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My Flight Path

BA have added a neat page to their website allowing executive club members to see how far they have travelled with the airline in an engaging way. When you go to the site you see a snap shot of your stats at the top, this is mine:

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Below which, in a view that is very reminiscent of Facebook, you can see all the flights that you have made by year. This can be a fascinating look at what you were doing at a particular point in your life. So in 2000 it shows that I made 24 flights back and forth between Heathrow and Amsterdam (on business in this case). I also made plenty more on KLM too but, of course, those aren’t shown.

One slightly interesting anomaly is a flight I appear to have taken from San Francisco to London 2004 with no corresponding outbound flight. From memory I flew out via Toronto then to San Francisco via Denver on internal flights which, again, aren’t covered by BA.

Anyway, it is fun to see where you have been and I suspect that the reasoning behind BA putting this together is so that you can see where you need to fill in the gaps!

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USA ’14 – Round Up

It has become something of a tradition to do a round up post at the end of our Florida holidays and so this is it.

Here I group together all the posts to allow you to quickly find the post most relevant to what you are interested in. If you want to do a comparison you can find the round ups for 2009 and 2011 also.

Finally, this was all correct in April 2014 but is subject to change – check the links to the official sites provided to see if it holds true now. And enjoy!

Things to do

Places to Eat

You’d be hard pressed not to find somewhere that you want to eat out in Orlando as the place is packed with a wide range of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets.

From the list below Cracker Barrel was the cheapest (helped by it being ‘dry’) and The Cheesecake Factory was the costliest based on bill size for our party of four. Don’t forget to tip which will add 15% minimum to your bill.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Perkins – great breakfasts – check out my favourites the Tremendous Twelve and the Magnificent Seven.
  • The Cheesecake Factory - the enormous portions for the mains sadly prevent you from getting to the cheesecakes, which is a shame. Buy to take away and eat at home.
  • Cracker Barrel – a good value family restaurant serving traditional style food
  • Bahama Breeze – another good, more upmarket, restaurant, probably my favourite with a wonderful Shrimp Creole and Key Lime Pie
  • Red Lobster – great for fish, obviously!
  • Downtown Disney (official site) – plenty of choice from McDonalds to themed restaurants to relaxed dining.

Places to Shop

Plenty of bargains to be had in the US, particularly in clothing if you like their styles and fit. Here are some places we like to shop:

  • Shopping - blog post on where we went
  • Lake Buena Vista – mainly clothes but also a good character outlet selling cheap Disney stuff
  • Dollar Tree - America’s answer to Poundland but remember that by the time you add tax  it is actually Dollar oh Seven Tree!
  • Wallmart - Asda’s owner and you will notice some similarities, such as the George clothing brand, and some differences – they are huge places
  • Premium Outlets – Higher end clothes retailers
  • Barnes & Noble – Book store. There is one opposite Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on West Sand Lake Road. Pay a visit before getting a great steak!

Americana & Trivia

Various topics mentioned in the posts that capture the essence of both America and the holiday:

By Day

This is a list of all posts in the order that they were posted:

 

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USA ’14 – Day 15 – The long way home

Given that the flight back to the UK is late afternoon this gives us plenty of time for one last hurrah.

Even though we had only been there yesterday it was decided to go back to Hollywood Studios today. I have to admit that this was done on a majority vote basis and like the Olympics I suspect that some bribery took place to get the required result!

The overwhelming reason for sticking with Disney was the Fastpass+ system that I had written negatively of earlier in the holiday would actually work in our favour here. We could pre book the rides we wanted to go on and guarantee it where as at Universal we would have had to take pot luck as to what was available.

So after clearing the villa and packing up the car with groaning suitcases and an extra bag we made our way to WDW for the last time. *

We got to do a series of favourites including the Star Tours ride twice, Indiana Jones, which Alex sat out electing to be in a coffee shop writing, and then the boys went on the Rock n Roller coaster twice. A fitting end to a holiday.

We left the park and made our way to Perkins for lunch having the Hearty Mans which is a variant on the Tremendous Twelve. I’ll miss the Perkins pancakes smothered with maple syrup but my heart probably won’t.

So I am typing this from my seat on the plane. We’re only thirty minutes into an eight hour flight and already I am fed up of being kicked in the back by the child behind me. Also I know that when we land we have a full day to deal with which could be interesting and then it is back to the reality of work.

Now, however, I can reflect on a holiday with highs and lows. Florida has always been a great family holiday, no fuss and bother, no arguments, just great family fun. Of course this trip also included a trip to A&E which we could all have done without but we had good care and everything is fine now.

So back to reality.

*Disclaimer. When I say “last time” I mean “last time this holiday” as opposed to “last time ever”. I have learnt that it’s best not to say that we’ll never be back!

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USA ’14 – Day 14 – And that’s a wrap

I don’t do roller coasters so coming to Orlando might seem a strange holiday choice but there is so much to do that is on the ground that it really hasn’t been an issue. However, I did make a promise to Alex that I would go on a slightly more adventurous coaster this time and that this would be the Rock n Roller Coaster.

Both Helen and Alex had been on this ride before and had come off saying how great it was but that was three years ago. When asked to describe it I was told that it was very similar to Space Mountain after the initial bit which was very straight and fast. I was also assured that it stayed level and certainly didn’t go upside down so reassured by this I found myself being pinned into my chair ready for takeoff.

The initial bit was as described where you are propelled like a rocket along the tack at great speed. However, after this it came as a great surprise to find myself being twisted and turned upside down, not something I had expected to experience. The saving grace was that it was short and over quickly!

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Helen, Mat and I then went to Lights, Motors, Action! the car stunt show while Alex chilled out in a coffee shop. As you can see from the image above this is a high speed and visually stunning show that is repeated three or four times a day. Given the speeds and the closeness of the cars the potential for an accident seems high to me but we have seen it numerous times now and it has always gone smoothly, like watching a ballet.

20140413-213421.jpgOur final meal out was to Bahama Breeze and there they serve the one food item that I will miss when I get back to the UK – Key Lime Pie. This is very similar to Lemon Meringue Pie but, obviously, made with limes.

While it has been good to not bother about cooking and the washing up I will actually be glad to get back to normal food portion sizes and give my stomach a rest.

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USA ’14 – Day 13 – Dial one, get one free

Today was down to be a quiet day but didn’t end up that way. The plan had been to have a late breakfast at Perkins followed by shopping in the afternoon and then in to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. We managed the first part successfully and a bit of the shopping too after which it all went a bit downhill. 

We hadn’t been at the outlet long before we wanted to stop for a drink. At Buena Vista Outlets there is a coffee shop that sells tea and British goods, such as chocolate, so we went there. Alex chose an Aero bar, something that he has had many times before, but it wasn’t long before he started to feel ill and could feel he was having problems with his breathing. We have known since he was two that he has an allergy to nuts and are always careful with what he eats but sometimes no matter what precautions you take things go awry. This was one of those times.

The first thing to do was to give alex a shot of adrenalin from the epipen that he always carries with him. The second part was not so easy and that was to quickly get him to hospital. We initially tried the mall office but it was shut and then made our way to the nearest shop where we persuaded them to allow us to dial 911 and call an ambulance. We could probably have done it from our mobile but we didn’t know the address.

A couple of minutes later an ambulance was with us… along with a fire truck. Apparently this is standard procedure over here for when an ambulance is called. Then it was off to the local hospital.

Alex spent the next two hours been given various medicines and kept under observation at the A&E dept of Celebration hospital. In this respect it was very similar to the care and procedure that you would receive at any NHS hospital at home. Difference here was, of course, that it had to be paid for. The bill for the ride in the ambulance and the treatment came to $850, which we are hoping the insurance will cover.

We then had to go and find a 24 hour pharmacist that could provide the medicines that Alex needed, including a new epipen. This all came to another $350. Suddenly the £8.20 prescription charge seems like something of a bargain.

Some in the UK complain about the NHS but we have never had anything but fantastic service on all occasions that we have had cause to use them. Today showed that the care here was equally as good but also showed just how easy it is to forget what it costs for a quick trip to A&E.

So all in all a pretty stressful day and not how we would have wanted to spend our penultimate day but Alex is fine and that is the important thing.