Last November, when I wrote a series of six posts entitled, â€œThe Best Worst Trip Everâ€â€”you can find links to the original posts here, or read a condensed full-length version of the saga hereâ€”I thought I had finished running the gauntlet of traveling to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. I believed that future trips to my favorite Caribbean destination would be all conch fritters and romantic walks on the beach.
In the words of my dad, â€œWrong-ola.â€
Iâ€™ve stayed in my share of hovels, such as the cinderblock room in Esquipulas, Guatemala, which had only a bed and a single bare bulb with a chain. While he was writing three prescriptions, a dermatologist in Nashville later told me that I shouldnâ€™t have slept between the sheets. I wonâ€™t go into details.
One hostel in Cork, Ireland, smelled if though one of the remarkably hairy men staying in my bunkroom had spread warm Brie between his toes. The odor coated my nostrils like bad cologne. I tried not to open my mouth.
Hunter, Josh, Brittany, and I liked the idea of staying at a Christian hostel in Amsterdam. What makes a hostel Christian? Chapel services in the morning? Prayers at bedtime? The Lordâ€™s Supper with your continental breakfast?
Apparently, the answer was a man speaking American English to a prostitute standing at the bottom of a stairwell in bra and panties a few doors down. We realized that Shelter City was located in the Red Light district, and though the beds were comfy enough and the rates reasonable, listening to the man offer the woman â‚¬20 and wondering if STDs can hitch a ride on a strong breeze took some of the charm out of the place.
If I continue to make my living as a writer, I doubt Iâ€™ll be staying at a lot of plush hotels, and thatâ€™s why I wanted to savor this latest trip to Turks and Caicos.
Frustration and anger with travel troubles intensify when youâ€™ve left a $300 a night room after only five hours of sleep for a four-hour delay and a five-hour layover. And it was our honeymoon, dangit!
Let me set the stage for you so that you know just what Megan left behind and what we were anticipating.
On the night leading up to our flight out of Nashville, we stayed at The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, which ranks #1 out of 144 hotels in Nashville, Tennessee, on TripAdvisor. You may care nothing about TripAdvisor, but at least the travel site will show you that many people think highly of this place.
We ate dinner at the Capitol Grille inside the hotel, which is ranked #1 out of 792 restaurants in Nashville on TripAdvisor. I enjoyed the most tender, flavorful cut of venison that Iâ€™ve ever tasted, with black rice, apple parsnip puree, and sweet and sour shallots. I then finished Meganâ€™s entrÃ©e: Roasted St. Georges Bank Black Code with sunchokes, chanterelle mushrooms, beets, diakon, and sweet onion slaw. Being married to a pixie with a hummingbird appetite has its perks. The fried oysters appetizer with smoked hollandaise, Anson Mills dirty rice, and tomato butter defied description. â€œFresh,â€ â€œsucculent,â€ or â€œlight breaded in cornmeal and lightly fried to a perfect goldâ€ wouldn’t do them justice.
My alarm went off at 4:05am alarm. We packed, and I paid our tab, roughly $66 for each hour we spent at the hotel.
Ouch. But it was all going to be worth it once I was taking an afternoon nap on Grace Bay Beach, which CondÃ© Nast magazine and a readersâ€™ poll from British Sunday Times named the best beach in the world.
That being said, when youâ€™re running on less than five hours of sleep and sitting in a gum-encrusted seat at your gate, you canâ€™t help but torture yourself with memories of the delightful place you just left and how you should have planned to more thoroughly enjoy its comforts: Frette linens, stationery with your name printed on it, soft towels and plush slippers, views of the Capitol building, shortbread cookies on a plate and doily, the end of each roll of toilet paper folded to make a point and fastened with a Hermitage Hotel logo sticker. Attention to every detail in Nashvilleâ€™s first million dollar hotel built a hundred years ago.
Youâ€™ve heard about being â€œbetween a rock and a hard place.â€ What about being â€œbetween a king-sized bed and a beach chairâ€?
I had arranged for us to stay at The Tuscany on Grace Bay, a boutique resort on Grace Bay Beach with only thirty units. TripAdvisor ranks the Tuscany #1 out of 42 hotels and resorts on Providenciales. Everyone who stays there raves about the experience: 2000-square feet, three-bedroom suites with open concept floor plans and private, screened-in balconies with panoramic views of the ocean; travertine floors and fully equipped gourmet kitchen with granite countertops; platform soaking tubs and bathrobes; fitness studio and tennis courts; plenty of restaurants in walking distance and a golf course; immaculate landscaping and pool; and bicycles and truly hospitable staff.
Letâ€™s donâ€™t forget the local, freshly roasted coffee and fast WiFi. These details matter, especially because I would soon be sipping a cup while reading the first chapter of John and listening to the breakers up and down those twelve miles of pristine white sand.
Did I mention the crystal clear water in a dozen shades of turquoise and aquamarine? Iâ€™m getting ahead of myself. We had to get there first, and American Airlines Flight# 1697 had a nasty surprise in store for us.
We check three bags and print boarding passes. We proceed through security without incident. We lounge at the gate trying not to pass out from sleep deprivation. We hear about a mechanical problem of the PA, but the captain tells us to board anyway.
We listen as the captain tells us that a fuel valve needs to been replaced. â€œAll mechanical machines break down at some time or another.â€ Thank you for this enlightening insight.
They will have to fly a part up from Dallas. The first flight from Dallas doesnâ€™t leave for two hours. A mechanic wonâ€™t even be able to take a look at the problem until 9:30am.
A line forms at the gateâ€™s desk. A single American Airlines employee faces a string of over a hundred tired, angry people.
I hate lines. I hate lines because people cut. This irritates me. Itâ€™s rude to cut. We all learned this in kindergarten. I hate lines because they give people an opportunity to exercise their lack of integrity. Like teachers leaving the room during tests and tax forms.
I decide to look up a 1-800 number on my Droid and make something happen. Thank you, Smart Phone and $30 a month data plan. This number is surprisingly difficult to find, though I know hundreds of people must need it every day.
I end up speaking with Carrie, a customer service representative in Raleigh, North Carolina, who puts in a call to U.S. Airways.
She is able to transfer our tickets. Weâ€™ll be connecting through Charlotte then catching a direct flight to Providenciales. Our flight departs at 7:55am.
I tell Carrie that she has saved my honeymoon, but I spoke too soon.
To be continued…