h3. Cheap Phone Calls
Through fonepool.com and iCallabroad.com I’ve got a SIM card to give me an American phone number; standard rate local calls, and cheap international calls home.
You pay about £27 for $30 call credit, express delivery from the US and it means that people from home can use services like http://www.telediscount.co.uk/ for 0845 access. Pretty cool.
If you’re signing up quote my email address (djlowry …at… gmail —dot— com ) and I’ll get some credit for the referral.
—— edit ——
I’m actually not quite sure how good this is… Reading fine print the SIM card deal costs quite a bit more for calls than I was led to believe… Will have a further look; haven’t had any received calls thru telediscount yet ;) +1 917 915 8704
h3. Wednesday 7 June 2007
Cathy and I went for breakfast at a NY Diner, blueberry pancakes, which were nice but a bit much. Might try strawberries next time, though I think pancakes + strawberries + cream might be nicer than with the fruit actually cooked inside the dough.
After that and a fairly interesting and totally not mind-numbing indoctrination, sorry introductory talk from Jim at BUNAC HQ, HI-NY we hit the streets, taking a tube from near the hostel right down into Pennsylvania Avenue Station, (Penn Station) and dropped off our bags. We went up to the big city, held our breaths for about four hours, and got the train again at 2.40. Well, we did a few things between times most notably for me going to the Apple Store in NYC. Not quite in the position I was expecting it to be (i.e. 23 blocks and 2.3 miles further north of where… ) but it was really cool. A staff member/helper for every four or five customers and they were all chatting to people. I picked up the two things I wanted (some iKlear, and a DVi-s-video/composite convertor) and went to the checkout before I got there a guy with a remote thingie came over and asked if I was getting anything else – No, so he scanned them, swiped my Mastercard, and said “You’re done, have a nice day”… really cool.
After that we hiked back down to Penn Station for the train up north (Adirondack line, Ethan Smith 2.40PM train) and crashed out on the train for the four hour ride; elongated by the fact we were delayed for over an hour with something wrong in the engine, forcing us to have to wait on a freight train to pass by. Picked up by Megan, Rachet and Liz, went to some place for dinner and then over to camp for some quick introductions and bed.
h3. Tuesday 6 June 2007
My trip began with a flight from Belfast City to Heathrow on bmi without a single check of my identity, in the continuing climate of security fear I found that a little odd, to say the least; rest assured in London there was more than enough prodding and scanning going on. What little good perception I had regarding the quality of eating available at Heathrow was reinforced, the Italian place in the public area of Terminal 3 served spaghetti which tasted solidly reminiscent of Heinz tinned Spaghetti or at least its’ supermarket branded alternatives, and chicken which looked like fish from the outside, in texture was layered like cardboard, tasted a cut above what McNuggets used to… The presentation was the best part, it looked like it was meant to be; but next time I think I’ll just pack a sandwich.
Culinary frights aside, it wasn’t all that bad a day really. In the queue (henceforth referred to as a ‘line’ to culturally adjust myself a little) for Virgin Atlantic check-in I bumped into at least 60 other BUNAC young people and a shed (or plane) load of others dressed up in their CCUSA t-shirts all going to John F Kennedy, New York, NY that evening with me. Due to take off at 1600 BST we didn’t get onto the plane until 1800 and at that didn’t start rolling until at least 1845. Not their fault, horrible weather in New York in the morning meant the fleet was more or less grounded and so they were all behind schedule. I was sat, for the second trans-altantic year running I might add, in the very back row in the middle section of the plane. Beside me was a nice person called Kate Colman (“like the custard, but not yellow” – in response to me saying “Lowry, like the painter… LS…? Salford…?”) who drew Sharon Osbourne last week, which was nice, I’m sure.
Kudos to Mike from Fleet for surviving the dodgy italian place with me, and here’s hoping the 0530 start from NY out to camp in Maine didn’t hurt too much.
Arriving at JFK at about 930/10 pm local time, customs was slow but no problems and on arrival there was a large bunch of people with BUNAC tags huddled on the floor, joined them and waited…. for about fifteen minutes, gumbling, but it turned out that it was us had walked past the Rep and caused the hold-up! The busses drove off as soon as we got outside, leaving us on the sidewalk for about an hour before what seemed like the same busses came back around. Didn’t take long for us to get into NYC, it’s always cool to see the Empire State building again for the first time. We stayed at Hostelling International, New York (HI-NY) which was comfortable and clean, and it appears cheap, so might be going there again on the way back.
So ended Day One.