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Topic: Stranger Trip, The Report. Day 1

  1. #1
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    Default Stranger Trip, The Report. Day 1

    Day 1 October 6th 2018

    I guess as many people do I’d better start this on the day before, day 0 if you will. I got home at a reasonable time for once on the Friday to find Julia had everything organised with only the last of the packing to do and our two cats to be dropped off for their holiday at my sister’s for the week. This was only slightly complicated by my sister being on her way home from her own holiday at the time, somewhere over the Atlantic on their way back from Boston.


    Not everyone was excited about going on holiday.

    Cats posted through the letter box Edward and I were soon on our way back from Bedford to Northampton and after sorting hand luggage we were into bed at a reasonable hour.

    We were on the later of the two Norwegian flights Saturday and so didn’t have to be at Gatwick until early afternoon, so there was no stupid o’clock alarm for us. Instead we got up around 8, packed everything into the car (quite a squeeze with three cases, 4 hand luggage cases and an ECV) and were away from Northampton at 10:03 in the pouring rain.

    Julia drove us down, she was far too excited to sit still in the back, and with only a quick loo break on the M25 we were pulling up to the meet and greet area of their short stay parking at 12:20. The service from Maple Manor was everything it should have been and we were quickly dragging everything over the bridge to the terminal.

    Yes, we were dragging everything, there was not a trolley to be seen and I’d been told we had to have the battery out of the ECV and flat so I was dragging it along on its travel wheels. Thankfully there was hardly any queue for check-in and we were quickly seen by an agent who didn’t really know what to do with the ECV. He dithered a bit about whether we should drop it at over size baggage or take it to the gate. In the end he decided we had to take it to be weighed at oversize baggage and then drag it to the gate.

    Security were a bit more on the ball and we were directed down the special assistance line where there was no queue and they were very friendly. They even remained friendly when they opened our extra hand luggage case to check the ECV battery over and found the pair of scissors Julia had used to cut the bubble wrap she’d used to protect the battery. The officer seemed quite pleased with his new scissors and sent us on our way with a smile after x-raying the battery a couple of times and swabbing it down.

    As we were finishing at security a member of airport staff stopped on her way past and asked us to visit the special assistance desk in the lounge when we were through. This we did after being directed to side door out of security which bypassed the long snaking walk through duty free. The special assistance people were not at all impressed with our check in agent as he had not issued tags for the ECV, nor arranged for it to be put on the plane! This they sorted for us and told us they would send someone to the gate to sort everything out.

    Only half an hour after pulling up to the car park we were in Starbucks in departures getting some lunch, so at least Gatwick were fast. There was a bit of sitting about before we got our gate assignment and sure enough a little while after we got there one of the special assistance team tagged the ECV up and then a ramp agent arrived and dragged it away. Shortly afterwards we boarded with the other special assistance passengers and I was finally able to get the extra bag with its tonne of battery in it up into the overhead lockers and forget about it for a few hours.

    We pushed back just 5 minutes late at 3:15 and after a few minutes queueing were taking off at 3:35 into clouds, lots and lots of clouds.

    The flight was good, if rather bumpy most of the way with the seat belt light on most of the time. Thankfully it calmed down a bit for the ‘chicken or beef?’


    Beef?


    Chicken?

    The food was good, for economy airline food, and the service excellent. We amused ourselves with naps, reading, a bit of TV and such. I did get to see The Greatest Showman and enjoyed that. There was a bit of excitement when the baby in the row behind us took ill a few hours into the flight and for a while we thought we might divert into northern Canada as a doctor was called to look at him. Thankfully after a good clean up and some oxygen both mother and baby were fine.

    The clouds finally broke up as we neared the Florida coast and Edward was able to get a couple of pictures from his window seat.


    Sunset at sea from above.


    It was quite dark as we passed over KSC, but you can make out the old shuttle runway and of course the VAB.


    Continued Below
    Last edited by spencem; 16-12-2018 at 02:59 PM.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.




  2. #2
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    We landed at MCO 5 minutes ahead of schedule at 7:15pm, but then taxied for what felt like hours but was actually only 15 minutes. We thought we would get the ECV delivered back to the gate and so waited until the plane was almost empty to get off, only to discover it would be returned at baggage reclaim. This meant we were at the back of a large queue in immigration. After waiting a while we got lucky in that we were on the right side of the snake when the last of the American citizens were processed and the ropes we lowered to let the rest of us get to the now empty desks.

    We were quickly processed by a very friendly officer and our three cases were already on the belt. While Edward grabbed those I went and spoke to the Norwegian desk and the ECV was quickly brought up to me. Now it was just a case of dragging it through the airport to the car hire garage, how glad was I that Edward had insisted the battery be fully run flat before it went on the plane?

    I did forget for a while that we didn’t need to queue at the Avis desk, having signed up for their loyalty scheme, but it was only a minor delay before I read the notice telling me to go straight to the garage. Once in the garage my name wasn’t on their board, but Mr Disinterested at the desk simply had a look at my driving license and tapped a couple of keys before directing me to bay G19.

    All we could see heading up row G was a huge F150 truck and I almost went back to the desk before realising it was in bay 18 and so our car must be hiding behind it. The other thing we noticed was another family heading in the same direction. As we got to our Ford Flex they also attempted to get in the same car, having been directed to G19 as well. Edward had already got a couple of bags in and so they decided we could keep the car and returned to the desk.

    We quickly christened the car Slab, as you can see from this photo taken a couple of days later it has all the aerodynamics of a paving slab. It was very nice to drive and had plenty of toys including a button to move the peddles back and forth.


    Slab, our trusty steed.

    Once we figured out which buttons to press to fold the third row of seats we got everything into the car, found the button to close the trunk, set the sat nav for our hotel and were on our way. The drive down to the 192 was simple enough and with our bag of old loose change the toll booths were no issue. The sat nav did take us past the 192 and back up the 429, giving us an extra toll to pay, but I should have been more awake and just come off at the 192 and not save 3 minutes. At least we got to see the Mickey Pylon once this holiday as a result.

    Check in at Orange Lake was simple enough and I quickly shut their time share scam down. To explain you check in at reception as normal and then get taken to another desk to collect your parking pass. Why the separate desk you ask? Well these people are time share sales people and while appearing to be friendly enough desperately try to get you to sign up for a ‘resort tour’. I politely explained we were very busy for the week and had no time, I also declined his kind offer to sell me park tickets explaining we already had them. When he pushed it further I explained I was staying on points for free being a top tier member of their reward scheme and he quickly issued the parking pass with a friendly wish that we enjoy our vacation.

    We did get a further push to buy later in the week with a phone call offering $150 cash for simply allowing them to show us round the resort for a ‘few hours’. This lady I had to be a bit firmer with, explaining that I currently earn more than enough points each year to stay with them for free, so why on earth would I want to purchase a unit? She was a little put out when I said they were just somewhere to sleep and we wouldn’t be using any of their facilities at all. I did soften it by say it was a very nice place to sleep and we’d happily sleep there again in the future, we just wouldn’t be paying to do so.

    We were in one of the high-rise blocks of apartments and had a two bedroom unit in building 5600 opposite the tennis courts. The resort is huge, spanning both sides of the 429 and running right up to the fence of Animal Kingdom on its east side. We were in the west side, right by the reception building. I understand there are various pools, golf courses and other stuff, but we just slept there.


    Photo from a few days later, when I remembered to take one.

    The unit itself was huge and really nice, with an open plan kitchen/living room/dining area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a balcony and a laundry closet with washer drier, take a look below.


    Living room


    Kitchen area


    Edward’s room with two double beds.


    Master bedroom


    Master bath, with shower big enough for party.


    Another view of the dining area with balcony beyond.


    A second look at the sofa.


    View out to the balcony taken the next morning.

    Edward and I left Julia to unpack and headed back out to get some essentials from the Walmart just up the US27. To be honest we got to the exit from the resort and turned right instead of left because the light was red and we could turn onto the deserted 192 without waiting for it to change and so ended up at Walmart instead of the closer Target that is to the left.

    We were back by 11:40 and after a quick snack were soon in the very comfortable beds.




    Back to the index.
    Last edited by spencem; 16-12-2018 at 03:05 PM.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.




  3. #3
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    What a palaver with the ECV. You would think in this day and age that the ground staff would be up to speed on how to deal with this type of equipment.

    The food looks very nice, simple, but appetizing.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

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    The apartment looks very nice and Orange Lake is in a good location on the 192. The SUV is a bit of a brick, but if it was spacious and comfortable then all is OK.

    Had to smile when you spoke about the time share sell as Orange Lake is where I fell into the trap during our very first trip in 1991.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  5. #5
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    Odd about the ECV. That does sound like quite the run-around.

    Gorgeous apartment, though. Very comfortable for the duration!











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not messing around, use the gifts you were given.”

  6. #6
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    The cats had made themselves right at home and were there to welcome us home.
    Nice easy travel day and I could have told you that you could use the ecv up to the gate

  7. #7
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    Sounds like a good start the apartment looks huge !
    Looking forward to the rest of your trip

  8. #8
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    Norwegian sounds like a good airline to travel with. Will definitely be looking at them next time we go. Apartment looks very spacious and ideal for the three of you.

  9. #9
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    The ECV was easier coming home. I used it till the gate then they took it off me and we stowed the battery away, did the same thing when we got home used it to the car. The flight food is actually really nice, my beef took no cutting at all it was so tender. The apartment was lovely and cosy really liked where we were.
    Happiness is my piggies Belle & Chip and my cats Disney & Bob

  10. #10
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    Hey, you never invited us to your shower party!

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