The journey is not my favourite part of travelling but as budget air travel seems to involve doing as many stops as possible in far flung weird destinations I have learnt to embrace it. When booking our flights to New York I had mistakenly assumed they would be from Heathrow and therefore that we could easily get the red eye flight out of Edinburgh on the morning of departure to get us there in plenty of time. WRONG! Our flight was actually departing from Gatwick and the early flight would provide us with an extremely tight turnaround. I kicked myself for not checking the departure airport prior to clicking the confirm button and begrudgingly booked an evening flight to Gatwick with BA (a tenner more is totally worth avoiding Easyjet) and a night in the adjoining Hilton. At least we would be well rested for our day of travel.
The flight to Gatwick was of course delayed by an hour and the hotel I had booked albeit o so convenient for our flight the next day was in the opposite terminal. We dragged our cases for what felt like an age around I have to say a fairly badly signposted airport and arrived in our luxurious surroundings for the night. Hah! I think not. There was a queue of about 50 people waiting to be checked in at 10 minutes to midnight and we were informed by an unamused queue participant that they had been waiting for 15 minutes and not even moved. My patience was starting to wane and I hadn’t even left the UK yet.
My mum, who I am travelling with for this trip, managed to attract a friendly security guard who helped us leave the huge queue of Easyjet passengers (their flight had been cancelled, yet more reason for their avoidabaility) and took us to a far shorter queue where with the help of the friendly receptionist we were checked in with a complimentary wifi password. Things were definitely looking up.
Being a total budget fiend I have to admit I had got a pretty good deal on the Hilton and the room was great for what we paid. My only complaint would have to be that in a twin room you should probably have the ability to be able to turn an individual light off without them all going off, I wasn’t quite ready to doze when my mum was but apparently, in a Hilton everyone goes to sleep at the same time in each room. Also, why is there always a lack of plugs in these hotels? Prior to flying somewhere exotic or alternatively on your return charging electricals is kind of important. Anyway, I digress.
After a night of not-so-great sleep we nipped across to check in with Air Europa. As a budget airline with one flight departing the 3 check-in desks took a while to get through everyone. However, the check-in staff were very friendly and we were soon through the super quick security (Edinburgh, take note. Gatwick has security down!), and having a nice breakfast at Pret. I had one of their sushi salmon salads which was pretty fabulous and my mum had a muffin and a coffee. In no time at all we were boarding our flight to Madrid
Sleeping on flights is my forte and after the previous night’s sleep I took the opportunity to catch 40 winks and managed to completely miss the fact we were delayed on the runway for 40 minutes. After my refreshing nap I started my new book for the trip – New York by Edward Rutherfurd. I picked it up in a charity shop after the title caught my eye. From what I have gathered so far it seems to be a fictional novel set through different historical periods in New York. I will update you as I go.
In no time at all we were descending into Madrid. The lovely views unfortunately, were not enough to take our minds off the pilot’s shaky, stomach in mouth descent. It wasn’t even windy.
What can I say about Madrid Airport? Well, firstly we had to wait in a crazy long queue to go through security of a greatly heightened procedure to that of Gatwick. There was also no toilets beside this gigantic queue which made no sense to me at all. Once through and into the terminal I was expecting some lovely tapas bars and somewhere nice to pass the time before our connection. There were 4 restaurants; a Japanese sushi place, a Grill, Burger King or Spain’s take on school dinners. As we had to walk about three miles to find these 4 grand establishments we opted for the one nearest our gate and nearest us at the point of realisation that this was indeed ‘it’; the school dinners option called ‘Eat and Fly’. At least they had a Spanish option unlike the other places of a lukewarm seafood paella. It was quite bland but certainly far from the worst meal I have ever eaten cough ‘Ethiopia’.
After the necessity of food my mum was able to have a look round Duty Free (If you are looking to shop and not eat this is definitely a good airport for you) while I decided now would be a good time to begin the blog.
There was a massive queue forming to enter the gate, Madrid really like queueing, so we waited for it to go down a bit and then headed through to board. DELAYED was flashing like a beacon from the gate, you could only see this once you were inside and so we sat for an hour and a half watching them trying to fix the technical problem with the plane. Maybe Easyjet isn’t the worst after all. The relief of finally getting on the final plane dulled down my outrage at not having in-seat entertainment. It was all going to be fine though, as for the tiny price of 3Euro we could purchase headphones to watch the movie they were going to put on the fold down screens. Any movie is better than none long haul.
Alas, it was not to be. After specifically asking whether the movie would have English and Spanish options, and being quite rudely told I might like to practice my Spanish but that there would indeed be an English audio, this proved to be distinctly lacking when the movie finally came on in hour 4 of 7 and a half. I was seriously annoyed and so managed to get a refund on the headphones, a small silver lining if ever there was one.
With an hour to go I started to watch the sun set out of the window and then seen the bright lights of the Big City start to sparkle in the distance. The descent in to JFK was miles better than that of Madrid and we were both completely absorbed in the skyline and picking out the famous landmarks. I was expecting a pretty thorough and not so friendly welcome from security staff but we zipped through pretty quickly and the officers we dealt with were extremely pleasant, even cracking jokes. What a great welcome to New York!!
We had looked into taking public transport but after all of our flights we were pretty tired and so tried out our first yellow cab experience. The hotel was exactly as expected; budget clean and roomy. Ah sleep…