Friday, May 20, 2011

A tale of three airports

In which Marie and John leave home at an unearthly hour, experience the best and the worst of air travel and START THEIR HOLIDAY CRUISE.

We set off yesterday morning at 4:30 am (don't ask what time we got up) and headed for Newcastle airport. As this is the first time we have traveled with a wheelchair it was always going to be an interesting experience. The staff at Newcastle were very good. We were allowed to use the fast track security lane and the security staff were helpful. We were given assistance from the gate to the flight but sadly Whizzy, Marie's wheelchair had to go in the hold. This meant we were unable to make our own way through Heathrow. The flight was uneventful, except we shared it with one of the Milliband brothers. I can never remember which, but it was the uglier of the two.

Then we got to Heathrow. We were taken off the aeroplane on one of Heathrow's wheelchairs, and left. Now we had no more then ninety minutes to go from terminal five to terminal three to board a flight to Lisbon. We waited. And waited. Eventually I went to look for help and found a BA customer service desk. They were apologetic and promised help. It finally arrived and we were on out way to terminal three. This took more then half an hour. Worse was to come. The person assigned to escort us to the gate was late. Then he stood doing something with his computer while his colleague screamed at him that we were running out of time. Eventually I had to take the boarding passes from him head for security myself, pushing Marie and dragging the hand baggage. This got our man motivated and we reached the gate with less than ten minutes to spare.

Now we get to see the best of air travel. As part of the cruise deal we got business class seats. What an experience. Instead of three by three seats it was two by two, with lots of legroom. Then they brought round the drinks, and we got a glass of wine, in a real glass, made of actual glass. Lunch was amazing. Real china plates and a china teacup. Proper metal knives and forks, and excellent food too. Marie's coffee was a bit too strong for her (if you know Marie you will understand this) so they actually made her another, exactly the way she wanted.

And so we reached Lisbon. Here the assistance staff were very good (and spoke better English than the Heathrow staff). All three bags arrived which we regarded as something of a miracle, and we were reunited with Whizzy, Some minor damage but easily fixed.

The the holiday could begin. We are on the Silver Cloud, sister ship the the Silver Wind, venue for out 2006 holiday (See “Holiday Pictures” in the sidebar). This is the view from our veranda in Lisbon.

And this is our suite, looking in from the Veranda.

Today we are in Portimao in the Algarve. The Veranda view isn't exactly inspiring, but the view on the other side, overlooking the port and lots of timeshare villas is better.

Tomorrow we are in Cadiz but tonight we are dining with one of the officers. This came totally out of the blue as those in “normal” suites don't normally get this. And finally, I packed to pair of decent black shoes to wear with my dinner suit on formal nights, such as tonight. When we returned after our suite had been serviced, we found that my shoes had been taken away, polished within an inch of their life, and returned wrapped in tissue. Amazing.

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