So we finished up the tour on Saturday evening. And I was up at stupid o'clock on Sunday morning, because my shuttle to the airport was picking me up between (and I quote from my booking slip) 6.59am and 7.14am. Thankfully it wasn't 6.59, because I was still shoving things into my suitcase and endeavouring to brush my teeth without getting toothpaste all down my shirt and saying goodbye to Agatha Goodkin.
Thankfully, I got downstairs in time to make my shuttle, and got to the airport without any problems. Check in took about five minutes, which made me wish I'd booked my shuttle for half an hour later, and I headed downstairs to clear security. That involved waiting in the queue for about ten minutes, and when I got to the front of the line, the guy checked my ID and scribbled all over my boarding pass, and then announced that I was about to clear security for the wrong section of the airport:
Me: Oh. Um. Okay???
TSA guy: Your plane is leaving from gate 24. You're clearing security for gates 28 through 36.
Me: Oh. So where do I...
TSA guy: Security for those gates is just down the other end of the terminal.
Me: Oh, okay! [turns to head down there]
TSA guy: Where are you going?!
Me: ...To the other security checkpoint?
TSA guy: But you can just go through here and take the shuttle.
TSA guy: There's a shuttle right by gate 28.
Me: Um. Thanks?
TSA guy: I mean, you can go down to the other gate if you want.
Me: I can?
TSA guy: But the shuttle's, like, right here. So.......
Me: I'll just go through here, shall I?
TSA guy: Good choice. Have a nice flight!
So I eventually cleared security with a nice dose of added "WTF I'M SO CONFUSED". And then I took the shuttle across to where I was supposed to be. Aaaaaaaand then I had the better part of three hours to kill before my flight. Thankfully, Reagan has free wifi. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
Unfortunately, there was a massive school group on my flight. Fortunately, the flight was only 2 hours long. And then I was in Orlando, where the airport was bizarrely filled with miniature gymnasts cartwheeling all over the place. The lovely Alice came and picked me up from the airport, and we headed to lunch at Graffiti Junktion, which Alice had informed me had fries that were so delicious "they must have been dipped in crack". I have to agree - the fries were amazing.
After we'd stuffed ourselves on deliciousness, we headed over to Team!friend's house, and from there to see Les Miserables. AGAIN, in my case. It was as brilliant as the first time, plus the movie theatre had lights that looked like Daleks were coming out of the walls. See??
After the movie, Alice drove me clear across town to my delightful $30 a night motel, with a stop along the way at Walgreens, where I spent ten minutes staring at the cold and flu tablets in a brain dead fashion, and bought a giant can of Pringles and a box of Junior Mints. Because of reasons. Don't judge me.
Upon checking into the motel, I was presented with a bizarre and perplexing device. Namely, this:
This was the key to my room, and it's like the love child of an electronic keycard and a World War II code breaking machine...
Anyway, Alice had to work the next day, so she left me to dope myself up on cold and flu tablets and eat chocolate. My BFF Sara and her friend Julia had arrived in Florida from London two days earlier, and had spent the day at Disneyworld. Sara had emailed me the day before to say that they were planning on staying at the park until closing, but after Alice left, I figured I'd drag out my computer and use the motel's free wifi to see if there was any word. Which was about the point where I discovered that the motel's free wifi only worked in the lobby. HOW CONVENIENT.
So I trekked down there and stood awkwardly in the corner because pretty much every other person staying at the motel was ALSO in the lobby using the internet at that particular moment. Thankfully, there was an email from Sara saying that they'd been too tired to stay at the park until closing and were back already. So I headed up to their room, and our reunion went pretty much like this:
The following day, we had a buffet breakfast at a restaurant up the street from the motel and then hopped in the car for a two and a bit hour drive up to St. Augustine. On the way, we discovered that there is pretty much one radio station in the whole of the Orlando area, and that said radio station had about six songs to their name. One of which was Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble". Which got very old very quickly (and was sadly lacking in screaming goats)...
Anyway, it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so the admission cost at the fort was waived. It wasn't the most fascinating thing ever, but it was free, and it kept us occupied for a while. Plus, there were pretty views!
We walked around the town for an hour or so, and ended up at what we deemed the most important thing on the map given to us by the tourist information centre - the fudge shop. As we'd not had lunch, Sara and Julia got ice creams, while I was so intrigued about the fact that a milkshake cost $7 that I had to order one. What goes in a $7 milkshake? Five scoops of chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, a glass of milk, and a terrifying amount of whipped cream. It was the most amazing milkshake of EVER.
After a sugar revival, we piled back into the car and drove to another couple of attractions - namely the Fountain of Youth and the local lighthouse - but were too cheap to pay to go into them. So instead, we took photos from the outside and then drove the two and a bit hours back to Orlando.
Next up, manatees, tacky souvenirs and a trip to a zoo that featured a ridiculous Australian section.