“You missed your flight” still echoes in my ears, even several years after, and believe me, my ears still hurt when I think of that moment. Milan airport, my friend and I. And panic. Missed flight? Let’s start from scratch!
From Croatia to Budapest by car and then our big journey will start. Outbound flight from Budapest to Milan and New York. Board with luggage in Budapest and take it off again in New York, simple as that! Well, it wasn’t. Our flight from Budapest was delayed and when we finally arrived in Milan, we could see our plane in the sky, waving at us. Panic. Nobody at check-in. Paaanic! Our luggage! Oh, panic, panic, panic! After running all over the airport searching for someone who could help us and who spoke English, we finally found a woman from another air company who felt sorry for us and was willing to help. She gave us tickets for another flight and tracked our luggages which were at the lost and found section. After a few hours of dealing with tickets and luggage problems and after we swore we wouldn’t fly from Budapest ever again, we were on our plane. New York, we are coming! After nine hours of watching movies, playing games and, in my case, sleeping, we arrived in New York. New continent, new world to meet. And the first person we met was a Croatian taxi driver! The world is small, indeed!
Why did we choose New York as our destination? Our friends were there and it was a great opportunity to visit the Big Apple. Seven of us in a small apartment for two weeks was like we were on a school trip, but it was so fun and the best part of all? The apartment was two minutes away, by foot, from Times Square!
Everyday sightseeing was the main task. I was so lucky my companion is as much of a sightseeing fanatic as I am, so we spent all day wandering around the town. Did I say wandered? Well, not exactly. We had a plan, an exact plan of what to visit. One day we fell asleep and didn’t get up until 9 am, causing us to make a big fuss as we lost the whole day. Needless to say we caught up on everything.
We bought City passes and visited almost all the famous attractions and museums. The Empire State Building, Central Park, Top of the rocks, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Columbia University, Lincoln Centre, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of National History, Guggenheim and really an astonishing Metropolitan museum…there are so many great places to visit! My favourites were Bryant park, the view from the 86th floor on Empire State Building, New York Highline, ferry trip to Ellis and Liberty Island and definitely the bike ride to Central Park when the rain started. We all got wet, but it didn’t stop us. And guess who we ran into at bike rental shop? Croatians, of course, who gave us rain coats. The Statue of liberty was quite a surprise! On the television this Madam looked a bit different, but in reality I couldn’t stop asking myself where that elegant lady had gone. We went to the Broadway musical Billy Elliot, which blew our minds, with the audience crying almost all the time, we watched a basketball game at Madison Square Gardens and attended some dance classes at the Broadway dance centre.
There was one thing I couldn’t get used to; the food. The taste was so weird and artificial to me and I got a headache whenever it was lunch time. I disliked the famous hot dogs and even the chocolate, as I am a true lover, but really enjoyed donuts and cupcakes.
The nightlife was quite fun, and yes, it is exactly like in the movies; the long queues and a bodyguard at the entrance, but we had a friend inside, so no waiting in line for us. We felt like superstars. If you need to buy shoes at 11 pm, we discovered that this is no problem. We also went to Café Wha and listened to live bands, which left us speechless.
I was on another continent, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It was like I was at home and I felt surprisingly safe there. Maybe the reason was that we were constantly bumping into Croatian people.
Two weeks passed so quickly and we were at Frankfurt airport already, waiting for our flight back to Budapest. There was no airport problem this time, except they changed gates at the last minute, so a stampede started to the right one.
A few days later, after I recovered from a jet lag, I started to miss New York. Even the hot dogs.