Thursday, May 1, 2008


I'm just back from the Romantic Times Convention, because I stopped to have a few days in New York on the way home.
I'm so glad I did! I went up the Empire State Building, visited the Met, the Frick and the Museum of Sex, and managed to get a little shopping done as well!
What a fabulous city, and so easy to get around! The criss-cross pattern of streets explained to me why most US citizens think of "blocks" and not "streets." In London, when you walk up a street you never know where you're going to end up if you don't look at the street map, but in New York, it's up or down or sideways. I still managed to get lost once, but that was in Central Park, so it doesn't count.
Travelling abroad is now fairly straightforward. I tend to check-in online or use one of those automatic check-in machines at the airport, and I usually buy e-tickets, because they're cheaper and so much more convenient.
One tip here, don't just buy the insurance offered by your travel company. Shop around. I saved myself a fair bit of money doing that, £30 to be precise. Make sure it's a good policy, but don't take the first insurance offered. But do always buy it. If you get home safe and sound just be thankful you didn't need to use it! If you tumble and break your leg, you won't want to worry about how you're going to pay the medical bills, or get home.
The main challenge is local transport, learning how the buses and trains work, for instance, in Italy you need to get your ticket stamped on the machine before you get on the train, otherwise your ticket is invalid (learned that one the hard way!) Find out what a metro-ticket, or a week's transport ticket will cost you in the place you want to visit. New York buses were so easy, compared to some esoteric systems I've come across, and the drivers actually answer your questions!
I bought traveller's checks and cash to take with me, because my credit card company wanted to stiff me with added expenses, and I found that quite adequate, but I would either like the cc companies to sort their fees out, or for the money issues to be easier. Still, I can't say I have any complaints this time, except that American coins and notes are a bit confusing. Too similar to each other!

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