Day 5 & 6 Florida 2017

I’ve never flown with JetBlue. Never really heard of them either, but if you Google them, or check on trip advisor, then their reviews are not that bad. They’re a bit like a posh EasyJet, with comfy seats, lots of legroom, seat-back TV’s, and they’re cheap.

There, I’ve set the scene for what should have been a smooth transition from Las Vegas to Florida. Despite the afore mentioned food poisoning incident (to which Jim, the manager at MGM, has requested an in depth itinerary of my culinary choices before he begins his investigation) we were up and on our way early. We knew we had to be out of the hotel by 11am, despite our flight not leaving until the scheduled 8.30pm. So, showered and shaved (well, Nikki was), we set out to see Las Vegas one last time, leaving our bags with the concierge. It’s 102* in Las Vegas, and the monorail took us most of the way down the Strip to The Stratosphere, where we planned to get a bus to the old Las Vegas, Fremont Street. This is that tacky Blackpool bit of Vegas that everyone has to see once, and if any of you are U2 friendly, you’ll see that their “Still haven’t found…” video was filmed there. However, when Bonio and The Hedge were there, they must have got rid of the man dressed as a baby with a sign round his neck exclaiming “Will Poop for Cash”, and the 25 stone woman in a wheelchair, who’s sign read “I’ve f*cked everyone but you”.

Problem is, you need exact change when you jump on the bus, or the driver cant accept you – its the law, and we didn’t have the correct change. Well, Nikki didn’t. As most of you regular readers know, Nikki has to carry the money when we’re away, and I have none. It’s quite handy, as she always has to go to the bar, sort bills out, and pay for bus passes…or not.

Julio, quite frankly, told us to leave the bus, and pre pay for tickets at a nearby ticket booth. “Where is that?” Nikki asked. He pointed to a nearby machine, that was a temporary home for a crack addled hasn’t-had-a-bath-since Christmas topless tramp. As we stepped from the bus, expecting Julio to hang on, the doors shut, and he left us, an a concrete 102* strip, with our new best friend “Maitland”. Despite his help with the machine, after all, we were in his living room, the overriding smell was the main issue here. It wasn’t a nice Jo Malone odour, more like “I’ve slept in heated cat litter”. We waited with Maitland until the next bus arrived, discussing Proust and the lesser known works of Shakespeare, before bidding him a fond farewell.

Fremont Street. Home to bright lights, street entertainment, and beggars. Not normal beggars, but just people with so called funny signs, like “My wife had a sex change and ran off with my girlfriend” and “Why lie…I need beer”. Oh how we laughed. They expect you to give them money for a photo with them. And they are not short of a bob or two….

So, just to recap, as we have been at Fremont Street for nearly 10 minutes, after realising that we need to leave quickly, we waited for the return bus back to civilisation. The bus stop was next to a restaurant called, “Heart Attack Grill”, which proudly serves the biggest burger in the world, and states that anyone over 300lbs eats free. Challenge accepted! I got turned away at the door for being “a chancer” and falling sadly below the weight minimum….

So, onto the bus, and remember, we have the clothes on our back to last us until the flight later on. An email comes through from Jet Blue, stating that our flight has been delayed to 10.30pm, due to adverse weather in Florida. OK, 2 hours, not the end of the world…..

We got onto the bus, which goes down the centre of the strip, and took the upstairs front seat. Great views, and the only thing in front of us is the glass windscreen. The bus driver had been briefed, and told that its the law to stop at every light, every bus stop, turn the air con off, pack the bus as tightly as possible, drive slowly, and make sure the journey lasts at least one and a half hours. He succeeded. Oh, and one last thing, make sure you drive towards the sun, so that windscreen acts like a magnifying glass at the Eden Project. It worked. In our airport clothing, we lost nearly two stone each, or as the Americans say, 28 pounds.

As we reached the other end of the strip, we were helped from the bus by paramedics, and another email came through from JetBlue. Another delay until 12.20am, but, just in case there is a change again, please arrive at the airport for the original flight time, 8.30pm. And so to the pool area of the MGM, where we will sit and relax before Ubering our way to the airport, a short 3 miles away for the original take off time, taking in to account the increased security measures. As we waited, an announcement came over the PA….”Ladies and Gentlemen….JetBlue regrets to announce the cancellation of tonight’s flight…..”

Luckily, or unluckily, the announcement was for the adjacent New York flight, which stirred all the people on that flight into a frenzy of anger. Quite rightly. Fortunately, JetBlue stated that they could put all the passengers on the Fort Lauderdale flight (ours) and then put them on a connecting flight to New York in the morning. Our half full flight was now overbooked. Oh and further delayed.

At 2.20am we took off, still in our 10am Las Vegas stained clothing, with Maitland essence and Fremont Street detritus. The two Russian men in front of us were obviously on honeymoon, as they wouldn’t stop kissing, and they’d made a pact not to use deodorant during their recent holiday. FFS! Still to cheer us up, the pilot made an announcement. “Due to a bit of bad weather in Texas, we’ll be diverting down towards the Gulf and over Mississippi towards Florida….its a little longer but it’ll be a lot smoother”. An hour longer to be precise. We landed at 10.30am. Now, remember I have no credit card, and have to pick up a car….

Still wearing “Eau De Chat-piss” I approached the Alamo Employee of the Month 1984″ Robert, who requested my drivers licence and credit card. “Here’s my licence Bob, and my credit card is on my iPhone, I do everything electronically now”. “But I need to swipe the card, we have no Apple Pay facility here”. “You could just take the card details and input them manually”. “It’s easier just to swipe a card”. “I know, but I don’t have one with me” “I need a card”. “You don’t understand Bob…”. “It’s Robert, and I need a card”. I gave him my Tesco club card, testing his humour level. He swiped it, gave it back to me, and gave me my car. This Country…..wonder how many points I’ve earned….

Don’t look at a map and think Fort Lauderdale is only a short drive to The Keys. It’s not. It’s nearly 200 miles. Through downtown Miami, and along a small ancient road called SR 1…..six hours drive. We arrived at 4pm, still wearing the same pants I’d put on a long time before. My phone rang, it was my old mate Maitland asking for them…..

The beach bungalow is not that at all. It’s a palm lined garden apartment, with an upstairs mezzanine, and not on the beach. It is lovely, but our host, Tim, seems a bit of a camera-in-the-bathroom sort of bloke. I’ll not ramble on now, but we went to the furthest point south to watch the sunset on Key West, met some great people, and drank bloody Mary’s ’till bedtime, which was about 8pm…..

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