Travelling to Texas

Trip Start Sep 17, 2006
Trip End Dec 23, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

At lunchtime I leave the Deauville Hostel and make my way via bus to the Fort Lauderdale airport. It all goes exactly as planned and after a painless check-in I am sitting comfortably in the departure lounge wondering what will happen in the next few days.

At 4:05pm my flight departs to Austin. I am towards the back of the plane, which is mostly empty. Oddly a woman is in the seat next to me, even though there are dozens of seats nearby. I am slightly offended when she asks an air hostess if she can move to a different seat.

On what is my third jetBlue flight I enjoy the complimentary TV channels in front of me, it’s either election talk or sports talk. Once again I enjoy very odd blue crisps, and free soft drinks.

After a flight of nearly three hours we touch down in Austin, Texas. The sun is shining and my fingers are frantically crossed hoping that my bags made it this time! As I proceed to the baggage collection area I spot Neil Ray, my pal from England who is here for about a week to see me and have a holiday in the USA. Neil looks exhausted probably because he’s just flown in from Manchester via New York.

Jubilantly my bags appear and ride down the carousel towards my outstretched arms. We walk through the terminal building and into a taxi outside. The one at the front of the queue looks slightly dodgy so I am pleased when he says he only accepts cash. I tell him that we don’t have enough cash and climb into the more kosher looking yellow cab behind.

Our accommodation turns out to be further away from the airport than first thought. It takes about fifteen minutes and costs $35 including a tip (19). We are staying at the Motel 6 Central, about 5 miles from downtown Austin. On first glances it looks smart enough, the rooms are chalet style self contained flats, rather than halls in a larger building.

Austin is of course the capital city of the state of Texas. It is one of just two democratic constituencies in what is a heavily republican state. I find it slightly odd that the centre of government for the state is in a city which doesn’t reflect the overall beliefs of the state as a whole. Austin apparently is liberal and hippy, which possibly explains why a popular music festival has popped up here.

Neil and I unpack then decide to look for some food. A problem quickly surfaces. Out of our window we can see various food outlets, including McDonalds. However they are the wrong side of a six lane highway! Six lanes that is on top of two each side for slip roads meaning we’d have to frogger ourselves across ten car filled lanes before we got to the other side. Even to starving Brits this was too much of a task so we looked for a solution.

Down the road a little I thought I had found an underpass, closer inspection though revealed it to be nothing more than a dry canal. I looked to see if I could pass underneath, complete darkness was ahead of me. When I saw a flash of light ahead I quickly panicked and turned back. It turned out to just be the flash of Neil’s camera, he was attempting to record the moment I disappeared into the black hole.

Back at the motel we ask at reception for the best way to cross this insanely busy and wide motorway. A girl looking identical to Angelica Bell from CBBC tells us that a bit up the road is a fly over where we can cross with the aid of a green man (white man actually here). Some thirty minutes or so later we are safely on the other side of the highway. After the ordeal of getting over the road we settle for an unhealthy McDonalds. Our American friends Whitney and Ashton are ultra-healthy, therefore we feel the need to stock up on fatty acids and e-numbers before they arrive. On the way back people look at us strangely, as if not using a car is some unwritten crime that only the homeless dare commit!
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