Today’s the big day: We flew from San Diego to Orlando, FL where our National Geographic Expeditions Around the World by Private Jet trip begins. I still can’t believe we are actually doing this amazing trip; it doesn’t seem real yet.
We arrived a day early and had a relaxing day visiting with my cousin Les before the kickoff cocktail party and welcome dinner. The luxury started at check-in, as we were shown to a spacious two room suite with two balconies. Lots of room to rattle around in as we organized and reorganized our bags. We were mystified at the layout of the bathroom and of the hanging rod heights in the closet until we realized it was an accessible suite laid out for the convenience of someone in a wheelchair.
We were a bit like the Keystone Cops at times, trying to find stuff. One minute it was there, then it wasn’t, as we juggled items between our various suitcases and then couldn’t remember where we’d packed anything! The packing was challenging enough to start, as we visit 10 places with a wide range of temperatures. For our first stop in Cusco and Machu Piccchu, only our small roll-aboard size bags (thoughtfully provided by National Geographic) come off the plane with us, so we had to figure out what to put in them for the three days. Everyone seemed to be In a similar state of confusion, to some degree. The staff assured us we would find our rhythm after a few days.
Speaking of staff, NG does a superb job organizing these trips. Can you imagine the logistics involved in getting 75 guests to Orlando from all over the US and beyond, and then navigating to all these exotic places, making sure we are all where we should be? We travel with an expedition leader and her staff, a doctor, a chef, and a crew of about 16. They really think of everything, from sending us backpacks and roll-aboards (which actually get checked as well), 64G iPad Air 2s so we can download movies and books for the plane ride as well as listen to expert lectures, Bose headphones, and more.
You may wonder how we go so far in just 24 days. We’ll be on a private jet, a 757 designed to carry not 255 passengers but 75 guests and support staff, in cushy first class-type seats. No waiting for a plane to arrive, no cancellations, and limited airport hassles because the staff does most of the luggage and immigration processing.
We had a lovely cocktail reception and dinner this evening, with a few photo presentations to get us in the mood. You can imagine, knowing National Geographic’s wonderful photography, how gorgeous they were. In fact, traveling with us are a professional photographer, a paleontologist, and a cultural anthropologist, each of whom will bring a wealth of special knowledge to us and show us the wonders of the world through new eyes.
And now, dear friends, I must sign off and get to bed. We are up and out for breakfast around 5:30 and leave for the airport an hour later. Then we fly to Lima, Peru and on to Cusco to begin our two day explorations of the Incan civilizations there and at Machu Picchu.
Good night, and we’ll have lots of time to write more about our trip on the long plane rides between sights. Cheers to all!