On October 11, we got off the cruise ship in the port of Rome and boarded a bus to the Rome airport. We weren’t supposed to take off on a flight until late that evening (we arrived around 9AM), but the airline employees at the counter were able to get us on the earlier flight, which was so helpful! Our flight was direct from Rome to Madrid, so when we arrived, we took a taxi to the airport hotel, and spent a few hours there before going into the city center.
Before we left Rome, Brennan had found a hot sauce store he wanted to visit in Madrid to replenish his hot sauce supply. Yes, he loves hot sauce enough that he travels with it. He found Sally Pepper and we arrived to find a tiny store, with a very knowledgeable employee. The man didn’t speak much English, but encouraged Brennan to “talk like Tarzan” so they could understand each other with his basic English skills. He was very kind and gave Brennan descriptions of each of the hot sauces, where they were from, and how hot they were. Brennan LOVED it and ended up walking out with 3 different types of hot sauce.
We walked through the city on our way to get dinner. October 12 is a national holiday, and the city center was full of people walking around before the celebrations began the next day. We saw a concert happening in one of the central squares as we continued to walk toward our destination-Mercado de San Miguel.
This market was amazing-it is a historical market that was recently restored and now has food stalls from many different restaurants and types of food from around Madrid. We walked around the whole market before making any decisions-it was a little overwhelming and crowded. But, we found some different foods to sample and everything we tried was excellent. I’ve never seen so many different kinds of olives or empanadas!
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of them, but we had the best churros and chocolate from the market. We were heading out after all our tapas and decided to take the churros with us and go outside while we waited for an Uber. As we were walking out, an older lady fell down the few steps coming out of the market. Brennan rushed to help her, as did a bunch of other people standing nearby. She seemed fine and got up to walk away, but it was scary to watch her fall in slow motion. We were both a little shaken up by that, so we forgot to take a picture of the churros. Next time!
We had such a short amount of time in Madrid, but loved what we saw of the city. It has moved up on my list of places I would like to go back and see more!
We woke up on Wednesday morning, ate breakfast, packed our things up, and headed over to the airport. We were both very excited about our flight-Madrid to Doha, Qatar in Q Suites! This business class seat and experience is often rated as one of the highest in the world and it worked out for us to use our airline points to book this flight. We spent a few hours in the lounge before eagerly boarding the plane. From the moment we got on, every flight attendant was highly attentive, our seats were incredibly comfortable, and all the amenities provided were top notch. We took lots of pictures to remember all the details and settled in for the 6.75 hour flight to Doha.
We arrived in Doha around midnight local time. Shockingly, the airport was packed! If you’ve ever flown through Atlanta on a Friday afternoon, that’s the kind of packed I’m talking about. There were people everywhere! Brennan told me that airlines time their flights for the arrival destinations, and since many major international cities aren’t in the same time zone as Doha, they have to leave in the middle of the night to arrive to their destination in the daytime. It’s a very strange system that led to us being in an airport lounge from 12:30AM to 3:30AM.
Our next flight was from Doha to Male, Maldives. This was a shorter flight, only 4 hours and 40 minutes. I was so tired when we got on the plane, I don’t remember much from the flight. As soon as I could lay my seat back, I went right to sleep. I even missed the breakfast they served because I was still sleeping. While this plane and flight weren’t nearly as fancy as the first one, it was still excellent, especially because I was able to lay down and get some rest.
As we were arriving to Male, this was one of the first islands I saw. I couldn’t believe we were here-we’ve jokingly talked so many times about going to the Maldives, but now we were about to land! It felt very surreal.
From this point on, everything I write about is very, very fancy. Brennan and I could not do what we have done in the last 5 months and wouldn’t even dream of going to the Maldives without the hard work he puts in earning miles and points. This trip was heavily subsidized by our points and was still very expensive. But, it was an incredible experience and I’m so thankful we got to do it.
We arrived at Male International Airport and were greeted by a representative of the Conrad Hotel (where we were staying). He helped us check in for our sea plane transfer and got us to a shuttle that was waiting on us. The shuttle took us to a separate terminal where the Conrad lounge was and we were able to get food and drinks while we waited on our plane. The lounge was so nice and from the moment we stepped inside, everyone was happy to help us in any way they could.
We almost did not go to the Maldives because of how worried I was about the sea plane transfer to the island where the resort is located. There is no other way to get there-you have to ride in a small, sea plane. I did not want to be in a small plane that only lands on water. But, I decided I didn’t want something illogically scary to keep us from an amazing trip.
When we landed in the Maldives, the weather wasn’t great. It was rainy and windy. Because of the weather, our sea plane transfer time was moved up. We walked out from the terminal building toward the plane and out on a dock. We were seated at the back of the plane.
It was so small! There were 13 seats on the plane for passengers, plus 3 crew (2 pilots and one guy at the back who did the docking/undocking from the piers). Our trip up was a little nerve wracking-especially when all the water started moving right outside our window as we took off. But, once we were up in the air it was amazing to look down at the water and all the little islands we were passing. We flew through so many clouds, but thankfully there were only some wind gusts and no major bumps.
After about 30 minutes, we landed at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. We made it through the first sea plane flight!
While it was a long day of travel from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon, all the flights on this trip were really fun and great experiences. And, we were at a place we had dreamed about-Conrad Maldives!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.