag was setting in – but the food was amazing. One of those places where each course looks small on the plate but is actually so perfectly put together you leave feeling perfectly satisfied. My starter was pappardelle pasta with lobster and chorizo – delicious. Then I chose chicken for my main – a random choice for me, as I’m generally a bit ‘meh’ about chicken. But this was amazing, so delicious. I then chose a selection of cheeses from the menu for desert (I’m a huge fan of cheese) and Ollie had an egg-nog based desert. Then, the best touch was that they brought out a second complimentary desert for him with birthday message and candle – noting after he had mentioned it in passing when booking the table. Very impressive service and will definitely go back next time I’m in the city.
I don’t have any decent pictures but we also went to The View – a bit of a novelty as it’s a rotating restaurant within the Marriott Hotel Times Square. The views were amazing, and the fact it was rotating was pretty fun. The food was good, but not mind-blowing. But the main reason to go was the experience – which was well worth it.
Then on the Saturday night I had booked a surprise venue for Ollie’s birthday – choosing Beauty & Essex on the Lower East Side. An area of Manhattan I’ve never really spent time in at all – but this place was amazing too. Very cool, you walk through a pawn-shop front to the back room which is a dark and moody dining room filled with a mixture of tourists like us and some very cool looking people too. We were lucky to get a table as at first I couldn’t, but then one came available at the last moment (God bless online booking). The food here is basically large ‘tapas’ style, so lots of plates to share rather than a course each. The lobster tacos were insanely good, as were the scallops and fish cakes. I’ve never seen scallops or prawns as big as they had here. Another I’d definitely go back to.
When in New York one of our favourite things to do is basically just walk around – which is mostly what we did. Stopping off here and there for a drink to warm up, or a shop… so a lot of photos are from just wandering the streets of the city! On the last day the snow was pretty insane, going from light, to heavy, to blizzard, to just making everything look like a typical NYC Christmas movie… although in the movie they don’t tend to show the soggy, wet, frozen feet you get when your feet are submerged in freezing cold sludge…
It was a bit of a shame that the snow was so heavy on the last day, as it meant we were quite distracted checking the status of our flight and making sure we were leaving plenty of time to get to the airport and all that. In the end we did have a travel nightmare which if you want to know more I’ll pop the story at the bottom – but warning, will be a bit of a rant! Basically the biggest shame is that the situation with the airline for the journey back really did put a major dampener on what was an amazing trip overall. But now will forever be known as ‘the one with the awful journey…’
The Journey Story
Ok, so for those that are interested – here’s the story of the nightmare journey home. I will try to keep it as concise as I can!
We were flying with Delta Airlines (let this be a warning to you) and due to the snow, our scheduled 7pm flight was cancelled and we were re-booked to the 9pm. Which was fine with us, so we headed to the airport, got there fairly early as we had allowed for a bit of snow-issues on the roads. But no, the US deal with snow much better than us Brits. The snow was forecast to stop at around 5/6pm – which is did. So we didn’t anticipate any further issues, all being well. There were other flights to Barcelona and Madrid all scheduled to depart around the same time. So it got to 9pm, no sign of boarding and the flight was showing delayed to 9.30…then 10pm, then 10.30 and so on. We were starting to doubt this was going to go well… but eventually, at midnight we were invited to board. Woo! Finally going home, after over 5 hours in the airport already! So we boarded, got comfortable…and the plane pushed away. All looking pretty decent to get us home, a bit delayed…
But no. Then they needed to de-ice the wings (which were covered in snow) – which they did, they have these industrial de-icer spray things that sorted that. So, after a bit more of a delay we thought we would be on our way… NO! THEN, it gets better – someone comes on the radio to announce that one of the pilots is going to ‘time out’ (federal regs. only allow pilots to fly for a certain amount of time and factoring the delays and the journey time, this pilot would time out during the flight – why they wouldn’t perhaps have already been aware of that and trying to source a new pilot to be on standby earlier.. I don’t know. So this is when it gets really good.
We’re sitting on the plane, it’s around 1/2am – they’re trying to find a pilot. This continues until 5am (yes, sitting on the plane – just waiting – we were given the option to go to the departure gate instead but as nothing was open for food/drink there seemed little point). Then, at 5am they announced the flight was cancelled. Oh joy. So close to 12 hours after arriving at the airport we had gotten no-where. Also, the top it all off – in this time we were offered nothing more than a bag of nuts and a glass of water. So we were both hungry – as well as being shattered and very frustrated.
So then the entire plane rush off to try and get to one of the two counters they had open to re-book us. They initially told us we would be on the 7pm flight that day – a full 24 hours after our initial departure time. But I did push them and they managed to book us on Virgin Atlantic which was leaving at around 7am.
Then we were told by the lady at the desk (I wish I had taken her name, but wasn’t really thinking straight) we didn’t need to check in and to just go to the departure gate and they could check us in there. This wasn’t the case, we had to go all the way back out, check in with Virgin Atlantic again and then back through security. To be fair, I can’t fault Virgin Atlantic on this, they actually gave the impression they cared and tried to help.
So we waited, and boarded (on time!) and then sat there – as they announced that Delta hadn’t managed to locate and move all the bags from the previous flight to the Virgin one. Virgin said that due to the hassle we had all had (there were many from the Delta flight on board) they were going to wait and see if we could get the bags over. After a two hour wait, no luck. The bags weren’t all there but they decided it was best to get going. So finally, 9am the following day (14 hours after our original departure time…) we set off. The flight was great, not a bad word to say about Virgin Atlantic at all. Then we landed and low and behold – only one of our two bags was there. Joy. Luckily, Virgin were very efficient and got this sorted and the bag was back with us within 24 hours.
But there we have it, the worst journey I’ve personally experienced – and now on returning I’ve raised a formal complaint with Delta of the service and issues we had…and each email takes 30 WORKING DAYS to reply to. So on my first email, they said ‘sorry, nothing we can do it was the weather…’ I now have to wait a further 30 days to get a response to my reply to that. What a fun way to end what was a lovely trip! I should probably add, that we totally accept the weather caused delays – but out issue is how badly it was all handled. I did also try to call, but the US Customer Care only seems to be able to help US customers – which is a bit useless for an international airline (we were offered either a $100 gift card…that has to be sent to a US address & can only be used in the US, or US domestic air miles…again, not much use from the UK) – I have also tried to get some help via twitter, but they just push me to email. So that’s the process we’re stuck in now, still trying to get some sort of solution.
Sorry if the above rant was incredibly boring to anyone, but I’ve mentioned it on twitter a couple of times and a few people have asked what happened – so there’s the story! As you know if you read my blog regularly, I’m not one to use it as a home for whinges and complaints at all, but this was a pretty exceptional situation and the fact it’s taking so ridiculously long to get some sort of resolution/decent apology is just causing further frustration. I really just want to get it all sorted!