Hello to all! Our final day in New York was wonderful, thanks to Amy. We started off the day right with some bagels from Tal Bagel. Delicuous. I had my favorite combo of Poppy seed bagel, chive cream cheese, tomato, and lox. Holy cow, big, fat yum. I love bagels, and New York is the best place for that. We then traveled over to the Natural History Museum. We walked around for hours checking out different 'peoples', birds, mammals, gems, and minerals. When we were geeked out, we headed over to Japadog. Japadog is a place we discovered this past Thanksgiving weekend when we were visiting Vancouver, Canada. We heard that there was this street cart that had amazing Japanese inspired hot dogs. I wasn't super excited, but was pleasantly surprised when I found that they were more like sausages than hot dogs, and the toppings were eclectic. Well, when we found out that Japadog opened a storefront in New York, we knew we had to give it a try, once again. Yep, still good!
It was finally time to head to JFK Airport. We showered, said our farewells to Amy (our amazing hostess with the mostess), and caught a cab. No traffic in the city, go figure, so we arrived quickly. That will be the last time I use the word quick. (unless I talk about our time spent in Dusseldorf)
Though we arrived at JFK 2.5 hours early, we ended up spending at least an hour in line. Boo! The plan was that we were to fly to Dusseldorf, Germany, then catch another plane to Verona, Italy. We'd spend the day in Verona, before returning to the airport to catch another flight to Madrid. So, the first flight left on Sunday evening and we'd arrive in Madrid on Monday evening. Well, that didn't happen. After waiting in the terminal for an hour and a half without the flight crew mentioning anything, we finally boarded our first airplane. And then we got to hang out on the tarmac for about another hour before we actually took off. When we finally landed in Dusseldorf, we were about 3 hours late (we also, had to wait to disembark the plane), and therefore we missed our flight to Verona. But, we were reassured that our flight was rescheduled. Great, except, the line to get through customs was about an hour long (where a little kid in line directly behind us, puked up everything and anything he had eaten on the flight beforehand). Therefore we missed our rescheduled flight. So, we went to the ticketing booth to talk to our lovely Air Berlin personnel, where the guy told us that the only thing he could do was to put us on a flight to Vienna, and then to Verona. Aside from the fact that this made no sense, we would not make our flight to Madrid with this plan. He assured us that there was no way he could get us to Madrid, due to the fact that the flight was made with a different carrier. We would have to buy a separate ticket. Great. So, we went in search for our luggage. That was interesting. They were lost in the ether for a bit before we were able to retrieve them. We then went to the Air Berlin desk a few floors up (Where they probably weren't hearing as many complaints) and the wonderful woman heard our story and was like, "sure, we can fix that." And she did. She put us on a direct flight from Dusseldorf to Madrid, where we would arrive an hour earlier than planned. Similarly, we had a bit of time to kill, and we didn't want to do so in the airport. So, we stashed our bags in a storage room, and took a train into the city of Dusseldorf. Awesome! We wanted to go to Germany, but didn't arrange it because of time, money, and I don't know! With some advice from a local bookseller and his patron, we ended up eating lunch in a traditional beer hall, Schumakers, which appeared to be quite old and established. Cool! We had bratwurst, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes, accompanied by a deliciously smooth, spicy mustard and a refreshing house beer. Awesome.
On our way back to the train station, Seth picked up a bratwurst from a place that he's been talking about for ages that he went to the last time he was in Dusseldorf for the World Cup. It's funny how things work out. We arrived back at the airport in time for our flight, and spent a short 3 hours listening to an audiobook on our way to Madrid.
We arrived without a problem, and our bags were some of the first out of the carousel. We found Alberto waiting for us, an made our way into the city. After dropping off our big backpacks, we headed out for some dinner, even though it was probably about 11pm. We had tapas! Oh how I missed Madrid! Jamon Iberico, cipirones a la plancha, queso manchego, and boquerones, all brought together by my cerveza con limon. Oh man, how wonderful! A great ending to a difficult journey.
Today we did a lot of walking. We were walking around Madrid from about 11am until probably 8:30pm. We saw a lot. And, on the way we sampled Madrid's finest, with the help of my amazing friend Alberto. For those of you who don't know, he's a friend of mine from when I studied in Spain, about 7 years ago. Since then, he's visited me twice, and hosted my sister this past year numerous times. He's a great person, and a wonderful guide!
Seth has been completely obsessed with the ham since it first touched his lips the other night, and has been scheming all day how to get an entire leg back to the US, or how we could bring one on our trip. We have only a few more days to figure this one out!
I'm looking at the clock and it's 3:30am here in Madrid. Obviously, I'm having problems with the time changes. I have a feeling this is going to catch up to me soon! Tomorrow we're off to Segovia, I hope I can make it through the day!