"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We Are Back

We are finished with our vacation, well rested and happy to be back in Russia!  We really do love it here, and the weather until this afternoon was beautiful.  Right now its wet and rainy and we are hunkering down inside, but I actually kind of like the rain too.  We got back to no internet (surprise, surprise), but this time it only took 2 days to fix, thanks to our amazing Russian “babysitters” at Nick’s office.  These are the various Russians and Russian speakers who help us poor Americans out when we are in a bind, and we don’t know what we would do without them!

I am going to publish this post and then immediately start publishing about our trip because I am about to say some negative things and I want them quickly forgotten.  First we were in Italy on Vacation and then Nick had classes in Aberdeen for work so Isla and I joined him. 

Scotland was just amazing… Italy was not.  In Italy we had thing after thing after thing go wrong, some of it was our fault, a lot of it was not, and Nick and I are beginning to really believe that we are not a family cut out for vacationing!  We need to be careful because it could become a self fulfilling prophesy and all of our vacations could be a disaster if we stay so negative.

Our Welcome to Rome

We arrived in Rome around noon Friday after flying through the night.  Knowing we would be exhausted, and with the trauma of our freezing rain in Dublin incident still fresh in my mind, I arranged a transport service to meet us at the airport with our name on a sign and take us to our hotel.  More expensive, yes, but worth it… but I was still so afraid something would go wrong!

But nothing did.

The transfer service had a man waiting with a sign, as agreed upon.  He took us to our hotel and charged us the agreed upon amount.  As we arrived at our hotel, confirmation in hand, I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders.  My consistent prayers that this would be a restful, fun vacation had been answered!  Everything would go smoothly from here on out I was sure.

Until we went to check into our hotel.

At the check in counter, (I repeat) confirmation in hand.  We were told that they had tried to run our credit card but it had been denied and because of it, they had canceled our reservation!  However they told us not to worry, even though they normally just cancel the room, for us, they had booked us a room at a sister hotel. 

All I had to do was pay right there for the sister hotel, and they would send us to the hotel.

Not really sure what to do, and knowing how limited hotel rooms were in the city, I stupidly went on and paid the FULL AMOUNT.  We were put in the taxi and sent on our way.

When we arrived at the hotel, I was immediately on edge.  Unlike the hotel that we had booked at, there was no pretty lobby.  Instead there was a hallway in a mixed use apartment building that led us to a tiny room with a check in desk.  There were people loitering everywhere.

At the desk, they informed us that they had no crib for Isla, and then they took us to our room.  On the way up to our room, we noticed a hallway filled with trash cans, old mattresses, and cleaning supplies.  Nice.  Our room was bare bones, dirty, and NOISY.  It was so noisy and dirty and I knew that we couldn’t stay there with Isla.  This place was a DIVE.  We started to feel like maybe we had been the victims of a scam!

Of course the Dive Hotel had no Wi-Fi, so Nick and I decided to walk around the corner to a Best Western to see if they had any rooms or a computer that we could use to find another hotel.  They rudely pointed towards an Internet Café around the corner, which we found and proceeded to get onto Hotels.com to look for availability and check in with Nick’s Marriot Points for availability.

Through all of this, we were hungry, tired, and Isla was hungry and tired, we had our suitcases… not fun.  We found a room, and called the number on Hotels.com to confirm availability.  We booked the room, paid in FULL.  Went back to the Dive hotel and told them that we wouldn’t be staying there and proceeded merrily on our way.

Then we arrived at Hotel #3.  Guess what?  The guy behind the counter had no idea why Hotels.com thought that they had an availability, because THEY DID NOT!  What???  We had already paid for a room that wasn’t available.

We also realized that our passports had been left at the Dive Hotel when we checked in.  This was entirely our fault, but it definitely added to our stress levels!

Nick ran back to the Dive Hotel to get our passports, while I was on hold with Hotels.com.  Thankfully the desk clerk was so, so, so kind and wonderful and helped us find a hotel room for the night that was just around the corner.  Nick was then able to use his Marriott points to book us a room at a very fancy hotel for our second and third nights in Rome.

Thankfully both of those hotels ended up working out really well, and we thought that things would look up from there on out.  The whole ordeal took about 4 hours though.  Poor Isla.  Here she is in the jammies she traveled all night in.  She was so good throughout it all.


Unfortunately, several other things went wrong on the trip (both involving trains – I HATE TRAINS) that I won’t go into on the blog, but if you ever want advice on Italian trains… I am your lady.  Normally you can move on and enjoy the positive, but the great stress just added a cloud that we couldn’t get past for the rest of the time we were in Italy.  Add to that that Italy was expensive, crowded (so crowded), and HOT (at the end of September – not just warm, but HOT).  All of the noisy, pushy tourists and vendors pushing whatever they are selling to the tourists kind of make it hard to get lost in the Romance of Rome!

In the end, we got all of our money back, both from the Dive Hotel and Hotels.com and it ended up costing less money because we used points.  I decided to post this first because I want to focus on the wonderful parts of our trip, mainly:

  • Spending time with our friends, Jessy and John
  • And great little family moments

In the end, I am glad that we went because we always wanted to go.  In fact, this was the one place we wanted to go and had originally planned to go to Italy first, but then we decided to meet up with our beloved friends.  Spending time with THEM made the whole trip worth it, but otherwise, I do not plan on returning.

So folks, enough of my ungrateful whining and complaining, from here on out, or at least for the next couple of posts, you will hear nothing but the HIGHLIGHTS of our trips!  We did have some wonderful moments Smile. Promise.


  1. Ohhh Boooo! We LOVED Florence... loved loved loved, but actually hated Rome and had terrible trouble with our hotel arrangements there as well. I hope you're not writing all of italy off because Florence and tuscany are awesome, but Rome was bad, like terrifying cab rides, terrible food, etc. bad.

    Glad you are back and blogging. Can't wait for the highlights!!

  2. We did make it to Florence for 5 days, and it was really nice. It was Nick's favorite part actually, mine was definitely Venice. I LOVED Venice, but Rome was a total let down. But every place was soooo crowded, which made it hard to get into relaxing vacation mode.

    Its mostly good reports from here on out!

  3. Ugh, I sound awful the more I think about it... its just the things that went wrong went so, so wrong and like I said, it put a cloud over the whole trip. Other people visiting might not have as much trouble as we did! We still had some good times.

    Ok, now I am really going to leave it at that. Onwards and upwards.


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