Although we have only been back home for a few days, our vacation is already starting to feel like a distant memory, so while things are [reasonably] fresh in my mind I thought it best to start my T/R aided by a few notes that I took along the way.
This vacation was very different to our other visits to Florida as it involved an internal flight to New York to embark on a DCL cruise as well as spending time in NY with some friends who were to fly in from LA.
Wednesday June 27th
This was a fairly uneventful day as the majority of it was spent a few miles above ground while we traversed the “pond”.
Thanks to our FC miles, we had again managed to secure UC seats for both legs of the journey which allowed my DW to pack everything bar the kitchen sink into our luggage. [We could have taken 3 suitcases each, but somehow all was crammed into just 4 cases in total!]
We were allocated VS 73 which departed from Manchester at 2.05 pm so at least we were able to get a good night’s rest before taking the 45 minute taxi ride to the airport from our house.
Check in and security was a breeze, my only niggle being that you now no longer get your £1 fee refunded when you return your luggage cart!
So £2 lighter and armed with our passes to the Escape Lounge, we made our way to the lounge [via the duty free shop and Boots for some “essentials”] where we had some snacks and a drink before boarding the plane.
At first I was a tad disappointed to find that our plane [Jersey Girl] was one of the “old” 747`s that had not been refurbished, however the revised meal service and pre-flight cocktails on offer had been updated. Somehow the “aeroplane” salt and pepper shakers were still used on this flight so I took possibly my last opportunity to allow them to accidently fall into my carry on bag…..well it does say ” Pinched from Virgin Atlantic” on their bases so I was only obeying orders!
A reasonably smooth flight was followed by a fairly swift passage through MCO and fortunately there was no sign of the usual long lines at the car rental desk, so while my DW awaited our luggage to arrive on the second carousel [conveniently located near to the car rental desks], I sorted out the paperwork for the rental car.
Yet again I was disappointed to find that no Dodge Chargers were available, so I settled on a low mileage Nissan Altima which was fine but without the “butch” appearance of the Charger.
En route to our villa, a stop at the nearby Publix was carried out in order to get a few essentials, and seeing as it was now approaching 8.00pm and neither of us felt in the least hungry, we unpacked and retired to bed…..at last our vacation had begun.
Thursday June 28th
As usual on the first day, we were awake at an unearthly hour in the morning, so after breakfast at the villa our customary “first day trip to DTD” was on the cards and then the fun started as we were about to leave the villa!
Before leaving I entered the 4 digit code into the alarm system and then all hell broke loose with bells and sirens going off ten to the dozen!
Try as I may I couldn`t disarm the system so I made a call to the emergency number of our property management company for help. [I knew that our property managers [Ray & Jill], who are by now close friends of ours, were away attending their son`s wedding on the Gulf Coast, so I spoke to their caretaker.]
I was informed that the security code for the system had been changed and Ray & Jill must have forgotten to let me know this before we left home.
The entry of the correct code at least silenced the alarm, however I then received a call from the alarm company, informing me that an alarm had been activated!
I gave the lady my name and told her that I was the owner of the villa and she then asked me for my password.
As I had not been given any password when I arranged for the alarm system to be installed, I was about to give her my cc details that I used to purchase the alarm in order to prove my identity when she slammed the phone down on me! So much for customer service eh?
Panic over, we spent a pleasant few hours at DTD people watching, browsing the shops, having coffee outside Ghiradelli`s and taking lunch at the Earl of Sandwich.
The weather was very hot and sunny which was very much appreciated after the dreary British climate that we had left behind.
Awaiting us back at the villa was a note from the shefiff who had been called out to investigate the alarm that had been triggered earlier. This included a mild warning that we could be liable for a fine if further false alarms happened.
I then made a note to send a snooty email to the alarm company when I arrived back in the UK to complain about the attitude of the lady who had rang me this morning.
Dinner this evening was at the YSH. It has now become a ritual that we visit this restaurant on the first and last evening of our vacation in order to say “Hi” and later a sad “Goodbye” to our good friend Ricardo who works there.
On arriving at the podium I was saddened to be informed that Ricardo had called in sick that day, however after waiting alongside the adjacent steak preparation area for a couple of minutes, Ricardo appeared with a huge grin on his face and told us that he had told the girl at the podium to “wind us up” when we arrived!
After hugs and kisses for my DW and a handshake and “man hug” for me, Ricardo led us into his restaurant where he took his usual great care of us.
Several of the staff recognised us and came to out table to welcome us back, and Ricardo introduced us to his new manager who chatted to us at length at our table.
After exchanging gifts to and from Ricardo and his DW, we made our way back to our villa having had a great first day in Orlando despite the rocky start!