Two trips to New Jersey; Christmas and a wedding
After we had returned to live in Otford our first major trip out of the UK was to New Jersey, USA.
Over Christmas in 1994 we visited my American friend from Yamaguchi. He was still based in Japan but he had returned home to visit his parents who lived in suburban New Jersey just outside New York city. For me this was the first return to America in 8 years.
We flew directly into Newark Airport on Continental Airlines from Gatwick and we stayed near my friend’s house in a Marriot Courtyard Hotel. Despite crossing the county and spending 6 weeks there in 1986, this was the first time I had ever stayed in an American hotel.
We were treated to a real American Christmas with the whole extended family. To say that were made to feel very welcome is an understatement. It was a great insight into how Americans spend Christmas. We were particularly impressed by the amount of trouble they go to in order to decorate their houses both inside and out.
We used the local New Jersey Transit trains to get to Hoboken Station across the Hudson from New York and then took the PATH (subway-like) train to get into Manhattan. We had one day looking around in Manhattan and managed to catch the famous “Christmas Spectacular” at the Radio City Music Hall.
We returned to New York on New Year’s Eve to experience December 31st in Times Square. It was a crowded, drunken but very memorable experience. The New Jersey Transit train home early on 1st January was also quite an experience too.
Hoboken Station sits on the New Jersey bank of the Hudson River and it offers a subway (PATH) or ferry transfer to Manhattan.
The terminal building was constructed in 1907 and is one of the finest examples of the Beaux Arts style in the US. It features beautiful Tiffany glass in its impressive waiting room.
18 Months later we returned to the same area. In summer 1996 we landed back again at Newark (this time on American Airlines as part of an extended trip via Vancouver).
I was getting ready to act as best man at my friend’s wedding.
American Airlines managed to lose our luggage (including the wedding clothes) and we had an anxious couple of days whilst they located everything.
We spent one day before the wedding travelling into New York again on New Jersey Transit. This time our trip included a visit to the fascinating Lower East Side Tenement Museum and a picnic in Central Park.
The wedding was great fun and went off without a hitch. The atmosphere was just fabulous. I really enjoyed my one and only experience as a best man, especially after the speech was out of the way!
Interestingly the service was conducted in a church which was a replica of one in the UK. The original is located at Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.
When we returned to the UK we visited the original church and took a few photographs and sent them “across the pond” for reference.