Oh goodness, friends told me how busy it was last week or so.....I`m sure you still managed to have a wonderful time......how was the weather? I know some friends had it cold this past weekend......you never know, you may get back sooner than you think......but, the beach would be nice too......Glad you made it home safe and sound!!! And I don't think a month is too long to take a vacation!!! It sounds perfect to me!!!
We just got back from Disney on Sunday... We had fun... But... Soooooo many people!!!! It seems to get more crowed every time we go... My husband said our next 2 or 3 vacations will NOT be Disney or Universal... Maybe I can talk him into going to the beach for a week...
Can't wait to read about your next vacation at Universal since I won't be there anytime soon...
lol.....I know what you mean…..I got depressed when friends came back last week.....and they were there in Florida longer than us!!!I'm feeling the post-vacation blues, and I didn't even go on vacation! I won't know what to do with myself if I am not living vicariously through your trip report.
Thank you for another great report. Making me feel excited about our planned February vacation.
Oh I will tell him, thank you.......I can always tell most of the time, which ones I took....as they’re usually blurry!! I really should wear my glasses for picture taking.....Sorry to see another trip report end but I'm looking forward to reading about the December trip with Kyle. Tell Tom his pictures were amazing as usual. It looks like it was a wonderful time and glad you made it home safely.
Late to comment......but it’s true another great report done and now it’s time for the next adventure!Oh I will tell him, thank you.......I can always tell most of the time, which ones I took....as they’re usually blurry!! I really should wear my glasses for picture taking.....
Yes, the journey home was a good one.....and yes, we are so looking forward to getting away with Kyle this month.....so is he!!!
Hope to see you on the next one too....coming up soon hopefully....
Thank you for the wonderful trip report !I'm usually a lurker but I love to read trip reports and yours are great. I'm a Disney lover but have been to Universal 20 years ago. Raising my Grandkids now so maybe we'll get to Universal in a couple years. I love the fact that you explore Florida and share that with us. So much detail. Looking forward to your next trip report !!WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 2ND
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It was finally here....the day we never looked forward to.
But, we would see Kyle tomorrow and that helped a lot........we got showered and dressed and went up to the lounge for breakfast as usual and took our time as although we were leaving quite early today, we didn`t have much to do this morning.......
Although our flight was still due to leave around 6.20pm, a few people were advising to be there early......not quite sure why, but we thought we might as well do that too. We were checking out at 11 which was very early for us, and just going straight to the airport. Our friend was going to be down to say goodbye to us, so that was always nice to see him....although sad too.
Once we had breakfast, we said our goodbyes and went back down to the room and finished off last minute packing and such, went down to the lobby to see a few folks too, and before we knew it, we were in the room trying to squeeze our last minute stuff in the cases......
It wouldn`t be the first time we had the conversation below.......
Happens all the time. Of course I do understand the baggage handlers have to carry them.......
So, we have a last swoop of the rooms and head down to the lobby, it`s not fun when you pass the happy people checking in.......lol.......we do manage to say goodbye to several of the front desk staff we know well which was nice. The desk isn't too busy right now.
We stand to the side and our friend comes out at 11 on the button with two of his assistants we know well too......he was so glad we had enjoyed another wonderful vacation, and happy we had flights sorted too, although he did laugh he knew we`d have been happy to stay longer.......of course!! We chatted for a while and then eventually thanked him for everything was once again....he is a real superstar and one of the nicest men on the planet. Many hugs all round, we eventually head out with a promise we`ll email him once we get home. I have to admit seeing him makes leaving a little bit nicer somehow.....
The car is waiting and valet help us load up the car, these cases are heavy......a few years back macraven gave us as part of a gift, a lovely and very useful set of luggage scales, and we use them every year and immediately hope they`re wrong......lol.....I asked Tom were we ok for luggage weight......
I suspected we were waaaaaayyyyy over...….
As we drove round into the airport, I spotted a jumbo jet parked way over in the middle of nowhere with Atlas Air on the side. I guessed that was ours, so at least it was here.
And, before we knew where we were, we were pulling in to drop the rental off....no issues here and we got a zero on the receipt which we like to see. Alamo have always been excellent and no nasty surprises when we get home.
We go straight to what was the TC desks and they still have the TC signs up which surprised us somehow......there were quite a few people already there. So, we joined the line as there was separate line today for Premium. Of course everyone was very chatty and we all shared a similar experience this trip, it`s not everyday such a large company go under.
We did take a last picture of the TC boards for posterity...…..
About 10 minutes later a few people began to appear from the UK Government and the CAA. they had on hi vis jackets with the UK flag on so if you needed any help they were there and they were very helpful.
They spoke to everyone to make sure they were supposed to be on these two flights...….one was Atlas Air and one was Omni air......one person told us we`d be glad to be on Atlas Air. Have to admit we had never heard of them. But, they lease planes to anyone who needs them, and we discovered from Cabin Crew later, they transport the military a lot.
Waiting was interminable this afternoon. But, around an hour and a half later the CAA started handing out bottles of water and potato chips to everyone who wanted them…….we thought it was the airport, but one CAA lady told everyone British Airways had arranged for them to be handed out every single day to folks on the TC flights...….nice little touch.
The desks had been opening a little early according to the staff, but not today it seemed. But, eventually they did open them and we began to move.
Check in staff were not very friendly or sympathetic in any way to the people in front. It seemed they were loading the plane from the back which made them incredibly unhappy.....now, we`d have preferred to be at the front, but we really didn't care, as long as we were sat together.
When it was our turn we very politely asked if she needed our GE number as that gives us TSA pre check. We get it automatically with Virgin but with TC you had to give them the number to type in....she actually snapped NO at me…...well, ok then......was there a reason why I asked.....NO was the next response. The people behind us began to grumble there was no need for the attitude. But, we just wanted our boarding cards and then we could go and get some food. We were told they weren't TC staff which I could maybe understand if they were and felt aggrieved at losing their job, but this wasn't the nicest check in.
However, one good thing that happened was they were paying no heed to baggage weight.......phew.......we had been lucky here, they didn`t seem to be interested. We had only been told if you had Premium on the TC flight they would honour your extra baggage weight......if only I`d known......lol......
We had a set of two seats together and right at the very back of the plane.....we have never sat that far back on a plane, but the good thing was we had no-one behind us, so we could fully recline with no one there. We quite liked the sound of these seats.
But, it was now late afternoon and we were starving....so....we quite like the food court here, yes, it`s nothing fancy, but there is a good selection of places to choose from and well.....it`s a food court. We end up choosing Panda Express and it was pretty darn decent...….and we were ready for some food now. We sat for a while and checked the board now and again and decided to head through when it was showing as on time...….
Not having TSA precheck wasn't an issue as there were no real lines and we got through fairly quickly and no extra checks for either of us......
Once on the people mover, we fell into a real low......lol...….there are no pictures today at all....we just didn't feel like it.....
We found the gate after we purchased some water and a few snack items, we had heard the food was truly awful on this flight, that didn't bother us we could make do with anything, but we did have snacks in case. Waiting at the gate we could see the plane had now arrived at the gate, another good sign and was still showing as on time.
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The words delayed soon appeared on the board and we could see the staff at the gate looking out the window as if they were waiting for something....Pilots and CC had already boarded and we began to get concerned when one of the pilots appeared from the plane and was checking his watch...….this had a bad feeling about it.
Long story short...….after being sat there all day.....they hadn't catered it. No food had been delivered and they had no clue when it was going to arrive...….so, we had to wait even longer......everyone just wanted to board and get home now...….and they made an announcement to tell us they wanted to get home too!! I guess they were fed up with folks asking what was happening...….
The catering van did appear and they did get the food loaded, then boarding began and we were among the first to board after the folks that needed help and little kids. We knew we were straight to the back and it felt a long walk......lol…….our seats were fine and very basic.
No seat back tv`s which we had always had on planes, but we didn't care about that at all. The seats were surprisingly comfortable, although there was an almost damp smell on the plane, nothing too bad, but as far as were concerned we were so grateful to be on the plane and heading home.
Folks around us weren't happy and sadly took their annoyance out on CC.....not their fault....we had a lovely CC lady standing where we were sitting and she said they hadn't known about any of this till the last minute, she was the one who told us about the military passengers. She was very nice and very patient for putting up with some very irate passengers.
We took off around 2 hours 45 minutes late......but at least we took off. And boy is it noisy at the back of the plane!!!!
Food was served and the reviews I had seen were right.....the hot meal was dreadful, I still have no clue what it was.....but we ate some of the cheese and a few other little bits. They also had full size cans of coke and pepsi, and you could have as many as you liked...….and what we couldn't believe was people were furious there was no alcohol......seriously!!!! People were upset there was no alcohol...….we were surprised at that......
Once the food was cleared away, we got our jackets out and covered ourselves up and I had my eye mask out......we fully reclined and had loads of room......for economy seats they weren't half bad. And the couple in front of us didn't recline at all which gave us even more room.....
We slept, intermittently......we had some truly dreadful turbulence where even I was a little perturbed about how bad it felt......but I slept through most of it......
We knew by now we were never going to make the train we had booked, even by some miracle if our luggage was first off, we`d never make it. But, we`d deal with that when we got there.....breakfast was good......it really was....it was a bit like a subway sandwich with turkey and a very nice cheese, there was also fruit and yoghurt, so it wasn't bad at all.
Landing was good and of course, we parked the plane in the middle of nowhere which all added extra time for us to get through the airport.....the buses were waiting to ship us over to the main terminal and it didn't take too long for that to happen, but we were right at the back, so of course last off. But, we got over to the building and up to Passport Control which took no time at all and then down to baggage collection.....
Considering we were last off we thought the luggage might have been there, but no.....we had to wait......and again, we were so lucky ours were among the first off......we grabbed them and headed to the elevators to take us up to the level we could walk down to the level for the train station which like the Radisson, is attached by the Skywalk.
We got there as our train pulled out of the platform. But, we went over to the ticket desk and explained we had missed one as our plane was delayed, he asked if we were part of the Thomas Cook fiasco......yes!!!! He said no problem, the next train was in an hours time and they had first class seats available so he printed us off our original tickets and said to explain to the conductor we were TC passengers delayed. Fabulous.
We overheard a lady who had been on our flight too explain to another worker about being delayed, and she had brought a CAA official with her....she was being asked for proof she had been on the flight and had been booked with TC......glad we got the easy going guy...….so we went upstairs and into a coffee place and had some breakfast while we waited for the next train.
Train journey was fine, we got a table to ourselves and I was facing the right way so not to be travel sick......and it was a decent journey. I slept a little and then when we changed trains for the next part of the journey I slept a little more.
We got a taxi from the station and were home in a short time......it was cold. But, not too bad. It is nice to get back in and Kyle is still at work, so as usual, I dump everything clothes wise in the laundry room and get the washing machine going.....priorities......
Getting everything out of the cases is always a good feeling, and then we sat down to a big mug of tea......I sent our friend an email to let him know we were finally home and settled. The gave my mum a call as I knew she`d be waiting......
Kyle came in around 5.45 and it was hugs all round.....it was so good to see him...….and I think he was happy to see us...….we chatted forever, but we were all hungry now so they went for food......Tom and I had a good hot and spicy curry and Kyle had pizza...….we enjoyed a bottle of wine and spent the evening catching up on each other`s tales of the last month.
It was good to be home...…...
To finish off this rather longer than usual Trip Report, as most will know I don't like to drag them out too long, I`ll finish this one with some passing thoughts about the whole trip, and hope I don't forget anything....or anyone.......….
We had once again had the most amazing vacation.......some people told us a month was too long......come on......did they know us at all!!!!
In 2017 we had enjoyed a long stay between NYC and Orlando and it hadn`t been too long......so we knew this would be just fine for us, and it was.
There were so many highs from this trip, I really don`t know where to begin......
The hotels were as always amazing.....we couldn`t ask for anywhere better to stay while we are in Orlando. It`s perfect for us and there really is nowhere like home to come back to time after time.....we love being there and among so many people we genuinely care about and who we always enjoy spending time with. The staff are all amazing.
Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls will always be our home away from home while we visit Orlando.
The parks were again, fabulous......low crowds for the most part, although with EP that doesn`t affect us too much, but it`s still nice to have low crowds most of the time.....rides were brilliant and TM were fabulous.....any we interacted with couldn`t do enough for us and were always so friendly.
HHN...….well, we did enjoy it a lot....but have enjoyed others more....I think many of us have made our feelings known about how they need to up the scares......most people we know and spoke to all felt the same.....next year is their 30th Anniversary.....here`s hoping they up the terror and go back to it actually being a horror event and not a dumbed down version.......go to Disney if you don't want to be scared witless!!!!
Meeting up with friends, some new and some not so new is always fun.....we had some lovely meets and enjoyed some lovely meals and drinks with friends. Always a joy.......
Going to places like St Augustine and New Smyrna Beach are among some of our favourite things to do. We love to get out and about beyond the parks......there are so many lovely places to see beyond the parks, and we do try and see as many as possible as well as some old favourites.
The weather......what can I say, it was spectacular. Hotter than Hades some days, and some nights too, but we loved it. We had very little rain which we appreciated, as it can pour down at times, but no affect on our trip whatsoever. The heat at times was brutal, but a few visits into some air conditioning helped immensely.
Spending time together is probably too schmalzy a thing to say, especially as we spend every waking moment together at home too. But, in Orlando we have the heat and so many beautiful new places to experience together and generally enjoy the views and the heat too....and we still never have a cross word.....except for the occasional few words on whose turn it is to drive.......but we do love our time together.......and I am always grateful for all the pictures he takes for me......he is so good!!
There were no lows as such…...being delayed coming out for two days by the hurricane wasn't a lot of fun, but nothing we could do about that, Thomas Cook were brilliant with changing flights there.
And of course Thomas Cook going bust while we were out there wasn't the best news either.....but again, these things were all out of our control. We decided when we heard the news, no point in worrying about something that we couldn`t do anything about. So we didn`t worry....we carried on and enjoyed our trip.
And it was marvellous.
But, next trip is just around the corner...…..that one we are so excited about as Kyle will be with us......we have some very envious friends who would love their adult kids to travel with them still.....so we do make the most of him as one day he won`t want to come with us......I think.....lol....
But, I would like to especially like to thank each and every one of you who have commented and joined in to make this trip report a lot more fun to read.
Every single comment and response has meant an awful lot to me and I have enjoyed reading each and every one......I would love to see you all on the next TR when it`s up and running......
And of course......a thought to finish up on...…….
Oh I will tell him.....glad you enjoyed it, he`s a big fan! Yes, one is never usually enough......Late to comment......but it’s true another great report done and now it’s time for the next adventure!
Oh tell Tom, I may have found a Sam Adams I like, friends brought over some Octoberfest, I actually enjoyed it.........or 3 lol!!!
Welcome along puppawuppa......fabulous username!!!!Thank you for the wonderful trip report !I'm usually a lurker but I love to read trip reports and yours are great. I'm a Disney lover but have been to Universal 20 years ago. Raising my Grandkids now so maybe we'll get to Universal in a couple years. I love the fact that you explore Florida and share that with us. So much detail. Looking forward to your next trip report !!
lol.....definitely not an expert.....just a keen drinker of the stuff......
Thanks Caroline, it`s pointless being negative at times, and it really was a good experience in the end.You were very positive about the flight home, that always makes it better!
As usual, I really enjoyed reading along and can’t wait to hear about the next one!
We didn't take any pictures at all, we just weren't feeling like it that day.Hi Carole- another great read! Did you get any pictures of Atlas Air? I’ve never heard of them - just curious. I’m sure I would have been a little nervous flying with them. Glad you got home safe and sound. Here in Canada we were sorry to hear about Thomas Cook. Always sad when a reputable airline goes under. One question- Did you ever ride Hagrid's Motorcycle ride? I’m sorry if I missed it. I always worry I “missed” a day of your wonderful report. Can’t wait to hear about your trip with Kyle and Tom in December.
I was sad when it finished too, I always enjoy writing them, but I did want it finished before we left for the next trip......lol...….Oh, Carole, it's all done! I'm a bit sad actually, to be honest - I've SO enjoyed reading your trip report, as I always do.
Your trip reports stand out for me because of the care and details you include, the witty humour, the descriptions of the people you meet and befriend, and the photos of course (Thanks, Tom!)
I'm thrilled you were able to get home with some ease. I imagine that has quite a lot to do with your lovely personality and great attitude about the whole TC fiasco, too, though. Loved the line about your reunion with Kyle - he must have been so happy to have you home again!
Thank you for your time, efforts, and energy, Carole! I've loved each update and appreciated them immensely!
Until next time!
I am so glad to be back. I've been away from Universal for too long -- almost an entire year -- but I already have multiple trips planned for 2020, including Mardi Gras for the first time. It is truly my escape from real life. I honestly get teary when I see photos of Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls because of past trips. The only time that I will not go is Halloween because I have one of those sensitive personalities that can't handle horror of any kind, but I still enjoy the HHN trip reports.along Katie Charlotte
Nice to have you here...….
Yes, it absolutely is a test, and with any luck will be a permanent addition to the entrance area...….I have no clue why it`s being tested then. I can imagine it`s to get the full effect of all passes being utilised.
As for steak, onsite I`d thoroughly recommend The Palm in the Hard Rock Hotel. They are very accommodating to guests, so I wouldn`t imagine they`d object to you sharing. We`ve enjoyed some lovely steaks in there over the years.
One place I wouldn`t recommend for steaks is NBC. We sent a steak back twice and it still wasn`t right. We`ve also seen a few people do the same thing. It`s not good.
But, thank you, I`m glad you`re enjoying it and nice to see you