Round The World In 28 Days

Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Prologue

    It has now been just over a month since we got back from what is probably our biggest adventure yet. At 28 days, this was the longest holiday we ever had. This trip also took us once around the world. We flew from Manchester to Sydney, cruised from Sydney to Seattle and then flew from Seattle back to Manchester.

    This was also a trip of firsts. This was my first trip to Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. It was the first time crossing the equator and the international date line by ship. I can now consider myself a trusty shellback and I understand what Groundhog Day must have felt like. At least we did not have to redo everything on the second day. This was also very much a trip of cultural immersion. We were able to sample the food that the locals eat and interact with some of the local people in both New Caledonia and Fiji. This is something that for some reason we had never done before and something I immensely enjoyed. I got to cross a number of items of my bucket list. This included seeing the Sydney Opera House, meeting a koala and swimming in waterfall pools. Add to this plenty of time to relax and doing various things that I enjoy and this was a really spectacular trip. There will be plenty of photos, but here is a sneak preview of some of the highlights:

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    Unfortunately not all of this trip was sunshine and rainbows. There was some sadness, too. I actually had to bite the bullet and purchase some internet on the ship as I had committed to blogging on our company Facebook page and internet access was not always easy to come by in the ports. As soon as I managed to get online, I got the sad news that my dear friend Polly @Paula Sedley-Burke had sadly passed away very suddenly. Although she had struggled with ill health for many years, she always stayed positive. She was an extraordinary person and I am privileged to have been able to call her a friend.

    She has followed my trip reports for a number of years and I was always looking forward to seeing what her take on my experiences was. I have to admit that once I received this sad news I was not at all sure if there would be a trip report for this trip as I just could not face writing one in the knowledge that she would not get to read this and I would not get to enjoy her comments. However, I know only too well what her reaction would have been to me not doing a trip report because of her. I can literally hear what she would say to me. So I have decided to go ahead with this trip report, but still follow my heart. I would like to dedicate this trip report to Polly’s memory. I know she will live on in the hearts and memories of many of us.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  2. kittymamma

    kittymamma Mouseketeer

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    Glad you decided to go on with the TR and dedicate it to the memory of Polly. I know that Jo and Huey will be pleased and Polly would probably say "thank you for your kind words"..
    Looking forward to reading about your adventure and seeing the gowns you wore.
     
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  4. Flossbolna

    Flossbolna Sea days are just so relaxing!

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    I am here! I am very excited to read about your adventures and I love that you are dedicating it to Polly's memory!
     
  5. Malia78

    Malia78 Flotsam and Jetsam

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    Remembering Polly this way is very sweet--very glad I got to know her. Her bright and positive attitude was infectious. Very excited to follow along on this report.

    --Karilynn
     
  6. jedijill

    jedijill Chiefs fan living in Bronco country

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    This is the best way to honor Polly's memory. I know she is upstairs reading the Dis!

    Cannot wait to read this fantastic report. You are living my dream for sure!

    Jill in CO
     
  7. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    That's so sweet of you to honor Polly's memory with your trip report. And all of us appreciate your decision to share the trip with us. I had similar feelings as I wrote up the Star Wars Day At Sea portion of my TR, she was so interested in that and I felt bad that she wouldn't be reading and commenting.

    This should be quite interesting as you pointed out you traversed the world over the course of 28 days!
     
  8. Pinkocto

    Pinkocto DIS Veteran

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    That was a beautiful intro. :hug: looking forward to hearing about this trip.
     
  9. tiggrbaby

    tiggrbaby <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder

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    How lovely to dedicate this to Polly!

    Looking forward to reading another one of your reports.
     
  10. rndmr2

    rndmr2 DIS Veteran

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    SO sweet of you to dedicate this TR to Polly's memory. I was so saddened to hear of her passing as I enjoyed reading her TR's as well and also reading her comments on other reports over the years.

    I have been anticipating this TR as the itinerary was really interesting.
     
  11. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    I did alert Jo to what I had done and sent her the link just in case she wanted to read what I had written.

    First update coming right up, but it will be a couple of weeks until the first gown makes an appearance.

    Welcome on board.

    She was a very special person.

    Welcome on board.

    I well believe it.

    Welcome on board.

    I think a few of us are feeling this way.

    Yes, this was quite a trip.

    Thanks.

    Welcome on board.

    Welcome on board.

    Corinna
     
  12. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Day 1

    After what felt like half a lifetime, it was finally time to set off for another adventure and arguably the biggest one yet. I had set the alarm for 5:00 AM, but I ended up waking up an hour earlier. At 4:45 I gave up. I got up and started to get ready. Graham got up when the alarm went off. While he got ready, I took the rubbish out. Shortly after I got back, I got a text that the driver had arrived. He had arrived about 15 minutes early. We were ready to go so we headed downstairs.

    We had a clear run to the airport. When we got there, the check in desks were not even open. They opened shortly afterwards. Check in was smooth and quick. My suitcase was about a pound over the weight limit, but that was no issue. I was pretty impressive by this skillful packing. Graham had some weight to spare. They also weighed our hand luggage and this passed muster.

    Once we had checked in, we went through security. This was pretty quiet as security at Manchester airport goes. They have got a lot stricter. Essentially everything had to go in a different tray. Graham had his camera bag as his personal item and they asked him to take the camera out. I had my camera in my handbag and that had already gone through towards the x-ray machine. I said to Graham that this would go to secondary screening. I set off the metal detector with my hair clip. Once they had finished with me, I noticed that my handbag had indeed gone to secondary screening. There was quite a long line for this and all of the people in front of me had liquids, creams or gels in their hand luggage. There was a group traveling together and they all had an assortment of toiletries in their hand luggage. One of them had two bags that attracted attention. When the member of staff asked him if he had liquids, creams or gels in that bag, too, he replied that he just had some toothpaste in that bag. Eventually it was my turn. It was not actually my camera that attracted attention, but my iPhone. They just checked if there were some chemicals on it and then I was on my way.

    We still had plenty of time until we would have to go to the gate. So we headed to Giraffe for some breakfast. We both had some orange juice. Graham had a large Americano and I had a large Cappuccino. Graham had steak, eggs and breakfast potatoes. I had the pulled beef brisket skillet, which consisted of pulled beef brisket, potatoes, peppers, onions and a fried egg. It was very tasty and definitely hit the spot. While we were enjoying our breakfast, we saw our plane come in.

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    After breakfast, we went over to our gate. I checked my emails and then spent some time catching up on Facebook. We also saw the Emirates A380 come in. Soon afterwards, they started to board. We were in the first boarding group, but there was some delay as they were waiting for somebody in a wheelchair to arrive to board first.

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    We were in the last row by the window. The last few rows on a Boeing 777 only have two seats by the window. This was perfect for us. This was our first experience flying Etihad and I have to say, I was impressed. We had some amazing cabin crew. The cabin looks a little nondescript, but the seats were comfortable. One thing I really liked is that the bottom of the pillow can be torn apart so that it becomes a neck pillow. The entertainment system is not quite as good as what I am used to, but it was still very good.

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    We had a pleasant first leg of the flight. Once we had reached cruising altitude, they served drinks. I had some Coke and Graham had a glass of red wine and some water. Shortly afterwards, we had some cold towels followed by lunch and another drinks service. We got coleslaw and a bread roll. Graham had some lamb curry with rice and green beans. I had Chicken Forestier with mash and roasted carrots. As airline food goes, this was pretty nice. The standout dish so was the blueberry and vanilla cheesecake, which may well have been the nicest I have ever tasted.

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    We missed the coffee as Graham had stretched his legs and I used the bathroom when they came round. We did have some water a little later. I was kind of surprised that they did not serve an afternoon snack. I spent the flight watching two films. Manchester by the Sea was kind of strange, but I still enjoyed it. I rather enjoyed Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. I also had a nap at one stage. We were lucky that it was clear from when we flew over the Black Sea until we nearly reached the Persian Gulf. We were treated to some stunning scenery. I also worked on this installment of the trip report.

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    The last 45 minutes or so were a little bumpy. We arrived into Abu Dhabi a little ahead of schedule. However, taxiing to the terminal seemed to take forever and once we were finally there, it took a while until the doors were open. The distances involved at Abu Dhabi airport to get from one place to the other are comparable to Dubai International Airport. Eventually we made it to the security checkpoint and this was very quiet. We got directed to a line straightaway and there were only a couple of people in front of us.

    When we got through security, we walked through the duty free area to the gate. I was pretty happy about this as I was looking for something. I did not have to look for long. I spotted the Pandora shop straightaway. I have a bracelet that I am filling up with charms that have a special meaning to me and are mainly related to travel. They have a charm that is exclusive to the UAE, which is an Arabic coffee pot. I really wanted this, as this would have been a perfect way of commemorating my time of Emirates. Pandora does a plane charm, but I have never liked this. When I got there, there was nobody in the shop. I had a look around if I could see a member of staff anywhere near, but could not spot anybody. I had a quick look at the displays to see if they had what I was looking for, but could not see the Arabian coffee pot either. So we pushed on towards the gate, which was not much further.

    We found some seats and shortly after we sat down, we were approached by a member of staff and offered a “discounted” upgrade. Now, from my time working at Emirates, I knew that those last minute upgrades tend to be great value. So I was interested in what they were offering. The amount quoted was twice what I had expected and we politely declined. Once the member of staff had left, I went to use the bathroom and to find somewhere to get something to drink. The second part proved easier said than done. That is definitely one area where I prefer Dubai International airport. The layout of the departure lounge is more logical. I had seen signs for a food court earlier and this is where I headed. There was a sports bar and various fast food outlets there, but no coffee shops. In the end, I asked the member of staff at the henna tattoo stall if she knew where the closest coffee shop was and she pointed me in the right direction. This was tucked away in a corner behind the area where you come through security. I would never have found this on my own. To get there, I had to walk past the Pandora shop again and this time somebody was there. So I decided to pop in to see if maybe they did have he charm I wanted after all. Unfortunately I was out of luck. I then walked over to Costa Coffee and got a Double Chocolate Frostino for me and a Blueberry Cheesecake Frostino for Graham. Then I headed back to the gate.

    We enjoyed our drinks and I made good use of the free Wi-Fi catching up on emails and on Facebook. Graham headed to the bathroom at some stage and while he was away, they made an announcement for people to go through a pre-screening process. Graham arrived back shortly afterwards, but as the line was huge, we decided to stay put until the line had gone down. Once the end of the line approached where we were sitting, we gathered up our stuff and got in line. We first had to go to a desk where a member of staff checked our passports and boarding passes. There was a bit of a backlog for the next area so we had a really nice chat with her while we waited. She used to be cabin crew for Etihad and Sydney was her favourite destination. A few minutes later we were called to the next check point. They had tables set up there and did a manual search of the hand luggage. I think what came as a surprise to everybody was that they were confiscating any liquids over 100ml at this point. People had been buying drinks to take on the plane after they cleared security and all of this was confiscated. I did not see any warnings about this and it was obvious from the number of bottles that were confiscated that nobody else had either. We were OK as we had drunk the drinks we purchased and soon we were on our way again and were able to head straight for the plane. I had wondered what happened to people who have purchased duty free and I soon got my answer. This was waiting by the entrance to the air bridge just like this is the case in Orlando.

    We got on the plane and found our seats. I had hoped that we would have the block of three seats in which our seats were to ourselves, but when we got to our seats, the second aisle seat was taken. However, the plane did not look particularly full and we were one of the last people in line. Graham was hoping that there may be a spare window row, but they soon had somebody sitting in them and the rows in front and behind us also ended up with one person sitting in each. So that put paid to that plan. However, there was only one person in the row in front of us and when a member of cabin crew came by, the lady sitting next to us asked if she could move and moved to the row in front of us. This worked great for us. I moved to the second aisle seat and we had the middle seat to spare.

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    We ended up leaving with about an hour delay as the last people got on quite late and then we had missed our slot. Our captain kept us updated, which was a nice touch. Once we were at cruising altitude, we were offered drinks and this was followed shortly afterwards by dinner. I had some water and a glass of white wine and Graham had water and some red wine. We both chose the spicy chicken, which was not particular spicy, but was very tasty. I was a Chinese-style dish. It also came with a mixed bean salad, a bread roll and rice pudding with jam for dessert. I was a little disappointed in dessert, but enjoyed the rest of the meal.

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    After dinner, I asked Graham to get my fleece blanket and the medium tsum tsum that I use as a pillow on flights from my hand luggage for me. I wrapped up and watched Moana. This was the first time I had seen this and really enjoyed it. I did stay awake for the duration of the film, but when it was over, I was definitely ready for some sleep. I set myself a play list for some background music and to filter out any noise. They had quite a good selection of songs from musicals and Disney songs so I was happy. I then settled down and fell asleep almost straightaway.
     
  13. jedijill

    jedijill Chiefs fan living in Bronco country

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    Yay for departure day! All your meals looked pretty good for airline food. That's weird about the confiscation of liquid after security but I'm glad you guys weren't impacted. Next stop Sydney! It's one of my favorite cites...after Melbourne, of course!

    Jill in CO
     
  14. tiggrbaby

    tiggrbaby <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder

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    Sounds like the start went mostly well. Love the shot of the two of you on the plane!
     
  15. Pinkocto

    Pinkocto DIS Veteran

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    Travel day! :cool1:

    Disappointing they didn't have the Pandora charm, and quite odd they had the shop unmanned for a time.

    I would have been quite upset about the liquids confiscation, I always buy a soda or two to take on the plane. Nice to have an extra seat on the second flight. I still have not seen Moana, hoping to see it on the Alaska cruise. I also enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
     
  16. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    They really were.

    Yes, I found this strange, too, but friends of ours had exactly the same experience in Chile.

    I loved Sydney.

    It went very smoothly.

    One of my rare attempts at a selfie. I can't quite get a hang of those.

    Well, I will soon have another chance.

    I thought so, too.

    I loved the film, but I definitely want to see it again on a bigger screen.

    Corinna
     
  17. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    I'm here.

    Nice that you're dedicating this to Polly. I also miss reading her cheery comments on my TR.


    YAY for starting this TR. Looks like you had a great time!
     
  18. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    I do, too.

    The next update will happen sometime today.

    For a travel day, this was rather pleasant.

    Corinna
     
  19. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    Sounds like a long but uneventful day. I'm glad you got some sleep there!
     
  20. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    It was. I was really worried about the long flight before we left, but it was really no issue.

    Corinna
     
  21. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Day 2

    I thankfully spent quite a lot of the flight sleeping although it was in stops and starts. My entertainment system reset itself twice and I ended up redoing the playlist. I also quickly checked the inflight map whenever I woke up to check our progress. At some stage they came around with sandwiches and drinks. I was not hungry and declined the sandwich, but I had some water. I went back to sleep pretty much straightaway. When my entertainment system reset itself again, I was done sleeping. By this stage, we had nearly reached Australia. A big part of the flight was actually crossing Australia. Graham woke up around the same time. It turned out that he had been left a sandwich so he had that when he woke up. I decided to play a game for a bit, but the games did not work at my seat. However, they did work on the spare seat. So I did play a silly little arcade game for a while. At some stage, they were handing out bags of caramel popcorn. Graham was not in his seat at the time so I got a bag for him. I am not keen on popcorn. When I was starting to get bored with the game I was playing, I decided check what other movies there were available. I found out that Dan Brown’s book Inferno has been made into a movie and that this was one of the options. I like his books and I did enjoy the movies Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code so I decided to watch this. Unfortunately I only got about 20 minutes into the movie when I started to feel tired again. So I stopped this and went back to sleep.

    I was woken up when we were about 90 minutes away from Sydney by the smell of food. They were serving another meal. This time round we got an orzo pasta salad with vegetables, a chicken pie, which was very similar to cottage pie, but with chicken in a white sauce and a chocolate biscuit. This was quite tasty. Graham was quite surprised that I was eating my meal as for some reason he was convinced that they had served us fish pie and I don’t eat fish. Mine definitely tasted of chicken. I had put on Inferno again while I was eating, but unfortunately I never quite got to finish this. At one stage during the flight, they were giving out landing cards for Australia, but for some reason Graham did not have one. So I went in search of one for him so that he did not have to fill out at the airport before we could go through immigration. They also collected in the headphones quite early. So I have yet to see the last 30 minutes or so of the movie. I have now added this to the rental list for our DVD rental subscription.

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    Even though we had left Abu Dhabi late, we arrived in Sydney slightly ahead of schedule. However, by the time we had reached our gate and could disembark, we were pretty much on schedule. The airport in Sydney very much reminded me of Atlanta. We both used the bathroom shortly after getting off the plane and then we headed for immigration. I was not sure what to expect, but I had been led to believe that immigration in Australia was every bit as long-winded as it is in the USA. This was totally not our experience. We followed the signs for arrivals and shortly afterwards we came across some self-service kiosks with some signs that you could use them if you come from a number of countries, have an ETA or e-visitor visa and a passport with a chip. We ticked all the boxes so we decided to give this a go. There were quite long lines for those kiosks, but they were still shorter than what we expected the immigration lines to be. We were just about to get into the shortest line when a member of staff approached us and told us to cut through the duty free shop, as there were more kiosks just the other side of this. There was nobody in this area so we had no wait at all. We followed the instructions, our passport was scanned, we had to answer a few questions via the touch screen and then the kiosk printed out a receipt. The screen advised us that we needed to keep hold of this for customs clearance. We then followed the signs for people who had done self-service immigration. I expected that there would be some kind of secondary immigration process like this was the case when I used the self-service kiosks in Los Angeles, but the signs directed us straight to the baggage hall.

    We checked the screens and the baggage carousel for our flight was about the furthest away. Still, after the long flight, it was quite pleasant to stretch our legs. Pretty much as soon was we arrived at the correct luggage carousel, I saw my suitcase coming around and Graham’s suitcase was not far behind. We then got in the line for customs. This kind of reminded me of Disney with multiple switchbacks. This was the only wait we had in this whole process and this was no more than 20 minutes. When we got to the front of the line, the member of staff there took our immigration receipts and landing cards and then directed us to a numbered lane. I could see a bunch of x-ray machines and I had assumed that the lane was directing us to one of those. However, when we followed the lane around, it took us straight to the exit. It really could not have been easier and smoother.

    It was at this stage, we hit a little snag. We had researched beforehand what the best option would be to get from the airport to our hotel. By far the cheapest, quickest and easiest option was the train so we decided that this was how we would get to our hotel. The only issue was that when we came through customs, there were signs for just about everything else, but not the trains. Fortunately we headed in the right direction and soon we found some signs. The platforms are two floors below the arrival area, but there are lifts going down to the level where the ticket machines are and then from there to the platforms. So this was really easy. We did not have to wait long for a train. The trains have pretty much level access although there was a small gap. They are also pretty spacious so we had no issues with our luggage. When we got off the train, we headed for the wrong exit to the station, which meant a little detour. It was a beautiful mild evening and the area around the hotel was quite pretty so this was not hardship.

    When we got to the hotel, we checked in and headed to our room. We dropped off our stuff, I took a few photos, updated my Facebook status and then we decided to go for a swim. The hotel has what is advertised as a rooftop pool. However, although it is definitely on top of the building, it is also indoors and the windows are pretty high up. So I did not get the views over the city that I was hoping for. It was still very nice to stretch out the muscles and have a swim. We also spent a short time in the sauna before we headed back to the room to get showered and changed. We then went down to the bar. When we checked in, we were advised that they had a new menu with some really nice burgers. That sounded good to us. So we headed down there. It was not too busy. I had a Coke and Graham had a Sprite. Graham went with one of the burgers. I had fancied a burger as well, but all the burgers that sounded good to me included beetroots in some way and I don’t like those. So I went with the steak sandwich and that definitely hit the spot. Graham enjoyed his burger, too.

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    After dinner, we headed back to our room. Graham went straight to bed. I spent a little time catching up online and then I set our alarm for the next morning before settling down for the night as well.
     

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