We slept late, and Nick went for a run around Central Park. On his return, we walked into town in order to procure presents for those brave enough to empty the cat litter tray. The streets were comparatively quiet but as the sales had started, the shops were busy. We paused for a hot dog and really only had time to browse a little before we had to dash to the Lincoln Center for the matinee performance of the Nutcracker.
This is an odd sort of ballet, hinging as it does on one little girl’s fond regard for a kitchen utensil. It was very pretty and had I been 8, I would have been in raptures. However, there was a certain ragged unprofessionalism in the corps that I’m sure isn’t there in the NYC Ballet’s more grown up performances.
Out of the theatre and back into the shops – we bought some presents and a tie for Nick, and then struck out for home. We changed in the ultra-posh Opera suite as our room had been given to someone else, and then walked down to Daniel, a swanky restaurant, to exercise the weak dollar a little. Daniel is library-silent and plush. We were surrounded by old ladies who seemed able to consume a bottle and a half of very pricey wine per head, and still remain compos mentis. Ladies were provided with a small upholstered stool upon which to sit their handbag. Given that I had not brought my good handbag, I was quite glad to have put mine in the cloakroom.
We opted for the 6-course tasting menu, which was completely lovely, and I finished with a chocolate souffle. The kitchen adapted a couple of the courses for me to eliminate nuts, which was very kind of them, to the extent of replacing my pistachio ice cream with vanilla.
When I collected my coat, I was also handed a small panettone. I wondered whether the tipping culture in New York had gone completely haywire and now the tippees were tipping the tippers. Confused, I didn’t give the cloakroom attendant her requisite dollar, and by my action I may have tipped the cosmos out of balance.
Whatever the reason, it was tipping it down outside when we left. I nimbly erected my umbrella, and Trellis opted for getting wet. I don’t know if New York rain is corrosive or something, but as we walked back through a Central Park apparently plagued with nocturnal rapists and muggers, endless cabs slowed and hooted at us. They were not, as I first thought, admonishing us for jaywalking, but offering us a dry ride home. I wasn’t averse to this but Trellis was by this point so saturated that it really wouldn’t have made any difference. Still, I had been quite fond of the black suede shoes I was wearing.
We collected our baggage and took the subway to Penn Station, then the train to Newark Airport, and then the magical driverless pink shuttle to the airport proper. We were to stay in the airport Marriott, and we waited in the now freezing rain for the promised shuttle bus. When it arrived, it was too full and we had to wait, shivering and, in Trellis’s case, soaking, for another half-hour. What annoyed us most was that the hotel itself was barely 5 minutes’ walk away as the crow flies. One cannot actually walk, however, as this would mean crossing a no-man’s land of criss-crossing freeways and access roads to Newark’s many multi storey car parks.
The Marriott is comfortingly identical to every other Marriott in the whole world. We woke at a truly ungodly 6am and had breakfast in the basic Virgin departure lounge. They do their best but really, nothing can compare with the Virgin lounge at Heathrow, into which I’d happily move. We boarded the plane at 7.30 and took off at 8am. The excitement of cornflakes and milk at 35,000 never palls, even if it is accompanied by turbulence so violent my tea slopped out of the cup and onto the saucer.
The flight bounced all the way home. However, everyone on this plane seemed able to cope and nobody needed to have a nest built.