Although our cruise didn’t leave until Sunday, we started vacation Friday afternoon. A long drive ahead of us, we left around 3:30pm. Mostly toll-road/turnpike the drive was relatively painless; construction through Ohio made it slower than we wanted. Exhaustion was heavy upon us when we arrived in Somerset PA around 2am (lots of construction around Pittsburgh, and unfamiliar roads made for slower driving) at the Hampton Inn. The room we booked was supposed to be a deluxe room, but the only thing deluxe about it was the fact that there was a sleeper sofa. But the room was only to sleep, and since we had a free night certificate, I can’t complain about the cost. The staff was amazingly friendly, both upon check-in, at the free breakfast, and at check-out. Hamptons have never let me down when it comes to friendly staff, even though the rooms are a little bland.
We left Somerset after a quick breakfast (and nasty coffee. Hampton needs to work on their coffee) and were off to Baltimore. For someone that has never been Baltimore, it is not the easiest city to traverse. We got lost. In the ghetto. But then, all that we saw in Baltimore other than the port was ghetto. That is one of the ugliest cities I have ever been in. And when driving down surface streets, lanes suddenly end and become parking. Why do some cities do that?!
Anywho, we went to the B & O Rail Museum for A Day Out With Thomas. Our boys are obsessed with trains, and we expected this to be a hit. Unfortunately, the long car ride, tension from getting lost, and the utter disappointment of the ugly surroundings made the day a little bit of a downer. But the museum is nice, lots of trains for the boys to look at. Unfortunately, the place was packed because of the Thomas event, so it was impossible to truly enjoy it. We spent too much money on a couple of new trains for the boys, even more on a cold hotdog, and then it was time to go on our Thomas ride!
The ride was supposed to be 25 minutes, and if it hit that, I would be surprised. The train moved ridiculously slow, giving us a glorious tour of, say it with me, the ghetto. Broken down trains were on sidings, riddled with bullet holes, sprayed with graffiti. Piles of scrap metal everywhere. The train we were on was escorted by 2 police officers on dirt bikes. I have no idea if this is normal, but I felt a little more safe after I saw the window in the car we were in that had been previously cracked by a bullet. Thankfully, the police officers were the best part of the ride, popping wheelies, waving, and entertaining the kids.
We left the museum soon after that ride, and headed off to the Embassy Suites by the airport. It was easy to find, and looked very nice from the outside. I went in to check-in, and had to wait a few minutes, as the 2 front desk clerks were chatting with other guests. (or who I guessed were guests, I never actually heard them say anything about staying at the hotel, they were having personal conversations) After one of the clerks finally acknowledged me, she asked my name, which I told her. She started to look up the reservation, but then the phone rang, which she answered. And then proceeded to have a personal conversation for several minutes as I stood there. Finally, she came back to me and had to ask my name again.
A bit of a digression here--Generally, I don’t care if the staff in hotels or stores are on personal calls while they are looking something up for me, or even checking me in, as long as they are doing something for me while I am the one that is paying to be there. A personal call that comes after my “transaction” has begun that interrupts the whole process? Oh I hate that so much. That girl almost ruined the entire hotel experience for me.
Back to the hotel. Other than that employee, the hotel was fine. The room we booked was on the top floor, one of the executive suites. It was a corner suite, which meant we had an extra window. I love hotel rooms with more than 1 window. Shortly after we arrived, our basket of Gold goodies showed up, along with the extra towels we had requested.
Sunday at the hotel was fine. Breakfast was good. The staff at the breakfast area was amazing, making up for the idiot at check-in. There were fish in a pool off the breakfast area and the boys were enamored. An employee (manager? I didn’t catch anyone’s name at the hotel, sadly) came over and asked if we would allow the boys to feed the fish. This happened after Simon missed a step (slippery marble steps!) and face-planted, so he may have been trying to smooth things over. As it wasn’t the hotels fault that Simon is clumsy, no blame there, but we did allow the boys to feel the fish. That was a trip for them. Another employee came over and showed how she could get the bigger fish to come to her so she could pet them. They were all so nice, and could teach the front desk employees a thing or two about good customer service.
|See the fishies?|
My next post will be about day 1 on board Carnival Pride, including the nightmare that is embarkation with a 4 and 2 year old.