Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New York Prelude

For years I kept a fortune cookie fortune that said "If God had intended for man to fly, it would be easier to get to the airport".

Well, for me at least, getting to MidContinent International (or Kansas City International KCI) is easy. Hop in the Queen Mary, up I35 to 169, merge into I29, all pretty seamless and then to the parking lot at KCI. Hop on a bus and right to the terminal, boarding pass in hand (preprinted at home) and off I head to New York City.

Due to my conditioning to international travel and long lines associated with it, I was way too early for my 8:30 flight. So I watched the travelers. What people wear to fly these days is amazing. Short shorts, torn T-shirts, T-shirts with vulgar and ugly graphics, flip flops, one fellow even was wearing pants looking every bit like pajama bottoms. I think I get better service, and no hassle in the security lines as I am always neatly dressed, slacks, shirt, jacket... all pressed and clean. Real shoes too.

I am far from a frequent flyer, last time was March of 2008. However, I know how to do it. I do not wear jewelry, I put my wallet, watch and all the metal I can in my bag. I remove my belt or wear one with little metal. I have my ID, I don't try to carry on 2 tons of liquid or 50 bottles of lotion. Follow directions, and it is usually 5 minutes from ticket to gate. Being early helps too.

New York is a bit of a different animal. La Guardia is crowded, not really huge, just overgrown. Getting to NYC, or central Manhattan actually, from La Guardia is not all that easy, compared to many other airports especially in Europe. How I (and others) would long for a direct connection via subway or train to central Manhattan. As it is you have to take a bus to the closest subway stop in Queens, or a bus into Manhattan then a subway. Looks simple, but can be daunting to the uninitiated. Nothing worse than finding out the bus or subway you got on board is going the opposite direction you want.

I was going to take the bus, but decided that I was not going to risk a slip up (things had been going too smooth) or take the time. Both bus and subway can be very slow, and being a Fri afternoon, traffic had to be a zoo. So I opted for the ubiquitous taxi.

One could be forgiven to think it is a law in New York that all Lincoln Town Cars have to be black and every other make of auto yellow. A few stray, usually expensive, brands of other colors are thrown in like confetti. Getting a taxi at La Guardia is easy, stand in line at the taxi line and one is assigned for you. Off you go...meter ticking away. In town, there are taxis all over the place, just stand out a bit into the street, raise your hand and eventually, usually pretty quickly one will come by. My taxi in was pretty fast and took me on a fairly direct route. I hated to part with the almost $40, that could have bought me a nice I Love NY T-shirt or two (just kidding) but it beat being stranded in Queens. The one back was even quicker, taking me through an early morning jaunt through central Queens. I was grateful for the quick and cheaper ride, all of $22 with tip.

I enjoyed acting like a rich person for a couple of days. Strolling down 5th Avenue, Park Avenue and going in and out of the Trump Parc like I owned it. I didn't buy much, just some dinner out and some snacks and things to furnish the fridge.

The main thing was the 3 concerts at Carnegie Hall. Mahler 8th with Boulez, Das Lied von der Erde and Adagio to the uncompleted 10th and the 9th with Barenboim. That was a treat for this midwest boy. And worth all the taxi rides in the world.

So stay tuned, maybe later today or perhaps tomorrow for the reviews of the concerts.

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