Here We are Again

How pleased we were to see this last night, it had been a long and busy couple of days but finally, we checked into the first hotel of the Jollidays and so began the ritual of taking the ‘before it gets trashed’ room photo. Excuse the bottle of photo bombing Mountain Dew, ‘someone’ rushed in pre photo!

So it’s now 3.48am, and not 4.53am as it says on the little clock by the bed…very misleading and led us to thinking we’d had a lie in. It won’t be long until we are up, dressed and planning to wander around Walmart until the rest of Florida catches up with us. I’ve just sent M out to see if he can find a coffee from somewhere, and as always he has brought back the goods!

Our packing, cleaning, travel day was a bit more eventful as not only did we have Dad and Dogs to despatch but I was waiting for a very special delivery, and wasn’t going anywhere until it arrived. Luckily it came at lunchtime so didn’t delay us, and I not only had a trip to Florida to get excited about but also a new iPad Pro and accessories to play with while there.. what more could a gadget geek want?

Next stop Manchester, a brief stop at The Trafford Centre to fill in a bit of time. Never been there before and was very impressed but didn’t have time or inclination to enjoy anything other than the Apple Store – where I used their WiFi to set up my tech ready for the plane, and the food court which gave us taste of the vacation ahead, although they didn’t have Bourbon Chicken….

Travelodges. I’ve stayed in quite a few, ranging from bloody appalling in Portsmouth, to this one somewhere near Macclesfield, which was really very nice, and comfortable, except for the pillows, as we are used to soft, squidgy feathers not industrial strength synthetic fibres, but each to their own, we made do.

Airport. It’s an airport and has a job to do and life is so much easier now you can check in online and book a ‘Meet and Greet’ drop off right outside the terminal, perfect. Drop off your luggage, and head into the sparkling oasis of departures for the obligatory breakfast and wander round duty free. It’s not often we buy anything there but while A was trying on some men’s smellies, we were informed of an offer of a 10% discount on first purchases using the app. Well done that sales person who coaxed us into buying a couple of things, we weren’t intending to buy. Great customer service!

Plane. Having experienced upgrades in the past to seats with a bit of extra legroom at the least, we paid extra for Economy Delight, just one compartment from the back, but the 4” made a difference and the flight was fine. You can’t pay to have small excited children, family wedding groups or old couples sitting behind who don’t get the concept of ‘touch screen’ treating it more like ‘punch screen’ whenever using the inflight entertainment menu removed so it’s just a case of getting into a more tolerant ‘holiday’ mood. Flying Club Class is still on my bucket list!

MCO ‘Welcomes visitors to the USA’ and treats them all with respect and courtesy… that’s what it says on the posters in the Immigration Hall. Now last year we went to New York, and visited Staten Island, where all the immigrants were received and processed back in the day, and stood for hours shuffling along winding lines, slowly, step by step, approaching the person in uniform at the desk who scrutinised and questioned, then without change of expression stamped the card or not. It was just like that. Except Staten Island was in an impressive building with beautiful architecture, something to look at instead of zig zagging past the same people several times as you went up and down the roped off lines.

Disney, and therefore MCO are great at making a long line seem shorter, and when suddenly you seem to speed up a bit and you can see the end in sight, they have only opened up another part of the ropes that lead you a little further. However, many minutes were passed observing people. The young couple with a baby and toddler, both behaving impeccably. The family wedding party complete with named t-shirts and pink sashes. The family from hell. Liverpool actually judging by their accent, and the ones that fill you with dread at the thought that they might just be staying at the same hotel as you.

Then the other Brits. The ones who grew up in the era of ‘getting on with it’, being considerate and standing quietly in the queue without making a fuss. Many wore poppies, without pins! Fortunately there were more of them than the others, smiling politely as you passed each other for the fourth time, acknowledging the common bond.

The car. Previous visits have always provoked the ‘I wonder what car we will get?’ question. Often 7 seaters, to accommodate passengers and luggage, and usually, white, silver or black. This time M had a gold star card and so we could choose which one we wanted from those in the appropriate section. We went for a sporty 5 seater silver SUV since there are just three of us. M drives, I navigate. Over the years we have come to realise that these are our strengths and any deviation only ends badly.

The transit hotel. Since we arrived early evening, we opted to spend the first night on International Drive, in the Rosen Inn opposite Pointe Orlando. We know we will be awake at stupid o’clock so really just need a cheap stop over so we can then have a full first day at Disney, checking in with bags early to get our magic bands and enjoy the park/dining plan all day. Then go back to get our room and unpack about tea time. It’s also nice to be able to get a few supplies from Walmart or Target en route since we are already up and awake.

Have to say very impressed by the Rosen Inn, for the price. It used to be the Quality Inn, and is a large hotel with good facilities that sits along the I4, but access is from iDrive, so you have all the restaurants, bars and shops right on your doorstep, as is Bahama Breeze, a restaurant we have visited regularly over the 20 or so years we have been coming here, and we still love it just as much.

Last night we managed a light meal and drink before crashing out on comfy beds (and pillows) being lulled to sleep by the familiar hum of the air conditioning unit. Ahhhh, we are home!

Grilled Chicken with crumbled cheese, tropical fruits and greens for me, and Paella for M