Trip Start Nov 17, 2007
Trip End Feb 28, 2008

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Flag of United States  , New York
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Albany is not the first place on most people's list if they ever venture outside New York City. Aside from being the state's Capital, there isn't that much happening here that I can see - it looks as though could be any middle-American town in the USA with its rows and rows of 2-storey weather-board houses and acres of run-down motorway - an endemic problem throughout a country that loves its car but not spending money on the roads on which it drives. On my way to get here, a guy in a bar at Manhattan's Penn Station I got talking to said he was glad to escape and resents coming even back to visit his family, he hates it that much. Jen, the reason I find myself here, tries to tell me otherwise - "It's the fastest growing city in the USA"  she says, and sounds a little unconvincing in doing so.

Regardless, it's the company you're with, not the place you're at that for me makes a great place to visit. I spend a couple of days with Jen and her friends hanging out at the diners and bars eating, drinking, catching up on the last couple of years since I last saw her in London and making jokes at each other's cultural expense. This is largely limited to me taking the mickey out of Americans and all of us harassing Australians, as New Zealand has yet to invent a catch-phrase in the USA on the scale of "throw another shrimp on the barbie".

I have a musical catastrophe equivalent to the the Spice Girls reforming, barely 2 days out from London my ipod decides to quit working. We head to the local Apple store and it's replaced, but I lose 60 Gigiabytes worth of music and I fear being soundless for the next three months. Jen's boyfriend Louie comes to my rescue and uploads his collection onto it as I leave, for which I am eternally grateful although most of it I've never heard before; Assembly of Dust, Phish and String Cheese Incident likely to become my favourite bands over the coming weeks.

After Albany, it's a train back to NYC and on to Auckland, New Zealand. The flight there is uneventful save for a breathtaking sunrise just before landing with the golden-red glow of the early sun dazzlingly reflected off the scattered cloud below, and the morning light painting the New Zealand farmland the deepest green you can imagine. I'd forgotten how beautiful this country is, and recognising the sounds of 'Walcum to nu Zalund!" from the duty-free cashier, it's good to be home.
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