Sunday, 30 December 2007

More Car Parks

Foolishly agreed to go shopping. It's madness in every car park but I found the one from hell today. Marks & Sparks at the AbbeyCentre.....
The car Park was full and it was lashing down, at one stage it looked like a Scalextric track. the same cars going around and around with no where to park. This blonde (Honest) driving a big merc van abandoned it in a part of the car park which then glogged up. I noticed a lady trying to get out of a space but was hampered with the merc van. I saw this as an opportunity sent from above. So I went to her rescue (I could have her space) I stopped my car which stopped every other on behind me, and I got out in the pouring rain and directed the lady out (40 cuts later) she stopped to thank me and while she was telling me how wonderful I was this clampet came from the other direction straight into the empty space.... I was gutted (And soaked) I just decided to join the race again ..... found a space after about 20 minutes ..... crazy, never again

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Junction 1

Took a trip down to Junction 1 @ Antrim, just to get out of the house. Needed to walk off the turkey and ham I'd been eating over the past couple of days. The car park was mad, as I thought it would be. I have to say I was disgusted with Junction 1 management for letting a truck take up 4 disabled spaces. The car park was full and I saw drivers with disabled badges on their cars having to park away from the main shopping area as all spaces were taken. Do Junction 1 management not know the disabled spaces are not only to enable people to park close to the shopping area but also are wide enough to assist people who have difficulty getting in and out of their vehicle. The truck was arcade type entertainment wagon, I'm sure it could have parked in another location close by and not in the disabled spaces. I suppose at the end of the day it's down to money.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Spirit of Christmas

I've heard a couple of stories over Christmas that made me smile. I'm sure there are loads of stories of the spirit of Christmas and how people did something for someone else. (Without reward) The first story is closer to home.
A lady went to Forestside to do her Christmas food shopping and became sick. A other lady stepped forward and asked if she had a shopping list (Which she did) and the lady then went and got the shopping for her. Many of us would have went to the sick Lady's aid, but how many of us would have went that extra bit? (Well done missus)
The second story I read about online. It's tell the story of a Leeds business man who bought a load of snow off Ebay. He got them to deliver the snow to a local childrens hospice. (Well Done Sir)

I just love Christmas.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Christmas Shopping

I went walking into town yesterday at lunchtime to get a quick Christmas gift for someone. It was like a scene from a horror movie. Women (Who, can be aggressive shoppers at the best of time) seem to transform into zombies this time of year and will walk over anyone who is unfortunate enough to get in between them and the item they want. I was pushed and shoved by these undead and not an excuse me or sorry came out of there mouths. Groups of them gathered outside shops to check their receipts causing even more obstructions on the footpath. Waited on the bus home after work only to be met by the Grinch driving it. (Surely by the laws of averages I'll meet a pleasant bus driver soon) Loads of the undead were waiting at the bus stop with their many shopping bags. Have you ever tried to sit beside someone on the bus who is holding around six shopping bags ...... crazy .... and they won't move and give you a look that would sour milk.... AGHHHH
I was so glad to get home after such an experience.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Ikea Comes To Town

Agreed to go and see the new Ikea today. I think everyone else in the city had the same idea. Before we had parked the car I was regretting it. Noticed a police car, police van, and 2 police motorcycles sitting outside the main door, I thought maybe they were refurbishing some station, the car had the guy's who were picking the stuff, the van was to deliver it and the bike's would escort the van. I was wrong, apparently they were there for crowd control. I never seen a single peeler inside. On holiday in Florida when I went to pick up the rental car only the driver was allowed into area for getting the car. That idea should be put into practice in other area's of shopping. I recon family's just came out (Dad, Mum six kids) to hamper people who really wanted to buy goods (Yes I bought shelving) some kids were running mad setting off door alarms while their parents just stood there and smiled. Come on guy's control your little monsters. By the way, I never did find out the real reason for so many police vehicles at Ikea?

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Christmas Parade

Had to get some eats in, so off to the new (Refurbished) Tescos at Ballygo. What a surprise when I got out of the car I could here bands playing from somewhere near. I thought, 15th December and a band parade? then I remembered a band parade is not only for July. (As a pet is not only for Christmas) and I never heard a single Christmas tune being played.
Then some of the band members descended into Tescos (Their millies following close behind) for their Saturday night specials. Me I continued following the master shopper. I thought, shopping is like snakes and ladders, you start off, go up all the isles and at some point you have to retrace your steps to pick up something that was passed over in the first place then back on the ladder again until the next time. I HATE SHOPPING

Friday, 14 December 2007


Arrived into Gatwick at 07.40. Not a bad flight but as usual I never slept. As we got in early we thought we would try and bump on an earlier flight. Went to the Flybe desk and asked if any chance. Of course, but it will cost you £131 each, needless to say, we waited on our 16.45 flight. By the time we got home it was ZZZZZZ time.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Checked In

Well, that's the holiday over and what a belter it was. Up at 8 o'clock this morning left the Doubletree Hotel and headed east to Lake Buena Vista to the Travel City Direct early check in. What a fantastic service, got rid of the cases and checked in for our flight by 9.15am. Leaves the rest of the day free to do whatever. I said to my swamp duck is there anything you'd like to do. Why oh why did I ask, so off to the Festival Bay Mall we went. Good thing we had already checked the cases in as it was all window shopping. Denny's on International Drive for a late breakfast then a nice steady drive up the Interstate 4 East to exit 90. Onto Lake Mary Blvd and forward to Sanford International Airport to leave the rental back, all very painless.

Layed back would not be in it. We were queuing at an end that said queue here, this lady told us to queue at the other end. When security opened, the same lady then opened the barrier and told us to walk through all the rows (Where she had moved us from in the first place, and we were the only two going through) to end up back where she was standing to check our boarding cards before letting us proceed to security. No problems with security, think as we were the first ones through they let us test all the security measures (Bar the rubber glove, thank goodness) Off with the belt, shoes, watches, lose objects etc and bags through the x-ray machine. 100% for them. I have no problems with that it's for our safety.
Paid 11 GB pounds extra for the Royal Palm Lounge at Sanford. Fantastic, free Internet access, large soft seating area (Yes big chairs) 2 free alcoholic drinks and unlimited free soft drinks, tea & coffee.
Just waiting on our flight now (Which is delayed 90 minutes) but dung happens.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Holiday Coming To An End :-(

Nearly finished, two wonderful weeks coming to a close. Today we thought we would have a drive out and eat on the hop. Spotted a Mickey D's and seeing as we are in the land of not only Mickey Mouse but also Mickey D's let's grab a Burger. Stopped on highway 192 at Kissimmee. What a disappointment, the big mac I had was nothing less than boggin. By the time I had my chips the mac was cold, and I thought at one stage I was eating my napkin. I know I should have complained but, the length of time it takes to be understood when ordering in the first place is enough for anyone. At least in Mickey D's at Castle Junction the food is warm

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Macy's Christmas Parade

Went to Universal Studio's today. The place was deserted, it was great, not long to queue for the rides (Still didn't stop some morons pushing past and queue jumping though) I did bite my tongue for a while. But when the these three tall blonde haired teenagers (who looked like they were marching across Poland) nearly took my head off as they jumped in, was the last straw. After I said something like, "Say excuse me, you silly boys" One of them came back to tell me, "I am from Germany" in a way to suggest that he couldn't understand me. Unfortunately my German isn't great, but I think he understood before he rejoined his mates.
All was not bad though, after some rides and shows, I took a seat on the sidewalk (Futpath) and waited to see the Macy's Christmas Parade. It was great with loads of floats and balloons, reminded me of our Lord Mayor's Show. (Only, without the floats) Throughout the day Universal characters from stage and screen where on hand at various parts of the park for photo opportunity's. (The Simpsons, Scooby Doo, Blues Brothers etc) I think Zorro got a bit annoyed when I said to someone in a raised voice "Oh look, Batman" but It did get some smiles from the bystanders. Santa's little helpers were a great hit, with every little boy between 1 & 100 rushing to get their photograph taken with them. Happy Holidays.........

Monday, 10 December 2007

They Know How To Do It

You have got to admire the Americans, no mater what they do, they do it in style. Whether it's invading other country's, destroying evidence tapes, or just pimping their vehicles for Christmas, they go the full nine yards. While out holiday shopping (If there is such a thing) you know what I mean, the day thats set aside for present shopping. (As well as all the flea markets, I spent over 3 hours in the Florida Mall today, please help)
At a car park in Kissimmee, the pickup truck that was parked beside me was decorated for Christmas (Happy holidays, as they say here) The front plate had "Ho Ho Ho" on it and the rear had "1 Santa". I thought it was so cool, (See, I've picked up some local lingo) I'd love to see something like this in Belfast city centre.
What do you recon?

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Back On Land

Off the ship without any hassle, got the rental (Hired car) and headed north. Broke the journey with a couple of stops. One stop was at the old town of Kissimmee. The place is all done up for Christmas. As well as artificial snow they had Christmas singers. Got me into the Christmas mood and it even made me smile.
Checked into the hotel and was waiting on the elevator (Lift) while waiting, a few other people arrived to wait on the lift. The minute the lift doors open the others run in as if there were something free in it, so I lifted my cases and just about got into the small space. I was going to the 14th floor so the ones going to the lower floors had to clamber over my cases, and I didn't bother to move them. Nobody said a dickybird .. think they got the message.

Nassau, Bahamas

Great that I was able to blog from Nassau yesterday. With regards to the Internet on board the Costa Fortuna, it was that slow, and at a $1 for 2 minutes people renamed the ship the Costa Fortune.
The ship was in Nassau for 5 hours, Walked the streets, went into a lot of shops, but couldn't wait to get back to the ship for Toga Night (You really don't want to know)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Internet Cafe Nassau Bahamas 4

Friday 7th December

Day at sea. Now heading for the Bahama’s. Looking like a lobster this morning (Thank god for aftersun) Bit cooler today only 27° (I could live with that) Onboard there are many nationalities, a lot of Europeans. I read on cruising review website that you have to expect Europeans to just step in front of you, even though you may have stood in line for ages. (Apparently that’s what they do) Hey I met Mrs European this morning while I stood in the queue for customer services. I had been waiting from about 6th in line and just as it was going to be my turn to approach the desk, she thought (Even without a glance) that she was just going to go in front of me. (She was wrong) I had my little Rottweiler with me (Who I have to say is the world’s greatest ambassador, at sorting out delicate situations) I wish I could stay that calm …. Mrs E got the message and away she went straight to the back of the queue, to the delight of the other passengers standing in line. (That’s ma girl).

Internet Cafe Nassau Bahamas 3

Thursday 6th December

Woke up this morning to a view of Catalina Island, which is just off the Dominican Republic. Went ashore. The calypso music could be heard as the tender approached the island. I was going to do a bit of sunbathing and swimming.
(30°, warmest day yet) Found a lounger just by the water, fantastic spot. Went swimming for a while (I think some people thought they were at SeaWorld when they saw me hit the water, and it was no fun getting pulled into the water every 10 minutes by Greenpeace. I heard one voice shout “Keep him damp til the vet arrives)
Talking about voices, There were a family close by (12 I counted) deliverance material, no kidding, I don’t think one of them knew how to speak quietly.
After all, we were on a Caribbean Island with not to much noise about
Back on the Costa Fortuna now awaiting our evening trip to La Romana in the Dominican Republic, I’m hoping to get this onto the site tonight.
Needless to say I never got the blog updated. Went ashore to catch a shuttle bus which runs every 30 minutes. $7 PP return. Headed off into the dark with the city lights of La Romana heading in the opposite direction. The buses took the cruise passengers to this holiday village about 12 minutes away from the ship. We went through at least 3 secure areas getting to the village What a load of rubbish it was. 10 minutes covered the whole village and if you purchased anything and paid in US dollars they gave changed in peso’s (Yeah right I thought) Ordered drinks and asked “If I pay in dollars can I have my change in dollars” No was the answer, Yes I cancelled the round …. Sweet. Headed back to the ship and met everyone waiting for the shuttle bus all with the same reviews about the place. The thing is, they give you a city map as you pay your fair, but they don’t go anywhere in the city. Ah well, dung happens. (When you’re a tourist)

Internet Cafe Nassau Bahamas 2

Wednesday 5th December

Arrived in St Thomas United States Virgin Islands (USVI for short) 28° again today. Got off the ship and got one of the quayside tour buses for an around the island tour. It lasted well over two hours ($25 PP) well worth it. (I’ll not say what the ship was looking for the same tour) The viewing points Charley Erin (Driver) took us to in his open sided bus were fantastic.
Got some great wee trinkets to use as gifts (The shopping was not very expensive but anyway it the thought that counts) Ended the stop by having some local liquid at a quayside refreshment booth….. Hic
The photo is an over view of the Port Charlotte

Internet Cafe Nassau, Bahamas I

Tuesday 4th December

28° today (I know, its hell) docked in San Juan around 5pm local time. (I love it when they announce the time as local time, what other time could it be. Did not bother with the cruise organised tours instead we took advice to walk to the end of the pier (No, not jump off) as there will be loads of tour offers. Just through the gates and we met our tour guide Rodger. This wonderful guy from San Juan took us (Plus others) in his air-conditioned bus around the old and new San Juan giving us all the information about the place. Turned out Rodger was also a history teacher. A great tour of about 2 hours long with many stops, even took us to a nice little ocean side bar (What a guy) mind you, don’t think the women were impressed. Cost was only $10 USDs PP. Cost if booked on board around $25 USDs PP At last money saved.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Internet Cafe, San Juan (2)

Monday 3rd Dec

Long sleep in this morning, ship on the choppy side. Looked beautiful outside, so I went for a stroll around the top deck, soaking up the sunshine and letting the strong wind blow away the cobwebs. Went for breakfast, and while I was standing in the breakfast line I noticed the pancake eaters, they just piled the pancakes, bacon, hash browns etc onto their plates, but when it came to adding the syrup, they turn into Picasso, and pour the syrup into some sort of a design, me, my design was just like an oil slick ….. yum yum.

Tuesday to follow, having a fantastic time.

Internet Cafe, San Juan (1)

Have had to find an Internet cafe as the Internet on the ship is slow and works out $30 an hour. Will try and up date when i can.

Sunday 2nd Dec

Thought I was up early yesterday but this morning took the holiday record. Woke at 4.30am and I was on the road for Fort Lauderdale by 5.30am. .More or less a straight run of 209 miles. Honest, roughly 3 mile to the Florida turnpike from my hotel then a 180 mile drive before having to make a turn. Stopped at a service area after about 100 mile for coffee, then again just before Fort Lauderdale to fuel up before leaving the rental car back to Dollar at the airport. Very painless so far, then I realised after a few minutes after leaving the car off that I’d left my mobile in the car, so went back no more than 5 minutes later to discover they had moved the car and hey, no sign of my phone. (Phoned and cancelled straight away). Why didn’t that surprise me? But hey, it was only a phone, and with any luck the battery will explode in the pocket of the thieving bar steward that nicked it.
Bus from the airport to Port Everglades. There I would be joining a cruise ship which would be my home for the next week. The Costa Fortuna, total WOW factor I have to say. My first time with Costa and as I sit here in Cabin 8430 (With a balcony, I may add) sipping my pre-ordered champagne my first impressions are good. The speed they got people boarded for one thing was great and food and drink was at the ready. Got to go for lifeboat drill at 4 pm then I think it’s me time after that.
Can’t wait till we leave port, I’ll be singing “Sailing” (In a Scottish accent) let’s hope its not “Row Row Row the boat” if you know what I’m sayin…………

Just back from the safety drill, life jackets had to be worn. I don’t think I got through to the crew when I asked why in this day and age do they send the men to the back I don’t have a problem getting up to give a lady my seat, holding a door open to let a lady in or out but in this age of equality when the dung hits the fan, in my opinion it’s everyone for themselves.

The ship has now sailed and we are heading for San Juan. Leaving Fort Lauderdale was breath taking. So looking forward to what’s ahead ……..

Saturday, 1 December 2007

At Last The Sun

Up @ the scrake of dawn, clear Sky's except for this great big burning sun. At last the weather I came for. Showered, shaved and the third S done, off I went to a Dennys on International Drive (6 Minutes from my hotel) Got a great breakfast complete with the usual tourist concern "How ya doin, have a nice day now" I have to say I could get used to it, could you just imagine getting onto a Translink bus and the driver saying "How ya doin, have a nice day now" (Instead of the normal grunt) After breakfast straight to Universal Studios theme park. I just had to do the Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges, in short a right good soaking. I was absolutely ringing when I got off the ride. People were getting onto the ride wearing poncho's and I thought whimps, I did change it to smart guys after about 30 seconds into the ride.
Noticed my rental car was half full of fuel (Or was it half empty, I can never tell which is right) topped up to a full tank $19. Why is our fuel so expensive, yeah you've got it TAX. Someone once said "A fine is a tax for doing wrong and tax is a fine for doing right " Think they hit the nail on the head. Back at the hotel now to totally let my shorts dry out and later I'm going out for a nice evening meal. I may not get to blog tomorrow as I'm driving down to Fort Lauderdale to catch a cruise ship to the Caribbean.
Yeah I know, life can be a bitch sometimes.

Magic Kingdom, Here I Come

Woke up yesterday morning to a very overcast Orlando. Out around 9 ish and headed to the Mall at Millenia to see what I can't afford (Even if I could it wouldn't fit me) all the top designer shops, great place to window shop.
Just left the hotel car park and it started to rain. (Warm rain though, only lasted around 30 minutes). The mall was massive, not quite on the scale of Castlecourt I thought. (Yeah right) The Christmas tree inside the mall was bigger than our Christmas tree outside Belfast City Hall. (Why did that not surprise me) Headed to some shopping outlet at Lake Buena Vista (To suit my wallet). Bought myself a new watch in the Fossil shop. Got back to the Hotel and discovered the watch was dung (broke) took it back a to be told "This watch is broken" (I knew that strangely enough) replacement watch now on my wrist.
Early evening I headed to The Magic Kingdom for Mickeys Christmas Parade and fireworks, what a great night. Went on some of the rides, relaxed and watched the parade had ice cream. Left the Magic Kingdom around midnight drove back to the hotel and had a night cap before retiring to my bed.
In the words of Van the Man "When it's not always raining, there'll be days like this"
"Know what I mean?"(Slang I just picked up)