Race to Crown Heights


A series of odd circumstances converged this week, with the unexpected outcome that I’m spending the first ten days of 2014 in New York City!

I’ve arranged to spend a few days with my good friends Holly and Syed at their apartment in Brooklyn, a few days with my good friend Tom DeGroot at his house in Wantagh, Long Island, and a couple of nights in a wee hotel in Manhattan. Because I like variety.

Holly and Syed have invited me to see in the new year at a house party in the Crown Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, which looks like it’s going to be a blast. Only thing is, I leave Edinburgh in the afternoon of December 31st, fly via London Heathrow, and don’t arrive at JFK until 10:40 on new year’s eve. Given how long it usually takes for everybody to disembark a 747 then queue to get through immigration, customs and baggage claim, I’m not very confident in my ability to do all that, plus find a way of getting to the apartment in Brooklyn, before the ball drops. Having said that, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, so if getting from seat 56A to apartment 3C can be done in under 80 minutes, I’m going to give it a damn good try.

Timeline of Events

10:35 – I’ve landed. The plane was five minutes early. This is a good start.

10:45 – Why are people so inept at getting off aeroplanes? Tempted to scream “SNAKES!” and see what happens…

11:04 – Finally off the plane and through immigration. Guys on the desks were barely looking at people as they went through. They clearly want to get home for midnight too.

11:13 – My bag arrives super fast. This never happens. Witchcraft.

11:16 – Customs guys don’t give a shit either.

11:18 – I’m out of the terminal and it’s looking like I might actually make it if I get a cab to take me door-to-door. WHERE ARE THE CABS?!

11:21 – There was practically no queue for taxis at the rank. What is happening to the world? I’m in a cab, and I’ve told him where we are going. It’s now up to Farid whether I spend midnight chugging beer from a red cup at a bangin’ party or sober in the back of his cab. No pressure, Farid.

11:45 – We’ve made good time and we’re almost there! Go Farid, Go!

11:47 – Farid has missed the turning. We’re going on some weird detour through Bed Stuy. I think he might be taking me somewhere to kill me and sell my organs. I’ll never even see 2014.

11:51 – Farid apologises and does a U-turn. I have no idea where we are. Getting ready to celebrate in the car with Farid. At least I have Auld Lang Syne on my iPod.

11:55 – Holy shit, we’ve arrived! I thrust fifty bucks in the drivers hand. Keep the change! I grab my suitcase with one hand and call Syed with the other.

11:56 – Syed comes down and opens the front door. We hug. It’s a nice reunion.

11:57 – OH FUCK WE’RE STUCK IN THE PORCH! Syed manically calls Holly, who thank god picks up and comes down to release us into the actual building. More hugging. With much disregard, we abandon all my luggage at the bottom of the stairs and race up the three flights to the party.

11:58 – I dump my jacket and backpack in a corner of the spare bedroom and look for a drinks receptacle of some sort. I eventually find an empty cup. I think it’s already been used but I don’t care. LIQUID PLEASE!

11:59 – I find somebody with wine to pour into my cup. I find my friends. The countdown begins.

00:00 – HAPPY NEW YEAR! We hug, we cheers, we drink. Against all the odds, I made it to Brooklyn to see in 2014 with my favourites.

Now let’s party.



Finally relaxing with a drink after the mad rush!


There’s also a sweet roof terrace with great views of Manhattan


Looking pretty dishevelled after the manic journey, but at least I have a hat.


Yaay, friends!


More friends


More friends


Ain’t we beautiful?


I have declared myself a travel genius. Only a true travel genius could go on a 11-hour, multimodal, 4,000 kilometre trip and arrive at the party ONE MINUTE before the bells. You can send fan mail to my Edinburgh address.

Happy New Year, lads and all the best for 2020!

2 thoughts on “Race to Crown Heights

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