The Reunion World Tour, Day 7: Over the Atlantic for late night drinks in NYC


At 4:45am I wake up, thirty minutes after my alarm was supposed to go off. Nicolette luckily set hers as a backup, because I stupidly set my phone on silent. Nicolette rustles around and I thank her immensely for being the reason I won’t be missing my flight to New York. In the fifteen minutes I have to get ready, I quickly pack my bag, brush my teeth, get dressed and run out the door to the cab.

I miraculously got to the airport and went through security so quickly that it is now only 5:20am. I sit and wait for the first leg of my flight from Valencia to Lisbon to depart, and I zonk out on the entire two hour flight, doing that thing wherein I don't even realize we're landing until I jostle awake to the plane shaking and have no clue as to what is going on around me.

In order to get the cheapest fare, I sacrificed convenience by getting the journey with an eight-hour stopover in Lisbon. However, I saved hundreds of dollars so I splurged on the $25 day pass for the lounge. I figured I’d have to eat anyways, and this is just twice the price of whatever meal that I’d find for myself at the airport. When I got to the lounge, boy was I relieved that I bought the pass.

I immediately asked where I could sleep, and the agent at the front desk led me to the private cots. I had my own little room with a leather bed, outlet and reading lamp. I set my alarm (not on silent this time) pulled my sleep sheet over me, slipped on my eye mask, and I slept the missing six hours from my night.

When I awoke, I decided it would be nice to take a shower, so I went into the bathroom and went into a private stall that was the most pristine public bathroom that I’ve ever seen. My own home is never even this clean. I had plenty of room to set down my luggage and change clothes without being awkward, and luckily I had my own travel towel so I could avoid the $15 fee to rent one. I decided on NO FLIP FLOPS (I know...I KNOW) and took a shower with the best water pressure I’ve had in ages. Ahhh, never underestimate the power of a great shower. I used the provided hairdryer and changed, then went to the dining area of the lounge.

They had freshly made sandwiches so I grabbed a couple for lunch, then went to the drink fridge where I drank approximately five bottles of apricot and pineapple nectar before stuffing a few extra bottles in my bag. They had loads of wine, champagne, beer and hard liquor and it was all serve yourself. Yes, I could have filled my entire water bottle with gin and tonic if I wanted. Or just straight-up gin. I was baffled by the generosity. There were a few espresso machines so I treated myself to a pick-me-up, and I grabbed some cookies to snack on as I sat down and enjoyed the view of the tarmac out the window until my next leg departed. Dare I say that I enjoyed this extra long stopover?

Seriously, if you have a 4+ hour stopover in the Lisbon airport, I cannot recommend the value of this lounge pass enough. GET IT.

I hopped on my short 6-hour flight from Lisbon to NYC, which had screens with movie and map options, the latter of which displayed where all the nearest shipwrecks were from our flight plan, which was a little disconcerting to say the least.

I lucked out by arriving 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Being that I am an American citizen and only brought carry-on, security and customs was a breeze and I was out in less than forty minutes. I messaged Yoni that I was super early, and off I headed to my hostel.

Back when I was in NYC last march, I met Yoni at a party that Calvin brought me to for his friend’s birthday. Yoni and Calvin met one another from traveling, and Yoni has traveled with Young Pioneer Tours on several of their trips (my Central Asia tour was through YPT, too). More specifically, Yoni has been on their North Korea tour. I remember him saying that the guides in North Korea declared all the people on the trip would be instantly the most popular person at a cocktail party now that they’ve been to one of the most obscure places on earth. Well, it’s true, because Yoni and I talked for a good hour about it when we met. We kept in touch and I reached out to him that I’d be in NYC, so here we are.

He didn’t anticipate my early arrival, which was fine, because it allowed me to check into my hostel with ease and it gave me time to change and not look like someone who slept for six hours in an airport lounge. My accommodations were free, thanks to my volunteer hours at the local Chicago branch of the HI Hostel. They informed me that breakfast was not free, and I was a little bummed and without being a diva (despite feeling like one) I told them I was told that I’d get the best of the best (that is true, though, because Anna at the Chicago hostel informed me they always book free private rooms for volunteers to give them the best. However, NYC doesn't have privates, so that's not the case here). The woman offered me free breakfast vouchers for both of my mornings in the hostel, which was very kind of her. SCORE!

By the time I was ready, Yoni had arrived (it was now about 10pm), and we walked several blocks south of the hostel to some dive Irish bar called Dublin House, where we appeared to be the only people who didn't know the Irish owner/bartender. We sat in a booth by the wall and passed the four (!) hours chatting about travel and pop culture and a whole lot of nonsense until 2am, when Yoni had to head to sleep, as he's a contributing member of society who has work tomorrow (this) morning.

We walked back to my hostel and said our farewells, and I went to bed at 2:30am. I have a full day in NYC ahead of me tomorrow (today?) and need to get my sleep.