Sunday, February 16, 2014

Unaccompanied luggage

Well, last time we visited this roadtrip, it was Friday afternoon in Tampa area of FL.  I had a great 24 hours of dancing with the group at the Winter Festival.  There were dancers from all over, and the callers were nationally known, and a lot of fun to dance to.  It was my first time dancing to Tony Oxendine, and I have to say, I had a blast.  It also helped that I saw some friends from VA, who I had also seen in SC, and then another guy that I knew from NC, so I wasn't completely on my own.  Then, it was time to drive from Lakeland (outside of Tampa) to Ft Lauderdale to pick up my mom from the airport.  I thought, when I had checked the map, it was only about a 3 hour drive.  Well, it turns out I had checked it from Sarasota, over an hour south of where I was now.  I was about 4 hours away, already running late, and my mom's flight got in in 2.5 hours.  Called the hotel, and verified that shuttle service was available from the airport.  Called my mom and left her a voicemail (since her phone was off during flight), and then sent her a text message to check her voicemail when she got off the plane.  And then drove as fast as I dared (not knowing FL cops) down the interstate.  My mom arrived at the airport, got my messages, and asked how far away I was.  Still only a little over halfway there, so I told her that and then asked whether she was going to the hotel, or would wait at the airport.  No reponse.  Waited 15 min, still no response.  Resent the message.  No response.  Called her.  She is at the airport, the hotel shuttle is there, but the luggage carousel has stopped spinning, and her luggage is not there.  She went to talk to the people at the desk who advised her it was probably on the next flight, and she should check with them after that.  She was given a number to call and a reference number; so she got on the shuttle and went to the "hotel", The Bridge at Cordova Boutique Hotel.  Now, sometimes when you look up this hotel, it includes the word "hostel" as well, and that would be the better description for this place.  Overall, it really wasn't THAT bad, it just was not at all what we expected, and definitely does not live up to the description/picture on their website, or the reviews, which I would have to believe were put there by the owners.  It was somewhat rundown, not necessarily in the best neighborhood, completely inhabited by college kids.  The rooms were livable.  There were 2 beds, which were not very comfortable, and there was not much in the way of pillows/sheets/blankets.  The air worked, but made a lot of noise (and yes, even in the winter in FL, you can still need the ac). The room was just overall dinghy.  The bathroom was small and well lived in (to put it nicely).  There was a small fridge and microwave in the room, and the furniture was actually fairly nice, in a rustic kind of way.  I was a little concerned leaving my little Prius with all my sabbatical stuff in it (even though it was covered) out on the street, but it and us survived the night.  After parking all our stuff at the hotel, we headed out to dinner, and my mom checked in with the airline several times regarding her luggage.  It was not on their tracking system yet, but they were sure it would be on the next flight.  My mom was very concerned about her "unaccompanied luggage" and where it might be going and who it might be visiting without her.  It became a running joke for the rest of the trip, any time one of our things (or even someone else's things) was not with us.  Of course, it only became a joke AFTER the luggage was found.  Which, thankfully, it was.  The final call of the night resulted in the message that yes, the luggage had arrived, but it had then left again.  Given to a delivery service to be taken to our hotel.  My mom was not happy, she would rather have just picked it up at the airport rather than risking the luggage getting lost again, but the airline people said there was no way to reach the driver at this point to make sure that he did  have the luggage, and to return it to the airport if  he was still near.  So, the unaccompanied luggage made its way through all the driver's other deliveries across the Ft. Lauderdale area (he was not just picking up from Southwest, but other airlines as well), before finally arriving at our doorstep at the Bridge at Cordova at one a.m.  We got a good night's sleep after that, got up, decided to forego the "breakfast" (coffee and cereal) at the hotel, and had a great breakfast at a local cafe.  We then went down to the beach at Ft. Lauderdale and wandered around for a while before heading off to the ship.  The process there went much smoother than I would have expected, considering the number of people who had to board.  They had a very large and efficient staff at the port, who quickly shuffled people through security, to the area where we got our SeaPass, and then onto the ship itself.  And that story is for another day.   

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