Everyone starts planning for spring break way in advance so that they all can take advantage of low fares and discounts that are on offer. I did the same a month before midterms were going to commence. The destinations that I had decided were Newark (with some remaining part of New York) and Pittsburgh. The main purpose of visiting these places was to catch up with my school friends back from India that I had not met in a couple of years.
So, as everyone else started to plan, I started looking out for low fare tickets for these destinations. Interestingly, United gave me the cheapest fares for Newark from Chicago, and Greyhound gave me the best fares for Pittsburgh from Newark. Can you feel this deadly combination sounding some not-so-right signals? Yup. This turned out to be one of the worst traveling experiences for me in many years.
After a great end of midterms party at a friend's place, I had to leave for O’Hare at the inhumane time of 2:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight. Little did I know that I would be in for a rude shocker after reaching the airport at 3 a.m. As soon as I went in and saw the departure boards for United, my 6 a.m. flight was canceled. That was the time I realized I should have at least proceeded with my web check-in procedures and flight status. But instead of reacting to the present situation, I had to get insights on what had to be done next.
The customer service counters opened at 4 a.m., and all the passengers who were on that flight jumped and asked for justifications as to why was the flight canceled and when was the next flight available. We were prompted to take a standby ticket for the 7:45 a.m. flight, and I was told that there is a possibility that there are seats available. So, hoping for the best scenario to take place, I proceeded with the security checks and started roaming the airport since I had close to 3 and a half hours at my disposal.
But there was little relief since we were told that the flight was full and were directed to another gate where the next flight at 9:07 a.m. was scheduled. Sleep deprived and with my shoulder bag, I just prayed that there would be one seat available so that I can start my journey. My friends, meanwhile, were getting restless since the plan that they had chalked out was all out of place since my flight was canceled. The wait increased more since there was no place available on 9:07 a.m. flight as well.
After a relentless struggle, I received a confirmed window seat ticket for an 11:30 a.m. flight which meant I had spent nearly eight and a half hours at O’Hare just to fly to Newark. With more time available and a different concourse to go to, I grabbed a muffin and a cookie and roamed aimlessly around the airport, and wherever I would get an empty aisle of seats was a great place to catch some sleep. Finally, at 10:45 a.m., I could see a beautiful Boeing 757 lining up at the aerobridge which was the flight for Newark.
Until now, I had never seen Chicago during mornings from an aircraft, and the beautiful scenes after takeoff felt just mesmerizing and satisfying after such a horrible ordeal. But the journey was far from over. Our aircraft faced a lot of turbulence before landing in Newark, but the pilots did an amazing job to land it despite crazy crosswinds. After landing and taxiing to the gate, we were informed that the aerobridge was facing some technical problems! The agony continued.
After going through all these traumatic situations, I finally met my friends at the arrivals. Heaving a sigh of relief, we left the place and started catching up on various things. Since the plan went for a toss, we decided to relax for a while and planned to cover just the Brooklyn bridge and some parts of Manhattan followed by visiting Washington Square Park.
While we were on the way from Rahway (half an hour from Newark) towards New York, I saw so many places that I had covered during my last visit. Then there we were, the Brooklyn Bridge, such a mesmerizing structure and one of the iconic places to visit when in New York. We visited this majestic place in the evening and were amazed to see the view it had to offer for all. But as the evening crawled in with cold winds blowing, we decided to leave and go for the next destination: Washington Square Park.
Finding a parking place in New York and Manhattan is a challenge, and we spent some time searching for one. After getting a place, we started walking towards Washington Square Park. A beautiful monument to watch and the Empire State Building in the backdrop provided a perfect spot to take some pictures. Traveling and walking a lot later, our empty stomachs started growling and it was time to catch up with some food before heading back home.
Being in the vicinity of New York University, the place had to offer a lot of restaurants and eatery places for patrons. So many were the options that we had to struggle to just choose where to eat. What I heard from various sources that New York is famous for its sliced pizzas, so we went ahead with that plan. What was noticeable that there were places that served pizzas and beer by the glass at the same place, economical for all who just wants to catch up on some drinks and a little thing to eat.
Finally, it was time to bid adieu to New York since there was another place planned for the next day. Tired and sleep-deprived, it was a day well spent after a horrendous start. I just prayed that there are no more surprises for the upcoming days, and it would be all hunky-dory all the way.