Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Day of Travel

Thomas and I wanted to get away and do something fun and relaxing so we planned a trip to Orlando. Today we left Santa Fe and spent most of the day in airports and airplanes. The traveling part went pretty well and we didn't have any problems - it was just long. Thankfully we had a non-stop flight from Albuquerque to Orlando so we didn't have to change planes or wait around in an extra airport. The flight itself was three and a half hours, but we left the house at 7:30 this morning and arrived at the hotel at 5:00 this afternoon (that is 3:00 Santa Fe time).

Like I said the flight and the airport stuff wasn't bad but once we had our luggage and arrived at the rental car place things were not as smooth. When we travel I usually make all the arrangements, Thomas doesn't want to get involved with all that (he will make suggestions and stuff but he doesn't want to actually book anything). So when we checked in at the Avis desk the guy asked to see my ID and credit card which I felt made sense because I had made the reservations. Then Thomas gave him his ID because he is the one that usually drives. Well, since I made the reservations Thomas was going to be added as an additional driver (and this added about $100 to the bill). So I told the guy I wasn't going to be driving and that Thomas does all the driving but he said that since I made the reservations I was the first driver and anyone else was additional. Everytime we travel I make the reservations and Thomas does the driving - we have never had this problem - Thomas gives his ID and he is the driver and we don't pay anything additional. So lesson learned, will not be using Avis ever again. Anyway we got the car (and I drove) and we headed for the hotel. While planning this trip I learned about SunPass and I ordered a mini transponder so that we wouldn't have to stop for any toll booths. I was glad we did because as soon as we left the airport we got on a toll road headed to the hotel. The Garmin worked well and got us to the hotel in no time. We followed the signs for parking to check in to the hotel - Monumental Hotel. We entered the hotel and had to walk through the whole building to find the reservation desk. They asked for my credit card and I told the guy checking us in that I had already prepaid for the room. He said they had additional fees ($6.75/day) for "other" things. When I asked he said that it covered parking, internet, a safe in the room and other things. You pay this even if you don't use them. This is also what I consider hidden fees. Not once when I was researching this property or booking the room was this fee mentioned. So what do you do - we were already here - I actually thought about calling around for another hotel but then realized that since I had prepaid I couldn't cancel. So they had me - they could have charged me $100/day and there would be nothing I could do about it. We got our keys and brought our things to the room and relaxed for a little while and thought about where we could go to dinner. We didn't really find anything so we stopped at the desk on the way out and asked the guy that checked us in where we could go. His response - just drive up and down International Drive and you will find something. So far in Orlando the customer service gets a big fat zero.

We got in the car and drove up and down International Drive and found a place called Pointe Orlando. This is a shopping area with stores and restaurants near the Convention Center. We walked around for a bit trying to decide on a place to eat. Our first choice was Fat Fish Blue. When we tried to enter the door was locked and some woman came and opened it only to inform us that they opened at 6:00 and that we would have to wait outside until then. She didn't even invite us to come in and sit in the waiting area so we decided since there were a lot of other places to eat we moved on. We finally decided to eat at Johnny Rockets. A good hamburger and french fries was just what I needed. We had our food and were eating by 6:10 - that other restaurant probably lost a few other customers by not letting people in a little early. After we ate and relaxed we decided to walk around the shopping area for a while and then stopped in at a Ben and Jerry's for a little dessert. I had Late Night Snack. This ice cream was really good - it has a salty and a sweet taste. Thomas had a brownie sundae with mint chocolate chip ice cream. By the time we finished this snack we were more relaxed and ready to have a nice vacation. So with all this nonsense with the rental car and the hotel behind us we are ready for some fun. Tomorrow we visit the Magic Kingdom.