deirdre: (Default)

Dubrovnik, Old City, photo by Rick Moen
You can usually tell the difference between Rick photos and Deirdre photos: mine only rarely have people in them. In fact, it’s hard for me to remember to actually take photos of Rick or myself. Or anyone.

I’m just so conditioned to waiting for that people-free shot, which means I usually don’t have photos of the whole of a tourist monument; my shots typically start above peoples’ heads.

Why? Partly for the reason in this photo: a lot of the photos of people in touristy locations wind up being very meta. I’m quite charmed with the meta nature of this one, though.

Despite the fact that it was a brutally hot day, magnified by the stones soaking up the hot sun, it was super-great to finally have the chance to walk around Dubrovnik. In the early 80s, I had a French teacher from Yugoslavia who waxed poetic about the place (she herself was from Belgrade, which is now in Serbia). I’ve wanted to go ever since, so more than thirty years.

At the time Rick took this photo, I was sitting in a shady spot behind on the right. It was still a billion degrees out.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Some time in the past, I was sad that no one from Greenland had ever visited my blog. I am no longer sad.

Here’s how much of the world visited so far in 2014 (very light grey means no visits):

2014-visits-map

Not only did I get a single visit from Greenland, I got two from Cuba. Here are some others at the end of the long tail:

end-of-the-long-tail

North America: everyone visited!
Central America: everyone visited!
South America: everyone but French Guiana.
Europe: missing a few Balkan states.
Middle East: Most countries, though I’m kind of disappointed about missing Yemen. I have Yemeni coffee every morning.
Africa: I count 24 countries (on the map, which means I may have missed smaller countries). Far from all of them, but that’s far more than I expected. Helloooooo, Africa!
Asia: Missing Iran, Turkmenistan, and North Korea. Two of those were a given.

Here’s the full list of the 178 (by ISO country code count) visiting countries and territories. Italics means I haven’t been there yet.

Afghanistan, Åland Islands, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyszstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Réunion, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks and Caicos, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Virgin Islands, British, Virgin Islands, US, Zimbabwe

Folks: I’m floored. Gobsmacked.

Thank you so much for visiting. I’ve been to 101 countries and territories by the Travelers Century Club list, which translates to 85 ISO countries/territories and 66 UN member nations (plus the Vatican).

I never dreamed that so many more countries than that would visit my humble little corner of the internet.

Thank you. Every one of you.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Strawberry Field

So Colter Reed shamed me into cleaning up my own desktop, which had 252 items on it, mostly dragged items or stuff I wanted to upload to my blog (and have done so).

Voila!

Deirdre's Desktop

My desktop background is an Olivier Grunewald photo of the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which I originally saw on this BigPicture feature from Boston.com. I’m just in awe of these scientists.

The picture up top was one I took of Strawberry Field (yes, of the song fame) in Liverpool in 2011 and altered the color. It was sitting on the desktop, but is no longer.

Also, while I’m giving a shout-out to Colter Reed, his blog has a lot of great articles about productivity and motivation.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

100-countries

As of today, I’ve completed one of my travel life goals: to visit 100 countries and territories from the Traveler’s Century Club list. In short, you can’t join the club as a full member until you’ve been to 100.

Sure, they are liberal in what they count (their list totals 324 countries and territories, where the UN list is 193), but they encourage people to see far-flung places that are very different from the ruling government far away.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been to 65 UN member countries (plus the Vatican). Eventually, I’d like to get to 100 there, too, but that interests me less.

Here’s my list in alphabetical order:

Alaska * Aruba * Australia * Austria * Bahamas * Balearic Islands * Barbados * Belgium * Belize * Bermuda * Bulgaria * Canada * Canary Islands * Cayman Islands * Chile * Colombia * Corsica * Costa Rica * Crete * Denmark * Dubai * Easter Island * Egypt * El Salvador * England * Estonia * Faroe Islands * Finland * France * Germany * Gibraltar * Greece * Guam * Guatemala * Haiti * Hawaiian Islands * Honduras * Hong Kong * Iceland * India * Indonesia * Ionian Isles * Ireland * Isle of Man * Italy * Jamaica * Japan * Leeward Islands, French * Leeward Islands, Netherlands * Liechtenstein * Luxembourg * Macau * Madeira * Malaysia * Maldives * Marshall Islands * Martinique * Mexico * Micronesia * Montserrat * Morocco * Myanmar * Netherlands * New Zealand * Nicaragua * Northern Ireland * Norway * Panama * Pitcairn * Portugal * Puerto Rico * Romania * Russia * Sardinia * Scotland * Singapore * South Africa * South Korea * Spain * Sri Lanka * St. Barthélmy * St. Lucia * St. Maarten * St. Vincent & Dependencies * Sumatra, Indonesia * Sweden * Switzerland * Tahiti * Thailand * Trinidad & Tobago * Turkey in Asia * Turkey in Europe * Ukraine * United States * Vatican * Venezuela * Vietnam * Virgin Islands, British * Virgin Islands, US * Wales

On the TCC list, I have at least one visit in each region except Antarctica.

My 100th was Trinidad and Tobago. Here’s a picture from Charlotteville, Tobago, announcing a cricket match (click for full size):

2014-11-10 15.30.08_Snapseed

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Ladera Resort

So, remember last month when I said I was at 97 countries after an ill-advised tromping through the Vatican museums?

We’re heading to the Caribbean on Friday, and I’ll cross the 100-country mark.

A few years ago, I listed nine hotels from my “hotel envy” list. I used to work in the luxury hotel industry, so I’ve seen and heard about a ton of beautiful hotels, but these were particular standouts for me.

This will be my third visit from that list of nine. (One, Kona Village, has since closed for good. Palazzo Sasso is now called Palazzo Avino.)

Conrad Maldives

I was extremely lucky to be able to book a three-night stay on Hilton points before the devaluation. There’s no question that this is the nicest place I’ve ever stayed.

The Maldives consist of many thousands of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean. Because of that, and the fragility of the atoll reefs, much of the inter-country travel is via seaplane.

IMG_6356
Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Backing into Bonifacio, Corsica

Backing into Bonifacio, Corsica


I’ve been in excruciating pain for the last couple of weeks.

It started innocently enough: I got an awesome Thai massage, which loosened everything up.

Loosened everything up enough that I managed to later torque some muscle in my hip, a rather critical muscle/muscles for balance. This was bad the day we were in Sardinia, meaning I wasn’t able to see the rather awesome caves there.

Walking was excruciating. Climbing up and down stairs was excruciating. Rolling over in bed was excruciating.

The last meant I wasn’t sleeping, so I had a persistent fibromyalgia flare on top of everything.

We’d picked this cruise because I’ve always wanted to see Corsica, and one of the places I wanted to see was Bonifacio. The photo above is one of the last pics I managed to take. We were up early that morning (and I’d climbed the stairs to the Top of the Yacht bar) to see the sailing into port. Bonifacio’s kind of weird: all the ships have to back in, hence we went in flag first. (The odd flag is actually two flags: Bahamas, for the ship’s registry, and Norway, for the Captain’s nationality.)

I got off the ship, only to discover that I really couldn’t walk more than 100 feet without breaking into tears from the pain. Given that, I declined to go on the day tour I’d hoped to see. Instead, I hobbled down to see the shops, literally going from bench to bench. I spent the rest of day in bed.

The next day, we were using tenders, so I never got off the ship. Rick says I didn’t miss much, but it looked to me rather like an awesome place we went in Costa Rica—kind of a small beachy place with a small town, but not too much. I love those places.

I don’t need to say how much of an idiot I was for trying to go through all the Vatican museums, but I lasted through two hours of that idiocy. We had a nice hotel in Rome near the Vatican. Except for the slow waitstaff and the three steps up and down to get from one side of the building to the other, I really liked the place.

Had enough emergency meds to last through today, but I’m not better enough to function without more than my usual, so I’m going to the doctor.

I’m still really bummed about missing what I wanted to see in Corsica, and about not being able to see St. Peter’s Basilica.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

VaticanFlagOnMoon

As we were wandering through the Vatican museums the other day, Rick saw this small display. It has the Vatican flag, a small sphere with a few specks of rock, and the following inscription:

Presented to the people of the
Vatican City
by
Richard Nixon
President of the United States of America

This flag of your state was carried to the Moon and back by Apollo 11, and this fragment of the Moon’s surface was brought to the Earth by the crew of that first manned lunar landing.

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen anything Moon-mission-related outside a science museum.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

So, you’ll never guess what we saw in Civitavecchia yesterday.

Reunited with Lost Luggage

Reunited with Lost Luggage

Yep, the long-lost bag was found!

Sadly, this threw off the bag count, and another bag was left behind. I’m hoping this doesn’t become a trend….

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

In the last installment of the lost luggage saga, mom’s suitcase was pouting in Köln, Germany, despite there being no visits to Germany on her itinerary.

On Monday, we visited Ibiza, one of the Balaeric Islands. That was the day the luggage was due to try a re-delivery attempt in Málaga, despite our having left there on Saturday.

Yesterday, we were in Menorca, and we heard the luggage was in Mallorca. There are fast ferries between the two every hour, and the ferry that arrived in our port was berthed within easy walking distance.

After our private estate tour in the morning, we were hoping that the luggage would get delivered.

Alas, it was not to be. We sailed away.

So near and yet so far.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)
The Amazing Disco Elevator with strobing lights. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2012.

The Amazing Disco Elevator with strobing lights. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2012.

Eventually, if you travel long enough, you’ll lose a piece of luggage. Sometimes this results in the somewhat related travel phenomenon, the travel meltdown.

Rick’s take on these kinds of things is that it usually happens when you’re tired and it’s what he calls a stepwise disaster. No single step is bad, but at some point, something gets missed. Despite everyone’s best intentions, a disaster occurs.

In this particular case, Rick helped my mom bring her luggage down to the lobby, while I sat and watched Rick’s and my luggage. We travel together a lot, so we’re used to what each other carries. My mom, however, was carrying an additional piece in the form of a new bag.

The person who called the taxi asked for her to wait by the door to see if the taxi came. Then we all went to the taxi, inadvertently leaving her large bag behind. Sadly, we didn’t figure out what happened exactly until just after the ship pulled away from Lisbon. Since we weren’t returning to Lisbon, this left us with a problem.

Ways to Ensure You Have All Your Things

I’m a numbers person, so I favor the numbers method: I’m making sure I have my three (or whatever number) items at any point. I ensure that I don’t take out or put away any items, so that the count remains constant through one segment of my trip (e.g., transferring items from one’s hotel room to a cruise ship stateroom).

Your method doesn’t have to be numbers. It could be colors of things: blue, purple, red, black. So long as you have a specific method that works for you.

Furthermore, check the count (or whatever your method) at every single point: leaving the hotel, what gets put into the taxi, leaving the taxi, boarding the ship, etc. Obviously, in cases where porters will take your luggage, your system needs to account for those pieces at that time.

Two Strategies

I’ve sometimes said that packing extra underwear in my carryon is a talisman against losing my luggage, but I say that jokingly. You’re far more used to having a carryon with you, and thus you’re both more likely (more opportunity) and less likely (because you’re using to having it with you) to lose it.

This leads to a more general solution to the problem: cross-packing. Take a packing cube and put one change of clothes in it with one or two changes of underwear. If everyone traveling (well, up to about four people) does this and one piece of luggage is lost, then you’ve got a suitcase with items from four people that’s lost, but everyone has at least three changes of clothes. This works best if each person’s packing cubes are color coded.

So What Happens When You Lose Your Luggage?

People on a round-trip usually pick up their lost luggage on their return through the same place. If you’re not going back there, generally it’s sent via some package service like FedEx, UPS, or DHL. On a ship, you can have it sent to the ship’s agent in a future port.

Except in my mom’s case, it was sent to the ship’s agent in Málaga, Spain, arriving the day before the ship did. Then the agent, whose business it is to receive things for the ship (and occasionally handle passengers and crew who miss the ship, as well as other duties like dealing with port charges, etc.) decided to refuse the package. So, despite having been sent from Lisbon, Portugal to Málaga, Spain, her suitcase is currently in Köln, Germany.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Rick and I returned from Ireland on Tuesday, and my flight to Frankfurt is on Monday.

Given that one of the hardest parts of jet lag is adjusting to the time zone, I thought I should try to stay on Europe time. Normally, it takes a day to adjust per hour of time difference, and it just seemed fundamentally worse to try to do that in this particular circumstance.

Last night, I went to bed at 5 in the afternoon (1 am, Irish time) and woke up at 3:30 in the morning (11:30 am, Irish time). It was so strange. When I see it’s 7 and it’s light out, I’m not sure if it’s 7 pm or 7 am.

I’ve tried adjusting to time zones before trips before, with limited success (insofar as I always have difficulty changing time). We’ll see how this one holds up.

I usually have a sense of what time it is within fifteen minutes. Right now, that’s not true.

Last year, when I flew this route, starting in San Francisco and heading west:


Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

…I was fine until I reached South Africa. At that point, my sense of what time it was just broke. I didn’t regain it until after I got home.

So, even though I’m all confused about time right now, I’m hoping this experiment is a good one for me.

My little trip, once I wind up in Frankfurt:

  1. Train to Vienna.
  2. Day trip to Bratislava. (New country! #92)
  3. Day trip to Salzburg. Apart from Salzburg itself, the train is supposed to be some of the most beautiful scenery in Austria.
  4. Fly to Lisbon via Zurich. (New country! #93) At this point, I join Rick and my mom as we explore Portugal.
  5. Sail to Gibraltar. (New country/territory! #94)
  6. Sail to Puerto Banus, Spain.
  7. Sail to Malaga, Spain. Alhambra!
  8. Sail to Cartagena, Spain.
  9. Sail to Ibiza, Balearic Islands. (New country/territory! #95)
  10. Sail to Mahón, Menorca.
  11. Sail to Alghero, Sardinia. (New country/territory! #96)
  12. Sail to Bonifacio, Corsica. (New country/territory! #97)
  13. Sail to Porto Vecchio, Corsica.
  14. Sail to Civitavecchia, Italy, aka the cruise port closest to Rome.
  15. Visit the Vatican! (New country! #98)

We fly home from Rome a couple of days later.


Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

As always, I’m using the Travelers Century Club list of countries and territories.

What I like most: my revised itinerary is that I’ll again get to see some of the territory I found so beautiful in 1992 when we drove south from Munich to Venice via Innsbruck.

Ganz Wien

I can’t think about this trip without hearing the Falco song.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

I was having coffee with a friend in Ireland the other day, and he talked about someone he knew.

He makes a living, well, for being Irish.

At one point, I considered emigrating to Ireland. I had all the paperwork, but I didn’t go through with it because other things came through that would require me to remain in the states.

Like many, I had a dream of making a living as a writer there.

However, it turns out that the arts council only funds literature, and they don’t respect genre work at all (and I’ve basically always been a genre writer). The panel at Shamrokon about where the Irish SF was(n’t) was truly depressing for me.

In fact, the only Irish-themed SF novel I can think of that I’ve ever read is Flynn Connolly’s _The Rising of the Moon, published by Del Rey in 1993. And Flynn’s from the US.

Fantasy is more respected in Ireland, but only because it’s very tied up with being Irish. So things like not sleeping in fairy forts aren’t perceived as fantasy—rather they’re seen as common sense.

In essence, the funding, like MFA programs, is about the homogenization of taste. You can make a living, but only within a narrow spectrum. Nothing else is worthy, and the market’s not big enough to support writers (or Irish publishers) who don’t get arts council money. As one small press pointed out, if you ever take their money, you’re doomed to follow their dictates.

For the first time, I’m not wistful about not having taken that path all those years ago.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

I was talking with Crystal Huff about getting to Helsinki, and I volunteered to put together a list of how to get to Finland for the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid.

After I sat down and got started, I thought it would be interesting to put the list together in a non-US-centric way, so I started on the Wikipedia List of Countries by Population. And, as I scrolled down the list, I realized that, without specifically planning going to Finland, I already knew most of the answers about how to get there from wherever.

I scrolled to the bottom of the list, and laughed.

242. Pitcairn

As it happens, I’ve been there, so I’ve studied up on how to get there. Pitcairn, which consists of four islands—only one of which is inhabited—is one of the remotest and most difficult places to get to on the planet. It’s the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific.

So here’s my draft of that answer. Note: it’s this difficult to get from Pitcairn to anywhere, which is one reason that residents often spend several months away at a time.

Pitcairn: If you’re one of the few dozen people from Pitcairn, it will take you longer to get to Helsinki than for the average person, but you already know that. You know all about the cruise ship schedule, and you’re no doubt hoping that something comes later than the Costa Luminosa so you’ll be able to stay on Pitcairn past February 23rd, way too early to leave for Worldcon. Eventually, the Claymore II supply ship schedule for 2017 will be posted, and you’ll probably sail for Mangareva around June. From there, you’ll fly Air Tahiti (not to be confused with Air Tahiti Nui) to Papeete. From there, you’ve got one of three possible routes: Air France/Finnair via Los Angeles and Paris (17,615 km), LAN/KLM via Easter Island, Santiago Chile, and Amsterdam (21,521 km), or Air New Zealand via some route like Auckland, Tokyo, Helsinki on Air New Zealand and Finnair, which is shorter (20750 km) than the same route through Hong Kong (21070 km). So, sure, you’d have to leave in June and you might be able to make the September supply ship back, but think of the interesting places you could stop over along the way.

A Funny Aside

When I was entering the UK, the immigration officer looked at my passport. As often happens, initially a bored immigration agent is looking for a place to stamp, then they become interested in the unusual places I have in my passport.

“Where’s Pitcairn?” he asked.

I boggled. After all, it is a British Overseas Territory, but I was actually having to resist answering, “the ass end of nowhere.” I stumbled over the explanation, then Rick piped up to explain.

“Where the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty‘ happened” is generally the simplest explanation, though not quite correct as that’s where the mutineers wound up, not where the mutiny occurred.

You can get to Helsinki even from Pitcairn. It’ll just take a while.

Pitcairn Island

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

tl;dr: Inadvertent double booking due to intermediaries (and missing that there were two bookings) resulted in attempts to overcharge us by £1350 (~$2250) for a five-night stay.

  1. On August 30, 2013, I booked a room for Loncon3 through Starwood’s reservation system for the Aloft London Excel (a Starwood hotel) at £279/night (not at the much lower convention rate). I book through Starwood so seldom that I’ve never bothered with the paperwork to change my surname with them; it’s still my pre-married name of Saoirse. I didn’t add a second guest name to this booking.
  2. On January 2, 2014, because my Aloft room wasn’t at the £120 convention rate, I booked one at the Premier Inn to hold something at the convention rate.

  3. On January 2, 2014, I contacted Loncon3 staff to see about moving my Aloft reservation into the convention’s Aloft block so I could be at the hotel directly attached to the convention center (less walking).

    I don’t need an accessible room. I just need less total walking during the day and the ability to easily duck out for a nap during the con to recharge. Staying at the Aloft would be of significant benefit to me.

    Rick Moen and I will share, so we’d prefer a queen or (haha) a king if available.

    Membership number: 172

    Existing booking # 2…7 (Premier Inn London Docklands Excel)

    This will free up a disabled room.

    (followup)

    FYI, I already have an existing Aloft reservation, 7…0, which could just be moved into block if that’s easier.

  4. Loncon3 staff respond:

    Thanks. We’ve received your lottery request and will send an update once we have more info.

  5. I respond back:

    Well, either way I have an Aloft reservation, since I made one before the contract was finalised.
    Ideally, I’d like it moved into block without having to go through the lottery.

  6. They respond:

    The room blocks have no financial impact on the convention, unlike in the U.S. Since you already have a reservation in the Aloft, I suggest you just keep that one and cancel the Premier.

  7. I respond:

    I was hoping for the con room rate though. £279 a night is the rate I’m holding.
    So it may not have a financial impact for you, but it does for me (and thus my holding two reservations at present).

  8. On January 3, I cancel the reservation at the Premier Inn.
  9. On January 4, Rick and I depart for Chile; we didn’t return to the US for 22 days. For most of that time, we’re in some of the remotest places on earth with zero Internet.

  10. On January 17, an email is sent reminding of the lottery closing, but I have no ability to receive or respond to that email.

  11. On January 24, with no further input from me except for what happened above, I receive a confirmation from Infotel, the booking service used by Loncon3 for convention-rate hotel bookings, for the dates of my existing Aloft booking, guaranteed to the same credit card, with a room rate of £120 per night. The second guest in the room is listed as “Rick Moen.” This is how you can tell I didn’t make the booking. No cover note or anything, so all the information I have is in that email. Because we’re still traveling, I only give the email a cursory glance.

    Note: at this point, I’d assumed Infotel had taken over my existing Aloft booking. Also important: I was never, not once, given a cancellation or no-show penalty for this reservation. For my prior Infotel booking, the no-show or late cancellation penalty was a one-night stay. Except for ultra luxury or boutique hotels, this is pretty standard.

    Also: the URL given to manage my booking began: http://localhost:50861/ —invalid for anyone except Infotel.

  12. Whenever I logged into either Infotel or Starwood Preferred Guest, I saw a single booking. For that reason, I believed there was a single reservation. Oops. There’s a reason for this: my Starwood number wasn’t added to the Infotel booking because my surname on that booking (Saoirse Moen) is different from the surname (Saoirse) attached to my Starwood account.

  13. After Rick and I sort out our plans (a couple of weeks before the convention), I make a ToDo list. One of those items was to shorten our hotel stay by one night. I fail to get this done.

  14. We check in on August 13th, remembering to shorten our stay to the 18th. I add Rick’s name to the booking sheet using his legal name. We use Rick’s credit card to check in.

  15. On August 14th, at 3:37 am local time, I get an email that says the Aloft tried to charge £600 to the card I used to hold the booking. I found this curious given that we’d just checked in. Stupidly, I assumed they tried to authorize to my card rather than the one they’d swiped when we checked in. (This has happened before on other occasions when there wasn’t any problem, so I didn’t think anything of it except that it was odd.)

    Despite having two bookings with the same starting part of the surname, we were not advised of that. Naturally, they check us into the booking that’s £279 per night with no included breakfast rather than the booking that’s £120 per night with included breakfast for two.

    The other odd thing: Why £600? Why not £720, which was the full six nights of the booking? Why not £120 for the cancellation fee?

  16. On August 14th in the afternoon, Rick gets a voice mail in the room to “Rick Moen”—asking him if he was also intending to shorten his stay to the 18th. We’re both puzzled by the use of his nickname.

  17. I had breakfast with Peggy Rae and John Sapienza one morning, and they said their hotel room came with breakfast. Ours hadn’t, I said, but I didn’t think to check and see if something was wrong.

  18. We start the checkout process on the 18th, then discover the £279 rate, then I pull up the email reservation. It’s only at this point that I realize there must have been two reservations all along, and we checked into the wrong one. When we get to the third or fourth person who finally cares to try to do something about the issue (srsly), it takes them the better part of an hour to fix the reservation. Basically, they deleted the breakfast line items and credited us with £750, which isn’t exactly the right solution (and made both of us nitpicky types unhappy with the solution), but it’s functional.

    They also tell us that they can’t change the number of days on the £120/night stay, so we’ve essentially got the room through to the 19th—except that we’re leaving for Cardiff. We get hotel keys for our room and put our luggage back there, then head off to the convention.

Overall

First, no one at the hotel really seemed to care about the business of running the hotel. They all seemed like they were phoning it in. There were things like: being open until 11pm for dinner, but telling people they couldn’t take any more diners at 9:30 pm. Having to wait 20 minutes, on average, for gluten-free bread every morning because it took that long to find some waitstaff to get it for me.

Additionally, despite asking for a hamburger with no bun and sautéed potatoes instead of chips, I was brought out a hamburger on a regular bun with chips. I didn’t explicitly say “gluten free,” but that shouldn’t matter.

After going several rounds with the night manager, who made it sound like he was doing me a big fucking favor, he confirmed that chips aren’t gluten free (fried in the same fryer with gluten-coated items). On a different occasion, when I specified I needed gluten free more clearly, I was still brought black pudding (not gluten free, generally) and another non-gluten free item.

I loved the look of the hotel, but the entire experience left a bad taste. I was really glad to move on to Cardiff—and to a different hotel.

The Hotel’s Honesty

The woman checking us in wasn’t particularly experienced, so I don’t think it was dishonesty on her part that checked us into the wrong reservation.

However, the hotel knew all along that there were two reservations. Remember that message for Rick Moen? If we were checked into the reservation with no second party, where I’d handwritten in Rick’s legal name, then why call and ask for him in the name of “Rick Moen” if they didn’t have the other reservation right in front of them?

So—they knew, they knew to our detriment, and they did nothing about it. For that reason, I consider the hotel essentially dishonest, especially after attempting to charge so much for the “no show” penalty.

Lessons for Convention Runners

  1. There really should be a way for the mobility impaired to get hotel rooms close to the convention facilities at convention rates without having to compete with the able-bodied, especially when rooms sell out very quickly for things like Worldcon.

  2. There needs to be a way for that to happen without using up a lot of people points.

  3. Clearer communication about what was done (i.e.., was an existing reservation modified, or was a new reservation created) would be stellar.

  4. Very few things use up people points like attempts to overcharge by £1350.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Friday morning was The Great Namaste, an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the number of people simultaneously doing yoga.

Can you spot me in the pic? (I can, but I know where I was sitting. Hint: I’m on a green mat.)

the-great-namaste

Early results say that we broke the record by more than 100 people. Woohoo! I’d like to thank everyone who helped.

One of the volunteers came up to me later saying she was really happy to see me there and, “you go, girl.” Let’s just say that I’m not typical in anything I do, yoga included. It was very difficult for me, and I had to manage my energy and pain levels very carefully so I didn’t flare.

Sadly, SPF 70 was not enough. Oh well, I got my Vitamin D quota. :)

Other News

In other news, I keep being reminded of Kij Johnson’s “Ponies.” I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite story, exactly, but uncomfortably true in its own way.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Where people have read my blog from in the last 30 days.

posts-read-around-the-world

…better known as: “more places in the world than I’ve been.” Humbling.

Every country in the Americas except Suriname. Ten more than I’ve visited.

Twenty-two countries in Africa (assuming I counted correctly), which would be nineteen more than I’ve visited (Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa).

Greenland, we’ve gotta talk.

Full list of countries and territories who stopped by in the last 30 days, with ones I’ve been to in italics:

Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Angola
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Burundi
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cape Verde
Cayman Islands
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Côte d’Ivoire
Denmark
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Faroe Islands
Fiji
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Guam
Guatemala
Guernsey
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iraq
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jersey
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Korea, Republic of
Kuwait
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Latvia
Lebanon
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macao
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova, Republic of
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar
Namibia
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Palestinian Territory, Occupied
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Romania
Russian Federation
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Togo
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks and Caicos Islands
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Viet Nam
Virgin Islands, U.S.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Bora Bora 1200

Now on Society6, products including:

  • Prints
  • T-shirts (including v-neck), Tank Tops (including biker tanks), and Hoodies
  • Clocks
  • Rugs
  • Shower Curtains
  • Stationery Cards
  • Phone, Tablet, and Laptop Covers and Skins
  • Tote Bags
  • Throw Pillows

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Rabat, Morocco, 2011.

L1003463

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

your-basic-wales

Taken on our day outing after Milford.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

Profile

deirdre: (Default)
deirdre

February 2017

S M T W T F S
   1234
56789 1011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 23rd, 2017 05:56 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios