Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 1 & 2- Flight Day & First Day at Sea

Lin and I left Albuquerque on Friday, July 19 and flew to Denver. On Saturday, July 20 we flew to Toronto, Canada and started our flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, July 21 at 11:50 AM! Whew! If you didn’t read my blog last week, you need to catch up and read that harrowing experience.

When we got off the plane (in travel lingo, is that deplaned?) and gathered our luggage, we had trouble finding the Norwegian Cruise Line representative to catch the shuttle to Southampton. As you actually enter the Heathrow airport, multitudes of travel companies, tours, etc. stand with signs designating their company on each side of a walk-way that passengers must pass through. We experienced this two years ago trying to find our transport to our hotel.

So, I stopped with our four cumbersome bags, and Lin wandered around one area and had no luck, then he went the other direction—again no luck. I asked someone standing near me, and they pointed out where NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) reps usually stand, so we crossed over to the other side of the walk-way and still no NCL rep.

Again, I asked someone standing near the walk-way, and the woman said, “He’ll be right back!” So, we found him. Overwhelmed the NCL rep rushed in like a whirlwind and let us know he was short-handed and many flights had been delayed, so he was doing the best he could. Lin and I were just relieved to find him. The responsibility of transport was on Norwegian now, so we could relax.

I found some snacks for us. We hadn’t come prepared on this trip with foreign currency, and it just now dawned on both of us! We came with American dollars and would be in places in countries that didn’t accept our money! They did accept it at Heathrow though, so I returned to Lin, and we waited patiently.

Finally, the NCL rep herded our group out the door to the bus. At this time, it had grown to a sizable crowd. We found our bus, boarded and headed towards Southampton. I was so exhausted from our flight but so excited to be back in London again!

Yahooooooo! We made it!

The one hour and a half trip went smoothly, and we arrived at the Norwegian Star at 4:30 PM. Usually when we board the ship, the terminal overflows with people and activity—only one or two Norwegian people worked behind the desk. That was it! No picture of us boarding the ship!

One thing they did that was strange: they took our passports and said they would stamp them and return them to us later. Really?

Lin and I boarded the ship, found our room–#5078–and relaxed a moment but heard an announcement that we had to attend the “Emergency Training” in the Stardust theater on Deck 7! We took a breath and ran up to the training. The review of what to do in an emergency reminded me of the danger of sailing on a ship, and interestingly enough, we learned on this trip that the Titanic sailed out of Southampton on its fateful voyage, just like us! We found our designated spot to go to in case of an emergency and went upstairs to the buffet, Raffles, for our first meal of the day.

When we got back to our room, we unpacked and relaxed until the entertainment show at 7:30 PM, fully aware we hadn’t left port yet. We were supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, so we thought the cruise director would explain our delay at the show—she didn’t.

The show was an overview of the talent we would see on this cruise and they all were exceptional! Lin and I especially like the magician.

After the show, we slipped back to our room quickly and went to bed—exhausted from this marathon day.

On July 22, I slept until 8:00 AM. When I’m onboard a ship, I always look out the window first thing to see what I can see—we were sailing. We found out later Norwegian crew worked in scuba gear for hours, and the cruise was almost canceled, but we finally left port about 4:30 AM. Lin and I were so exhausted we never heard the ship pull away from the port. Lin was gone when I woke up—out walking the deck and enjoying the sea. I never heard him leave!

When he returned, we had a leisurely breakfast in Raffles, the buffet on the deck 12, one of the complimentary restaurants on the Star. In wandering around deck 12 and getting oriented again, we found the Game Room, so we played a couple Cribbage games, and Lin won. We continued our tour of the ship and had a delightful lunch in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants onboard ship.

Lin’s $20 Chocolate

Anyone who knows Lin knows he loves chocolate. We went by the Tourist Shop onboard, and Lin bought a HUGE bar of Lindt chocolate. Shocked after he bought it, it cost $20. He rationed it out the whole trip, and we finished it in the airport in London waiting for our flight home.

At about 2:00 PM, we participate in one of our favorite onboard ship activities: Deal or No Deal. Neither one of us was chosen to play, but everyone who participates has a chance to be a winner, and Lin won a free 8 X 10 photo.

Afterwards, we went to the Excursion desk to put our names on a waiting list for Conwy Castle at Holyhead, Wales. It was sold out when we booked our excursion, so we signed up for Penrhyn Castle & Gardens as a second choice. The agent told us they would create another tour if enough people asked—we both really wanted to go to Conwy Castle because of the pictures we saw, and it all worked out!

After all this activity, Lin and I retired to our room, and he napped. I experimented with getting on the Internet and had some problems. I also worked on my current book project: the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. Yes, I took Flippo with me on this cruise.

We ate dinner at Shogun’s, another complimentary restaurant for certain dishes, then went to the early show and saw Danielle Williams—energetic pop music singer!

Lin had heard they had coconut ice cream up at Raffles, so we ventured up to see. They didn’t have it, but they had a piña colada that was delicious. We went by the lounge for a short time and listened to the band, Hot Wire.

When we got back to the room, we tried the Internet again. Lin had a lot of trouble, and it was slow for me, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next day we had our first experience in Scotland—Edinburgh and the castle! We were both excited about the four ports in Scotland! Also, the next day started our marathon of ports and excursions—ten ports, ten excursions and no at-sea days in-between to catch up and rest! None of our previous cruises had this intense schedule!

So, next week I will share our Edinburgh adventures! Stay tuned!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS END AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Why Is It So Hard to Travel to London?

Two flights to London in my lifetime: once in 2017 and now again in 2019–each time a nerve-wracking experience!

On July 19, 2019, Lin, my husband, and I started the first leg of our trip to London for a twelve-day cruise of the British Isles and flew from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO. We got our flight through Norwegian cruise lines, and the one catch was that it had to be through a major airport, so that’s why we had to go to Denver.

We live in the east mountains above Albuquerque and the drive to the airport takes about thirty minutes. Most of our travel is on I-40, and there was an accident in front of us, but –thank God—we saw the slow down and ducked off the Interstate at a nearby exit. If we had been further down the highway, we would have been caught there and possibly missed our flight. After breathing deeply, we both sighed and realized a near miss.

We both flew to Denver on Southwest Airlines for free which always makes the flight sweet. Also, we flew at 5:50 PM which meant no getting up at O’Dark Thirty to start our adventure.

We arrived in Denver at 7:00 PM, wondering if we needed to eat at the airport before finding the shuttle to the Microtel Hotel near the airport. So, I called the hotel and got a strange response when asked if there was a restaurant within walking distance.

 “There should be!” Lin and I both laughed and decided to take our chance there because food is so expensive in an airport. We maneuvered our bags to level five, island three to wait for the shuttle.

The warm Colorado evening invited us to sit and enjoy the beginning of our travels. It took the shuttle over thirty minutes to arrive, but we relaxed and anticipated our trip. We had originally planned a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in November but had to cancel it because of the death of a dear friend. We reveled in the fact that nothing could go wrong this time—Norwegian cruise lines had booked our flights and they were professionals. They would allow enough time between flights–nothing to worry about!

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw a restaurant within walking distance, so we registered at the desk. I peered at the guy who had given me such a strange response, and he told the person in front of us that there was a restaurant within 10 seconds of the hotel. I laughed to myself at both responses. We ditched our bags in the room, ate dinner, and had a relaxed, restful night. We had come into Denver a night early so we could catch our flight easily the next day.

When I got up the next morning, I planned on wearing the same clothes, but I could smell BO on my top, so I hand-washed it and then dried it with the hair dryer.

The night before we had reserved a shuttle back to the airport at 12:30 PM and went downstairs to check out about noon, and the shuttle was already there, so we took it. We grabbed lunch at Pandora Express and enjoyed the leisure atmosphere.

Lin and I aboard the Air Canada Flight for Toronto–Excited about our adventure ahead!

Our flight to London started with the first leg to Toronto, Canada leaving Denver at 5:25 PM. Yes, we were early, but we found our gate, and I used the time wisely to work on my current writing project of the Marshall Flippo biography. Great uninterrupted time to work!

Before leaving home, Lin had checked the weather in Toronto, and thunderstorms threatened the area, but no one from the airlines had said anything, so we let it go.

We boarded the Air Canada plane and then sat and sat. For thirty minutes,  a flight attendant walked through the cabin counting the passengers, then one came and asked the person sitting across from us to move at takeoff to distribute the weight more evenly—I had never heard that before.

Awhile later, the pilot announced that they needed to check the air in one of the tires—oh, no! Here we go again! We just lost over thirty minutes!

When it finally took off, I relaxed and worked on my book project. We were to arrive at 10:29 PM and the flight to Heathrow took off at 11:50 PM—plenty of time, I thought. I hadn’t done the math. Lin kept his eye on the flight monitor on the TV and kept calculating and recalculating our arrival time, getting more nervous the farther we went. He shared his concern with me, and we talked to the flight attendant about our possible peril. She assured us there would be plenty of time.

When we got to Toronto, we had to go through customs. Then we had no idea where to go, no idea of the gate number for our flight, and no signage to point us in the right direction. We walked down a hall desperate to find help.

Then we found an Air Canada employee who told us to go to level three to security, so we found level three but had trouble finding security. The lights were dimmed and the only people there were the cleaning crew. Somehow, we found security. He let us through a back door and all I saw in front of me was a long corridor.

The corridor went on and on!

Lin started walking, half-running down the corridor, and I had to run to keep up with him. It went on and on. I tripped once and almost hit the ground, but I steadied myself and kept going. Now he was nearly out of sight rounding a corner. So it was a full-out run now.

When I caught him, we stood at an intersection; only two people were there. Lin ran over to a counter and asked where to go.

“Gate 75.”

The other two people yelled, “Go straight through there and turn right.”

So, we did, and the workers at that gate waved and yelled, “Are you the Millers? They are closing the door right now!” We sprinted over; they checked us in and we walked on the plane and they closed the doors behind us!

The plane had been delayed ten minutes because of a rain delay—oh, my God! That’s what saved us!

We found our seats, sat down and breathed. Sweat dripped down my back and I panted now because of the race we just did. Trembling, I said to Lin, “Why is it so hard to get to London?”

We did make it, and I will take you on our twelve-day adventure cruising around the British Isles over the next few weeks in my blogs.

Have you ever had a travel experience like this? Share yours in the Comments section below.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS UNTIL AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s