We Arrived

So, on Saturday, I posted about setting off to Menorca on our hols.

Surprisingly, given the recent negative news regarding delayed / cancelled flights and huge queues, our transit thru the airport process was trouble free.

We had pre booked Special Assistance,  which meant that we were transported on an  electric buggy, “the popemobile” and escorted through the security checks and on to the departure gate. We boarded the plane, like celebrities, through an entrance the opposite side away from the jet way. A special vehicle transported us from the gate and lifted us up to the plane.

Good news/bad news. Bad news, our flight was delayed and we departed around thirty minutes late. Good news, the pilot managed to make up the deficit and we arrived at Mahon on time. Whoohoo!!

And so, at 08:55, here we were, on the island of Menorca. Once again Special Assistance were the stars, helping Gerry off the plane, marshaling us through security, to baggage claim and on to the meeting point where we would be collected to go pick up our hire car.

It’s been a couple years since we were on the island but there don’t appear to have been any dramatic changes. It all looked very familiar.

Having obtained and loaded up our hire car, we were soon on our way to the villa, navigating largely on memory we arrived in Son Bou. We decided to make a short detour and stop for a bite to eat. We couldn’t decide if it was breakfast, brunch or lunch. Not that it really mattered, all we knew was that we had been on the go since 07:00 Friday morning and had last eaten some 14 hours ago. We were ravenous.

The Copa Cabana very quickly satisfied our hunger pangs, serving up a small, full English for Gerry, and a burger with egg and bacon for me. Delicious.

There was no sign of Tony, Rico, Lola or Barry Manilow !!!

And then it was on to the villa literally only a few hundred metres away and this fabulous view from the balcony.

After unloading the car we settled down with a nice cup of tea. Prepared to endure this whilst waiting for the family to arrive.

Off On Our Hols

For the first time since 2020 we are venturing abroad. Furthermore, we are going on a plane.

We are going to spend a week at a villa in Son Bou, Menorca, and will be staying with the rellies from Merseyside.

The rellies are travelling from Manchester while Gerry and I are flying from Gatwick.

There has been lots in the news recently about travel chaos, cancelled flights, long queues and so on. Consequently we are just a little trepidatious. Fingers crossed, it all goes smoothly.

We are currently sitting waiting at the assistance desk. It is 03:20 but the desk doesn’t open until 04:00. This will be our first hurdle.

Italian Adventure Part 1 – Home to the Hotel

Not much sleep Monday night. Tried to get some shuteye but failed and eventually, 02:00 Tuesday morning, it was time to load the car and head off to the airport. The journey was uneventful apart from the small issue of the entry to the M23 from the M25 being closed.

Seems every time I go to the airport, these days, some part of the roads system is totally closed. Be it the A3, North or South bound, doesn’t seem to matter. Or the M25, so many opportunities to cause chaos. Anyhow, we managed to navigate around the road closure and were soon at the airport. At 04:00, it was a tad cool, actually just 3 degC and as usual there is a guy wandering around in shorts and t-shirt. I guess he was an optimist.

Our next hurdle was check-in / baggage drop-off. Having nailed the online check-in Easyjet are now trialling passenger self-service baggage drop-off terminals. Basically they have done away with a friendly person and replaced them with a computerised set of scales.

This was a painful, financially, experience. It turns out that our holiday deal, via Secret Escapes, only included 15kg of hold luggage. I missed that little nugget in the Secret Escapes paperwork. I already knew we were one or two kilos over our allowance after doing due diligence and checking Easyjets allowances on-line. 23kg it says.  We had 24kg. Our new friendly (sic) computerised scales cheerfully informed us that we were 9kg over our limit and that we would need to pay a charge of £10 / kg. 90  jaw dropping quid. “Is that the total for the return journey ?” I enquired of a real human. “No, just the one way” she replied. She was a bit more helpful and suggested that once we were in Italy we go on-line and amend our booking, pay for extra baggage or another hold bag. That way we would pay a significantly lower fee.

Suitably chastened, educated, and therefore wiser, we coughed up and proceeded through security to go and find a cup of tea while we awaited our departure gates announcement. When said gate was announced we made our way to the waiting area. There we discovered that we had to take a bus ride to the plane. I haven’t had to do that since the seventies. The ride took so long we are pretty sure that, although we were booked into the Gatwick North Terminal, we actually departed from the South. Either that or, as one wag quipped, we had travelled half way to Naples by road.

Another niggle with the boarding process was that we had paid for extra leg room and priority boarding and should have boarded first. Instead it was more like the January sales. Two coach loads of passengers arriving at the plane together and boarding from both ends at the same time. It was never going to end well. I know, we all have allocated seats but it is the principle and of course, the money.

The  plane took off pretty much on time, we had a smooth flight and arrived at Naples airport around 09:40. Even at that time of the morning Naples was significantly warmer than the UK.

Our next challenge was to find the car rental office. There is a courtesy shuttle bus, apparently driven by the grumpiest, near mute, guy imaginable. He efficiently navigated the 5 minute drive to the rental offfice. Still no happier, he started to unload the luggage, then just wandered off leaving the rest for his clients to sort out for themselves.

The car rental experience was much more pleasant. An upgrade from a Renault Twingo, to a Citroen C3 with more luggage space and most importantly, for me, more head room. Also, surprisingly, we only had to pay around 20% of the deposit we had been told was due. i.e. 300 euros as opposed to 1500 euros. The lady at the rental desk was very helpful, providing us with clear directions to escape the chaos around the airport, and get us on our way to the hotel.

The journey to the hotel was not as slick as it should have been. It started well, using my phone as the satnav. However we entered a tunnel, after about 15 minutes driving, and the GPS lost it’s bearings and couldn’t  reconnect. It took us a while to find a safe place to pull over and restart the navigation exercise. We were then taken round in a huge circle. Having been through each of two tunnels twice in each direction, we weren’t sure the app and GPS actually knew where we were. So, another stop and restart seemed to sort things out and we eventually arrived at the hotel.

The Towers hotel is in a superb location and we are really pleased with the room, which has fab views, across the Bay of Naples. Mount Vesuvius is visible directly through our window. We both enjoyed lunch sitting on the terrace with Vesuvius as a back drop …..

….. and after a brief walk along the shore line we returned to our room and crashed.

But not before I had taken a few snaps of the surrounding area …….



Annoyingly, the cold that I had just over a week ago, has decided to put in an encore appearance. So due to that, and the rather large cheeseburger and fries for lunch, we decided to bypass dinner and headed for beddy-byes.

Four Go To Antigua

Tuesday morning found us, in Waterloville, up at the ungodly hour of 05:30. Preparing for the taxi that was due to pick us up within the hour. The temperature outside, according to the app on my phone,  was -4 degC. This was a small price to pay as we were on our way to Antigua where, all the weather sites told us, the temperatures were going to be around 30 degC.

The taxi duly arrived, carrying the friends that were to accompany us on our latest adventure. We, and our luggage, were soon loaded to the taxi and we were on our way to Gatwick, South Terminal. A bite to eat for breakfast, some retail therapy and we were soon sitting aboard one of Sir Richards finest, a glass of prosecco in hand, waiting for the off. We were soon wheels up and on our way. I have to say that crossing the atlantic is a lot easier than flying down to Oz

After an uneventful flight we arrived in Antigua and what a shock the temperature difference was. As soon as we exited the plane into the jetway all of the thirty plus degrees made their presence felt. So far so good. All we had to do was navigate our way through customs and immigration and then find our taxi for the journey to the villa.

Let me say right now, the Antiguan immigration process is not the slickest. One does wonder in this technological age why it is necessary to provide all the same information multiple times at both ends of a journey. We spent 30-40 minutes in a mind numbingly boring serpentine queue, then out through customs to locate our driver.

Of course we arrived just as the home-time traffic was building, so our journey to the villa was quite slow. It gave us time to absorb our new surroundings and for our driver to impart some local information. It soon became obvious that the driving rules here are very different from the UK. Road position and actions at road junctions are not as disciplined as back home. There is also much tooting of horns which seems to be a weird kind of communication. Our driver seemed to sound his horn at the most random of times.

We safely arrived at the villa where we noted that the hire car had already been delivered. Shortly after we had unloaded the taxi and taken up residence Iris, the car hire rep, arrived to complete the paper work. Visitors to Antigua have to have an Antiguan Drivers License. No test required but does require some form filling and the handing over of some cash.

A quick trip to the supermarket and we were formally on holiday.

More to follow in the coming two weeks.

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