I'm sorry this has turned out to be a bit wordy....don't worry, I will not be doing a day by day account of our trip...mainly because it would mostly just be a matter of cutting and pasting each one and changing the number I will post a few on different themes though. We booked this holiday only a few weeks before going – we had really wanted to go to WDW but had real trouble finding anything affordable, and the hotels we wanted to stay in seemed to be unavailable at a few weeks notice. We had always wanted to visit the Maldives, and found an amazing deal via an online company called Dreamticket, who specialise in the Indian Ocean. It was the exact sort of hotel we wanted to stay in....we wanted a small island, with as few rooms as possible and not very much in the way of organised activity. We both needed some real relaxation and the freshest of air to recharge our batteries. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o>After leaving the furry kids with our lovely housesitter, we drove to Manchester airport (just over 2 hours from home). We had already checked in online the day before, and after an easy bag drop we had a bite of lunch before boarding. We were flying economy with Emirates, and I have to say that they were superb. We were given complimentary newspapers and magazines on boarding, and a hot towel to freshen up when we were sat down. The entertainment system was excellent with over 600 channels on your personal screen of recent films, tv, radio, whole music albums, talking books and games. I spent a lot of the time reading New Moon (I had bought the Twilight series to read on my hols but had already read through one and a half of them before I left – I was hooked!). I also watched Wall-E for the first time and cried....I thought it was a lovely film! The food was good, with nice wine to go with it. After about 7 hours we landed at Dubai airport for our flight change, where we had about 2 and a half hours to kill. <o></o>There was a very long queue for security, but eventually we got through to the shops. Now, we had read a lot about this airport terminal, and how amazing it’s shopping was. It is Garry’s son’s birthday in February and he was looking to buy a posh watch for him at duty free prices. However, we found the prices to be no cheaper than you can get at certain outlets in the UK, and a lot of other stuff was more expensive. There were a lot of very lovely shiny shops selling mostly the same stuff, unless you wanted 22k gold. All of the food and drinks were expensive (even for an airport) and apart from Starbucks and the obligatory McD you had to spend a minimum amount of money to get into the bars/restaurants. We went back to the plane early and made ourselves comfy. We spent the 4 hour flight to Male sleeping and eating some breakfast. Although this was an overnight flight we really didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as we expected once we disembarked. We were 5 hours ahead of the UK when we reached our island. <o></o>Anyway, upon arrival at Male airport we were taken through a very stern passport control where we had to fill in a lot of swine flu information forms. My nose always get very stuffed up on long flights and I was terrified they’d quarantine me. Then we had to go through a baggage xray on exit, as it in an offence to take any alcohol into the Maldives and they do check rigorously (which scuppered our plan to take a few bottle of champers with us before we even started!). Then we exited into a large building with open walls through which we could spy the glorious turquoise Indian Ocean. We were whisked by shuttle bus to a lovely relaxing airconditioned lounge which belonged to the hotel. We were given bottles of water and cold towels, and offered refreshments while we waited for our taxi - a 16-seater seaplane – to arrive. The weather on this day was cloudy and dull (the only day of our holiday that it was anything but perfect blue sky!) so our seaplane transfer was delayed a little due to the turbulence that had preceded this, but eventually we were led to our 16-seater “taxi” to Komandoo. The air crew gave us our safety briefing while sitting in the driving seats (pointing out the 6 emergency exits in true airline fashion ) in lovely pilot uniforms and bare feet. The trip was amazing, and the views of the atolls were incredible. After 45 minutes we had our first sight of the beautiful island we would call “home” for the next 2 week, and even though it was a cloudy day, it still looked like a great place to be marooned for a while! We landed very smoothly onto the Indian Ocean, disembarked the plane onto a floating pontoon, and transferred to the hotel boat. On our taxi flight there had been a lovely lady sitting alone, ignoring the views as she was engrossed in her Twilight book. She introduced herself as the Resort Manager who was just coming back from a few days leave. It turned out she always came to greet the new guests on arrival...she just met us a little sooner! We emerged from the boat onto a jetty and walked to a perfect example of a desert island (all be it not quite deserted!). Some of the staff were playing traditional Maldivian drums and singing a welcome song. We were given a coconut with a straw in as a refreshing yummy drink, and some gorgeous coconut ice cream...both very yummy! To Reception to do a little paperwork, which set the scene for the whole place...sandy floors everywhere! We were shown to our little beach villa. It was lovely. Just a few steps from there, over white sand, took us to the sea. <o></o> The room was large and airy, made of natural materials, and the bed was so comfy! <o></o> <o>There was also a gorgeously comfy day bed which you can just see in this shot beyond the bed.</o> <o></o>The outside wall of the bathroom was open to the outdoors at the top, and although this meant that at some times of the day it was a bit warm in there, it was lovely to see the trees, hear the sounds and see the fruitbats hanging around (literally). Yes, fruitbats. <o></o> Through the front doors, which were floor to ceiling windows, there was a furnished verandah with a few steps leading onto the sand. This was screened with indigenous trees and bushes so that we had some privacy, without totally blocking our view. We would sit here to have our coffee every morning, and retire here in the afternoon when we needed a lttle more shade. At the bottom of the steps you can see the wooden bucket filled with seawater so that we could rinse the sand from our feet before going back in...it always made me think of Sorcerer Mickey as it's the same bucket! <o></o> We could still see the view through the foliage too. <o></o> All the rooms were equipped with an ipod player which was a nice touch, and had huge plasma tvs on the wall, though why anyone goes to the Maldives and watches tv in their room we didn’t know...though having said that we did have a night or two where we caught up with important football matches in the bar! After a very fast change into swimming stuff,, we kicked off our shoes and didn’t wear anything on our feet again until the penultimate day when we left the island for a couple of hours. Bare feet....white sand...bliss!