New York – First Advent

I have a lot of respect for the entry into the USA. It is like a goodie bag and you never really know what you’ll get. It can go very fast and you can be out after 15 minutes or you can wait hours before you can enter. I once went to the US for business with a work colleague. His parents have come from North Africa to Europe but he himself was born in Europe. We flew in February and he had been in Turkey over Christmas. At this moment in time the IS fighters in Syria had intense fights and a group of young Europeans had tried to go via Turkey to get to Syria.

We landed happily, I went through pass control within two minutes and picked up my suitcase, he stood at the border control and it looked like something wasn’t right. It was his first trip to the US ever. Another police officer came and accompanied my work colleague to somewhere out of my sight. It was an uncomfortable feeling, you didn’t know what was going on and how long it would take. I sat on my suitcase because they didn’t have any benches at the airport and I read my book. I wasn’t very focused but there wasn’t anything else to do. The use of mobile phones at the airport at the entry into the USA is forbidden. I waited and waited and waited. I got quite nervous and insecure. No one was there who I could have asked and my co-worker was missing.

He came out after nearly three hours. Obviously there had been some suspicion that he could be a terrorist. He got asked a lot of questions but in the end he could enter.

Today I arrived and the airport hall was pleasantly empty, I used the automatic detection and received a cross on my print-out, a cross means that you will be checked and I wasn’t particularly surprised. I didn’t think anything of it. Only at the passport control I realised where my mistake had been. I had gotten myself a new passport. My ESTA for the US however, was under the number of my old passport. The officer asked me several times where my second passport was but I only had my new one with me. My old passport had been pierced as usual before receiving the new passport. I too had to go into a separate room and describe my story. With a sense of relief I was allowed to leave after fifteen minutes. ‘That’s my own fault’ I thought.

Black Friday and the first Advent brought an unbelievable amount of people to New York. I’m used to the masses but such a large crowd, where at some parts moving past people on your main axis was barely possible, was overwhelming. There was a lot to admire as usual, endless amounts of shopping bags, as if there wouldn’t be anything left in the shops by tomorrow, a wonderful Christmas spirit, chain of lights, light shows, Christmas wreaths, dancing and singing workers of the Salvation Army (in comparison to the crazy performances in New York, the performances at Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, Switzerland are super boring) and snow.

At some point the masses became too much for me and I’ve never liked shopping. That’s why I walked towards Hudson River at Hudson Yards to ‘The Vessel’ to visit it for the first time. ‘The Vessel’ consists of 154 staircases and 2500 steps, that are connected to each other. That’s 15 floors and 80 viewing spots with a great view. The recurring forms in the structure of ‘The Vessel’ bring up images of the artwork of M.C. Escher. It was designed by the British Designer Thomas Heatherwick. And despite the very bad weather, it was worth the visit. It is a genius build, elegant and inspiring. If you travel to New York, I would recommend putting it on your list. And for all the Shopping fans – a shopping mall is right in the neighbourhood.

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