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Venture with Bill & Mary Ann on the 2013 GW Voyage "Postcards from Paradise" 115 days

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Report # 2 Almost ready............................January 1, 2013 Tuesday

 

The plan was to have everything done, leaving today to tie up loose ends, right? One of those loose ends was making half a dozen phone calls confirming flights, credit card alerts, and hotel details. Who would think that would take half the afternoon? Anyway, one of us got the hard work outside, while the other sat waiting on hold for what seemed like forever! Necessary evils we guess. Now the best trick is trying to keep the two pieces of luggage at or under 50 pounds for tomorrow's flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Could have sworn these bags only weighed 40 pounds each a couple of days ago. It's interesting how a little of this or that adds up to 10 or 20 pounds.

 

We're sure we have mentioned the fact that we have a hobby of collecting and housing birds. It began over thirty years ago with a small flock of chickens for fresh eggs, and grew to game birds and ducks to mention a few. Now we have mainly peacocks, and a few doves, pigeons, chickens, and ducks. Oh yeah, and many brightly colored parakeets. The peacocks sort of adopted us out of necessity. We had three, who called in many abandoned birds from a neighbor who had them loose on her property. They moved, but left the birds. They found a soft touch with us, and since many of our cages were empty, we took them in. Thanks to our kids, who live close by, who feed them in our absence. We really appreciate the time and effort they contribute to keeping them fed and watered.

 

We spent a lovely evening with the family last night, trying to stay warm while gathered around the hot fire in our wood stove. We got a reminder from the airlines with the flight info. Included was the weather forecast for Ft.Lauderdale, and it looked good.................highs in the low 80's with little or no rain. That sure sounds good to us, because this morning the temperature was 28 degrees. Brrrrrrrrrr! We are spending a total of three nights there, so we can relax a little longer before boarding on Saturday. That day is always a whopper of a day.

 

When we get situated there, we shall write more.

 

Until then,

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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BON VOYAGE

 

Keep those most interesting posts coming please:D

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Let the 2013 adventure begin! Can't wait to enjoy my morning coffee with your reports. You are going to some of my favorite places and some new ones on this cruise and I can't wait to begin "our" adventures. Bon voyage, Cherie

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Well folks, in Melbourne it has been around 105f today & hotter tomorrow. I will be looking out for you in Hobart Tasmania where we are flying in to see friends on board on the 18th of Feb.

Happy New Year, Enjoy and safe travels. We look forward to your reports

 

Noel

 

 

Report # 2 Almost ready............................January 1, 2013 Tuesday

 

The plan was to have everything done, leaving today to tie up loose ends, right? One of those loose ends was making half a dozen phone calls confirming flights, credit card alerts, and hotel details. Who would think that would take half the afternoon? Anyway, one of us got the hard work outside, while the other sat waiting on hold for what seemed like forever! Necessary evils we guess. Now the best trick is trying to keep the two pieces of luggage at or under 50 pounds for tomorrow's flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Could have sworn these bags only weighed 40 pounds each a couple of days ago. It's interesting how a little of this or that adds up to 10 or 20 pounds.

 

We're sure we have mentioned the fact that we have a hobby of collecting and housing birds. It began over thirty years ago with a small flock of chickens for fresh eggs, and grew to game birds and ducks to mention a few. Now we have mainly peacocks, and a few doves, pigeons, chickens, and ducks. Oh yeah, and many brightly colored parakeets. The peacocks sort of adopted us out of necessity. We had three, who called in many abandoned birds from a neighbor who had them loose on her property. They moved, but left the birds. They found a soft touch with us, and since many of our cages were empty, we took them in. Thanks to our kids, who live close by, who feed them in our absence. We really appreciate the time and effort they contribute to keeping them fed and watered.

 

We spent a lovely evening with the family last night, trying to stay warm while gathered around the hot fire in our wood stove. We got a reminder from the airlines with the flight info. Included was the weather forecast for Ft.Lauderdale, and it looked good.................highs in the low 80's with little or no rain. That sure sounds good to us, because this morning the temperature was 28 degrees. Brrrrrrrrrr! We are spending a total of three nights there, so we can relax a little longer before boarding on Saturday. That day is always a whopper of a day.

 

When we get situated there, we shall write more.

 

Until then,

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 2 Almost ready............................January 1, 2013 Tuesday

 

The plan was to have everything done, leaving today to tie up loose ends, right? One of those loose ends was making half a dozen phone calls confirming flights, credit card alerts, and hotel details. Who would think that would take half the afternoon? Anyway, one of us got the hard work outside, while the other sat waiting on hold for what seemed like forever! Necessary evils we guess. Now the best trick is trying to keep the two pieces of luggage at or under 50 pounds for tomorrow's flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Could have sworn these bags only weighed 40 pounds each a couple of days ago. It's interesting how a little of this or that adds up to 10 or 20 pounds.

 

We're sure we have mentioned the fact that we have a hobby of collecting and housing birds. It began over thirty years ago with a small flock of chickens for fresh eggs, and grew to game birds and ducks to mention a few. Now we have mainly peacocks, and a few doves, pigeons, chickens, and ducks. Oh yeah, and many brightly colored parakeets. The peacocks sort of adopted us out of necessity. We had three, who called in many abandoned birds from a neighbor who had them loose on her property. They moved, but left the birds. They found a soft touch with us, and since many of our cages were empty, we took them in. Thanks to our kids, who live close by, who feed them in our absence. We really appreciate the time and effort they contribute to keeping them fed and watered.

 

We spent a lovely evening with the family last night, trying to stay warm while gathered around the hot fire in our wood stove. We got a reminder from the airlines with the flight info. Included was the weather forecast for Ft.Lauderdale, and it looked good.................highs in the low 80's with little or no rain. That sure sounds good to us, because this morning the temperature was 28 degrees. Brrrrrrrrrr! We are spending a total of three nights there, so we can relax a little longer before boarding on Saturday. That day is always a whopper of a day.

 

When we get situated there, we shall write more.

 

Until then,

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

Bon Voyage Bill and Mary Ann - safe travels - and if you think it's good there - try -27 Centigrade (not Farenheit);)

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Bon Voyage Bill and Mary Ann - safe travels - and if you think it's good there - try -27 Centigrade (not Farenheit);)

 

That IS cold but if I remember my math correctly that's "only" -16.6F.

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Looking forward to reading of your world cruise once again this year. I can only dream of such a long cruise.

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Report # 3 Trip to Florida January 2, 2013 Wednesday

 

The day began early.................very early, at 4am. Come to think of it, we might as well have stayed up all night for all the sleep we got. The anticipation always gets the better of us, well, one more than the other. Anyway, The good thing is that this will probably be the last morning we wake up to low temperatures for quite a while, and that will be nice.

 

Stashing the last of our stuff in the luggage, we waited for our son, Ken, who commutes weekdays to the city, to drive us to the San Francisco airport. The traffic is always much lighter in the early hours, so he, like his dad also did, takes advantage of this morning routine. Usually our flight takes off around 8am, but not today. Since it was the day after the holiday of New Year's Day, the flights booked quickly, like almost a year ago, with families going back home after visiting for the Christmas break. Another large group of folks were pulling long, narrow duffels, undoubtedly ski equipment. Bet they had a great time in the Sierras this last couple of weeks with the welcomed snowfall.

 

The check in line was long at the United desks, but with nothing else to do, we wanted to be free of lugging the suitcases. So we fell into the "Disneyland" crawl, signed in, paid the luggage fee ($25. each piece), and lifted each one on the scale. The moment of truth. Are they going to be overweight? Bet the folks who were kneeling on the floor, transferring clothes from one bag to the next, had that problem. Last year, we went online and researched a hand-held scale, that has proven to be priceless for just this occasion. Each piece came in within one tenth of a pound on their scale, and both underweight. Hurray!

 

Now we were free to go to the next line...........the fun one........security. The last time we did this, last October, while passing through the new total body xray machine, one of us moved too quickly, and that slip-up initiated a total body patdown. Today, the machine was timed at three seconds, perhaps because of the size of the crowd needed to be examined. Anyway, thankfully, there was no drama for us today.

 

Breakfast sounded good, so we went to the restaurant right across from the security area. Some hot coffee sure sounded good at this point too. It was going to be a long day, and some food and caffeine would keep us going for a while. The stream of travelers continued coming out of the security area all morning, or least the hour or so we sat there. Often wonder where all these people are headed to, remembering an old TV show that started off by saying there are one million people in New York City and each one has a story.

 

Our flight was scheduled to leave from SF to Houston at close to noon. This is the first time in a long while that we could not get a straight through flight. But one nice thing was the flight we did book was free by using our frequent flyer miles. So one stopover was OK with us. Have you noticed that the aisles have gotten narrower on some of these aircraft? On the plus side, the seats are a bit wider with a few extra inches of legroom. That's especially good when the person in front of you drops their seat back (in your lap). At least now, you don't get crushed by your food and drink tray!

 

All the niceties that used to be included have vanished into thin air. No more TV or music without using your credit card. The same goes for snacks or food, unless you fly first class. The majority of familes food shop at the airport vendors, then bring it on the plane to dine during the flight. Good idea, we think. As they were hawking the food onboard, we couldn't help but overhear one stewardess asking her co-worker how long the ham and cheese sandwiches had been heated. She replied that 10 minutes was good enough, even though it had been recommended to be heated for half an hour. No plane food for us for sure! We only got served one drink in the long 3 -4 hour flight, with the offer of a glass of water towards the end.

 

We landed at Houston around 6pm, their time. Great, just enough time to enjoy tasty sandwiches at a Texan airport restaurant. The sliced turkey sandwich and BBQ'd beef sliders went perfect with sides of crispy onion rings and seasoned fries. Good way to pass the hour wait for the next leg to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

That's where we saw another first............two little dogs traveling on the plane, but loose, not in cages. They calmly sat on their owner's laps, quieter than the little kids that sat or wriggled up and down the aisle. Could it be that these little pooches had been slipped a tranquilizer? We never did hear a peep from either one of them. Of course, flying in the evening, the lights were low, and most people slept most of the way. It did get bumpy here and there due to storm clouds, but nothing alarming. We landed in Ft. Lauderdale around 11pm, right on time.

 

Now the fun part......................would our bags be on the turnstile? And better yet, would our ride be there for us at this late hour? Last year, our luggage arrived, but not our transfer. We had landed in Miami, but our ride was waiting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, according to the HAL rep we called on their 24 hour emergency line. We had to take a taxi, which was later refunded with shipboard money. Hoping history would not repeat itself, we were relieved to see the HAL fellow holding his welcome sign with a luggage cart ready to take our bags to the limo outside. He was just as happy to see us, because that meant he could finally go home. We were his last clients of the day.

 

The friendly driver got us to the Westin Hotel within 20 minutes. With no lines at the hotel, we checked in quickly. There is a plus to arriving at midnight we guess. No crowds. We had requested a small refrigerator for our room, and it was there, but on the outside of the room. The little minibar fridge was on, so that would do until tomorrow. After a long day, we wanted nothing more than to shower and slip between the sheets and get some much needed rest. The shower worked OK, but it is a complicated little funky one with a double shower head. Of course there were no directions, so you just had to figure out the knobs and levers. If you are lucky, you get it right, and don't get scalded. That would not be the story tomorrow, but then, it's late, and that's another tale to tell.

 

Mary Ann & Bill

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You made it through the hard part of the trip (TSA, Airplanes & Airports). :D Now enjoy the fruits of your labor and have a great cruise.

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for writing--for anyone interested there is a similar blog on Crystal cruise web site which we can follow and dream about

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Report # 4 Staying at the Westin Hotel January 3, 2013 Thursday

 

Today was just as we had planned................strictly for us to relax and get acclimated to Florida time and weather. And also to stretch our legs and get walking.

 

Closeby to this hotel, is a very down home country-type restaurant called Duffys Diner. The sun was already strong when we strolled to the cafe at 10am. Just as we had remembered, we were greeted with "Hi honey, come on in." Breakfast was served quickly with good, strong coffee. As we dined, several more cruisers slipped through the door. Guess the word is out.....this place is good and reasonably priced.

 

After eating, we continued walking towards the other side of the freeway to visit another mini-mall close to the Marriot North Hotel, where we used to stay. The main attraction here is the multi-screen movie theater. Surrounding it are several small restaurants and a few larger ones, such as Hooters and a steak house. It was so warm that we stopped in Five Guys, a hamburger place similar to Mc Donalds. They had unlimited soda refills, and we found that we needed that to re-hydrate. You know what's funny here is that all you see are cars parked everywhere, but nobody walking outside. They are all inside the stores and enjoying the air-conditioning. On the way here, only two fellows on bikes passed by us. Nobody walks.

 

Back at the hotel, we finally made plans to go enjoy the swimming pool. Surprisingly, there were few guests there, which was fine with us. It was heavenly to relax on the thick-padded lounges, and even better cooling off in the pool. The sun was in and out, although it remained warm and very muggy. This was an opportunity to catch a few "winks". You know you can go for so long before you drop, so this was the best place to chill out, and not call it a nap.

 

The group from our travel agency had arrived sometime during the late night and early morning. It was so good to see them all. Can you believe our numbers have surpassed 300 for the world cruise, and 30 more that will be sailing on the Prinsendam's Grand South America cruise. Our hosts were the first we spotted, Tom M. and Henk and Lucia. They eventually set up a welcome desk in the lobby, manned by a half dozen crew from two main offices. Their job is to hand out instructional letters, handbags, fleece jackets, and tour tickets with ear phones. A cocktail and dinner party will be held tomorrow. Little did we know at this point in time, how smart we were to have come here two days earlier.

 

We shared cocktail time with a welcomed buddy, Casey, who had just arrived. He joined us on last year's world cruise in Athens, and was one of our fun tablemates. He will be on until Auckland, so we hope to invite him as a frequent dinner guest.

 

From there we went to the hotel's dining room and thoroughly enjoyed chicken caesar salads. They serve the most intense garlicky caesar dressing, and as we were both eating the same entree, it was OK to have garlic breath. Six more people came into the room for dinner, and came to us, asking if we had gone on other grand or world cruises. Yes, we had all sailed together at one time, and did remember them. This would be the start of many meetings such as this for the next couple of days. How fun is that?

 

Tomorrow would be a marathon day, so we headed to bed as early as we could.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I have been eagerly waiting today's departure. Now I can vicariously travel along during your adventures. Still 20 years from retirement and not self employed, unable to sail for four continuous months---off to work I go! Thank you for sharing permitting me to see the world through your beautifully detailed blog!

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