At the airport.

After an uneventful disembarkation -not even a temperature check (so much for enhanced screenings!), we are in the Turkish Airline Lounge at MIA (courtesy of the Priority Pass that is a perk with one of our credit cards. It took about an hour from White 3 being called onboard Viking Sky for us to be at the airport and another 15 minutes to get to the Lounge.

Before joining the others waiting for their luggage color to be called in the Living Room we had our traditional last (and first …and as many times as we can get it) lamb chop breakfast (and a pistachio roll!😂) while looking across the Miami skyline. So much more civilized than the buffet!

After our color was called it was a quick roll off the ship (we are loving our new AWAY spinners), downstairs and onto the bus. It was amazing to see so many ships docked. Many ships are tying up at the pier while others (like ours will be) are anchored offshore nearer to the Bahamas. It is going to be interesting see how the cruise industry recovers.

It will also be interesting to see what happens with the airlines. The Miami airport is not quite a ghost town but certainly isn’t what one normally finds at MIA. It’s more like Raleigh-Durham in the middle of the day.

So we are almost home …that’s weird to say after two years of not having one of our own. Unfortunately, our new home isn’t furnished yet so we are hopeful that we can find a furniture store open tomorrow to buy at least a sofa! Wish us luck.

For now Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!

Cathay Pacific

This post is being written in February about our flight from Hong Kong to Seattle last October.

After our naps and showers, we walked back to the airport and relatively quickly found ourselves in the Priority Pass Lounge (courtesy of my Chase Sapphire card). The airport was pretty empty but the lounge was packed. So after eating a small snack we ended up going on to the gate where the chairs were more comfortable than the bar stools in the lounge.

About 11 pm, we joined the queue to board which of course didn’t move until at least 11:15!

As you know, I’m very tall and neither of us is particularly svelte so we try everything we can to not fly long haul in economy. That’s one big reason we try to use repositioning cruises to get to Europe or like in September to Asia. But the almighty budget meant we took Viking up on their offer of “free” airfare. So for the first time since 2010 we would be flying in the back of the bus.

We tried to make it as comfortable as possible by bringing along our thin self inflating seat cushions, purchasing exit row seats ($200) and being mentally prepared to be miserable. A few weeks before we left Portland, Cathay had offered us the opportunity to bid on upgrades to their Premium Economy product. After some research, we bid $1,400 for both of us. This was what a single Premium Economy seat would cost after deducting what we calculated Viking had paid for our economy seats-so we figured half price was a good bid. After Viking offered us the cabin upgrade, we lowered our bid to Cathay to just over $1,000 reflective of the amount we had paid for the ship upgrade.

After we were aboard Orion, I checked on Cathay’s site and there were only a few seats unassigned in Premium Economy. It appeared highly unlikely that our bid would be accepted but if it was, we figured we would end up in middle seats. So we decided that our side by side window seats with infinite legroom were better than being in middle slightly wider seats with less legroom. What a good decision that was! The Premium Economy cabin was completely full and due to its small size felt a little claustrophobic when we walked through on the way to our seats in the half full economy cabin.

The decision to pull the bid was even more confirmed when we sat down in our seats.

Anytime I can fully extend my legs and not reach a wall, I am happy. I got even happier when we realized that the center section of three seats beside us had only one person in the row. Mike moved to the aisle seat. So I ended up with two seats (or one huge one after takeoff when I lifted the armrest) and Mike had one and half for himself! We won the seat lottery!

Our flight was on an almost brand new A350 so we enjoyed flying on a new airline type-especially the tail and belly cameras during takeoff.

Shortly after takeoff, we were served a tasty meal- no really. I had the stir fried beef-my final Chinese meal for awhile.

And anytime I get served ice cream on a plane I think it’s a miracle!

Because we took off at almost midnight and were scheduled to land about 9 pm in Seattle (that damn dateline giving us back the day we lost on the way to Japan), we didn’t want to sleep on the plane. So we had both loaded our iPads with movies. Between them & books on the pad and the inflight entertainment provided by the airline, it wasn’t as awful as we had feared. About two hours in I used the cushion we had brought to augment my seat and an hour or two later moved it to my back. Just changing things seemed to help alot. It wasn’t long until they announced breakfast and an early arrival. Rather than the scheduled 12 hour flight it was “only” 11! Breakfast was fine (that yellow mass is an “omelet”) but since by my watch it was 6pm (I changed it at takeoff to Seattle time in an attempt to jumpstart the time correction), it was a little strange. It’s too bad they don’t offer an either/or selection.

Anyway, we soon were on the ground back in cloudy Seattle after being gone for 43 days. Our friend Andy (who had been garaging our car) picked us up and it was too long til we were at his house where we quickly fell asleep! By my calculations, with the exception of our hotel nap, we had been up for about 32 hours.

Disembarkation

As much as we hated to leave, we are still smiling so it must have been a good time!

While Viking requires you to be out of your room by 8 am on disembarkation day, they do serve breakfast in both the buffet and the Restaurant. Since our trip to the airport wasn’t scheduled to leave until 9:40, we timed it to leave the room exactly 8 am and had a civilized proper breakfast-with lambchops and a pistachio raisin roll of course.

We then adjourned to The Living Room to wait for “Purple 4” to be called. While there we had the opportunity to say goodbye to the various cruisers we interacted with aboard. Some we exchanged contact info with, others a simple “safe travels”. Before finishing breakfast, the Assistant Cruise Director and singer Brensley Pope stopped by to say goodbye. So a sad time as all good times come to an end.

We are now sitting on the bus waiting for the boss to give the go ahead to head to the airport hotel where Viking has booked us a day room. And at 10:18 we are off!

And at 11:16 we are in our lovely room at the Regal Airport Hotel. It is directly connected to the airport but unfortunately no view of the runway or taxi way. Just a parking garage.

Given our air was “free”, I’m impressed that Viking is providing us this nice room to wait for our flight that leaves in about 12 hours. For those with afternoon flights, they’ve provided a hospitality room in the meeting part of the hotel. I’m gonna run down there is a bit to see how those folks are faring.

Then Mike and I have to decide whether we are going to try to sleep this afternoon and start resetting our clocks or just go enjoy the pool and relax until time to check in our luggage and head to the priority lounge for our flight.

#FirstWorldProblems!

In the Lounge.

Got out of the van at 8:34 and checked into the lounge at 9:34. So an hour to find the correct checkin counter (why is that always the most difficult part in an European airport?) which of course was at the opposite end of where we entered the building, checkin, go through USA only security, then walk back to where we started, them passport control leaving the EU, then walk through the huge duty free, then walk past 10 gates, then upstairs, wait on a train, ride it ala Orlando, exit train, then walk past four gates, then ride elevator down to lounge. Phew. .82 miles before 10 am, I’m tired already!

Leaving Barcelona

Checked out and left the apartment about 10:15 am, taxied go the airport ($40 with luggage), bags checked for our RyanAir flight (no line!), quick trip through security (though Mike had to get swabbed) and in the Priority Pass Lounge (courtesy of my Chase Sapphire Card) at 11:25 am.

Enjoyed a sandwich first and since it’s now “after lunch” I can have a G&T and some corn nuts. Who knew you could find corn nuts in Spain???

Leave for Roma at 1:05, hopefully we will be on time.

I have no brain!

I’m reposting this to correct a major error in what I posted yesterday. Glad I realized it today and not next week at the airport!!!

A week from right now we should be aboard our American A319 in Raleigh headed for Miami. We have an almost four hour layover there so are hoping to use our PriorityPass benefits at one of the restaurants there for an early dinner before boarding our American 767 headed to Puerto Rico. We are scheduled to land about 8 pm so by the time we get to the hotel will be sorta late for dinner. Of course if we get lucky and our Gold upgrades come through, we will get dinner on the plane. 🤞

Mike and I are all packed and Lois is almost there so after one last weekend at the lake with her, her boytoy, and Mike’s brother and sis in law (they are up for a family wedding on her side), we are going to close down the house on Tuesday and head to Danville for last minute prep before our Viking Transatlantic cruise to Barcelona which leaves a week from tomorrow.

1 week!

A week from right now we should be aboard our Delta A319 in Raleigh headed for Miami. We have an almost four hour layover there so are hoping to use our PriorityPass benefits at one of the restaurants there for an early dinner before boarding our Delta 767 headed to Puerto Rico. We are scheduled to land about 8 pm so by the time we get to the hotel will be sorta late for dinner. Of course if we get lucky and our Gold upgrades come through, we will get dinner on the plane. 🤞

Mike and I are all packed and Lois is almost there so after one last weekend at the lake with her, her boytoy, and Mike’s brother and sis in law (they are up for a family wedding on her side), we are going to close down the house on Tuesday and head to Danville for last minute prep before our Viking Transatlantic cruise to Barcelona which leaves a week from tomorrow.

Leaving Portugal.

Sitting in the lounge having our last Pastel de Nata. Going to miss these delicious egg custard tarts!

We left the apartment a little after 10 am and were in the lounge a little after 11. No line at the Ryan Air check in desk (probably because we were so early-our flight doesn’t start boarding until noon) but a long but quickly moving one at security.

We elected to take a cab directly to the airport rather than a cab to the metro and then the metro three stops where we would have had a 45 minute wait for the connecting train to go two stops. According to Moovit (the app we use for local transportation) it would have taken us at least an hour and fifteen minutes from when we got to the station in Vila do Conde. With the cab from the apartment to that station (we could have walked the 15 minutes to the metro but with roller bags on cobblestones-ugh) the total cost would have been about 11 euros. The cab all the way here was supposed to be about 15-20 euros but with the luggage surplus and a tip it ended up being 30. Oh well, when we run out of money I hope we won’t have this one can ride to blame!

We should be in Milan at 4:30 and hopefully at the Hilton Garden Inn by 5:30 if we make it to the 5:15 complimentary shuttle, 6:30 if we do t. This will be our third time here, we always plan on using Hilton points for a free room but the price is always so low that we end up paying instead. Tonight it is costing us 64 euros which is over our $50 a night Budget but with the following six nights where we are sharing 2 bedroom apartments with Peggy & Lowell we will be under our budget.

So, tchau Portugal, ciao Itaia! (Interesting how that works)

Porto?

Doesn’t it figure that the first hurricane EVER to come ashore in Portugal would decide to be our welcoming party? We are supposed to be staying in Vila do Conde which is a beach town north of Porto. I’ve tried to indicate it with the red squiggles.

From what I can find online it appears the storm came ashore north of Lisbon (and therefore south of Porto) and has caused damage there and 300,000 are without power. Our Airbnb host says that the water is rough and some tree limbs down but otherwise all is good. 🤞

We are currently in the Dublin Airport Lounge where our flight is showing a 50 minute delayed departure. Hopefully that will not get extended but if it does then we will just continue to enjoy the lounge. #FirstWorldProblems

Lisbon

We had a good four days in Lisbon before waving goodbye to Lois this morning as she jets back to the USA. I know we both will breath a sigh of relief when she texts us this evening that she has arrived in Miami and successfully made it to her hotel for the night.

She is staying tonight in the same hotel we stayed in 17 nights ago inside Miami Airport. But the really big sigh will be when we get a text from her on Friday that she is back in Danville.

We rented a two bedroom/two bath Airbnb for our short stay in Lisbon. The apartment was great except that it’s eco air conditioning system didn’t seem to do anything to cool the apartment off. Thank goodness the temperature at night dropped to the mid to lower seventies and we could open the doors and use the two fans to help make it bearable.

We laid low the first full day in Lisbon as it had been a rough travel day-left our stateroom on Breakaway at 7:30, off the ship around eight, then the joy that is checkin and security at the airport for our flight. Lois got to enjoy the comfort and food in the SAS business lounge as she was flying her return ticket on TAP. Mike and I got to sit at a coffee stand and pay $15 for a cup of coffee, one of tea and a sweet roll since we were flying our return Econ ticket from Mike’s infamous birthday flight from Lisbon to Copenhagen.

Monday night we ate at one of the restaurants at Lisboa’s former market which is now half market and y’all food hall. Readers from last spring will remember we are here several times. lol

On Tuesday we visited the cloister of the monastery in Belém (and had pasteries!) before we took a sunset cruise (ah, the weather was so comfortable) up and down the river on a 55′ sailing yacht. There were a total of 7 guests and two crew so it was very personal and enjoyable.

On Wednesday we rode the train to Cascais, the beach town Mike and I enjoyed so much in the spring. There were more tourists this trip (maybe the heat was bringing them to the beach) so while beautiful, we think it might not be the great town we initially thought.

This morning we left the apartment at 7am..ok 7:08 for the airport. Lois’s flight took off about 10:30 am and Mike and I have spent the day in the lounge waiting for our 4:30 flight to London. Only two more hours!