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  Wanderlust Home and Pet Care

5/25/15  Our flight from Istanbul to London was to have been in business class. Our seats were right behind the curtains. We were told to go to a customer service desk for a refund, a voucher was not provided. Note to self, get a voucher next time.

We did receive business class drinks/food so all was not lost.

Our Shaftesbury Paddington Hotel was a great location - near to the train/underground. The room’s décor felt like we were sleeping in an English library. We changed clothes and decided to leave early for the Richmond station where we were meeting Heidi and Steve. We purchased our round trip tickets and while waiting for the underground we met a very nice gentleman that was also going to Richmond with a change at Earl’s Court. The gentleman noticed we were waiting a long time for the second train when he read a sign stating service to Richmond had stopped for maintenance. He was kind enough to offer to share a taxi to the Richmond station with us. The gentleman then took us to the older area of town where we could have a “pint” before our meeting time. Gary had a bitter and I had a lager at the Britannia pub. While waiting for the Bridgemans, Gary saw there was a bus service that we could use to get to an underground - hurray!

It was like being a kid a Christmas time - excitement and joy filled my chest almost to bursting at the sight of Heidi and Steve. They walked us back to Josh and Mollie’s new home, (moved in 4 weeks ago). It is in a Mary Poppins type of neighborhood - how English! Mason took us on a tour of the house while we drank champagne. The grandchildren are adorable! Dinner was at an Indian restaurant. Josh, Mollie and the children left the restaurant for home and the senior citizens took off for a pub for more catching-up. The evening was excellent except for the fact that is was just too darn short.

5/26/15  We had scheduled a lunch with our old friend Louie Nardone, whom we met on our trip to Cyprus. It was delightful to see him again and discuss our old adventures together and tell him about our latest journeys.

Then it was off to the train to Southampton and the Mercure Hotel. The train trip went very smoothly. Our hotel room needed additional vacuuming due to repairs so the hotel bought us each a cocktail. Gary found some salami at the Tesco store as we were still full from lunch.  The day ended early as I was bushed.

5/27/15  We had a nice breakfast and then Gary took me on a walk of the town - very cute! The sidewalks have historical plaques laid into them. I was always stopping to read the plaques. The city has quite the history for a small town. We even figured out how to walk to the cruise ship - 10 minute walk from the hotel - great we didn’t have to hire a taxi!

Cruise check-in was a longer process due to the size of the ship - 2600 passengers compared to 650. We toured the ship to get our bearings - OMG, I had forgotten how large a cruise ship can be! Bad News! Jackets are required in the restaurant so dinner must be in the buffet - UGH!

Cruising the North Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2

I purchased the watercolor kit and attended class everyday. The teacher was excellent and I enjoyed and hope to continue to enjoy painting. The Atlantic water was calm and no sightings of icebergs!  I don’t want any Titanic stories in my blog! The Chart Room was the area we came to for sewing, reading and writing: nice windows, the bar was close by and there was afternoon entertainment. The ships’s theater converts into a planetarium. I’m sorry to say there were 3 times during the show where I found myself jerking awake. Gary said I didn’t snore. Am I getting old or what???

Ok, since it was only one week between cruises, how do the two lines compare? Cunard $157/day pp versus Oceania $245/day pp. What did we get for the extra $88? Every staff member greeted the guest day or night, business casual attire anytime and anywhere, white table cloths on the buffet dinner tables, all tables were fully set up for meals, didn’t have to purchase tea, coffee or pop when in a bar, the halls were clear of clutter by 10:30 am, couch in the stateroom instead of two chairs, free bottled water, very friendly staff, high quality food items and better selection of food items in the dining room and buffet and the bacon wasn’t burned, happy hour 2 for 1, the wait staff wear white gloves instead of painter’s gloves, did I mention very very friendly staff, easier & quicker to get around a smaller ship, quicker embarkation and disembarkation, a smaller ship can get into smaller ports of call, 2 sets of towels per person, larger TV for when the entertainment stinks and a DVD movie library, better WIFI in stateroom, cloth towels in the public bathrooms.

The one positive for Cunard was the water color classes. We had two per day with an art instructor. I learned a lot and bought the small art kit which I hope to use in the future!

We didn’t get off the boat until 10:50am due to the slow immigration process.