This article is coming to you from 35,000 feet above the Atlantic on a perfectly comfortable flight during what is set to be a 29 hour Christmas Day.
Why do we put up with the effort and discomfort of global travel?
As if the journey wasn’t bad enough, being December 25th the tube and Heathrow Express, not to mention buses were all unavailable.
This journey therefore started four hours before flight time with a cab ride that took over twice its anticipated duration thanks to a traffic jam.
A couple of hours at Heathrow led to a flight that is due to take 7 hours 11 minutes. This will be followed by a joust with the immigration officers (the record so far, is three additional hours waiting to be interrogated sitting with a bunch of Latinos who may or may not have been legal).
By the end of the trip into the city to my cramped but friendly rented apartment, it will have taken around 14 tiring hours door-to-door.
Two years ago, that would have seemed like luxury after seasonal snow left the plane sitting on the JFK runway for seven tedious hours while a gate was found and then unfrozen by three men with nothing more than plastic shovels.
OK, you get some food and drink and the chance to watch a selection of movies on a screen that is too small, with a picture that leaves much to be desired. The headphones are trying my ears too as I test out inflight music. Gotye is the best so far and might just be worth an investment on landing.
Soon, it will probably be back to the iPod and Kindle (perhaps Bruce Springsteen and Anton Bruckner on one and Michael Frayn followed by something American on the other).
The aftermath of transatlantic travel is nothing to write home about either (though I realise that is exactly what I am doing).
Waking at 4 am for the first few days of a trip is going to mean tiredness for days, as will a New Year’s Eve that will feel as if it has gone on until 8 the following morning, which in body time, it will have.
Only at the end of this 12 day jaunt will NY time finally feel real but that is when you want to be on UK time for the return journey and more of the same.
Is this hassle really worth it for a holiday? It doesn’t feel like it when you are still 5 hours 39 minutes from landing and up to 8 from the apartment.
However, shopping in Macy’s tomorrow or visiting MOMA will help to assuage the jetlag and a theatrical programme that averages around a show a day will be fun.
Meeting friends and even seeing accountants to chat about prospective projects also helps. A mixed blessing is eating ridiculous portions and visibly growing fatter but that is part of the pleasure, though the post-holiday abstinence is another matter.
What is the solution to the traveller’s blues? Why can’t they move New York much nearer to London, preferably about half an hour away? That would be a big help. If that is off the agenda, how about teaching the French to speak English and put on entertainments in our language (without changing their culinary creativity).
If this sounds xenophobic, it isn’t intended to be, merely a reflection on the effort and expense that we all undergo for the sake of leisure. Australia would be far worse in travelling terms.
Perhaps other people have a travelling chromosome that is missing from my genes? If so, presumably there will be a weighty stream of responses from seasoned travellers who love the experience and will happily fly to the States for a couple of days of shopping therapy.
Next week, the upside article about New York and its enticements.
p.s. The coup de grace was a 3 hour queue at immigration.