Out and About

Holiday happiness or not?

When I go on a holiday, I want to experience holiday happiness. After all, holidays are to refresh, revive and energise us and this will happen more readily if we have a happy holiday. Afterwards, we can return to work, our routine and sometimes mundane tasks with more vigour. We all need time out, time to relax, laugh and be happy.

I have had my share of holiday unhappiness and I was thinking on this after spending a night in Brisbane this week. As my One & Only (O&O) had a medical appointment I arranged an overnight stay – a treat! But it came with the usual noisy air-conditioner. We had a balcony and we could have left the door open but then there was traffic noise! Fortunately, it was winter, and we were able to turn off the air-conditioner to sleep, as best as I could in an unfamiliar bed.

When having a holiday, I like to be able to open the windows and for these to be screened to keep out the bugs or better still security screens, depending on the location. I have a few unhappy holidays stories, and all of these were not because they were low cost. Here are a few of my stories.

A few years ago, with my title of Holiday Co-ordinator I booked me and my O&O a holiday at Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast. After much consideration of all the options I went with a boutique unit apartment block with two penthouses. I booked one of the penthouses, 2 bedrooms with its own rooftop area overlooking Mooloolaba beach. Perfect location and perfect weather on our arrival.

After our first night we were finishing a breakfast of bacon and eggs when the phone rang. The pest control people were in the building and would be spraying our unit in the next hour! I asked the usual questions about the chemicals safety and I was reassured they were not harmful. After this event as a responsible Holiday Co-ordinator I visited the office and spoke to the manager. I told him it would have been preferable if they had let us know about the pest spray when we checked in (that is, when we paid our 10 days accommodation in advance)! My parting comment was I hoped there would be no other surprises.

We then went out for a few hours to return to our apartment with water running down the windows, balcony covered with water and men abseiling from our exclusive penthouse rooftop. Another trip to the office to speak to the manager. However, the manager’s, a couple, had taken the day off. I was told that the building was being cleaned and it would take a couple of days. Then there was the painting after this! Meanwhile the access was via our penthouse rooftop. We checked out a few hours later and went home. It took some negotiation, but we received a refund for 9 nights. It put us off going on holidays for a while. Our favourite destination became a staycation – a holiday spent at home.

Time moves on and in 2016 we had the most amazing holiday in Tasmania. Then earlier this year we stepped out bravely and went to Sydney to find some holiday happiness. Sydney is such a beautiful city with so much to see and explore. I organised our accommodation at the Adina, Town Hall Hotel. Once we arrived, we realised this was a great choice. We moved quickly into our holiday happiness mode with our central location and proximity to the Sydney CBD, trains, buses and ferries. The unit was on the 18th floor, good size rooms, the main bedroom glass sliding door was double glazed (no traffic noise) and the air-conditioning quiet. Everything was picture-perfect.

Sydney Harbour Bridge on an overcast day.

Then after two nights, just after breakfast, we hear the fire alarm, with the message ‘evacuate now, evacuate now’. I was about to iron a blouse, a task which had to be abandoned. After turning off the iron, I quickly grabbed a jacket, handbag, mobile and walked out the door with my O&O. My attire, t-shirt and track suit pants was not entirely suitable for going out, but the siren was going and the monotonous tone of ‘evacuate now, evacuate now’ continued.

We joined other people gathered in the hallway. A lady with no shoes and carrying an overnight bag guided us down the fire stairwell. We walked down 18 floors, getting to know one another along the way. As I was chatting to the lady with no shoes, alarm bells still ringing, I found out she worked for the hotel. When I asked her what she did she told me she was the general manager. Before long we were out onto the footpath with fire engines singing in the background. We saw the event as holiday happiness, a little fun along the way. I mentioned to my O&O someone must have burnt their toast, all the while laughing! As we waited and chatted to others, we took photos, while watching the chaos and commotion unfold around us.

My O&O patiently waiting for the ‘all clear’ from the fire brigade.

With nothing much to do but stand around we decided to go for a walk to fill in the time. It was a beautiful sunny day and as my hat was on the 18th floor I bought a new one. In the throngs of people in the Sydney CBD I hoped no one would notice my unusual dress as I hugged my jacket around my t-shirt. After a couple of hours, we returned to the hotel.

We quickly discovered that the fire alarm incident was not a false alarm. The entire building would be shut down for several days, with no lifts operational. The 19th floor fire alarm had gone off and the entire floor was flooded, including guests luggage. We were told staff would pack our belongings and bring down our suitcases or we could walk up 18 floors, pack our own bags and the staff would carry them down for us. We took the latter option. We walked up to the 18th floor and after packing our suitcases, walked down once again 18 floors. The result – my legs complained for the next four days.

The pains in my legs faded as I enjoyed the view from Watson’s Bay. Sydney CBD with the harbour bridge.
Holiday happiness at Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant, Watson’s Bay. It should be on everyone’s holiday to do list, when in Sydney.

Eventually, we were taken by taxi to Adina Central Hotel. We were told by reception we would get a similar room to what we had at Adina Town Hall. However, a room on the 1st floor with a view to the back of Central Train Station did not match the standard of our previous accommodation on the 18th floor with the outlook of city lights, twinkling as we sat and had dinner. The Holiday Co-ordinator had to swing into action.

The view from our 18th floor apartment. Sydney CBD lights twinkling away.

I phoned my new friend the lady with no shoes, the general manager of Adina Town Hall. She was warm and helpful and very quickly offered to refund us 50% of our accommodation which I gratefully accepted. All we could do now was to get back our holiday happiness mojo.

As it happens not all of our holidays have ended in holiday unhappiness. We have had many happy holidays in some beautiful locations in Australia and overseas.

The view from our 18th floor apartment, looking down Bathurst Street. A time when our holiday happiness was complete. That is, just prior to being evacuated.

Next month we will be out looking for more holiday happiness. We will return to one of our favourite places, the Scenic Rim, set in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. We will stay at the same cottage where we have stayed before, and without doubt our cup will be overflowing with holiday happiness once more! But then what about you? Do you have any amusing holiday stories you would like to share with me and other readers?

Did you know that it is much easier to get a refund if you book directly with the accommodation provider. If I had booked with wotif or another booking company we may have had to stay with our abseiler friends!

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