Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home again

Central Park, NYC - under a blanket of snow

Wow, what a whirlwind. Craziness!
I guess I'll start at the beginning of the trip and work my way through it.

We excitedly boarded our flight from Melbourne last week (Tuesday). We had to change planes at Sydney - its some weird quirk of United Airlines - we had to do it both outbound and inbound - and landed in Los Angeles about 14½ hours later. Crossing the international dateline meant we arrived on Tue morning, LA time. This is where the 'fun' really started!

We were supposed to board our onwards flight to New York straight away, b
ut were told that all flights into New York were cancelled due to an impending blizzard. Stranded in LA! Eeks! At this stage I wasn't in a hysterical panic, just a little confused and a little cross with plans being slightly awry. I had no idea it was going to continue in this vein for a while...
I spent the next 24 hours on the phone with United Airlines, checking in with them to see if/when we could fly on to NY. And emailing the girls at Nolcha, keeping them informed that we were stranded and not yet in New York. And trying to sort out accommodation. Our hotel in New York required 24 hours notice to cancel our room booking - and because we'd been in the air, flying across the Pacific, oblivious to impending blizzards and flight cancellations that happened across the US, and only found out we wouldn't be arriving in NY until we landed in LA, (so missed the 24 hour window), they charged us for the room anyway. Thanks very much for your understanding of extenuating circumstances, Red Roof Inn Manhattan! The televisions were full of the February Fury - states that don't normally get snow were getting dumped on, flights all up and down the east coast were cancelled, airports were closed, and yes, I was getting more and more stressed! The airlines were getting hammered - calls to check on flights included a wait of up to two hours on the line for an operator.

By the next morning I was beginning to think it was an epic disaster. Initially we were supposed to get there Tue night. This would have given me plenty of time to get my final printing done, talk to some models and a photographer, and get all the last minute things organised before Thursday's show. The airline said the best they could get me to New York was by late Thu night, or Fri morning - ie, flying me in after it was all over. Eek!
Luckily, Lynn, the creative director at Nolcha was in Chicago, and she was also stranded at this stage. She suggested to me that we try and get a flight out of LA to Chicago (about 4 hour flight), as that was one airport that wasn't closed, and it would get us much closer to New York - so if they did open the NY airports, we might be able to get there. That's exactly what ended up happening. An unexpected side-trip to Chicago, unfortunately United Airlines left most of our bags in LA including the one with all my printed marketing materials in it, another night of no sleep, trying for standby on the first flight out to NY the next morning, and eventually we were off on another flight. Landed at LaGuardia, dived into a cab, and went straight to the gallery where the showcase was being held.

Phew! I was delirious from lack of sleep, and could barely stand, but at least I made it. Mick & I unpacked all the pieces, and there I stood for the next eleven hours whilst style tours were brought past and people wandered in off the street to check it all out. I would have LOVED to have had at least a couple of models and a photographer to do their thing, but it was great to have at least made it to NY. There was a great response to the designs I had brought with me - and of course different people were drawn to very different things. The rose rings and the butterfly playing cards were definitely the big hits of the day. People loved the bangles, particularly the chilli- and the rose-embedded ones, and the hairpieces, and some people were really into the pearls. All in all, a long, exhausting, successful day :)

With Kerry Bannigan, director at Nolcha (she's wearing one of my new purple/gold meld rose rings)

Oh dear! Very tired Airdrie!

The next morning we braved the cold (snow was piled up everywhere, in fact I forgot to mention that as we flew across America it looked like the whole country was under a blanket of snow) & I walked past the Bryant Park tents! Was quite envious that I didn't have a ticket to anyone's show. We walked onwards to the Rockefeller Centre and up to the top of the GE Building (known by many people now as 30 Rock thanks to the tv show).

This is where famous picture New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam was taken, during the construction of the GE Building in the Great Depression. Photographer Charles C. Ebbets took the picture on September, 29, 1932. We went right up to Top of the Rock, as its known. They had a Swarovski & The Heart Truth's Red Dress exhibition on display for the week in the weather room (67th floor) which I really enjoyed.

Checked out the skaters in the rink downstairs, and thought I'd better take a snap of the snow still piled up on Broadway a few days after the snowstorm too :)

We walked home via Times Square, and checked out Macy's too.
I was pretty wrecked by this stage and collapsed into bed. Next morning we braved the subway, headed downtown, explored some of Greenwich Village and went to a few of their fab boutiques in that part of Manhattan. Sadly the financial crisis is still obvious, I noticed quite a few shops around the city empty, a few 'for lease' signs, but there were plenty of fabulous ones to check out too. We made it to Screaming Mimi's, and I'm sure I spotted Chloƫ Sevigny strolling along the street! We decided to walk back up to our hotel via JC Penney's. I even braved the gluten intolerant reaction and tried a slice of New York pizza - it was worth it, quite yummy (I fed Mick the crust to avoid any unecessary wheat!). Mick's quite a beer fan so we had dinner for our last night in NYC at the Heartland Brewery, in the Empire State Building.

Then next morning it was back on the plane at the crack of dawn for our flight to San Francisco. Ahhh, some sunshine at last! They were fog-bound when we landed, but it was nice to be back in a climate where it was comfortable to walk around outside. We boarded a tour bus for the afternoon, just to get our bearings, and the next day went back downtown, and on to Haight-Ashbury (loved those gorgeous Victorian houses) and Fisherman's Wharf, before heading once again for the airport and our return flight to Melbourne.

United Airlines upset me with no sound, call button or reading light working in my seat. I wasn't the only one - quite a few on our flight didn't have any buttons working. The staff did the best they could, but it was quite an error on the airline's part for a long-haul journey, when you can't read, listen to music, or watch the inflight films. I am also of the opinion that all 'bad airline food' jokes may well have originated when a comedian flew with UA.

A whirlwind tour - and despite that horrible start, a great one! If I could go back next week, I would! I think perhaps I'd like to try flying to New York minus the blizzards next time ;-)

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