An Eventful Beginning (part one)
We spent the night before we left at Karl and Magna's. Adrian-next-door drove us there (stopping at the 'Welcome to Bletchley Home of the Code Breakers' sign for us to photograph it, and ourselves with it - I want to change the 'welcome' to 'goodbye').
Magna provided a lovely meal of lamb tagine and couscous followed by a raspberry and chocolate roulade. We drank a lovely red that they provided and a sparkling NZ rosé from Marks & Spencer that we took with us. We had a lot of fun - much laughing and joking - and it was a shame we had to go to bed when we did but we had an early start for the plane.
At 4.30am Magna knocked on our door with cups of tea. The taxi picked us up at 5.15am and, after big hugs and determination (on my part at least) not to get tearful, we were on our way.
As we entered Terminal Five at London Heathrow, there was a big sign in front of us saying 'The World is Full of Opportunities' - I thought that was perfect. The baggage drop and security check staff were polite and chatty, not at all wht I expected at that time of day..
That all changed when we got to Milan to change planes. I had thought I'd printed off every ticket, every accommodation booking and the car hire details. In fact, I'm sure I had. I'd just not put it all in the document wallet and some of the paperwork was now in storage somewhere in Cambridgeshire. I had the flight details and our accommodation booking for New York. I had our ESTAs (documents to get into the US). What I didn't have, and the staff at the gate wanted to see, was a return or onward ticket from the United States. I explained that we didn't have a return ticket as we were emigrating to New Zealand. I explained that we had the right to remain in New Zealand and that they could see that in our passports. I explained that all our tickets were e-tickets. However, because the different tickets had been booked with different companies, they had no record of our onward flights on their computer (and you thought all these bureaucracies knew everything about you? Not when you need them to). I explained that I had the details on my laptop. They were happy to let me show them that. They were on our shared yahoo email account, and also on Evernote. I tried opening Evernote as it did not require an internet connection. It seemed to take ages to open and then even more of an age for me to find the right note. I was tired, frustrated and scared. I wasn't convinced that they were going to accept a note on my computer as evidence that we had onward tickets. However, a quick glance at it was all they needed to give us our boarding cards and we were okay to board. Just as well because boarding had already started. I didn't even have time to go to the loo.
I slept a lot of the way to New York and we eventually arrived in a rainy New York - quite a change from the Indian summer we'd been having in Bletchley. We arrived, but not all our luggage arrived. One of Rik's bags, a large rucksack wasn't there. I sat and guarded the luggage we did have, piled onto a trolley for which we were charged $5 (we had no local money but the trolley lock took credit cards!) while Rik went to enquire about his missing bag. He was soon back for my luggage tags as they needed to work out which bag was missing. This was complicated as they had put my name on his bag. Fortunately, we had planned to stay in New York for five nights and had an address to which they could deliver the bag.
We set off outside, got a yellow cab, and crawled through the New York rush hour to our hostel. There we hit another snag.