Saturday 22 Oct 2016

Vacation 2015: 1
Matt Seinberg

Planning a summer vacation is never as easy as we think it's going to be. First, you must find a destination that everyone likes. Then comes the fun part: finding the airfare, dates and times, which work with the vacation schedule. Then there’s the hotel and car. Finally, there is finding activities once you actually arrive at your destination.

The South was the agreed on destination, this year.

We had been talking on and off about going south. We chose Charleston, South Caroline and Savannah, Georgia. Both cities have plenty of historical sites to see, are easy to navigate and the food is supposed to be terrific.

I finally booked the airfare in May for an August trip. The price went up $100 since I had last checked a couple of months earlier. In addition, the cost of the flight went up, too. I opted for a later flight that was less expensive. We like to take early morning flights, as we don't lose a full day traveling and have more time getting to see the sites. We do like taking a later flight back, so we have more done on that last day. Sometimes that can backfire on you.

The flight going down was uneventful. We were supposed to have a layover in Baltimore of an hour, but got lucky. The layover turned out to be only ten minutes.

We arrived in Charleston on time, at 5 pm. Our shuttle ride was waiting for us. Todd, the shuttle driver, and his dog, Buddy, took us to the hotel. He recommended some restaurants for us to visit, which we ended up doing.

The first room the hotel gave us had a musty, mildew odor to it so we asked for another room right away. The moved us to the one next door, which seemed to be okay.

We ventured in search of food, as a Home Erectus family one million years ago.

By this time, we were very hungry. We changed our clothes and ventured out in search of food. The main area in Charleston lies between Meeting Street, where our hotel was located and King Street. We walked for what seemed forever and then we suddenly stopped at the smell of barbecue! This was Jim 'N Nicks, which Todd had told us about.

The smell was out of this world. We couldn't wait to order and eat! Marcy and I shared pulled pork and brisket. The girls shared chicken and pulled pork. We each got a cheddar biscuit and two sides. The meal was delicious! The whole meal with tip was only $37. Here at home, that would have been over $70.

On the way back to the hotel, we walked around a bit and stopped at one of the numerous visitor center storefronts. This one had all the brochures and offered free tickets to various attractions if you went for a two hour presentation on vacation time shares.

Since everyone likes free, we signed up, left $20 and made an appointment for 12:30 the next day. We were going to get tickets to the Fort Sumter tour and the aquarium, which was worth $176. That’s not bad for two hours work.

The next day we really walked around the city and saw its famous Rainbow Row of post-civil war homes, painted in all different pastel colors. We also saw a wedding in the waterfront park! We got to the vacation offer by 12 pm and very nice young woman, Mia, came to get us at 12:30. The girls liked her immediately, but let's face facts; the kids don't make such decisions. There was no way we were going to make an investment like this.

The two hours fly by. Mia brings in Mike. He’s apparently is one of the "closers."

Mike is like the sales manager, at a car dealership. He wants to rip the money out of your wallet. Luckily, he's not that high pressure and, of course, we decline after hearing what it costs to sign up. Are you ready? $21,000 gets you enough points for about two weeks at various properties that they own or you can pay more money and get a discounted rate. Thanks, Mike, we’ll pass on this deal.

We go back to the hotel and hit the pool. The water is very comfortable. I needed to relax for a while. Marcy and I stay down there for a couple of hours and then back to the room for a shower.

Oh, didn't I mention the problem with the shower the day before?

At home, my shower goes to the right for hot. At this hotel, the facet taps are marked hot and cold, but only cold water comes from the hot tap. I call to complain. A maintenance fellow shows up; he tells me it's labeled the wrong way. Now, they tell me.

Due to bad plumbing, the hotel didn't charge for day one.

After the pool, I want a nice hot shower. I turn the handle the correct way, and there is nothing but cold water! I quickly finish up, and when we go out to dinner, I mention this to the manager at the desk.

When we get back, there's an envelope on the floor, of our room. Inside is a note and invoice. The hotel is giving us a credit for our first night. Talk about being proactive and keeping a guest happy!

The next day, we go to the aquarium. I'm glad we didn't pay $100 for this attraction. Their claim to fame is they have largest indoor saltwater tank, with over three hundred species of fish. Yawn. There are no dolphins, penguins or other performances. They have a small tank with stingrays and small sharks. I yawn, again.

The food in Charleston is truly amazing.

We only had one meal that wasn't great; it was our own fault for going for Italian food there. We were lazy that night and didn't want to walk far. What a mistake this was. The pasta was most probably from a box, the sauce from a jar and the chicken certainly wasn't fresh.

Next time, vacationing in Charleston.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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