column 1 New York City - J.F.K.


"If you've got any questions, ask now, because later when I'm doing sixty mph on the highway I won't be able to answer anything. So, are there any more questions? Don't stick a city guide under my nose later on. I need to give all my attention to the traffic. Everybody has to get out at Grand Central Station." This was the female lady bus driver, with the voice and appearance of Whoopee Goldberg. Welcome to New York City. Everything straight from the shoulder. Just the same, one girl dared to ask if she had to change for New York North because the ticket clerk had said that she could remain on the bus.
"Wrong. Everybody out at Grand Central Station, that's the procedure. Any more questions?"
The pecking order was clear. Rough diamond. Because when the suitcases were unloaded she stood at the front to help with those over twenty-five kilos in weight.
No time to waste is the motto here. Even the driver of the minibus who took us to our hotel warned us fifty metres before our destination, "Be ready for Hotel Carter."
In a rush we grabbed the cases. "Here's the tip!" Of course I gave him two dollars for a journey of ten minutes, criss-cross through Midtown Manhattan. In less than an hour we had gone from J.F.K. Airport to Hotel Carter.
The hotel is fifty metres from Times Square, so after checking-in we went for a walk because we had travelled for twenty hours without having had a chance to stretch our legs at all.
It was fully two o'clock in the morning before we finally returned to the hotel. Times Square is one of those places where you can go on endlessly watching the passers-by. For this was N.Y.C. time. We bought a pizza at a Moroccan's who asked the standard question, "Where are you from?"
"Amsterdam in Holland," I replied, bending the truth a little.
"Oh, I've been there twice."
So I asked, "Where exactly?"
"Utrecht and Harlem and I've got family in Belgium. In Antwerp, Oostend and Gent."
I was convinced of his honesty, but the pizza was cold and cost six dollars. He'll get on just dandy in New York, I thought.