DAY 23 - SATURDAY 25TH AUGUST

& SUMMARY

The alarm goes off at 7.30am and Stitch tells me to get up. I’m sorry, but I’m flying home today and I’m not in the mood to be told what to do by an annoying little alien. I tell Stitch in exactly which alien orifice he can shove his wake up call. Uncharitable maybe, but understandable in the circumstances.

Showers and packing follow before Matt picks us up at 10.00am to take us to the Virgin Downtown Disney check-in. The queue is pretty long, but we are through in less than 5 minutes thanks to our silver Flying Club membership, which allows us to use the Premium Economy and Upper Class check-in.

We now have a wander round the Virgin Megastore before meeting up with Susan, Lu Beth, Deb and matt. We’re all going to have an early lunch and decide on Cookes of Dublin, the counter service restaurant by Raglan Road as we have 4 counter service credits left.
We all have fish and chips (not bad at all) along with a thing that I can only describe as deep fried Snickers on a stick. Tasty, but sweet beyond belief.

Matt and I now drive Lu Beth back to the Wilderness Lodge where she is catching the Magical Express back to the airport. We say farewell to Lu Beth who has been a lovely companion on this holiday.

The rest of the ladies have gone to the marketplace for a spot of shopping, so Matt and I go to the Sosa Cigar Bar in Pleasure Island. This is a first for me and it’s quite a nice place, of course you have to be prepared to have people smoking around you, but Matt and I are the only ones in the place.
The ladies arrive and a couple of beers and a margarita later it’s time to say farewell to Deb and Matt. I tell Deb that there is one proviso for us holidaying with them in the future; they aren’t allowed to stay on after us! Lucky devils are staying in Reunion for the next 5 nights.
We’ve had a fun time together as can be evidenced on the unexpurgated Stringer family video, copies available at a very reasonable price unless I get a better offer from Deb and Matt to keep it out of the public domain.

We share a taxi to the airport with Susan, but have little time to say a proper farewell as the taxi driver is waiting to take us to our terminal.
I can honestly say that I’ve never met a more warm-hearted person (than Susan, not the taxi driver) she never has a bad word to say about anybody and when you holiday with Matt that’s a hard thing to do.

On to terminal B where we spend an hour in McCoy’s Bar before going to the gate. Our flight leaves 30 minutes late, but is pretty smooth. I watch one film (300) and then try to get some sleep. I manage to doze for a little while, so that’s good.
As we start our descent into Gatwick the flight attendants come through the cabin and ensure that seats are upright etc. and I am asked to put my trainers under the seat in front of me. I never quite understood this. Has anyone ever survived a plane crash because their trainers were in the required position? Breaking news – 264 people died today when a 747 smashed into the side of a mountain. 5 people are believed to have survived due to stowing their seat back trays correctly.

We are met by our taxi at the airport and back home to normality within a couple of hours.
So that’s another one done. Here’s a few random thoughts:

Weather

We were amazingly lucky. I expected a lot of rain at this time of the year and got practically nothing until our last day. It was very hot, pushing 100 on many days, but not as humid as I’d feared, again until our last day.
I guess I would go again in August if I absolutely had to, but there are certainly more comfortable times of the year to visit.

Hilton Head

Difficult one this. I quite liked Hilton Head Island, at least parts of it. Our evening at South Beach Marina was lovely, as was the night we spent watching the fireworks at Shelter Cove from the balcony of the Ocean Grill.
I couldn’t get used to everything shutting so early, but I guess if we went again we would adjust our timescales accordingly and go out to eat earlier.
I really think Disney’s Hilton Head Resort could do with a proper lounge and restaurant and it sometimes seemed quite crowded. That’s the strange thing, when you stay in WDW it’s quieter as lots of people are out in the parks, shopping etc.
I would imagine that our best bet for returning would be to make use of the ample golfing facilities on the island as well as staying a couple of nights in Savannah and Charleston, which were lovely.

Disney Dining Plan

I thought this was great and worked out very well for us. We certainly saved an awful lot of money on the food we had, but as I said before, this is a bit of a false economy, as we wouldn’t have ordered 3 courses at every meal as well as the lunchtime counter service food.
Even allowing for that, I still think it was a good deal although I can’t see us doing it again as I believe they are removing the appetizer and gratuities from next year’s plan. This makes it a much less desirable proposition if you have to pay for it.

Walt Disney World

I suspect this was one trip too far for Tam, who found it all too familiar, being only 10 months after our last visit. I do understand her feelings. After your 11th trip, it can’t retain the ‘brand new’ magic.
Tam gets to choose next year’s holiday and she’s already booked a Med cruise for August. It will be a good thing for her to get a break from WDW for a year and also allow our much-abused DVC points to return to a semi-decent level. You can’t borrow forever!

Friends

We had such a good time with so many people on this trip.
Elaine, Michael, Grace and Alex in New York.
Deb, Matt, Susan, and Lu Beth for WDW.
Joh and Gary for a boozy night in Jellyrolls.
Alison and Shaun for a couple of beers before they went of to buy DVC! These events are not related.
Big Vern for showing us all up at golf!

Thanks to our friends for enhancing our holiday, although I think Matt’s display in the Adventurers Club may have been an enhancement too far! I suspect he feels the same way about my wonderful dancing display.

So that’s it. I hope you all got something out of reading my report. As long as it’s not a headache or piles you’ve done well.

This will probably be the last report until 2009 as the aforementioned cruise is on the books for next year. We are also going to a Sandals resort in St Lucia in March to celebrate my 50th birthday along with Deb and Matt. I do not intend to go quietly into middle age and they will be there to ensure I do not.

Cheers

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