To make the whole thing possible I needed to organize a lot of things on my side as well. That led to a situation which was a bit scary: I purchased already the flight ticket, got the visa, set up a USD bank account with a bank card and a PayPal account. I just forgot to plan and organize the whole route properly. :shock:
Even the last day there was not sure if somebody can meet and greet me at JFK airport in NYC. Moreover I could contact lthrnckpa (aka Iron Mike, my first host) only a few hours before my plane took off! My underpants was full with chocolate... :???:
The aircraft took off from Budapest at 11:55. The duration to NY was about 9 hours although the pilot twisted the "throttle":
My seat neighbor was a kind woman from Kentucky. Surprisingly I felt thirsty immediately. She lives in a farm and she teaches something that I didn't understand 3 times a week. Fortunately I didn't have to speak to her too much 'cause she had a book about some vegetables like "DIY in the garden and that will make you healthy and free" or similar. I rather like meat.
The plain landed at JFK on time and all the passengers applauded. The first knockout I saw was that the signs are written in English and
For me this would be understandable in Arizona, New Mexico or Texas, but in New York? :shock:
The second shock hit at the baggage claim. There were nice large displays above the conveyors - high tech. But I could find on none of them our flight. So finally when I picked up my luggage from the belt it was like it came from San Diego...
Already my first contact with an American was a pleasure. I asked an officer (who looked like an officer but now I'm not sure he really was 'cause later realized that almost everybody wear the same pants, shirts and cards hanging on their neck), about how can I get (more on this word later
) to the car rentals. He was very kind, spoke clear, slow and articulated. I traveled 2 stations on the Air Train. Not the Route 66 but as a start it was not so bad.
Before I left Hungary I checked the car rental prices on the Internet and found Hertz (!) the cheapest. The guy at their counter said they are out of cars. Neither luxury nor economy nor in between. :shock: Is that possible in the USA?
National had the closest office next, so I went in and get a Nissan Sentra 1.8.
I spent already 1 hour after the landing so I was late. I tried to wake up my GPS and it failed! Geez, I thought, what will I do without it? I had no map, I didn't know the area, the car is unknown, nobody speaks Hungarian, I didn't even know where the Hell I am. How will I get out from there and find the way to Mike? I tried to call him. Damn, my cell phone said wrong number! Oh no, I wished I have never came here!
Ok, after 2 cigarettes in a row I cooled down. I turned off and on the GPS again and voilá it worked! Yippie! I set it up in the car and jumped in The Traffic. About 20 minutes later Mike called me asking where I am. Well I think after our short conversation he thought that he made a big mistake when invited me... As far as I remember I couldn't tell him any clear sentence. But I said I have my GPS so maybe that made him a bit less nervous.
The next two hours was one of my worst things in my life. From 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM by car through the downtown of New York, finding the right way with a GPS that sometimes (in every 5 minutes) went crazy due to the mixed signals receiving between those high buildings. Did I mention that the software was absolutely new to me?
I drove through Lincoln Tunnel and arrived to a lot of gates (I don't know how they called). Some of them had pink EZ-Pass the rest Cash Only sign.
I wanted to pay with credit card, so I entered in one of the EZ-Pass gates. Oops there was no hole for any card! The gate didn't lift up, and the cars started to form a nice long row behind me... I was swearing, and then came a policeman. Oh no, he will kill me surely! But he was very kind (the 2nd positive surprise) and opened manually the gate and asked me to park over. Then I payed with cash directly to him and he explained to me the way to PA: I-80.
I was late and noticed that almost nobody follows the speed limits (even 18 wheelers not) so I decided to speed up a bit to make up leeway. I was driving with 80-90 indicated. It was quite scary on a road with a lot of potholes like a battlefield after a bomber attack. I stopped for a short break at Stroudsburg to get some refreshment coffee and cigarettes.
Finally at 11:30 PM the GPS successfully guided me right to Mike's house. I was so happy and excited that we were chatting till 1 AM, then went to bed.