Minneapolis, Minnesota to Newark, New Jersey 
Saturday, July 31th, 2010

The taxi arrived on time to take us to the airport. At $35 it seemed a bit of a rip-off compared to the bus and train tickets that would have only cost $1.75 each but they dont start running until 5am.

The first flight of two and half hours was quite uneventful and once in the airport we made a bee line to Burger King for our breakfast. This isn't something we would normally do but after only 4 hours sleep our bodies needed quick fuel.

We had ten hours to kill between flghts and decided we were going into Newark to see the city.

Trapped in Newark Airport

We tried several times to leave the airport:

Attempt 1- Followed the signs from the terminal to the bus stop to find a two year old sign telling us to go to a different station on the airport.  Followed the directions on the sign to a stop to find out the bus didn't use the stop!

Attempt 2- Finally found the correct stand after a asking a member of airport staff to find out that we had to give the correct change... back to the terminal we went in pursuit of change.

Attempt 3- Returning to the stop a bus approached but due to the rickerty look of the display we couldn't read where the bus was going, so sat patiently waiting for the next.

The next bus arrived and as we approached the door the driver shouted through the open doors about not going to where we wanted to go to, closed the doors and drove off!

Attempt 4- After 4 hours from first walking out of the terminal to find a bus we managed to hop on one going to downtown Newark. The bus was full of airport employees shouting across the aisles to each other, their New Jersey accents eminated through out the bus. The bus passed by Lincoln Park that looked like there was a party going on.

We jumped of the bus  about a half mile form the city centre and right into the heart of black American street culture. People were playing music congregated on every corner, some singing. Vendors were set out selling food, t-shirts and jewelry. As we bustle through the blocks trying to get through the raucus crowds I realised that Diane was no longer with me and waited for her to catch up. We must have stuck out from the crowd wearing our daypacks, making us easy prey for would be pick pockets and thieves. 

As we neared the city centre the crowds began to thin down and the only people we noticed were tramps and drug addicts. One man was sat half naked, pouring a gallon drum of  water over his head and proceeded to wash himself. A woman stumbled towards us, clearly an unfortunate drug user, mumbling something but we couldn't quite make out what she said. We decided to cross the road to keep away.

Walking on the opposite side of the road we could observe the crowds we had fought our way through on the way to the city centre. On our side of the road were yet more street vendors selling food, clothes and jewelry but also bling shops! I'm not talking about the kind of cheap dress jewelry you get back in England either. These shops sell HUGE solid gold chains and medalions with price tags reaching to tens of thousands of dollars! I wonder who the people are that go into these shops because there doesn't look to be anyone here that could afford these items- but this is just my perception.

The streets here are a meeting place. People are exchanging money, shaking hands, catching up on gossip and sharing food.

Making our way to Lincoln Park I saw different nationalities grouped together down various side streets. Is this gangland culture or ethnic groups trying to preserve their identity? I'm not in a position to really comment but as a visitor it is quite an experience. It does look poverty stricken but again this is my perception and I don't think I stayed long enough to validate that observation.

The party in Lincoln Park oozed community spirit with stalls selling everything from herbal remedies to cans of coke. There was a large stage with singers and DJs pumping out music across the neighbourhood and a large crowd dancing and enjoying the afternoon. I was handed a leaflet which read " Work from home and earn some money". Some things around the world are the same no matter where you go!

We only spent an hour in Newark before returning to the airport to catch our flight. This one hour will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you America for hosting the first leg of  Travelfreaks: The Great Adventure

 Party in the park

 DSCF1934-1.jpg picture by Bibblerspics

Goodbye America (we will be back) 

 

 

 Looking towards the city centre from Lincoln Park

 Flagpole at the gates of Lincoln Park

 Skateboarder playing chicken with a city bus!

 Stalls in the park

 

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