Thursday, 15 April 2010

Departure Day

Wednesday 14th April

The Team at Manchester Airport

We all met at Manchester Airport at 07:00 ready for the long journey ahead and it wasn't long before the fun started. KLM Airlines operate a self check in system where you have to go to a touch screen, scan your passport, enter every minute detail of your life, your journey and the history of the universe before you receive your boarding pass. You then take the pass to baggage check in before proceeding to security. A simple and easy process. That is unless the 'Computer say's NO !' which it did in Steve's case. To cut a long story short and after around 45 minutes of confusion and a few phone calls to Amsterdam, everyone had to check out and re check in again before we were allowed to board. The District Governor Chris Welton and Alec Johnstone turned up to bid us farewell but in all the confusion we hardly got a chance to speak and sadly they left just five minutes before we got the all clear.

The outbound flight was not direct and we had to change at Amsterdam which was a painless process and it wasn’t long before we were cruising at 38000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. It must be said that the service, food and entertainment we received from KLM was fantastic and we duly arrived at Atlanta at 17:00 local time (22:00 UK). We headed for US customs and had our fingerprints taken and eyeballs scanned for ‘our safety’ before picking up our baggage. We were all then ready to step out into the sunshine but how wrong we were! Atlanta Airport is HUGE! and little did we know that were still two and a half miles from the exit. We had to re-check in our baggage, go through security again, get on a train (which looked uncannily like the London Tube) before finally being reunited with our baggage once again. The whole process lasted around an hour or so.

Garland ‘Gary’ Moore and Melisa met us at arrivals and escorted us out of the Airport into the beautiful Southern sunshine with a temperature of around 26 degrees Celsius. They drove us weary travellers into downtown Atlanta for something to eat and within the hour we were having our first taste of American fast food, courtesy of ‘The Varsity’. Think McDonanlds only bigger with Hot Dogs and chilli cheese fries and you kind of get the picture. Step too close to the counter and you’ll hear ‘What’ll Ya Have, What’ll Ya Have’ billowed out in a double loud echo from the enthusiastic staff.

Roy was feeling hungry after the long flight!!!
Still smiling but wanting their beds

A final tour of the city took us past Turner Fields, The Atlanta Dome, Centennial Park, CNN Headquarters before arrival at La Quinta Inn, almost 20 hours after meeting at Manchester Airport.

La Quinta Inn

We headed straight for our rooms to rest our weary heads in anticipation of our 5 hour journey to Jekyll Island the next day.

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