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Day Five – Florida 2015

Day Five onwards….
Well, the last post was all about my complaint to UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, and the fact that I’d spent over a million dollars getting here, eating, using their products, and had to pay $17 to park.

I had a nice reply the following day, by email, telling me that my complaint was being taken seriously and a representative would be calling me shortly. Shortly passed, and the phone rang. All ye of little faith, who ever doubted the power of complaints to customer service. All those of us, who up until now thought a complaint was a nod of the head and a semi silent tut, hang your heads in shame.

Talbie had a result!

When I told my family however, they refused to believe me, so one by one, I told them that I would not be taking them back using my multi park tickets, would not be allowing them to use the express passes I’d been given, and would not be allowing them to spend any of the $25 dollar gift certificates I’d been given to spend in the park.

I would, however, be expecting them to chip in for the $17 dollar parking, because for some reason that’s not included in my reward. Let’s face it, if I was the customer service rep at Universal, and I received my complaint, I’d probably give out a reward, but in a perverse way I’d make me pay for parking. So a nod of appreciation to the staff at Universal, both for the reward and for the mickey take.

I think I’ve been dealing with an American me…..

Things don’t end there readers….oh no. How many people would just attend a restaurant, not have a good time and simply say, “well, we won’t go there again”?
How many people pay for a bad meal, having not enjoyed it, but pay anyway? If you bought a t shirt, and it fell apart, you’d take it back. You order a meal, and it’s not good, you send it back! Some meals cost more than t shirts……

Mine at the Outback Restaurant did…….complaint. After three days I had an email reply from the manager, who apologised, and said he’d ring me. Sure enough, the phone call arrived. He was so sorry about the service we’d received that he would like to welcome me and my family back so he can make amends for our previous visit. On him, of course.

That’s Tuesday sorted then…. But before then we’re off to the coast, and a day out at New Smyrna Beach. (Atlantic Coast – town just south of Daytona)

Our first day was spent on the beach, trying to attach a go-pro to a kite, as we couldn’t afford a drone, and the kite was only a quid. Didn’t work. Back to our hotel for a beer then sleep. Not sure if they have water in Florida, everyone seems to drink from beer cans and bottles…..never mind….when in Rome….

The following day, it’s up early, as we have a schedule that we must stick to, and we have to be on a pleasure boat by 9.30am, to get to our destination, St Augustine, in four hours, and miss the storms. We couldn’t even go out the previous evening as we had an early start! (Nikki’s orders!). We were heading for St Augustine with friends, and the inlet from NSB to St A is about 70 miles long, a nice leisurely punt up the coast…

So, the coolers are packed, the food is all prepared for our picnic, the Floridian water, called Miller, is on ice, as is the Fanta, which is called Chardonnay here, but there’s no sign of our friends. Where could she be? Last minute emergency? No. Quick shower? No. Down at the boat? No. Shopping for more beer!

It’s difficult to describe the next bit, but the inner coastal waterway pretty much goes all the way up from where we are, and to the north of East Florida, and it’s a salt water inner estuary with a series of islands between it and the sea. Houses and nature reserves all the way, with the occasional bridge. Speed is determined by manatees, so in some parts you can wiz along, and some you have to tip toe in case you hit a two ton sea elephant. It’s about 100 degrees, but the sea breeze is doing its job and keeping us cool. Then the clouds started to gather, and gather they did. Then the rain came, but it wasn’t that fine rain, this was like being on the receiving end of a shotgun that fires rice. Constantly. With nowhere to go. From all directions.
Then it went sunny.
Then it rained again.
One of our party, and for anonymity lets just call her Georgia, started to cry she was so miserable and wet. But then the sun came out and she smiled. Then it rained again…
Our arrival in this nations Oldest City, heralded a small break in the weather, and the sun stayed with us.

Four hundred and fifty years ago this City was founded and became the first in the USA. (Although, technically, it wasn’t yet the United States, it was just States. This is, in effect, is American history, and were standing in the middle of it. That said, I’ve got t shirts that are older than this place…..

Our hotel is famous, having been used in many a Crime Watch re-enactment, and in the final scene of Zombie Apocalypse, when it gets blown up. That said, it was comfortable, friendly and semi convenient. But then it started to rain….again.

And rain it did. Never seen rain like it. Rain.

It rained so much that the street outside flooded, and I literally went for a swim in the street. Dived in and everything. Honest.

I had a shower after, and went for the best burger I’ve ever had.

You can look on Trip Advisor for the full review, but if you’re ever here, get yourself to Harry’s, on the front, and have a Harry’s Burger. (Medium rare). You know the chef means business when you can actually choose how you want your burger.

The following day was spent walking around the historic Milton Keynes of America.

Our chauffeur was a geezer called JT, who, on arrival, gave us his number and pretty much took us anywhere for $5.

The same could not be said for our make shift cabbie, TJ, who we had to hail when JT was unavailable for a half mile trip to the St Augustine Brewery.

Firstly, he was on his phone, not a good start. His chicken wing dinner was on his knee, with his drink on the dash board….Nikki cut her foot on the door as she got in…luckily the front of the car was lit up with all the warning lights on the dash board being on, so Sam didn’t have that problem. Unfortunately, we then told TJ that we were familiar with his choice of in car entertainment, and that we quite admired the works of rapper Xzibit. With that, he demonstrated how his stereo went up to 11. Luckily for us, it was the quickest ride, and if he’d have charged me $1000 to get out I may have paid.

He charged $12. Robbing b****d. I could have bought his car for $15…

Arrival at the Ice Plant, which is a small building, but the home of Florida’s newest brewery, has a bar and restaurant, as well as a distillery with a free tour every hour. Gin and Vodka and Whiskey, but they can’t sell the whiskey yet as it has to be at least two years old following brewing.

First, in the sample room, you get to taste the vodka. Mixed with bitters and ginger, it’s called a Florida Mule, and it’s tasty. As we hand back the glasses we start to leave the room. In the background, I hear “now the gin”. I turn to Nikki to confirm what I’ve just heard, but she’s nowhere to be seen. All I can see is a line of people lying injured next to one another, with a bar at the far end, where Nikki, somehow, is first in the queue for her gratis Mothers Ruin.

Then, onto a bar for food. Toxteth O’Grady’s on the front, with a girl serving us that looks about 12. I asked her for ID. She asked me to leave. I said no. She got her mate Steve “The Matterhorn” Jackson. I left peacefully.

Actually, non of that is true, except the waitress being 12….and we were in a bar.

The following day, Our Chief in Command American Guide had us up for a 9am start, but no! She’d changed the parade time to 8.30am without letting her underlings know, so the siren went off early and surprised most of the troops.

We were taken to the boat by JT, via McD’s and Dunkin Donuts, because someone had missed breakfast, and duly JT charged his usual $5.

Back to New Smyrna Beach…..in the sun

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