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Old 01-01-2013, 01:26 PM   #1
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A 40th celebration to end the world! THREAD 1 COMPLETED 2/16

Wednesday 5 December – part one: where is everyone?

We were up hideously early, as we had a lot to get done this morning. Pretty much as soon as the alarm went off at 5:30am, we were out of bed, although in fairness, some of that was down to the fact that the TV in the bedroom was playing up. It’s controlled by the Sky (Tivo) box in the kitchen and with the work going on down there, something had happened to it and it decided it would turn itself off almost as soon as we were woken up, so we decided to head downstairs and do something useful.

That meant getting another load of washing going, so that we wouldn’t have much to come home to. It’s something I always try and do, after making the mistake of not getting the washing sorted a few years ago before our vacation. It was just horrible to come back to a laundry bin that was half full (or half empty depending on your point of view ) and not something I want to go through again in a hurry…

I also did online check-in for both the Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Lodge portions of our stay, after having one final look to see if there were any other options to use up those additional 33 points, but no joy. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be….

I was delighted to see the weather for today, and even more delighted that we wouldn’t have to suffer anymore of it as the high temperature would be in the mid 30s and there was snow in the forecast for this morning! Not what we needed….

Sure enough, as I got the car out to go into work, it was starting to snow lightly. By the time, I got in, it was a bit heavier for an hour or so, but it never amounted to much fortunately and the roads remained clear. All I can say is we were lucky, as other areas, including where we stopped off to see our friend for Sunday, which is about 60-70 miles away from us, got really bad snow.

As usually happens to me, I got a heck of a lot done on my last day, and everything was done in time, which was good, because I had to leave before 5:00pm. It wasn’t just because I wanted to get home at a decent hour it was also because I needed to change up the money Mark had given me the night before and put it on our travel money card that acts just like an ATM card while we’re in the States.

I went into the travel agent’s at lunchtime to do this, but I ended up having to come back just before they closed at 5:00pm. Why? You will seriously never believe this…..

There was an elderly couple in there changing up £10,000 ( you read that right) into a foreign currency. Who the heck walks around with £10,000 in cash in their back pocket? Absolutely insanity…

Money put on the travel money card, I headed for home, beating Mark only by a few minutes. We quickly got the rest of the jobs done, like emptying the dishwasher and tumble drier and I had time for a quick check on the boards, before we finished the packing. It was very disturbing – everything fitted easily into three suitcases and below weight limit too. What’s happening?

Two of Mark’s sisters called literally one after the other to wish us a good trip, which was really sweet of them then after a quick call to my parents, we were ready to go. We headed off to Mark’s parents to drop off a cheque for the kitchen fitter when he finishes work and then we were off and running.

When we got on the motorway, there was a lot of traffic going the other way, but fortunately it was all fine going our way, which was good. We headed first for the Hilton to check into our room for the night and drop off our carry on luggage.



We ended up with a very neat room, literally steps from the elevators and overlooking the reception. Very neat!



We didn’t have time to enjoy it, as we only had 10 minutes’ parking outside the hotel, so we headed back to the car and drove over to the South Terminal, where we were meeting the valet parking service. He was waiting when we got there and we left the car in his capable hands and headed off with our luggage to check in. We couldn’t believe how quiet it was here…



The South Terminal is looking great these days after its makeover.



Inside, it was just as quiet….



… and even when we got into the check-in area, it was the same story.



Where on earth was everyone? We literally walked straight up to check in – it was so quiet that there wasn’t even a separate line for Premium Economy. We got the nicest woman, who spotted on my passport that we’d be away for my birthday and immediately wished me a She was just charming and a real credit to Virgin Atlantic.

Once we’d checked in our bags and had our boarding passes, we headed off in search of food. Bearing in mind how quiet it was, I figured that most places would be closed and we’d end up back at the hotel, enjoying the overpriced buffet there… not! Fortunately, there were a couple of options and we went for the Wetherspoon’s pub.

We grabbed a table near the entrance, but it was also near the men’s restrooms, and I’m sorry but the sound of the hand dryers going off every so often was very distracting so we transferred to some seats by the window, overlooking the area for international arrivals. All was good, as we wouldn’t be returning through that until 2013!



The place was very nicely themed as well…



Mark chose the ultimate burger, including bacon, and beer battered onion rings, and my goodness, it was massive!



I was a little more reserved and had the eggs Royale, which consisted of an English muffin, topped with poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce, along with a bowl of chips, and it was perfect.



That still left room for dessert, which was very reasonably priced, so I enjoyed the chocolate ice cream sundae, complete with warm brownie pieces, Belgian chocolate sauce, and cream. Oh my goodness, this was good! Mark just stared at me incredulous at how I could eat something like this when it was this cold outside. I don’t know what he was talking about. It was fine for me!


This was supposed to be an arty shot, but I’m not sure it worked…

Wetherspoon’s pub

Entrée 8 8½
Dessert 8 N/A
Atmosphere 8 8½
Value for money 8 6

Average score: 7.86

By the way, there’s no service rating here, as you had to go up to the bar to order and gave your table number, and they then bring your food to you.

While we were eating, I logged on to the boards, after discovering perhaps the fastest Internet service I’ve ever had on my phone (a definite bonus of being at an airport ) and I was really pleased to see Karen’s post about her and the Koenigs being around on 22 December. I immediately posted and suggested she get in touch, as I’d love to catch up with all of them that day.

Once we were done with food, we headed back to the hotel, stopping to get some photos of the festive touches they had around the airport:



It was admittedly cold as we walked back to the hotel, and I must admit I was glad to get back to the lobby.



We headed up to our room and off to bed. Tomorrow the real adventure would begin.

The weather today was cold with temperatures in the mid 30s and snow early on.
The best thing today was how deserted Gatwick was.
The worst thing today was how cold it was.
Today we tried eating at Wetherspoon’s
And the result was it wasn’t a bad meal.
The most magical moment today was finding our room at the Hilton in such a great location.

Next: wow, this place is busy!
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:23 PM   #2
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Great start! I'm with you... it's never too cold outside for an ice cream sundae!
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:26 PM   #3
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Yay, you started! Doesn't everyone walk around with £10,000 or so in their wallet? Seems normal. Not!!
Sounded like a pretty smooth start to your trip.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:27 PM   #4
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What a great start! I love it when vacations start quietly and easily. Scary about that elderly couple! That is just not safe. I hope the good travel mojo continues!
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:40 PM   #5
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Great start! Signing in now. I also have to agree that ice cream is a year-round event!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:01 PM   #6
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Great Start!!!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:03 PM   #7
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What a great start!!
It was such fun meeting you and Mark. I felt like I was meeting celebrities!!
I'm looking forward to reading more about your adventures!!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:10 PM   #8
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Great start!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:27 PM   #9
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Great start! Yummy meal. That dessert looks really good!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:28 PM   #10
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What a great start!!
It was such fun meeting you and Mark. I felt like I was meeting celebrities!!
I'm looking forward to reading more about your adventures!!
It was great to meet you as well.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:35 PM   #11
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Great start, I have never ever seen Gatwick Airport look like that.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:43 PM   #12
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Great start!! Glad you were able to find a place to eat at the airport. I don't see anything wrong with having a ice cream sundae even when it is cold out. Sounds perfectly fine to me. Looked delicious too!
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:06 PM   #13
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Great start!!! Can't wait to read all about it.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:12 PM   #14
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:25 PM   #15
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Nice start to your trip... I love the Burger mark got. I love that it looks like its served on a cutting board and the Fries( chips) look to be in a ceramic bowl. Nice Prsentation. and that burger is huge.
PS .... Its never too cold for ice cream thats what the hot fudge is for
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