Searching for locations: Toronto to New York

After leaving Toronto, we just had enough time to have breakfast and get to the car, another sedan, just managing to fit everything in.

By now we have finally realized the booking agent at Flight Centre had made the wrong type of car bookings for us in Canada, and I will be waiting with interest what cars we get in New York.

We went to a special section of the airport where Air Canada planes depart for the USA, and where the customs and immigration were completed on the Canada side and we just walked out of the terminal into the USA.

The plane trip was undertaken in an Embraer 175, twinjet, a small plane with 27 rows of 2 x 2 in coach, the American equivalent to economy.

Today we are traveling from Toronto Pearson to Newark Airport, somewhere near New York, USA.

The flight, a relatively short one, was supposed to take 56 minutes flying time, but as we all know, that’s not usually where the problems lie.

Here is the flight’s running sheet:

Boarding completed at 12:08

Push back at 12:18

Advised of a 45-minute wait at 12:41, something is holding us up.

Engines are shut down and we are sitting on the tarmac somewhere within the airfield. Snacks are handed out.

Take off is at exactly 1:30 pm

Landed 2:40 pm after taking the long way to Newark. Follow the course tracker as we approached Newark was like watching a drunk wander home from the pub.

Taxied for 8 minutes only to discover our parking bay is still occupied, so waiting to see if it is a long or short wait.

We have been plagued with difficulties.

Engine shutdown, or so I thought, at 2:56 means we are in for a long wait for a gate. Turns out the engines were on slow idle so they could power the lights and air conditioning.

Here we sit on the tarmac at Newark airport and going nowhere. Other planes are seen to come and go.

A 3pm announcement, another 20-minute wait for a gate.

3:40 pm we can now go to our gate.

4:15 we exit the terminal and find the car, and set off for the hotel in New York

Suburban 7 seater, very sedate driver, didn’t go over 45mph. Finally, we get a car that fits us and our luggage.

As for the ride from the airport to the hotel…

We were picked up by a Chevrolet Suburban, driven by the most cautious driver in America. Hoping to get a glimpse of the US countryside on the way from Newark to the hotel, arriving after 4 and getting dark by 4:30, most of the drive was in the dark

As far as I could tell, after taking the Manhattan tunnel, we drove around the outside of the island till we reached the nearest street to our hotel. It took about 45 minutes but at least it was warm, comfortable and better than any limousine we’ve had so far.

And then the Manhattan club…

I can’t help but think on first sight that this was once a night club, you know, the type that existed in the 40s and 50s where it wasn’t a social crime to smoke and drink and then drive home though I suspect most of the customers those days had nearby apartments.

Yes, a different and now lost forever, age.

As for the truth…

Searching for locations: Toronto, Canada

Usually, the transfer from the airport to the hotel is one of those serene moments after a long, or short, plane trip.

Usually.

Our first from Vancouver airport to the hotel was in something akin to a party bus, a stretch limousine that was very uncomfortable after 24 hours cooped up in an economy seat.  Surely they had a large enough SUV.

Apparently not.

This time around we got what the driver said was a town car, and our looks of amazement that it could take the three of us and 4 large suitcases and 3 cabin bags, was met with a shrug and a statement that the limo company had got rid of their larger cars a year ago.

This driver was determined.  He fitted the cases in, and we crammed in the back, all squishy.

But that was the best part of the journey.

We had the original kamikaze.  It was 140km or nothing, and being tossed about in the back of the car was just what we needed.

Score: 1 out of 10.

The driver just stopped long enough to toss the bags on the sidewalk and drive off, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

Of course, the hotel didn’t have a 24-hour concierge and I guess it was part of a learning curve for staying in downmarket hotels.

So, we’re staying in a Doubletree by Hilton, a downmarket hotel chain that we have stayed in before, in Melbourne, Australia.  That was a pleasant and surprisingly good experience, leading to giving the chain another go in Toronto, Canada.

Its a case of chalk and cheese.  Maybe it’s the late hour, maybe it’s my expectations, but the experience was flat, and for a chain that Hilton has put its name to, maybe it’s time they started policing the hotel’s standards.

Not that the over the counter experience was bad, I just didn’t feel like I was welcome in the usual Hilton manner.

It’s a long time since I was a Diamond HHonors guest, and I was not expecting a lot, but being a member, at whatever level you are on, should count for something.

Today, it didn’t.

But it didn’t end there…

The room on first viewing was a disappointment, but on reflection, I think my expectations were geared to what we have had in Australia where real estate is less expensive and therefore the rooms are larger.

This also means most rooms have double queen or double king beds, not twin double beds.  I have not slept in a double bed for about 40 years, anywhere.

Of course, I should have read the fine print.

My bad.

So…

I go down to the front desk and ask if there are larger rooms.  Of course, there are, if you want twin double beds, or a king bed and a fold away bed, which we do not.

I understand their dilemma, the rooms are just too small to fit larger beds.

Lesson learned for the next time if there is a next time.

On the upside…

Breakfast is included, and it’s really good, and the service is above expectations.