The Calm Before The Storm

Rami Baron Has the ice rink all to himself in New York
Due to the hurricane Sandy, I had the Rockefeller ice rink all to myself

So how does one survive a hurricane in the big apple?

Luck.

Anyone who tells you anything else is just trying to be clever. But let me rewind a few weeks and share with you some interesting travel tips.

When you have a huge travel itinerary like I just did, lesson number one, look very carefully at the flight times… 4:30 is AM. Although in Oz we are not used to leaving at these hours, everywhere else in the world is – so if it doesn’t say 16:30, it’s AM.

2nd, When you miss the flight and need to ring up the airlines to shift you onto the next earliest flight, plead illness and go for the sympathy angle of how you were sick and slept in, never admit stupidity.

If you happen to be heading to the USA and last minute you either don’t have a US visa or it’s expired, with a Aussie passport you can jump online and get one approved in 15min for $14, do not get suckered into that official looking site which charges you $60 for the same thing. Only go to the official ESTA site. When you get approval just snap a screen shot so it’s on your phone as an image, don’t waste your time printing it out.

Subway in New York

Always give yourself that extra hour when going to the airport. Whether it’s traffic jams, waiting 45 min just to drop off your suitcase, or most notoriously the security check in: easily 40 min. These guys do not care one iota that you are about to miss your plane, that is not their responsibility, and you know what? They are right – it’s yours so don’t redirect the blame.

Physically walk to your gate so you are very clear where it is. The distance and time getting there can be crazy, in Frankfurt Airport I sprinted to a plane and it took 1 hour from one terminal to another with two separate security checkpoints… this redefines the term feeling a bit clammy.

When they say one carry-on in the US, you can’t have a computer and a plastic bag in the other hand – forget it, one bag.

The best limo service in NY has to be 777. They are very economical and incredibly accommodating if you need to chop and change. And boy, we did we about 9 changes with the hurricane, our plans got trashed every hour.

There is this chain of stores called Duanne Reid on every corner in NY, a cross between a chemist and a general store, only incredibly stocked with a insane variety of food and everything else. So you can stack up on yellow food in your room – oh, what is yellow food? You know, corn chips, crips, Twisties, Cheezles-like stuff… and in the US they got enough choices to sink a battle ship, all yellow.Load Skype on your phone and then use a service they have called “Skype To Go”. You charge it to your credit card in $16 increments. This service allows you to call mobiles and landlines at a really economical rate so if you are in a free WiFi zone or in your room, you can call anyone at home for $2 for a 10 min chat.

A Street in New York

Now here is the Jackpot travel tool, when in need of a loo look for the 5 star hotels. I mean, why go to a revolting hole in the wall… added to that in some restaurants they look at you when you ask where the restroom is like you stole something from them if you haven’t actually sat down for a meal there first.

New York SandwichWhen ordering a sandwich in New York they aim to give you the max, which is nice. But if you are ordering a bagel with cream cheese you need to tell them not too thick otherwise you will get a massive blob 3cm thick, so you end up having to pull it all apart and scrape off chunks. It’s messy and a pain in the ass, spoils a great sandwich.

For great brand clothes shopping at a discounted price in NY, Century 2 is superb. The original store near the world trade centre is where most people go, which is too far to get to and is just insanely busy and difficult to navigate (unless you want to spend 4 hours and wait in 20 deep queues). What most don’t know is that there is a very civilised, nicely laid out option on 60th just up from Columbus circle which is a pleasure and more than enough selection…

NY's finest, SAKS Fifth Avenue, boarded up the front of their store
SAKS Fifth Avenue all boarded up

My Favourite tends to be Macy’s, only because they literally have every brand under one roof, so I don’t have to traipse around New York. Also when you arrive, go to the mezzanine level and get the tourist 10% discount card, it’s a nice little saver.

Well, all I can tell you is when the Hurricane was coming one of NY’s finest, SAKS Fifth Avenue, boarded up the front of their store (see pic), but on the upside guess who went to Rockefeller centre and had the Ice rink to themselves… your truly.

It was a crazy experience being there during the Hurricane, but hey we survived and NY is still an awesome place.


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