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A Summer's Birthday

Honeymoon - Barbados

all seasons in one day 29 °C
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Having a birthday in February has never been overly exciting, but spending my 30th in a lockdown, not being allowed to go anywhere or really see anyone was a particular low point. This year things had improved and we had ended up booking our honeymoon over my birthday, and so for the first time in my life I could wear shorts on it!

Today was our last full day on board, and a sea day as we headed back to Barbados. As usual we had breakfast, nabbed ourselves some sun loungers and joined in the quizzes. Sitting in the sun and around the pool, I was able to enjoy a summer's birthday for once!

Shorts in February

Shorts in February

After a lovely last day on deck, when we got back to the room I found a card from the captain wishing me a happy birthday. However the imminent end to the trip was lingering, and as the UK's Passenger Locator forms had not yet been abandoned, we were required to fill one, and given guidance of how to complete them as we were in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the few websites the on board Wi-Fi allowed access to - because of course, even in 2022, free Wi-Fi doesn't exist when cruising - no wonder there so few under 50s on board.

Birthday Cards

Birthday Cards

After having dinner, I decided to go for a wander around the ship for a final exploration. Even after two weeks on board there were still parts of the ship I hadn't seen. I went to the back of the ship, but coming across the Covid Isolation cabins, I made a quick dash.

Isolation Cabins

Isolation Cabins

Walking around the highest parts of the ship, there was a section that looked down on the pools covered in AstroTurf. In the night-time darkness I could see something odd and tried to focus my eyes on what looked like a dog!? Then I heard a noise, and realised to my horror, it was actually a couple trying to enjoy some private time.... I made another quick dash and headed back down towards the cabin. There'd been enough shocks for one night!

Up On Deck

Up On Deck

It had been a nice day, and certainly a lot better than last year, however in hindsight I'm not sure I really enjoyed it. There was no internet so I didn't get any birthday greetings, I had few cards as we'd needed to receive them a fortnight in advance to take them with us, I had no birthday cake, and it quite frankly just didn't feel like my birthday - it was like summer! It had felt like I'd missed it, just as we'd missed Easter 2018 when we'd visited Japan over the whole thing.

For half the ship, this was their last night on board, and so to enable this huge logistical challenge to run smoothly, we were required to leave our suitcases outside the cabin by 10pm that night.

Although the flights were not until the evening, and our pick up was not until 2pm, we had to vacate the cabin by 9am. We were allowed to leave the ship, but as additional Covid testing would be required at a charge, and as we had already seen what we wanted of Barbados on our first day, we decided to remain on board for this last day.

We had our breakfast and then went back to the room to collect our last bits. Then at ten to 9 a knock on the door from the maid - "you need to leave the room, it has been booked out from 9:30!". Well, we have until 9 I thought to myself. The door was propped open and we were being chased to leave.

Why should I care if someone has booked out the room for the day - we have it until 9, and why has an occupied room been booked out when half the ship is empty?! Yet another irritation...

We headed up to the pool to enjoy the last bit of heat. However it was an iffy day, and after three rainstorms we gave up trying to sunbathe. Unlike every other day, today we had not been given the newspaper telling us what was going on during the day, but it appeared there was nothing going on anyway. Quite ridiculous when today is the one day everyone was definitely out on deck.

One of the sunny intervals

One of the sunny intervals

At home, Storm Eunice, one of the strongest storms since 1987 was wreaking havoc, and like the St Jude Storm back in 2013, I was instead sunning myself in the Caribbean. The irony of missing hurricane force winds by being in the Caribbean instead...

However we soon got wind of just how much it would still affect us, as the flights this afternoon were all returns of those leaving the UK this morning, which had been affected. Two of the three flights were delayed, whilst the third (to Bournemouth) had been postponed until tomorrow. They would get a £25 onboard voucher, but would not receive their suitcases back despite the overnight delay - I'd rather have gone home!

As we had a long wait until our dinner on the plane and nothing better to do, we decided to head to the fancy restaurant for a final posh lunch. We were given a seat by the window and ordered a tikka buffet. Next thing a nearby table was occupied by another British couple who started chatting to us. They loved cruising, with her loving the ambience, whilst him liking the variety. Azura was nice, but apparently it was nothing like Cunard, with the white gloves!

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

She was lovely, but very very chatty. They asked where we were from, and when we said Luton, she told us she was originally from Hemel Hempstead - coincidently the town where I work. It all now started to make sense... she then proceeded to tell me all about Hemel in the 80s before she had left, like the Butcher's on The Ramp and asked me if I was in "the Hemel FB group". Of course I wasn't - I just work there.

After a lovely last meal on board, we headed back to the pool for a last bit of sun, and dipped our feet in the pool. We said goodbye to our Quiz friend, and then headed down to the other restaurant where everyone on our flight was waiting for the airport transfer.

Before long we were leaving the ship, getting on coaches and making our way across the island to the airport. Only this time we'd actually be heading inside the terminal building. After being wished that my birthday yesterday was nice at passport control, we were soon inside the terminal and before long sitting at the gate waiting to board. By now it was exhausting. It had been a long day, and our flight was still a few hours from leaving.

Goodbye Summer

Goodbye Summer

After a change in gate, we eventually managed to board the plane, and with many Grannies on board, for the first time ever we ended up being the first people to board the plane. After the drama of the flight tickets, we found our new seats were actually Premium Economy, and were reclining seats! When boarding was finished, surprise surprise, there were tonnes of free seats, including the entire row behind us, and several others in the vicinity. An absolute joke considering the aggro we'd been through a few days ago.

Annoyingly, the first round of service on board was for a glass of champagne, and so by the time the actual dinner came round I was too exhausted to eat. They asked if I as ok, to which Chris responded, "he's just shattered". The flight was only 8 hours and so overnight was tough going. It was now midnight Barbados time, and so 4am UK time.

I don't do well on overnight flights, struggling to sleep, and so by the time the 'breakfast' came round a few hours later, I was awake and ended up being one of the few on board who actually took it - at last my jet lag was sorted! Not long later we were landing at Gatwick, and after two weeks of acclimatised Caribbean heat it was freezing! We collected our suitcases and noticed that if we hurried, we could make the next fast train back to Luton.

We ran with the suitcases, made the next shuttle to the other terminal and arrived at the train station with a few minutes to spare before the next train. And then we waited... with there being a lot of damage from yesterday's storm there were knock on effects still, including our train being late. When it eventually did turn up it was decided that the train would in fact now stop at most of the stations it was planning to whizz through. In the end, we eventually arrived back in Luton around 45 minutes later than planned, and so by the time we got back home I only just about made it to bed for a nap before I collapsed... what a long journey...

It had been amazing to finally get on our honeymoon, and amazingly it had all gone to plan. I wasn't a cruise convert - I would go on one again, but equally I'd also go on a normal fly/hotel holiday too. It's just a shame that P&O were unable to provide a good quality holiday for us. I'm sure it was mostly because of Covid, but equally we had paid a lot of money and not received as good service as we should have. Maybe in a year or so when things are more settled they'd provide a better service.

Posted by kmmk17 16:47 Archived in Barbados Tagged airport sun caribbean birthday plane covid Comments (0)

Glorious Grand Turk

Honeymoon - Grand Turk

all seasons in one day 28 °C
View Honeymoon on kmmk17's travel map.


Having travelled through the Bermuda Triangle, we arrived at our westernmost destination on the trip, the beautiful island of Grand Turk.

Grand Turk is a relatively small island making up part of the larger Turks & Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory. The name 'Turk' coming from the name of the locally grown cactus that looks like a Fez hat, historically worn by the Ottomans.

The Grand Turk Cactus

The Grand Turk Cactus

So it turns out it's a rather old school racist name rather than actually having anything to do with the Turkic ethnic group!

Despite this island being only the 7th largest in the territory, it is the second most populous and home to the capital. As it also has a recently built cruise terminal located on the south of the island, this island is the focal point for the cruising industry in the territory.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

The complex features shopping areas, cafés and restaurants, a swimming pool, surf simulator and luscious beaches. We didn't need to leave the terminal, and so we didn't! - not that there was much outside the complex anyway!

The Cruise Terminal

The Cruise Terminal

After having breakfast we left the ship and headed for the short walk over to the complex along the jetty. This was certainly one of the most beautiful locations on the trip - with white sand and clear blue seas, and it's a shame we were one of the last visits P&O will do to this island. We had a little wander around the shops before finding some sun loungers on the beach.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

We spent some time between both the beach and in the sea, enjoying the glorious views before we started getting hungry for lunch. Whereas usually we'd have been out and about, as we were next to the ship we simply headed aboard, grabbed some food and then made our way back to the cruise terminal. We then had another wander around before again finding a place to lounge.

On the beach

On the beach

Having spent much of the day enjoying the sunshine, after a final walk along the beach, we headed back to the ship to prepare for dinner. We started sailing away from port just before dinner opened and we watched as we sailed around the west coast of the island and past the island's lighthouse.

Sailing around the Lighthouse

Sailing around the Lighthouse

We were also informed that this evening's performance had been cancelled, along with all others for the foreseeable future. We had already booked a performance for a few day's time that we would now no longer be able to watch. Although no specific reason had been given it is likely this was Covid related, with the rest of the performance troupe being forced to quarantine.

Thankfully we had already been to see a performance a few days earlier, and so we had got to have that experience on board, and with there not being a replacement for tonight as yet, we instead spent the evening watching some of the on-demand movies in the cabin.

The next day was another sea day, heading back towards the Eastern Caribbean. Whilst the weather on the trip had until now generally been pretty good, it was starting to turn, and we got caught in one of many showers that would linger over the next week.

A wet day

A wet day

We once again spent the day around the pool, (trying to) sunbathe and doing the quizzes. That night was again a black tie night and we again went to the restaurant for an à la carte meal.

After having finished my Champagne Sorbet at the end of the meal, whilst walking out of the restaurant we saw our quiz friend from a few days earlier. We stopped to say hello, and asked how she'd done in today's quizzes - of course better than us, and she had also won the bingo this afternoon!

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

We then headed back to the cabin to chill for the evening, before our next port day tomorrow!

Posted by kmmk17 13:03 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands Tagged sea rain beach sun caribbean Comments (0)

Return to Maho

Honeymoon - St. Maarten

all seasons in one day 28 °C
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Most of this trip was to new places, however St. Maarten would be a return. I previously spent 10 days of my round the world trip here, and loved it. So much to see and do for a small tropical island, so it was great to make a return. Despite 8 and a half years and a devastating hurricane since, it was pretty much the same as before.

We arrived as usual before breakfast, waking to find ourselves in a new port. This was a pretty busy one, and there were 6 ships in today!

Busy Port Day

Busy Port Day

The port itself is located just out of town, and so we had to walk for around 15 minutes to get there. Once there the town was pretty busy, and I guess this is how most port towns would usually have been before the pandemic!

Having been here before I knew how to get around, and we headed straight to catch one of the cheap minibuses to take us over to the west side of the island. Surprisingly, even after 8 years, the prices hadn't increased, and it was a bargain $2 to take us on the 45 minute journey. However his made up for being stuck with a bunch of Americans on the whole route who just wouldn't stop talking to us!

Bus trips during Covid

Bus trips during Covid

They were the bad stereotypes, comparing everything to their state, and asking stupid questions to anyone they could catch hold of... when we told them we were from England they thought we'd sailed across the Atlantic, and couldn't understand that we'd flown to Barbados... Thankfully a local who worked at the airport got on board, but the poor guy was then subjected to questions about what the local fish was(?). When he didn't get the question it was repeated at him three times before he just picked a random one to shut the guy up!

Eventually after crossing the beautiful hills, we made it to Maho Beach. This is the famous beach directly at the end of the runway, and the huge planes come in to land right above the sunbathing public.

Even mid morning, it was pretty busy... but we did eventually find a nice spot in the middle of the beach. We set ourselves up and within 10 minutes we got our first taste of what was the come - a small plane coming in from St. Barths that looked like it was about to crash onto us! Of course it didn't, but it was certainly exciting!

On Maho Beach

On Maho Beach

I kept an eye on the schedules to see when the bigger ones would come in. Since my last time here, the huge jumbo jet from Amsterdam had been cancelled, and due to the pandemic there were a lot less mid-size planes from Europe and North America coming in than there would usually have been.

As one of the larger planes was due imminently, I left Chris to mind the bags, whilst I went off to get a side angle shot. However there was a bit of a delay, and some of the planes already at the airport were about to take off. These take offs are a very different experience, as this is when the thrust kicks in.

No one cares though

No one cares though

Despite the signs saying the opposite, people will stand right behind the barrier fence to feel the full force of a plane taking off. I knew what to expect, but Chris and many of those there did not. As the engines got stronger and stronger, the thrust threw up all the lose stones and sand on the beach. From a distance it looked like a sandstorm encompassing the whole of the middle of the beach!

Plane landing

Plane landing

After finally seeing the large plane from New York coming in to land directly over the beach I headed back to find all our stuff covered in sand, and people still looking around for their sunglasses and other lost items! I then got in the sea and had a swim, whilst more planes came in to land - including one that was so low I'm surprised it managed to clear the airport's fence!

After having spent a few hours here, we headed back to the capital, Philipsburg. After a drive back across the island we had a little wander around the shops before waling back to the port.

Philipsburg Courthouse

Philipsburg Courthouse

After another afternoon of sitting around the pool, we went back to the room and got ready for the evening. However even after showering, Chris still had sand lodged in his back - such was the force of the thrust at Maho beach!

For the first time in the trip, we decided to go and watch the evening entertainment in the theatre. As we had been a bit concerned about picking up Covid we didn't dare go during the first few nights, but as tonight there was an 80's inspired music extravaganza on offer we decided to risk it!

Having booked our slots, after dinner we went to go and watch, and luckily found it wasn't too busy so there was plenty of space to feel comfortable watching. As we left the auditorium after the show ended, we walked past a crowd of fumigators ready to sanitise for the next show! If you've ever seen Monsters, Inc. - it looked like the bit where one of the monsters arrives back contaminated by a kid's mislaid sock!

Next door there was a pub quiz about to start, but as we entered the room we realised there were now no spare seats! As they had cordoned off all the stools by the bar it left us with nowhere to sit, and so not only did we lose, but we also had to stand up for the entirety of it!

The following day was another sea day, as we made our way further west, and into the Bermuda Triangle.

Inside the Bermuda Triangle

Inside the Bermuda Triangle

Like on the other sea days we grabbed some spots around the pool and waited for the quizzes to start. However today the weather was a bit iffy. After grabbing a nice slot in the shade it then started to rain. We pulled our sunbeds under the shelter and waited five minutes whilst the rain soaked the entire area! The poor lady next to us who had gone for a swim came back to find all her items were now soaked.

Rain

Rain

We then got chatting to her and she told us all about her trip so far. Then when the quiz started she was helping us with our answers and it turned out she was quite knowledgeable! Even so it still wasn't enough to win...

And sun

And sun

The weather later that day brightened up and once again we got quite hot and sweaty. By the time the mid afternoon quizzes ended we had had enough of the heat for the day and so headed back to freshen up for the ship's second black tie night.

We started off the evening by heading to the first performance of the evening entertainment in the theatre - which tonight would be Britain's Got Talent 2014 finalist, impressionist John Clegg. Some of his act was actually really funny, however in what seemed like an intention to entertain the general demographic of the cruise, some of his 'jokes' were quite old school so I didn't end up enjoying it quite as much as I was hoping to.

Entertainment with John Clegg

Entertainment with John Clegg

Nevertheless it was something different to enjoy. After this ended, and much later than we would usually have done we finally went for dinner. It had been a lovely evening once again and we were excited for another port day tomorrow.

Posted by kmmk17 14:58 Archived in Sint Maarten Tagged planes sea rain beach airport sun port caribbean swimming entertainment Comments (0)

Summer At Last

Maspalomas

sunny 29 °C
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As we all know, Corona has ruined the 2020s so far. It also caused us major disruption, firstly by cancelling our Egyptian trip with just a few days to go, but also by completely ruining our Wedding plans. The whole thing had been moved backward by 53 weeks, but with Covid still in full swing a year later, there had been no Stag Do, no fun lead up, no Mini-Moon, and from a fortnight before the wedding, also no Honeymoon either.

2021 was also a pretty miserable year weather-wise. The summer in the UK was pretty cold and wet, with just a handful of decent weeks of sun and heat. After having moved home, and spending a year decorating, by the end of Summer 2021, having been on just two UK holidays in the last 2 years, and having not been abroad this decade, we were desperate for a week to relax and enjoy some sun and heat.

With things starting to stabilise, and having been vaccinated, we decided to finally get away to the Canary Islands and finally have a break. This wasn't our honeymoon, or even a mini-moon, this was just a well overdue relax. We decided to go to Gran Canaria, where things looked good Covid-wise, and there wasn't too much we wanted to see, so we could just settle in the hotel where it was safe, without feeling like we were missing out on local sights.

The testing regime was a nightmare to get our heads round. At the time we travelled there was a three category list of countries which changed every three weeks, and there were different rules for those who had been vaccinated or not. Spain was looking like it would not move to the dreaded Red List (where expensive hotel quarantine would be required), and we deliberately chose to go during a week between announcements so we could be sure it would all be fine once away.

But even booking last minute, we still didn't manage to avoid all the potential drama, as a couple of days later, La Palma started erupting. This was 150 miles from Gran Canaria, but that hadn't stopped Eyjafjallajökull in 2011, and this is the volcano that is predicted to collapse into the sea and cause a massive tsunami, flooding even the south coast of England. Maybe a hotel on the beach wasn't such a great idea after all?

Arriving in Spain required a form to be filled out. Staying in the hotel needed confirmation we were vaccinated, and then we would need to pay for tests two days before flying home, and also two days after as well as fill in a form to arrive back home.

After getting everything prepped, we were finally able to get away, and on Saturday morning we headed to the airport. Once inside it was the start of a long day wearing a face mask. Dropping the bags off took ages as everybody was subjected to a document check - forms, vaccine certificates, boarding passes, passports etc.

After breaking the machine, we had checked our bags in and headed up to the Departure Lounge to grab some drinks and magazines before our long flight. The airport was busy, and there was little social distancing. The airport is simply too small for the amount of people that were there. In an effort to try and give us more space, as we arrived at the gate, they only processed half of us until we were actually boarding the aircraft. Of course, there were still many who weren't fully prepared. Mostly those who had hand luggage only and so hadn't been checked at bag drop off. This included an old couple who had printed out their Spanish health form, not understanding that only digital versions were permitted. The boarding staff decided to help them, and started filling in the form on their behalf. Once complete it needed email validation, but the old couple had no idea how to get to their emails so just sat there claiming blankly "I don't know how to get to them". Well good luck getting to Spain then - no one else is going to know, Doris!

It would take over four hours to reach Gran Canaria, so as we boarded the plane we used the opportunity to lower our masks, and get some fresh air - but instead all we got was Kerosene for a few seconds before being masked again for the duration of the flight.

En Route

En Route

As the time zone was the same in the Canaries at home, and our hotel was an hour from the airport it was going to be a long day. We also realised that the local shop would be closed the next day so we wanted to get to the hotel as soon as possible. This was our first trip to Europe since Brexit, and so we would be entering the slow queue, and as we were at the back of the plane, we were one of the last to disembark. Once we were off we tried to get through as quick as possible. But this was actually not necessary. In what was the slowest baggage claim I'd ever seen, twenty minutes after the last person got through immigration, the carousel as finally switched on. With just 5 minutes until the bus we needed was due, we expected we'd end up missing it, and so we planned to head to to the shop in the airport before boarding, rather than wait until we were at the hotel.

However a stroke of luck, our bag was the very first one to come out. We grabbed it and headed to customs, where they quickly scanned our health form, and we were free to continue our journey. We had four minutes to get to the bus stop, so we ran. With a mask still covering our faces we ran as fast as possible for what seemed like ages. Along corridors, up escalators and more corridors, we then found the right exit, headed outside and arrived at the bus stop with a minute to go. We could finally lower our masks, get some air and have a drink. It was hot already, and it was quite a shock to the system. Not knowing whether we had missed the bus (it was stopping here en route down the east side of the island) we waited. Just a few minutes after arriving, the bus showed up. We put our masks back on and then boarded for the long trip down to the south end of the island.

An hour later we arrived in Maspalomas. Just a short walk away was the hotel, and after arriving at reception they did a temperature check. Although hot and sweaty it obviously didn't cause too much concern as they let us in anyway. As a large Irish group was already being processed we had to wait a while.

Views from the Hotel

Views from the Hotel

Eventually we were checked in and able to head to our room. As this was Covid, we had to book slots at the restaurant, so we decided to book for 45 minutes time, at 8:30pm. This gave us chance to head over to the supermarket, next to the bus stop, get back and freshen up for dinner. Bearing in mind we had left home at 10am, and Covid has made us lazy, we were already pretty tired!

When we headed down to the restaurant it wasn't too busy. And thankfully they still had a large buffet dinner for us to enjoy, just as normal. After eating a bit of everything, we headed back to the room, and finally got to chill after the long day!

Delicious Puddings

Delicious Puddings

The following day after having our fill with a large buffet breakfast, we had a chill day. We spent all day sitting around the pool, swimming and sunbathing. It was amazing. After the last 18 months this had been long overdue, and getting sunburnt and needing After Sun was a pleasure!

In the Pool

In the Pool

I never normally like to go on holiday, and then spend the whole time in the resort. But with the risk of Covid stopping us getting home, this time we made an exception. Maspalomas was the perfect destination. Hot, sunny, and only a few things outside the resort to see.

On Monday we headed over the the Dunes. It was around a half hour walk down the coast, passing many other hotels and the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

After an easy walk along the pavement, once on the sand it was a different story. We headed east, where it was quieter, passing the family bit, the nudist bit, before reaching the gay bit. By now we had had enough of walking and it was starting to get quieter, so we sat down and watched the sea. I then decided I wanted to head up the dunes, so climbed up the nearest empty one, took some pictures and then slid down it.

On the Dunes

On the Dunes

We then headed back to the hotel, and after popping to the supermarket to replenish our supplies, we went for another dip in the pool.

At Playa del Inglés

At Playa del Inglés

The following day we also headed out of the hotel, taking the bus into Maspalomas, and Playa del Inglés. There wasn't much there but it was nice to have a look around. Upon returning back to the hotel we once again chilled by the pool.

The hotel has a kids club, and a mascot - Daisy. But with there being almost no kids in the hotel, the entertainers were clearly kind of bored and so instead walked around talking to the adults. "Do you know Daisy?" they asked. "Yes I do" I said. Daisy was the same mascot the hotel chain had when I was a kid myself in 2003!

With Daisy

With Daisy

I asked if I could take a picture with Daisy and they were quite happy to. Then I sent it to my family chat an we all had a laugh at the silliness.

Being part of the hotel's member club I not only got a large discount when booking, but also get a free drinks token. As tonight was Flamenco we decided to use it, and headed down at 9 to watch.

Free Cocktails

Free Cocktails

Not that Flamenco is actually traditional to the Canaries - it's actually Andalusian. But they know what the foreigners want and unsurprisingly the crowd was pretty large.

Flamenco

Flamenco

Half an hour later, they were done, and as nightclubs were still not permitted, that was the end of the entertainment for the night. Spaniards must have been appalled at this early hour - Siesta only ended a few hours ago!

After two days out, we had another lazy day, spending it all in the hotel. That night we headed to dinner and found for the fifth day and ninth meal in a row, we were once again served by Raquel. Is this woman not allowed out? Is she a human slave? By now she knew what we wanted - two still waters thanks!

Working in a place like this they must get used to odd characters. We had noticed them ourselves:

  • Judgey Couple - Who looked down on us getting up more than once per course (don't they know it's a buffet?)
  • Nutty Woman - Complaining about everything from having to pay for drinks (the website does say), to having her plates cleaned. And went to adjacent tables to steal their cutlery
  • Workaholic Man - Who brought his laptop to the table every day, and sent out emails whilst eating, leaving his wife sat there looking bored (are you incapable of stopping work for just twenty minutes during dinner on holiday?)

Workaholic Man

Workaholic Man

The following day, after seeing Daisy at breakfast, we headed back out to the Dunes. They were fun the first time so we thought it might be nice to see them once more before the holiday was up.

The Dunes

The Dunes

After arriving back at the hotel we took our return tests. Thankfully they were negative, and after registering them we received our certificates and could complete our UK arrival forms.

As it was the last day of October, the hotel had laid on an Oktoberfest theme for the guests. The entertainers were dressed up in traditional outfits, and they had brought in an accordion player. They told us to come over as there would be beer and sausages

Say no more, we headed over and they started handing out tonnes of food and drink to everyone: beers, sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels - we weren't even All Inclusive but they didn't mind. There were silly games and silly costumes which made for an entertaining afternoon.

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

After dinner we noticed that there were cats eating from bowls in a flower bed by the restaurant. It transpired that the hotel has its own cats and so we headed down to say hello. There were three - a very friendly black one, a very scared and thin baby one, and a chunky one that had clearly eaten too much food. We said hello to the cats and they were very friendly to us.

With Chonk

With Chonk

The next day was our final full day. We spent the day in and around the pool, before enjoying our last fancy dinner, where this time Raquel brought us two still waters without even being asked!

It was still around 30C here, but at home the weather had changed and cooled to around 15C. As this was the last warm evening we'd be getting for months, I decided to take a little walk around the hotel and the beach. En route I got distracted by the cats so in the end I'd been gone well over an hour!

Evening Stroll

Evening Stroll

The next morning we were shocked to discover Raquel had been given time off, and after enjoying a last big meal, we headed back to the room to pack. As we didn't need to leave until almost 2pm, we dropped the bags at reception, and then sat around the pool.

Around 1pm one of the entertainers came round and asked us if we wanted to play the 'Cocktail Game'. "Yes I did" I said - I had been waiting all week to play this game! I asked how we played and it was basically Play Your Cards Right, and the person who gets the longest run of correct guesses wins a cocktail. "But we are leaving in half an hour" I said. "No worries, if you win you'll have time to drink the cocktail before you go", he claimed.

I got a dismal 3, but Chris got an amazing 11. "You're probably the winner" he said. Well let's hope we find out soon, cos we need to go! 15 minutes later he was back. "You won! Enjoy your drink and safe flight home!" As Chris didn't want it, I quickly headed to the bar and ordered a drink. But the waitress didn't take my token. "Keep it and have another later at the Tirajana Bar!". If only she knew I was leaving the hotel for the last time in 10 minutes... what a pity as we'd've loved this earlier in the week!

Free Cocktail!

Free Cocktail!

I downed my cocktail and we headed back to reception, grabbed the suitcase and made our way to the bus stop. After an hour on the bus we arrived at the airport, changed into warmer clothes, and then joined the bag drop queue. This was so slow. After an hour and a half we had finally dropped the bag off, and there as just 45 minutes until we were boarding.

After getting through security we had hoped to grab and eat a meal at the Burger King. It was 5:30 and we wouldn't be landing until almost 11! But after the slow drop off and with a large queue at the Burger King we had to give it a miss. Instead after boarding we purchased a hot meal on board. Thankfully they had started at our end of the plane as there wasn't much available, and those served after us didn't even get any hot food on offer.

After landing back at home, we then found that due to a busy departures hall, we had to get on a bus and be driven to a door on the other side of the terminal. Luckily we had got off the plane quickly and managed to get on the first bus to depart. Upon entering the Immigration Hall, we were at least in front of almost everyone on our plane, even if there were at least two other plane loads in front of us.

They weren't even checking documents other than passports. The reason for the slow processing was because so many dimwits kept their masks on whilst using the e-gates - despite the staff endlessly shouting "Take your masks off". How on earth will they know it's you if half your face is covered... welcome back to the UK...

Eventually we got through, grabbed our bag and headed out into what felt like blistering cold. My brother had come to collect us, and after heading home via McDonalds, our trip was now over.

Two days later we posted off our arrival tests, and somehow had managed to avoid Covid despite the chaos at the airports.

Despite the agro, the holiday was well worth it. We needed the break and the heat. Now just 6 months of winter to get through....

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 16:15 Archived in Spain Tagged sea beach hotel sand summer sun swim swimming pool entertainment flamenco Comments (1)

Coastal Comfort

Turkey - Antalya

semi-overcast 34 °C
View Turkey on kmmk17's travel map.

For the last few years we have had a relaxing holiday during September. However with the ongoing Brexit mess at home putting me off an EU bound trip at risk of cancelled connections, and having been invited to the wedding in Istanbul during this time anyway, we decided to have a big all encompassing holiday, visiting various different parts of Turkey, which would include a stop on the coast. So after doing a bit of research for the route we booked ourselves a nice hotel for a few days of relaxation in Antalya.

Having boarded a bus from Denizli, after four hours we arrived in Antalya which was noticeably more humid than anywhere else we'd been on this trip so far. After making our way from the bus station to the city centre, we walked past the Old City which we would explore again soon, before shortly arriving at our hotel for the next few days, which was shaped like a big pyramid.

The Hotel

The Hotel

Inside the lobby was also impressive, as the building narrowed as it got higher creating a pyramid effect.

Inside the lobby

Inside the lobby

We got the keys to our room and found we'd be upgrading to a suite with a sea view and huge balcony overlooking the Taurus Mountains on the other side of the bay. We had a sofa, a bath and shower, and even a walk in wardrobe.

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

After settling in, we took a quick look around the hotel complex, before heading down the restaurant for our first dinner, choosing from the big variety of food on offer.

After a long day we settled in for the night and the following morning, awaking for the second day in a row with no stomach ache (the longest period in months), we headed down for breakfast before our first day getting to chill by the sea - finding it already a pleasant temperature even at first thing in the morning.

We started by getting a sun lounger by the outside pool, and were surprised to find that the pool itself was quite warm, even this early. After a few hours of dipping in and out of the pool, we headed down to the sea. The hotel itself was built on a cliff, and so didn't have a beach of it's own, but still had access to the sea via several staircases that wrapped around the hill.

Platform

Platform

Just above the access point to the sea was a platform full of sunbeds. After finding some to settle on, we headed down to the sea. It was slightly colder than the outside pool, and the sea was a little bit rough, with waves crashing against the rocks, so it wasn't the most enjoyable experience. I headed out for a swim and made my way to the floating platform the hotel had just off the shore.

After a while at the sea, we decided to head to the indoor pool, but when we arrived, found it was actually the coldest! Not enjoying the experience very much, after a quick go in the sauna, we headed back to the outdoor pool.

By now having spent all day in and out of the pool we decided to head back to the room for a shower and rest before dinner. However I made the mistake of holding my hunger for dinner, which caused me to feel shattered and too exhausted to really eat very much by the time dinner arrived. Heading back to the room afterwards I took an early night to try and get my energy back, and the next morning I felt more refreshed.

For our second full day we decided to explore some of the city, and took a short walk from the hotel to the Old City. We started off by walking through the park adjacent to the hotel towards the Hıdırlık Tower, one of the towers on the edge of the former city walls that is sometimes used as a lighthouse for the port.

Hıdırlık Tower

Hıdırlık Tower

We then continued our journey walking through the well kept streets of the Old City, past restaurants, bars and a few mosques.

The Yivliminare Mosque

The Yivliminare Mosque

We then arrived at the port, with many fancy boats offering tours of the area, before heading back up walking past shops and arriving the city centre.

Antalya Port

Antalya Port

We took a look around the Old Bazaar, before walking back towards the hotel, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing around the pool.

Our the following day (our last full day in Antalya) felt much different. Although technically warmer, it was much less humid, and slightly cloudy - from the balcony we could see the Taurus Mountains in their full glory, rather than being covered in humid haze.

Fancying seeing something new, we headed out of the city centre to see the Düden Falls - a waterfall that ends at the cliffs on the coast and tumbles straight into the sea.

Düden Falls

Düden Falls

After catching a bus back, we spent the afternoon around the hotel once again, before our last dinner. After this we took an evening walk into the old city to see Hadrian's Gate by night, the only remaining gate along the city walls.

Hadrian's Gate

Hadrian's Gate

The weather had been pretty good for us up until now, but it was suddenly about to change. As we were nodding off to sleep, we suddenly started to hear thunder. Taking a look a look outside our worst fears were confirmed - fork lightning in the bay that was headed our way, whilst we were in the tallest building around. Luckily we weren't hit, and it passed after around half an hour.

The following morning after breakfast we repacked our suitcases and left them at reception to spend a bit of time relaxing one last time. After a last few hours in the hotel we then made our way to the airport for our onward flight to our last destination in Turkey - Capadoccia.

Posted by kmmk17 06:15 Archived in Turkey Tagged waterfalls sea sun waterfall swim swimming relax turkey2019 Comments (1)

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