Today I got a letter in the mail all the way from Australia, turns out it was a sponsorship for a kangaroo in a kangaroo rescue in New South Wales!
I got a sponsorship for Rooby, a female red kangaroo that got rescued in 2010 after her mom got killed. The woman who runs Sponsoroo took good care of her though and by now Rooby is a mom herself! I hope I get to visit that place sometime.
Anyway, it was an awesome present because helping out kangaroos is always a good idea and made my day! Thanks to Henriekes family for that!
Today it was finally time to go back home! We got up at around 7, put our stuff in the car and saw frost in Florida for the first time. The car was covered in ice, so we had to clear the windshield first and then went to the airport which was a mere 15 minute drive. At the rental car return we met a nice airport employee who brought our bags all the way to the check-in counter and saved us a lot of trouble getting our heavy giant bags through the whole airport. We gave him some tip, checked in, paid 94$ for the extra bag and looked around in the stores a bit. All the theme parks have a store in the airport, even NASA had one! We ended up getting a cute little space shuttle Christmas ornament.
Since we had over 4 hours time, we sat down at Starbucks, had some breakfast and went through our photos. Eventually we went through the TSA screening, got a pat down after objecting to the bodyscanner, got some food and went on the plane to Atlanta.
In Atlanta we had a brief stopover and got to experience the busiest airport on the world for a few minutes. We found a cellphone in the train to our terminal and gave it to the info booth, hopefully the lady has her phone back by now! The rest of the flight was alright, of course way too long.
When we arrived in Vienna, our luggage unfortunately didn't. It took a while to fill our forms at the Lost&Found register, and eventually we got out of the airport where my dad picked us up and brought us home. We had lunch with my parents, then went back to bed to catch up with a lot of needed sleep. Our luggage arrived 10 hours after we arrived and was delivered at our door, so at least we didn't have to carry it.
This concludes the trip report!
Thanks to everyone for hosting us, helping us out, hanging out, drawing for us, showing us around, etc etc.!
Even though we planned not to do much today, we somehow ended up in Disney world again. We wanted to meet Herbie the day before, but since he came back to Orlando late, we made an appointment for breakfast in Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, right after we drove off, our prepaid SIM card stopped working even though T-Mobile advertised it as 30 days of prepaid service, and according to that, we would still have had a few hours. It made meeting up a bit harder, but we eventually managed to. Chris was working in Magic Kingdom and also joined us and we finally had breakfast at Gaston's Tavern in the new Fantasyland at around 11:30. After that we strolled around in the park and enjoyed the sunny weather which warmed up the - for Florida standards - very cool morning.
Chris had to go back to work at one point and we went to see the new "Belle's encounter", a walk-through ride that is mostly aimed at kids but features awesome animatronics and effects!
After that we took some more photos in the park and headed home with a brief stop at Ferrara's pizza place for some overly cheesy pizza roll. Back at the house, we started packing which took a whole 3 hours. When we were finally done, we called Scott and he came over to hang out a bit. We ended up watching Captain EO and Moonwalker, both ridiculously cheesy. At 11 we went to bed to get some sleep before the pretty long trip home tomorrow.
Today we didn't do too much. As people had to work, we just took the car at one point and drove towards Orlando, going to a really nice art supply store. We spent quite some time there, we got some pencils, markers and I got a really nice book. Then we went to Firehouse Subs for lunch as we were almost starving! Chris recommended a Hobby & Camera store that was nearby, so we checked that out too. They had lots of space shuttle stuff, including the most awesome space shuttle kite! Sadly everything was too big for our luggage, so we didn't end up buying anything. On the way back we felt like performing the American tradition of hanging out at the mall, so we went to Fashion Square Mall and realized we've actually been there before in 2009. We got some Gumballs and smoothies and then went back to the house. At the comic store we found some very old Superman comics that were so ridiculous that we had to buy them (see superdickery.com)
In the evening we met up at Outback with Lisa, Gerret, Chris and Robin. Going there is always nice as Steak is actually affordable there, unlike in Europe. Also the blooming onion, a giant deep fried sliced onion, is the best appetizer! We had a nice time there, drew a bit and enjoyed some great company!
After dinner we went back to the house, Lisa joined for a bit and Robin brought some costumes, so we ended up taking some photos with Chris' photo studio setup!
Today we spent most of the time relaxing and getting stuff together for packing. We wanted to go to thrift shops, however I spent about 2 hours today on the phone with Air France, asking about any kind of compensation for the extremely bad treatment and the 5-days delayed luggage.Well, once again, I found it out:
Air France has the worst customer service ever.
We were offered a lousy 50$ off our next flight, which likely will not happen as I don't want to be treated like dirt again. No honest apologies, no upgrades, no anything. I spent part of my day in waiting lines and was redirected to 6 different representatives which all were as unhelpful as the customer service we dealt with when our luggage was lost. It is obviously company policy to not-care about anything and pretend like horrible service is normal when flying with a major airline.
We will definitely contact consumer associations in both the Netherlands and Austria, explaining our situation and warning people about how Air France deals with their costumer when something goes wrong. I know that other airlines go out of their way to keep a good reputation, Air France seems to go out of their way to keep a bad reputation.
Enough about that. Thanks to spending too much time on the phone we arrived late at Skycraft, a surplus store I've been meaning to check out for a long while. We only had 10 minutes to check out the store, but I got a cool old projector lens! There was a camera store right next to it that only sold second hand vintage camera gear, sadly also closed. We went to Crispers to dinner and had some nice salad and soup, then to Mix for some tasty Froyo!
After 2 days of Disney, it was time to go to Universal! Robin gave us a ride and got us in in the morning and we went to Islands of Adventure first. Thanks to Robin we had very short waiting times, so we did lots of rides. What we came there for was especially the Spiderman ride, which they updated to make it even more spectacular, and the new Harry Potter themed part of the park which was really impressive! We went on the Dragon Challenge coaster and on the Forbidden Journey ride there, a very impressive and intense motion simulator! Other things we went to were the Jurassic park ride, the Mummy ride which was a great inside coaster, the Fear Factor show where Robin works and the Men in Black Ride which broke down first, but got opened up just in time so we could do it.
Since the park closed at 6 that day, we went back to Chris' place. Robin then picked up Jeff and two other friends and we had an artjam at Chris' house until around midnight.
Today we went to Epcot where we met up with Herbie, Lisa and a friend of hers who was visiting. They all had to leave soon after we met, so we only watched a show of Captain EO and then split up. This gave us time exploring the World Showcase more, where countries have pavilions with little stores, restaurants and rides. First we did the Oh! Canada ride, a strange 360° cinema advertisement for Canada we never heard of before. Then we strolled through the pavilions and had some tasty food at France and Germany. We also love the Japanese pavilion which had a giant store full of Japanese foods and other stuff.
After seeing all the pavilions we went to see Soarin', a very impressive ride simulating flying over California. We also saw Maelstrom in the Norway pavilion, a very.. special ride in a boat that is very hard to explain.
We left around 6 as it looked like rain which was a good move as it started right as we drove off. We just got some subs at the Supermarket and relaxed a bit in the evening. Epcot is a great park!
This morning we went with our car to meet up with Megan and her friend Tigsie who visited from north Florida. It was Megans birthday, so we went to Magic Kingdom to spend a nice day with her! Here are some photos from our day:
The new Fantasyland part was naturally very busy, so sadly we couldn't see everything there. Seems like we have to go back sometime.
We stayed at Magic Kingdom the entire day and came back to Chris' house at 11pm, so we went straight to bed.
Today we slept a bit longer since yesterday was a bit exhausting, eventually we decided to go to Central Florida Zoo with Chris as it was only half an hour away. There were tons of squirrels and little salamanders running free, also we got some nice animal photos!
After the Zoo we went to see Fablab, the local hacker lab where Chris contributes a lot. Last time I was there, it was in a 2-car garage, the new location is giant and awesome with lots of RepRaps, CNC mills and other cool stuff!
On the way home we grabbed some Subs from Publix and watched Beauty and the Beast as we were going to Fantasyland, the new part of Magic Kingdom which is themed after that movie, tomorrow.
Today I got up early while Henrieke was still sleeping so Chris could drive me to the airport so I could pick up a rental car. I got a reservation and a quote for a decently sized economy car for 200$ at Alamo, however the lady at the counter told me they only had 2 extremely tiny cars available that wouldn't even fit out luggage, but offered me an upgrade for 88$. Even after asking for a car that was as advertised she said there weren't any available. After getting another quote at another counter for 500$ and the guy there told me it was the cheapest I could possibly get (yes of course..) I went back to Alamo to another counter and the guy gave me lots of options for cars, which means the lady at the first counter lied to me and tried to rip me off really hard. I was pretty pissed about that, but at least I got a nice Ford Focus for the advertised price. I went back to the house and joined Henrieke for some more sleep then. For Lunch we went to Panera with Gerret and Scott, having some tasty soup and seeing local birds!
After walking around a bit more at Waterford lakes and looking at puppies and baby lobsters at a pet shop, we went back to the house.. well, we tried, as my phone was dead and I only kind-of knew the way. After a bit of a detour we made it back and got our things ready to go to on FPS, the longest running internet puppet show! John gave us a ride there and we had a great time there. One segment of the show is acting out IRC audience requests, so Baseball did just that!
We had a great time there and at 10pm, when the show ended, John gave us a ride back with a brief stop for some McDonalds food.
We got up at 4:45 today to make sure to have enough time for everything as we didn't really know how returning the car works. Luckily everything worked out fine, the gas station accepted my credit card which didn't work in one case as you need to enter a 5-digit zip code when paying with card. Problem: my zip code has 4 digits. The car return place offered an airport shuttle bus that went directly to the Southwest terminal, it wasn't too busy either and the walk to the gate was literally 50 meters, pretty nice for LAX standards. There was an extra TSA security check for checked baggage with people throwing around our luggage, they put a lot of effort into making sure every fragile item gets beaten up! Luckily we carried our costume heads as hand luggage this time!
We had a 40 minute layover in Texas, then went on the next flight towards Orlando. Scott picked us up from the airport as Chris had to work and we basically went straight to bed until Chris came back from work.
We went to some hot wings place for dinner where we encountered the biggest amount of TVs we ever saw in a restaurant: 27 giant plasma TVs and 6 beamers, all showing different sports programs. After some stupid YouTube videos we went to bed as I had to pick up the rental car early the next day.
Since we were flying to Orlando on Saturday early in the morning, we went back to Santa Monica today. We drove off around 11, giving us some time to meet up with people, so we went to Disney Imagineering to meet Jannali, a friend who we last met in Florida and currently does an Internship at Disney. Since she was busy, we met up for Lunch with Richard, another amazing artist, at TGI Friday's first. We had a little artjam there!
Since Jannali wasn't busy anymore, we went back to Disney Imagineering and experienced the worst LA traffic again. It seems that on some parts of the freeway the traffic is either bad or really bad. At Disney we got to see some of the employee-only area including a Disney store that is only for people who work there with some exclusive merchandise! We sat down in the cafe there and chatted a bit, then we drove back to Robs house to avoid the worst rush hour traffic. The carpool lane saved us a lot of time again! At Robs house we spent most of the evening packing and being slightly cold as it was only 6°C outside, pretty cold for southern California! When we were done packing we went to McDonald's for a quick dinner and then had a few hours of sleep.
Today we went to Hollywood to meet up at a small restaurant with Nico, Becky and Frank. Henrieke met Becky and Frank in the Netherlands before, I met all of them the first time! We had a great time chatting about drawings and how it's like living in LA, also we were drawing on the paper that covered the table and in each others sketchbooks.
After the lunch we had a bit of time left so Nico showed us the way to see the Hollywood sign. We were pretty near, but it would have required hiking there and we didn't really have time, so we went to another spot where we could get a glimpse.
Around 3:30 we went off to Zero's place to meet up with other artists there for an artjam, we thought we would be early enough to escape the bad traffic. We were wrong. It was basically the worst traffic I ever was in and we discovered that Google Maps has a 4th color for traffic: dark red, which basically means nothing is moving at all. It took us almost 2.5 hours until we finally reached Zeros place, Jamie was there an hour early already.
Blake was also there and we spent most of the evening watching Regular Show, Talespin and other cartoons and drawing in each others sketchbooks! We had some tasty 5$ pizza too! C joined later and after having a really good time, we left at around 1am.
We stayed in bed pretty long today and watched videos in the morning, introducing everyone to our favorite Japanese series, Polar Bear Café! C, our friend we were staying with then gave us a ride in his car and drove through the old part of Pomona, which looks really nice! Then we drove to the army surplus store, just because we wanted to see one! For lunch we had tasty (Klondike) tacos at a small Mexican restaurant in the area. We then drove to an old camera store, but sadly it closed already so we drove to another one. No problem since we really enjoyed the scenery, we even got to drive on the first freeway ever made! The camera store was really nice, we stared at all the lenses for quite some time and wished we could afford them!
C then took us to his old house up in the hills. While driving there we saw a fox! The main reason he took us there was to show the old Citroën DS: Henrieke's favorite car. It took some effort but he got it to start so we could see the hydraulics in action!
After that C showed us a lot of the neat stuff he owns, making Henrieke all jealous. In the garden we heard some loud rustling in the tree; a bear! We got the flashlight to take a look at him, but sadly he was already gone. On the way back we picked up some tasty Chinese food and spent the evening watching more Videos and writing blog posts.