Settling in and Making Plans

As I type this up, the first rain of our stay is pattering down on the roof of our little shack. I’m not too fussed as it’s still warm, Transformers Prime is on one of the 70-or-so channels and I’m keeping an eye on Niamh while ploughing through the Jack Reacher novel I picked up on the way here.

The wedding is booked, and all the extra arrangements around it have been sorted. We’re looking at 11am on Monday 22nd so all we need to do now is cross our fingers that it doesn’t decide to chuck it down then!

In the meantime, we’re making the most of the (generally) lovely weather and the all-inclusive food and drink. The quality of the food has varied from, at worst, acceptable right through to “would someone please swap my stomach with that of an elephant so that I can eat more of this?”. With a different spread each of three meals a day there’s been something for everyone, and the local beer is Red Stripe which isn’t bad in anyone’s book.

We picked a good time to come, it seems. There’s a celebration on this year and as a result many of the things that would normally be charged for are free – amongst these is internet access at the hotel. In addition, several of the excursions are reduced or offering free upgrades. Very handily, this includes two of the trips we definitely wanted to go on before we got here. So we’re booked for the Dolphin Experience, and will get ourselves sorted for the Blue Mountain bike trip and Dunn’s River Falls once Hans arrives.

Oh, and diving. I think we’re planning on doing that the afternoon after we get married 🙂

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Our Jamaica trip – an introduction

Русский: Флаг Ямайки Slovenščina: državna zast...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m putting these posts up around 2 months after our trip simply as work and life have been ridiculously hectic. I couldn’t update while we were there as the wireless wasn’t up to it.

A couple of points to note:

a) Keep $22 (or equivalent in J$ or GBP) to one side, per person, for your departure tax at the airport. Even most scheduled flights don’t include this fee.

b) Do the excursions if you’re there on a resort. They’re worth it (see the posts)

c) Considering a wedding? Considering abroad? We can’t rate Jamaica highly enough, and in particular the Royal Decameron Club Caribbean where we were staying. Our wedding planner was just the most wonderful woman who put up with our chopping, changing, indecision, flexibility, inflexibility, plans, ideas, lack of planning, forgetfulness… Oh, and the weather.

d) Other Jamaican staff were pretty much along the same lines. Wonderful people.

e) Do listen to weather reports. Jamaica, along with many parts of the world, doesn’t do “a bit windy”. When they tell you to stay in your room, flipping do it.

f) You’ll struggle to get to certain areas without using public transport, taxis or rental cars, for this you need to select the right car for this services and having the right knowledge is important for this, and sites as the Auto News and Reviews could really help with this. Mainly because they’re too damned dangerous. We couldn’t get a taxi to drive us to the outskirts of Kingston as the drivers we asked said that first we would be mugged and then they’d take the car.

Anyway, on with the posts…

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We Jammin’

The trip to Jamaica was eventful for it’s uneventfullness. We stayed at a hotel in Altrincham as it was near the airport and offered free car parking for the duration with a taxi ride to the airport in the morning. Our taxi driver was a great chap, pointing out all the footballers’ houses (he wouldn’t stop to let me urinate in Roy Keene’s letterbox) and making sure we knew the best way to get picked up when we returned. The trick, folks, is to get your taxi at T2 departures, not arrivals. It saves the taxi paying a parking charge that they’ll pass on to you, and it’s also far less busy.

The flight was fine with decent grub (airline food doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it’s gained) and the kids were amazing. Little Miss was a bit tearful, but she doesn’t like travel (at all – anything further than Nana’s is “abroad” in her eyes); Little Mister was incredible given the 10 hour flight duration; and Littler Miss was staggering. She barely slept and probably cried for something approaching 14 seconds during the entire journey.

If there was a downside, it was the Scouse couple behind Gillian who caused her to pass Littler Miss over to my folks (on the opposite bulkhead) a couple of times as it seemed they were going to come to blows. The “gentleman” of the couple was on a path to a hiding from both of us with his behaviour towards his wife, but in all honesty she wasn’t helping. Huge credit must go to the flight staff who calmed them down as best they could otherwise I’m sure someone within the surrounding few rows would have laid the wanker out, if for no other reason than to stop him yelling obscenities with children around.

The transfer at Montego Bay was pretty smooth with minimal immigration worries. The staff at the counters chatted to each other and with us, and the lady going through our stack of passports went from “why haven’t you signed this” officialness to “Oh my, she’s gorgeous!” as soon as it came to checking Littler Miss’s details.

A one-hour bus ride to our resort in Runaway Bay followed with good company from the driver and other staff, which of course required a tip. A point of note is that Jamaica is very much a “tipping” culture – the monetary sort, not the drunk mid-Western United States bovine-bothering college student type. Having saif that, they’re quite fair but we felt bad tipping in UK coinage as all of our travel money was still packed.

Our resort seems lovely though I’ve only seen it in the dark. We’re at the Royal Club Decameron on Runaway Bay. Due to the 6-hour time difference, it’s night on 3am as I write this having just sampled some rather excellent Mexican Rice and refried beans from the restaurant. That’s “real world” time. Here in “holiday world” it’s not even 9pm. The room is “functional” as we’ve opted for little wooden cottages. There is aircon, a fan, nice TV and comfy bedding. We’ll have to adapt how we bathe Littler Miss and it’s not The Ritz but it is lovely and about 30m from the beach.

My one quibble is that internet access is an additional extra so I’m not sure when I’ll get posts and photos up, but will do my best especially next Monday when we get married!

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Another dinky update

Co-national flag for use on sea and abroad. Fr...

Co-national flag for use on sea and abroad. From 1978 the sole national flag of Greece (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just a reminder that after a lengthy stay in the UK, Gillian and I will be off to Jamaica in October for our wedding. I’ll try to keep things updated, but there’s no guarantee depending on affordable wi-fi access! If we’re really lucky, we might be able to visit one of the other nearby islands/countries but there are limits due to how long we have to remain in Jamaica before/after the wedding for legal reasons. Basically, if we’re not there for long enough then our marriage wouldn’t be valid!

We’ve also just booked our summer hols for 2013, and will be going to Crete. This will be my first time in Greece, and although it’s a package tour (no backpacking with three kids!), we’ll still be trying to cram in a lot of activities and excursions for me to report back on. The hotel claims to have free wi-fi, so with luck I’ll be able to keep the blog updated too.

The plan is to maybe have another break next year with the kids (looking like Center Parcs) and a long weekend somewhere just for Gillian and myself. I’m thinking Syria, but I don’t think she’ll be up for it somehow…

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Plans for 2012

Русский: Флаг Ямайки Slovenščina: državna zast...

Image via Wikipedia

As expected with my settling down, the travel blog has gone a little stale. I’m glad to see it’s still getting some views and comments though!

This year, there’s one major plan and possibly a short break also. Nothing organised for the short one as yet – it’ll be down to time and money – but the major plan is in October. My fiancée and I will be tying the knot in Jamaica! All booked and we’re working towards paying for it. The aim’s to do a little bit of touristing and some diving when we’re there.

One downside to the marriage arrangements is that we have to be “resident” in Jamaica for a certain number of days before and after the ceremony to ensure that the marriage is legal. This restricts us to the one country for the majority of our trip. A shame as there are several other nations within a short boat ride that we could visit (Haiti and Cuba for starters).

For the purposes of keeping friends and family up to date with the romantic side of things, I’ve started a new blog – an offshoot of this one. There will, inevitably, be some cross-posting with this blog particularly around the time of the wedding but I’ll try to keep travel-related posts to here. At present, there’s very little up there, but I plan to get some pictures online over the coming week.

As for the short break, a few ideas are floating around. It needs to be somewhere that Gillian and I can visit for a long weekend, so will likely be in Europe. I *may* be allowed to escape for a week on my own around Easter. If funds allow it I’d love to try and visit the places I decided against in 2009 for financial reasons – Syria, Lebanon and so forth. I’ll obviously have to keep an eye on the political climate should I opt for them.

I’ll also try to add more photos of my past trips to Flickr and link them here so – time allowing – expect some more gallery posts.

Apologies again for the big gap in posts. The blog is still “live” – I’m just travelling a lot less these days! Oh, and with a baby on the way (due in July) I doubt we’ll be doing much over summer!

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