My previous trip to New York and Connecticut had been in July/August – glorious. I had never been in January. It’s a little colder.
Last time around, I stopped off in Copenhagen with time to explore the city. This time, I had a quick layover in Narita, Japan. No time to leave the airport, but plenty of time to take in the weirdness.
I think ANA is my new favourite airline. The in-flight entertainment system has an A/V socket to plug in your iPod/iPhone/iPad and play your own music or videos on their screen (careful now), and you can recharge power via USB at the same time. I’d seen this on some Etihad flights before, but it seems to be standard on ANA (it was on all 4 of my flights). Very nice.
Soon enough, I found myself walking out of JFK towards the car, and realised I was suddenly very cold indeed – a feeling I hadn’t experienced for about six years. It was nice – for about five minutes. After the initial excitement had passed, it was no longer pleasant – just cold.
I was soon warm enough in the car though, but it was fascinating looking at the scenery as we made our way north to Stamford, CT. The trees had shed their leaves for winter – they simply don’t do that in Bangkok. A forgotten sight. Arriving in Stamford though, it was still cold outside.
Remember, I’d gone six years without feeling cold. In March 2010, we’d had a mild snap in Bangkok – 18˚C (64.4˚F), and I had complained that it was a bit chilly. Back in the USA though, the temperature had dropped below zero. As time went on, I became convinced that this was, in fact, the coldest place on earth, and as cold as anybody could possibly be.
And then it snowed.
And two things happened. Firstly, and not very astonishingly, I discovered that Thai shoes are not snow-proof.
Secondly, and very astonishingly indeed to this Briton, things just carried on as usual. Normally a light sprinkling of frost is enough to bring the entire UK public transport system grinding to a halt. Trains will be delayed by several hours, or (more likely) will stop running completely. Road surfaces become lethally treacherous, local councils sheepishly admit that they didn’t buy any grit, and society has to take a week off while we wait for the thin glazing of snow to melt.
In America, they just carry on as usual through a foot of snow. The trains keep on running, the roads are kept clear, and life goes on.
Once I got over the time difference and the jet lag (the day I landed was effectively 36 hours long), I had a really good trip.
American food gets a bad rap, but if you avoid McDonalds you can eat incredibly well for very little money. The only problem is the enormous portion sizes, but if you are capable of stopping eating when you’re full, then it’s not such a problem. Heck of a waste though.
The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.
I always take advantage of the shopping opportunities when I’m stateside, this time I picked up a Nook Simple Touch for $99 from Barnes & Noble.
I already have an iPad which I can use to read .epub books using the iBooks app, but the iPad is just slightly too heavy to read for hours on end (as I discovered during my 20+ hours of flying time). It’s not heavy enough to make it impossible – just enough to be annoying.
The Nook is much lighter (212g vs 601g), reads the same .epub files that I already own without any conversion required, and has a few other advantages too.
The iPad also has a glossy, reflective screen, so doesn’t work too well in direct sunlight. In comparison, the Nook has an e-ink screen, so you need a light source to read on it, but it really is just like reading a paper page – plus the battery lasts for weeks rather than hours. I picked up a 16Gb micro SD card for $50 while I was there – that will probably hold more books than I can read in a lifetime. Now I just need to find some time to read…
Taking the train up the local Metro North line to Bethel, CT to visit friends was impressive – the trains run on time, even through snow, and the tickets are far cheaper than you’d pay in the UK to take a delayed train (or quite possibly a bus replacement service).
I finally managed to reach the station
Only to find that the bus replacement service had broken down
After wondering to myself whether or not it should actually be called a train replacement service
I walked out onto the concourse
In short, an enjoyable trip, but I think I’ll try to visit in the summer again next time.
Here’s to another 6 years of cold-free living.