Taking a 3 year old to Europe has its challenges, but its pleasures too.
Frank has a business trip to Athens, Greece – which we’ve been talking about turning into a Europe trip. Normally I spend weeks going through options, checking multi-destination flights and ticket prices. Out of the blue, Frank tells me he found tickets to Paris on air miles – super low air miles. And he booked them! It was like winning a trip on a game-show. I’ve never had someone book a trip for me! Wow! This must be how Oprah does it! 😉
Wanderlust. Is that one word? Spell check (my dear old friend) hasn’t drawn its jagged red line, so I guess it is one word.
Wanderlust. Why me? That deserves an exclamation point too. Why me?! I have the life. All the comforts of a very nice life; caring husband, healthy happy child, family and friends, nice home in wine country, vacations, etc… Looking at this list, there’s something interesting -would most people list more “things?” I have mentioned my home I guess.
I even have a job now. When I started this blog I didn’t have one – that’s when the writing stopped. It took some time to get adjusted to the new way of life. Even my job is nice. Three flexible days a week at a tech company. The people are wonderful to work with and the environment is fantastic. There’s “beer on deck” on Fridays, where we all hang out. We had a “real” Christmas party this year. No one has an office, not even the CEO -he has an open work space like the rest of us. Mixed drinks on Thursdays. Home-made waffles. I could go on. You get the point.
All of this and I still want to leave. I come home from a trip (the latest was the Big Island), and I’m ok for a week or two. Then the ache starts. I long to go somewhere. I start checking Expedia for flights. That’s when my dear sweet husband tells me we just got home and can’t afford the time or money to go on another one now. I secretly mope and tell him “I know… I just like to look.” Which is true. I don’t mention the ache – the desire I have to explore.
I want to explore. No. I need to explore. But why?
Is it because my job isn’t mentally rewarding enough? During law school I had wanderlust, but not as bad. It’s something to ponder. I’ll think about it and write more. I’d love to hear what other people experience…
Do I get paid for advertising for the Fairmont? No. Back when I made my original posts, it was around our trip to Boston. And as usual, the Fairmont treated us quite well. They upgraded us to a signature suite. On our first evening they gave us a lovely gift – a signed copy of the Catie Copely book for our two-year old, along with a soft stuffed dog. How sweet!
Now keep in mind, we are loyal Fairmont patrons, but we are not the biggest spenders. I can honestly say we have never paid more than the rate for a basic room. What we have done is been loyal guests at the Fairmont. Over the last 5 years we have continued to stay at the fairmont for at least two weeks per year. On various trips (both vacation and last minute business), we seek out Fairmonts are reserve there.
One such time was an emergency trip to Vancouver where we found ourselves standing in the hallway of Vancouver General at 3am with a crying baby, hoping and praying my uncle would live through the night. We had just flown in from San Francisco and had an emergency briefing from the doctors. It was cruise season and all the hospital’s recommended hotels were booked. One call to the Fairmont and they had a room ready for us, and gave us a super-low rate due to the emergency situation. We arrived at the hotel to find a small selection of food in our room as well as a note saying they were happy to have us and sorry it was under such dire circumstances. When my other uncle and father needed to fly in the next day, the Fairmont assured they had rooms next to us and at our same low rate.
Long story short, we just had a wonderful stay at the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island, Hawaii. It was there that I learned about the Fairmont credit card and its wonderful benefits.
I’m going to apply now. http://www.fairmont.com/promo/card/
Looking forward to more stays…
Early bird gets the hotel room on hotwire.com. Late bird gets the Fairmont.
What can I say? I did the whole betterbidding.com thing, found the Omni Park Hotel on hotwire for $183, and didn’t book it. Went back two days later and not only was the hotel not listed on hotwire, but it was sold out on all other sites!
Time to re-start my search. A big part of why the Omni was such an ideal option was its location in the center of downtown Boston. We want to take the Freedom Trail Tour, and don’t want to be far away from the hotel in case the little one loses it.
The Taj has a decent location, but it was $250 a night! At that price I might as well look at the Fairmont. I mentioned before, I’m a member of the Fairmont President’s Club. And look what just arrived in the mail. (Do they scan my computer?!)
Again, not cheap. But they did have it listed on Expedia for $292 per night. It wasn’t clear if that’s cancelable or not. That’s a steep rate for something non-cancelable. So I called the president’s club line. An actual person answers the phone! Yes! And Canadian, so quite nice and easy to work with. She let me know that the rate was non-cancelable. Ugh. That’s really too much money to lose if Francesca is sick or something changes.
I asked her to check the AAA rate, and turns out it’s $306/night, but you get a $50 voucher towards food at the hotel. Nice! That means breakfast.
Have you seen the door-hanging breakfast cards at the fairmont? I love them!
In my last post I talked about using the site betterbidding.com.
If you’re a control freak like me, or risk averse, sites like Hotwire.com are ones you stay away from. Personally, I can’t imagine going online, booking a hotel and not knowing which one it is. After spending a zillion dollars on flights to some destination, I do not want to spend a gazillion on some hotel that has not gone through the proper vetting process.
By vetting, I mean using tripadvisor.com. In the olden days, before tripadvisor, you would look up a hotel online (apparently not that olden of days), and pray they weren’t scamming you. The worst was one you’d get to the hotel and find that half the place had been renovated and the other half was pre-1970. Yuck! This happened to us once at the Kensington Close Hotel in London. My husband (at the time we weren’t married yet) and I were taking a trip to London with his parents. They live in the Netherlands, so we traveled from there, via the ferry in Calais, France, to London.
I was in charge of getting us a hotel. So I went online and found the Kensington Close Hotel. It had a great location, decent price, and good looking rooms. Here’s what the web-site showed:
Not bad, right?! I was so excited when we checked in. The last time I was in London was just after high school, and it soon became my favorite city (although it’s a toss up now with Paris). We check in, get rooms on the same floor, and head up the elevator.
We got off the elevator, and stepped into a dilapidated hallway. uh-oh. Then we opened the doors to our rooms, and double uh-oh. I was mortified. It looked like the room hadn’t been updated since the London bombings of WWII. And they had been a casualty of such bombings! The wallpaper was peeling off the wall, even hanging in one spot. The carpet had huge stains on it, the wall had mold in the seams, and the bathroom – really, I can’t go into it in fear that some of you reading are eating right now. Needless to say, the photo on the website did not match the room I walked into.
Frank’s parents put on their best face and acted like everything was ok. Keep in mind, this was a decent priced place, not CHEAP. It was down-right nasty. Here’s the matress:
We were EXHAUSTED after the long day of travel, and really needed a shower. Naturally, the tub was clogged. By the time the water got hot, I was standing in a foot of cold water and needed to take a quick shower so A) the tub wouldn’t overflow, and B) Frank had time to shower before it DID overflow.
By the time I was done getting ready, doing my best not to touch any surfaces, I was pissed! And embarrassed! My in-laws are very sweet, polite people that wouldn’t think of going down to a front desk causing a ruckus. So I had to do it myself, and certainly not in-front of them. After all, what future daughter-in-law wants their in-laws to know what a Bitch there son will be marrying?! right?
I walked down to the front desk and asked them to change our rooms. I was informed this was a standard room. I asked the clerk to open their website, which he did. Then I asked him to look at the photo (above) and tell me if he thought they looked the same. “No, the one on the site is an updated room.”
OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH….. so That’s how this works!
After barraging him with the whole false advertising spiel, we were handed the keys to our lovely new, updated room. The one I had intended to book in the first place. All is well that ends well.
I was fortunate enough to find Tripadvisor early-on, and have used it for every hotel booking since! That’s my vetting process – check tripadvisor. Easy enough. But without knowing the hotel name, I’m outta luck. Or maybe not… thanks to betterbidding.com.