Tuesday, 19 August 2014

USA Day 25. Getting to the Airport!

(be warned, this is a monolithic read so feel free to skip it and wait for tomorrow's pictures!)

Today definitely didn't go quite as planned. Santander blocked my card yesterday, and when I went into a branch they claimed they couldn't help me, I had to ring. I wasn't too concerned as they've blocked my card countless times before and a quick phone call typically solves the problem.

Only when I got back to the hostel the phones available would only accept $5 phone cards, and I had $6.50 on me with no access to more money. At this point I was definitely starting to panic and get nervous, as if the phone card didn't work I would have absolutely no way to get to the airport tomorrow.

I figured I didn't have much choice though so i bought the card. After an hour of trying different numbers and combinations (do I add the 0 or remove it, does this number need the 44 etc.) I got through.

I'm still so mad about this, so I'm going to keep it short. One of the security questions was a 'recent cash withdrawal'. I explained I was abroad so my transactions would have been in dollars so I couldn't give an exact amount (with the exchange rate varying on an almost daily basis) but that I withdrew around £40 the day before yesterday at Times Square. She told me this was wrong and from then basically couldn't help me, I had to fax photocopies of my passport and card and ring back

Now aside from not having access to a fax machine (who even uses faxes anymore?!) I had used all of my money on that phone call. I managed to photograph my passport and card and email, but I had absolutely no money to ring Santander back.

I was in New York City with $1.50, with no way to catch my flight leaving in a few hours. 
Stressed doesn't even cut it.

I went back to a Santander branch to see if I could ring from there but they can't ring internationally. A Santander Branch isn't able to contact it's own departments. They just couldn't contact people with their so company. I'm getting annoyed thinking about it now it was just so ridiculous. 

All I can say is thank god for mum. 
Lots and lots of trial and error later and some improvisation thrown in for good measure we got my card unblocked but it's definitely not an experience I'm in any rush to repeat!

The first thing I did was book a shuttle to airport (well actually I bought breakfast since I hadn't been able to afford to eat anything for about 18hrs so I was pretty hungry). 


The driver to the airport was insane. He hadn't a clue where he was going so I had to direct him how to get to certain streets (?!), he was constantly shouting and getting aggressive with the other passenger as he was incredibly impatient and the best bit was while we were driving he turned his window down, leaned out and started having a conversation with a driver in a taxi in the next lane about changing his job! Infact he spent the whole 2hr journey moaning about his job! He ignored red lights and narrowly avoided a few accidents, then when I got out he was very obnoxious about a tip (I know for a fact the company has a strong policy about their drivers not being allowed to actually ask for tips).
So I didn't tip him. 


JFK was an incredibly unorganised airport, I'm not even going to go into how bad. They had a Wendy's though which i got really excited about! I'd planned to go on my last day in the States but with the card trouble I obviously couldn't, so I took it as fate that I was meant to try them!


We landed early in Toronto (despite leaving JFK half an hour later) but everything was closed. I've never seen an airport so dead, lots of flights were still arriving but it was deserted so I couldn't exchange my money and the only taxis were the 'limo' ones. And the ride was… 'interesting'. 

The driver wasn't as unsettling as the one in NYC, in fact he was very friendly. Weirdly friendly. 
He kept bringing up the fact that he liked British women, before mentioning how he didn't' think british guys were that great. And then repeatedly asked me if I liked British men or American men…

That was weird but I figured I'd be at the hostel soon so I wasn't too concerned. That was until he pulled into a deserted parking lot and got out the car?! Apparently the boot had popped open but that didn't stop be figuring out the best escape route…

10 minute down the road he pulls into yet another deserted road and tells me to get out the car… He wanted me to get out and look at the sky, and whereas before I was contemplating how to get out the car as quickly as possible now there was no way I was leaving my seat!

I made it to the hostel in one piece! Not before the driver gave me his card, wrote he personal mobile number on it and told me several times how he would be more than happy to give me a personal tour of the city, or to help me out if I needed anything… 

But yeah, the hostel receptionist was lovely and despite getting into the room at 2am and trying to make my bed (which is on the top bunk) in the dark, without waking up 5 other people, my first night in Toronto hasn't been too bad!

But yeah, I'm at the hostel so all's good :)

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