Monday, March 4, 2013

Tortola(BVI) Vacation, Day One (getting there)...

Yes, that IS champagne...
I swear, every trip I take starts off with an ordeal of some type (see more in the "About Me" section for my disclaimer about my bitching). This trip was for a 10-day jaunt to the Island of Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. It was to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary, and technically, their trip. Jean and I were invited to chaperone and to ensure that no international incidents occurred. John Kerry may have a tough job, but he's never traveled with my in-laws.

The available flights to the islands resulted in Jean's parent going a day earlier. For some reason, they didn't want to get up at 3AM for a 5:20AM flight. Whatever. Jean and I have no such qualms, so while we were definitely bleary-eyed, we were up and out of the house by 3:30AM. We did curb-side check in, and somehow, we were magically given "Priority Status" with all of our bags being checked for free. That's a bike case and a large duffel bag for each of us. Sweet! Our Sky Cap got a good tip and we were on our way. Boston to Miami was a cramped flight. I felt like I had decent leg room, but NO elbow room. I had just enough space to read a back issue of The Albion, so really, what more could I need.

Delicious, and better than a $5 bag of chips.
We had an hour or so to chill out in Miami, and then realized that we had somehow been upgraded to Business class on the flight from Miami to St. Thomas. Sweet, part two!

Jean and I could really sprawl out, and oh, what's this? Grilled salmon on a salad and white wine? Why, thank you! Oh, and hot towels, more drinks and snacks? Thank you!

Aside from the early departure, this was feeling like quite the good travel experience.

Then, we landed in St. Thomas.

Something is missing here...
It's a lonely feeling when you're one of the only one standing at the baggage carousel, forlorn and without your bags. Everyone else is off, enjoying their trip, and you're there, in your only pair of underwear, wondering how long that will be the case. Yep, both bikes made it, and Jean's bag made it, but my duffel went on its own adventure. I was assured by the AA representative that my bag would be found and delivered to the customs office as soon as possible.

To be honest, it was a bit of a blessing to be missing one bag because to get from St. Thomas to Tortola was a bit like, what I suspect, navigating Calcutta while in a potato sack would be like.

Line BEFORE getting ferry tickets...
Even without my bag, the two bikes are not light, and I had to carry them from the airport terminal to a cramped van, where the van/taxi driver launched them in to the back along with the luggage of about 12 other people. Taxi rates seem to change by the second and appear to be based on how much the driver wants to charge. If you have heavy bags, that's leverage for him to charge more. That's fine, but the taxi ride was all of maybe five minutes. Whatever. It was exhilarating nonetheless, as taxi driving on the islands is apparently a competitive sport. I've never seen a packed Ford Econline van redlined so many times in such a short distance. We appreciated his haste when we arrived at the ferry dock.

Line AFTER getting ferry tickets...
It was mayhem to find a ferry with available seating to get to Tortola. If you don't get a ferry, you don't leave St. Thomas. Trying to weave through the swarms of people while encumbered with the bags that we had was certainly a challenge. Oh, and when we finally got ferry tickets, the bag handler, of course, wanted to be "taken care of," because of the heavy bike boxes. Nothing like a little Island Extortion to start the trip off. I tip, and tip well, but I don't want to be told to do so. The ferry ride was fine, but when we landed in Tortola, we were not at the landing site near where we were staying, this meant, of course, another taxi ride. However, well before the taxi, we had to get though customs, which meant more lines and more delays.

Line through customs...
We FINALLY arrived at the resort, but unfortunately we had missed dinner. And to keep on with the theme of being heavily laden with luggage, we had to carry our luggage up what would probably be at least 6-flights of stairs to our villa. It was a looooong day of travel capped off with a walk up two pretty steep hills. It wouldn't be the first time I doubted the wisdom of bringing the bikes.

Early flight, about 6hrs total of flying, great upgrade, missing luggage, chaotic ferry, long lines at customs, multiple taxi rides, and a steep schlep with way too much luggage. We raided the mini-bar and went to bed.

It WAS worth it though, we woke up in paradise the next morning.

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