Saturday, 22 October 2016

Four Go To Florida 2016 #1 Getting There

Four Go To Florida 2016 #1 Getting There

Florida 2016 has came and went, as I get older time really does seem to press fast forward on my life and our two weeks in the (nearly) Sunshine State went by quickly but each day was full of fun, food and freaking shocking driving from people on the I-4, I mean c'mon Americans do you not know how to indicate, seriously!!  

Anyway I digress.

I thought about doing this as a day by day trip report but I have decided to break it down in to categories such as the Magic Kingdom, Kennedy Space Centre, Food, Bad Driving....you get the idea but today I will share with you our first day which will be all about getting there.  

This was a long day starting with this alarm.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Early Alarm Call
Early alarm call!
I still don't trust my alarm or my ability to wake up, so of course two alarms where set.  I literally sprung out of bed at 1 second past 2am full of sleepy excitement and a dash of nerves.  

The kids and the hubby needed no help getting out of bed either, my girls even though they are 7 and 9, give teenagers a run for their money with their amazing ability to sleep for hours and hours and hours.
Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Early Alarm Call
Awake and ready to go!
The taxi was booked for just before 3am and we had about a 90 minute drive from our home in Perthshire to the first airport of our travel day - Glasgow International.  The time spent looking out the window for the taxi dragged, I always get mega nervy before a big flight like this and minutes where dragging by but our taxi arrived on time, our suitcases, hand luggage full of stuff we wont use on the plane and bags of sweets were loaded in to the boot, we were ready for the off.

The drive flew by, I always feel a kinda shiver as we drive through hills and glens, past sleeping houses in the wee small hours, feels like we are on the run!  The only incident on the drive was some sheep strolling about the road, thankfully not on our side.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Glasgow International Airport

Glasgow airport arrived, taxi was waved off and dropping off of our suitcases commenced.  Now I know it is early in the morning (must have been 0430 ish) but why the hell cant the check in ladies and gents at least look like they are happy to be there.  Are they pissed off we are going to sunnier climes, do they hate their jobs, you know what I don't care I am full of nerves and you had better put a smile on your face check in person to make me feel calm!!

Just a quick segue re my nervousness, Our holidays are planned months and months in advance, I am the primary planner from booking the flights to reservations for dinner.  If anything is going to go wrong I will take it personally.  I just get so worked up about making it go smoothly and without any hiccups that my nerves do tend to get a little frayed.  Talking about smoothly, I don't mind flying and I am totally in awe of planes but I hate turbulence, I know I am not the only one but as I get older I hate it more and I think it is also because I know we will get it going across the Atlantic.  My mantra to ignore involves pretending I'm in a car on a bumpy road or chanting inwards "safest form of travel" or imagining the captain sitting in his cockpit reading Airplane Monthly totally unfussed by his bouncing plane.

Anyway I digress, again.

Glasgow International is not a huge airport but it is a criminal, daylight robbery happened when we purchased our breakfast which I half expected to come in solid gold cups with our breakfast pastries covered in expensive truffles and gold leaf.  I mean they really are robbing b*****ds.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Glasgow International Airport
It cost HOW MUCH?????!!!!!
Our flight wasn't leaving till 0645 so we had plenty of time to have brekkie and go through security. Now security I always find long and painful, I can put up with it as I know they are there to keep us safe, what I cant put up with is people who ignore the signs.  You know the ones, they still have bottles of water, that haven't put their toiletries in a plastic bag and they seem surprised that they have left something sharp in their bag.  

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Glasgow International Airport
FFS, read the sign people!!!
I mean FFS, read the signs people, read the info that comes with your tickets.

Anyway security cleared with ease we then found ourselves in the wonderland that is duty free, everything is so white and shiny, brightly coloured boxes are everywhere full of exciting things like overpriced perfume, booze, chocs and cigs.  The floor sparkles as you walk across it.  It truly looks like the grown up department at the North Pole but instead of elves you have pissed off Glaswegians manning the tills.  Shopping bought here=Zero!

Now I haven't mentioned that we are flying with British Airways, believe it or not it is cheaper for us to fly down to Gatwick Airport outside London then take another plane out to Orlando instead of flying direct from Glasgow, lots cheaper.  The only downside is the extra hours it adds on to the days which was probably about four hours waiting going out and five coming back.

BA are a great carrier and before we knew it our Airbus A319 was waiting outside in the cold Scottish morning waiting to take a mixed bag of business and holiday passengers, most of which were also Orlando bound.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Glasgow International Airport - British Airways BA2953
Our BA chariot
Gatwick is only a 90 minute flight, you know the kind, you literally getting to cruising altitude to find the plane getting ready for landing.  I was sitting with the girls and the other half got to sit with the strangers.  

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Glasgow International Airport - British Airways BA2953 Wing Pic
Obligatory wing picture
My kids thankfully are good flyers which is good because we had gentle turbulence and I could feel my palms starting to get sweaty!!
Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Glasgow International Airport - British Airways BA2953
A picture of calm!
Landing at Gatwick, the skies are grey and gloomy, a much bigger airport than Glasgow it does take a little while to get from the runway to the gate.  Of course once we reach the gate everyone has to get off the plane at the same time, it is like wacky races.  We didn't have this problem as we were in row 4 putting a finger up to the people behind us desperate to get off.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Gatwick International Airport EasyJet
Sunny Gatwick with one of the many Easyjets that are about
Gatwick Airport always seems to be under construction and as we got off the plane and were bussed to the terminal, there was building work everywhere as well as the general hubbub of airport life.  I find the underbelly of airports fascinating, these places are truly labyrinthine and I am always amazed when our suitcases actually get to where they are supposed to.

Now we did have several hours waiting here, the North Terminal at Gatwick once you are through security is full of everything you could possibly need.  From Starbucks to Harrods, there is something to cater for every taste.  The one thing they do not have is comfortable seating, my other half thinks its because they don't want you sitting down, they want you spending money in the shops, he could be right.

With not much to do for a few hours we snacked (kids), drank coffee (me) and people watched, my favourite thing to do here.  I love watching people at airports, not in a creepy way just in a "I wonder where they are going?" sort of way.  Oh and I like to internally critique peoples travelling outfits.  I still am in awe at people who think short shorts and high heels are appropriate plane attire.    I mean what were you thinking?!! Apologies to any readers who think short shorts and heels are great for travelling!


As our departure time grew nearer we meandered down to the gate and entered the holding pen to wait for the announcement that we could board.  Travelling on a Boeing 777 plane fans, after the lucky shits that are travelling fancy class have boarded they starting calling us, back of the plane first of course.  It is funny as you watch people listening intently, its like bingo, you almost expect somebody to jump up when they have their row shouted out to shout BINGO!!!

Our row was called, we were roughly in the middle of the plane over the wing, and we slowly made our way down the jet bridge to our carriage for the next 9 hours, our metallic tubular carriage filled with tons of jet fuel and a shitload of hard liquor for us Brits who were going to be taking advantage of the free booze on board.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - British Airways Gatwick to Orlando
The only booze I touched!
BA planes are fine, as a short arse, seat pitch is not a problem but for my very tall husband, well he does find it a bit of a pain.  I didn't care, as once again I ended up with the kids whilst he had the chatty strangers.  Before we knew it we were making our way in to the clouds and heading west towards Ireland and out across the Atlantic heading towards Iceland and Greenland, then making our way down the east coast of Canada and the US.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - British Airways Gatwick to Orlando Sky Map
Are we there yet?
It took hours, I mean it took 9, but each of those hours dragged like nothing on earth.  I couldn't be bothered eating much and I usually take so much joy in those plane meals so tried to watch a film. The kids had already pulled themselves in to what could be compared to yoga positions to get comfortable whilst they watched the films that they had chosen.  

My film of choice was Angry Birds, the trailer looked good when I had seen it earlier in the year, I managed 15 minutes (I never did manage to watch it but today I bought the DVD and it was really fun!), then I tried Zootropolis which I had already seen and loved, again couldn't settle.  There was episodes of Friends and Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory too, nope not happening.  I then tried the film Midnight Special, success I managed 30 minutes and at this point there was still 7 hours left to go, I was getting really fidgety so I went to the one thing I knew would entertain me - the sky map.


Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - British Airways Gatwick to Orlando Wing Picture


I love the sky map, every airline is different, Virgin Atlantic's has points of interest like the Titanic and they also would have you believe there are treasure islands with pirates in the middle of the Atlantic, BA's map is not as exciting, just a great big map with a dotted line and a itsy bitsy plane slowly getting closer to its destination.  

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - British Airways Gatwick to Orlando Are We There Yet Sky Map
Seriously, are we not there yet?
I ended up falling asleep on a pile of cushions stacked up on my tray table, more comfortable than I thought.  The kids bless em stayed mostly awake until the last hour where the fell soundly asleep. 

The flight was smooth from what I remember with just a little bit of bump, not being in the window seat I didn't get to appreciate the stunning view of the east coast as we made our way down, so to get my fix I did what every good parent does, left my kids watching inappropriate tv and hot footed it to the back of the plane to look out the window by the loo.  Which I was already very familiar with as my kids especially my youngest love plane loos and visited every hour. 

Slowly and surely we neared Orlando and when the sky map showed us as being in Florida my nerves started to disappear and at this point this is when I truly love flying and feel in awe of planes. I just feel amazed as these great big metal birds start descending and turning to start their approach, it was one heck of a view as Orlando came in to sight.  With a gentle bump the plane landed at Orlando International.

I love this airport, if you have been you may know what I'm talking about.  The fact it has that big ass atrium with the fountain and all those tropical looking plants, its just beautiful.  But before we even got near that we had to go through US immigration.  

We landed roughly at 1530, I think we finally got through Immigration about 1700.  I hate it, there is no air con apart from some shitty fans, everyone is pissed off as they've just come off a 9 hour flight so they are stinky and tired, and now we have to tackle these bloody automated machines to let us in the country.  

The last time we travelled here in 2014 we got big black crosses across our face and this ended with us in another queue for ages, we feared this was going to happen this time as we could see that same queue and it was long.  Imagine our joy as none of our pics from the machine had crosses and a lovely gentleman pointed us to another queue which flew past the other one.  I felt like a star!  Finally after a quick stamp from the border officer dude we could get our bags which had managed to get from Glasgow to Orlando and head to the main terminal and that fountain I mentioned.  This meant the monorail.

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Orlando International Monorail
You know the song!!!
I always get the song from the Simpsons in my head when a monorail is involved and this 60 second journey was no exception, we arrived at the main terminal, the doors opened and we were assaulted by the Florida feels, it was worth the plane trip, the wait at immigration and the fact we all felt minging.  

However our day was far from over, this time we decided to hire a car, something despite many trips to Orlando we have never done.  Our mission was to find Avis's garage, get a car and head to our home for two weeks - Animal Kingdom Lodges, Kidani Village.

Of course having an amazing sense of direction I quickly found where we needed to go and with our suitcases behind us we headed off to find our sweet ride.  It was easily found and acquired with about ten words from the Avis dude we found ourselves in possession of a Chevy Tahoe that my kids christened Redfire (yes we are a family that names our cars, my car is called Stormie because it looks like a Stormtrooper), it was a beast.  

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Orlando International Monorail Avis Chevrolet Tahoe
Redfire!! Gangsta Kids!
My poor husband commented that he didn't know if he could drive it and the man drives big ass diggers for a living.  On looking inside he quickly got over his initial fear and we then went about doing the most important thing which was getting picture of our tiny kids against the big ass car! 

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Avis Orlando Florida Number Plates
Love these plates!
Suitcases eventually packed in, sat nav set we slowly set off to our destination joining the queue of other gingerly driven cars making their way out of the parking garage.  Soon we came out blinking in to the sun on to a beautiful wide road, unlike our narrow, windy roads back home.  I was worried about the drive as I had seen National Lampoon's Vacation and pictured us ending up in the wrong part of town, thankfully thanks to a wonderful navigator (me), the satnav (christened Sally) and the patience of my wonderful husband we found ourselves heading through the gates of Walt Disney World heading towards to Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were home!

Four Go To Florida #1 Getting There - Walt Disney World Entrance
We found it!!
So I hope you have enjoyed this first instalment and if you got this far, thank you!!!

I plan on posting this every Saturday so next week I'll talk about our beautiful resort.

Heather x

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20 comments

  1. The I-4 is crazy. Just sayin. At least it has been when I've been there. But anyway...nice trip report! Getting there always sucks because anticipation is so high! And that's a long flight. But it sounds like it wasn't too bad (as these things go), and it's always nice driving under that sign into Disney World. :)

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    1. It was crazy long but was worth it, I love Orlando!

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  2. Heather you've reminded me of what I love and hate about travel! The arrival (yay) but the trip (meh), the excitement of what's to come vs the trauma sometimes experienced at immigration etc....

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    1. Immigration was long and the air con was terrible, they like to make you sweat!

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  3. I think this post is so funny because it shows how so much is about perspective. Like, you were all freaking out about the car, but my mom's car seats 8 and might not be as big as the Tahoe, but that was what I learned to drive in and never thought it was big. My dad's truck however, that thing is massive. I drove that in a parking lot once and it was terrifying, haha. And about the bad drivers, I have this really funny story. I went to school in Orlando for a couple years, and I swear I was just marveling at how much nicer drivers were in Orlando. It was incredible because there's just always traffic and people are awful drivers where I've always lived. But one day I was talking to this girl and she just randomly mentioned what terrible and mean drivers everyone was in Orlando, and I was like, "What?! I was literally thinking the opposite!"

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    1. Oh my goodness, the drivers where you are must be awful! You are right though it is all about perspective! My hubby still misses his big ass Tahoe, thank god we can't get them over here!!

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  4. When I worked at that airport the check-in staff never cracked a smile either. I never buy anything in our airports when going on holiday as it is so expensive...a bit like motorway service stations! I agree with you about the driving. When I was on a security training course in Dallas, Texas, every morning going from the motel to the training centre was a nightmare. We used to sit on the bus with eyes closed and hope we'd get there in one piece! I've only been in the US that one time and it was in 1996 so security will be much tighter now. I'd have loved the chance to visit Orlando but I don't see it happening so I'll just have to enjoy your posts instead!

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    1. Never say never for visiting Orlando, I never imagined I'd be making my 7th visit. The duty free half the time is more expensive than the shops, looks pretty though!!

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  5. What a long trip! I hate turbulence too. I flew that route, although landing at NY and then on to Spokane, but all flights are long!! I've been to Gatwick too but so many years ago now I remember very little. Still sounds like you had a great trip and wonderful to have holidayed in Orlando.

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    1. Turbulence sucks but I suppose it is a necessary evil!!

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  6. Loved this! I will be here with bells on next Saturday. Do you plan on going in two years again, or are you going to try something different?

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    1. All depends on money but we will go back to Orlando and now we have experienced having the car we want to go further afield - so ideally going back to celebrate my 40th in 2018 but also my Sister in Law got engaged so may have to go to Brisbane which will probably put off the States for a while.

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  7. Wow, that is a long trip. I went to London at the beginning of September and I went from Cincinnati to Atlanta to London and the same coming back. I can't sleep on planes. I tried SO hard, but it didn't happen either way. The day we got there, I had been up for 24 hours or more by the time I got to sleep. It was crazy, but it just meant I slept well. haha

    -Lauren
    www.letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com

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    1. I can't sleep either I just fidget! Hope you had an amazing time in London!

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  8. Wow, this sounds like it was an incredibly long journey, but I am glad you managed to eventually get there safely and all! I hope you ha d a brilliant time there and can't wait to hear about that too! I especially love long flights and journeys and layovers - not only because I love traveling but because I see all that waiting as READING TIME :d

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    1. Lots of reading time and browsing the airport bookshops!!

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  9. HURRAY!! I wish I had known you were visiting so we could have met! I LOVE Animal Kingdom Lodge! I was actually there on October 19th with my family for breakfast at Boma! I can't wait to see what you did on your vacation! :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. I love AKL and we love Boma!!! It was our first and last breakfast on holiday plus a few dinners there too, the food is lush!!! I'll be back, we'll have coffee!!

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  10. Wow that is a big day of travel! Glad it all went pretty well!

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