I have probably said it before on this blog, but I'll say it again - always travel on the early-morning flights. No one else is there, no one wants to be there, and so security and customs are a total breeze (major Canadian airports allow you to do US customs before your flight, and you barely even have to interact with humans). I was essentially waved through and avoided a lot of the meandering and waiting that comes with international air travel.
That said, it doesn't make getting up at 2 AM any easier. I had a hectic week, as is par for the course in graduate school, so I was running on a sleep deficit anyway, and didn't get to packing until late. Still, my alarm went off and I obediently rose, my stuff carefully placed next to my bed so I could be out of the house in five minutes flat. It took ten, but I still get an A for effort.
Forty-five dollars and a cab ride later (Toronto is one of those provincial backwaters that closes its transit at night), I was at the airport just before three. Even after going through customs and security, nothing was open. Absolutely nothing. Even the Tim Hortons. Any Canadians reading this will know that that is Serious Business. Finally, I found an open Starbucks, and after a coffee and a breakfast sandwich I was much revived. I passed the time with blogging, reading my incredible backlog of library eBooks, and the Hamilton soundtrack, which feels rather topical these days - both personally and globally. We've seen our truly nauseating share of angry politicians, though none of them can sing as well as Leslie Odom, Jr., but more than that, I'm really into personal achievement, taking the chances life gives me, and oh my god I'm about to start rapping in the airport -
In Canada, at least at the major airports, US flights depart separately from both Canadian and international flights. I've flown internationally from Toronto quite a few times, and domestically too often to count, but only once to the US - my previous trip to Florida in 2012, during which I unexpectedly saw Newt Gingrich (why do my trips always include a moment of politics?) - so it's like a whole new terminal. It runs alongside the domestic gates, separated by a glass wall, so I can look out at them and scoff, "Ha, you peons. You're probably going to Kelowna or something." (It is the Canadian endeavour to be indifferent, at best, to everything within one's own country, while knowing absolutely everything about, and idolizing, all the others.)
Side note - I'm going to make my fortune off of my new program, Rachael'a Guide to Efficient Packing. I don't care what you have to bring, three giant suitcases for a weeklong beach cruise can't be worth it. I look super out of place with my teeny tiny red duffel bag, which has served me so very well.
I flew Sunwing, which serves Florida, the Caribbean, and other warm destinations for Canadians. They do a brisk business, as you can imagine. It was my first time on a budget airline in North America, and it was fine. We took off and landed and I had a tolerable cup of coffee, which is pretty much all I ask from an airline. Sunwing is pretty good for its low prices.
Another bonus of travelling early - you get most of the day to spend at your destination. We landed in Orlando at 9:15 AM. My aunt and uncle were waiting for me, and we webt to tthe Orange Lake Resort, which is OHMIGOD FIVE MILES FROM DISNEYWORLD. It's more like a neighbourhood than a resort, full of high-rises and condos and little bungalows, with all kinds of beautiful swimming pools and golf courses and walking trails. It's sunny and warm and I feel like a lizard on a rock. Speaking of which, we apparently have gators and snakes, though I haven't seen any. Today was a day to rest, swim in the pool, and just veg out. We somehow managed to visit two WalMarts and a Target. Florida, I tell ya.
The election coverage here has been utterly non-stop. I am sure the entire state is bored out of their minds. Both Clinton and Obama were in Florida today, which felt really really weird! At least we have Saturday Night Live and its lovely, heartfelt sketch of the week to heal our souls (and Kate McKinnon helps). This is a swing state and anything could happen on Tuesday. It's an exciting time, but frightening, too.
But there are two days to go. And so I will have fun at Harry Potter and look around the city and enjoy being in this lovely sunny state.