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Published: November 6th 2011
As we were flying out to Orlando and flying back from Miami, it meant that we would be leaving from Gatwick and arriving back at Heathrow. Consequently we got a taxi all the way to Heathrow as it wouldn’t be possible to drive ourselves there, and there was no way that we were going to go by train as it would mean crossing central London on the tube.
We got there early and since we had checked-in online we were expecting just a quick luggage drop-off and then loads of time spare to have a leisurely breakfast and nose around the duty-free. However the luggage drop-off was every bit of time-consuming as the normal check-in and in fact had a longer queue. We wondered why we even bothered with the on-line check-in.
But if that was bad, things were a lot worse in Orlando when we came to the joy that is US Immigration. The woman / tyrant / fascist dictator who was controlling the queues ruled her domain with a rod of iron and we were obviously supposed to be in no doubt as to the magnificence of her total authority. She clearly hadn’t or couldn’t read the posters on the wall about the friendly face of US Immigration. We had been queuing for about half an hour when she just decided she was going to close our queue and send us all to the back of the other queues. Given that more flights had arrived after us, that was extremely depressing.
Despite my begging her not to, my wife decided that she wasn’t going to take it quietly and proceeded to get into an argument with her about it (of all the places to start kicking-off). I remember her screaming “Jesus Christ” at my wife, at which point some people in another queue let us join theirs. That was a big mistake as their (now our) queue then lost out as she gave preference to all the others when the immigration desks became free.
We got through eventually.
After collecting our hire car, we had to find Kissimmee where our villa was. The roads were quite quiet, which was a relief as it gave us a chance to get used to the US roads. Not only was there the driving on the right-hand side to get used to, but there are the red flashing lights. We had no idea whether we were supposed to go or not, at least until people started horning us. Then there is the fact that you can turn right even when you have a red light. Again people eventually started horning us. And let’s not mention the junctions where everyone has the same priority and you take it in turns. Given the British obsession with queuing, you think we would be able to handle them, but everyone that we came across was thrown into complete chaos, with some very frustrated Americans who have probably suffered enough Brits driving around Orlando to know what we’re like.
We eventually reached our villa amongst the hundreds of thousands of other similar villas and met-up with our friends who we would be staying with.
We went out for a meal in the evening, but the restaurant we went to was really busy and the only seats available were at the bar. Not ideal for the children, particularly given that they were fighting to stay awake because of the time difference from the UK.
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