Commuting from NYC to Philly

Today was quite the adventure; the task at hand consisted of finding my way from New York City to Philly airport for my Amsterdam flight tonight. Knowing it was going to be a challenge, I gave myself plenty of time for this adventure which I undertook with stamina and great gusto.

Armed with a single suitcase, I left home at 11am and made my way to 125th to catch the train to Penn Station on 34th street. For some reason, New Yorker don’t say ‘subway’, they say ‘train’. I swiped my metro card only once 😉 and pushed the barrier to get in and onto the direct A train to midtown. Then I made my way to 32nd street to collect a piece of jewelry I had left at the Diamonds & Dials Jewelry Store for repair yesterday. It took some doing to find it and after circling the Madison Square Garden twice over, I finally located the store on the Greeley Square Park.

Then I made my way back into Penn Station on 34th and started the earnest search of how to get to Philly. After finally locating the Amtrak ticketing line, I bulked at the price of $60 for a one-way ticket for a 1.5-hour journey. The New Jersey Transit seemed fairer at just $26 for 2 hours so I got myself a ticket and grabbed some sushi for lunch before getting on the train.

Walking through Penn Station, running around trying to figure out what’s what and what’s where is quite the experience. It gives me an exhilarating feeling prancing through the station suitcase in tow, asking strangers for directions and just general information. I’ve come a long way in learning how to strike up a conversation with any random stranger, a skill I’ve learnt on my current job -which was always my goal when I switched careers. Everything else I got my my new career, e.g. travel perks, were all just fringe benefits; I took the job for personal development and I must say I’m quite happy with myself so far.

As I speak to strangers and make small talk, it always turns to my accent and my origin. I rarely ever give my full life story; I usually go with the flow and might mention any one of the 3 continents I’m associated with. I reserve my whole origin history for the need-to-know basis. Walking around NYC running from metro car to metro car, lugging my suitcase around while nimbly clambering up and down stairs feels quite empowering. I feel so capable and able, like there isn’t a thing I can’t figure out, and nothing is too difficult for me. And for real, nothing is, for I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It feels like I’m back in Kenya, or Belgium, running around on public transportation to get to places, figuring it all out as you go along -precious memories.

Now sitting on the 1:05pm train typing this blog out, I understand why the Amtrak costs twice as much as the NJ Transit as it zooms by us in a flash; I inadvertently took the slow train that stops everywhere in NJ! Upon inquiry, a young lady sitting behind me on the train explains that I’ll be getting off on the last stop, Trenton, upon which I’ll get on the Septa train to Philly. Thankfully, I have time. So I settled in for the hour-trip, wolving down my sushi, and now busying myself on my laptop to the soothing sound of João Gilberto’s ‘Corcovado’.

As the train chugs along, I sip on my Glacéau Vitamin Water and glance up to scan the landscape. This reminds me of our annual family summer trips to our rural home when I was growing up. Because my dad worked in upper management for the railway, we would always travel first-class with our many cabins equipped with beds and all other amenities. We would play along the corridor then duck into our rooms where mum and dad would be sitting, talking or reading the newspaper. And we would keep this up until bed time when mum would tuck as in for the night, and when we woke up, we would’ve arrived at our destination. This slow train is making me so very nostalgic for home and some of those idyllic childhood trips.

Switched trains right on schedule at Trenton NJ onto the 2:37pm train into Philly. It was as easy as getting from one train to the next on the opposite platform, with he conductor telling me it’s an hour trip and to get off on 30th street in Philly at 3:35pm. I jumped onto the shuttle bus at 3:45pm and made it to the airport by 4:15pm. A quick 10 minutes in the crew powder room to dress up and make myself presentable, and I’m ready for my trip. Sign in is at 6pm, then on the aircraft ready for our scheduled 7pm takeoff.

Today I’m flying with Jolene, another Dutch speaker, so I know it is going to be a fun trip. I have my annual recurrent training scheduled mid-August so I’ll have a quiet layover doing the plus 30-hours of mandatory online training that I have to get through before the training day. Jolene and I will probably go to the Albert Hein Supermarket once in Amsterdam for some grocery shopping, then maybe a few hours at our hotel’s sauna as we catch up on each other’s lives. The last time I flew with her we were based in Miami and she just joined us in the Philly base this month, so we have a lot to catch up on.

I have a post lined up in the ‘My Father’ series (as my Twitter friend, Patricia, has dubbed it). I’ll schedule this to post when I’m in Amsterdam so I can focus on my recurrent training pre-requisites. I am currently sitting in the international A terminal crew room wrapping up this blogpost. When you read it in the morning, I will have landed in Amsterdam, probably taking a nap before I get up for the day. Once I get back to NYC this weekend, I’ll update you on what I’ve been up to. I’m planning on meeting up with a group of girlfriends to discover what the New York City night life is about, and maybe grab a Manhattan drink from one of the local joints. Cheers! Helena xoxo

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