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.