It’s my Opinion

New York, New York Jack Nixon

A STOPOVER in New York would normally be welcomed, but when it is an unscheduled one, as last week’s one was for the Nixons it is an entirely different matter.

Monday November 19 did not get off to the best of starts as my wife and I headed for Aberdeen Airport where we would journey to the USA to spend a couple of weeks with my son and his family.

Greeted by driving rain was not the start we would have wished ourselves, but consoled by the thought we would soon be winging our way on the first leg to Amsterdam before embarking on a transatlantic flight to Atlanta where we catch an internal one for Wilmington, North Carolina. A long trip, but pretty straightforward!

In the event the weather was equally foul in Holland, resulting in our two hour flight being delayed in Aberdeen, as we waited for the fog to clear in Amsterdam. By the time we got into the air we had already missed our connection, resulting in us standing for three hours in a transfer queue in Schipol Airport.

In fairness KLM did its best, finding us another route across the Atlantic to the aforementioned New York where we were to seek out representatives of the Dutch airline.

After a near perfect flight we checked out, easing ourselves through security before tracking down our KLM officials who were at first reluctant to give us free overnight accommodation on the basis that the weather was something that the airline had no control over.

They did, however, relent surprisingly easily, organizing a taxi for us along with vouchers for food for 24 hours and an early, but not too early flight to our North Carolina destination.

Visibly more relaxed than we had been for an hour or two we headed for the exit to find our taxi, only to find that every yellow cab in New York, along with an array of other colours had gathered at the entrance of JFK airport After a series of frantic questions to security who were all delightfully helpful we gave up on the laid on taxi and proceeded to negotiate a deal with one of the cabbies.

Well at least I did, getting a bargain - or so I thought for $40 dollars to take us to our hotel, which was near to the second of three airports in the Big Apple where we would be flying from in the morning on our last leg of the trip.

Unfortunately our vouchers only had the name of our hotel on them, and as our cabby did not know which of the three Fairfield Inns we wanted, we had a problem, which resulted in us driving around with our friendly, reassuring Puerto Rican driver.

My wife was not so easily assured, but lo and behold after driving around most of the Queens area of the city, including Flushing Meadows of Andy Murray fame we arrived at the Fairfield Inn.

After sharing hugs of relief with our new found friend who had given us life story, Twin Towers and all we made for reception to check in. Or so we thought.

To our horror we had the wrong Fairfield, though the manager was extremely helpful, ringing for a taxi to take us to the correct location.

After a few minutes a cab duly appeared, and off we hurtled into the dark night. It was by the this time 11pm, or if you like 4am back in good old Aberdeenshire, making it nearly 24 hours since leaving home.

This trip to hotel number two was less relaxed, especially as our new driver did not speak much English so was therefore unable to reassure Elizabeth that we were getting near to the hotel, if indeed we were, “Take it easy ma’am. Only $29 dollars,” was his reply.

After a mere 10 minutes, it seemed like an eternity, we arrived, collapsing in a heap at reception.

Even then the drama was not over as Elizabeth thought she had lost her bag in which we had our flight tickets and passports. Panic ensued for a few minutes until it transpired it had fallen over behind one of our flight bags. Phew.

What could go wrong now, particularly as we were now safely in our room, albeit tired and with jangling nerves which needed soothed by a welcome brandy or whatever.

A trip back to reception was greeted with a friendly manager who solemnly informed us there was in fact no bar in the hotel. No bar! It was hard to bear after an horrendous 24 hours, 4500 miles of flying and all its attendant problems.

A six hour sleep served to refresh us, enabling us to complete the journey the following morning without event. All rather boring in fact, though I think my wife was happy to do boring.

A few days of rest, a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with family and we were back to near normal. We just hope the journey home is less stressful, but then with all the experience gained on the outward leg we feel up to tackling anything. Just ask Elizabeth who in fact was a tower of strength throughout, apart from a few minutes of genuine panic.

I was of course unflappable in all the trauma of this marriage breaking/ making 33 hours. When we get home I’ll tell you which it was.

In the meantime we will enjoy the continual Carolina sunshine. It sure beats rain and wind.