According to Douglas Adams’ cult classic, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” (a 1979 novel that began as a BBC radio series in 1978), the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42. So with this in mind, last Sunday morning at the age of 42, I set out on my very first solo overseas trip.
Travelling is something I love to do but the thought of travelling to the other side of the world all by myself was daunting, to put it mildly. Naturally, I imagined numerous catastrophic scenarios… that (so far) have never happened.
The fourteen and a half hour flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles on board a Qantas A380 went smoothly, I ate every skerrick of aeroplane food put before me (my former resolve to begin a “Look like a Supermodel for New York” diet all but abandoned) and watched movies, Les Miserables and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained… followed by a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
At Los Angeles, I cleared customs with only Vegemite and Tim Tams to declare and boarded another Qantas flight to New York, touching down about five and a half hours later.
Catching a cab from the airport, my friendly and very helpful driver was a former college mathematics teacher who’d arrived from Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. He saw me safely to my accommodation on 105th Street, East Harlem and didn’t leave until Maggie, who I was staying with, had opened her door and welcomed me inside.
Maggie and her husband, Sergio rent an apartment less than a minute’s walk from 5th Avenue and the iconic Central Park on Manhattan Island, New York City. I was staying with them through a website called airbnb.com, where people are able to rent out their spare bedroom to travellers. A concept that suited me down to the ground; staying all by myself in a lonely hotel room in a foreign country, is not my idea of fun.
My first day in New York started with Sergio giving me instructions on how to catch the subway, a bank to go to, to get my cash passport card working and advice on which sim card to get for my mobile phone.
By the afternoon I had walked through Central Park, had some American dollars in my wallet, my phone was working, I’d eaten a bagel for lunch and had successfully caught the subway.
I went on to do a double-decker bus tour of downtown Manhattan and journeyed to the 70th floor observation deck of the G.E. Building, known as the Top of the Rock. Built in 1933, it forms part of the Rockefeller Centre and affords spectacular 360° views of the city and across to the Empire State Building.
Founded in the 1600s and now with a population in excess of eight million, the big apple is an impressive place…
|The view from the Top of the Rock|