Strange things happen at airports, to protect the “guilty” I won’t say where this happened but hey, if you read the blog you’ll know. Security in important but the liquids rule is in my view “over the top” however, we do abide by it. While checking in our luggage for a domestic flight it seemed that one of our bags was 2 pounds overweight (US$50 anyone?) . That our 2 other bags were 6 and 7 pound under the weight limit was of no importance. To remove the 2 pounds as fast as possible we took out a small bag with toiletries. Just as our bags disappeared on the conveyor belt we realized our mistake. Fortunately there were no +100ml bottles in there so we asked the security officer for a clear plastic bag. She said they were all out but to ask at the X-ray machine. They too had no bags and just let us pass with all liquids without any problem. We later realized we also had scissors in there. Security check???
Another change we noticed was that these days a 10-15% tip is no longer considered enough. Now the rate is set at 18% and on top of that the server will write this on your check and put a circle around it just in case you missed it. I was always under the impression that tips are given for good service and not mandatory no matter what. In one instance we visited a waterfront restaurant in Key West where the waiter dragged himself to our table to take our order, brought our drinks (again dragging himself to the table) then another waiter almost threw our plates on the table. When bringing the check we tipped far less than what he had written on the check so he demanded that we would tip him the full amount. I didn’t think of it at that time because I was shocked by the way he acted but I think the tip should have been: “Get another job”.
In all, Florida is still a fun place with lots to do and see. interaction with the locals was mostly a pleasure. We also noted that it was calmer than during our previous visits. According to the local newspapers tourist numbers were down because of the economy and high fuel prices. At 70 – 75 Euro cents per liter ($4/gallon) we found gas to be dirt cheap (homeprice is over $8 per gallon). So even with the van we were driving transportation was very affordable. The cheap dollar made sure car rental was cheap too. Excursion prices were up a lot but here to the low dollar made up a great deal.
Florida dropped off our “go-back-someday” list. Not a lot of the things that are here that can’t be seen or done elsewhere and the ever increasing requirements to enter the US will make us think twice.