Did you know that NYC has multiple airports? I did. And yet I still managed to book a flight into La Guardia while simultaneously booking a flight out of JFK only three hours later. Yep. I noticed this about three days before flying out, and then found myself in the middle of an Expedia and Delta hotline frenzy.
To switch my ticket to an earlier flight, the Expedia operator told me, I would have to pay $150, plus the difference in ticket prices. This worked out to around $300. I told him I'd call him back but never did.
The Delta operator was a little more helpful. I could call in early to check for availability on the flight before mine, but even that service would cost me $50. Not really wanting to wake up that earlier, I decided to chance it.
New York City was a balmy 92 degrees when I deplaned on the tarmac and boarded a bus to take me to the terminal. I race-walked inside, through the maze of gates and restaurants, past a lonely-looking guy in a Dustin Pedroia jersey (almost yelled out 'Laser show!' but didn't want to draw attention to either of us), to the baggage carousels.
And here's one of those stories of a time in my life when, for once, everything went exactly as it should have. I grabbed my bag right away, ran out to the taxi stand where there was NO line, hopped in a cab and got my very first glimpse of the city (besides the flight in, which had offered spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and lots of other stuff I didn't really recognize). I saw some sweet houses along the expressway and we passed the Mets' stadium, which I thought was pretty cool. I'd been warned that traffic might be an issue, but it wasn't at all, and I was at international departures terminal of JFK within 30 minutes. So relieved was I to have arrived with so much time to spare that I tipped the cabbie generously and shook his hand.
Security was a bit of a hassle, and spilling sauce from my Chinese food on my top was a bit of a hassle, but overall, things went really well in New York.
The flight to Dusseldorf was uneventful, and I actually had the best airplane food of my life during those eight hours. I've forgotten it by now except for a really delightful piece of pie, but it was top-notch, overall. Unlike the in-flight films.
Landed in Dusseldorf and tried my best to amuse myself for 13 hours. I took a walk outside, sampled some chocolate, flipped through some magazines, rode the connecting train from one end of the complex to the other for 30 minutes, and slept on a bench near my gate. Finally I was on a plane bound for Milan's Malpensa airport.
The flight was uneventful, besides the complimentary chocolate given out by AirBerlin at the end of the flight. (It might not have been complimentary but I just grabbed it like it was.) I found my bags, declined to declare anything, and took a train into Milan, where I hailed a taxi and finally arrived at my hostel, and went to sleep after something like 60 hours awake with no more than two hours of sleep at a time. And I slept like a baby.