Monday, 1 October 2012

Take a little Trip

Island living is great most of the time but once in a while I get "island fever" or too much time on the rock and there is no cure except getting off island for a few days to see something different.
We had a great summer, never as hot as in the U.S. and nice breeze most of the time but starting in late August, it gets very still and since there are normally storms in one spot or another passing by they pull all the energy out of the air.
All good conditions to get Island fever. All the symptoms were there, boredom, lack of interest in anything, sense of humor gone and short temper. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning is not going to work, we need air evacuation to cure this malady.
I had lots of airline miles so I was off to a good start. Unfortunately hubby had to do a job on another island so it was solo or no go. I choose solo and Orlando of all places for my week away get away.
Why Orlando? Well I have been there before so I know some stuff but not too much. Also my sister lives about an hour away so we can have a visit. Prices are great on hotels and food. What more could I ask for, how about entertainment. I am easy to please, we don't have much here, not even a movie theater. Did I mention shopping? We don't got no shoppin on Anguilla absolutely.
Off I go, first night in St. Maarten as hubby and I are taking off from the same airport different flights early morning. As we part I begin to get that wonderful sense of adventure I get on every trip I take. Heading into the unknown. I had booked a hotel in Orlando for the week, it was extremely cheap but a Howard Johnsons right on International drive, how bad could it be? I just needed a bed, air conditioning and quiet. Flight went off without a hitch, no problems with American despite all the warnings about delays in flight etc. I got to Orlando right on time and had booked a car waiting for my connection in Miami on my iPad. Cool.
Get my car, plenty of day left and head for the hotel. Got lost, no problem have a navigational device provided by rental company but after getting lost a few more times, I put it away and relied on road signs. I also stopped and ask a policeman if he knew where the HJ was. Right down the street.
Opps! HJ was a mistake. Rooms opened outside, not into the hotel. The first person I saw looked like a meth head perched on the wall outside one of the rooms. I never even stopped, just went looking for a new hotel.
It's an adventure, correct?
I found one without much driving, it was Orlando after all, more hotels than houses. The Hawthorne Suites by Wyatt on Canada Ave. was a good match for me. I am not saying it was perfect, just that it was fine, interior entrance, free breakfast and friendly staff. So now I have a room and I am exhausted. I also had some problems. I needed to cancel my hotel room at HJ so I sent them an email which was promptly replied to saying " Your reservation is not able to be canceled, contact hotel."

Note: Online booking is great, we have a business that does it but be very careful when you book online. You see the name of the hotel so you think you are booking directly with the hotel. For two bookings I got it wrong, perhaps I was tired. Instead of getting the hotel I got a booking service with a company based in India. The problem is, they can not help you with a change or cancelation. You have to call the hotel. When you call the hotel, they don't want to mess with that companies reservation so you get into this catch 22 situation. I was doing a bit of that on my first night and it is a nightmare. It all got sorted out but it was not pleasant.

 Why I did not use the hotel phone I will never know, and I could not find my cell phone so after brief panic I decided not to worry about it and took a nap which turned into giving up for the night.
Next morning I found my phone, called the hotel and they said they canceled me as a no show but I had to pay for the first night. So be it.
Next morning things seemed brighter. All rested up I headed downstairs for a delicious breakfast. That was the only time I ate breakfast at the hotel. Brown water for coffee and those artificial eggs and fake bacon and some white mushy stuff, what is that?  Thanks for the effort. There was a Perkins down the street, dandy.
My hotel choice was better than I thought as I was on the corner of Sand Lake Road, home of the Florida Mall. I had to get stuff and that was a good start on my quest.
Spent the morning searching the mall, they have a Macy's so I was set for some new duds, and an apple store, amazing, it was iphone 5 day, they were lined up to get in. Those folks would never make it on Anguilla.
Back to the hotel to investigate on computer and found a movie theater right down the road at a shopping area called Pointe. I decided to check it out.
Nice place but empty of people. Loaded with restaurants, a zillion theater place and of all things an Improv. Better yet, they were having a show with Pablo Francisco and had tickets. I went, I loved it. The place was not packed but had a good crowd. They serve you dinner during the show. Three comedians entertain and they were all good. Great time and I had to sit at a table with folks I did not know but by the end of it we were all chatting like good friends. A+ holiday so far!
My sister was going to be in the area on Saturday so I got tickets for the magic dinner show at Wonder Works. It was cheap, you get to eat and have a show. Good deal.
She met me at the hotel and after a little shopping, we went to the show. It was not as nice as the Improv and set up for kids but we enjoyed it anyway. Orlando is all about entertainment.
The rest of the week went about the same, of note, Fish Bones is a restaurant right off International drive and right around the corner from my hotel. It was excellent. Food, staff, atmosphere perfect.
I had my fill of good shopping and food and relaxing. Was I ready to go home, no but I did not have to! Hubby emailed to ask me to bring parts to his job on another island. So I found what he needed, changed my flight and I was off to Nevis rather than Anguilla.
And that is where all the trouble started.
I stayed my last night at the Hyatt at the Orlando Airport. What a lovely hotel and for that matter airport. They have it all including free wifi. The hotel allowed me to check in early which was nice and they have two lovely restaurants so I was set for my last night.
Next morning I head out early to the barely tolerable security check and then off to my departure gate. All is well. Oh except they noted that the flight was going to be about 15 minutes late. My connection was tight but it was still OK.
The plane did not arrive as scheduled and even though we all got on in a speedy fashion when it finally did arrive, we did not take off. We sat, and sat and sat. Something wrong with the plane. I had a great seat right in the middle of all the action. And right next to the door. I knew I had missed my connection but at least I could get to Miami, a little closer and hope for another flight to St. Kitts.
We finally taxi out to the runway and they do a strange test. We failed, back to the terminal. More fixing. Amazing thing, they let the passengers off the plane. I get off and get some lunch and head back. We had flight attendants hitching a ride, they vacated the plane. That was a bad sign but they loaded us up again, and once again on to the runway for another test. Evidently we failed again...  back to the terminal. Tempers flared and I watched as people yelled at the flight attendants who have nothing to do with any of it. One of them had been friendly and told a couple of us to get off the plane and rebook. We did. About an hour later I had the same flight for the next morning.
Back to the hotel. I am not complaining.
The next morning the flight went off as scheduled but there was a minor delay as they explained that the plane had no navigational equipment and had to be approved to fly. They wanted to ensure our safety. They kept saying that.
But we finally took to the sky and arrived safely in Miami.
No problems in Miami, it is turning into a great airport and flight took off on time. I was in St. Kitts on schedule and in Nevis early afternoon.
All in all it was a great trip and probably for the time being cured the dreaded "Island Fever".

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