Archive for June, 2011

Used: 2008

I read a lot on how expensive things are in Sydney, especially how expensive it is to eat. I don’t know if it is because I grew up in Los Angeles or came from Auckland before coming to Australia, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Also may have been what I chose to eat. I am the worst eater in that I can eat the same thing for days on end and I don’t really care. I am not a cook, so I survive on the microwave. When grocery shopping, I always took note on the sales and when they ended, so I filled up on my stock items when they were on sale. I never bought that much at one time. I only drank basic juices and tap water. The big thing was I rarely drink alcohol, so that saved a lot but when I did drink, I would drink locally, which brings the price down a bit. I loved farmers markets.

And one of my big finds, which I am surprised more people haven’t mentioned, especially for tourists staying in the CBD of the major cities, are the end of day food sales. Food courts cover downtown Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane where lots of office workers buy their lunches on a daily basis. At the end of the day, these places sell their left over food for deep deep discounts. What they were selling for $10+ at noon are now $5 or less at 5 and 6pm. Just wonder the food courts at the end of the business day and while the choices might not be as great (lots of pastas, asian food, pizza and salads), the discounts are deep. These are great for backpackers looking for cheap meals at the end of long days who don’t want to cook (perfect for singles) or even locals looking to pick up something sort of fresh (hey, it was made that day, how bad could it be?) for dinner that night. Not all eatery’s do this, but enough do to make it worth stopping by.

Moral: In Sydney, Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street was one of my favorite places as they have a huge eating hall and a good amount of cheap food as well as Centrepoint across the street. There are too many food halls in Melbourne to name. Do you have any favorite places to eat cheap like this in Australia? Not everything is Australia is outrageously expensive as people say. There are deals to be found for everything.

Used: 2007/08

After seeing Stephanie’s post on Twenty-Something Travel on pictures out her various windows while she was traveling, it reminded me of all the pictures I took out my balcony when I was living in Auckland. The way the sky changed so often, it was amazing and I took so many pictures. I lived on the 15th floor of a 18 story building, facing east (home!) into the harbour where I could watch the cruise ships come in and out (something for some reason I LOVED!) as well as Devonport on the North Shore, Rangitoto and parts of Waiheke Islands. But it was the sky change that was so dramatic over the seasons.


Love this colour of sky!

Typical day in Auckland, rain!

Low riding clouds

Harbour reflection on the building next door.

Rare sunny but typical summer day in Auckland.

One of the many many cruise ships in the harbour over the summer

But more typical for Auckland evening

Not edited at all, one of the weirdest skies I saw when I lived in Auckland!

Typical weekend day on the harbour, sail boats everywhere!

Getting ready to rain

Funny sky with rainbow!

Moral: It was this view and window that sold me on the apartment. How could you not choose to look at this every single day for 9 months?! I loved coming home every day to enjoy whatever the view had to offer that day. There was rarely any smog and all the change was always natural, which is so not what I am used to. I love experiencing small differences like this in everyday life in another country.

I loved this book!! I googled the author to see if she had written anymore books and she hasn’t, which was annoying to find out! Girl from Australia is on her “year abroad” in in the early 1990’s in Eastern Europe where she meets a Frenchmen and promptly drops everything and visits him in Paris and never leaves. I liked how dated this book was. There was hardly a mention of visa issues, which in today’s world would annoy me, but since it takes place in the 90’s, I got over it. Also, I am not usually a fan of girls dropping their lives to live with strange dudes but this book was more about her then their relationship, so I again got over it. Oddly, this book made me miss Australia more then have a new appreciation for Paris. She would describe the difference between Aus and France and I would find myself missing Australia more then ever. Funny, for a book that is supposed to be about Paris. She talks a lot about the differences and since Australia is such an American country (in my book) I found myself agreeing with a lot of what she was talking about. Highly recommend for those who love Australia (and France, I guess) and living and experiencing a new culture.

Used: 2007/2008

If you hadn’t noticed, I read. A lot. I stopped buying books for the most part back in 2004, because it was getting expensive. I still buy the occasional one when I travel as souvenirs but other then Harry Potter and the previous Kristin Gore book, I haven’t bought a book since 2007. When I arrived in New Zealand, I brought 5 books with me and finished reading them within the first 2 weeks which I swapped for other books at the local used book store and various backpackers I snuck into. While I was waiting for jobs to come through when I was in Auckland, I spent lots of time reading books, sitting in the Central Library. In fact, when the temp agency called me to tell me I got my favorite job ever, I was in the library and ran out immediatly to take the call. When I figured out I was going to live in Auckland long term, I immediatly looked into getting a library card. I liked the quality of the books the libary held and I was anxious to not have to be in the building to read them. It looks like things have changed a lot since I lived there but here is what I had to do:

Since I wasn’t in school and I didn’t have a permenent address, I had to get a temporary subscription to check out books. I had to get a note from my boarding house saying that I would live there for at least 4 weeks, my passport with my visa and I had to pay a NZ$70 bond, $40 of which I would get back on proof of my receipt when I left the country and I was limited to 5 books at a time. I felt that was a decent ask. The Auckland library charged for EVERYTHING. Want to put something on reserve? Cost. Overdue? Cost. The reserve thing was probably the worst thing, if I lived there forever. I didn’t mind it too much as I could only check out 5 things at once, and rarely made it past the recently returned shelves in the front of the library when searching for new things to check out. Since I read so much, I had a weird system going on. I would actually only check out 3 books at a time and when I would get down to my last book, drop off two and pick up two. They also had automatic check out, which was awesome, so I never even had to talk to anyone. A few times, I wanted to check out more then 5 books, so I would go to the counter and the librarian would override the system so I could check out more. It was New Zealand after all, no one cared. I loved the selection of books that the library held. It held American titles that I had been wanting to read, British books that were titled different in the US and Australia and New Zealand titles that I had never heard of and you can’t even buy in the US! The variety was awesome.

Love it! Being a total nerd, I kept track of every book I read, title and date read, so I could do the math at the end of my year and see how much I got “charged” per book. When my visa was extended and I went to the library to get my account extended, I think they were supposed to charge me another $30 for another year, but they didn’t and just extended my cancel date. After living in Auckland for 16 months, I read over 160 books, which is about 3 books a week and ends up being about 5cents a book. I feel like I got my moneys worth. When I brought my receipt back for my refund, the girl at the counter didn’t know what to do, since she had only done it once before. No one saves the receipt and they won’t give you your money back without one. But cheapskate me, I held on to that sucker and kept it in my important documents bag.

Moral: I quite enjoyed my time with the Auckland library. Since I read so much, I didn’t care too much about what I read. I mean, I had some choice in the matter, but I couldn’t request anything without getting charged, so I was pretty much stuck reading whatever they had. At least it was a huge selection. I loved browsing the recently returned section and picking out what to read for the week.

Getting ready to read! Desk at my first place in Auckland, New Zealand

Used: 2011

Something random I have always wanted to do is go to San Francisco for lunch. I remember when I was a kid and someone I went to synagoge with mentioned that their dad went to San Francisco for lunch and that sounded so cool to me, what a jet setter! I have since looked into it, but it never really made sense when you think about it, especially because my sister currently lives there, so why not stay longer, which sort of defeats the purpose of the whole thing.

The moment after the U2 concert at the Rose Bowl back in 2009, tickets went on sale for shows the following year and they included a San Francisco area date this time, in Oakland! (Plus the LA dates are really being held in Anaheim, ew.) It’s so much easier to get good tickets for face value for SF dates and I immediately grabbed two cheap (face value!) field tickets for SF, which is next to impossible for any LA dates. Early in 2010, there was a rumor going around that the U2 shows were going to be postponed. I bought a decent airplane ticket from Burbank, my local airport to Oakland, on Southwest knowing I could cancel it at anytime. A bit before the shows, they were officially postponed, rescheduled date to come soon. I canceled my plane ticket and held on to my concert tickets. When they shows were finally rescheduled for a year later for June 7th, I was so annoyed the show was rescheduled for a Tuesday! Originally, the show was going to be on a Wednesday, so I was going to do a quick turn around anyway, but my fingers were crossed for any days but Tuesday or Wednesday because then I could make a long weekend out of it. But since it was rebooked for a Tuesday, I was going to reschedule my original plans. Take a midday flight from Burbank to Oakland, meet sister in Oakland, go to show, stay at hotel near the stadium and fly home first thing the next morning and arrive only slightly late back at work. For the first time in a long time, I wouldn’t even go into the city on this trip! And that is pretty much what happened:

Originally, I was going to leave work around 2:30 for a 3:45 flight out of Burbank. Since I work nearby, I wasn’t too worried, though I did have to park the car and take a shuttle and who knows what the parking situation would be like as BUR is a real commuter airport and I know lots of business people use it. As usual, after getting freaked out by my co-workers that I had to get there an hour early and who knows how security would be, I ended up leaving work at 1pm because I also had to make a pit stop and pick up some books at the local library. After that, parking the car in a half empty parking lot, waiting 5 minutes for the shuttle, a quick 5 minute ride to the terminal, walking slowly down the terminal, reading about all the info about the history of Burbank (if you are a flight buff, I highly reccomend a stop in Burbank, it’s got some really good history! You don’t even need to be on a flight as all their history stuff in near the check in desks), no waiting for security AND getting randomly checked for a bag check (seriously, BEST TRIP EVER to get my stuff checked, as I was only going for the night and therefore didn’t have stuff to check and actually had a good conversation with the TSA agent about my trip), the next time I checked my watch, only 45 minutes had passed. Seriously, BEST! AIRPORT! EVER! We used to use Burbank all the time when I was a kid for short-hual flights, but in the last 10 years, the taxes have jumped and it’s easily $10/each way more then LAX. Plus, you can’t fly BUR-SFO on Southwest anymore, so that totally sucks. But between the ease of both BUR and OAK (my sister was laughing on how lame the place was, in a good way), if you can use them, I highly reccomend it. Plus, Burbank is super classic. You walk on the runway and up the stairs on the jet-way, Israel-style, so you board and deplane from both the front and back doors, which is something to take into consideration. Once everyone is on the plane, take off is immediate as unlike LAX, there is no back up of planes, because there are none! Seriously, new best friend alert!

How you get on and off the plane in Burbank

Don't see this too much anymore. I highly recommend SWA if you have bags to check.

My sister actually picked me up at the airport and we went down south to Texas Roadhouse in Union City because she has been talking about it forever, but since it is in East Bay and we rarely go over on that side, I had never been. We grabbed an early dinner, stopped off at the 4th Wal-Mart I had ever been to in my life to get some beer and then headed back to Oakland. Traffic was horrible as always and it took nearly an hour to get off the freeway.

We found the hotel (Quality Inn-Oakland Airport: very nice!) quickly and when I went to check in, asked about parking because originally my sister was just going to go home after the show as in the past when she has been to basketball games (held in an ajcent indoor arena, it hasn’t taken her very long to leave) but even she gasped at the traffic, thankful for a place to crash after the show and the hotel said they provided free parking so we didn’t have to pay for it at the arena but the receptionist said that the lot was full because of the concert, that people fill the rooms with locals and bring more cars then usual (like we were doing) and since we got there so late, the lot was full. Thankfully, there was loads of street parking that had minor parking restrictions that didn’t effect us, so we parked the car and loaded everything up to our top floor room. We pounded two beers quickly and my sister filled a cup to walk to the stadium with. I was in shock by this, I am so not used to drinking on the street as it is kind of illegal in California. The only time I have legally drank on the street is in Las Vegas. But since the cops who were out had their hands full with directing traffic and the people that were out with actual bottles were not causing trouble, no one even questioned it. I am so not used to this! As always with U2 fans, especially in SF, they are so nice! We ended up chatting and walking with a huge group of people and I took a peak in a women’s purse that was FULL of beer that I knew they wouldn’t finish them all by the time we got to the stadium. Drinking on the street and not causing trouble is one thing, but we all knew that there was no way she was getting the beer into the stadium. I jokingly asked for one and she popped one open for my sister and I to share! AWESOME!!!

Check out the date on the bottom left corner: that is the date I bought this ticket! Note original date of show as well, nearly a year wait!

We finally got into the stadium, Lenny Kravitz was still playing (love him in concert!) and we walked around trying to find a good place to stand. We ended up on the side of the stage and while we didn’t get as close as we have been in the past, it was a good angle. We chatted with people around us, how long we have held on to the tickets for the show (my tickets were dated as printed on 3-Nov-2009, originally for the show dated 16-June-2010 and the show was finally taking place on 7-June-2011) and kicking tall people who tried to push their way forward back when the show finally started. SO AWESOME!!!! I love U2 in concert. The show was so much better then the Rose Bowl, they played tons of their old stuff, tons of their hits and hardly anything from their new cd, which no one liked. They could just do a classics and singles tour and it would be the best show ever. I highly reccomend checking them out at least once in your life. Great show, great songs, one of my favorite things EVER. The show ended close to midnight and we just had a 20 minute walk back to the hotel. No traffic!

Since my sister didn’t have to be at work until later, I said I would take the hotel shuttle to the airport, so I got up at 6am for the hotel breakfast (hot too!) and hopped the shuttle back to OAK. OAK is a little bigger then BUR and I have been stuck in the worst security lines there, and since it is such a commuter airport and I was taking a morning flight (not the first, or even second, I think to BUR alone) I had no idea on security, so I got there a little earlier then normal. Once again, NO LINES! But at least I wasn’t waiting for like 2 hours like I was in BUR the day before, only about an hour this time. The plane going back to BUR was packed but it was 75% business, so it was a really quiet ride, no kids screaming and I slept the entire time. Quick transfer back to my car, a stop at my apartment to clean up, dress up and have a coffee and I still made it back to my office before my boss! Only by like 2 minutes, but I said I would be in 10-10:30ish and I was in by 10am because everything was just so fast. He was like, you must be tired today, what time did you get up today? And when I thought about it, I was like, “Actually, probably the same as you, 6am!” I just happen to have an extra long distance commute that morning. How crazy is that?! I was gone and back in less then 16 hours which is the closest I’ll ever get to “Lunch in San Francisco” (and it’s probably a good thing).

Moral: I love combining travel and music. Except when it comes to sitting in my car, in traffic, which is why I am skipping the “technically” LA shows which are being held in Orange County (ew). Yes, it cost more then if I had just driven to OC, but since everything was spread out over like nearly 2 years, I hardly noticed the cost. The amount of time it took me to do the whole airport thing and fly to OAK, it would take pretty much the same time (or longer) to drive from where I live to Anaheim. I’d rather fly then drive for that amount of time any day. I also had no one to go to the LA shows with this time and the type of ticket I would have gotten would have been shit compared to SF. Plus it makes things more interesting! And I got to see my sister! I see zero downsides to what I did last week! Good times!

*Sorry for my lack of pictures in this post! There wouldn’t be any from the concert anyway, as I never shoot during a show as I like to concentrate on the show rather then care about pictures that will turn out like shit anyway. When I turned my camera on in the BUR airport, I saw that my battery was pretty much dead! That’s what happens when you go on a quick turn around trip. You are hardly prepare for anything! I forgot my hair brush as well.*

So, apparently, I read this book twice! Once back in March of 2007 and then again in January of 2011. Whoops! Below are both my reviews:

March, 2007: GETTING STONED is about a dude (aren’t they always?) and his now-wife who move from DC, away from successful jobs that they don’t enjoy to islands in the S. Pacific and how they get a long with life there. Alot about the culture in this book, as the culture and people are very different then the US and how they don’t encounter a lot of people from the US, because they want to “keep it real”.

This book was okay also. Just more of the same though. People move away from successful jobs that they don’t really enjoy to experience something they know they are. Sound like anyone familiar?

January, 2011: From the same author of Sex Lives of Cannibals. Man, what happened in this book and not the previous one? Guy and Gal where based in the Pacific, but on a larger island this time. Guy still had “big plans” to write a book, which he never did. Other then that, how did he fill his time? Island hopping? Chatting about the differences in their time in the South Pacific compared to last time? Chatting about his much their life had changed since the last time? For the life of me, can’t remember any of it. I finally got into his way of writing, which is a little different and emo-like compared to other travel writers I have read. So, it was meh. Guy is/was/still kind of a douche, but I got over it and accepted it.

Only read if you are interested in South Pacific culutres, no matter which ones (Australia included). You never know who or what comment is going to pop up. Also, a bit dated, but in this book, I don’t really mind. I like reading “history” sometimes.

Used: 2007/2008

Before I left for New Zealand, I never cared about my hair. My hair is a thick wavey mess that I grew up with people that had no idea what to do with it. I went to Supercuts everytime it annoyed me and I needed it removed. There, they would just shorten it for a reasonable price and I would repeat the process every few months. I just didn’t care. After living in Auckland for a few months, it was time to get my mess straightened out. My boss at worked used to live nearby where I currently lived in Kingsland and suggested a salon that was around the corener. She used to go there, but her stylist had left a while back and now went somewhere new. Since I had no idea what to expect, I just walked in one Saturday and made an appointment for later that day with Mandi. I had never been to a stylist like this before! It was interesting to “talk” about my hair and what I did with it and what I expected from it, I had never done anything like this before. I loved my cut! A quick wash and good conversation while cutting was a great way to spend an afternoon. The price wasn’t too bad either, around NZ$70, plus it’s not expected to tip, which was so so so weird, especially for a service like this. But when in Rome. That was in July or something of my first year in New Zealand.

My short, layered hair after a visit to the salon!

After I got my second work assignment later that year, I waited until my boss was back in town and called for another hair appointment. I called too last minute and I wasn’t living in the area anymore so I had to wait an extra week for a slot to meet with Mandi at the end of October. I got the same cut, which is back to being typical me, always getting the same thing, time after time. But the thing that helped the most, after all these years was getting in thinned out. Ohmigod, what a life saver! Anyway, I thought ahead this time and dorkily made an appointment for 4 months from then for another appointment. And then after the next appointment, I was starting to think about moving on, so I made my last appointment for the day after my last day of work at the end of June. Since I met with Mandi 4 times over the span of 16 months and never tipped her and I loved my cut each and everytime, at the end of my last appointment, I tipped her a few $20’s, for all the times I didn’t tip but wanted. Hell, I am American, we tip for good service! And I had great service, I felt she totally deserved it. Even if it’s not expected, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

One of the best front face pictures EVER of me, with my new salon hair!!

Getting my hair cut was one of my favorite everyday things to do in New Zealand. I loved getting my shagged thinned and cut and I love feeling clean after!

When I found out when my work’s holiday party was in December and knew I would be back in Auckland for that, the first call I made was not to book my flight or place to crash, but to book a hair appointment. Unfortunatly, Mandi was out on maternity leave, but someone else did my hair and I loved it just the same!

I wasn’t in Australia very long and never had the work I had in New Zealand and therefore didn’t have the money either, but I was there nearly 6 months, which is a long time to go without a cut of any kind, especially for hair like mine in the hot weather of Australia. After I finished working in Sydney and started traveling down the east coast, I stayed in my own room that had an ensuite and chopped off my ponytail. I wonder what the workers who cleaned it up the next day thought happened with all that hair in the trash. It didn’t do exactly as I expected, but since my hair is so thick, I cleaned it up as best I could and the only person could tell what had happened was me. A few days after I cut my hair, I told someone what I had done and they said they could hardly tell. And in looking back at pictures, it kind of is hard to tell! I didn’t want to cut my own hair while I was still working because I knew I couldn’t get it neat enough for a job, which is another reason why I wanted to get my hair fixed on my return to New Zealand, to clean up the mess I made.

2 days after I cut my own hair, you can't even tell!

Can't even tell. Plus there are prettier things to look at, check out the view behind me!

Since I have been back home, I have been to various salons every few months, never finding one I like nearly as much as Mancini in Auckland!

Moral: Some of my favorite things when I was living abroad was doing everyday life things. Hair cuts, grocery shopping and laundry were things I looked forward to, hair cuts especially. And because of what I experienced in New Zealand, I now go to proper stylist here at home! Another thing I brought “home” with me. Love it.

Used: 2011

It’s weird what you do when you travel and what you would never do at home. I love water activies and embraced them in every town I travel to, but when looking for the same stuff to do in my own backyard, I get lazy.

Here comes Groupon[link]! In the past few weeks, lots of “activities” have shown up in my email, including a rafting trip (going next month), a moasic art class nearby (currently working on, will finish soon) and last weekend I went on a kayaking trip in Oxnard, in nearby Ventura county. In fact, if it wasn’t for Groupon I wouldn’t even know these places existed!

I called Channel Island Kayaks and made my reservation two weeks in advance and was processed in a quick and friendly manor. The Groupon was for the History and Wildlife Tour which the guy in the office promised I’d love. Kayaking, seeing the bay and learning something, sounds good to me!

It took slightly more then an hour to drive up on an early overcast, Saturday morning. I checked in and signed a waver and the intorduction started promptly at 10am. Me and 4 other couples who all went in tandum kayaks, but they luckily had singles, which was nice. Usually being by myself, I am “stuck” being with the guide and while it isn’t too bad, usually they want to “drive” the kayak which I like to do and have control over it. So having singles, that was nice! GJ was the guide and we had an aprentice guide with us, Jacquline. I liked having two guides, one to do more of the yaking and another to bring up the rear. We got into the plastic boats and paddled off. The company has a little half real/half fake example of some of the wildlife that lived and still lives in the area which was a nice introduction to what we would see.

We paddled into the harbor and the tide was pretty strong. It took a lot of work to paddle past all the boats in the harbor to get to a smaller canal were we looked at birds and lots of other sea animals such as tons of star fish and sea slugs. Paddling around the canals was very easy and fun before we went back out to the harbor and watch more birds, hear about the Channel Islands and paddle back but the winds had picked up a bit and essentially float back to the office as loads of sea lions swam around us, trying to fight with the birds for the fish.

We then had the option to paddle around the harbor for another hour and another couple on the tour asked for a recommendation on a path. We hadn’t paddled for the full two hours yet and the “travel me” likes to take full advantage of everything offered, so off I went, following the couple who asked, while everyone else went back.

Ohmigod, I WANTED TO DIE!!! I was paddling against the current for a while, which tired me out and then after making a wrong turn, the canal back to the office, while quiet and free of wind, just went on forever. At one point, I just wanted to tie up my boat and walk back, but I knew it would take longer for that then to just paddle so I continued on. I finally made it back, slightly over an hour after I left and I just collapsed on the pier. I was wet and tired and my hands were all blistered up. While I am always happy with myself when I finish something like this, I don’t know if I would do the whole thing again. The tour was really awesome and informative and fun and unfortunatly, maybe if I was with someone the extra time would have been better, but being by myself, paddling around kind of sucked. I am proud of myself for finishing it, but I wouldn’t do the extra part again.

Moral: I loved the person I was when I traveled and was overseas and while I brought some of that back, I need to get out there and do more things in Los Angeles. Thanks to services like Groupon, local tours that I would never even know about are brought to my attention and for a good price too. When I see these pop up I think, would the vacation me do this? If the answer is yes, then I buy.

*** Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my trip as my one tech fear is dropping my camera and having it break so I didn’t bring it with me***

Apparently I went on a binge a few weeks back and finally got around to requesting every Danny Wallace book that I haven’t read yet. LAPL has them all except one that I can’t find on any California library list!! Debating buying it (in case you care, it’s the book he wrote with Dave Gorman, called “Are you Dave Gorman?”) and I see in stores alll the time, but when is the last time I actually bought a book? 2007? This pisses me off a lot. Anyway, this book! A bit old, a bit out of date. Danny’s uncle or something dies and one thing he really wanted to do in life but never did was start a collective at his farm in Switzerland. So in memory of it, Danny starts a collective. And of course, in true book fashion gets out of control with no point. This was probably my least favorite book I have read from Danny. There really was no point at all and I felt like all his followers, like when is there going to be a pay-off besides “collecting people ” from all over the world? I just couldn’t relate. Besides the fact that his girlfriend in the book I know he is no longer with and really, I didn’t see the point of her anyway, as she was just totally annoying. He was like hiding his project from her! If he felt like he had to do that, what is the point of being with someone? I don’t get it. Anyway, a whatever read. There are better books from the author that I would recommend over this title.

Danny’s books always have an element of travel in them and he worked the topic of this book when the internet was just getting popular, so there were a lot of people outside the UK that were discovering his “project” and he would travel to meet them.

Used: 2002

I have flown my share of shady airlines. But probably the one I get the most weird looks about is Kuwait Airways. When I spent the semester at UMass, my sister was spending the semester in Florence, Italy and I wanted to take a week off and visit her. You know, since I was already half way there. The summer before the semester began, I planned the whole week, which included a dirt cheap flight from JFK to London. Seriously, the whole thing, with taxes came to $300 in mid October, which was easily $100 less then anything else. And it was on Kuwait Airways. When I told people I was flying them, they were like, do you think it’s going to be okay. I would respond with, when is the last time you heard of this airline having any issues? And everyone would come back with a “true”.

So I checked in and don’t remember having any issues. Nearly everyone checking in was wearing some sort of garb, weather it be middle eastern or indian and the only other white person as far as I could see what an older dude standing behind me in line. He started chatting with me and he said he had taken them over to the US (his accent ID him as British) and said they were fine. No alcholole on board, which is a non-issue for me. I was issued a window seat with no problems. I remember the terminal being super empty. I remember when they called certain row numbers to board, everyone stampeded the gate, which in one of my pet peves. I hate when people can’t follow rules like that. I board last, to avoid the crowd. I have the whole 3 seats in my aisle to myself. Someone sits on the asile seat but before we take off, they move, so I end up with all seats to myself. YES! In looking throughout the cabin, I see the middle seats are jammed and full, bu the edge seats are more empty. So weird, but good for me! For the first time ever, I sleep the entire flight. Helps that it’s a short flight too, you leave at 10pm and you arrive in London at 10am, which is perfect! I am used to leaving mid afternoon and arriving mid day and getting hardly any sleep. I don’t remember the food and I remember the entertainment, while everyone having their own screens, not being the best. I remember one channel on the tv having the option to see which way Mecca was, so you knew which way to pray, which is not normally an option on any flight I have ever been on before. So that was different. No issues on arrival and no issues at immigration or customs because of the flight. All in all, a totally regular, normal flight.

The way back was just as fine. Since there is only one flight a day, there is really no fear you are going to miss it if you get to the airport with enough time. I was in line behind a white family who was returning to the US and flew them for the same reason I did, dirt cheap! When I boarded, I had my whole row to myself again (window for me, of course) but once we took up, some guy sat on the aisle of my row, which I totally did not care about. I would prefer to have the middle empty anyway, as I like to pull that tray down for drinks and stuff as not to have to deal with mine. The center of the plane was again packed. And compared to what I am used to, another quick flight. You leave at 3pm local London time and are back in New York City just in time for dinner!

Moral: For that price, totally worth it. Not the best I have ever taken, but by far not the worst. The service was fine. And you can’t put a price on paying for a coach ticket and getting a whole row to yourself, especially on an overnight flight. We all hope for it, but it never happens. And I got to my destinations in one piece, which is the only thing you can really hope for when boarding a plane. Don’t knock certain airlines just because of their name and home country. I know I always think twice when I have to do this now.