As we all know a PCS is never without it’s little quirks that make it just oh so much more fun, and so it was the case that again we had some extra ‘fun’ in store. Seems like it’s never far from our travels 😉
When we chose to fly the Military Rotator (AMC) to Germany we decided to fly into BWI the evening before our flight. My reasoning for this was that by doing so we would not be spending the whole day in airports & traveling and then flying on a red eye that night. By arriving the night before we had a chance to stay a night in a hotel (military’s expense) and then check in late the next evening for our red eye flight, which would be less stressful for us as well as Mac, who has never traveled before. I’m SO glad we decided to do this for several reasons!
First there was a bit of chaos even getting our Westie, Mac, to Germany on a flight with us, hence the reason we chose to fly the AMC flight. I’ll be posting more about that in another post soon. For now, he was able to fly on the same flights as us and arrive in BWI when we did. Unfortunately there was a HUGE issue when we went to pick him up in BWI…again this whole thing deserves a separate post, I know, I know cliffhanger, as Bea would say!
We arrived Friday evening and went to check into the Sheraton Hotel, the one a mile from BWI but not Four Points. We had made our reservations long in advance, because that’s just how I roll, and yet when we arrived things did not go as planned! We had a reservation for our family of 5 on the club floor with the extra amenities (free wifi, snacks, breakfast, etc) because that was what they were offering with the military rate during our stay. They informed us that we had a room with 2 double beds, that they did not have a room that will sleep all 5 of us. I asked for a roll away bed and we are told by the not so friendly lady who helped us that they do NOT have roll away beds, or offer them at that hotel. She wanted one of the kids to sleep on the floor, um can I get a N to the O WAY?! We even showed her the email confirmation stating that we had reserved it for 2 adults and 3 kids and she proceeded to tell us ‘Your not the first one to stand up here and tell me that’ and basically did not want to help us. Thankfully the shift supervisor was able to move us to a suite with a king bed, pull out couch, and guess what….a ROLL AWAY BED. Um I thought they didn’t have those??? Even though we had to move to the 2nd floor he made sure our keys were keyed for the 6th floor access to utilize the perks as well as getting the free internet. After we got the checking in snafu sorted out in the hotel was great. The beds were super comfy and the separate room in the suite was great for the boys to use the TV to hook up their xbox without taking over our TV. The internet was fast and easy to use. Had we not had reservation issues and a not so friendly lady check us in, I’d be more than willing to go back, now I’m a little hesitant.
Food at the hotel was a bit expensive and wasn’t extraordinary. We also ordered take out from G & M after hearing a few rave reviews and we were disappointed. While the hotel shuttle service was able to take Mr. B there the food just wasn’t tasty. There was a lot of it but it lacked seasoning! We wouldn’t eat there again.
Shuttle service was great for the most part. They offered rides to many places in a 3 mile radius but we did have problem getting a ride back to the hotel on Saturday after checking in our luggage. We called for the shuttle and they said it would be there in 25 minutes, normally they had been there in around 10-15 minutes, this time it was almost 50 minutes and several calls later before it showed up. Of course Mac was in his crate the whole time as well. Other than that the service worked great and the shuttle drivers were friendly. It was also a dog friendly hotel with a crate in the room if you needed it.
Overall we’d stay there again if we couldn’t book another local pet friendly hotel but we would be prepared to deal with issues checking in after this experience, it wouldn’t be our first choice though due to the reservation issues. I am a planner and like all my things checked, double checked, and crossed off the list. If I feel I’m not going to get what I reserved or something that can accommodate my family as promised then I feel like another company could provide a better service.
The next day we dealt with the dog drama (upcoming post) thankfully with the help of some awesome friends! They helped us to get squared away and then took us to Chesapeake Bay where we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, that that to our list of ones we’ve ate at: Hard Rock London, Florida, and Tokyo.
It was our first time in downtown Baltimore and it was neat seeing some of the local sights, although the wind coming off the bay was a bit chilly that day. It was so great being able to see our friends and hang out with them before we left. They live an hour away, they were almost home when they realized that Mr. B left my camera in their car, ugh!! They were awesome enough to bring it back to us, and I learned never to leave Mr. B in charge of the camera! I would’ve been pretty upset when we were leaving the hotel that night and realized it was missing.
It seems like it was not long ago when I was helping my sweet friend get ready to PCS to Germany while he hubby was on a 1 year in Afghanistan, and I so badly wanted to trade with her. 2 years later she’s back in the States where she’s happy to be and I’m finally headed to Germany!
Also another thing we did to make our life easier was not only book 1 night but 2 nights, even though we wouldn’t be staying overnight the 2nd night. The first night the military paid for because you get one night in BWI, the second night we paid for and it was so worth it. We did it because even if we did late check out at 2 pm we would’ve had to stay at the airport from 2 pm until our we flew out at around midnight. The dog had to be in the crate the whole time in the airport and dogs are NOT allowed in the USO, even in crates, trust us we asked 😉 We booked the extra night so that we could stay there until we flew out. This was so nice! We took all our luggage, carry-ons, and dog/crate over to the airport when check in started early in the evening and got everything weighed, our seat assignments, and checked in the luggage. We then took the carry-ons and the dog back to the hotel for several hours and ate dinner there. Checking in the luggage was so freeing, we had 10 fully stuffed bags, 5 carry ons, and 1 dog & crate! Once the 10 suitcases (50 lbs each!) were checked we able to move much quicker and easier.
At the AMC terminal pets cannot be checked in until 30 minutes before boarding. So after resting and eating at the hotel, we headed back to the terminal to check Mac in right as soon as it opened and then went through security. This way we spent literally no down time in the airport with him trapped in his kennel. Shortly after getting through security we were able to board. Oh and I was SO glad we had went to check in earlier when it opened, there were only a few people there when we did that. When we went back to check in Mac, there was a HUGE line almost all the way back to security! Score one for us, wahoo! We saved ourself a lot of time and headache by doing that! As for pets you pay the AMC flight fee when you check in and get your tickets, we had to pay $117 for Mac. More info about the AMC and pets here.
Waiting at BWI
The flight was LONG (really only 7 hours so shorter than to Japan) but Mr. B & I had a hard time getting comfortable and I got almost Zero sleep! It made for a rough week of jet lag but I’m not finally snapping out of my jet lag stupor. We are finally once again Expats, something we waited a long time for!
I love this pic Bea & I took on the flight
So that my friends was our BWI leg of the trip, doggie details coming soon! Yes, I’m alive an kicking here, things didn’t go as expected with housing and we’re now having to live off base. Finding a house here is like trying to pick up rice with only one chopstick, so it’s quite fun as you can imagine 🙂 Wish us luck!