I was awake before the 6.30am alarm we had set after having not great night’s sleep mainly caused by Karen’s snoring as she continued to recover from a cold.
We were checked out and waiting outside the Hotel when Sunny arrived on time to take us to the airport itself.
Excitingly Virgin Upper Class have their own terminal entrance. It is hidden away up behind several barriers is very exclusive. We felt like celebrities as we were driven to it. The concierge greeted us with our names as we got out of the car and he retrieved the luggage from the car and took it to the waiting check in staff. After a couple of photos, we were whisked to our own dedicated security line and within almost seconds of arriving were in the actual airport itself.
This is definitely the way to arrive at an airport. We then had the usual winding walk along with everyone else through the duty-free area. I suppose even rich people may want to buy perfume before they fly or are they all like us and just keep heads down and march through it all as quickly as possible.
We headed to Lounge H which is the Virgin Upper Class Lounge. We took the lift which was exciting as it had seats for the rich people who are too posh to stand for the 1 floor ride up.
The lounge was the best we have been in around the world. The service was absolutely first class in every aspect. We found some comfortable seats and settled in. With restraint we ordered tea before starting on the champagne. My strict diet would be tested today.
From the menu we both ordered Eggs Royale which was superb although only really a half portion that you would get anywhere else. We ordered the other portion half an hour later. We started on the champagne and it just kept flowing. Karen had 4 glasses whilst I kept to just the 3.
Every single member of staff was a delight. I asked one whether they had had any celebrities in recently and she said that Anthony Joshua had been sitting in my seat a few days earlier. She said he was probably the biggest man she has ever met.
I took a couple of newspapers and magazines for the flight.
They called our flight when boarding had started and we were able to walk straight to the gate and get on board with no wait. I was though quite disappointed that at the boarding gate my reserved seat was moved and that I was no longer next to the window behind Karen. There seemed no logic to it as when onboard it just seemed that a single guy had somehow usurped me. I knew that there was little point complaining to the cabin crew as they would have had no input and didn’t want to create a fuss. I will ask the question why later though.
So, we settled into what Karen called our little individual cupboards. In reality there was little difference between the Upper-Class seat on Virgin and the Business Class seat on BA, although being able to Bluetooth my headphones to the TV was a real bonus as was the wireless charging pad for my phone. What was the big difference though was the service which was absolutely first class. We wanted for nothing at any point during the flight. Drinks, food and snacks were constant. Karen had another 3 glasses of champagne before dinner.
The food was really good, as was the ability for Karen and I to go and set in a communal area for a while. It was great to be able to chat on a comfortable bench in different surroundings. We both had the Serrano Ham prepared as our starter followed by Chicken. I then had the cheese board whilst Karen went for the Chocolate Torte.
The flight was long though due to prevailing strong headwinds. I watched ‘Jerry & Marge go Large’ which I had wanted to see for a while. It was based on a true story about a guy who works out a flaw in the Lottery and forms a cooperative to win big every time. It was all legal and the lottery operators knew about it. They won over $20 million before stopping. It is well worth a watch.
Then I watched the new Indiana Jones film which I thought was better than the reviews I had read, followed by The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry which was also very enjoyable.
Then we were offered afternoon tea. None of your packaged scones or inedible sandwiches for Virgin Upper Class. Karen had a freshly cooked Burger (delicious apparently but somewhat over the top in my opinion) whilst I had a couple of freshly cooked plain scones. Hopefully I have eaten with a bit moderation today overall and not exceeded by too much the recommended daily adult 2000 calorie and after all free champagne don’t count – does it? That will be all my alcohol intake for the trip apart from the free drink on the way home. Tomorrow had better though be a below 1000 calorie day to make up for it.
And then we were there. Being in Upper Class we were off the plane first. Within 20 minutes we had been through Immigration, collected our luggage and making our way to collect the rental car.
Although we had flown with Virgin, I had booked the car through BA. In fact, it was the 4th car I had booked as the prices had continually been dropping through the year. This booking was considerably less than the first one. Also, with BA you get an additional free driver and I planned to add Neil onto the booking. There was a short wait at the desk where we were told that Neil needed to be there in person to be added and as I had Avis Preferred Status I could go straight to the garage where our car was already waiting.
It was a Kia Sportage and was fine. We got it set up and were soon on the 40-minute drive to the Holiday Inn Express at Madeira Beach. I had forgotten until we pulled into the car park that it was adjacent to a Walmart.
We had been allocated the nearest room to reception on the ground floor which was nice. After settling in and having a cuppa we decided to walk to the Walmart to pick up a few pieces. As usual I lost Karen in the store and had to wait until she wandered back to the front of the store.
After another cuppa and catching up on a few messages we were in bed by 9.15pm which given the time difference and the long day wasn’t too bad.