Monday, June 11, 2012

UK and Ireland in Bloom Cruise – Azamara Journey – Southampton, England to Amsterdam, The Netherlands – May 24 – June 10, 2012

May 24, 2012

Getting There

Our taxi arrived about 15 minutes early (1:45PM) for our ride to O’Hare Terminal 5.  Our flight is at 5:15 PM but construction on the tollway has increased the traffic. As it turned out, the traffic was not that big a deal and we arrived about 2:00PM.  Security was a mess – no order just a mob heading for the screening area – that process took over a half hour in a very warm terminal.

BA Flight 294 (Boeing 777-300) was at the gate and would have boarded on time but the flight crew (attendants) were stuck in traffic and not on the plane. 

 BA294 Ready to go (Small)

BA294 Ready to Go (but no crew)

They did eventually arrive and the plane took off about 45 minutes late. 

Underway (Small)

Above the Clouds and underway

It was worth paying the extra money for exit rows since this plane is 3 by 3 by 3 with no leg room at all.  I spent most of the flight (7 hours 40 minutes) in the middle seat.  I was able to watch “MIF: Ghost Protocol”, which was really good and re-watch parts of “Chronicle”, which was just as bizarre the second time through.

May 25, 2012

Bournemouth, England

The flight was relatively smooth and the kosher meals present and good.  The flight arrived on time at 7:40 AM.  The weather in London was very warm – 79F.  Since we only had carry on luggage, we were off the plane and onto the bus to Terminal 5.  Passport control was a snap and we made our way to the National Express ticket office in Terminal 5.  I had picked up British Pounds from the bank prior to the trip so we were able to buy our tickets to Bournemouth without any problem. 

We took the National Express bus to Bournemouth – very easy from Terminal 5 (59 Pounds for the two of us).  The ride was about an hour 45 minutes and I dozed most of the way.  Bournemouth is Southeast of London and known as a beach resort town.  A short walk from the train station to us to our hotel – the Ramada Encore on the main drag, Bath Road.

The hotel appears to be newly refurbished (it might have been the Encore Hotel before becoming part of Ramada).  The rooms are huge by British standards and the bathroom has a wet room layout (no shower stall).  The style is Euro.  NOTE:  Our room was the quietest we have ever stayed in (not a peep from any neighbors – no earplugs needed).

Even though we were tired we walked to the beach (about 20 minutes away).  The beach area is very nice – almost Southern California grade- with rides, a garden area, and a large pier.

Bournemouth Beach Ride (Small)

Beach and East Cliff (Small)  Bournemouth Beach (Small)

We had dinner at Harry Ramsden’s restaurant billed as the “most famous fish and chips in the World”.  There was a problem with Ellen’s meal (comped) and the fish and chips were not as billed. 

May 26 - 28, 2012

Still in the 70s and sunny (in fact, there were essentially no clouds in the sky for our entire stay).  More walking around town and the beach areas.  Bournemouth is a hilly town with a huge number of shops and restaurants.  It is also a wedding town with all of the hotels advertising wedding venues. 

On our last day in Bournemouth, we headed West and wound up in the next town – Boscombe.  From there we headed toward the beach on Sea Road. 

 Sea Road Monument (Small)

At the end of Sea Road (monuments)

E at Sea Road (Small)

Taking a breather

 Sea Road looking West (Small)

The Bournemouth Pier is way in the distance

Me and beach looking west (Small)

Some 8000 steps later and we arrived at the Bournemouth Park and Gardens (two pictures below). 

Bournemouth Gardens and  Pavilion (Small)

Bournemouth Garden Stream (Small)

Our totals for this walk: 16,300 steps and 6.5 miles).  My feet hurt but it was worth it.

Tomorrow we head to Southampton for the beginning of our twin cruises.

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