End of Day 1

Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
Trip End Aug 13, 2008

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, August 8, 2008

Well New York was fun! My plane landed 20 minutes early which was perfect. Because I didn't have to claim any luggage I was off the plane and out the door in less then 15 minutes. My mother was born in New York in the Bronx and I often wondered what my life would have been like had her parents not moved when she was young. This wondering was the motivation to take local public transport to get to the city. I walked out the entrance and across the street to catch the M60 city bus which took me through Brooklyn and Harlem and into the city where I changed at Jefferson and 125th Street to the subway and took the green line 5 train straight to Grand Central. Traffic was light and the whole process took about 45 minutes and only cost $2.00 (Don't forget to ask the driver for a transfer ticket from bus to subway) Along the way I enjoyed watching the people from all walks of life as well as the places most of them lived. The small shops and restaurants, little children following their mothers about on their errands, neighbors talking, this was the New York I would have known.
Grand Central is simply that, just grand! Marble and chandeliers, wide staircases and high ceilings! People from every conceivable walk of life transferring through on their way to all parts of the city, streaming from beneath the beautiful main area where a labyrinth of tunnels and stairways lead to the various train lines. Since I didn't have much time in New York I also didn't have time to linger. I toured the Grand Hyatt New York hotel and let me tell you, I don't think there is a much better location to be had in the City if you want to be in the middle of everything! The hotel it's self is spacious and beautiful with marble, glass, woods and rich carpets. A concierge, tour desk and long line of both self check-in kiosks and smiling receptions are all their to serve you. The rooms are large by New York standards and well appointed with Portico bath products, (soon to be) flat screen TV's, work stations, soft beds with luxurious linens and windows that actually open! I dined at the Manhattan Sky restaurant overlooking 42nd street. Their 2.2 Express lunch is one of the best concepts ever! Four personal sized courses all served on one plate. It was lovely to be able to have a salad, appetizer, main course and dessert without being stuffed at the end. Full but not stuffed! I had lunch with my friend Tina, who lives in New York and afterwards showed me around a bit. (Thank you Tina!) I did find my hair spray with Tina's help who pointed out a drug store which was just round the corner from the hotel (And it didn't cost me a small fortune!) so I was very happy about that. When the time came for me to go Tina suggested we ask the hotel bell man for a taxi that would know the way to Brooklyn. He did one better, he arranged a private car that cost just a few dollars more than a taxi would have so I arrived in style!
Once to the port it was a short wait for security and then the biggest perk of being pregnant was showered down on me. As I stood there facing a line of hundreds of people waiting to check in my heart sank. By this time the rest of the day had started to catch up with me and I was feeling very tired. The thought of standing for an hour in that line did not sound good at all! Thankfully, courtesy and caring are still around. I walked up to the lady who was directing people to the various lines and asked her which one was moving faster and that I would have to stand in for less time. She took one look at me and directed me to the left....all the way left. I followed her directions all the way to the priority check in line where another friendly lady waived me through. Within 10 minutes I was on my way up the gang plank. Once onboard I was greeted warmly and directed to the elevators to find my room. Half way to the elevator a white gloved attendant came up and took my carry-on luggage and guided me to my room. Once again saving me from carrying a bag that started out in the morning weighing 35lbs and now weighed at least 75. I love traveling pregnant!
Once I arrived to my stateroom I unpacked half of my clothes to discover that a lotion cap had stuck through the plastic bag it was in and cracked spilling over half my clothes (but thankfully none of the gowns!). Great, now I knew that a trip to the launderette was in my near future. I brought it all to the sink and rinsed things out and left them until I could do laundry. One silk dress found it's way to the dry cleaner ($10.00 for next day service). By this time (3:30pm) I was hungry, so grabbing my life jacket headed up to brave the Kings Court for a piece of cake to carry me through until dinner. What a mess of confusion that is! I walked out on deck for a few minutes and to take pictures. It is a great view of Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty from the ship when in port! I also called home and talked to James and Arlana one last time. So hard to leave them! Once I was finished I reported to my muster station D for the muster drill.

We didn't actually end up sailing away until nearly 6pm (an hour late) but I didn't miss it. I stood on a small deck just forward of the funnel which offered a tremendous view of both the Manhatten Skyline and forward to the Varrazano Bridge. I met a lovely British couple crossing for the first time. Stuart and Elaine from Sussex were wonderful sailaway companions. As we pulled away from the dock Mary sounded her great horns and it was so loud it woke the baby who responded with a few summersaults and swift kicks! As I looked aft  the Lady Liberty took her position as gateway to New York and although I was going in the opposite direction the picture was the same (save for the newer buildings!) as it would have been for my great-great-grandparents coming over from the Netherlands. It was very moving as I thought about what the sight of this great Lady had meant for so many people. After we squeezed under the Bridge (a really optical allusion that one!) I headed back to the cabin to finish unpacking and rest for awhile before getting ready for dinner. I am at the late seating and was joined by a British family of 3 and a member of the RAF. It was a pleasant but quiet dinner and the food tasted marvelous! After a stroll around deck 2 I retired for the evening but not before putting out my card for room service!
The ship is massive and beautiful and I can't wait to explore more tomorrow! There will be lots to do as I have already looked at the Daily Program and am double booked on a few things! My first appointment will be the hosted ship tour and then an interview with the Hotel Director Robert Howie. Stay tuned!
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