Returning to normal in U.S. skies ... Awesome Air NZ safety trailer w/The Hobbit
Still some cancellations today, but things appear to be running much more normally in terms of air service. Newark and JFK airports in New York are open, and LaGuardia opened this morning, albeit not at full service.
It's devastating to see the damage in New Jersey, especially along the coast (see photo of the Seaside roller coaster resting in the ocean, and doesn't it feel like a disaster movie or something from Planet of the Apes), and in parts of New York, such as Queen's. I saw yesterday that both American and United airlines were giving away miles in their frequent flyer programs to folks who made donations. The figure I saw was 250 miles for a $50 donation, and that's a nice gesture.
Certainly every day lost to tourism and travel is a big deal in a city like New York. It also hurts here at home as there were hundreds and hundreds of folks who couldn't make it into Toronto earlier this week to spend money at hotels and restaurants and in taxi cabs.
Speaking of cabs, can anyone tell me just when this city became so ridiculously expensive? I took a cab from 1 Yonge St. to Union Station on Wednesday to shoot a video for wheels.ca and it cost $8. Eight dollars! In New York that would get you 20 blocks, I bet...
The video for wheels.ca was one of Wheels Editor Norris McDonald's famous "smackdown" deals, where he squares off against someone else in the newsroom about an issue regarding cars. Our "argument," as it were, was whether it's better to take the train in Europe or to drive a car.
Naturally, Norris took the side of driving a car, arguing you have flexibility to follow your own schedule and veer off in various directions if you want to see, say, an auto race. I took the side of trains, arguing they're fast and efficient and allow you to watch the world go by or read a book or have a coffee. Since I met my wife on a train in Italy, I could hardly argue for the car option.
In truth, of course, the ideal vacation would be a little of both. Trains are cheap and easy and fast ways to go from city to city and from some towns to others. But you won't find trains taking you to those famous hilltop villages in Tuscany. For that, you want a car.
I drove from Zurich to Salzburg ten or twelve years ago and had a wonderful time checking out remote valleys and small towns. Ditto on a trip to Italy a few years back.
For general purposes and for getting from point A to point B and seeing the major sites, the train is still your top option.
HOBBIT SAFETY VIDEO
Gotta love the folks at Air New Zealand. They like to be a little cheeky when it comes to their safety videos, so this time they've teamed up with actors from The Hobbit, due to be released in NZ in about 27 days (and I CAN'T WAIT).
They've put together a four-minute safety blurb that they're showing on their planes, complete with gnomes and elves and furry-footed hobbits and wizards who switch their glowing staffs to airplane mode and a creeping Gollum and handsome earth men who flirt with female passengers and explain how to inflate things by blowing into a tube.
It's a bit racy but mostly just great fun. At the end, a co-pilot dressed like Gandalf the wizard invokes a passage from The Lord of the Rings and whispers "Fly, you fools."
It's great stuff, so check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/user/airnewzealand?feature=watch.
The airport in Wellington, New Zealand also has been outfitted with a giant Gollum reaching for some "fresh fishhhhes" and Air New Zealand has painted a couple of their planes with Hobbit themes. Good fun, all around.