Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hotel to avoid... Courtyard Marriott, Gatwick Airline to avoid... Aer Linugs

A couple of weeks ago, I had the sad news of my mother's passing so I had to go to Britain to attend her funeral. The journey over was somewhat easier than the journey back. Not being in much of a mood to document the journey over, instead I documented the journey back.
 On the way from London, I had noticed there was WiFi available on the trains though sadly by then my tablet battery was almost depleted. On the way back I fared better but noticed that had I had a UK adaptor plug for my USB charger, I could have kept my tablet topped up on the way. As can be seen from the white circle in the photo above, British trains seem to be equipped with electrical plugins now.

Oddly enough, on the way from the station two weeks before to my parents house, the bus that I rode on didn't have WiFi but the other busses in the fleet did have WiFi. Things have progressed. Even Swansea itself looked cleaner and more prosperous since I last visited.

Having said it looked prosperous, I was somewhat disconcerted to see that just about every store in St Helen's road (a down at heel road always) now seemed to consist of brightly colored Arabic and Syrian stores with signs up in English and Arabic. It was equally disconcerting to find my favorite little cafe in the market had vanished and that I could hear Arabic being spoken openly in a town where Welsh used to be commonly heard.
The train passed through many stations on the way to London though I didn't really start taking photos of them until I reached Reading and changed trains to get to Gatwick.
Having reached Gatwick and being entertained by a series of entertaining events that happened outside my window, the next task was to seek out an hotel. I didn't have any reservations made and there was a choice of two hotels. One was the Hilton and the other was a Marriott Courtyard. So, at just about midnight I walked in to get a room for which they charged the princely sum of £100.
The room looked good when I arrived then I noticed none of the trashcans had been emptied - they were all overflowing. Then there were wet towels just dumped in the shower and the bed though vaguely straightened looked like it had been slept in. I called the Front Desk and the Night Manager came up, apologised profusely and spent the next 30 minutes changing sheets, pillowcases, towels and emptying the trashcans. At no point was I ever offered a discount on the exorbitant rate for my filthy room. Thumbs down, Marriott Courtyard Gatwick!
My next stop was some little cafe in Gatwick airport to have breakfast since none was provided at the expensive hotel. That was quite good but at £6 was a little pricy. It served to prepare my stomach for the next of my series of antibiotics. Yes, antibiotics. For a couple of months I'd been unwell. As I work in the US as a schoolbus driver, I do get health insurance but the amount I get paid doesn't cover the co-pay which means I might as well just not have health insurance as I can't afford to use it! Thus, I made use of the fact I'm still a British citizen and used the much maligned National Health Service. I saw the doctor, free and had my medicine, free. That included antibiotics, a pain relieving gel and a steroid.
The flight from Gatwick to Dublin was uneventful aside from the flight attendants coming down the isle like scrounging beggars trying to peddle drinks that should have been free. If I wanted water, I had to pay for it. Needless to say, I arrived in Dublin quite parched and thinking very little of Air Fungus or to give it, its self-imposed name, Aer Lingus.
After disembarking from the Air Fungus plane, things immediately deteriorated. I knew I should have paid extra and flown Delta or United or some civilised airline. The first thing I had to do after walking along miles of corridors to passport control was to walk through the noxious fumes pouring out from the beggars at the airport trying to peddle perfume. There was no other way to pass than to walk through the toxic stench. Needless to say, I was very glad to be carrying strong antihistamines.
Being four hours or more after breakfast, I was again hungry. I got the cheapest food I could find and it was an astounding £9 which is surely some kind of rip-off record. Dublin airport ranks alongside Chicago for being one of the nastiest airports I have ever visited.
The flight droned on forever. In fact, it droned on for far too long. 8 hours on this leg for a flight that took six the other way. That was possibly helped by the fact the pilot flew 100 miles past Chicago airport then turned back to land at Chicago. Perhaps he was asleep having had too much Irish whisky? The seat backs had video screens in which it was possible to see the track that the plane was following. The screens also showed videos but the sound was so appalling I quickly had to give up. WiFi was availble but it needed to be paid via PayPal and PayPal wasn't accepting my password. That was OK though as the battery was almost dead on my tablet. The alleged USB charging port in the back of the seat didn't seem to work either.

Eventually we landed at Chicago where I transferred to another plane - this time to Charlotte. The airport had working USB chargers but the WiFi was set to cut out after 30 minutes with a demand for payment. Then I noticed the smallest soft drinks bottles I'd ever seen being sold for a massive $5 each. Clearly Chicago and Dublin airports are competing with each other to be the most ludicrously expensive!
The view from the plane above Charlotte was very pretty. I wished I'd had my real camera in my pocket rather than just my cellphone as the scene was much more intense to the naked eye than the cellphone shows.

After landing, I located the courtesy phone and arranged a room for the night. Being awake for already somewhere in the region of 26 hours, I was tired and in no condition to drive home. The hotel that answered and had rooms was the Quality Inn. The room was clean and odor free. It was quiet. I had a really good nights sleep.

After leaving, I went to write a review and read some truly horrid reviews. Reviewers were talking about hookers and drug deals etc. That was not the hotel I saw. It was clean, quiet and welcoming. There was some construction in the lobby but that happens at every hotel at some point. So, after dashing off to an appointment rather more hindered than helped by my smart phone's navigation, I eventually drove back home.

Hotel to avoid... Courtyard Marriott, Gatwick
Airline to avoid... Aer Linugs

No comments:

Post a Comment