Monday, January 15, 2018

Cruise 2017: Trip Down

Somehow, we were able to book "good" flights at good prices, with the exception of having to pay for luggage. I thought our flight left at 2 but found out two days before (when I was scheduling a job interview), that it left at 1:15! Upped the schedule by an hour! And then Rob realized he needed to stop at his office on his way to the office, so up the schedule by 30 minutes. Rob spent the early morning underwear shopping, I did the last minute packing, and off we went by 9am. 
We got to the airport but Rob hadn't refreshed his memory as to where the Park N Fly was and we sort of went the long way. Got there, and the economy (the cheapest, furthest lot) was closed due to repairs, so we were given an upgrade to the Self Park--which we had already driven past once. Got there, and the lot was pretty much full! We found a spot which Rob didn't like because it was right up against the highway. He was worried about debris. Had to wait awhile for the shuttle. Of course, he was complaining all this time that we were going to be late.

Got in, managed to do the self check in by ourselves, through security, etc and decided we should eat. We had about 45 minutes, but lost time looking for somewhere to eat. There was this burger place near our gate so we went back to it. It wasn't exactly fast. It was decent food, pricey of course. Just another cost of travel. 

There's our plane!
Getting ready for take off!
The snack offered on the plane. Two little cookies. Which I wasn't going to eat, but yeah, I succumbed. They were good, but I would have preferred nuts.
It was a decent flight. Some turbulence. Not the worst, not the best either though. Coming into the Miami area, it was fascinating to see the hurricane damage. Still a lot of flooding!! Some houses were boarded up, many signs were broken, trees down.
We got to Miami and took the long walk to our luggage. We tried not to rush, but Rob is a fast walker. Got to the luggage carousel. And waited. And waited. It took an hour from when we landed until our plane's luggage started showing up. During part of this time, I was sitting on a bench and there were a couple women from our flight talking about their sewing machines and fabric in their suitcase! Was there a sewing cruise?! Likely quilters, but still!
We had bought a US/International talk booster for our phones. I got mine working, but Rob couldn't get his working. So I called the hotel to ask about the shuttle. Between the poor reception and her accent, I didn't get much info, except go outside of doors 7. I think.
We headed outside. WoW! So hot, humid, and stinky. At least this time we weren't near the pet relief area, but the smokers...and exhaust, combined with the heat and humidity. I called again, heard a little bit more, and we started watching. We weren't sure exactly what we were watching for, but I thought she had said a white shuttle Van.
Most of them are white.
We finally saw one with the hotel name on it and flagged it over.  We loaded up, drove a bit, and stopped for another couple. The driver was nice, offered a map of the area with restaurants, and a menu for a pizza place that would give us a discount if we told them he referred us. As usual, it was a short, scary trip to the hotel. Well, short in a geographic sense. It's not a short driving time anywhere in Miami.
When we got to the hotel, the other (older) couples were disappointed it was "so far" from restaurants. Didn't seem far to us, but there definitely weren't a lot of chain restaurants.
We stayed at the Best Western Plus Airport North
The room was nice. When we go to Ft Lauderdale we stay at a suites hotel and I always think it's overkill.
Rob enjoying the king size bed
Instead of mini bottles of product, they had these refillable bottles. Rob had difficulty figuring them out, but I made sure to read them while I still had my glasses on LOL.
This was the view out front. It's one street north of the road on the north side of the airport. We stayed really close last time we were in Miami. I searched our documents to find that hotel, but it wasn't coming up on the Google map. So we did street view and I was actually able to pick it out based on one picture I had from that trip. That time we went to iHop. This time we headed out in the opposite direction, not sure  where we would go, but knowing there was a Denny's further down. First up was a Thai restaurant. It didn't seem busy/open...and there were several cop cars out front. Keep moving. The "deli" next door was at a gas station and also had a cop car. We skipped it, but went in on our way home thinking we'd get Popsicles or some dessert (it was also a convenience store). The first ice cream bar I picked up was squishy. We noticed milky puddles in the bottom of the cooler. All the ice cream bars were a bit soft. They had probably lost power during the hurricane and this was old stock still. Okay, skip dessert. Kept walking...past the sports bar...the Irish pub was tempting but Denny's won. After Denny's we walked a bit further and the next block had a good smelling sub/sandwich shop. Oh well. We had a great meal at Denny's (as great as Denny's can be). The parking lot was still half flooded and the inside had a bit of a damp feel. We could over hear an elderly couple talking to another couple, a bit about the hurricane. It was quite late for dinner by now and it just seemed a little odd. They weren't tourists and it wasn't really a residential area. The next morning I was getting breakfast and I saw a woman hugging a hotel staff and the worker asked her when she was going to get to go home. The woman said probably tomorrow, and I realized she was the woman from Denny's. As she talked, I realized she was a hurricane refugee. She'd been at the hotel for over 3 weeks.

Rob went to sleep early and I stayed up crocheting and watching TV. Married life.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cruise 2017---Pre-Cruise

I had two posts last year?! I might have had more but I made some private since I was in the job market. You can see how the last few months of 2017 went for me HERE. 
So many changes in such a short time!

Oct 2017 was our 20th wedding anniversary. I knew we needed a cruise. We hadn't had a trip together, without the kids (or ANY night without the kids) since our cruise in October 2011.  In around March, I "made" Rob come in to see our travel agent. She suggested Celebrity but they had only long (10-11 day) cruises in October to the southern Caribbean. I really wanted to do a southern itinerary. She found a deal on Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan on October 14. Yes, we'd miss our actual anniversary but we've done that before. It was a mid-ship balcony. Great! Rob wanted to put the hold on it and do some research.

So we came home and he started Googling. He agreed that the ship looked like an okay size (he had previously said this class was "too small") and was pleased it had been updated. Then he started reading reviews that the food had gone downhill. And. He realized we'd be flying on Friday the 13th. Now, he's a pretty logical guy. I was surprised by his wish to not fly that day! We went back to the agent and she said that really the only other thing available (without going to other lines) was the Celebrity cruises. One would leave just before Thanksgiving, but we'd be on the ship for our anniversary. The kids...grandparents...PA Day at the start of Thanksgiving...10 day cruise plus one hotel night? More days, slightly cheaper, but no balcony. Oh... hard choice. The Celebrity trip won.

Late August comes, and Hurricane Harvey. I realized that we had previously looked at a Royal cruise out of Galveston, for that very week, and that ship was now on it's way to Florida to avoid the storm. Phew. Dodged that bullet! Then, Hurricane Irma. We watched and waited to see what would happen to Key West. I hadn't been thrilled to have KW on our itinerary, but then I discovered we would actually be there on the same day, twenty years after we were there on our honeymoon! Cruises immediately pulled KW from their routes. Sad, but hopefully it would be replaced with a nice place we hadn't been before. Nope, Celebrity added Falmouth, Jamaica. Bleh.
 Then Hurricane Jose. Never before, in the months prior to a cruise, have I paid so much attention to hurricanes! We were deeply saddened for everyone, especially Sint Martin. It wasn't on our itinerary, so we looked forward.

And then, Hurricane Marie. San Juan! So thankful we had changed our plans! So sad for the people! Then it turned towards Florida. We watched CNN for hours that night. Where would it hit?! Miami was flooding, it was a mess, and  was our hotel even still operational? We were leaving in just a month. We gave it a couple days and called the hotel. Rob found out that a major, main portion of the hotel was under construction. He wasn't pleased. So he cancelled that and picked another hotel, close to where we stayed in 2008. It looked like things were improving daily in Miami so while we kept an eye on the forecasts, we kept up with pre-trip preparations. For me, that included two job interviews LOL.