Friday April 29th 2016
It had been a busy week for us as a week ago we had moved house! We’d spent a busy first weekend putting together flatpack furniture and cleaning from top to toe and then I’d whizzed off to spend Monday to Wednesday in London for work. When the alarm went off on Friday it felt surreal, and like it had suddenly crept up on us.
Luckily, I have a half day at work on a Friday so I didn’t have too much agony to suffer! I finish at 12.15pm, but online check in opened at 12.45 so I decided it would be easier to stay at work as it takes me half an hour to drive home and at this point our internet wasn’t up and running properly. I was a little worried as I’d checked the seating map first thing and there were no seats left together, there were literally only the odd one or two dotted around. I’d been checking all week in the run up to online check in opening and there had been tons of seats remaining everywhere, so I whizzed Liam an email and we decided it was most likely that Virgin had started allocating seats to the people who didn’t pay to prebook and when I checked in later we would mostly likely have been put together.
Finally, 12.45 came around and I checked in on the dot to secure us a seat. However, I was greeted by a still full seat map and we’d been allocated seats on opposite sides of the plane! Liam had been allocated to the front right and I had been allocated to the middle left – totally random! The only seats I could get us were one behind the other, which I could handle for the way there – but I did NOT want to be separated when I was teary on the way home so I resolved we would need to pay for seats then. At least I’d gotten us near each other, I thought.
When it was time to go home, I couldn’t actually go home! I had painstakingly spent several hours the evening before painting my nails with Sarah Lyons In The Park waterslide decals and two of my nails had fallen off already (I used Sensationail Gel with Nail Shield stickers so if they come off, the entire painted area comes off at once). For this reason I had to go to my parents house, as it’s my moms nail set, and repaint them.
Finally I managed to leave for home at about 3.30pm. We live within walking distance of a Sainsburys and the plan had been for me to pick up some snacks for dinner, however, I realised now I wouldn’t have time to walk over and do everything else I needed to do before Liam got home, so I stopped there in the car on the way home. I picked up a pot noodle each, some rolls to dip, vegetable crisps and houmous (a going away traditional snack for us!), some nice yoghurts, Jaffa cakes and a milkshake each – a mini hotel feast!
When I got home I only had about an hour and a half before Liam would arrive home so I quickly finished up packing my hand luggage. This was a weird mix of stuff that didn’t need to go in my case (this year I took a small rolling suitcase and a cross body bag with my valuables, so the roller case was just full of excess clothing!). By the time Liam arrived back I’d not long gotten out of the bath and was blowdrying my hair to make it nice and voluminous for the plane tomorrow!
Once I’d finished and gotten dressed, we ran around the house in a bit of a flap! Having not long moved in I think we were both mithered about where everything went and was so we locked up in a bit of a state as due to moving and me being away we really hadn’t had that much time to focus on packing. I think we were both paranoid we’d forgotten something! We were griping at each other and seriously wound up, and my nails were continuing to fall off, which didn’t help! Just as we got ready to leave I had to phone my mom and ask her to bring the nail set to the airport hotel, so I could redo them.
We got on the road. We left at the same time as my parents, but our satnav took us a weird way round loads of small roads, but we made it to the M6 which was full of traffic, as usual. We were in a jam for about half an hour but we managed to make it to the hotel for between half 8 and 9pm. I checked us in, and pre-paid for breakfast so we could have a smooth morning. We dumped all of our stuff in our room, and then quickly popped down to meet my parents and pick up the nail light. They had come over to get a Costa in our hotel bar, as they were staying across the way in a different hotel. We were staying in the Manchester Airport Premier Inn South. We sat for a few minutes and talked about the next day (they would be on the earlier Virgin flight, and we on the later one) and then we were absolutely ravenous so said goodbye and headed back to the room!
We had our pot noodles, relaxed, and hovered up a large proportion of the snacks whilst watching Graham Norton. I had to redo two more of my nails! Finally we went to bed about 11 something, and we both slept well because we were tired out from going to work.
Saturday April 30th 2016
In the morning, we had set an alarm for quart past seven to allow us time to have a leisurely morning and head down for breakfast. We decided to have breakfast before we had showers and got dresses, so we put on our clothes from the night before and headed down. The breakfast was £8.99 per person, and it really wasn’t up to much. We had two plates each of the standard breakfast fare. It was a buffet, but was generally just not great, and certainly not worth the price tag. In future, we’ll just eat at the airport!
We headed back up to the room and got ready. Upon getting out of the shower, another one of my nails had dropped off! There was no way I was going to redo it now, I was SO MAD. I had wasted hours of my time doing and redoing my nail with these lovely decals and they weren’t even staying on. It was my own fault – I hadn’t been doing all of the pre-painting rituals correctly. Silly me.
We were booked onto Jet Parks 3, which was a first for us as we normally just have my parents drop us at the airport and pick us up, but as they would be going at the same time of us this year we decided we’d drive Liam’s car and leave it at the airport. We checked out and started our journey to the car park, we swooped past Jet Parks, Jet Parks 2 and finally started seeing signs for JetParks Plus and JetParks 3, and it took us another 10 minutes to get there. We hadn’t paid much for it, only about £40 for the two weeks, but we didn’t think much of it. It was just a huge gravelled area with no lines for the space, and so full of cars you couldn’t tell which rows had spaces in and which didn’t. Finally we chanced it and took a lucky dip and fortunately the row we picked had a space and a bus row at the end of it. We wheeled our cases down to the stop (getting them dirty in the gravel in the process!) and waited only about 5 minutes for a bus to arrive. It was quiet, but I was paranoid about our luggage at the front whilst we sat at the back. Liam wasn’t!
It took us about 10 minutes to get to Terminal 2, as the bus stopped at Terminal 3, 1 and then 2. My parents were already boarding at this point, but the evening before we had spoken to them about the seating issue and they said they would we should ask at the check in desk whether they could seat us together and why we had been allocated so far apart (we are almost certain they must surely do this to worry you into paying for seats on your next trip).
We were sent down to the Upper Class check in desk as no one was in line there (this also happened on the way home at Orlando Airport – maybe it’s something about there only being the two of you?!) Liam was to do all the talking here! We both made our best sad and confused faces and he explained the situation. We played dumb to the fact you are supposed to pay to pick your own seats (to be honest, several times whilst travelling we’d played dumb to something and it tends to work, score!). When she explained about paying for seats now, he told her we normally get put together and couldn’t afford to pay for sears (which to be honest is true) and we figured we’d more than likely be seated together as we’re only a party of 2. She kept on explaining that we had to book, and offered us two exit row seats, one for £40 and one for £60. We declined again, telling her we couldn’t afford it.
After that, she got on the phone to someone and once finished, told us she had been able to allocated us seats together – 25 A and B. We were just so happy to be together we didn’t even think of where on the plane that would be.
Security was smooth and easy as ever and we had a little wait in the airport, but not too long. I spoke to my mom who was now sat on the plane waiting to go and told her our seat situation. She then told me my dad said that seat 25 A and B were the exit row seats on their plane! I didn’t get excited because I thought we’ve probably got a different seating configuration, no way would they sit us on the exit row for free!
In the airport we didn’t do much but relax and go on our phones a little. We both brought a perfume in the duty free shop and then mooched around a bit. They didn’t call our gate number, but it was easy to guess, so we went and sat on it about an hour before they called us. Finally it was time to go, and they called to board us. There was a gigantic queue down the whole terminal, and me and Liam had been sat right next to the desk so we ended up kindof pushing in by edging in from the sidelines.
Once we got on the plane we found it was true, we were in the exit row for free! We were row 25 so the very front row as you walk into the plane door, and we sat straight down and tried to get comfy. We had to wait for about 15 minutes whilst the rest of the queue boarded, trampling in front of us, so we couldn’t appreciate just yet quite how much leg room we had. When the door did finally close, we had loads of leg room.
I sat closest to the window, so I didn’t have as much leg room because the plane door juts out in front but I just had to position my legs diagonally, but it wasn’t so bad for me because I’m not that tall. Liam, sat in the middle, however, had a huge amount of legroom which was great for him as he’s over 6 foot tall!
The flight wasn’t bad at all, but we did had some interesting characters sat around us. Behind us we had a noisy family, who kept jabbing and kicking the backs of our seat! Annoyingly, they also kept running up and down the stairs, which the parents said nothing about! Liam had fun too with annoying businessman. He sat at the end of our row of three and Liam reported he put both of his elbows on the two armrests and slouched all over Liam’s side whilst typing on his laptop. Eventually he went to the toilet so Liam put his elbow on the armrest for when he came back and he disappeared then about two hours into the flight! We didn’t see him again!
We passed the time, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as flights usually are. I watched some Kardashians and read my magazines and we watched a documentary together called the Fear of 13 (really quite weird!). Liam watched Family Guy and the film Paper Towns which we’d both read last year. After all this we had about two hours to go and we didn’t do much of anything else, just faffed. They brought out the snack and it seemed to fly by after that. The food this year wasn’t bad at all, Liam had a vegetarian pasta meal which he liked and I had spaghetti and meatballs which was also nice. At snack time they brought out a veggie wrap for Liam and I had a chicken Caesar wrap which was soooo tasty! We still ate our Boots meal deals too! So we had eaten loads of bread products!
We landed and I kept reiterating to Liam that he had a very important job. I wanted to get off the plane in a timely manner so I told Liam he needed to jump up and get our hand luggage out – it was sortof behind us. Because we were in the exit row we didn’t have an overhead locker so it was above the seat behind. Luckily, he jumped up in good time and got our many bags for us. Then it was a bit strange as we were sortof just stoof there staring at the door in everyone’s way. We had already talked about it and said we’d most likely be stood there a while whilst we watched Premium and Upper passengers get off – as well as those sat upstairs. But as soon as the doors opening the air hostess looked at us and said “You two can go now” yippee! To be fair, she’s already asked me to move once so I didn’t get knocked out by the huge door!
For the first, and probably, only time in ours lives, we were first off an aeroplane.
We swanned down the walkways with no one behind us and all the way into immigration – the first people in the room! Being the first, we didn’t even have to use the electronic booths as we just walked straight down to the first available customs officer. He did the usual scanning our fingerprints and taking our pictures, asked us how long we were staying for, and why. I was super nervous as we’d been in the US for so long last year that they might not let us in! All was fine though!
Once through there, we waited at the baggage carousels, which was bound to be a long wait because we were the first off! They did a load of announcements over the tannoy – specifically stating Carousel 1 was for Premium and Upper, and Carousel 2 was for everyone else. So we loyally stood by Carousel 2, when I said to Liam I had a really strange feeling that our bags were on the other side. I kept looking over and there was a pink bag going round and round, but it wasn’t my pink bag. I still kept an eye out though. Eventually I was side eyeing Carousel 1 and I said to Liam, “Oh my god is that my bag!” and ran over and grabbed it – but it was too heavy to lift so I nearly knocked out two business men in the process who helped me grab it off! I said I didn’t know it had come out of that side, and one of them asked me if I was in Economy, I said yes, and it turned out the bags were coming out all over the place and hardly anyone had left. We then spotted Liam’s bag, also going round and round Carousel 1! So we ended up waiting way longer than we should have because we were looking at the wrong luggage!
After that we headed into the queue for Border Control when Liam gave us a fright. He remembered he had two apples in his bag and made us both have a mental breakdown! I was panicking, trying to wheel two cases along at once and dropping passports and documents all over the floor whilst trying to keep the queue flowing! Liam was trying to reach in his bag for his contraband so he could admit to what he had done. As a side rant – in all walks of life I am regarded by everyone as child like and unable to look after myself or be in charge of tasks, yet I am the chief controller when it comes to holidays. I have to look after all documents, book everything, plan, and make sure everything’s in order – and that’s not just Orlando, it’s everywhere we go. So there I am, having a complete breakdown that something was going wrong whilst I was frantically leaving through our documents to try and find our declaration where I’d quite clearly ticked that we did NOT have fruit or veg!
Liam headed up and confessed to the border man, and he told us not to worry as long as we declare it and tell them. He told us if we don’t tell them, and they find it, you can be charged $300! We walked over to the secondary check which he pointed us to and Liam told the lady he had apples! She said we couldn’t take it into the country and Liam said that was fine just get rid of it, so they went into the bin. She asked if he had any sandwiches and he asked what kind, she stated meat and Liam said no (he only had peanut butter, a load of Jaffa cakes, crisps, cereal bars – little food scamp!). We had to put our bags through an X-ray machine and they all came out fine and we were finally waved through to American soil! Unnecessary stress all because of Liam and his bushel of apples – Apples strike again (see here).
Once we got through we headed for the airport monorail with our bags and one was just arriving as we got into the room. We got in and headed straight for the opposite door so we’d be the first off. Everything went smoothly then. We had done Save Time and Skip the Counter with Alamo Car Hire so we headed straight for the garage to pick up the car. We showed the guy our barcode and he asked us what class of car we had booked and we said the smallest one, compact.
As we walked, he asked if this was our first time and we said, “No, actually, it’s our eighth!” He told us we could have a free upgrade and took us to the midsize cars! We have never had this happen to us before.
We picked out a car, a white Ford, and dumped everything in the boot and sat in. It was only when we’d gotten settled and comfy that we realised the car stank of smoke, and it was then we learnt a lesson that we should not put all of our luggage in until we’ve had a sit inside the car! We got into the next car along which had also been a contender, a white Toyota Camry with a really nice dash and rear camera and HUGE boot.
We drove to the villa then and it only took about half an hour but it was a complete and total faff. The past two trips we’ve been we’d stayed at International Drive which is nice and easy to get to, but to get to the villa we had to go through about ten million tolls. My parents had intended to go shopping for basics before we arrived so we could eat and relax on arrival but they hadn’t had time to as they’d had some problems with their car hire so had not long arrived either. So we didn’t get to relax much as we headed straight out to Walmart!
We picked up some basics and then headed into Taco Bell to get some food. I had a smother burrito which is only about $3 and Liam had a five layer beefy burrito which was about $2 and a $1 nachos to share. How is this place so cheap?! I think it’s super tasty too! We were so tired out from the jetlag and travelling everyone headed to sleep at half 9, and to be fair, had to be up super early for our Be Our Guest breakfast!!
Here’s a walk through of the villa – hope you enjoy it! It was a lovely place to stay. Though I should note I filmed this on the last day – hence all the sad faces and slumped shoulders!
My May 2016 Orlando trip report starts here.
Find me here!