Thursday, 24 July 2014

USA Day 1. A Hellish Start

Today has just been long and hard, so now I’m all grumpy and tired.

I woke up at 4am to catch my flight. Check it was pretty easy, my suitcase was within the weight limit with the only downside really being that they couldn’t send my suitcase straight to Vegas. But I had a 3hr stop over from when I landed in Los Angeles with AirTahitiNui and when I had to catch my flight to Las Vegas so I figured it would be fine to get my suitcase and check back in…

I had two children behind me during the 9hr flight -one of which seemed determined to cry and whine the entire 9hrs. Looking back, I have some begrudging respect for the little guy for keeping it up so long. 9hrs is impressive.

The flight itself was fine, I had two seats to myself and there were 4 english movies!

Then we got to LAX. Not one, not two, but THREE airbuses landed at once. Want to know what that means? That means ridiculously long queues. Immigration was just a fiasco I was queuing for over an hour. And then I got pulled out to be questioned – why I was coming to the states, details of when I’m leaving, plans while I’m here, who I know in the States etc. So that was fun, and not at all intimidating and scary when sleep deprived.

After that I had to get my luggage, only to fin out my terminal had been changed and I had to run in sweltering heat from Terminal 1 to 7. Yes 6 terminals. In boiling weather. I truly dread to think what I must have looked like. The phrase ‘hot mess’ doesn’t even cover it.

I got there though, check in was weird, but then I came to weighing my suitcase.
And somehow it’d magically gained half a kilo. I have no idea how that’s possible but there it is. So I had to quickly open my suitcase and grab something to lighten it… In case you couldn’t guess panic and sleep deprivation isn’t the best combination and I ended up grabbing my trainers and proceeding to have to walk around the airport holding them…

After that security went smoothly, I got pulled out again but I’m used to that now. Then I spent the next hour looking for an adapter – which should not be so hard to find in an airport! I did eventually get one though (after checking 5 electronic shops) so then it was off to Vegas baby!

Las Vegas Airport was everything you would imagine, as soon as you walk out there are rows and rows of slot machines – welcome to the gambling capital of the world! I grabbed my luggage but when I went to the ATM my card was acting up. I assumed it was just the ATMs at the airport and jumped in a cab.

The Cab driver was… interesting, within around 30 seconds of chatting he offered to sell me weed. That was my first taste of Vegas. When we got to the hotel I pop my card in to pay the driver and it was declined. You know that pit you get in your stomach when you know something bad is about to happen? Yeah I got that. I tried running it through as ‘checking’, ‘debit’, ‘saving’, ‘cheque’ and ‘credit’… it wasn't having it.

I still wasn’t overly worried, there’s an ATM in the hotel so I figure I’ll get the money out there.. Nope. Not having it. So I go over to the desk and ask if my card is working there – nope. Luckily I had another card which allowed me to get out the money to pay the driver.

But when I went back to use that card to pay for my second night (you pay the first night when you book and the second when you arrive) that card was declined. Long story short, both my banks blocked my cards despite me specifically going into branch at Easter to give them a list of countries to expect transactions in.

Thankfully I had the first night paid for, but I hadn’t access to any of my money. And by now it was roughly 2am and I was getting picked up for a tour at 6am, and if I couldn’t pay for the next night by 6am when I left I’d have to check out of my room and sort it out when my tour arrived back in Vegas at 10pm. Not ideal.  

After persuading the hotel to let me use the phone (they don’t normally allow that without a credit card, and I couldn’t get online without a working card either) I embarked on the mammoth task of attempting to get through to an international number on an internal hotel service phone. Tears ensued. After attempting for over an hour I eventually got through to my bank and sorted it out, but by then it was half 3 and I was so so exhausted. 

Not the best way to start my time in the USA!

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