| Apple Blossom
Friend of the Island
Registered: Apr 2008
Posted May 7th, 2008 09:43 AM IP
Our trips to GBI never go uneventful! First, we booked our flights back in September from Yahoo Travel (Travelocity). We were to fly Sun. April 20, United to GBI, then Continental and Midwest home. I had to change my flights to leave early, Wed. April 30, and everyone else kept their original flight itinerary for Sun. May 4.
We arrived and met our friends at KC airport 2 hours before our flight, our friend Stephanie was sick, we stood in line at the wrong ticket booth (our itinerary said United and in small words: operated by US Airways), so by the time we got to the correct check in line, we almost missed our flight. We arrived on GBI, got thru customs then out the front door to get a breath of fresh air. Bonnie from Brads came outside and greeted me with a hug, and as soon as I went in and signed the papers, she quickly had our van at the curb. Then on to Taino (Ritz) and checked in. While waiting to get into our room, the 7 of us went on to eat some lunch. We usually eat at Banana Bay the first day, but Stephanie didn't want to get too far away from a bathroom, so ate at a similar place closer (can't remember the name, but have eaten there before). Back to Taino to get into our room, did a little unpacking and later went over to Taino By the Sea resturaunt for dinner. As soon as we walked back into the room, Shaylene got sick to her stomach. Hung out the next day because Steph was still not feeling well and not sure if it was the ham and cheese that made Shay sick or if she had a stomach thing. She wound up feeling better, but Steph was still sick the next 2 days. Just as she started feeling better, her 2 year old son got pretty sick with the same thing, was sick the next 3 days. Then Bran, the husband, got sick, was sick until Sunday. The girls went to Camp Ritz on Tuesday morning and had a great time with Omar. We did make it to the Fish Fry on Wedensday night, but didn't stay too long. Talked with Janice on Friday, booked a snorkeling tour with Les on Saturday morning for Rex, Shay, Bran and I. Friday afternoon, we did make it to Paradise Cove for a bit, but wasn't long before low tide set in. Although Bran wasn't feeling well, we still went out with Les and we had a great time. We had the sincere pleasure of Adam joining us on our trip out with Les, he's such a great guy! Shaylene started not feeling so well on our snorkeling trip, but it kind of let up afterwards, so thought maybe it was the sun or motion sickness. Les and Adam came to our room and showed me how to fix Conch Salad (YUMMY! The best I'd ever had!) and visited while Adam went swimming with Shaylene for a bit. Rick and Arla spotted Rex, and came to visit at our patio, met Les and Adam, we had a wonderful time visiting and catching up! It was so wonderful to see them! Later we went to the square to eat dinner at the Pub and try to catch some entertainment, but sure enough, Shaylene was sick to her stomach again. Quickly got a cab back to Ritz, and she was sick thru the night. Sunday, we just kind of hung out, not knowing who was going to get hit next, Shaylene was feeling better, the Byrd family was feeling better, so we invited Janice, Les and Adam over to swim and visit. The Byrd family went to Port Lucaya to do some shopping, so we sat by the pool in front of Rick and Arla's room and had the greatest time! That evening, we went with Rick and Arla to the Pub to eat dinner, hung out for a bit for the entertainment (on Sunday?). Monday, I got up and just missed the sunrise on the beach, but still met up with Rick and had a nice visit. We decided then to go to Gold Rock that afternoon, as low tide was to be about 5. We went to Bishops for a late lunch (the cracked conch was wondereful!), then over to the Disney Pirates ships, which had been moved and couldn't see anything. We then went to the Lucayan National Park, and over to Gold Rock Beach. Tide was just going out when we got there about 5:15, so waited for a bit for the tide to go down more, left just before dark. We had the whole beach to ourselves, it was great! The kids got to see the little starfish in the tide pools and the baby and Bran made a sand castle. Tuesday morning, Stephanie and I planned an Open Swim with the Dolphins at Unexso. The water was a bit rough, so we didn't get to do the open ocean, but did the same in the canal. Well worth the $$$, that was a great experience. That afternoon, Rex and Bran took the kids to the Close Encounter with the dolphins and had a great time. Steph and I walked around PL for a bit, then back to the room. We all gathered and ate at Zorbas, after returning to the room, I was fast asleep (the dolphin swim wore me out!). Up at the crack of early on Wednesday to start packing and try to catch one sunrise before I left, met with Rick and had our last sunrise visit. After packing and saying my good-byes to Rick and Arla, we were off to the airport.
This is only the beginning of a nightmare with Travelocity. Shortly after we booked our flights with Travelocity, I got an email from them stating that our plans have changed, please contact them. I did, and they told me that our flight from Ft. Lauderdale to KC on Midwest had not been confirmed, but they will check...came back on the phone and said that the agent told them that all passengers were confirmed, so there was no need to worry. Over the next months, I received 3 more emails, calling them promptly each time, finding it was the same issue, but not to worry, all passengers were confirmed for that flight. When I had to change my flights, they booked me on United and changed my ticket from non-refundable to refundable because of the medical emergency. Charged me $490? for the change, but I could get a refund if I got a letter from the doctors stating I needed to be home for my dad's surgery. I never really intended to get the refund, I still needed to be home no matter the cost. When I got to the airport, I didn't have a flight at all! They had deleted my itinerary from the computer all together and I wasn't booked on United or anywhere else! Fortunately, being a Wednesday, they had room and I had to buy another ticket to get home ($369)! At that time, I made sure that the rest of my family and friends itinerary were still confirmed, explained that I had called each time I had received an email, and yes, they still had that booked for them, just not changed for me. I got to KC and after retrieving my car from long term parking, got a hotel room and met the family the next morning at the hospital. Surgery went well, but was not as successful as planned. I later learned that I had a serious issue develop that day at home and since I wasn't there, and completely exhausted, decided to stay again in KC that night and avoid my delimas all together, only to have tornadoes hit thru the night! I returned home on Friday evening. The family was to leave GBI on Sunday morning at 7:30, they got to the airport and Rex was told that he'd need to pick up his checked bags in Ft. Lauderdale. The Byrd's bags were checked thru to KC. When arriving in Ft. Lauderdale, they got Rex's bags and went to the checkin counter for Midwest...and sure enough, there were no flights into KC for that day. They were stuck! I got a call from Rex saying I needed to get on the phone with Travelocity right away and get them a flight home. While I was on the phone with a non-English speaking person, Bran went to the United counter and got the 6 of them flights to KC. Bran said they did not charge them for the flights. Shortly after hanging up from Rex telling me that Bran got a flight in, but instead of arriving at 1:30 they would be in at 9:15, a supervisor (who was not much better at speaking English), called me back and told me that it was not their fault and they had no liability for this issue. As far as my ticket was concerned, since I did not cancel my flight home, it was no longer refundable and I was not entitled to a refund for the 2nd ticket I paid for. The rest of my family and friends did arrive in KC Sunday night, the Byrds were off to Des Moines and us home.
Overall, we did have a great time and tried to make the best of it. Honestly, the best part was spending time with Les, Janice and Adam and Rick and Arla...they are the greatest people, and I so appreciate their time and friendship! I'm regretful that I didn't get to meet Lori and RBB (again), but hopefully next time.
Overall assessment of the island:
Although many of the locals said the tourism was really low this year, it seemed there were quite a few people there during our stay, opposed to the past few years. The Square had entertainment more often than the past couple of years, more folks were at the International Bazaar and a few more shops were open.
Ritz (Taino) was in great shape. We stayed in Coral even tho we bought in Ocean, and the units are about as bad as the Ocean a few years ago. We had great service still, the airconditioning was not working in our room, but they got it working enough that we were comfortable. The new Marlin rooms are beautiful! The pool was great, the water slide was running every day. The resturaunt was opened more than I'd ever seen it, and the food is good.
Prices at City Market and Solomons seemed comparable, City Market was well stocked and very clean. Other than a few select items, didn't see a reason to make Solomons a necessary shopping destination.
Our friends took traveler's checks, we always take cash, but they were charged anywhere from 80 cents to $2 to cash a traveler's check.
Learned that they plan to open the Garden of the Groves late July or early August. This information came from the park manager at Lucayan National Park.
They are repairing the bridge across the Mangroves at Gold Rock Beach, so they have it closed off and you need to take the right path to the beach. Easier walk, just a bit further.
I'm guessing that until they finish filming at Gold Rock, you won't be able to see much of the Pirates ships, but worth the try if you get the chance.
Brads was wonderful as usual, they are the kindest and most accommodating, I couldn't imagine renting a vehicle from anyone else!
Still the best way to get a sunburn on the island is on Les' boat...about the only sun I got the whole time I was there!
My dad is now home, and doing well. Thank you everyone for your well wishes and prayers.