Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And we're off again for 2012-13

So after our false start and a few doubtful moments, we set off for our next year away on 30 October 2012.  The original plan for this year was to have a month in Cuba, two weeks in Grand Cayman staying with a friend of Nic's, and then spend the rest of the year travelling in the United States and Canada.

That changed slightly when were fortunate enough to get given our replacement trip to Antarctica.  As we had to pay our flights down to Ushuaia and back, making an unexpected dent in our budget, we figured we needed to spend some time recouping that.  So the new plan was to cut our time in Grand Cayman to one week so that we could get to Ushuaia in time for our boat to Antarctica on 24 November, then spend a couple of months in Pucon, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we can live relatively cheaply and perhaps try to get a bit fitter ready for the rest of the year.  Then we will fly to Miami, and probably make our way up the East Coast on the mega buses, and then into Canada.

Of course since then we have had to cut Cuba to only two weeks as well, but other than that we are hopefully back on track.  Things may change as we go, but we have to have a vague plan at the start.

We flew to Havana Cuba via Madrid, which mean that although we had the relative comfort of a British Airways flight for the short hop to Spain, we were on Iberia for the main flight.  We had been warned by many people that Iberia is not the best airline, and sadly we have to agree.  It wasn't that it was terrible, just that they didn't really seem to have their act together.

The boarding process was totally inefficient and took forever to even get started.  The departure time shown at the gate was fifteen minutes later than it had said everywhere else and by the time we actually got on the move we were over an hour late.

The plane itself was OK.  We had more seat space than we had feared, though they weren't the most comfortable economy class seats we'd ever had.  But there was no back of seat screen, so the only option was to watch the set movie on the small screens in the middle of the plane; we decided not to bother.

And being towards the back of the middle section, we found that they never quite had enough on their trolley by the time they got to us and it seemed to take forever to get the next batch up.  The choice of lukewarm vegetarian lasagne or lukewarm moussaka did little for me for dinner, and more than once we had to catch them as they almost missed us out with the drinks or collecting up the trays etc.  It wasn't just us - they were generally a bit slapdash.

But those were just inconveniences.  More worrying was the seemingly rather lax approach to their safety procedures.  I could hardly hear a thing during the initial safety briefing and had no idea where my nearest exit was.  When it came to landing procedures, we were almost on the ground before they had done their checks that we were all belted up etc.

Then when we did land we were sat so long that, although the seatbelt signs were still on, most passengers got up and started getting their bags down.  By the time the crew reacted and sent one person to sort it out, nearly everyone was standing in the aisles with their bags.  She insisted people put the bags back and sit down, but then only closed half of the overhead lockers, so that now the suitcases could easily fall out on top of people if the plane jolted.  By the time she sat back down, we were almost there anyway, and everyone got back up again.

But we did get there safely, and thankfully we had made up our late start, arriving as scheduled at about 11pm.  This was just as well, because despite being a tiny airport with only one other flight arriving, it took over an hour for our luggage to appear on the carousel.

We then had to wait in a long queue to get money, because you can't get Cuban currency outside of Cuba, so it was half past midnight by the time we got in a cab and 1am when we reached our hotel.  Which for us on UK time was 5am. But at least we had finally made it here!

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