I have wanted to write about this surprise trip for some time. Not just because it is one of the most famous, inspiring and magical cities in the world, but for the reason that it was probably one of my favourite childhood memories and an experience I’ll never forget.
This trip began as a complete surprise. My mum’s 40th birthday was quickly approaching and my sister and I had been debating with my dad for weeks on what to plan for her. One day after school, my grandparents came round with a birthday card for my mum, apologizing for not being able to make her birthday on the weekend. Shortly after, my dad left the room to get something, returning with three sealed envelopes. Holding them out to my mum, he asked her to choose one, with the remaining two given to my sister and I. Eagerly opening them, it revealed very little, but explained that we had to pack our bags and passports for a long cold weekend. Almost immediately I was phoning just about everyone I knew; the excitement was unbearable. No amount of bribery or begging allowed my dad to cave into any clues as to what the weekend consisted. But it just added to the sheer elation of a complete surprise.
The following day involved frantic packing and a seemingly never-ending journey to the airport. Even as our baggage slid away from us, I had not a single idea as to where I was travelling. Once through security, my dad checked the gate opening time, but wouldn’t tell us the number just yet. He seemed to enjoy our impatience and theories on the destination, having guessed just about every reasonable and, at the time, imaginable destination we could think of. After coffee and trudging round duty-free, he finally revealed the gate number; of course we did not believe him. Looking across to the destination of gate 12, New York was uncovered. For around an hour, all we would ask him was the same one-worded question of “really?” As we approached the gate, the Virgin Atlantic gate 12 destination screen gleamed the words ‘New York.’ I turned to my dad and gave him the biggest bear hug I could muster.