March 28, 2015





Celebrations are about to start …..


The morning of Tom’s birthday trip was about to dawn and we were up bright and early at 4.30 to get ready to head out on our next adventure. Everything had been prepared the day before, so we only had to check if we had everything in our hand luggage and we were ready to leave. All our stuff was loaded into my car and then at shortly after 5am we left our house and headed for the gas station as I had not filled up my car previously and we didn’t want to run out of gas on the way to the airport. Since we had not had breakfast we even picked up a sandwich for Tom and a chocolate croissant for myself to eat at the airport. Since it was still so early we made good progress and found ourselves at the airport just 25 minutes later, stopping in the no parking zone, pulling out our suitcases and heading inside to send them on their way. Having done online check in we could use the business class check in to get our luggage checked in and we were in and out of the airport in just a few minutes. We drove the car to the long term carpark, found a space close to the exit, grabbed our carry-ons and headed back to the airport.

One last stop at the ATM and we were ready to join the line for the security check. Once we had gone through, which didn’t take too long we bought a bottle of Coke and sat down to finally have some breakfast. Breakfast finished we strolled through the duty free shop and made a final stop at the restroom. It was funny to see a bus pull up when the plane was just 20 steps from the main building, but it stood the wrong way around and they will not let you walk all around, and maybe a bit underneath the aircraft. So once they started “boarding” we headed outside and onto the bus which then drove for about 20 seconds until we had reached the correct side of the aircraft to board.

We quickly found our seats and stored our carry-ons, then settled in and soon enough the doors were closed and we went on our way. And as soon as the fasten seat belt signs were off the flight attendant handed out Corny Milk breakfast bars and started serving drinks. I think Tom had Diet Coke and I had water, but neither of us tried the breakfast bar.

The flight was smooth and nice and the most interesting part was seeing a 747 flying very close to our small plane and then watching it land at Frankfurt airport while we were on route to another runway. And soon we had landed too and the plane was parked at an outside position and we were on another bus which was going to take us to the terminal. This time the bus ride took about 10 minutes and once we were inside the terminal we checked if our gate had been changed. Hm, well, we had a five and a half hour layover and our flight was not even on the board yet. We strolled around a bit, then made our way to the terminal where flights to the US depart from and finally went in search of a restaurant.

We were happy to see that Hausmann’s was really close to our gate and we headed over. There was a nice table for two and we were quickly handed menus. It did not take long and our drinks arrived at the table. I had ordered a large Diet Coke, while Tom had decided to have a beer with his breakfast sandwich. A few minutes later our food was served. Tom had ordered the “Räucherlachsstulle”, smoked salmon, cream cheese, horse radish, honey mustard sauce, pickled cucumbers and fennel on a slice of freshly baked bread. It looked and tasted wonderful. I thought I’d better start our vacation on a high and ordered the Toast Eggs Benedict Style, slow poached eggs with grilled green asparagus, Hollandaise Sauce and crispy bacon. We sat for quite a while enjoying our wonderful breakfast before we paid our bill and finally left the restaurant. We did more wandering around and exploring the shops and finally we decided to have a look at the Duty Free fare.

Tom actually found some spirits he wanted to try and we purchased them, then finally went to our gate. We took out our laptops and checked mail and caught up on news. And after some time we got ourselves some coffee an tried our breakfast bars, but they tasted pretty mediocre, so most of it ended in the trash. About an hour before they were starting to board we heard some announcements that they were looking for people to delay their flight as they were hopelessly overbooked. We watched for a while and then struck up a conversation with a lady who told us that she was on the way to visit her daughter in Florida and she had not done online check in and now was one of those on the waitlist.

We chatted for quite some time until it was our turn to get in line for boarding. Didn’t take long until we were actually on the plane and had found our seats. I had paid a little extra to have the seats at the emergency exit, where you are able to stretch your legs. Tom stowed all our carry ons and my handbag and we took our seats. Sitting in these a bit exposed seats we got to witness a lot of people not happy with their seating, especially families who had not done online check in and now faced sitting apart from each other. It was very interesting to see the purser reseating people and sorting out problems. It all went pretty fast and soon we heard, “all doors in flight” and our flight attendant came over, pulled the handle and it would not get into place. She tried again and it still would not fall into place. So she called and all the doors had to be put back in park. We looked at each other and were not very happy to be next to a faulty door. But they started to put the doors in park again and our door …….. would not budge.

It was still stuck. Time was ticking and we would be loosing our take-off window in Frankfurt, which would give us a delay, but there was no way around it, they had to call for maintenance. It only took about 10 minutes until two maintenance guys were arriving and tried to open the door, but quickly found out that the emergency slide was already activated and they could only open the door a few centimetres. But it was enough for them to crawl underneath and fix the problem. Yippie. With about half an hour’s delay the doors were finally all in flight and we were rolling out of our space. Soon the fasten seat belt signs were off and the flight attendants  were off to do their jobs.

So, a few minutes later we were all handed hot/cold towels to freshen up a bit and the we were served drinks and snacks. I just love those little airplane shaped crackers and cloud shaped pretzels, which I washed down with some Diet Coke and Tom had opted for some beer. About 20 minutes later we were served some lunch.

We started off with a small salad, followed by Orecchiette pasta with a creamy pesto sauce and a julienne of vegetables. Tom had decided on the other menu and was enjoying his chicken in a paprika sauce served with rice and a floret of broccoli. There was some nice yoghurt cake for dessert and a roll, butter and some very young Camembert to close the meal. There were even some Lufthansa Chocolate Coins. Trays taken away we found out what movies were on demand and I ended up watching “Up”, which I had never seen before. We even slept a bit as it had already been a long day for us and we had an even longer night ahead of us. About 3 hours before we were supposed to land at MCO we were served some dinner. Again, it was Pasta.

This time it was spiral pasta with some Arrabbiata sauce which was quite spicy, even with the slightly overcooked pasta. For dessert there was some really good and creamy chocolate pudding with some vanilla sauce. Then it was time to fill out the customs declaration before sitting through the rest of the flight. We had left Frankfurt about 35 minutes late, but had only made up about 15 minutes of the time, so were coming in about 20 minutes late.

We were really worried as the last time we had arrived late there were two other planes’ people in line for immigration and it took over an hour to get to the front of the line. So when we had finally arrived and were able to leave our seats and head for immigration we were quite anxious to see how many people were already in line. Turned out it was only our plane that had just arrived and we kind of walked through the line, were then directed to one of the machines to fill in our details and within minutes we were waiting for an officer to finish immigration. It was only 7.45pm when we walked up to pick up our luggage. One of our bags was already making rounds but the other one we could not see.
Took about 20 more minutes for the other bag to appear and we finally made our way over to customs. There was quite the line by now, but we finally made it through and were on our way to pick up our rental car. We did not even stop for the Earport as we were on a mission to make it to the hotel as soon as we could. We got down to the rental car floor and knew that we were out of luck. There were LONG lines for all the companies and we knew that Hertz always takes quite some time to rent out its cars. And did I mention that the line was long? We joined the line and it did not move for a long time.

There were three people at the counter and while two of the other employees were able to serve several people those three were still there when it finally, after 75 minutes was our turn to go to the counter. About 15 minutes later we had a car key in hand and were on our way out the door, where we were hit with the heat and humidity that we were not used to. Once we had found our car we stowed all our luggage and quickly fixed the GPS and were on our way. But by now it was already close to 10pm and we had a quick conversation and decided that it made no sense to head over to the Magic Kingdom and waste a day’s ticket for just an hour or two. So while on route to the Contemporary we made a d-tour and went to Krispy Kreme instead. When we arrived their Hot Now sign was on and the CVS right opposite was still open, so we stopped there to see if we would find some drinks to take on the cruise with us. They did not have much of a variety, so we just stocked up on Diet Coke, got some Tortilla Chips and Salsa which Tom loves and a six pack of beer which we put into the trunk of the car before finally heading into Krispy Kreme.

I was trying hard to find a point not to get too many doughnuts as I had ordered a surprise for Tom at the hotel, but there was no way around it, without spilling the beans, so we got a dozen glazed doughnuts, a Diet Coke and a Flavoured Coffee.Tom grabbed some sugar for his coffee and some napkins and we sat down at one of the small tables next to the conveyor belt and took a first bite. Yes, that taste spells out vacation again and again and we knew our vacation had started. Tom tasted his coffee and pulled a face, as the coffee already seemed to have had sugar in it and now it was sickeningly sweet. We shared the Diet Coke and both had two doughnuts, which was okay as it was already late and we had had our “dinner” at around 4.30pm.

Sweet tooth sufficiently filled we headed back to the car and finally drove to our home for the night, Bay Lake Tower.  When we got close to the hotel we saw that they had signs out that said that there was no parking for non hotel guests and we were sure we would have a hard time finding a spot to park our car.

But the security guard quickly checked IDs and waved us in and we found a spot close to the hotel in the second row down. Score! We took our paperwork and headed for the front desk. Five to eleven, which meant that we were now up for for more than 25 hours, we checked in for our standard view studio, which had been the only studio I had been able to secure. We chatted with the Cast Member doing the check in as she was from Paris, France and she then presented me with the bill which she wanted me to pay now. Um, I actually am DVC and used my points. No, in her computer our reservation showed as a cash one. Thank goodness I have a folder with paperwork and I presented my reservation, including points payment to her.

It did not match and she went to get a manager, who came out, looked at the reservation, then with a huge smile said, that I had asked for a higher floor and she did not have any higher floor standard view studios, so she had upgraded us to a Lake View studio. We both were standing there with open mouths, trying to wrap our tired brains around what she had just said and then she pulled out a birthday button and mentioned that there was something to celebrate and she wanted to help us with it. We were stunned, thanked her a thousand times as she overrode the cash payment with points, handed us our magic bands and then they sent us on our way. Hadn’t we been so tired we would have skipped all the way to the elevator. We went up to our floor, then walked along the hallway, when Tom finally said, “Isn’t that the wrong side for a lake view?” When we had finally reached our room I let Tom open the door and my surprise was right there on the table, a mini-cake for his 50th birthday, but we needed to check the view and when we were out there my heart skipped a beat, as the first thing we saw was Space Mountain.

And if you leaned out just a little there was the castle as well. Disney Magic at its best – we loved our room for the night. We had to go back to the car to get the rest of our stuff and when we returned to the front desk to thank the CMs again, we learned that their shift had ended a minute after we had left the desk. Luggage in the room and on a high we thought about heading over to MK for EMHs, but knew that it did not make any sense to waste a ticket just for an hour. But what about heading to the Top of the World for a cocktail to toast Tom’s birthday? We asked the CM in the lobby if that was still an option and she said that they would be open for just a little longer and she was happy to send us up in the elevator.

When we arrived at the lounge we saw that we would have been the only guests and CMs were already cleaning up, so we decided again the idea and went back down to our room. We sat out on the balcony, enjoying the warm night air and a drink and some nachos that we had bought just a little while earlier. It was after midnight when we returned to the room and I was searching for the candles for the birthday cake and we had a slice of it each as a late night treat. It was already 1am when we finally went to bed. Needless to say after the long day it did not take long for us to fall asleep.