Monday, March 16, 2009

Linkin Blogs and Weekend Getaway Day 1

I had this realization that I should be adding links to my blog. Whenever I mention a business or a site, a link would probably be in order. So easy to do, I'll try to keep it in mind.

We had a great weekend, we did the spontaneous, last minute trip that was literally planned on the fly. We had toyed with the idea of going to New York for our kid's birthday, but it proved to be too much of an ordeal, and we once again bailed on my cousins, who now probably don't believe a word we say. We felt a little bad because the kids were really looking forward to it, they love a good road trip, being such worldly travelers and all.

On Friday night, we thought a trip to Burlington would be nice, but hadn't made any arrangements and left it at that, but on Saturday we decided to go for it, and as I went to the market and took in the recycling, my wife went online and found us hotel. By the time I got back, we got the kids ready, packed the car (lightly), and hit the road. How exciting.

We were staying at the Hilton, and the plan was to get a hotel, hang out and have dinner at our favorite spot, the Skinny Pancake, (note the link!), and then get some sleep and have a fun day in the big city. In the past we'd done day trips to Burlington, which are very doable but fall a little short on being what I consider to be a complete visit. You really need to spend at least one night.

Of course, the Echo Museum was on the agenda, even though I'm a bit over that place. Maybe it's a parental thing, but a lot of our friends find museums for kids exhausting, if not tiresome. We go on a regular basis and frequently because our kids love them, so we deal with it. If it's fun for them, I'm more inclined to put up with it, especially when it's enriching. Just a quick note-I personally think the Montshire blows doughnuts over the Echo, it's got way more diversity and it's much more hands on. Echo has some cools stuff, but for the most part, it doesn't change except for that one room. Montshire does a much better job and it's more interesting, in my opinion. AND, there's the water park and nature trails, which Echo doesn't have.

We arrived in Burlington around 3:00, and it's always exciting to see the whale tails that greet you as you enter the city limits. Not sure what they are, but I believe they are affiliated with some marine biology organization, perhaps with UVM. The kids get a huge kick out of seeing them, as do we. As I mentioned, we were staying at the Hilton on the water's edge, and my wife had requested a room with a view of Lake Champlain. You can choose either a city view or a lake view, so we opted for a look at the lake. You pay little extra, but it ended up being worth it.

The Hilton is a higher end hotel in the city, but not too high end. Nicer than a motel, but not a four star deal, either. The location is the key, right smack in the middle of Burlington proper. If you don't know the city, you can be deceived in finding a hotel unless you know that there is a difference between Burlington proper and South Burlington. S. Burlington is like W. Lebanon up here, very commercial with lots of chain stores and plenty of lodging. It's also uglier with more noise, traffic, and people. In Burlington proper, it's more quaint and charming, but there really aren't too many hotels to choose from. Maybe three? We've stayed in two of them, and they both get high marks for service and quality.

And they both had pools! Very key with kids.

The funny thing is when we first arrived, we'd made a mistake and reserved a room in the wrong hotel. Wrong in the sense that we thought we were staying in a hotel that we'd stayed in before, the Marriot, which is right next door. As we pulled into the Hilton, which is actually a little more fancy, we were bummed because we weren't sure if they had a pool, and a pool was a must. In retrospect, we should have known they'd have one, but couldn't say for sure. Before checking in, I went on reconnaisance and checked to see if they had one-they did, and it was nice.

Not that it would have made any difference, we had a reservation (made an hour earlier) and there was not turning back, but it was just nice to know for sure. We checked in and they gave us a room on the third floor, and right away the red flags went up for my wife. She has a theory about hotels, and you could describe it as the Tiffany's approach to customer service. For those of you who have never been inside of Tiffany's, it's an interesting experience, to say the least. Because it's such a high end store, and I mean amazingly high end, the sales people are somehow allowed to act any way they choose unless you're an important person. They size you up immediately, and unless you're a Rockefeller or Kennedy, are complete jerks. I mean complete jerks. They'll begrudgingly take your money, but if it's less than a thousand dollars, it's almost not worth their time. And a thousand dollars won't buy you much there.

We've found, or should I say my wife has found that hotels sort of act this way when it comes to families with small children. The theory goes like this-when you show up in a nice place with young kids in tow, they don't give you the best choices. We experienced this in Rome, where we were given a second rate room near the Pantheon, for whatever reason, but we were the only guests with small children. The thing that angered my wife the most was that she hadn't stood up for herself, and was determined that it wouldn't happen again. Even if it meant sending her husband down to deal with it.

At the Hilton, we got a room on the third floor facing the lake. I had to make sure the room faced the lake, or I was in big trouble on the domestic front. We checked out the room, not thrilled that it was only on the third floor when we'd requested a room higher up. The room was nice, but again, she'd wanted something higher up, so down the elevator I went to argue our case. Chris, who was behind the desk, was extremely helpful, and attending to the situation was no problem. He did a quick search and put us on the top floor, the seventh. The room was towards the edge, and I began to sweat over the possibility that we were no longer facing the lake, even though I asked Chris at least three times if we were.

Well, the room turned out to be beautiful, with a fantastic view of the lake, and so high up. We were all excited. We thought of going to the Echo and getting that over with, but the kids had another thing in mind-swimming. We put on our suits and headed over to the pool, which was really nice. In fact, I thought it was nicer than the pool we swam in at the Marriot, and it had the biggest jacuzzi I'd ever seen, which BTW was packed with people. It seems like people don't want to swim, they want to lounge in the bath and socialize. I understand, actually, because the water was cool. For us, there was no question, we were going to get crazy in the pool.

We swam for about an hour, until our lips started turning blue, and then spent some time in the jacuzzi after the crowd thinned out, then back to our room for a shower. We then hit the town and walked over to the Skinny Pancake and chowed. The previous few times we'd been to Burlington we'd eaten at the Skinny and it was always pretty mellow and manageable, but on this night, it was packed, and the crowds kept coming. They literally had to turn people away, and they now had live music. It was quite the happening scene. We're glad for them because we like the place.

After dinner, we had out dessert crepe, then off to our room for a good night's sleep. When we travel, we tend to go to be early since we all sleep in the same room. We had two queen beds but one room, so there isn't much room to deviate from the group. What one person is doing, we all tend to do. So we slept. Another interesting thing about travel is, if you can believe this, I tend to catch up on my sleep, and this time was no different.

A fun first day on our weekend getaway. Stay tuned for more about day 2. Until then, thanks for reading.


Valonia said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


phredude said...

Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It's much appreciated and I hope to hear from you again. Take care.