If you want to hear about New York, you’ll have to ask me in person.
Today was the day of poutine. For those of you who don’t know, poutine is a Quebec dish consisting of fries, cheese curds and gravy, all melted together. We had lunch at La Banquise, a 24 hour restaurant with endless varieties of the dish. I gorged on poutine with bacon. We then waddled downtown to buy a few more winter clothes in the boxing day sales. After that, we made our way back to the restaurant district for Au Pied de Cochin, where Tiffany had been last year for her birthday dinner. She was determined to go back for their poutine foie gras. It was definitely worth while. Having met Lucy at the restaurant, she took us through the city to a cheap pub where we sat and chatted some more over cheap cider. After a few drinks, Tiffany and I said our goodbyes and made our way to the bus terminal at 10, only to find that all buses (and trains and flights) from Montreal to New York had been cancelled due to a heavy snow storm moving over Canada. Hopefully the buses will begin running again tomorrow, but for now we are again stuck waiting overnight for a transit to New York for the third time in five days.
Christmas Day. Tiffany and I slept in before heading to Schwartz’s, a Hebrew delicatessen. Being one of the few restaurants open on Christmas day, there was a queue to get in and the place was packed. The uniquely French-Canadian-Jewish pulled meat sandwich was well worth the wait in the cold, though. We spent the afternoon in the cinema watching the new Tarantino film, ‘Django Unchained’. We got lost on the way home while talking about how much we both loved the film, before ending the night with a Mario Kart tournament. Nothing says Christmas like Nintendo 64.
We arrived in Montreal after 7 hours on a Greyhound bus. It took us roughly three and a half days to get here from Tel Aviv. Having not slept in a bed since Jerusalem (due to the nature of my nights in Tel Aviv, I spent both nights there on one of the couches), Tiffany and I decided to spend the morning sleeping. A bed has now become a luxury. When we woke up, mid afternoon, we realised that it was Christmas Eve, and our only two days in Montreal now would be public holidays. We braved the cold anyway and lurched around the restaurant district to find somewhere for dinner. As it turned out, we were only able to find places to get drinks, so we sat and chatted over some pints of cider instead. Upon returning to the hostel, we were met by the news that there was a hostel Christmas dinner, and everyone was chipping in their own dish to be shared with the other guests. Being late to the party, the most impressive thing that Tiffany and I could contribute was Kraft Dinner (Canadian Easy Mac), but we were lucky enough to share all the other delicious dishes that had been made by other guests. We ended Christmas Eve at my friend Lucy’s house with her and Tim, another friend from Melbourne. I hadn’t seen her since July, before she moved here on exchange, so we spent the night chatting until 2am over wine and mulled cider.
Finally, after over two days in transit, we arrived in New York. Not to our surprise, our luggage had not been so lucky. We launched an enquiry with the ‘centralized baggage department’ and found that currently no information is showing as to the whereabouts of our belongings. We were told that we will most likely get our luggage back, but perhaps not for days or weeks. With a few hours to spare in New York before our Greyhound to Montreal, Tiffany and I rushed around the Forever 21 store in Times Square in search of warm clothes, socks and underwear, and stopped by Walgreens for some emergency toiletries. We then waited for hours at the Port Authority bus terminal for the final leg of our journey.
It only gets worse. We arrived in Moscow at 10:30 for our transfer to JFK. Unfortunately, the airline that Aerosvit had chosen to palm us off onto took a long time to honour our tickets. A queue of people waited to be transferred onto the replacement flight while they delayed the plane for our tickets to be processed. One by one the queue got smaller until Tiffany and I reached the front. He went to enter our details and a message came up on his screen’ “the delay time for this flight has expired”. We were the only two not to make it onto the replacement flight. Instead, we had to wait in Moscow airport for twenty-four hours until their next flight to New York. Thankfully they put us in the business class lounge and gave us vouchers for free meals at one of the restaurants.
The day of overwhelming inconvenience. Tiffany and I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport four hours before our flight, yet we barely made it to our flight on time. The security at this airport required three different baggage checks for your check-in luggage alone, including one station that required you to empty your entire bag while they check each item for explosive material. We eventually made it to our flight, which was to take us to New York via Kiev. Once we arrived in Kiev, we were greeted with this friendly message:
“I’m sorry, but your flight to New York has been cancelled.”
After an hour of waiting, Tiff and I were eventually informed that we would be given a replacement flight via Moscow. At the time, it was 2pm. Our flight to Moscow is at 6am. At the moment we are 13 hours in to our 16 hour surprise stopover in The Ukraine. The staff here are all very serious in a stereotypically Eastern European way, we have eaten at the airport’s TGI Friday’s twice and created a small shanti town out of boxes being thrown out from the duty free store. Even if everything runs smoothly from here, we will still have another entire day in transit.