Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trip Review (long)

Overall our "vacation" to Arizona was ok. It was nice to get away with Nik for a few days, but it will be equally as nice to get home to Christina. We missed her terribly and talked about her constantly. Here is my review of our trip:

Nik booked the trip without consulting me, so we ended up with a hotel 45 minutes away from Wrestlemania - the very event we were flying there to see. He also booked us on flights there and back with a stop over. He didn't plan ahead regarding restuarants, activites, or any other plans for that matter. So, zero stars for Niks vacation planning skills. Moving on . . .

Our first flight was fine, even good I would say although I was disappointed that all food was for purchase only (but I was not surpised).

When we landed in Chicago for our layover, I was surprised to realize that we had three hours to kill. Not only did we have a pretty decent length of time originally, but our pilot was also diligent in getting us there early. I immediately thought of my friend that lives in Chicago but unfortunately it was a little too late to arrange to meet up at just a moments notice. I really wish I would have planned something ahead of time.

Luckily, the layover in Chicago was a pretty nice part of our trip. We took a very long and leasurly lunch and were happy to do so at Macaroni Grill. I was actually shocked that the airport had a Macaroni Grill and considering it is one of my favorite places to eat, I was also thrilled. We also spent the entire time there discussing possible middle names for Gwen. So far, we came up with these possibilities: Isabella, Eve, Ann or Anne, Belle, Brie or Bree, Rose and Brey. I think I'm missing a few actually, so I might have to come back to this list.

Personally, I'm leaning towards Ann or Eve. But, even though we have a long list, I'm really not totally thrilled with any of these options. I feel like there is a name out there that I totally love, but that I just haven't found yet. Since Gwendolyn is such a nice, pretty, and mature name (oh, and very long), I'm really looking for a cool, maybe trendy, fun middle name that is short. For some reason I can't get the name Lola out of my head. I love love love it, but it doesn't sound good with Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn Lola Kalos, uuumm, no, I don't think so. Gwendolyn Ann Kalos, although it sounds great and there is nothing wrong with the name Ann,
I just feel like it is missing something. Anyone have any suggestions?

By now are you wondering why we are talking about baby names instead of my trip? Sorry about that, back to our regularly scheduled program . . .

The second flight which took us to Phoenix was awful. Since it was double the length of the first flight, it just seemed never ending. On top of that, I got horrible motion sickness. It was like the morning sickness came back again. For the first half hour of the flight I felt horrible, then it got better. By the time we were getting close to landing I started feeling really sick again. The worst part was that it didn't get better when we got off the plane. I actually felt sick for the rest of the night. So besides the fact that we were very tired from a long day of travel and we were jet lagged from the three hour time change, on top of that I felt like crap. Considering Saturday night was our only free night in Arizona, we were a bit annoyed at the circumstances.

After the flight, we headed for Hertz to get our rental car. We normally use Enterpirse, but strayed because of cost. I regret that decision now. There was a HUGE line at Hertz. I have never ever had to wait in a line like that to pick up a car that we already had reserved. Then, we get up there and the guy is giving us a Toyota instead of the car we reserved. I didn't complain since it says "or comparable car", but still, with the whole recall issue with Toyota, I just didn't feel comfortable about them forcing us to take a Toyota. Then, when I handed him my bank card and realized that Nik was going to pay on his card, I quickly told the guy that wasn't the card we wanted to use. He assured me that he would only do an authorization on my card and we could pay with Niks card when we returned the car. Big mistake. Even though the rental itself only cost $200, the guy "authorized" my card for $416. And yeah, when you "authorize", you basically are holding the money for 48 hours (minimum). So guess who had no money for the entire trip? Yeah, I only had a litle more than that in my account to begin with (since it is a spending money account only), so I just didn't have any money to work with while we were there. Luckily I didn't need it, but still, I was not a happy girl.

When we finally got our rental car, we immediately jumped in and headed to the hotel. We were very anxious to get there. Of course the GPS took us to the wrong one and I felt completely embarressed when we tried to check in and were informed that we were at the wrong hotel. Oops. After we found our hotel, we couldn't figure out which building was the right one since they had a casino as well. We ended up parking at the Casino by mistake and having to walk with our bags, to the building that had the hotel rooms. This wasn't much fun considering I still felt so sick.

Now onto something positive . . the hotel was very very nice. We loved our room. It was beautiful, clean, had a great view and an awesome flat screen TV. They even had this hookup thingy which we could hook up our netbooks or cell phones to and play our music through the TV speakers. Oh and free wifi too. So, that was pretty cool. Unfortunately, I found out the next morning that my netbook screen was no longer working (damn it), but we had Niks netbook atleast.

After we checked out the room and got settled, we headed downstairs. There were two possible restaurants that we wanted to choose from. Afterwards, we wanted to either go to the nightclub there or to the lounge that had live music. Turns out neither of the optional restaurants were our cup of tea. I guess it was mostly my fault since I am so picky when it comes to food. Instead, we ate at the food court and that food was really bad. It didn't even occur to me at the time that we should have left the hotel to go somewhere. I guess since we were so tired and the hotel was in the middle of nowhere, we just didn't even want to think about that option.

When our horrible dinner was over, we walked over to the nightclub and found out that we could not get in due to dress code. Nik hadn't brought any dress shoes. Oh well, I didn't care considering how I felt. We went over to the lounge and found out that the live band was playing all Country music. No thanks. So, we called it a night.

In the morning I was determined to plan something fun for us to do before and/or after wrestlemania. As you saw in my previous post, I didn't have a lot to work with. We did finally decide on the scenic drive at a Mountain Reserve. It was ranked number one as far as things not to miss in Arizona on the Yahoo Travel guide. I also read an article about things to do near Wrestlemania. It was specifically written for those going to the event. I mapped out a restaurant to go to before the event and then two possible options for after the event. I was determined to go to the first one for lunch because I was craving fish tacos and that was mentioned in the review. From the two restaurants for dinner, one said they had a live band and a dance floor and the other had a laid back atmosphere with lots of different kinds of music and a mechanic bull. I figure, either one of them would be nice.

We drove 40 minutes to get to the Mountain Reserve and were greeted by a huge road block. The sign said "Silent Sunday Event". The scenic drive was CLOSED! This is the scenic drive that ranked NUMBER ONE on the "things not to miss" list. How is it closed??? I was very dissapointed, but hungry, so we headed off to the restaurant which was another 40 minutes away, but just 5 minutes from Wrestlemania.

Sandbar Mexican Restaurant or something like that was the name of the place. The decor was great, the atmosphere was great, they played music, and in the outside area the place was covered with sand like at the beach. They even had a little wave pool. It was really cool. Unforuntately, none of the remaining tables outside had an umbrella and it was just too hot and sunny to eat outside, so we went indoors, which was nice too. Moments after opening the menu, sadly I found that the "fish tacos" mentioned in the review did not exist. Of course, that was THE reason I wanted to go to that restaurant. Great.

Lunch was good and we took our time again because we had time to kill, considering we didn't get to take our scenic drive. We got to Wrestlemania early, but with all of the madness - tons of people and cars everywhere - it was a good thing. Nik was able to buy a shirt and not even have to wait in line (which is normally unheard of).

The venue was nice, they had a lot of fun food options (yes, I know I just ate, but come on, I'm pregnant, remember?) I had a frozen lemonade and ice cream later on. Yum. I guess Arizona heat really made me want something cold.

I was pleasantly surprised that there were lots of kids there, young kids. There were little girls and little boys, some decked out in wrestling gear and some not. There were lots of three, four and five year olds, plus a few even younger than that. In fact, we actually saw a baby who couldn't have been more than 10 months old. Of course, with every cute kid we saw, we had to talk about Christina and how we missed her and wished she was with us.

Now I don't know if you care about the actual event itself (probably not), so I'll keep this part short. It was ok. Nothing real exciting, I pretty much called all of the winners, so it wasn't a surprise. I guess I enjoyed it, but it was no big deal. Nik drank way too much, also not a suprise.

When we got back to our rental car, I called the restaurant with the band to ask what kind of music they will be playing. Turns out that they don't have a band. They use to have a nightclub within the restaurant, but don't anymore. Great. I guess whoever wrote up that review specifically for Wrestlemania, did not check his/her facts. So, we GPS'ed the other restaurant. It was really close to the arena, which I thought would be a good thing but realized it was a very very bad idea. We were stuck in tons of traffic just trying to drive about a mile. THEN, when the GPS finally got us to the address, we found no such restaurant existed. At least the GPS couldn't find it. It brought us to a deadend. This calls for another Greeeaaaat. Again, why didn't this article-writer check the facts before posting it for all the world to see?? I was annoyed.

We decided to just go to the first restaurant anyway, even though they wouldn't have music. Traffic cleared up as this one was a bit further away. By the time we got there, I was extremely cranky. I was tired, frustrated and starving. Plus, Nik was passed out next to me, so I felt I was all on my own. I woke him up and we went inside. We were Just in time for them to tell us that they were closed. It was 9 o'clock. Wish I would have asked when I called, but really, what restaurant closes at 9??

At this point I was ready to just breakdown and cry. Again, really tired, really really hungry, and all alone taking care of a drunk person :-( I was debating driving back to the hotel and giving up on dinner altogether considering we had to wake up at 5am to fly home, but I really didn't want to do that for Gwen's sake - I needed to eat. A Cheesecake Factory was nearby so we just went there.

The 45 minute drive back to the hotel was MISERABLE. I could barely keep my eyes open. Yes, it was only 10:15 or so, but New Jersey time was 1:15 and it had been a long day. When we got back, I called the front desk to ask for a wake up call, which they gladly said they would do and I went to bed as fast as I could get myself there. Sadly, Nik was up half the night throwing up. I told him he should take it easy on the beer, but what do I know I guess.

It was still dark out when I heard Nik get a text message and asked him what that noise was. We were both partially awake due to all of the throwing up. He got up to check his phone and naturally I asked what time it was. To my surprise, it was 5:30am. But how could that be, I thought? I asked for a wake up call at 5am. Apparently, the hotel doesn't care if we make our flight or not. Thank goodness we had no problems getting ready and out on time, but this was just another thing to add to my list of grievances.

I'm on the first leg of our flight home right now, even though I will likely not post this entry until at least later today, maybe even tomorrow. So far the trip home is ok. I am exhausted and not looking forward to getting up for work tomorrow while still jet-lagged. But, I am anxious to see my baby girl and get home. For this flight so far I'm not feeling sick. I hope it stays that way.

A recap - all of our attempts at experiencing Arizona failed, but it was still nice to be there I guess. The weather was sunny and warm. I enjoyed the landscaping and I'm glad we went, just wish it could have turned out a bit different. I've never been on a trip where I've encountered so many things that made me angry. Is it just me? Between Hertz, flights that aren't non-stop, wakeup calls that never
happen, and online articles that shell out completely out of date or just incorrect information, I've never had so many hiccups (if you want to call them that). Chicago airport gets two thumbs up soley on the basis that they have a Macaroni Grill. Oh, and I found this cute ring at one of the jewelry stores. That was nice too. I've learned my lesson about letting NIk plan trips, so next time hopefully it will be better.

Now I am exhausted just thinking about the fact that four days from now I will be flying yet again. This time, with Christina. We didn't get her a seat on the plane because money is tight, although I said last time that I wouldn't do that again. I don't know where she is going to go. The plane seems too tight and she too big to fit on my lap. Plus, how in the world am I going to entertain the kid when she can't even sit still for a minute. She gets upset when we keep her indoors for too long, let alone stuck on a plane. This one will be fun. Thank goodness I have reinforcements - three whole people will be flying with me (and four on the way back) that can help to manage and entertain her throughout the trip. That is priceless.

UPDATE: I didn't get sick on either of the flights on the way home (thank goodness), but our second flight was delayed for about two hours. That meant that we didn't make it home until 10:30 or so and then I had to get up early the next day and considering the 3 hour time difference, it wasn't fun.

Here are some pics from our trip:

around our hotel -

by the mountain reserve-

wrestlemania (Nik is a big HHH fan, in case you were wondering)-

1 comment:

  1. Aw! Poor you! Hope you are back home safely and resting!


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