Day 4: Making my way to Cambridge
Word of the wise: When catching a flight in a foreign city that requires you to use public transit always give yourself 3-4 hours prep time to get there.
I know that these photos technically belong in the previous post but I forgot to stick em in there. While I just waiting for Roland to get home from work I was privy to an amazing sunset and due to it being my last Manhattan sunset for a while I had to snap a few shots
My flight left at 8am and I had to make my way to Newark from the lower east side. So like many night on my travels I just didn’t sleep and when 3:30 rolled around I got all of my stuff ready to go, said a quiet goodbye to a sleeping Roland and headed out to the subway station just down the street. Well that was the intention at least.. Unfortunately I walked right past the subway and kept on going, making it 10 blocks or so past before i realized what had happened. Luckily there were some cops one a street corner, which is a very common sight in this extremely safe city, and they directed me to a subway station just up the road from there. I walked another block, saw another cop and double checked with her just to be on the safe side and check with her. She directed me again a little more clearliy this time and it wasn’t long before I was walking down the dark stairs into a New York City subway station at 4:30 in the morning. Unfortunately this subway station wasn’t on the line that I needed to be on, but after a quick chat with a maintenance worker we worked out how I could get onto the line I needed to be on. A quick train up a station and then transfer, no problemo. Well except the fact that the trains run fairly sparadic at this time of the day, as my pictures will attest the station was completely deserted with the exception of myself and a few of the rats that I saw scurrying around. A little eerie to be honest more cool than anything else to be in this ancient subway station all to myself on a cold Manhattan morning.
Eventually a few other dudes showed up to wait as well so I felt a bit relieved that there were other people here who knew that a train would come eventually. It was a good 30 minute wait for that train and then a quick run to the next station where I waited another 30 minute or so for the train that would eventually take me to Penn station where I could catch the PATH train out to New Jersey. Bought my ticket and chilled out for another 20-30 minutes and caught the 6am train our to Newark Airport. As I noticed the time I was sure as hell glad that I had left Rolands at 3:30 or so and hadn’t let a certain percussionist and her charms keep me on skype for much longer That PATH train is such a great easy way out of the city, a quick 45 minutes in a nearly empty train got me into Newark and made it to my gate with time to spare. I noticed that the security to get out of the USA is sure as hell a lot less intense than that to get into it. Security was a relative breeze here, where it took 45 minutes to process 6 people coming into the country we go through 60 people in 20 or so. Not much time waiting around the airport as I got on my plane and headed towards London.
Another word of the wise: If you are a silly vegan and taking a 6 hour flight make sure to tell the airlines ahead of time. The flight was nice altough surviving for 6 hours on nothing for a brownie and a cookie was another matter all together.
Besides being hungry, the flight to London was fairly uneventful and I managed to sleep most of way this time which is my prefered way to travel. Fall asleep on one Continent, wake up 6 hours later on another. I arrived in Heathrow around 8pm GMT+1 and made my way to the Bus terminal to catch a Bus that would take me into Cambridge. I remember checking prices online and seeing that a one way fare into Cambridge was 17 quid so I took out 20 pounds from an ATM and went to purchase a ticket. The cashier told me that it was 33 pounds not 17 and that there were no cheaper trips. I suppose I could have been slightly perturbed that my $34.00 bus ride was now $66.00, but I just took it in stride and went back to the ATM to get out some more cash. I came down and this time there as helpful employee of National Express directing me over to a self-serve computer terminal where I could choose my ticket and print it off myself.. Funny that they have the self-serve terminals but it needs a lady there to help people use it Either way she set me up and when I explained to her that it was strange that their website said that the ticket was 17 quid and the cheapest they could find me at the till was a 30 pound ticket she informed me that it was the direct connection that was expensive but I could take a bus with 3-4 stops that was half the price. The funny thing that the cashier lady just decided not to take into account was that the direct connecting bus didn’t leave for another hour and the one that had 4 stops and was half the price left in 10 minutes and was only 40 minutes longer. So for half the price I was getting into Cambridge 10 minutes earlier. Nice one lady! So grateful and relieved I bought my ticket for 17 quid and mosied on over to the boarding area to get all sorted out for my 4 hour bus ride to see Fabian. The bus left from the Heathrow station and then took me to the Victoria square bus terminal in London where i had to wait 30 minutes or so for the connecting bus into Cambridge. Luckily the bus terminal in London has free wifi so I was able to get online and do some work while I waited. It was in this bus termianl that I learned that pay-per-use toilets are in effect in some areas of london and that social propoganda has worked its way into my consciousness. Here’s what happened: I was sitting down doing my thing when an african man in his mid 30′s sits down next to me. He has a laptop as well and is surfing around but after a few minutes he just gets up and heads to another part of the terminal, assumingly to get a better wifi signal as it was weak in that section. So he gets up and leaves but leaves his backpack behind. The first thing my mind thinks is ‘jesus, there could be a bomb in there. I became honestly nervous that this man had just gotten up and left his backpack sitting on the floor next to me. Of course I remindd myself of the media machine that has been playing in my head for years but I still couldn’t shake the nervous feeling I had. Of course the man came back, sat down and reclaimed his back but I had to take a step back and note my reaction to this otherwhise harlmaless situaiton. After a little while longer at the bus depot my bus finally arrived and I boarded it. I was the only person on board so I got the whole thing to myself for the first half of the journey. It was a 2-3 hour ride to Cambridge, through which i slept for the most part.
It was a damp night when I arrived in Cambridge, the fog had rolled in thick prior to my arrival and it made the surroundings seem that much more picturesque. I was able to flag down a cab fairly quickly and told him where I needed to go. Unfortunately he said that he knew where it was but in practice the truth was much different and we proceeded to mosey on to the opposite end of town before he finally admitted that he didn’t know where it was and got out a little cab drivers cheat sheet to find how to get to my destination. 10 minutes later or so we arrived and Mr. Pianzolo was thoughtful enough to be waiting outside in the cold for me just so that I would be able to find the place. Lucky for me as it would have been a bit tricky to figure out which flat was his on my own. I gave him a big hug, which he was completely unprepared for and then went inside. The flat was small, in the english style, but fairly new and well done on the inside. Fabian gave me the condensed tour and then showed me the little bed he setup for me in his room. I had to work in 3 hours so I just decied to setup camp downstairs on the couch and get cracking while the rest of the house slept. And so concused my first little bit in Cambridge England!