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Friday 24th November

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Saturday 25th November

Friday 24th November


Up at 3.45a.m.!!    I finished off bits and pieces of packing, feeling very sad to be leaving Tracy's place as this was the beginning of saying goodbye once again.   The three of us drove out to Norfolk Airport and boarded a Skysaver plane for a 6.05a.m. flight to La Guardia airport, New York.  We were about to take off when they decided to de-ice the wings, but they had trouble with the truck so we eventually took off at 6.55 a.m.   There was the most beautiful sunrise over Chesapeake Bay and all of its islands.  We saw our first little dose of air rage while we were waiting.   A woman verbally attacked the steward over some trivial little thing.   Tracy said this is fairly common in America.    We were just being served refreshments, which is unusual on short flights in the U.S.A., when "holy s..t" was uttered by yours truly as we hit amazing turbulence.  Luckily the stewardess nearest us was holding on to the trolley as she went up in the air.  The male Steward fell to the floor and nearly knocked himself out and the panic on the faces of all the crew was enough to give me the shakes.   "That's it", I thought.  "Great holiday, but we're going to die."   My God it was rough!   David and I both thought it was awful but Tracy thought it was fun!!  She did admit however, that it was one of the roughest rides she'd had for a long time.  The pilot took us a bit lower to try to find smoother air and thank goodness, it worked.     The rest of the trip was smooth and we flew in to La Guardia in brilliant sunshine - what a view of this big city.  At the airport we saw the amazing case of air rage.   A woman was yelling and shouting abuse because they wanted to search her bag.  They had to call the police.   I'd never heard of air rage before.  

We managed to get all our luggage in a taxi and in to Manhattan we went.    We were taken to the UN Plaza Hotel right opposite the UN Building and up ESB day 2.jpg (63059 bytes) 32 floors!   It was such a great room with the most wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline in glorious sunshine.  We were lucky enough to get our room straight away, instead of the afternoon as we had been told.   Just before we left to 'attack' New York we saw on the N.B.C. Today show that Cathy Freeman was to be interviewed on the show that morning.     We then set out through the streets, gazing up at the buildings of course.  On the way we saw Saks, Fifth Avenue with Christmas decorations.   When we got to our destination, Rockefeller Centre, we watched Today through the glass windows.   After a while our Cathy came on and we could see her being interviewed on TV.  The cameras came on the crowd and David said he saw me as he was standing back further.  I was pretty chuffed to see Cathy live on telly in New York.   We then crossed over to the Rockefeller Plaza to watch the skaters, but had to wait a long time while a zamboni scrape the ice.  There was a group of older skaters who took to the ice and boy did they know what they were doing.  Lois Thorpe's twin was amongst them.   

We were frozen by this time so we went down to the subway where we had coffee and delicious garlic bread 'thingies' and then set out to go on the Staten Island ferry.   After changing trains a few times, we arrived at Battery Park and wandered along to the ferry terminal.  This ferry gives you a wonderful FREE look at the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.    The queues for the Statue of Liberty ferry were humungous as it was Thanksgiving holiday.  We'd been out there before, so decided to skip it this time.  We rode out on the ferry to Staten Island and thought we could go straight back but that ferry went out of service, so we had to wait for another one.  While we waited we bought some big pretzels which were awful and some donuts which weren't much better. David ate most of them though!     When we docked we caught the subway to the Empire State Building but the queues were terrible - a two hour wait - so we skipped that too - been there, done that.   On the way there we saw Macy's, surrounded by so many people as the Thanksgiving sales were on.  We caught the subway to see the huge toy shop FAO Schwarz but the queues (to spend money!) were too much there as well.  Then Tracy and I had delicious pizza for lunch, but David wasn't hungry - I wonder why.   ESB sunset 3.jpg (24269 bytes)After the pizzas we walked over to Central Park and waited for a hansom cab ride through the park.   David didn't want to go but enjoyed it when Tracy paid, once again and off we went.  The driver was great - so was the horse.  It was so peaceful riding through this lovely park in the middle of this huge city. The carriages are all decorated and the horses just plod there way on, whether their drivers are on the carriage or not.   Our driver got off at one stage to take our photos and on went the horse.  I gave him a pat when we got off - the horse of course.    I then Mid night view 2.jpg (66674 bytes) needed a New York hot dog, so of course...      It was only a little one!    We got on the subway once again, to Central Station this time.  This is magnificent, so old fashioned looking, then we walked back to our hotel where we had a snooze.   If the view form our room was good in the daylight, it was magic with the lights on.  It couldn't have been more beautiful.  

We were getting ready to go out for dinner when Tracy told us about the surprise she had for us.   She had tickets for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular - they were early Christmas presents for the two of us.    I cried.     What a great way to finish our trip!    We changed and took the train to Times Square.   This place is mind blowing - so many lights - garish, but wonderful.  We walked down the street amazed at the lights and signs.   In a side street Tracy took us to an Irish pub, Langans.   She knew of this from an earlier visit.  The atmosphere was great and the meal delicious.   Then it was time for the Radio City Music Hall!!    We arrived to find that we had to queue, even though we had tickets.    It was a huge queue, but once we started moving, we were soon inside.    The place is wonderful.    It's been refurbished in an art deco, 20's style and had so much atmosphere about it.   The show was unbelievable, featuring the famous Rockettes; Father Christmas; a skating rink, complete with skaters, that rose up out of the floor; a nativity scene with real live animals; a wonderful orchestra that also kept rising up and down out of the floor.    It was quite overwhelming and something that could only be seen in America!    Tracy thought if was the Superbowl of marching girls, band leaders, dancing girls and all other flashy, high kicking things known to man.  She was pretty amused by it all.    David and I both enjoyed it - it kept us both awake!!  In fact, it was a once in a lifetime experience and, once again, thanks to Tracy.   One thing that I couldn't get over, was that everyone took photos during the show - flash bulbs going off everywhere!     After the show we walked to see people skating in Rockefeller Plaza once again, then walked back to our hotel via 5th Avenue.   Everything looked so pretty with the Christmas lights.    David 'mumbled and grumbled' about having to walk so far but Tracy had offered to take a cab.   It was cold, but the walk warmed us up and allowed us to 'soak up' a bit more of New York and its atmosphere.   When we got to our room Tracy and I stuck our heads out of the window- up 36 floors! - "Oh what a feeling!"  The Empire State Building is lit up especially for Christmas and it looked wonderful.  What a view - we couldn't have had better!

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Saturday 25th November

We woke up to realise that the fairy tale was almost over.   Dull grey skies were over the city in complete contrast to the day before when we flew in.   We'd booked a station sedan for all our luggage, but they must have heard about our luggage and sent a van!   This cost more of course so we did wonder if they had done in deliberately, but we didn't argue.  Why bother? We drove out to the airport to say goodbye to New York, goodbye to a dream holiday, goodbye to the USA, and more importantly goodbye to Tracy.   Tracy was wonderful to us and I can't thank her enough.  She made the trip so much more fantastic.    It was awfully hard, as usual, to say goodbye to our girl.  We had four wonderful weeks with her, but I think I heard big sigh of relief when she walked off to a few hours of 'peace' in New York.    Her life would be back to normal at last - well, as normal as that ever is!!     We flew out of New York at midday on Saturday (me with tears of course) and it was an uneventful, long, long flight to Tokyo.  We had individual TV screens so we could watch what we wanted to.   I chose Meryl Streep in "Music of the Heart", an entertaining little film about a violin teacher in a tough school in Harlem, so quite topical.   David watched "The Gladiator" and "X Men."   I managed to doze a bit but David didn't get much sleep.  We crossed the International Date Line into Sunday.    My legs cramped up dreadfully, so much so that when we finally arrived in Tokyo, I could hardly walk.   Also I felt dreadful - faint, tight chest - panic, panic.   David was great.  He had to do all the carrying etc.  It felt just as though my blood pressure had suddenly dropped.   David went and got me a bit bottle of water and I sat and sipped this until I felt better.   We both sat and dozed for the four hours or so we were there.   Then we took off for Sydney at 9.10 p.m. Sunday.  Luckily, the plane was not very full so we both had three seats each and could sprawl out to have a sleep.    We arrived in Sydney on Monday morning, both tired, confused and a bit flat.   Collected our luggage, quickly through customs and when we had booked our luggage through to Adelaide, we caught the bus to the domestic terminal where we boarded the plane for home.   As we took off we had a good view of Sydney.  The countryside looked so dry as we flew o!
 ver and when we landed in Adelaide we were in for a rude shock.   It was 39 degrees celsius!!  Boy, after what we had been in, it was awful.   Raylene and Frank were there to meet us and drove us home, where Nick had been frantically cleaning up in readiness for our return.   It felt such a let down to be home to such dry, hot conditions, but nevertheless it was good to be back in Kangy and good to see Nick again.

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Our heartfelt thanks go to Tracy for her kindness and generosity.   Without this we could not have had anywhere near as good a trip.   We had a wonderful time and it has left us with such happy memories through our photos and this diary.

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