I’m on a plane but something is wrong. For a start, I do not have a complete stranger’s elbow in my ear and another passenger’s knee in the small of my back. I have no idea if my near neighbour has odour issues and last time I tore my eyes away from in-flight movie menu on my personal LCD touchscreen, I was able to stretch, quite decadently, without rendering a flight attendant unconscious.
I am full to the brim of quite delicious and continually flowing food that came on actual plates and drink, some fizzy, that didn’t come in plastic cups.
And as I contemplate a snooze, I can smell the delicious aroma of fresh cookies baking and see glasses of milk being poured. It must be time to LIE DOWN.
Yes, I’m in business class.. and on my way to New York City with Continental Airlines’ BusinessFirst service where the buzzword in the skies is now flat.
The new BusinessFirst Flat Bed seat is not just one of the widest 180-degree flat beds seats to the U.S, boasting 6ft 6inches sleeping space, but it is now also available from Manchester Airport, where Continental are this year celebrating 15 years of service to Newark Liberty International Airport.
So the Big Apple, here we come in style.. and without cramp.
We touch down at Newark in the hot afternoon sun, after enjoying the iconic skyline of Manhattan during our descent (not a view you get into JFK) and soon whizz through customs and off to our hotel in Sixth Avenue, Chelsea.
New York, as ever, is surreal with the movie filming ongoing close to the our new home the Eventi hotel, adding to the unreality of our arrival. But remarkably rested and awake despite the jetlag, we have arrived.
After admiring the floor to ceiling views in my neutral-pallet palatial Eventi pad, what followed was a whirlwind.
US Open: Pic by @jabberingjourno
NYC never sleeps and as visitors to this great city it would be rude not to follow suit.
We visit Wall Street where we get the first hand inside scoop on the unfolding financial meltdown from tour-guide Andrew Luan, a genuine former trader who recounts tales from life on the floor as well as extracts from his formative career as a Las Vegas card counter.(his tour is even featured on the Wall Street2 movie trailer)
Next lunch, where I inhale proper NY spaghetti and meatballs at Harry’s Italian, favourite of those nearby starving traders. Next a sober stop at Ground Zero to pay our respects.
Then the real reason for visiting New York in early September, the tennis. As we speed underground then overground by subway toward Flushing Meadow, home of US Open Tennis, the balmy evening seems dreamlike.
Walking into the enormous 16-court complex is an adrenaline rush.
To our right in the big screen in the US Armstrong stadium, the last Brit standing Andy Murray is losing horribly. So we walk past to centre court, Arthur Ashe, to settle in our box and wait for the first clash between Mikhail Yousny and John Isner. The celebrity count is high. (Jennifer Aniston, The Mayor of New York…) and with it expectations.
This is no Wimbledon, it is rowdy and upbeat between sets with loud dance music and prize giveaways and with a US national (Isner) on show, tensions are high. He loses.
Next -starting after midnight – an epic three set clash between Samantha Stosur and Elena Dementieva leaves us as physically and emotionally exhausted as the players.
After that excitement, no time for a comedown.
Next day a high at the Top of the Rock for unparalled views across the city on a cloudless day before a light lunch at sixth avenue as the city speeds by before climbing the short steps to the High Line, a former freight train line that was partially opened as a free public park less than a year ago.
It’s home time. After all that, I think I need to lie down. And after that a Continental breakfast…
This was first published in the Lancashire Evening Post. Click here for lep.co.uk