Feb 15, 2014





Here we go again ………..


4.30am …….. the alarm rings ……… do we really need to get up at that ungodly hour? YES!!!!!!!!! Today’s the day we are going on vacation.

Well, we did not quite get up at 4.30, we were so tired so we reset the alarm for 5am and decided to skip breakfast to make up for lost time and added on another half hour of sleep. At 5am we finally got up and got ready, checked the house if everything was unplugged and then after locking up we rolled our luggage to the car and off we went at 5.45. The airport is about a 20 minute drive away and when we arrived we parked right outside the departure hall in the short term parking spots, took our luggage and headed for baggage drop off. We were shocked to see HOW full of people the area was, but were relieved instantly when we saw that most people were in line for a charter flight.

We headed to the regular check in desk, which was empty, handed over our luggage and were told that they would be sent priority as the long distance flight had been upgraded to Business class. Luggage on its way we went back to the car and drove over to the long term lot, found a convenient spot, grabbed our carry-ons and off we went to the departure hall.

We had been cutting it a bit close, so once we had stopped at the ATM to get some more money we headed to the security check and within 5 minutes we were through and strolling through the duty free shop. A few minutes later we went over to our gate and waited for them to start boarding. And soon enough they scanned the tickets and we were able to walk over to the waiting aircraft. We found our seats, stowed our carry-ons and sat down and within 10 minutes we were on our way. Once we had reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants started handing out Pickup cookie bars. They are shortcrust cookies sandwiched together with chocolate – yummy! I think we both had water to drink with it and really enjoyed our breakfast on board.

And shortly after we had finished our chocolate filled goodie we were approaching Frankfurt International airport. We taxied for quite some time, then got off the plane at an outside location, got on a bus and a few minutes later we were on our way to the terminal. We had quite some time between flights, so we were in no hurry and slowly strolled through the area, then checked if our departure area had changed and finally made our way over to that part of the terminal. We looked for the Business Lounge, showed our tickets and in no time went up the elevator to the lounge. . And were shocked. It was FULL! There were such a lot of people up there. We were lucky, we found some empty seats in a rather quiet area, parked our luggage in the corner and got comfortable.

Since we had not had a real breakfast yet we took turns hitting the buffet. Tom got himself some coffee and some Diet Coke for me, some ham and Parma ham, some cheese and cucumber slices and some rolls. When it was my turn I went and got some really tasty herb flavoured curd, some ham and cheese and some rolls as well.

We sat there in our comfy chairs, enjoyed our yummy breakfast and checked our mail as the lounge offers free internet. After a while Tom went to get some more drinks, more Diet Coke for me and a beer for himself and mentioned that they had just brought some scrambled egg out and that it looked really nice. So off he went to get some for both of us. He returned with two small plates full of the yummy scrambled egg which was seasoned with herbs and had some additional tomato and a slice of nice fresh bread. It was quickly gobbled down and now we finally put our main focus on the news and mail.

Given our experience from the last time we flew business, where we had a 6 hour delay on top of a 6 hour layover, Tom checked his text messages on a very regular basis, but nothing came in. After a while we started reading and Tom went to get us some new drinks and then picked up some nibbles, Wasabi coated peanuts and a Pretzel mix. Tom read his Touring Plans chat, while I stuck with the DISboards. And while we were sitting there and getting up to speed on what was new on those boards, a Lufthansa employee came by to offer everyone some muesli bars. Needless to say that we did pick one up, chocolate for me and strawberry for Tom.

We were stuffing ourselves silly while waiting and surfing the boards. Then the DISboards went down as every day and I started reading along with Tom, going over my plans again and visited the restroom. About an hour later, around 11.30 Tom went to the bathroom and came back with the news, that while walking by the buffet he had noticed they had changed to the lunch offerings. There was no way we would not give them a try. So I walked to the buffet area and had a look and they had some different kinds of salads and chicken nuggets. So I filled two small plates with salad and put some dressing on top, then Tom went to get some drinks, white wine for himself and some Diet Coke for me before he went and picked up a plate full of chicken nuggets and some ketchup. And while the salad was fresh and tasty, the nuggets were like the ones McDonald’s sells. They got a bit better dipped into lots of ketchup. And after lunch Tom got himself some coffee and some wonderful light joghurt with apricot topping and some cookies for me. We were both very full and very happy with our day so far. There was still about half an hour left until it was time to board, so we made the best of it and relaxed and were happy that so far there was no delay in sight.

There was still about half an hour left until it was time to board, so we made the best of it and relaxed and were happy that so far there was no delay in sight. Around quarter to one we took turns making one last restroom stop and then we left the lounge and walked over to our gate.

There were so many people waiting and many of them had to stand and wait as there were by far not enough seats in the immediate area. Soon First and Business class and parents with small children were called to board and off we went through the turnstiles and onto the plane. We were on a 747 – 400 and our seats were right up front in the nose of the plane. I had never been there, so it was interesting to see. We found our seats, stowed our luggage, were incredibly happy with our legroom and soon the flight attendant came around to welcome us on the plane and offer some refreshments. Tom picked a glass of water, while I thought it would be nice to kick off things in style and opted for a glass of Prosecco.

We leaned back, enjoyed our drinks and waited for departure. The plane pushed back about 10 minutes later than expected and about 15 minutes later we were finally taking off. And once we had made it above the clouds we got our noise reduction ear buds out and checked the entertainment schedule. It didn’t make sense to take out Tom’s pad to start watching something as they were already preparing to go around with drinks again, so we both settled on watching “Notting Hill” on the inflight screen. We had been handed a menu a little earlier, so while enjoying our drinks we went through what was offered and then decided to agree on two dishes and share them.

And about half an hour into the flight we were handed hot towels, real ones, not the paper kind they hand out in economy and after they had collected them again, white table cloths were put on our little tables. Soon it was our turn to decide what we wanted to drink and while Tom went with a Warsteiner beer, I thought I might go all the way and ask for the Champagne Jacquard Brut Mosaique from France. And with our drinks we were served a small bag of smoked almonds, which were really nice, but you could only have so many of them before the smoke flavour became a bit too overwhelming. And then it was time to indulge in our starters.

Tom ordered the Veal Involtini filled with Granny Smith and Celery Salad accompanied by green Apple Sauce and Belgian Cheese. My choice was the Aniseed marinated Salmon with Potato Salad, Basil Vinaigrette and Cream Cheese Mousse with Chives. And wow, were both great creations. The salmon tasted ever so lightly of Aniseed and the potato salad was well seasoned but not overpowering and went perfectly well with the Cream Cheese Mousse. Halfway through we swapped plates and I got to try the Veal Involtini.

They were so good, light and perfect with the apple and celery filling. I tried the Green Apple Sauce and it was a bit on the sweet side on its own, but together with the Involtini it really gave it a great flavour. First course we had picked winners! Both starters had come with a roll of which they offered several kinds on a tray and a salad, which was fresh and crisp and it came with a very nice and light mustard and herb dressing. And while we were eating they had come to offer more drinks and I was now on my second glass of that beautiful Champagne. As soon as we had finished our starters our plates were removed and we were in for our main courses. Since I had ordered the fish for starters I was now ordering meat, red meat that is!

My main course was the Fried Tenderloin of Beef with Chocolate Red Wine Sauce, Green Beans and Potatoes au Gratin. How they do it I don’t know, but the tenderloin was cooked to a perfect medium and the sauce was out of this world good. Don’t ask about the Au Gratin Potatoes as they were outstanding. Tom went with the Fried Pike-perch with caramelized Endive, Cream Cheese Sauce and mashed Potatoes. And it was just as delicious as the tenderloin when we swapped plates again halfway through. And there was still dessert to tackle.So once we had cleaned our plates they were whisked away and they came around with the dessert trolley.

Tom this time went for the Cheese Plate, Ashed Goats Cheese, Morbier and natural Yogurt Cheese with dried Apricots and he enjoyed all of it. I wanted to try the Mascarpone Pear Cake with Passion Fruit Sauce. I am not a huge fan of pears so I was delighted that there were only little bits of pear and the Mascarpone and dried fruit were the main taste components. Once we were done with our late lunch the table cloths were removed and the tables retracted. We went to watch the end of “Notting Hill” and were handed a bar of chocolate to enjoy during the flight. Once “Notting Hill” had ended we put up Tom’s pad and watched a few episodes of last season’s Hell’s Kitchen.

I have to be fair, we mainly watched the start and end of each episode because with such a big meal we drifted off to sleep again and again. We didn’t mind drifting off to dreamland as we had planned to head over to the Magic Kingdom until 1am, which would have us on our feet for 26 hours, so a little rest was really okay. There was only one thing I did not like. We had left Frankfurt a few minutes late and now the arrival time became later and later. While I would not mind otherwise but I knew that two planes from the UK come in about the same time and I was really worried what this would do to our plans if we had a long delay during immigration. But there was nothing we could do now, we would have to wait and see. About two hours before we were supposed to land we were handed some more hot towels to freshen up and then they started preparing the tables again. We were offered some drinks again, and even though the thought of having another glass of that yummy Champagne again I decided against it. The thought of having to go through immigration and customs and then picking up a rental car just did not fit with drinking Champagne. So we both opted for water and were quickly served some dinner. It was a Soup and Salad menu and we were handed a tray that had some Belgian Goulash Soup with Apple Wedges, which was incredibly good, warm and smooth with just the right amount of heat.

There was also a Mixed Leaf Salad with Quinoa, boiled Egg, Zucchini, herry Tomatoes and Red Radish accompanied by Yogurt Lime Dressing. This was by far my least favourite item all day. The salad was very cold, the quinoa was absolutely tasteless and the dressing had an odd taste. I ate a fork full or two and that was it. I must not forget to mention that again we were offered some different kinds of rolls to go with our dinner and we both picked a traditional Bavarian Pretzel, which was warm and absolutely tasty. Last but not least we had a slice of Chocolate Raspberry Cake, which was silky and moist and we both loved it. Once we had finished dinner we were a little over an hour from Orlando.

We watched a little more onboard entertainment, and then when we finally left cruising altitude to prepare for landing we kept looking out the window and saw some cruise ships which had just left port and the NASA assembly building. It was great seeing all those landmarks and suddenly we were only minutes away from Orlando. We were about 15 minutes late when we finally reached our arrival gate. Thanks to us travelling in the nose of the plane we were off the plane fast and hot footed it over to immigration. When we went around the last corner our hopes sank. There were already quite a lot of people in there. We got in line and I counted that we would have to walk across tIt he room 5 times to make it to an officer. It took its time to go from one end to the other but the line moved faster than expected. It was mainly due to a few kiosks, where you could scan your prints yourself and therefore speed up the process. When it was our turn we were able to go to one of the kiosks and therefore skipped quite a bit of the line.

Working the kiosks was easy enough and even though we consulted an officer because we had brought some chocolate, but he helped us  understand and we were soon in a very short line to see an officer. Unfortunately it had taken quite some time since we had landed and time was running short. At quarter past seven we headed over to baggage claim and saw both our pieces of luggage coming our way. Tom quickly took them off and we got in line for customs. Again, we hit a long line and it took another 10 minutes until we were able to go through. But soon enough we found ourselves in line for the fake monorail and in the terminal building. We headed downstairs to the rental car agencies and ……. hit another line at the Hertz desks. There were at least 10 people ahead of us and the young lady at the side table working Hertz Gold Club members was talking to another group who had been on our flight too. The husband was talking rather loud, so it was easy to “be informed” of his problems. Somehow he had booked a special offer, which didn’t recognize his Gold Club status and he was not on her list. We got in line while they were still discussing and so did several other people behind us. Can you tell that he took a long of time? The four employees took forever to book cars for the people in line and when it was finally clear that the Gold Club guy had to go in line he kept on how unfair it was that HE had to be in line. Well, live and learn, we all have to wait our turn.

It took over an hour until we had made it to the desk and another 10 until we had a car key in hand. And while in line we had come to a conclusion. It was now going on 9pm, and given that we needed to do some shopping and it would be a half hour drive to our hotel, we would only have about 2 hours in a park and we were no longer Annual Passholders. So while in still in line we decided to just skip going to the Magic Kingdom tonight and enjoy the new resort in the morning. So, when we had finally found our car, stowed all the luggage in the boot and fixed the GPS we were in no immediate hurry to get anywhere. So we started our drive and soon were on the freeway on the way to Publix at the Watertower. We found a space to park the car, headed inside, picked up a few things for dinner and some beverages to take on the cruise and within 20 minutes we sat in our car again.

And since we were already in Kissimmee there was one more place we wanted to visit, the Krispy Kreme doughnut store. We were in heaven when we saw that their “Hot Now” sign was on, so we headed inside and picked up a dozen fresh, hot Glazed doughnuts. We got a Diet Coke to go and off we went to the car where we both inhaled the first doughnuts. GPS set to our final destination and we were off. Excitement was rising when we went under that beautiful arch that said “Walt Disney World” and then onto that other sign that said, “Magic Kingdom”. We were definitely on the course to our home away from home for the first night. A few minutes later we turned into the Villas at the Grand Floridian parking lot.

We had to stop at the security booth and showed our paperwork and were directed towards the villas. Never having been a huge fan of the Grand Floridian, to say I was thoroughly impressed would be an understatement. The building looked absolutely beautiful. We drove right up to the building looking for either someone to help with luggage or a spot to stop to do the check-in, but we did not see either. So we just drove to the parking lot, found a spot and headed towards the entrance. Tom had suggested to take all our luggage with us right away but I just didn’t feel like it, so we only took our carry-ons and we were lucky we just did that. It was now way past 10pm and we walked up to the Villas and that was it. The doors would not open, the desks inside were empty and we were a bit stunned. Entrance was only granted if you used your Magicbands, but we still needed to pick those up. Finally there was a family coming back, so we were able to enter. Well, to just leave again by the back door when we discovered that the check-in desk at the villas was only open until 10pm. So we rolled our carry-ons over to the Grand Floridian, via the covered walkway. By that time I was getting a little annoyed and all it would take would be a snarky cast member checking us in and they would spoil our first day. When we entered there was no line and the cast member checking us in still had so much energy and was so super friendly that our mood instantly changed again. She explained the Magicbands and checked both of them, so they would work and we just had to change our security code on them as I was no longer sure what I had picked. I quickly asked if she could help us with the retrieval of our Owner’s Locker box and she promised to call bell services right away.

And about 5 minutes after we had walked up to the desk we were already on our way back to the villas. I had paid for lake view and asked for a higher floor and had been granted our wish, our room would be on the 6th floor. Tom used his Magicband to open the door into the building and off we went into the elevator. Only now was I able to take in how cute the lobby actually is and the fountain is just so beautiful, but we were now on our way to our room. Again, Tom opened the door with his Magicband and we were stunned.

We really loved what we saw. The bathroom was awesome, even more so when we discovered that the bathroom mirror actually included a TV as well. There were a separate shower and a bathtub in the other bathroom. Only downer was the door lock between the two rooms, you need to press a button, then slide the door, which resulted in nearly locking myself. They were definitely generous with the necessities of soap and shampoo. Next up was the little kitchenette, which had everything we would need including coffee maker and fridge. The room itself was new and beautiful, loved the bedrunner and towel Mickey, there was a nice sofa and a table with chairs and a HUGE TV. But what would our view be? So out on the balcony we went and saw …… the Contemporary in the distance. Okay, now we were completely sold. But there was still our luggage, which needed to be rearranged, in the car. Should we wait for our Owner’s Locker to be delivered and then head down or would there be enough time before it was delivered.

 Tom then decided that he would pop down to the car and get as much as he could carry while I waited for our Owner’s Locker. So off he went and while he was gone I remembered that there were no drawers under the TV, but something else, so I opened it up and there was the cutest bed in there. I loved the mural on the back wall and the whole bed in general, but it might become a hazard if there are really 5 people in the room and the bed is out. Should someone need to go to the bathroom the bed is a real tripping hazard.

No problem for us, we would not need it, but I kept it out to show Tom. After a while he returned with some of our stuff. I had hoped that I would be able to come along for the second round of luggage to be picked up, but so far still no Owner’s Locker box. Tom suggested I called again and that’s what I did, only to hear that they would NOW send someone up.

So Tom went down again to get the rest of our stuff and he took my camera with him to take a photo of the fountain outside the resort.He soon came back from the parking lot and just a little later our Owner’s Locker was delivered. And by now it was 11.30 and no way would we have used two one day tickets for just a ride or two. So we stayed in, laid the table and had our first, rather very traditional US vacation dinner. We watched a little TV while we were dining and were quite happy with our decision to stay in. After dinner we even sat out on the balcony for a short while before we got too tired and went to bed.