Just a little adventure today, if you can call it that.
So there I was in Miami, Florida, where not only is there hardly anyone originally from Florida, but nowadays practically no one speaks English as their first language. If you cannot hablar espanol here, mate, you’re in trouble.
Shuttle bus to the hotel. Booked in, up to my room, had a quick wash and ordered a pizza which arrived about 30 mins later. I forgot I was in America and ordered a medium which is a UK double extra large. Plenty left for breakfast the next morning. Congealed cheese and pepperoni, heavenly! Actually it was just about ok, but nothing to write home about – although I do seem to be writing home about it if you can call a blog that, duh!
However, quick note to self: don’t order pizzas from places that put leaflets under hotel room doors!
Tried to find something to watch on tv, couldn’t, (I don’t do all the pre-pay movie stuff in hotels, nor do I use their phones for anything other than a quick local call – must be more of that Scots blood I mentioned previously), so went to bed early. I was tired!
Next morning found a note under my door. My bags had arrived at the hotel. I went down to the foyer, spoke to the concierge, and in a few minutes I was heading back up to my room with my lost and now found luggage. Later I took a wander around the hotel gift shops, and then got a taxi to the Dolphin Mall, where I spent most of the day. Huge place, hundreds of shops, lots of places to eat, even a cinema. It was packed with people spending a lot of money – happy shoppers, happier shops. There are loads of other Malls like Aventura with over 300 shops and Sawgrass Mills which is supposed to be one of the biggest in Florida – never been to it, too far away. If you were flying in to Ft Lauderdale to go on a cruise that would be the place to visit for shopping.
Walked out of the Mall about 8pm to go back to the hotel full and happy, and with a big bag full of vitimins, other small gifts and a much needed new pair of trainers for me. I stood where for a while but not a taxi in sight, which is very unusual for the Dolphin Mall. I waited for a bit longer for one to show up and then worked a bit of infallible magic. I phoned a cab company for one, and a literally less than a minute later two showed up. So I phoned the cab company again, cancelled the one I had ordered and jumped into the first of the two that had just pulled up.
This taxi driver wasn’t a Floridian either. They never are. That’s one thing I have found that Miami and New York have in common, lots of cab companies and not one driver who is American born. And most of them don’t know where the hell they are going, or how to get there. They somehow manage it but I’m never convinced it’s by the shortest and best route. Big contrast from London where licensed taxi drivers have to do an exam they call “The Knowledge” which is tough to pass, but when you do you certainly know your way around the city.
Yes, we got lost coming back from the Mall.
Of course we did. There was an inevitability about it. The cabs that service the hotel are used to trips to the Mall, so they know the way quite well. Getting a cab AT the Mall and going back to a hotel they aren’t sure of is quite another thing.
Now, Miami is a nice enough city, despite all the stories you hear about it being dangerous. Having said that it is a big city and you wouldn’t really want to get lost there. Personally, I have never had any trouble in Miami, I go there regularly and from time to time I’ve had to go to some of what would be known as the less safe areas. But everyone whether in black areas, white areas or Hispanic areas, rich or poor, has been more than polite to me, much more so that you would find in a great many parts of big cities in the UK these days. (Perhaps that’s one for another blog.)
Then again, I have a lot of experience of traveling and being in strange places at all hours of the day and night. I am fairly street wise too, and I don’t give off victim scent or whatever it is that seems to attract trouble to some people. All that just means I’m aware and careful, not some kind of tough guy who nobody would ever mess with.
Time for a couple of quick life lessons here, please take them on board.
1. Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see, and
2. Judge people as you find them, not as other people with prejudices and axes to grind tell you they are.
You’ll live a lot better existence for it, and a happier one as well.
Life lesson over.
We were still driving about in the taxi, and still lost!
It’s about a $15 to $20 ride from my hotel to the Mall, depending on the time of day and the traffic. The meter was clicking away, soon it would be clicking its way past the $30 mark and no hotel in sight. Then, after a while of driving up and down streets (the wrong ones), I spotted my hotel. Good job it was a big tower affair, if it had been just three or four stories I don’t think we’d ever have got it. It actually wasn’t so far away at all, we were just heading in the wrong direction. I started shouting “ahi esta, ahi” (there it is, there) at the same time pointing to the big tower of the hotel. We made it!
Decently enough the cab driver didn’t try to charge me for the detour, so I gave him a good tip, and hoped with the money he might buy himself a road map for the next time.
Tomorrow I’d have to do it all over again.
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.