Friday 5 July 2019

From The Fens to West Palm Beach

If you thought I had been a little quiet it's because I have been travelling.

I left from my home town of March in the windswept Fens on Tuesday afternoon. Via train from March, Peterborough, Kings Cross, St Pancras...finally to Gatwick Airport. Got there about 4pm, just in time to stop in the Bloc Hotel, which is situated in the airport. 

I would rather simply turn up on the day and as John Denver once said: ''I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back home again...'' 

However, a 10am flight doesn't give any time to travel or get to Gatwick late so I always stay overnight. Not that I sleep very well. I am worried I will oversleep and wake up to find I have missed the flight. I guess it happens. So, I don't sleep that well and then feel half ill because of lack of sleep and early mornings which I don't mind to a point but not keen on after a poor night. 

I had to check in about 8am. Some grumpy women on the Norwegian Airlines desk looking like she smiled once sometime back in 1973. I don't know what it is with customer service these days. Perhaps it has always been the same. No one seems to give a toss that you actually pay part of their wage with travelling here and there. After a recent nightmare experience with the ticket lady from hell when travelling to Great Yarmouth (if she wasn't some kind of man-hating witch I don't know what she was) I am slightly unnerved by any person sitting behind a desk or with a ticket machine in hand. East Midlands Trains thanks for fuck all. 

Anyway, the women behind the desk at Norwegian (the one who doesn't know how to smile) tried to inform me that I'm getting close to the limit of my visa. As if I didn't know that! I can count up to 90 my dear...and 75 days or whatever it is isn't three months not even in your embittered world. 

So I got on the flight after security checked my bags for drugs. (Like they do). 

I really don't like travelling alone. I'm not one of these chatty people, so I don't like to force my ''chat'' on people. I sat next to a couple of lads who probably came from Norway or Sweden (not sure) but they were polite and kind of friendly in a non-talking way. Flying for nearly ten hours to the USA isn't fun. I've only got little legs and I was jiffling about like some old gran in her nineties. I kept trying to sleep. I may have got an hour or two. I would hate to be an air steward or cabin crew in this age of political correctness. Compared with the women on the desk they were joy personified. I had a meal. It was ok. I didn't take any water onboard and two small cups of orange juice left me in a state of dehydration.

I wasn't sorry to hear we were 30 minutes from Miami. I usually get a flight to Fort Lauderdale but they have changed routes so it is Miami. I guess it sounds better and more of a touristy location than FL. I was simply pleased to get out of that seat. Stretch my legs and await the rigmarole of security. I don't know if it is just me, but if I had a bag of sugar in my rucksack by the time I met security it would turn into a bag of cocaine. Or, at least, feel like it. 

It was quite straight forward. The man on the desk asked me a few questions. Seemed to ask a few times why I only had hand luggage. I have lots of clothes there. He asked: Are you staying at a hotel for over two months?''

I don't know if this was a trick question. I felt like saying: ''Yes, I'm sharing with Bill Gates.'' However, I don't want to get on the wrong side of anyone who can be a pain in the arse. Like these customer service women. I said I am staying with the other half. He simply said: ''Have a good stay.''

I was met by this little drug sniffer dog on the last stretch of the security. I put my bag on the floor so the beagle could get a good sniff. I knew the bag of ''sugar'' was airtight, so I wasn't concerned! (Yes, that is a joke).I am as clean as Mr Sheen. 

Next, I had to find my way to level 3. Sound like somewhere from a page in the book 1984, written by George Orwell. For all I know, they may well have a room 101 somewhere up and down. I was trying to find the Tri Rail train. 

I hate going to places and not having the slightest idea of what is going on. I followed the signs. I was pretty sure I was getting there. I saw this thing that didn't look like a train. It was a monorail thingamebob which took me a short distance to Tri Rail. I asked this Mexican bloke, who looked as though he worked there if I needed a ticket to get on this funny-looking contraption. 

I think he thought I was having a go at him as I kept asking questions trying to work out what was going on etc. He said: ''I'm just answering your questions!'' I said: I appreciate your help but I haven't got the slightest idea what I am doing and it is the first time I have been to Miami Airport and the need to travel via Tri Rail. 

I wanted to save Marlene time from driving from West Palm Beach to Miami, so I had the bright idea I would just do it. 

I finally got off the monorail thingamebob and a short walk to the Tri Rail station. I had a slight issue with the ticket and thought the customer service women was kind of helpful but a touch ''where is this bloke from'' attitude. ''She said: ''Do you live in Miami?'' I felt like saying: ''Do I sound like I live in Miami?'' But didn't as I've had enough with confrontations of late. 

I said: ''I'm from the UK (England).''

I keep thinking about these people. I just think if you arrive at Gatwick, need to get to Kings Cross (on your own) and then travel to March in the windswept Fens you may have a moment of realisation that being somewhere new isn't plain sailing. (Thank God a boat wasn't involved!). 

So I got on the train. A big hulking double-decker of a train. I sat down. I got up and put a timetable of the route in my bag just in case I feel like stressing the life out of myself any time soon. 

It made me smile as I watched a selection of commuters get on and off. Many had cycles. The ticket man came along. I noticed he had a gun in a holster. Thank the Lord the old bag on the Yarmouth train wasn't given one of those for ''assisting'' travellers (to an early grave). He didn't say much. Just looked at the ticket. I like quiet people. Sometimes you don't need to hear an opinion. 

I noticed a couple of locals hadn't got a ticket. I wondered if the gun might be needed. They were issued with a fine. One didn't have identification. I can only imagine the ticket man new the residence of Mickey Mouse. Joking. The man gave a name, address and whatever. 

My ticket cost $6.51 or something like that. Quite good value. 

I saw places come and go. Opa-locka Station, Hollywood Station, Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and finally West Palm Beach.

After a long, long journey which lasted over one and half hours in all, I was getting pretty tired and fed up. 

My phone doesn't have internet in the US. I am worried I might forget about this roaming thing and come back to a bill of four figures. I managed to get the free internet on the train after messing about with the bloody thing for 20 minutes. 

Oh, the joys of travel. 

It went off. I manage to get it back on for a minute and tell Marlene I would be at West Palm Beach at 5:55pm. She isn't the best with times. I was waiting at the station boiling up in the sweltering heat for over an hour. 

I didn't have wifi and I didn't dare find my way from there to City Place or somewhere with free wifi just in case Marlene turned up and wondered where I was. 

Eventually, she arrived. My beautiful, Marlene.

Thankfully I am here.

And I thought horse racing was complicated.