August 3, 2016





Here we go again!


Day one of this summer trip started like any other. We ended up frantically finishing cleaning everything around  the house, as everything on our list the day before took a little longer than we had anticipated and we were a bit behind. So around midnight we finally fell into bed with the alarm set for 6.30 to be able to have breakfast and clean up afterwards. 

So, at 6am I woke up remembering that I still needed to print out some things. And after doing so it actually was 6.35 and time to get up anyway. We had breakfast with soft boilded eggs to finish those off and freshly baked rolls. After that it was time for the usual repacking and then headed for the shower. While Tom took his I called for a taxi and then finally at 9am we hauled our luggage down to garden gate, locked up behind us and waited for the taxi. It was supposed to arrive at 9.15 and we waited and waited some more. At 9.25 I called them again and they told me that a taxi had waited outside for four minutes and then left again. What? When were we supposed to be outside if I booked it for 9.15 and we had been in and out from at least 9am on. Guess the lady on the phone then realized that something was not working out,  apologized and told us that another one would be around in about 5 minutes. At 9.35 a taxi finally pulled up and just a minute or two later we sat in the taxi and driving towards the airport. Thankfully traffic was light and half an hour later we pulled up in front of the airport. We had checked in online and downloaded the ticket, so all we had to do was checking in the luggage. A few minutes later we found ourselves walking through security and then through the duty free shop. Nothing really to buy there, so we found seats, checked our phones and waited for the flight to leave. Our airport is tiny and the plane was waiting right in front of the gate, so we finally just walked over, found our seats and settled in.  We rolled out on time and were up and leaving our little world behind a few minutes later.

Once we had reached cruising altitude we were quickly handed a snack, Walker shortbread biscuits, and some drinks. We both opted for water and nibbled our biscuits and before we knew it the plane was descending again and we arrived in Frankfurt. There was a bus picking us up from the plane and since the plane had not been half full, there was plenty of room to stand. Once in the terminal we needed to look for a special gate. You see, Tom has taken up geocaching when he started his road to retirement and there was a cache to be found. We had about an hour and a half, so off we went. . As we had feared the gate we needed to go to for his mission was at the other end of the airport, but it was good exercise and he was successful.

Mission accomplished we headed back to the area we needed to get too, went through passport control and then over to the gate where we had to wait for quite some time before we were allowed to board. We were delayed already while there were still people boarding but we still left only about half an hour left. And while waiting we were served some really delicious guava and orange juice.

It took about 20 minutes until we had reached cruising altitude again and the flight attendants were handing out snacks, little pretzel clouds and airplane crackers. Drinks were served with it and Tom had a beer, while I stuck with Coke. We sat and chatted for a while, then started the onboard entertainment. There was not much that really interested me, so I went with a rerun of season 6 of Downton Abbey. About 10 minutes into the first episode they were handing out hot-cold towels and soon after lunch was served. We both opted for the same main and were handed our trays. Both of us ordered white wine to go with lunch. And then it was time to dig in. We started with a Seasonal Salad with Cherry Tomato accompanied by Italian Dressing, which was very nice and refreshing.

Main course was a Roasted Chicken Breast  on Cream Sauce served with Leaf Spinach in Garlic Cream and fried Potatoes. It was surprisingly tasty, even though the chicken was rather dry, but if eaten with the creamed spinach it was pretty good. There was a nice warm roll with butter and young Camembert.

And for dessert there was a Crumbly Apple Cake. Once lunch was over and after dinner spirits were served there were customs declarations to be filled out and then I went to work on the trip report. And low and behold I was able to write quite a bit before Tom tempted me with watching a bit of Gordon Ramsay. Hours tricked by and then it was time for dinner. It is always a good time when on board dinner rolls around as it means we are close to our destination. Flight attendants started handing out hot and cold cloth towels and then they came through with their carts serving dinner. We both decided on the same dish, Grilled Chicken Breast with Barbecue Sauce accompanied by Pumpkin Stew and Corn Mash.

It was served with a warm crusty dinner roll and some butter and for dessert we were served Fruit Salad with dried Lingonberries. We both had some Coke with it and we were so impressed by the food that I even forgot to take a photo before we started to dig in. Dinner done, there was about an hour and a half of flight time, we had made up on the delay we had had when leaving Frankfurt and we both started to really realize that this vacation had now officially started.

An hour later we touched down at MCO and rolled to our gate. We could see the BA and Virgin Atlantic planes and were hoping that they had arrived quite some time earlier so we would not end up in the queue at immigration. Well, at least we could leave the plane right away, and since our seats had been towards the front of the plane we quickly were on our way to immigration. Not many people in the hallway or ahead of us until …….. we turned the corner to immigration. That room was shock full of people. Oh well, we’ll get through there in some time. Lines snaked back and forth across the room and slowly we were creaping towards the booths. It had taken us 50 minutes until we got to someone who directed us to the self service machines for immigration and once that was done and some horrible pictures had been taken, we were able to get to an officer and finally had immigration behind us. Our luggage was doing rounds on the carrousel and soon we were in line for customs. It was a breeze and we were on our way to rental cars. After our less than fun experience with Budget we had decided to go back to Hertz again and this time we were glad we did, because when we got to that floor we could see quite some lines at most companies, but Hertz had an employee at every spot and we were the first people in line. And as luck would have it, while I was still digging for my paperwork, one family was sent on their way and we were able to walk over to the desk. We had quite some luggage so the employee tried to get us to upgrade, but once we said we were not interested in an upgrade, he didn’t pressure us any more.

Papers were signed, a key was handed over and we were ready to head outside. And we were stunned to see that behind us a long line had formed and we had been very lucky to be there when we had been. So with key in hand we headed towards the exit and were slapped in the face by the hot humid Orlando air. Within a few minutes we were riding up the escalator to the Hertz lot and looking for our car. Didn’t take long and our luggage was loaded into it and Tom fixed the GPS and we were on our way. It had become dark in the meantime, but when the first Walt Disney World billboards came into sight, we finally were sure we were no longer dreaming, our vacation of a lifetime had started. It took us about 30 minutes until we arrived at our destination, Disney’s Bay Lake Tower. And we were really lucky as we found an empty parking space really close to the main entrance. So in we went to pick up magic bands and being told our room location. The cast members were so super friendly and with that made me forget that we had not been granted a room on another floor than first. Well, we were only there for three nights and once we found out that it was just a few steps from reception all was good again. I made Tom go in first to find his surprise, a two tier mini cake for his retirement and it was just the sweet surprise I had imagined it to be. And after we had looked around the room and found out that we could look out at the pool Tom went to fetch the rest of the luggage, while I waited for the Owner’s Locker to arrive.
It didn’t take long and everything was in the room and we were ready to head out and over to the Magic Kingdom again. We were already way inside our FP+ for the Jungle cruise and were sure we would not make it, but we had more FP+ to enjoy. About 10 minutes later we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, went through security, which still had quite a line and headed into the park. And stopped right in town square to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, which was running. What a start to our vacation. We stood way back but it was fun to see the parade, which is always a favourite of ours. When the Parade had passed, we strolled through the shops and finally made it to the hub. Why not start with a ride on the Peoplemover?
We walked over, saw the long line and then noticed that the ride was not moving at all. Soon they began to turn away people and instead of going on a ride we decided to head to Cosmic Ray’s for some dinner. The place was pretty packed, but they had two sides of lines open, so we got in line, studied the menu and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Very very slowly the line crawled up to the register and when only two groups were ahead of us the cast member manning the register let everyone know that his orders did not go through and this was what had held up the line. Would we all walk over to another register, where he was going to open up right away. Boy, you should have seen the stampede of people who literally dashed over to that register, which left the lady in front of us and us right at the end of that line again. Well, the lady spoke up and let the cast member at the register know that we had been next in line at the other register and what was he about to do about it. He was going to do nothing. He just let her know that this is the line that he had found there and it would only take a few minutes. 15 minutes later we were still in line. The lady ahead of us was fuming, Tom and I were too tired to actually be angry about it. Finally it was our turn, we placed our order and walked up to the counter, where we waited another 10 minutes until our order was ready. By then we were already inside the time frame for our second FP+, but we would make it there with time to spare.

So we loaded a small plate with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and chilis and went to find a table. And I did not even forget to take pictures of our food before we dug in. We had decided on getting the Barbecued Pork Bacon Cheeseburger with french fries and the Bacon Deluxe Chicken Sandwich with french fries which we shared.

They were both quite good and hit the spot, but we were both amazed by the 38$ price tag. We sat for quite a while before we headed out to ride our first FP+ ride, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. When we walked up to the FP entrance we were stunned to see the standby line starting outside the actual ride area, but once we had scanned our magic bands it was kind of a walk on. Great way to start the trip. Once we got off we had about 5 minutes until our next ride, the wildest ride in the wilderness. We very slowly walked past Peter Pan and It’s a Small World, walked through the Haunted Mansion gift shop and then strolled along the water’s edge over to the ride. It was supposed to close during our WDW stay so we had made it a priority to ride it whenever we were at the Magic Kingdom. So we were happy to see the FP line moving quickly, Tom asked for last row and with his wish granted we rode our favourite runaway train. When we got off it was nearly midnight and there were extra magic hours until 2am but there was no way we would make it. So we decided to call it a day and walk towards the exit, but not without trying to ride the Peoplemover. Unfortunately it was still down and we very slowly made our way towards the exit with a lot of other people. Thankfully we did not have to get in line for a bus or the monorail, we just walked over to Bay Lake Tower and after unpacking a few things we were in bed by 1am.