Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flying coach and swimming with dolphins

We left Miami today. Goodbye, grapefruit-boobed girls! Goodbye Ritz Carlton with the fancy bathtub!

I made fun of Josh for slumming it on coach airplane seats; he confessed this was only his second time not being in first class seats. It was pretty funny. I was almost positive we weren't going to be sitting next to goats or anything. Before we left I was reading stuff people wrote about flying, and there was a lot about cruel flight attendants, but I didn't notice that at all. There was no hot towel but everyone seemed just as nice on this flight as they were on the other one. There was just a lot less space. Being tall really sucks on airplanes.

Josh had asked before we left Manhattan, back when he was planning this trip, if I wanted to go swimming with dolphins, and I was so torn. I freaking love animals. I saw Free Willy. I remember talking to my mom about Elian Gonzalez and how he claimed dolphins helped him stay afloat. The idea of playing in the water with animals seems so outrageously cool! But I also saw The Cove.

Ultimately I feel like if I want to play with dolphins the way to do that is to become a vet. Something about such a big mammal being in such a small enclosure feels wrong to me. Only the ones that have been so injured that they wouldn't survive in the ocean should be kept. But forcing them to perform every day rubs me the wrong way. The idea of people screaming and banging on the glass bothers me. I don't want to contribute to that in any way. Even though I'd love to go swimming with dolphins, until you can show me them communicating that they like it, I won't do it. So we didn't go to Sea World.

Today was a very packed day. We went for one last walk on the beach in Miami, then flew to Disney, and after checking in looked into going to one of the two water parks, but both were closed for refurbishments. We wound up going to Hollywood Studios, which was a lot of fun. To be honest, I'm not really into the animation or Disney stuff, but they had a lot of special effects stuff for movies that was cool. After dinner, we went to Cirque du Soleil which was probably the most awesome thing I ever saw in my entire life. I need to find a way for my sisters to see it in New York. Seriously, I could watch that every single day and never get tired of it. I definitely want to buy my sisters stuff that's Cirque du Soleil themed before we leave here.

Tomorrow we go to Epcot. Josh said it'll be a good place for me to see before we go out of the country since it shows a little of what each country is like. The place we're staying has a little kitchen so we got eggs and fruit and I'm going to make breakfast before we head out. I asked Josh if he feels like he's hemorrhaging money on this trip. "Not at all, but I bet you know down to the nickel how much you've spent so far." It's true, I do. When we were on the plane, Josh tried to give me a pep-talk about how to do vacations. He suggested that for me, making a vacation budget might be a good idea, so I could take a vacation from worrying about money, because it's already been stressed over and decided before starting. Then I could, in Josh's fantasy, I wouldn't think about it as long as I was pulling from what had been put in the vacation budget. I see his point. I don't know if I can do it, but we'll see.

This is the part where I am a judgmental bitch: some of the people I saw today were the biggest cliches of tourists. Big white sneakers, fanny packs, capri pants, and Disney clothing. Josh said you really have to make peace with tacky tourists in order to travel, and just not get too close so people don't think you're like them.

Much, much worse than the way they dress, was how I saw them acting. At dinner we were seated next to a family, and after they ordered they sat around talking about taking a picture for at least 15 minutes. Right when the waitstaff came over to deliver the food, that's when the family decided it was time to take the picture. They actually asked the servers to stand there and hold hot plates full of food during a busy dinner service while they took pictures. Maybe it was the old hostess in me kicking in, but I was tempted to ask their server how much they tipped. At the diner, it was almost always the highest maintenance customers who tipped worst (except for the foreigners who often didn't tip at all).


Alisha said...

I'm having so much fun reading about your vacation -- but I hope you're having way more fun having it!

Just a couple of notes: There are places in the world where you can go swimming (or snorkeling, or scuba diving) with dolphins not in a tank, but in their natural environment in the ocean, where they're free to come and go as they please and it's only if you're lucky that they decide to hang out and be friendly. I don't know if there's any place like that in Florida, but for future vacations (!) you might want to check it out.

Also, I waitress now in a place where there are a lot of tourists, and while it's true that the highest-maintenance customers often tip the worst, it's worth knowing that foreigners often don't tip not because they're rude but because they don't realize they're supposed to. Different countries have different norms for stuff like this, and in some places service is included in the total on the bill. With non-Americans especially, I try to say politely, ''Service is not included. Thank you'' when I hand them the bill.

miSz tUna said...

I agree with Alisha. In my country, we have service tax included in our bills, so we are not very familiar with tipping.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a Cirque junkie. It's an expensive outing but I try to go when they come to Boston each year. I'm glad I don't live in Vegas or somewhere with a permanent installation because I would have a hard time controlling myself. One year I spent a small fortune sending my daughter's daycare provider and her family to see the show as a Xmas present because I knew she would never spend the money on herself that way and her daughter was into gymnastics and synchronized swimming. I'm so glad you got to see it, Sam!

I'm also really enjoying the play-by-play of your vacation. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Mizasiwa said...

Cirque is playing here in SA and I wish wish wish I could afford to go. We thougth they were coming in March otherwise I would have saved for the tickets. The price for us is between R272 and R426. Which is not a lot of money but a lot more than I have right now! I like Josh's idea on a vacation budget. My husband works the same way with his money. He has a 'movie budget' and a 'clothing buget' and a 'misscelanneus spending budget' these he keeps in the safe in envelopes and adds and takes away from them (we used to have a holiday budget but not for a while due to not working for a year) It works well for me becouse I budget my salary and spend it as I need it according to my budget and I cant afford a holiday not to mention spending money so this does work for us and causes less fighting becouse then I dont feel like Im using money that I should have used somewere more important!
A lot of people here in SA are under the impression that in the US your tip is part of the bill. (I even learnt this in some or other subject at school) I think this may be the case with other people its just an impression like we were told that it is included in the account becouse you are taxed on the amount and stuff - i dont know if this makes this sense but thats what i learnt ;-) I promise if i ever make it to New York (dreams mmmm!!) i will tip the wait staff and hostess just for you ;-)

Anonymous said...

Being that sam worked in a diner in the big apple, new york city, i am sure she knows foreigners don't tip because they often don't tip in their own countries.

but don't you think if you're going to a foreign country for a visit you should research local customs so as not to offend or get in trouble?

Nina said...

I guess I shouldn't be so shocked, but that's pretty amazing that Josh has only ever flown coach once before. I kind of knew when you wrote in your other post that coach wouldn't be as bad for you as Josh presented it. Granted I've never flown anything but coach, but it's really not that bad.

I saw cirque once in Vegas - amazing. Jaw-dropping amazing.

I really admire you taking a stand about the dolphins even though it meant you couldn't do something that would probably be pretty amazing.

I'm so glad you had fun today. It's such a delight to read these vacation posts.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I think the vacation budget idea is probably really good. With 2 salaries from full time jobs, we still have a vacation fund, and do not stray from it so that I don't have to panic while traveling. My spouse is much less concerned about it than I am, and it gives me some peace of mind.
I'm with you on the dolphins-I believe in leaving them be.
Cirque is FABULOUS! It is truly an experience-if you ever get the opportunity to see the IMAX movie, The Journey Of Man in a 3-D IMAX theater, do it! It's Cirque at the movies, which, while it is not the same experience as in-person, it is really, really good.
I am loving your travelogue.