Yesterday was my 24th birthday and the plan was to celebrate by visiting the Cheesecake Factory at Dande Land mall which I believe is in South Miami. The journey consisted of catching the metro-mover (which I knew was accessible) from my wonder around the day before and then travelling on the conventional Metro (one of which has just gone past my window…how exciting!)
The Miami metro-mover and metro has to be one of the best in terms of accessibility that I have visited thus far, as all the stations have elavators and the metro train themselves have a low floor so you can just roll on and off! I was particularly impressed that they actually tell you in advance when a elevator is out of order as supposed to London underground where you are meant to have psychic powers.
Anyway, me being me we got off at the wrong stop (well they had a North and South station and I went for the North well and in fact it was the South that we needed to get off at). After doing a little shopping and buying presents, it was time to visit my favourite place, the Cheesecake Factory and no it’s not like the one Penny works in, in the Big Bang Theory! But its awesome all the same.
My PA that was off shift yesterday had been busy preparing a surprise for me with the help from Cristina from the Hilton Downtown for which the other two PAs did well to keep it quiet, well sort of! When I returned to the hotel, I was lead into the bar area to be greeted by a spectacular welcome by the other PA and all the catering staff! There was a violent attack of confetti and horns in my ears followed by a happy birthday song from everyone, a glittery hat on my head and a birthday medallion thrown around my neck, it was a lovely touch to the end of an awesome holiday, one of the best so far on my travels.
It is now time to return to Miami International Airport for a lovely flight to Heathrow (oh I do love night flying!!)
Finally back to proper wifi!!
It was an early start this morning as we were informed that we had to vacant our cabin by 0700 only to wait 3 hours in order to disembark at the port of Miami. It was rather smooth process until this point until one of my PA was not able to locate his luggage.
Like at the airport it was sort of easy to find accessibly taxis (well better than in the UK!) to take back to the Hilton Downtown hotel where, funny enough, I am in the same room once more, overlooking towers!
After ordering room service I decided to go for a stroll by myself catching the metro-mover into downtown Miami to visit the financial district. I liken the metro-mover to the Docklands Light Railway in London in that it is fully automated plus it is completely accessible with lifts at every station and level access onto the train. The best part is that it is free unlike the conventional metros which has to be a plus.
One thing that I like about American cities is that they have massive sidewalks so it is easier to roll around the streets within worrying that you are going to fall off the curb and the drop curbs are easy to find as well.
Tomorrow is our last full in Miami and also my 24th Birthday (I’m getting old)! So to celebrate we are heading to the Dande Land Mall to go to the Cheesecake Factory which I discovered the last time I came to America and is now my favourite place in the world!! To get there we will be using the metro-mover again and the conventional Miami metro which should be intriguing.
I don’t quite know what’s happening to this blog as posts are going missing, must be something to with the wifi! However I will write the missing ones again when I get home.
As I was meant to say on day 7 yesterday it was another day at sea which was day 8, so it was round 2 of doing absolutely nothing!
Today, we docked at Nassau in the Bahamas and as I read on another blog (Curb Free with Cory Lee), that Nassau was accessible I decided to take super bunny to stretch its legs. As expected the place was very accessible as opposed to other places on the cruise and most shops and restaurants have level access.
After taking a short walk through the centre we headed down to the beach for another dip in the sea, plus super-bunny got to go on the beach (it wasn’t accessible we just pushed and pulled it . It was another story trying to get off the beach and resulted in four excitable men lifting super-bunny off the beach, one of the older men said how great my PAs to help take me around the world…. how lovely of them to do so!. Oh and I decided to get with the Caribbean culture whilst on the beach, drinking from a cocoanut…. A rather warm one at that!
Before getting back onto the ship for one last time, we headed to an accessible restaurant, note to self don’t order an appetiser by itself, you don’t get much!
Tomorrow we dock back at Miami and have to be out of our cabins at 7am (how lovely for my PAs). The plan is to head onto the free metro mover to downtown Miami to have lunch and to have a gander around their majestic TOWERS!!!!!
Today we docked at Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, I say docked but we actually tendered meaning that we had to get boats onto the main land. We thought it would be best to take my manual wheelchair just to be on the safe side and it was a good job that we did as there would be no way that super-bunny would be able to get on the tender boats!!!
It took 3 strong men to lift me and my chair onto the tender boat and then onto the main land. Once off the boat, we followed the sight of the beach for half an hour and on pavements that were not the best in terms of access. We soon came to a quaint little beach near the sea with palm trees and a majestic view of the sea, perfect to go for a swim with my rapid deployment inflatable system! Immersed in clear blue water, we were able to see little fishies whilst we were bobbing around.
On our return to the centre from the beach, we stopped of at a beach side Caribbean restaurant where you were able to feed the fishies your leftover food, oh and there was a couple of iguanas wondering around the place! Before we headed back on the tender boat we had a snoop around the shops. I forgot to say at the start, that although some of the pavements were not accessible most of the shops were, where they had temporary ramps into the shops which was a little better than Jamaica.
Tomorrow we head to Cozumel, Mexico where apparently there is quite a lot of shops to buy lovely things, Whether or not I buy anything is another story
Today we visited our first port of call, Ochos Rios in Jamaica. It was another hot one as we made our way from the cruise ship to the terminal, definitely one of the hottest places that I have ever visited!
Prior to coming out here, I had booked a wheelchair accessible taxi to go on a sightseeing tour around the local area and through Fern Gulley which I was led to believe was a rainforest. Our driver arrived bang on time with a wheelchair accessible minivan that had a tail-lift at the back, so it was easy to get my manual wheelchair in and thinking about it since, it would have been ok for superbunny!
We started our tour by heading through Ochos Rios and its main street and you got a flavour of how poor the country is. Now when I think of the rainforest I think of exotic animals and the Brazilian rainforest from documentaries, no, the Jamaican version of it is just a lot of fern trees towering above you with a road winding through it! What was interesting about it was the amount of shacks at the side of the road with people trying to sell trinkets etc. I don’t know how they can make money in the middle of nowhere with the occasional car going past but they must manage somehow.
After giving out a few tips, we headed up to a viewpoint where you could see just how big our cruise ship actually is, towering over half of the town. Next we visited a local store to buy presents and I tried some authentic Jamaican rum, before heading to Dunn Falls.
On the website for Dunn Falls it looks quite accessible for a wheelchair but I think the Jamaican term for accessibility isn’t quite the same as mine! But we were undeterred and headed in, only to head back out as the heat got to us. It was a good job that I took my manual wheelchair as it was basically on a hill with steep slopes, but a few of the locals helped me and my PA’s out.
Finally, our driver took us to a local takeaway restaurant to sample some authentic jerk chicken, before returning back to our cruise ship.
Tomorrow we visit Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, I’m not quite sure what there is to do but we’ll find out! 🙂
Yesterday we were at sea all day as we made our way to Jamaica. This made for a perfect opportunity to do nothing! As we couldn’t attend the emergency drill yesterday, we were asked to go to the theatre to watch an exciting demonstration video in around 5 different languages! For the remainder of the day, I was chilling out and listening to my audio book and before I knew it the day was over.
Today we dock at Ocho Rios in Jamaica where we have booked a wheelchair accessible driving tour around the Fern Valley (rainforest) and visiting Dunns falls (I think that’s the one anyway) which should be intriguing
After packing once again, we headed down to the port of Miami (apparently the biggest port in America…interesting fact!). On our way back from Miami beach Friday we managed to book a taxi to take us there with the same company. Although the port of Miami is around a 10 minute drive away the taxi driver charged us 40 dollars, however the other taxi that we booked to take our luggage only cost 15…rip off!
We boarded the cruise ship with ease, I got to skip most of the queues…the benefits of being disabled! Our luggage was took by the porters which included my manual wheelchair, but it soon made its way up to our cabins.
As our cabins were not ready until 1430 we headed to the welcome buffet and was surprising how much food they have on offer!
My cabin seemed to be massive (I have posted it on Twitter) compared to some of the other cabins which made for a luxury experience, oh and I forgot the balcony for which I am sitting on right now. It has a fairly big wet room complete with a shower seat that you can almost fit on, but it good compared to some in the UK!
We walked up onto the 16th floor to watch the ship depart from Miami which was spectacular as the sun went down, oh and we saw lightning too! When I booked the cruise, I didn’t quite realise how posh the evening meal would be. I was a bit taken back by it but sure that I’ll get used to it eventually.
Today we are at sea all day so the plan is to just relax and maybe go swimming later ready for Jamaica tomorrow. Finally, to confuse us a little more we are now 6 hours behind the UK until Friday when we arrive in the Bahamas
After a slow morning yesterday, we headed to Miami beach which we found out is totally different city to Miami (interesting fact for the day!) it was simple enough to book a wheelchair taxi from the hotel to the beach bar the fact it cost 70 dollars there and back. Along the way, we got on good terms with the driver who decided to show us some of the sights on the way.
We headed straight for the beach where super bunny got stuck in the sand and that was the moment that a guy came over and informed us that you can hire a beach wheelchair. I had seen these online and was expecting to pay a little for it, but was pleasantly surprised that it was free. Although I could not drive it myself due to the set up, it was rather exciting and my PAs seemed to enjoy driving it and scaring me at times (I have uploaded a photo on Twitter).
We drove the wheelchair down the path leading to the sea where I disembarked and got into the sea forgetting the fact that I didn’t have swimming trunks on (typical me).
I think they heat got to us all so we decided to retreat to air-con restaurant and it was here where we got a flavor of exactly how chaotic the atmosphere was. It was so busy and hectic a stroll was necessary into a quieter area full of Palm trees.
After a taxi ride back, we discovered a supermarket as Thursday night cost us around 90 dollars and me being a cheap skate, I didn’t want to pay that for one day (breakfast came to 100 dollars in itself!).
It was another early night after we discovered an Italian restaurant which encompassed live music which really set the scene for a romantic evening with my Irish PA.
Today, we head to of Miami where we board the cruise ready to depart at 1900 tonight.
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So it has been a been a manic two days of travelling hence why I have just started the blog this morning!
As per my previous America trip, we stayed in the Ibis hotel at Heathrow which brought back memories of my 21 day American adventure, I think I even stayed in the same room!
We used the same pick up service as before (Purple Parking) where we were able to drive the van into the terminal car park and they picked it up and drove it into a secure car park (I’m sad that I know where it actually is seeing as it is next to the main railway line from Bristol to London Paddington, if you’re interested). As always, it was quite a smooth process through Heathrow airport bar the fact that my inflatable rapid deployment system contained as gas cylinder, not a good idea going through security!!
This time we flew with British Airways to Miami rather than Virgin Atlantic, still in Premium Economy. There wasn’t much difference at all between the two airline except we got a lemon in the drink. The 9 hour flight seemed to pass quite quick as we were content in being fed and watered and soon landed at Miami international airport, America seemed to have the habit of not being able to deliver my wheelchair, super bunny, to the gate rather than to baggage collection. It was easy to get a taxi to the hotel, why can’t other countries be as efficient! Anyway, this is where the deliration started due to the 5 hour time difference, so it was an early night.
The hotel seemed to have known I was coming as my room looking over the skyline including, my favourite thing, TOWERS!! I have posted a photo on Twitter of the majestic view.
Today we plan to head to Miami beach for a wonder around and hopefully not get bitten by mosquito and contract zeka virus!
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