We went to Russia via New York City, and because we did a nested itinerary (two separate tickets: one to New York, then another from New York to Russia), we made sure we had lengthy layovers in both directions, but extra-long at the beginning.
After all, we can always lose a couple days in New York. Even if it is a heat wave and the temperatures are ridiculous, and the hotel screws up our (prepaid!) booking and moves us across town for the first night of our stay, requiring us to haul our luggage all over Manhattan every day we were there.
We had a bunch of drink vouchers for United that were about to expire, so on the flight in I had a couple glasses of white wine. I think it was the fact that I was knitting a baby sweater while drinking that lead to the glares from people sitting around me. That, or they were spectacularly unfriendly people.
We got into JFK to find that a) the Airtrain had caught fire and we had to take a mysterious series of buses all over the place to get to the subway, b) the aforementioned prepaid hotel had messed up our room, and c) it was getting late, many decent places to eat were closed up, and what was left was either expensive or offensively loud. We had dinner in the wine bar under the hotel and then crashed.
The next day we slept in (not really, but waking up at 8am California time means waking up at 11am in New York), dropped our luggage off at the hotel for the second night, then took the subway uptown to have lunch at Shake Shack. That was pretty good, though by the time we got there I was drenched in sweat. We shared a table with two nice UMass grads, who informed us in all seriousness that when men wear red shoes, it means they are gay.
Then we went on an epic walk through Central Park, mostly towards the Guggenheim but also entirely in the wrong direction.
After a couple of hours of tromping through the park in the heat, we really, really enjoyed the air conditioning at the Guggenheim, even if much of the museum was closed off for renovation.
Then we met some friends of mine for yarn shopping and dinner. I had lobster, because in the summer on the East Coast, the lobster is amazing. And it was.
The next day we took it easy, packing up our luggage and taking the subway down to have breakfast at Shopsin's (definitely worth the schlep), then visiting a perfumery in Brooklyn, because that's the kind of odd place we like to go to. Then it was getting on into the afternoon and we headed to the airport for our flight to Russia.
At which point the heavens opened up and we were stuck on the plane, but at the terminal, for hours. At least I got a lot of knitting done, though I did drop my tiny double-point needles lots of times, and almost had to give one up for lost.
Then we were in Moscow.