To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day One April 11th 2017

In my pre-blogging days here is where I would do a pre-trip introduction thing, telling everyone about the trip we had planned, how we booked it and who was going. As I have blogged about little else for months every detailed twist and turn of all the above is covered there already. If this trip report is your first visit to my blog, then welcome, and where have you been? Feel free to read back if you want a back story that will probably be longer than the actual report itself. That’s what happens when you blog every week!

I would usually also apologise in advance for all sorts of things….language, too much detail, using the same half a dozen jokes that I first used in 2003 and length. I am accustomed to apologising for my length, however, as these days I post this stuff on my own blog, there will be no such contrition and forewarning. I’ll write what I want and hope some folks read it.

This trip started like most of them have, with an early alarm call. I am jostled from my slumber by my alarm at 4am to the sound of the shower already running. This is a significant event as leading up to our trip we have had “men in” fitting a new bathroom. This morning would be the first time that we had a functioning shower after the best part of three weeks, so this noise was pleasing to me. It also meant Louise was in the shower and wouldn’t stink today, which was a bonus.

I was done a few short minutes after rising, which I’m told isn’t a big deal and happens to lots of men. Cleansed and dressed I headed downstairs to sort the dogs out, make some brews and eat a bagel. Being a kind soul I took Louise’s brew upstairs and allowed our youngest dog Bean up with me. She of course jumped onto our bed, which isn’t usually an issue, but this morning she chose to put dirty marks all over the nice new bedding Louise had put on a few short hours ago and so I was suitably chastised for my foolishness and banished to put said sheets in the washer again and tell Rebecca that she’d need to dry and refit them later.

Having got the first row out of the way before 4.30am the customary last-minute cramming of cases ensued and every time I think they are good to go and zip up some other thing is presented for inclusion. It is tradition that the last item to appear are the blazing hot hair straighteners which I have to somehow get into our luggage as the taxi man drums his fingers outside the house. Bearing scars like David Carradine in Kung Fu (ask your Dad) I drag luggage downstairs and tell my Mum and Dad and the taxi bloke that we won’t be long which is a blatant lie.

FYI we are at 500 words and not in the taxi to the airport yet….settle in for the long haul.

We say our goodbyes to Rebecca and Tom which won’t make it onto my list of favourite things to do. Ten minutes later than I would have liked we all make it out the door and into the taxi.

At this point I am presented with a quandry. This is the photo in front of the door time, but of course, one of the participants in that isn’t coming with us, or indeed dressed. So what to do? I decide to take the same photo anyway, but the Gods intervene and make every attempt blurry and crap. I am using my brand new camera for the first time, the taxi man is literally breathing down my neck to get going and it’s all a bit flustered. Anyway, I snap something I’m not happy with and leave.

This one has an added dog.

This one is zoomed in so you can see the blur more clearly. This is a very rare shot of Rebecca without make up so cherish it.

The drive to the airport was a quiet one. To be honest I was tired and a bit upset at leaving folks behind so I didn’t feel like chatting. We arrive at Terminal 1 at 6.10am. The taxi cost us £85 return. I locate the relevant desk at which we can drop our luggage off at and wander to it. There’s no queue and no fuss. Our main case is 23.7kg and so it gets a special sticker to denote it is overweight. I was a little offended to have a similar sticker attached to my T shirt.

There is no queue at security and having had our boarding passes sent to my mobile rather than print them off for the first time I stand wafting my phone at a scanner as everyone passes through the barrier. We live in the future.

We didn’t have to remove our shoes at security, but my Dad was given special attention as he forgot to take his iPad out of his rucksack. We waited for him to join us after his interrogation.

“They tested me for drugs and everything” ha says as he reappears.

“They must have thought you were Emilio Escaban!” jokes Louise.

I thinks she meant Pablo Escobar.

Next we restroomed and then assumed our “waiting for Louise” positions which would come in handy throughout the trip.

Giraffe for breakfast, which made an interesting change from cereal. Once seated we ordered juices and coffees and some food…

Me – Egg and Bacon Bagel

Louise and Dad – Simple Breakfast

Mum and Emily – French Toast

It was all good and cost us £61 including a tip.

Exhausted from his efforts Dad found himself a newspaper and seat whilst the rest of us wandered around some shops. Duty Free was relatively painless with just one make up purchase for Louise. In WH Smiths, we bought books for the flight. I got a David Baldacci novel. Since Ben Elton stopped writing novels he has become a recent holiday tradition. I also got a notebook and pen for the taking of notes for this here trip report. I don’t know what else we got but it cost me £45!

As we made our way back to Dad I tried to take a sneaky photo of the Victoria’s Secret model’s poster but it turned out blurry. That wasn’t the camera, I had just gone cross eyed.

To add insult to insolvency Louise then decided to have something called gel nails done whilst we sat and waited for our gate to be announced. Add a Starbucks to the mix and we had to go home now as we had spent up!

Now it was time to go to the gate, which was 32. As ever seems to be the case it was the one furthest away and by the time we got there and various party members had last minute wees, we were the last to board. We were spread across rows 40 and 41. I don’t mean that literally, I just mean we all had seats in those rows.

We took off amazingly close to 10.15 and settled in for the ride.

This is a rare shot of my Dad being awake on a plane.

Louise passed the time by doing her impression of Dr Evil…

I already had a feeling of this trip flying by as the whole airport thing seemed to flash by in record time. Maybe I’m getting old?

Take off saw Louise’s fear of flying in full effect and it is only by holding my hand and crushing my fingers that she prevents the aircraft coming down in a ball of flames.

Ah, it was only a matter of minutes…

Lots of this happened….

We upgraded our entertainment package and bought some headphones for a fiver each and I started by watching The Accountant with Ben Affleck. I too was shocked to see him flying Thomas Cook to Orlando, but there you go.

Food came and was passable. I enjoyed James Martin’s sausage, which you should expect to read about in the Sunday papers very soon.

I then watched a Modern Family that I’d seen a few times already but it passed half an hour. At this point, Emily had a wee. Don’t worry, I won’t be documenting every passing of water, but this one was significant as it was on an aircraft. Emily has always had a phobia of loos in the sky and now at 21 she seems to have managed to get over it!

Next was The Arrival…no, not into Orlando, the film with Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams. It was a bit weird but I chose it as it was quite long. Length is important at times, and on a long haul flight most things that can pass almost two hours are worth a watch. I did feel this film was about half an hour too long but it got me to the three hours to go point in the flight.

I started my notes on events so far…

Louise fell asleep at this point. This is relevant for two reasons.

  1. She says she never sleeps on a plane. The Diazepam and red wine said otherwise.
  2. Recently on Facebook she posted an unflattering photo of me and my chins asleep on the flight. I have a similarly unflattering photo of Louise in a similar pose but I am too much of a gentleman to post it.

The flight crew were busy again dishing out teas and coffees which I never have on a flight. It’s a throwback to my childhood I think when it used to be served in those small, flask like plastic cups and it made me feel sick. With the aisles full of stewardesses and trolleys far too many folks felt the need to be up and about. In my view, your job on a plane is to sit down for as long as possible and be as little trouble and nuisance as you can be to the crew. I reserve my best tuts for those who are out of the traps faster than Usain Bolt as soon as the seat belt signs go off once airborne. What can you possibly need to do so soon after take off? Anyway, at this point deep into the flight, having supped her coffees, one woman from the front of the plane walked all the way to our row, right at the back, with three empty cups to give them to a stewardess still serving drinks to the rest of the plane.

Said stewardess (or is flight attendant now? Apologies.) hid her disdain much better than I did.

Next I watched War Dogs which was better than expected. It did have a load of bad language in it which had been hilariously overdubbed for a flight showing so there was lots of “You are funning kidding me” going on. During this film our snack was served. The less said about it the better I think.

That film ended just ten minutes before we landed. Said landing was bumpy and Louise particularly enjoyed the skidding across the runway as we touched down. You will have heard her screams back in the UK. The captain apologised for the rough landing and the emergency stop braking he had to do to correct it. He said it would at least mean they didn’t need to sweep the plane now. How Louise laughed.

Hey Orlando…looking good.

Being back in Orlando saw smiles break out all over.

As ever it seemed to take longer than the flight to taxi to the gate and I could feel the tension rising as folks flicked their seat belt clasps in anticipation. Being at the rear of the plane we were pretty much the last off. I think there were 320 people on our flight and as we arrived in the immigration hall we were somehow 340th in the queue. It snaked on forever and was not moving. This turned out to be the longest wait we have ever had to get through immigration. It was over an hour. Having stood around for that hour, collecting our cases was very quick as they had been circling the carousel for forty minutes or so. Louise then declared that she had to go to the restroom and so we stood for twenty minutes just before the customs form desk watching not only all of our flight file through to form some nice queues at car hire, but also the recently arrived Virgin flight that came in half an hour after us.

Being tired, cranky and eager to get going this did absolutely not result in an argument.

Turns out there was no queue at our car hire desk after all. I escaped the upsell with just a charge for a tank of fuel and headed over to the garage. Having booked our car before Mum and Dad were coming with us, I had stuck with the full size option as the helpful graphic on the website assured me that it would fit five adults and their cases. It didn’t really and we had to try a few cars to find a boot…sorry trunk, that would give us a fighting chance. With everything and everyone finally in, the sat nav was unleashed and we headed for Universal. Sat Navs are great, but if some numpty types in the wrong destination they can be less effective. Having searched for “Holiday Inn” and picked the one that seemed closest to Universal, assuming that to be the one that Mum and Dad were booked into, we arrived at our destination at a spot where a Holiday Inn perhaps did stand when our sat nav was built.

It certainly wasn’t there any longer and so I booted up my phone to get the correct address. A few moments later we found it. As we made our way around the Universal area my Dad pointed out that Wet and Windy was over there. This was a tad harsh on Louise I felt, as it was probably just the medication for the flight.

The traffic in this area was bobbins. Every red light lasted a bout a week and a half and there were jams everywhere. This was not in any way frustrating when you are trying to start a holiday.

I went in with Mum and Dad to get them checked in, up to their room and crucially onto the WiFi so we could message them about meeting up later. Their room was huge, clean and lovely, which was a relief.

We then made our way over to Royal Pacific.

Our wait to check in was longer than I would have liked. Every guest at the desk with a member of staff seemed to be organising the Normandy landings rather than getting their keys to a hotel room. Finally we were attended to and, I assume as means of apology, I was offered a lay. This was not the time or place so instead I accepted a garland of flowers around my neck and we went to the room.

Having had a very smooth experience at Manchester, the whole post landing experience at Orlando had been crap and stressful. Hopefully now that would be behind us. Our room, 1705, was lovely with a decent view.

We tested the loo, got on the WiFi to taunt those back home about our location and rested for a bit. We left at 7.30 to pick up Mum and Dad and go for tea.

The sat nav froze at a crucial point of our five minute journey which resulted in me taking a five mile detour up and then back down the I4. This did not bother me one jot! We waited in the lobby for them for ten minutes as despite hearing his iPad ping with a new message (from us) Dad decided not to look at what it said!

Anyway, not to worry, the shorts were on and the holiday had started.

The Outback was just a five minute drive away and were delighted to be seated immediately. We were less delighted to be sat next to a huge group of Brits who seemed to be trying to talk to family back home without a phone. Alcohol may have been involved, which is fair enough, they are on holiday, but inconsiderate noise like that is a pet hate of mine. They seemed to take about an hour to actually leave having declared they were doing so but eventually peace prevailed.

We kicked off with the new combo starter of a Bloomin’ Onion topped with cheesey fries.

Followed by….

Me and Mum – Aussie Cobb Salad

Emily – Caesar Salad

Louise – Fillet Mignon Skewers with Mash and Broccoli

Dad – Surf and Turf

The quality of these photos does get better I promise you. The newness of the camera was still defeating me.

We were so full that I feared death. The bill was $126 so we left $150. Mum and Dad were dropped off and we headed back to RPR and straight to bed.

Till the next time…….

17 thoughts on “To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day One April 11th 2017

  1. Excellent start to your trip reports, I have missed these and each week will bring me closer to our return to ‘home’!

  2. looking forward to the rest of the TR! and seeing Ryan of course. Also, congrats to Rebecca – wonderful news after what sounds like a truly rubbish time. Looking forward to you signing off as ‘Grandpa’!

  3. Great start Craig. Was wandering now the kids have left school why you go at one of the busy times of the year??

    • We had booked to go in March but Rebecca’s first pregnancy, which unfortunately miscarried would have been due right in the middle of those dates. We swapped to the only other dates we could do. Not ideal but it was fine tbh

  4. Brilliant! Poor Louise – I feel her pain on that landing. I’m not a good flyer either, think I’d have cried with relief when I got off! Our first argument is generally just after getting to the car….the heat, the waiting for the Sat Nav to load, the paperwork in hand as you drive through the exit…. oh the joys!
    Shall look forward to the rest of the trippie. Hotel looks lovely.

  5. Great to have your trip reports back!. Just makes us want to go even sooner than September.

    I see the Cobb salad and the Caesar Salad look pretty identical, must have been hard to tell them apart that late in the day…. 🙂

  6. Great report as usual I too have the honour of standing outside toilets on our trips it sure is fun.

  7. My brother and his girlfriend stayed at that Holiday Inn when we were staying on site at Universal. Although only five minutes away we got lost a couple of times picking them up in the car. Also ended up going on the I4 trying to find the entrance to Sweet Tomatoes!

  8. Great start Craig. Must have been very hard to leave Rebecca. Bless her, I bet she was super sad too. Just think of all the trips yet to come with the wee one though 🙂

  9. Fantastic read, really enjoyed that. I have always enjoyed reading about the travel day during the course of your many trip reports. Outback was one of our favourite places to dine when we were last in Orlando. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the next part. 🙂

  10. Great start, had me giggling most of the way through. Love the traditonal photo by the door and your girls are beautiful with or without make up. Can’t wait to read more 🙂

  11. I LOVE your trip reports. Last year we shared your lack of a Disney holiday and we are not going this year either! But reading every detail of yours nearly makes up for it! I even enjoy reading about the rest breaks 🙂

  12. Brilliant so glad to have another of your reports to read 😊 You’ve reminded me with your coffee comment, we had to stop en route on family holidays to Cornwall for my dad to have coffee out of a flask and a fag 🤢 Urgh the smell

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