Europe Summer 2016 – New York City to Austin

This post is written by Katie about her travel from New York City to Austin after RoboCup 2016.

I woke up on my own at 8:30am. I could not fall back asleep, so I got up and worked on my laptop until shortly before the noon checkout time.

View from my room at the Wyndam Garden Chinatown

The Wyndam Garden Chinatown was pretty nice. The room was big for New York City. Everything was clean and well laid out. The bed might have been small for two – it was probably a full – but was fine for me (and was super comfy). Great stay!

I did not expect to see Madison Square Garden and Penn Station on this trip!
The New Jersey transit train to Newark, with a ticket checker checking tickets.

I walked to the nearby Grand St station and took the B to 34 Street – Herald Sq Station near Penn Station. From Penn Station I took the $13 New Jersey Transit train to Newark Airport. From there I took the AirTrain to terminal A. This process would have been pretty easy with just my personal backpacks, but was tiring with the robot bags due to the many stairs. Mentally, I had also already celebrated after reaching the Copenhagen airport that I would very likely never have to lug the robot bags around again – so this made dragging them across New York and New Jersey even worse.

Once at Newark, I found the American check in area to be very crowded. The priority line was really full with what looked to be lots of solo business travelers – as opposed to just a family or two – so I opted to use the kiosk/bag drop combo.

Although the kiosk let me check three bags for free – as is allowed by my American Exec Plat status – the machine refused to print bag tags. One agent threw up her hands and passed me on to another agent. This agent was very grumpy at first – claiming that I did not get 3 bags checked for free as an Executive Platinum. I argued so a supervisor got involved. She claimed I only got three bags because I was traveling in First Class. This was not a correct statement, but I just went with it because it got me what I wanted. It seemed the real problem was just that my bags from my canceled flight the previous night were still in the system. So it seems they were just trying to make up excuses when the system rejected allowing me to check three more bags.

I had no lounge access today since the international part of my itinerary had ended the previous day.  As such, I went to Qdoba after check-in and ordered nachos.  This was a filling meal!  After finishing my nachos, I cleared security and found a place to sit at the gate until my 3:40pm flight to Chicago.

First class snack on the Newark to Chicago flight

This flight was about two hours.  We were served pre-departure drinks before take-off as well as more drinks and warm nuts shortly after take-off.  There was no ‘meal’ service on this flight, but we were offered a choice of two plates.  Once seemed to be mostly cheese while the other had some meats and cheeses.  I went with the meat and cheese plate, but was glad that I had decided to eat at Qdoba before boarding because the meat and cheese plate alone would not have been enough.

Sunset from the flight leaving Chicago

Once I reached Chicago, I walked around the airport for a bit to get some exercise.  Then I boarded my 8:10pm flight to Austin.  We were served pre-departure drinks before take-off and then departure drinks as well as warm nuts after take-off.  I had expected a full dinner meal on this flight since when I fly Austin to Chicago in the morning I get a full breakfast – but there was actually no meal or even substantial snack on this flight.  Instead, we were each offered a single chocolate chip cookie.  After giving up on getting any dinner – and being even happier that I had eaten at Qdoba – I fell asleep for the remainder of the flight.

After I solved the memory challenge on our door-step

JT picked me up from the Austin airport and drove me home.  When I got home I found he had set up an Amazing Race style memory challenge for me to pass in order to enter the house.  I had to arrange the flags of the countries in the order I visited them.  In addition to the US, Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungry, there were also three decoys.  I solved it relatively quickly – only having Austria and Poland flipped for a while – and was finally home!

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