Day 98 – 11th April 2020, Homeward Bound

welcome home sign

This morning found us at the Novotel T1-3, which is close to LHR terminals 2 and 3. After a good nights sleep, we headed down to the lobby, checking out the arrangements for breakfast. Sitting on a lobby table were multiple identical brown bags, each of which contained:

  • Container with cornflakes
  • Container with a veggy sausage and scrambled egg
  • Brown roll, butter and jam/marmalade
  • Individual portion of cheese
  • Utensils and napkin

In addition, they had tea, coffee, milk and juices. Just grab a bag, tea/coffee and milk, and return to the room. They also had a microwave available to warm up the sausage and egg. All in all, not a bad brown bag breakfast.

The Toronto flight departed at 12:05, so the others were picked up from the hotel at 09:15, so Judi & I headed down to say our goodbyes. We did capture a final photo, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a camera or laptop, so didn’t get a copy. At 11:00 we returned to the lobby, for our 11:15 pick-up. Cruise Consultant Charaine was flying to New Zealand from T4, so we brought her with us, convincing the van driver to head to T4, after dropping us off.

AC B-787

AC B-787 Dreamliner

Arriving at T2, we were met by the same chap who escorted us through T5 yesterday. Wow, the new T2 is a vast improvement over the original terminal built in the mid-1950’s. Opened in 2014, it is named the Queen’s Terminal. We were escorted through check-in, security and then the extensive hike to to the furthest gate in the “B” zone. Kudo to Viking for providing such excellent service.

As we reached our gate, the Toronto flight was pushing back from their gate, right on time. We read Kindles at the gate, until boarding our B787-900 commenced, about 50 mins before scheduled departure. We were fully loaded and pushing back about 5 mins early. With only 1 or 2 flights per hour, we taxied directly to the end of the runway, being wheels up about 6 min after our scheduled departure time. LHR is often up to an hour between push back and wheels up.

Air Canada B-787 Business Class Seat

Photo courtesy of “Travel with Grant”

The Air Canada flight was OK, we like the Business seat layout better than BA, but we find the BA seats more comfortable, especially when the A-380 flies to YVR during the summer. Since these are exceptional times and full service is curtailed, I am only providing brief notes, not my usual in depth flight review.

Similar to yesterday, the only drinks served were bottles of water, with snacks provided about 1/2 hr after take-off and again about 1 hr before arrival. Between those snacks, all we received was water.

  • Snack # 1:
    • Corn and lima bean salad, with a little lettuce & dressing
    • Quinoa and chick pea mixture
    • Brown roll
    • Chocolate cake
  • Snack # 2:
    • Bag of apple slices
    • Granola bar
    • Banana bread
    • Roll
    • Cheese

While not the usual standard of catering, the snacks were fresh and edible, keeping the hunger pangs at bay.

On arrival YVR, we had multiple levels of Government checks to go through, prior to entering the arrivals hall:

  • Health Canada – they set up office on the overhead walkways, with about 8 agents, shortly after departing the aircraft. Each individual or family group received an individual meeting with a single agent, ensuring each agent was > 6′ apart. We submitted the form we received on board the aircraft and then discussed quarantine arrangements and any assistance we required.
  • Customs & immigration – normal YVR process
  • Health BC – effective 10th April 2020, British Columbia requires all returning residents to submit a quarantine plan. We submitted the form online and developed a written plan, which we provided. Once reviewed and approved, we departed the airport.

Outside at passenger pick-up, our son and DIL brought 2 vehicles, leaving 1 of them for us to load and drive home. Once home, we started our 2-week quarantine period, but received a welcome sight. We can’t get hugs for 2 weeks, but the sign is safely attached to a bulkhead.

welcome home sign

 

World Cruise # 2 – Embarkation, Let The Adventure Begin

Viking Sun - cruise mapperAlongside Los Angeles

Having started our research for another World Cruise over 2 years ago and booking it in May 2018, it has been a long wait. The count-down in My Viking Journey started at almost 550 days, OMG that seemed like an eternity, so we started counting down the months, then in December it changed to days and finally hours until we boarded the gleaming white hulled Viking Sun. Well the long wait is finally over, as Judi & I boarded our home for the next 119 days this afternoon. Come join us on this amazing  adventure. Continue reading

Pre-Spring Visit to Victoria

Already the middle of March, but due to our dreadfully cold winter and frequent snow storms, the tulips, daffodils and other bulbs have not even started to poke through the ground. A most depressing situation, especially since we were cutting the lawn in February last year. What better time to spend a few days in Victoria, BC’s coastal sunshine capital. This year, our plans were to visit the Parliament Buildings, Provincial Museum, craft breweries and partake in Afternoon Tea.

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2018 Travel Plans

Yes, you read the title correctly; while I am still finalising our 2017 trip to UK, I am also planning for 2018. After the six weeks of snow and freezing temperatures, we were subjected to this winter, we are reverting to the snowbird lifestyle.

During our recent stay at our Indio condo, we visited our old neighbours at Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages and immediately felt the desire to return. Therefore, I just completed a reservation for February 1st 2018 until the end of March. On departing Indio, Judi really wants to see iceberg alley, off the coast of Newfoundland, which is normally at its peak about middle of May and June. So, we will embark on a 4,000 mile voyage up to Labrador & Newfoundland.

Departing Newfoundland we will head to Shipshewana, Indiana for the 2018 Redwood Rally, then straight back to British Columbia, to ensure we meet our minimum of 5 months per year in BC. Once we get back to the Okanagon, we are considering heading down to the mainland and picking up our grandson and bringing him for his first RV excursion.

Between Indio and Newfoundland, I am currently researching routes, with The Alamo, Memphis and Nashville being our immediate thoughts for stops enroute.

Can you provide any other suggestions for points of interest, that should not be missed?

 

RMS Queen Mary, A Truly Grand Ocean Liner of a Bygone ERA

queen-mary-bowAn iconic landmark on the Long Beach waterfront since her arrival in 1967, the RMS Queen Mary is undoubtedly one of the world’s last, grand, old trans-Atlantic ocean liners. While initially built to ferry passengers across the Atlantic, before the onset of air travel, she also spent the war years as a troop carrier. As a passenger liner, she carried multiple classes of passengers, from those expecting the ultimate luxury experience, to steerage class that slept in multi-bunk dormitories.

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Sunday Brunch on the Queen Mary

qm-from-water-sideOn October 31st 1967, the venerable grand old lady of the Cunard fleet, the SS Queen Mary, departed Southampton on her final voyage. She arrived in Long Beach, California on December 9th 1967, where she remains to this day. For almost 50 years this grand old liner, has remained in Long Beach, as a functioning hotel, with multiple restaurants and attractions.

Considering the number of times we have visited SoCal, and my many trips into the adjacent San Pedro Cruise Terminal, it is surprising that neither Judi or I have previously visited the ship. Well, our first visit to this grand old lady was more than a stroll around the decks, as we enjoyed an exceptional Champagne Brunch.

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Anaheim – Should We Visit Disney??

pool-and-clubhouseAfter a fairly short, but definitely interesting drive from Indio, we arrived in Anaheim, just as the sun was setting. We have 2 options for condos in Anaheim, both less than a mile from Disney – Worldmark Indio and Dolphin’s Cove. On a previous visit we stayed at the Worldmark, so this time we tried Dolphin’s Cove, which is a Wyndham resort.

We have visited Disney Resorts, both in Anaheim and Orlando, many times and have no doubt we will be returning with grandkids in the future. Therefore, it was rather easy to give the most obvious Anaheim attractions a miss. But, what else does this area offer??

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Bye Bye Snow, Hello Sunny Indio

lazy-riverAs we arrived at our Worldmark Condo in Indio, the storm front that had dumped many inches of rain over the previous few days, had moved through, leaving clear blue skies and that big, round, yellow ball. It’s been so long since we had seen the sun, we almost forgot what it is called.

We only have a few days in Indio, but they will be busy meeting friends, visiting The Living Desert and we might even find time to sample the wares of at least 1 craft brewery.

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Escaping Pacific NW Snow For SoCal Rain

vandusen-lake-lights-3Retirees frequently embrace the “Snowbird” lifestyle of running South for the Winter and enjoying summers at home. Unfortunately Judi & I seem to have the concept backwards, as this is now our 2nd winter in B.C. Last year wasn’t an issue – zero snow, temperatures rarely down to 0C (32F), bulbs sprouting in January and cutting the lawn in February. Well this year is different – suffering snow on the ground for 6 continuous weeks and temperatures of -10C (14F). You would almost think we moved to the East Coast, but NO, this is what we experienced on the West Coast. We simply have to head South!!!

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Vancouver’s Stanley Park – Bright Nights & Christmas Train

bright-nights-main-entranceStanley Park’s miniature railway, a favourite attraction for kids of all ages, has been a Vancouver icon for over 50-years. Opened in 1964, engine # 374 is a miniature replica of the Canadian Pacific “steamie” engine that pulled the first` cross-country passenger train into Vancouver, in the late 1880’s. The original engine is displayed in the Roundhouse located on the old Expo 86 land on the shores of False Creek.

Bright nights is a seasonal attraction hosted by Vancouver Park Board and BC Professional Firefighter’s Burn Fund. It comprises lighted displays around the station and an amazing light display along the train tracks. Entrance to the station plaza is by donation, while the train requires a ticket purchase, which is highly recommended in advance.

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