The Art of the Layover: Newark, New York City Edition
The time has come for me to start planning my journey back to Sweden from America. I’ve got a few options that I am considering, but nothing is confirmed as of yet. I should just make it easy for myself and go from A to B, but no. Ever since I started getting all into creative layovers, I can’t book any flights without thinking about strategic stops I might be able to make on the way. It’s sick.
The thing is, whatever it is I decide to do this time has to be pretty amazing. Some of you might remember Rob’s overzealous attempt to beat me at my own layover game a couple months ago. Hitting 3 countries on his way down to Little Corn was cute and all, but I just can’t have that. I invented this series for Pete’s sake, so therefore I must be the one to come out on top!
Anyway, we’ll see how it will end up soon enough. For now I wanted to share details from the LAX–>EWR–>CPH layover that I had back in January and chosen intentionally so that I could stop in New York for a few hours and have brunch.
New York is a huge hub for layovers. I’ve flown through either JFK or Newark on a trans-Atlantic flight more times than I can count and without thinking twice. Since I have lived there though, doing such a thing seems like pure torture unless I have the chance to spend at least a couple of hours in the city (in the CITY, not the airport). It is for this reason that when I saw I could land at Newark Liberty International Airport at 6:10 am on a Sunday morning and not have to board my flight to Copenhagen until 5:30pm later that day, I was all over it.
As was the case with my layover in Tallinn, I arrived in Newark with an idea of what I wanted to do – meet a friend at Chelsea Market for a coffee and then head to Soho with another group of friends for brunch. In my experience, aspirations for trying to hit as much as possible in a short amount of time often leads to disappointment. I’d much prefer quality over quantity in scenarios like this. By sticking to one side of the city I avoided unnecessary stress and loss of time linked to traffic jams, dealing with the subway (NYC transit and I have never gotten along well), and having that feeling of being rushed.
Landed promptly at 6:10am and waited an eternity for my bag but that was cool because I had a couple of hours until I knew my friends would be waking up. In Terminal C there is a luggage storage area – costs $15. Pretty sure it is cash only and I recommend you come back with exactly $15 or else you may end up leaving an extra $5 for tip if you’d rather make your flight than wait for change. From Newark I took a train to Penn Station for about $25 roundtrip. If you aren’t into trains, cabs are approximately $50 one-way.
From Penn Station I was going to just jump on the subway and head downtown but then I though, nah. I want to walk the streets of New York. The moment I stepped outside I almost started to cry. I knew it was going to be chilly BUT 17 DEGREES? That was Fahrenheit and by far the coldest temperature I had felt in quite a while. Make sure you bring the right clothes for whatever weather you are stopping over in. Seems like a no brainer but if you are traveling between say California and Sweden (with all of your warm clothes in Sweden), this can be problematic.
My stroll down 8th Avenue swiftly turned into a speed walk and before I knew it I was at Chelsea Market. It’s funny, I had never bothered to go there the whole time I was living in Manhattan so I’m glad my friend suggested that’s where we should meet. It’s pretty awesome and the perfect place to grab a coffee or quick bite.
After we had a coffee, we headed to Soho to meet a couple of my other friends for the main event – brunch at Hundred Acres. Brunch and NYC are totally synonymous to me. NYC just knows how to do it right and you have a million and one places to choose from. I had never been to Hundred Acres before but it turned out pretty delicious – definitely recommend.
After a couple hours of good drinks, good food and good friends, I was about ready to rip up my ticket and just stay in New York. Again. So I figured it was time to start making a move back towards the airport. Strolled around Soho for about 45 minutes for some window shopping, people watching and photos. Finally made my way down to Chinatown, hopped on the uptown express train, and was already back at Newark and boarding my flight.
All in all, this layover proved to be another great success. I credit this to having a solid and non-overambitious plan for the few hours I had there. On paper, I was there 11 hours; in actuality, I was really “there” only about 6 hours. Between waiting for my bag, transportation to and from Penn Station, waiting for the luggage storage people, and going through security, 5 hours of waiting/transit can go by pretty fast. How much time you get to spend outside of the airport depends on a bunch of different factors, but always consider that it’s probably not going to be as much as you think.
Very excited to see where my next layover is going to take me. All suggestions are more than welcome at this point!