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#927724 by walesflyer
23 Oct 2016, 16:25
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Dropped the hire car off at the rental centre, very sorry to say goodbye to our gorgeous little silver mustang which had been a joy to drive around Florida with the top down. Was feeling very proud of myself, and also a bit relieved to get the car back in one piece as it was my first time I'd ever driven abroad, and due to hubby recovering from his broken ankle I was the sole driver.

We got the monorail across to the terminal, straight to UC check in desk with no waiting at all. All checked and through security within about ten minutes which I was pleasantly surprised at. I suppose it is mainly when you are entering the country that there are the big queues?
We headed straight to the Club America lounge. Now, I know the lounge is not a favourite with v-flyers and a clubhouse it is not, but it was an adequate place to spend an hour or so before boarding. There was a random selection of salads and nibbles which we ignored, and just had a beer and a glass of wine. We thought that the gate might be a long way away (based on the distance travelled in arrivals!) so we headed to the gate in advance of boarding commencing, as whilst P was no longer needing crutches, he was still a way off his top speed!. It wasn't actually very far at all so we had to stand and wait for a few minutes but they started boarding early with priority boarding in place and so we were soon on board. We were greeted with only a bare hint of a smile and found our seats in 10 and 11A. Whilst perhaps not quite as bling as the 747’ I didn't see that much difference and the suite was clean and in good nick. A glass of bubbly was offered and accepted, but the empty glass whisked away with no refills this time..

I helped myself to a sleep suit and popped to the loo to change. Not sure if it's the done thing to change in to the sleep suit before take off but I thought why not, I want to be comfy. Now I am sure that this isn't the done thing but hubby somehow changed in to his sleep suite in his seat!!
We took off on schedule and were informed of a flight time of 8 hours. Drinks orders were taken, G&Ts for both of us, served with a bowl of vegetable crisps.
As it was a night flight I had been expecting a smaller, express menu, but we were pleasantly surprised to see it was a full menu as we were pretty hungry as not eaten much since breakfast. We both had the butternut squash soup topped with caramelised apples, which was tasty although could have been a touch hotter. We also both chose the fillet steak, which was pretty good and reasonably tender. As on the outward flight, I had no room for pudding, but did squeeze some cheese and port. We had requested to be woken for breakfast but after dinner decided to cancel and maximise sleep.

After this, I was keen to make up my bed and get some sleep. My table was cleared away quite quickly and so I made up my bed. The lights were dimmed but no sign of anyone clearing P’s table. The CC serving our area had got chatting to another PAX at the back. Time went on and on and there was no sign of anyone, eating in to precious sleeping time. P isn't one to make a fuss, but I was getting impatient on his behalf so I got up and asked another member of crew who came immediately to clear the table and she also made up his bed for him.
Both settled, we fell asleep promptly. I do find the UC suite extremely comfortable for sleeping. However, we both woke up at pretty much the same time due to the stifling temperature in the cabin. It had been very chilly for the first part of the flight, but then the heat became almost unbearable. I went up to the bar to ask for some ice to put in a glass of water to cool me down. The CC at the bar was stuck in what looked like a long and tedious conversation in which a PAX seemed to be giving her his life history of medical problems…. Poor thing, I think she was secretly praying that the seatbelt light would come on. I managed to interrupt eventually to get her attention and my ice.
I returned to my seat and did manage to drop back off, the cabin then returned to freezing again and I had to get back under the duvet. I slept one of those sleeps where you don't really think you have been sleeping but I must have been, as I recall several weird dreams and then awoke to find the lights coming back on and breakfast being served. I gave up on trying to sleep as it was difficult with all the hustle and bustle in the cabin. I peeked over at hubby to find he was already back in his clothes and enjoying a cup of tea. I also accepted a cup of tea which helped me feel a bit more awake and human.

We circled a few times but were down on the ground ahead of schedule in a sunny but somewhat chillier London than we had left. We were one of the first off the plane, and got through immigration in record time using the biometric booths.
Waited quite a while for the baggage to arrive at the belt, but when it did arrive ours was in the first batch.

Next stop revivals! Keen to make the most of our first return trip in UC I was looking forward to this and have to say I was very impressed. The lady at the desk allocated us a shower room each, and also booked us both in for the express facial. I loved the showers rooms and think it was one of the most enjoyable showers I've ever had (I'm easily pleased!). I was expecting more communal type showers as in the Emirates lounge in Dubai where you have to wait for one to become free and annoyingly the toilets were in a completely different area.. But here, you get an allocated, spacious room with loo, fluffy towels and toiletries and hot and powerful shower. The only thing I think they are missing is shower caps and toothbrushes, which Emirates do provide. Luckily I had swiped a few of these from the Emirates lounge on my last trip and brought them with me. Feeling thoroughly refreshed, I took a seat in the lounge and ordered some tea whilst waiting for P…. He took even longer than I did as he does enjoy languishing in a hot shower!

Time for breakfast – I ordered the full English as was ravenous by this stage, with P opting for the eggs royale. Both delicious and just what the doctor ordered. We had just about finished eating as we were called in for our facials. P went first and returned shiny and glowing, I went next and whilst it is only 10-15 minutes it's very refreshing and relaxing.
We still had a bit of time to spare before needing to get to Paddington for our train, so relaxed with another latte before hopping on the Heathrow express.

Currently writing this on the train back to Wales and already planning next years US west coast road trip! Thanks again to all the advice from fellow v-flyers and here's hoping for another pair of G’s next year…
#927726 by marshy11
23 Oct 2016, 16:45
I'm not sure I've seen a more dedicated TR; posting while in transit. Chapeau! I enjoyed the read and was pleased to hear "im indoors" is back to manual and lone leg power, albeit slightly reduced in speed.

Hope your journey home is relaxing and allows for your planning of the next adventure.
#927727 by dickydotcom
23 Oct 2016, 16:51
Thanks for the TR.
Good to hear you enjoyed the driving. Mrs D won't drive abroad. Other than from the passenger seat to remind me if I'm getting too close to the kerb in the dark :D

Dick D
#927851 by tomthumb
26 Oct 2016, 13:45
Yet another cracking TR - going into good detail - many thanks for sharing
#927931 by pjh
28 Oct 2016, 11:53
Thanks for the return TR.

I know what you mean about getting the car back in one piece - I continue to feel that. My first time driving in the USA was a real nerve wracking experience, even with a friend taking me through the rules of the road. The only time I've not managed it was when somebody scraped a brand new Mustang whilst parking when we were driving in the Pacific North West. Luckily I had every insurance under the sun so when I 'fessed up at the returns desk they just said "no problem, you're covered".

You must get hubby to share his tips on changing en suite.....as long as it isn't stand in the aisle and do it (as I and other V-Flyers have seen on occasion...).

Glad you enjoyed Revivals. Like you we took full advantage of Emirates' generosity with dental and shaving kits on our last trip.
#927936 by buns
29 Oct 2016, 05:50
Thanks for the super brace of TRs.

It is clear your expectations were met (particularly on the outbound) and your fears about transporting hubby proved to be unfounded - both at Heathrow and it would seem you have landed yourself a job for future trips :-P I continue to fall for the trap "you are such a good driver" that the drink / drive policy in our household is she drinks, I drive!!

Hope you overcome the jetlag soon

buns
#927939 by jfenney
29 Oct 2016, 08:45
Thanks for the TR , great read and congrats in the driving stakes , like Buns I am the same Mrs F drinks and I drive. She has promised one day to learn to drive an automatic but pigs will fly :-D
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