Sunday, September 03, 2006

Oh man, I'm in New York! it is so amazing. This is such a massive city. I am so delighted to be here.

The last few days have been, as you can imagine, pretty intense, but I'm going to at least start typing out the notes I took during my trip, and hopefully in a day or two I will be caught up, and onto current events. So here goes....

30th August 2006, 19:40
On the plane at last! I love flying. I have been crying for weeks about saying goodbye, and I absolutely bawled tonight, but I really am excited. I spoke to a little greek lady named Christine, from Bruma in the line to passport control. She is visiting Greece, and it is her first overseas travel ever. She was a little nerous about navigating the airport, so I pointed her in the right direction, and got a lovely great hug and kiss for my troubles. I also met a couple from Cape Town, who have travelled a lot. From one extreme to the other, I suppose. They were also really friendly, though.

We are beginning to move. I am delighted that there are television screens at each seat. I love the on-board info, and expecially the maps showing where we are, and where we are going. We have 10 hours, 50 minutes flying time ahead. The captain just announced that take-off will be in 3 minutes. I must remember to ask my cousin, who is going to be a pilot, about the different coloured lights on the air-field, and what they all mean.
Take-off. SSE. We're flying over Johannesburg, and I am crying. It is sad to say goodbye for so long.
The lights are amazing! There is smooth jazz playing in the headphones. I think it is French, but I wouldn't swear to that.
My dear friend Stephanie didn't make it to the airport in time. We were on the phone just before I went through the gates. She really tried, and I was so sad. I really am going to miss her.
I have a window seat behind the wing. Nice view.
An advertisement for the airline has just been played over the speakers: "Welcome to civilized aviation". I'm sure my mentor would have had as big a laugh as I did, had she heard that!
The woman who was next to me switched places with a pleasant younger girl who is much friendlier. It is so dark below! there are a few dim lights in the distance.
I thought the Swiss used the Euro, but the currency mentioned in the in flight magazine is CHF.
The captain has just announced that we are flying over the Victoria Falls. I wish I had a watch so that I could see how long it took us to get here. My cell, which I usually use as a clock, had to be switched off for the flight.
The air hostesses have just brought the first drinks trolley around. I am having some orange juice before dinner, but it is so sweet, I wish I had picked something else!
It has been so long since I last watched TV without working, that I am really enjoying watching the in-flight shows now, in between chatting with my very sweet companion. There is a documentary on Swiss medical research on now.
I just completed a great supper. Pasta with a creamy sauce, salad, bread and cheese, and an almond-topped cake for desert. I had some red wine and some soda water with dinner, and am now watching a film called Along Came Polly, staring Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. It looks funny, but I'm getting sleepy, so I don't know whether I'll get through it.

I dozed off for a bit, and just woke up to the most amazing sight. There is lightning in the clouds below us and to our right. The cabin lights are out and the sky is spectacular, shining through the windows. The storm is in the vicinity of Dar Es Salaam, east of us.

We have just crossed the equator.

1:30 (GM +2)
We are flying over the Darfur mountains. The sky is crystal clear, and there are stars all around us. Tranquility over a troubled land.

I slept so well! But now we're over a very beautiful editeranean, and the cabin lights have just been switched on. I'm listening to some fabulous Jazz as we fly over Palerme on Cicily. There are the beautiful little islands visible below, all lit with orange street lights.
The air-hostesses have just handed out hot, moist face cloths. They feel so good first thing in the morning. I really want to brush my teeth, but alas, no toothpaste on board. Imagine exploives in a tube of toothpaste!
We can see Italy to the east. Rome is below us.

The horizon is turning pale blue and orange. we are not far from landing.
The seatbelt lights have just been switched on, and we are preparing to land. We are flying over masses of clouds.
Just descended through the clouds. the city lights are visible, and the wings are changing shape in preparation for landing. I can see the lake below. The wether looks a bit overcast, but hte sun isn't fully risen, yet, so that may change. The roads are surprisingly busy for so early in the morning.
Touch down. I love flying!

10:30 New York time

This part of the trip is somewhat less delightful. There is a very overweight woman next to me, who is seriously encroaching. She has to lift the arm-rest just to fit, so I am only sitting in half of my seat, and she is in the rest of it. I don't want to be prejudiced towards overweight people, but it really is very frustrating having someone like this next to me. It really is worth it, both for one's own health, and the comfort of those around you, to maintain a healthy weight. This woman struggles to get out of her seat, and pushes the woman in front of her forward when she does, so going to the bathroom earlier was difficult.
Despite that, though, Zurich was great! what a beautiful city. It is a great mixture of old and new architecture, and that stunning lake with the snow-topped mountains in the distance. I sat and stared at it for ages, and thoroughly upset a swan, a seagul and a couple of ducks who think that everyone sitting on the lakeside benches is there to feed them. Next time I'll keep my breakfast roll in my pocket.... I can't wait to spend longer there.
From Zurich, we flew over France, and the top bit of Spain, across the English channel, and across the bottom end of Britain. It was beautifully clear over Europe, and I got to indulge my fondness for little squares of agricultural land, and serpentie, silvery rivers.
The clouds set in over Britain, unfortunately, so I saw none of it, or Ireland, or the Atlantic, but the mountainous clouds have their own charm. And I discovered a "refreshing facial spray" and a moisturizing lotion in the bathroom, both of which smell lovely, and worked wonders to lift my spirits.
So now I'm watching Robin Williams in RV (it's a bit below him) and enjoying the odd glimpses of the ocean that are begining to appear.

We're flying just South of Greenland, approaching a place called Goose Bay. Could it be tht we flew so far North to avoid the Bermuda triangle? I don't know how I feel about that....

We're about to make landfall. The clouds still obscure my view, but perhaps that's appropriate. This way it feels like the continents flow into one another in an endless stream, rather than trying to delineate them all as distinct entities. After all, we experience them more as a continual flow of experiences, resources and opportunities.
We're climbing a little as we cross the shore-line. I love the feel of the plane's power beneath and around me. I think it's that same sense of strength beyond my own that I enjoy during take-off and landing. But expecially take-off.
I forgot to mention that we had the most amazing continental breakfast this morning. Hot croissants and bread rolls, with cream cheese nd strawberry jam, strawberry yogurt and orange juice. And for lunch earlier, salad (mixed lettuce), vegetable pasta with a sauce not dissimilar to that from last night, bread, and a great chunk of Camembert cheese! talk about a treat. Desert was a swiss dark chocolate mousse. So good!
We're just crossing into Canada. My back is killing me! I really hope I find a good shuttle. Otherwize it will be an expensive taxi. There is no way I can lug my heavy (26kg is the heaviest) bags about myself, onto trains and such. I wonder whether I'll make the games night tonight? I'm pretty tired. It's dark in SA already, and I have been traelling for roughly 24 hours! It will total around 26.5 from when I got onto the plane in JHB untill we land at JFK.
They're bringing around hot towels again. I love them!
There are about 2.5 hours to go, and I'm watching Ice Age 2.
We were just brought hot tomato and Mozarella calzoni, swiss caramel ice crean and apple juice. The ice cream is unbelieable, and there are a bunch of Vultures singing "Food, Glorious Food" on the film.

The clouds are clearing a little. We are over water again. I can see the coast ahead. St. John is the nearest town. 1hour, 30 min to go.
There are ice crystals on the windows. Some are just frozen drops of water, but others look like feathery, lacy snowflakes.
We're flying over the state of Maine. There is a stunning river estury below. It feels strange to be flying South, now. We are finally in New York's time zone.
The large lady just spilled 7up all over both of us!
We're banking left slightly to fly alond the coast. My pants are all sticky from the coldrink.
More cloud below. New York might be overcast.
Less than 45 minutes to go. My eyes are so heavy, I wonder whether I'll be awake for landing!
The air hostesses just handed out two really nice swiss chocolates per person.
The pilot just anounced Boston, with Cape Cod visible to the left. I can see a crescent moon in the sky above, then some cloud, and then these little islands along the shore below.
More cloud again.
On the flight to Zurich, and again on this one, the captain has announced that economy class passengers may keep there headphones. So I have two new sets of headphones! I guess that's one alternative to the little packs of toothpaste and airline socks.
The clouds are more scattered here, so we might just see New York as we fly over.
I can see two massive bridges connecting the islands below.
Not far to Long Island!
24 minutes to go. The ice on the windows is melting, but the view is a bit hazy. There is a big island to our left.
This is the first bit of turbulance we have experienced this whole flight.
The seatbelt lights just came on.
Long island is just coming into view. The haze is beginning to clear.
Long island looks light it has had big bites taken out of the one side. There is a very long, straight beach on the South end.
There are some fields below in very odd shapes. The water on the island is also really oily, and a completely different colour to the ocean.
We're banking left, so I have an amazing view! I can see a baseball pitch below. And I can see either the New Jersey or the Pennsylvania coastline in the distance. I'm not sure which it is.
10 minutes to go. There are lots of ships in the water below. We're banking steeply right, so I can't see much. Landing gear out, flaps down. I caught a glimpse of liberty island! but only for a second.
Touch Down
We're there!

4 September, 10:07
So that was the trip. Of course there is more news from the first few days, but I'll add that later.
Good reading!


Pete - JCC said...

Hi Nicol

Just found and read your trip - wonderful. Glad you're there safe and sound.

Love, J & P

Sarazann said...

I'm amazed you kept such detailed notes, what's your secret?

choirgirl said...

Hi Jill and Pete. Great to know you stopped by. I hope all is well with you, and with the choir. I am already missing you all terribly! But loving this experience, too.

Sarazann, thanks for your comment. The notes are easy to take on long plane trips. I am trying very hard to keep up with a journal now that I am on the ground, but somehow life, and work, all interfere