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Grand Cayman 2009
September 10 - 14, 2009

The Rides

Airline

US Airways
We usually like to fly on American since that's where most of our miles are, but US Airways had a more convenient flight schedule to Grand Cayman, so we went with that.  This was more or less a last minute trip idea so we booked our tickets only 3 weeks before and luckily got a great airfare deal - $585 total R/T for 2 tickets from Washington Dulles.  

Our stopover was in Charlotte, a rather nice airport.  We had ample time to grab some Starbucks for my 2nd shot of caffeine, and a little bit of web surfing (free wifi in Charlotte!  Whoohoo!) before the final leg of our outbound flight.  At the gate, the agent announced that they had some First Class upgrades available for a fee, so off I dashed to the front of the line to snag us a couple of upgrades.  Happy Birthday Hook!  I've decided to fly you in style to the Cayman!

Well it turns out that F.C. on US Airways falls waaaay short of my F.C. experience on American.  About the only thing it gets you is bigger seats, some snacks like potato chips or trail mix, oh, and free booze.  We thought for sure we would be served a meal since the flight was through lunch time.  Nope!  No lunch served... no warm towel to freshen up... no headphones (not that we wanted them, but still)... no movie... NADA!  It was definitely not worth it to pay for an upgrade.  Oh well, now we know.

A couple of hours later we landed in Grand Cayman.  Vacation officially starts now.  We were the first off the plane and through Immigration and Customs.  Everything was a breeze, especially as we were traveling with carry-on only.  Yes, I managed to fit everything in a 19-inch suitcase, my kazillion gadgets and my clothes included.  Of course it helped that we did not plan on dining at fancy places, so really all I needed were a couple of swimsuits, shorts, shirts, and a pair of pants.  Easy peasy!  It was really nice not having to wait around for the checked-in luggage.  The Customs Officer commented that he wished he could convince his wife to travel with just a carryon!  I said, good luck with that.  LOL.

 

Heading Back
It is so nice to have a returning flight that leaves at 2pm.  We didn't feel rushed and were able to enjoy the warm sunshine and the beautiful beach in the morning.  Checking-in for our flight was once again very easy.  I did get held up a bit at the Security line because I forgot that I had purchased a small jar of mango jam and stashed it in the suitcase, plus all my electronic gadgets and their cables usually catches the attention of security.  Oopsie!  They were very nice though, they just let me put the jar of jam in my 3-1-1 ziploc bag.

The flight was smooth and the plane was not full, so everyone was able to spread out.  Again, no meals were served, just drinks.

There were no lines at the U.S. Immigration in Charlotte, and since we only had carry-ons, we breezed right through U.S. Customs as well.  After exiting Customs you are basically back out at the main terminal and you have to go through Security again to get to the gates.  This is the same arrangement as in Miami and San Juan.  

Well once again I got extra attention from Security.  Ironically it was not my jar of jam that caught their attention, that item sailed right through.  This time it was the ziploc bag of sand that threw them off.  I usually bring home a bit of sand to add to my collection but that is usually in my checked-in luggage.  Anyway, it was no biggie, just a few minutes of extra time spent while they hand-searched my suitcase and swabbed the ziploc bag of sand for what I suspect was a test for explosives.

An hour and half after taking off from Charlotte we landed in Washington Dulles, all safe and sound, and vacation was officially over!

 

Airport Wifi Anyone?
Washington Dulles - Finally!  There is now free wifi... at least there was in Terminal D.
Charlotte Douglas - Yes indeed, free wifi available here.
Owen Roberts in Grand Cayman - Absolutely!  There is free wifi courtesy of Lime!

 

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On the Ground

Car Rental
We rented from Cico Avis on the island, mainly because American Airlines was offering bonus miles for Avis rentals if booked through the AA website, and well, I am an AA mileage junkie.  The rates were similar to the other rental companies.

Avis has an airport location just a quick stroll across the street from the terminal.  We rented the smallest car, a Daihatsu Charade.  It was very small it was like a tuna-can car, but it had ample space for us and our carry-ons.  Avis was easy going, we filled out the paperwork, got our local driver's licenses, and were handed the keys.  They didn't even go outside to inspect the car.  Just in case though, we took photos of the car and the various nicks and small dings before we left their lot.

Returning the car was just as easy.  They didn't check the car either at that time.  No problems at all, we would rent from them again in the future.

Grand Cayman is a flat island, so driving around is very easy!  Yes, they do drive on the left, but we are used to it after traveling to many islands.  The roads are in great shape, all paved, and with street signs.  YES!  Street Signs!  

Although, it was a bit confusing getting out of the airport.  We managed to get lost a bit trying to make our way out, but after a few turns, a few stops, and getting ourselves oriented, we managed to find and follow the signs to Seven Mile Beach.

Total rental cost for 4 days came out to US$199
   Daily rate - US$34.99
   Liability insurance - US$32
   2 Local Driver's Licenses - US$15
   Vehicle Environmental Recovery Fee Per Day - US$3