Monday, October 13, 2008

And you thought Christmas had gotten commercial...

Here's a none-cruise related entry for you. This weekend Mom and I hit the road and travelled down to good old Williamsburg, my home for seven years, to celebrate her return to health after a, let's face it, crappy year. It's been a year since I was down there...Selvi and I went back last year for one night to see Carbon Leaf perform on campus at William and Mary, but we were only there for a few hours and it was dark so we didn't so much. So it felt like a really long time since I had visited.

The trip did not have an auspicious beginning. One week ago, I got a call from Colonial Williamsburg (CW) telling me that the Lodge (the hotel I had booked four months ago) was overbooked and they were going to have to relocate us. I told them no. There was no way I was letting them kick us out of that hotel.

When my brother and I were kids we used to spend the weekend after New Years in Williamsburg. Since it was before Twelfth Night, the holiday decorations were still up, and the three of us (me, Bill, and my Mom) would spend some quality time together. My Mom also organized a reunion for the soldiers in my Great Uncle's World War II regiment a few years ago, and guess where they stayed? That's right--the Lodge. She brought about 100 people to their hotel. And now they wanted to boot us out.

I told the woman that called me that I wanted to speak to a manager, and I gave her the whole spiel. Long story short, we ended up not being kicked out of her hotel, but we didn't get the official word until Thursday, two days before we were supposed to leave for our trip.

And the drama didn't end there. After checking in, the girl at the front desk (who didn't seem very interested in helping us) apparently didn't enter our info right and there was a problem with getting our CW passes. Which means we had to wait around for 20 minutes while the CW hospitality rep put it all in the computer.

At that point, Mom and I had had enough. She ended up speaking to the hotel manager, politely of course, who was very apologetic for the mix-up. We ended up getting a $100 credit on our bill, which was nice of them, but the whole thing left a bad taste in our mouths. Also, they remodeled the Lodge in 2007, and the new design has made the old hotel lose a lot of its charm. Our room was huge and really nice, but the entire outside of the hotel looks like a dorm; something that was thrown up to look vaguely colonial, but still just resembles some brick boxes.

Finally, while CW bills itself as a non-profit educational foundation, the commercialization of the restored area has really gotten out of hand. Everything is all about the Dining! The Shopping! The Spa! The spending of all your money on useless faux-colonial crap that is all made in China!

Sigh. I guess it's true what they say, you can never go back.

Having said all that, the weekend was really fun. We walked around the restored area, had dinner Saturday night at the Kings Arms Tavern, and took tours during the day. CW was focusing on 1781 and the period when Washington had his headquarters in Williamsburg just prior to battle of Yorktown. There were soldiers camped out on the Palace and Market Greens, and folks in costume walking around everywhere. It was actually really cool.

We also met up with Mom's friend Marge and went to dinner at the Williamsburg Inn (five star restaurant y'all), which was really delicious and elegant. We also spent time visiting with Marge, her sister Pat, and Pat's husband Jack, and had a blast. Old people can be fun! Especially old people who are as liberal as me and love talking about all the SNL parodies of McCain and Palin.

On Sunday, I met with an old friend (Andrew) for lunch. He showed me around the new law library which is hella nice and kinda makes me upset that I graduated right before they started working on it, and showed me the new area of town called, originally enough, New Town. There are a billion new shops and restaurants there, and a huge movie theater! Things have really changed since I was an undergrad, when we had to get really creative to find things to do. Well, not really, pretty much we just sat around and watched tv and drank. But that's because there weren't all those cool places to go!

And on the way home, we stopped by Ashland and visited with Mom's cousins, Buck and Mary Evelyn. We had tea and something called a chocolate-peanut butter-scotcharoo which is OMG the BEST THING EVER. We haven't had a chance to visit with them in forever, and it was really lovely.

So despite the problems, we are planning another trip back in December, after Christmas. We'll probably end up staying somewhere a little cheaper and trying not to get sucked into the vortex that is the Coach Outlet (that's why we have credit cards, right?). And we can walk around and look at the Christmas decorations; just like old times.

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