The last two days at home
Unbeknownst to me, my lovely wife invited friends to come by for a little going away party. I am so naive and had no idea. When I got home on Friday, the first guests had already arrived. I felt a little lump building up in my throat from emotions. What a nice surprise. The weather was great and we were all able to sit outside in the garden. This Saturday was used for final facility managements tasks and checking all equipment and go over my packing list.
Though it was just for a few hours, I thoroughly enjoyed spending the last night in my own bed. It was a strange feeling knowing that it will be a very long time before I will sleep in it
again. Now, just a few moments before leaving, the tension and excitement rises. Bicycle loaded, saying goodbye to my mother who had tears in her eyes. Our lovely friend Susi
gave us a ride to Munich Airport.
Contrary to information I previously received from the airport's information service, unfortunately I was not able to wrap the bicycle in foil. I had prepared cardboard cutouts which I attached to the tire's spokes with cable ties I had brought from home. Lufthansa, just like all the other airlines charges 100 Euros for large item luggage. The advantage with Lufthansa is, LH takes the bike as is without having to dismantle the handle bar and food pedals. I'm curious as to what condition I will find my bike in when I get to New York. again. Then the bike disappeared to the special area for large items, my wife Sylvia, our friend Susi and I enjoyed a coup of coffee and said our goodbyes. To make it easier on everybody, we quickly said goodbye and I walked toward the check-in.
Due to me having packed a number of electronic devices, I was subjected to a random test for explosive residue, which was negative of course. Everything else went smoothly, except that we started with 30-minute delay. But what are 30 minutes of a 3 months vacation. Actually, I was not going to write anything about the flight but feel the need to get this off my chest. We were flying in a super modern airbus AXXX and despite 7 attempts to reboot the internet, much to the dismay of many passengers, they could not get the internet for work. I was still one of the most relaxed passengers.
Arrival in New York
Going through customs was a nerve racking ordeal. I entered the USA under the ESTA program. What this means is I ended up in the long line. While I was in line for 2 hours, my luggage made nice laps on the luggage carousel. When I went to the pick up desk for large items, nobody seemed to be in charge and knew what was going on. A nice security guard suggested to look around in the hall where his colleagues usually park large items. And that is exactly where I found my bike.
There was by super bike, unlocked and unsecured in the corner of hall 1 at JFK airport and nobody showed any interest in it (which was good). It stood there
Drive to the hotel
I took the terminal train from JFK airport to Howard Beach station which was the end of the line and I had to continue via bicycle from hereon out. Unfortunately, my navigation device (navi) was not able to read the route I had stored. Theory and practice previously worked very well at home, but failed me now. Because I had spent a lot of time planing the route from the airport to the hotel, I was able to memorize the entire route which I now stored in my navi. I will need to come up with a solution for day 2. I know realized some short comings with my planing stage. I was going to need to find an internet cafe in order to be able to upload data.
The ride through New York was very noisy but also very interesting. In New York I also experienced by first large brush fire at a nature reserve in the vicinity of NY airport. I believe there were more fire engines on this scene than all fire engines from the cities of Nuremberg, Furth and Erlangen combined! What I did not anticipate about New York was the extremely strong wind which at times nearly pushed me off my bike. But otherwise awesome summer weather at temperatures over 30 degree celsius (over 86 degree Fahrenheit).
The motel which I booked via Booking.Com Motel was actually not a real motel. It ended up being a converted private house with tiny rooms and shower and bathroom facilities in the hallway to be shared with others. And while internet was advertised, there was no real wireless connection. I measured and it was below 1 Mbit. Which means I had to wait to upload photos and blog, and I didn't feel like using my prepaid data card. I will need to resolve my technical issues or I am going to have problems.
After a short night, I repacked my equipment again, walked to the nearest subway station and bough a ticket to Manhattan. Heck no, that plan did not work out. The subway system going in my direction, had major disruption in service which was announced was going to last for a longer period of time. So I decided that I would walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I am writing this blog at an Apple Store after I walked for 16 miles and a short subway ride to Central Park. After all, I have now seen all ofr Brooklyn and large parts of Manhattan. I will upload some photos and take advantage of having internet. The bandwidth is here phenomenal. Then I plan on making a side trip to the Central Park and Times Square and I think this will be all for today.
Tomorrow morning I will start the real trip about 6 AM. As soon as I have WLAN I will move on. I am becoming a champion at improvising.