Monday, 17 March 2014

An Erie Trip - Day 1 - Into Chicago

An Erie Trip - Day 1 - Into Chicago

As a change, we thought we would do something new to both of us and we decided to head to the edge of the US and Canada.

The plan is a tour from Chicago, round the top of Lake Erie via a great sounding place called Kalamazoo, through Detroit and onto Niagara Falls, back under the lake to Cleveland then on to Toledo and finally back to Chicago. 10 days in all.

Having had a completely rubbish couple of days health wise, including being rushed in for a cancer scan as blood results pointed to that, I wasn't looking forward to a 9 hour flight as I was exhausted. But it turned out ok in the end.

We arrived late at night to a blizzard, it seemed, but as it was 4am "our" time we grabbed the car as quickly as we could.

Which turned out not to be quickly, as yet again we arrived just as the rental cars computers crashed and they had to process on paper and phone. Grr. Second time in a year for us.

As my pictures at night were rubbish in the conditions, here is one from the morning. They tidy things up quickly in these parts, but there are MOUNTAINS of snow everywhere.

Seriously, you could ski down some of them. Enterprising people have set up lifts.

As we were getting into Chicago so late, and after a long day, we booked a hotel right next to the airport.

When in California we stayed in an Aloft hotel in Rancho Cucamonga and it was delightful, so we chose the one in Chicago for this purpose. Not the wisest of choices it turned out.

Taking the signposted valet lane we pulled up and waited a short while for the service you normally get before I headed inside to prod them, to be told they don't actually do valet. So we parked up outside the hotel and headed in with our luggage.

Ah, but we couldn't park there, as people had reserved all those places (!) and we needed to go park in the multi-storey over yonder and walk back. But don't worry it's a covered walkway, if frickin' freezing.

They graciously let us take our luggage to our room, with room service on our mind. We thought we'd order so it was eat time sooner whilst we parked. Searching high and low we couldn't find any guidebook or menus in the room.

Heading back to reception, my fear was curtly confirmed that they didn't actually serve food - I had noticed a stack of menus on the counter and thought that was counterintuitive for a hotel. But they will deliver to your room. Top banana.

So after following the directions to the car park, which included an illegal u-turn, a fight with idiots cutting corners and a snowy walk we selected our food and picked up the hotel phone.

Mel and I are no strangers to phones, given we have run call centres large and small, but could we make this one simple local call following the instructions written on the phone? Nope. Even getting creative didn't work. 15 minutes later we realised we needed to use a mobile before we started eating the duvet.

The in room coffee machine sprayed water everywhere whilst it made "coffee" which went largely undrunk whilst I placed our order after 7 minutes on hold, as they are obviously trained to answer calls and then swap back to the call they were on to keep people happy and feel attended to.

Not on international calling rates I don't, but we need food. It's now 5am our time, if midnight local time..

However all that aside a tasty sausage sandwich, a bunch of chicken and sauces turned up in the time described, at a very reasonable price. Yummy.

Aside from the view the only final upset was the fact that the blinds leaked light from either side, and if the hotel across the way is lit up like the Blackpool illuminations it's wise you carefully orientate your head on the pillow.

Don't stay here.

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