Travelling trauma – How Austin brought out my drama queen.
10th February 2014
Just before leaving San Antonio I booked online through Expedia a room. A room in a hotel. That had advertised that it was close to Austin city and affordable. Read cheap.
And you know how it’s a good thing to be frugal on your travels and booking hotel rooms right? Right.
I hop on the greyhound in San Antonio and gleefully enjoy the 1 hour drive to Austin. I do love short bus rides. No really it means that there is no strange just-out-of-jail men wanting to grope my boobs at 3am.
The Austin greyhound station is in the middle of nowhere. There’s like these overpass thingies that we don’t have at home, stacked on top of each other with … look… like this:
So coming out of the greyhound terminal I was a bit flummoxed. Oh yes. It was hot and dry, such a nice change from summer at home which is stupidly hot and humid. This definitely did not look like Austin city to me. And how the hell do I get to this “city”? I sat outside in the unbearable desert heat on top on my pink suitcase and pondered my options.
Go back into the terminal and try to explain to the inevitably slow person behind the counter that I needed a map or directions on how to get into the city (this was made incredibly harder as some people just looked at me like I’d grown another head. Who knew an Australian accent would mean that I was talking Chinese?)
Try to find it on google maps on my phone and just leg it and walk there
I went for option 2.
So looking at maps, it indicated that Austin city was actually about a 10 minute drive to the west. A 10 minute drive would mean about a hourish walk in the midday heat. Ok, maybe I can do this I say to myself. Better find where my hotel is before I start the desert hike back to civilisation.
I look up the hotel. North Austin Plaza Hotel & Suites. Oh how I wish I’d have Yelped this bloody place before I’d booked it. However let’s blame the fact that I was bleeding and in pain and didn’t much care to be as careful as I usually am about it. Google tells me the hotel is east. I blink a few times. So wait, the hotel that is close to the Austin city centre is east of the city centre. That’s a lot of miles claiming to be close!! The huge overpass thingy in the picture above?? The hotel was on the other side of that, to the right and keep walking a bit. I kid you not.
So my hotel was at least an hours walk out of the city centre. Overlooking a highway over pass. This was getting better and better all the time.
I figure, I should at least go check in and see if there’s a bus of some description into the city, right? Wrong.
So I get to the check in after walking 15 minutes, sweaty and just wanting a drink. I walking into the air-conditioned lobby and frown a bit. This isn’t really like any of the hotel’s I’ve stayed in to date. Actually it looked way more like a motel.
I stand in the lobby waiting for someone to notice I’m there so I can check in. When I hear buzzing.
I blink a few times and frown. Buzzing? Is that coming from me? I look down… it sounds like it’s my suitcase… Why is my suitcase buzzing? Did I accidentally pack a vibrator? I didn’t pack a vibrator! I’m sure I didn’t… so why is my suitcase BUZZING?!!??!!!
I was turning a slight shade of red and the girls behind the counter finally noticed I’m there because I was buzzing rather loudly as I reach down into my pink suitcase and start digging around. What the heeeeeeeeeeelllllllllll!!
The culprit was my electric toothbrush. I wave it around laughing awkwardly going, ops, I forgot to take the batteries out.
I’m not sure the girls behind the counter believed me, but they gave me keys to my room anyway and a map after I asked if there were buses into Austin from here. She asked me why I didn’t drive. I told her I don’t have a car. Her face went slack and I thought she’d suffered some kind of stroke, but no, she was obviously not comprehending the words that had just come out of my mouth. I gave up trying to communicate.
I lug my suitcase up the stairs (there was no elevator) and find my room. I open the door and get hit with such an overpowering smell of wet carpet. Think wet dog. Then times that by a few million. The stench was unbearable. I left the room door open and went in holding my breath. I checked the bathroom, which was dark and not somewhere I wanted to use. It just looked dirty. I walk back into the room surprised that my feet aren’t soaked because it smells like someone’s just spilled water everywhere and left the door shut so that it mildewed. I try the single window available in the room and it wasn’t budging. There were spider webs and bugs caught in said spider-webs in the curtains. There were roaches. And the air con didn’t work. So combine desert heat, no air con, door being wide open and wet carpets with horrible horrible smell and I was wondering how on earth I was going to stay in this room.
I climbed onto the bed and pulled out my laptop. I wanted to know how I could get into town from here. And possibly spend as little time in the room as possible. Buses, there were buses every hour or so into Austin. This was not acceptable. I decided that I needed to talk to reception and see if I could change rooms. I had started to dry retch at this point from the smell and my eyes were watering.
I walked down and asked if it was possible to change rooms as my room smelt so badly that I was throwing up. The woman behind the counter advised me that it wasn’t possible to change rooms and that I was stuck with it. I advised that I wanted a refund because I couldn’t stay there. The wet carpet smell was disgusting and not livable. She advised me that I also can’t get a refund because I booked through Expedia. I would need to contact them. This just kept getting better and better. So I trotted back to my room and looked up the number for expedia and gave them a call. I was advised that because I booked a special deal, there was no refunds available. Nothing they could do to help me.
At which point I hung up the phone and burst into tears.
After having a huge cry I blew my nose on the horrible sandpaper-esque toilet paper in the bathroom and thought about what options I had to save myself from this place.
I spent $80 on 2 nights for this stinky room.
I could either suck it up and stay here. Or I forego my $80 and find another hotel actually in Austin and stay there.
It wasn’t that hard a choice. I put my laptop away, washed my face so that I didn’t look like I’d just spent the last 15 minutes bawling like a baby. Shut the door behind me and went into the lobby to return keys.
I advised the woman that I wanted to check out.
She looked at me weird and advised me that I’d only checked in. Really Einstein? You think I’m not aware that it’s barely been an hour since I’ve been in your stupid stinky disgusting excuse for a hotel? I told her that the room they have given me is probably in violation of every health code available for a hotel anywhere in the world and that I refuse to stay in a “hotel” room that smells so badly of damp carpet that I’m throwing up. So yes, I’m checking the fuck out.
Then proceeded to use their computer in the lobby to check for hotels actually in Austin and ended up booking the Holiday Inn right next to the river. Because at least I knew their rooms were clean, they had wifi, cable and clean bathrooms. Once I booked the hotel I printed off the booking. Went back to the reception desk and told them I wanted them to call me a cab.
I never wanted to see their disgusting excuse for a hell hole ever again.
I couldn’t tell you how fast I ran for the cab when it turned up outside. This was not the awesome beginning to Austin as I’d hoped it would be…
Note to self: When travelling, make sure you investigate all hotels before booking any stupid cheap deals through websites like Expedia who refuse to give you your money back if it all goes to hell.