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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

A Parental (Un)Guide to Surviving DisneyLand

(Disclaimer – If you think this will be a traditional helpful hint guide that tells you all the ins and outs of the parks, which apps to use, which Disney characters to seek out and where to save a $1 on a coke please turn that cruise ship around now and find another port of call. If I could tell you to seriously consider cancelling your trip, call up your bookie and put it all on red and you would seriously consider such a move please read on)

 

So whoever coined the phrase Disneyland “The Happiest Place On Earth” never had to deal with a 3 year old with diarrhea and a 6 year old that declared It’s a Small World frightens him in hour two on the 1st day of a 3 day park hopper pass that cost more than your 1st year of college tuition and he’s tapping out on any more rides. And for every parent out there that has made this trek you know what I’m talking about.

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It’s been three years since our last pilgrimage to see Mickey and friends and with my kids now 13 and 10 I thought maybe I’d made my last visit but when we sat down for the annual family vacation planning summit it was declared that Disney was on the rotation again this year. There was concern raised in various focus groups commissioned as part of the pre-summit preparation that the kids were on the verge of getting too old to want to go again until they would have kids of their own and suffer the same fate like a generations of parents before them. The commission was right on the outgrowing part and yet there was no room for negotiation. My counter focus group commissioned by Mr Donut Monday made a unanimous recommendation to leave the kids at home, got to Scotland for golf and scotch tasting and talk like Sean Connery for the rest of the year. That focus group was permanently disbanded.

 

 

My destiny locked in there was only one thing left to do. Embrace my fate and Initiate the Disneyland Ultimate Family Unification for Survival plan (AKA Operation DUFUS) This is essentially a survival guide that has been honed and refined over the span of about 45 minutes it took to churn this out, passed down from generations of parents who bought into the Disney dream and came unprepared. It’s so sacred and secretive that even the illuminati don’t have a copy of it but I share it for my fellow donut disciples. Some of these need to be executed prior to the trip and some are initiated on site but each are proven techniques to help you survive and dare I say enjoy your trip. And I’m not talking about how to use Fast Passes or which day to visit the park to minimize crowds. Let’s face it, the last time Disney was not crowded with endless lines was never.

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  1. Fake a Disney Bookings Website Crash

A true patriot of deception goes cloak and dagger in day one of Disney trip preparation. Get out in front by volunteering with strong enthusiasm that you will immediately work on booking the tickets online only to come back with academy award winning frustration that the Disney ticket bookings site has been down all day. Position yourself accordingly for a fast acting yet sly unplugging of the router if she tries to access the site on her own. Inevitably a Google search will produce a toll-free number to call (1-800-Shoot-Me) so you’ll have to set up a fake call center routed to your Thursday night drinking buddy who will be instructed to pleasantly take a ticket order while simultaneously suffering a Tourette Syndrome attack and/or making inappropriate advances. Alas she will recognize your friend’s sailor mouth from regular Thursday night drinking experiences and the gig will be up. You’re going to Disneyland.

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  1. Contaminate your kids with ride fear

Embracing your fate, it’s time to plan out your day. One technique I like to leverage is to compare the average wait time for each ride (which I like to categorize Death March 1 through 4) and then subconsciously convince your kids they want no part of the ones with the longest wait times. No kid interest = no ride.

So it would go something like this if you want to avoid Pirates of the Caribbean.

“Hey kids did you hear that Disney upgraded Pirates of the Caribbean with real life pirates this year? It’s going to be so much fun. They try to actually snatch children out of the boat and sell them for ransom but don’t worry your Dad will negotiate a fair price for your return”

Think you will lose your mind if you have to ride the Jungle Cruise one more time? No problem

“Hey kids I’m pretty excited to ride the Jungle Cruise! It’s so fun to avoid the poison darts that are shot at the boats by the natives from the shoreline. Aunt Gertrude loved it to until she got a little slower in her advanced age last trip. RIP Aunt Gerty”

This technique can work on enthusiastic adult family members as well.

“You are the best mother-in-law ever! Thank you for coming on the trip to hang with us and the grandchildren. I’m just sorry you picked the year to come when Disney profits are down and they had to fire all the sanitation “cast members” who were responsible for cleaning the park rides and the restrooms on a regular basis. Here take this TP. We brought it just in case. Now let’s go snuggle into a It’s a Small World paddle boat!”

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  1. Train like it’s your last Olympics

Embracing the fact that your daily itinerary will not end until you have knocked out 24 rides in 12 hours with a maximum of 12 minutes of down time for you and your family (to visit those sorely neglected Disney bathrooms….see point #2) speed is the name of the game to get from ride to ride especially in the early hours of the park opening. A navy seal level regimen of wind sprints for the kids should start T-minus 4 weeks before the trip. Set up obstacles that resemble frail grandmothers using walkers, obese slow walking teenagers who wear extra tight gaming T-shirts and triple wide strollers and employ a no mercy policy. If taking them out determines whether you get to the next ride before the fast pass window closes you go Jonny Lawrence Kobra Kai on that obstacle my friend.

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4. Get your doctorate in Traveler Boozology

Ah ha ha..you’re so smart you brought a flask to sneak into the park to share with your significant other to help get you through the day. Rookie. Good luck getting that through Disney security and enjoy your day drinking lukewarm $10 cokes. You have to get one step ahead of these security guys who are looking to bust a cap in your ass and by bust a cap I mean voiding out your $600 park hopper pass. I choose death instead.

You have to think out of the box now and get ninja stealthy. Buy one of those kits that are crafty booze smugglers designed as real day to day products like hand moisturizer, sunblock and Tylenol containers and pack them right on top of your bag in plain sight while you cackle walking though security with an extra spring in your step. Right after that first kid melt down you say “Hey honey can you pass me the sunblock and a coke? I’m feeling hot and thiiiiiiiirsty.  Ah yeah all better now. I love SPF 80 proof. You look a little red too. You want a single or double application?”

You see a man at Disneyland that loses his shit because his wife forgot to bring extra “tampons” and think what a freak. I see a fellow drinking ninja who ran out of booze and needs a new wing man. My wife would never make that rookie mistake.

 

  1. Don’t look at a bank account or credit card bill

Perhaps the most important tip. Pre-embrace the fact that you are going to get fleeced. Some dumbass and now ex SVP in the Disney picture division greenlit The Lone Ranger and they have to make it up with $24 water misters, $18 sunblock (but hey don’t worry you brought your own 🙂 and $12 hot dogs to help pay off Jonny Depp’s salary and “alleged” coke habit on your back. But I gleefully smuggle booze into kid theme parks so who am I to talk. Sure you can try to sell some 3rd rate traveling carnival as the new Disney to avoid the fleecing but the kids will see right through that sham and there is a 34% chance one of them suffers a traumatic injury from the death trap they call carnival rides. Either way you are hitting your medical deductible.

So enjoy my fellow donuters and next time you see Mickey give him a good poke in the eye.

Dear Liver

Dear Liver,

First off I just want to say that I love you. We’ve been through a lot together and I’ve not always treated you with the respect you deserve. There was that malt liquor phase in college which I’m not proud of.  Oh and spring break in Mexico where I set the record for most consecutive tequila popper shots. Come on that was fun right? Fist bump! Come on don’t leave me hanging. Yeah I get your still mad about those early days in my career where I got a little carried away with the free soda perk and only consumed water in the form of ice cubes in my jack and cokes. Thank you for sticking around with me during those days and by sticking around I mean not shutting down so I’m on dialysis for the rest of my life. I appreciate it.
But hey we are in a much better place now right? I’m drinking tons more water, no more soda and I’ve cut way down on my day drinking at work. I don’t take you for granted anymore and I’m committed to you for the long haul. You know that now and that’s why I feel comfortable telling you that I’m taking a 3 day trip to Vegas with the guys.

Oh please don’t cry.

No really it will be fine. I’ll be sure to hydrate. Already I’ve had 3 glasses of water this morning before I head to the airport. Yes I’ll probably have a few drinks at the bar. Yes those are a stack of Southwest drink tickets in my pocket but it’s just an hours flight and how many can I really use in that time? Last trip was 4 coupons? Really? Wow I’m good but that’s besides the point. I’ve been preparing for this trip and taking a holistic approach to improving all of my organs health. There’s all that hot yoga workouts with those moves that improve the health of my pancreas, kidneys and gall bladder. My gall bladder is rockin right now. It should be on the cover of gall bladder monthly it’s so finely tuned.

Who’s going on the trip with me? Well there is Tom, Dave and my brother Sean. Yes my Canadian brother is going. Ok you need to just calm down. Yes he can be a bad influence on me but I haven’t seen him in almost a year and we can’t even go back to that bar again since the fire we accidentally started burned it down and all charges were eventually dropped. I know it’s not fair that his liver died many years ago from that trip to Saskatoon when it was all you can drink Molson’s night but it’s not my fault that he has free health care and got the titanium liver transplant. We just have to deal with this together.

So let’s just get through these next 3 days and make the best of it. I’m not going to lie to you that it’s going to be easy but I’l stay clear of the double vodka/redbulls (I get annoyingly chatty) and be sure to hydrate regularly. Tonic water counts right?

Long Live The Annual Guys Getaway

Mancation….Guys Weekend Away…Boys Trip. Call it what you will just don’t forget to call me if you’re putting one of these bad boys together. Since the beginning of time when Fred and Barney would take a road trip with their fellow Water Buffalo brethren into the prehistoric minivan and head off to Rock Vegas for to blow off some steam and throw down some bets (Did someone say b.b.b.b.bet, bet bet?) men have come to love the ritual of the annual guys getaway. It’s the only reliable environment where you can take  a collection of otherwise responsible set of dudes who are generally upstanding citizens and have them voluntarily subject themselves to photo documented acts worthy of extortion. For evidence I present you with Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

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These are men in full scale annual guy trip mode. Note their temporary departure from self pride fueled partly by brotherly companionship and partly by the 19 beers consumed by the time this picture was taken…at 11am. You may think this picture is an anomaly but I’ve trained this crew to willingly put on an umbrella hat in public during perfectly sunny days at major sporting events for 10 years running. Do not underestimate the alluring power of the annual guy getaway. That and 19 beers.

I used to think that guy trips were just something you only did in your college days but when you are that young with little or no responsibility your whole life at that moment in time is practically in constant guy trip mode. Your only concern when you return from a trip at that age is whether you left the beer fridge open while you were gone and whether you will get the damage deposit back on the house boat rental (You won’t). I suspect the allure of the guys trip fades for those in retirement age as well given the abundance of down time already readily available or because there is only a 78.3% chance you’ll survive the ordeal.

It’s actually us middle age dudes that truly embrace the guys trip and get the best return on our investment. We are in the sweet spot of life where downtime is rare and you don’t pass up the chance to break out of the normal routine. Nothing makes you step up your game and temporarily loose your mind on a testosterone filled excursion knowing that when the sanctioned debauchery ends  you will pack your bags to head home to start a 48 hour diaper duty shift, face a shit ton of work to catch up on and a get a freshly updated HoneyDo list from wife who’s looking to collect on all the man point credit cards you charged this trip to to get out in the first place, with interest. But that’s not for another 3 days 7 hours and 15 minutes from now and it’s time to live large.

Like most things in life there is a hierarchical pecking order in the various preferred formats of the annual guys trip. Any quality time away with the guys is a good thing but the first annual trip is always touch and go and the casualty rate is high. The rule of thumb for a first time getaway is invite 30% beyond trip capacity knowing some never make it past the budget talks, others get D blocked from the boss on a last minute conflicting business trip and then there is the rare occasion where a poor soul gets machine gunned on his front lawn within visual range of their target getaway vehicle by the wife who was never properly briefed on the original mission. We attempt to recover the body later.

Any guy getaway that makes it to year 2 is officially considered a tradition according to worldwide man code which instantly upgrades your weapons cache for counter assaults in subsequent years by aforementioned barriers to entry. Void where prohibited. The gold standard is the annual guys trip established before you even settled down to got married and have kids. This pre-nuptual agreement term was recently upheld in a challenge in front of the Supreme Court of ManJustice. You’re grandfathered in and can play the tradition card every year with no expiration date. “Honey you know I want to be home for Christmas with the family but we’ve been doing our annual guys Halibut Be Thy Name  Alaska fishing trip since 1986 and I can’t let the guys down.  The key is don’t miss even one year or you loose all your accrued vesting and we won’t see your ass on that trip again until the kids are out of college.

Annual girl getaways, while fully endorsed and encouraged by my fellow male brethren,  don’t come together nearly as easy. Women are much more polite then men and will try to work around everyone’s schedules to find a compatible time before an entire year has gone by and they have to start over for the following year. If they do actually agree on a  time there’s talk of what to bring, what kind of clothes to pack and pre-planning some excursions. No such silliness on guy getaways. Without prior notification or planning guys just show up in front of your house the same day each year, the car filled with beer based on a 24 bottles per person per day consumption rate and poker chips. No words are exchanged. For girl getaways, themes will change every year and there’s debate and discussion about what to do to “build on the experience”. Yawn. Men invite the same other men every year, wear the same shirt, order the same beer and sit in the same chair and if someone’s in their chair they will crop-dust  the area until the perpetrator is forced to exit from lack of oxygen. Don’t mess with tradition.

One final little tidbit on the subject of guy getaways. Contrary to what you see in the movies and outside of any excursion involving Charlie Sheen, most men I’ve seen don’t completely loose our minds on these kind of trips and do stupid shit. If  someone new is initiated into the excursion and shows up with hookers and coke they are quickly excommunicated from the group and shunned from existence. The fact is we’re not out to cheat and break laws. We just want to drink beer, shun responsibility for a few days and have something to look forward to next time around, which according to my calendar is a mere 187 days away and counting!

FarFromGroovin – Down with Rental Car Companies

I put myself in the category of the classic business trip mid level exec grinder. Having not (yet) achieved superstar CEO status where access to private jets and town cars are at a moments notice and working for a start up, I pack my bags for each trip, kiss the wife and kids goodbye and prepare to go to battle. Flight delays, tight connecting flights that require full sweat maximizing sprints between terminals and surly flight attendants don’t phase me anymore. Bring on the excessive drinking repugnant customer who orders his 3rd last round on my tab at 1am the night before a 5:30am wake up call for an early morning flight home. No problem because I play hurt. Yet rental car companies cut me down at the knees. They are my kryptonite. While the world continues to evolve, the rental car industry embraces 40 year old practices with their proudest achievement in the last 5 years being the introduction of the flexible fueling option/wallet vaporizer, and super sized rental car lots that are outfitted with every imaginable type of car ever made except the one I actually reserved. A random sampling of their practices I find the most annoying

1. Forcing me to deal with actual humans

The airlines have taught me the less human interaction the better. I embrace a kiosk driven interactive business lifestyle. With exception of the frequently pleasant and borderline hygenic rental car shuttle drivers who pick me up to take me to the rental car lot located as far as possible from the airport, everything about a rental car experience can and should be automated so no one has to deal with an actual rental car company employee. That world does not yet exist and regretfully there are a few occasions when I actually have to walk in and talk to a customer service reservation agent. That usually instigates the official start of a shitty business trip day. Not that I have anything against the employees personally. They work exceptionally hard for minimal pay. Its the process they are forced to follow. The encounter typically starts with me queuing up at the end of a what resembles a depression era bread line with fellow customers at various stages of frustration. Your estimated wait time is 20 min (+1 day). When my turn finally arrives I present my drivers license and credit card used to secure my reservation to the service agent who proceeds to type uninterrupted into a computer screen I can’t see for a minimum of 20 minutes, supposedly processing my reservation. Its the most inefficient process I’ve ever encountered. I truly wonder at some point if the agent is Facebooking, or perhaps instant messaging with a friend to bet how long I will stand there blankly waiting before I loose my mind. My alternative theory is they are talking directly to the insurance arm of the rental car company to plot their strategy to see how much they can fleece me before I can leave the lot in the compact Ford Fiesta that oozes my “playa” status. Which leads me to my next gripe…

2. Enough of the hard sell on insurance

Suckers and grandmothers buy rental car insurance. Yet the world must be filled with the former because the rental car companies remain relentless in this practice. First it was the peace-of-mind tactic. “Sir why would you not consider protecting your company and person financial liability for a mere $15 a day.” Then the direct threat tactic. “Sir you will be charged a minimum of $1000 for any damage to the vehicle.” Now it’s a scare tactic. These words actually left the lips of a service rep recently. “Sir it’s 1000 times more likely you will get into a car accident than an airline crash so you should really consider liability coverage.” Well thank you for reminding me that my imminent death is mere moments away, knowing that you will be there to cover the cost of the burned out car that my unrecognizable charred remains will be scraped from after I’m t-boned by a gas tanker leaving the rental car lot.

3. Phantom daily rental rates

There is basic arithmetic. There is Calculus. And then there is rental car math. I have a PhD in rental car math yet even I’ve not completely figured out how my 2 day compact car rental comes to $232.34. The typical rule of thumb on calculating the real cost to rent a car is double any advertised daily rate and  pre-anticipate some additional hidden fees such as the  $5 “We bought too many Chrysler Sebrings and now we can’t unload them” fee, the $12 “Buying 150K shares in Facebook stock seemed like a good idea at the time” fee and the $15 “Reservation agent carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic from excessive typing producing unanticipated medical costs” fee.

4. Practicing IVU – (Inept Vehicle Up-selling)

it’s 8am. I’m in a business suit. I’m in Minneapolis. It’s February. Hmmm..do I want the Mustang Convertible upgrade? Fuck you.

5. Optional Safety Accessories

This one comes directly from Mrs. Donut Monday and falls more in the vacation rental scenario. Renting a baby car seat. This was when we still had some faith in rental car companies. Silly new sleep deprived parents. The first time we rented a seat and arrived to pick up our car the agent said they no longer had any available. Oh ok it’s 10pm and we’re an hour drive from our hotel but we’ll just put our 3 month old on my wife’s lap in the front seat and pretend it’s 1962 again. Can I also get a 6 pack of beer and a Jack Daniel’s chaser for the long ride since drunk driving is optional in this time warp universe you think we’re in? And come to think of it, yes I’ll take the fiery crash insurance option. The 2nd time (yes we did this twice) the rental car seat was covered with an inch of baby vomit and a belt restraint system that only worked with their higher end car models. Crafty

Logical conclusion – Rental car companies enjoy making babies cry

My only hope is a Virgin America equivalent of the airline industry breaks into the rental car market and shakes things up to reinvent the whole rental car experience. Already we’re seeing that with Zipcar and other similar start ups. Or I get that upgrade to CEO. Stay tuned….

10 Tips for a Successful Business Trip in Paris

10. Prior to leaving refrain from complaining to others that you have to take yet another business trip to Paris. You will get zero sympathy and a 12% chance someone punches you in the face

9. That 2 star hotel your company booked for you which is quite “charming” and is moments away from getting a 3 star upgrade is guaranteed to be dump. If in doubt send a work colleague a day ahead of you. You can borrow mine if needed. This is Mike. I now call him Recon Mike.

8. Forget trying to pretend you’re really French. French purposely named their cities so that non-natives cannot properly pronounce them. It’s not “Reims”, it’s “Reeeiiiiuuuummmmeeeesss”

7. No business meeting will start until the room is represented by atleast one Philippe, a Pascal, 2 Oliviers and a Gaspard. And Gaspard is on vacation until September

6. Showing up for a business meeting on a motorcycle (+ 5 points). Showing up on a moped…driven by someone else (- 25 points)

5. Accept that pate will be served at all meals

4. Be warned that French taxi drivers, when given the option to take an extremely generous 50 euro offer for a 3 mile fare or send 2 Americans walking home at 1am in the morning to their certain death..will choose the latter option

3. That friendly ribbing about France loosing in the last World Cup just cost you the business deal

2. The only no-smoking section is 40 miles outside of Paris

1. Refrain from documenting all business trip debauchery on Facebook while you’re wife is home with the kids. Trust me on this one.

United (Epic Fail)

It’s a sobering thought when you come to the realization that you are in a loveless marriage. After almost 15 years since we first consummated our love, travelled countless miles together, experienced many sleepless nights, endured crying babies and built up what I thought was ever lasting loyalty I’m packing my bags and leaving you my once beloved United Airlines. Not that you’ll miss me or my 760K of lifetime miles travelled. You only barely acknowledge my presence now anyway. I remember when we first started dating. I was still young and inexperienced..barely logging 20K miles a year but you saw the potential in me and gave me my first courtesy upgrade. They say you never forget your first time and that was never more true than for me. The flight attendant offering to take my coat. Sitting down in a plush seat and actually being able to cross my legs. Unlimited warm mixed nuts! I was drunk on that feeling, supplemented by 2 rather strong jack and cokes which were also on the house. I never wanted to go back to coach and it was at that moment that I pledged my love to you.

Things between us initially were great. After all it was our honeymoon. As my business trips became more frequent and my airline status increased, first to Premiere, then Premiere Executive and even that one year I hit 1K you spoiled me with love and attention. Courtesy passes to the Red Carpet Club. Frequent reward travel booked by real people on the phone. And who could forget that last minute trip around the world in 2005 where a mere 20K miles got me bumped from Business Class to First the entire trip. We were young and crazy and you were always ready to travel at a moment’s notice.

But then a few years ago I saw the first signs that things were in trouble. First there was the occasional missed upgrades with no explanation. I’d sit by my computer waiting for the confirmation email that never came. And when I confronted you about it you just played dumb like it was no big deal and said it would never happen again. And I believed you! But then I got stuck in coach in a middle seat bookended by 2 people that had not showered in days and thought that brushing twice a day meant their hair. How so passive aggressive of you. That’s when I knew you our best days were behind us.

I could never admit that our relationship was crumbling even though all the signs were there. I just didn’t want to see them. The more I tried the more you’d push me away. Charging me a hefty co-pay on seat upgrades that used to only cost me miles. Introducing a new intricate boarding process that put me in seating category 8 just above lepers and parolees. Scheduling me with the hot friendly flight attendant crew…if it were 1967! And I told you it was a bad idea to adopt that shady Continental family and bring them into our home with all their riff raff friends who would come between us and leech off you. You said things between us would not change but all my calls to you went to voicemail after hearing that you were experiencing higher than normal call volume. Must be all those slick Global Service guys calling you. I see how you look at them when you think I’m not looking. You’re so materialistic.

So I’m leaving you for good United. You should know I’ve met someone else. She’s so clean and beautiful unlike your tired and worn look. She likes all the cities that I like and we have plans to travel to new places together in the new year. She’s always available when I call and best of all she’s a Virgin, saving herself for just the right guy and I think we’ll be together forever.

Adventures in Barcelona

Recap of my first 18 hours in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress tradeshow.

3:30pm – After 16 near sleepless hours, arrive in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress tradeshow as sole representative of the company I work for.

4:15pm – Arrival in cab just outside hotel. 15 years of world travel does not hide my “essence of gringo” and almost immediately I’m propositioned to buy souvenirs, weed and a wounded cougar Spanish lady friend.

4:16pm – 13 years at Adobe has by nature instilled blind faith that an organization that sends its employee on a business trip will ensure that proper accommodations are secured during the stay. Silly silly Scott. As I walk toward the entrance to the hotel I read this note

“During the week of the MWC tradeshow only full night room reservations will be available”

A moment lapses before I realize my company has booked me into a 1-star cash only hotel that by policy allows rooms to be rented by the hour. I turn my gaze back outside seeking an escape route but all I see is the cougar lady friend across the street who gives me a knowing wink as if to say “I’ll be here when you’re ready big boy”.

I haul out the smart phone. Surely this must be a mistake. Hopes dashed when travel itinerary confirms the destination. A quick scan of hotel review on Yelp. The words “dump”….”avoid”….”shady” and “nightmare” leap out at me first. Defeated, tired and anger brewing I succumb for the moment to my predicament and walk into the lobby.

The manager looks like he’s on the tail end of an 18 hour shift. Cables behind him lead to a dilapidated modem that likely is the sole source of Wifi that likely has a limit range of about 10 feet around the lobby. Other guests huddled around laptops scattered about the lobby confirm my assumptions. No one is over 25 except me. 75 euros nightly rate! Cash only sir. MWC pricing. Keys are handed over. Complimentary gruel and water service begins at 7am each morning. I’m pointed to the 19th century elevator to take me to the 4th floor room. I choose the stairs instead.

4:45pm – I check into my room. I believe the original decorator was inspired by 3rd world interrogation rooms for criminals when deciding on an “essence” for the room. 2 cots, a dangling light bulb and an armoire with 3 hangers. I can’t bring myself to unpack

4:46pm – The first hint of the sewer like smell wafting from the bathroom hits me. I check to see if the last guest left a deuce as a present but no such luck flushing that problem away

5:15pm I return to the lobby to inquire about getting an iron to prepare my work clothes for the week. The manager informs me there is just one iron and it’s being used at the moment. There are atleast 40 rooms in the hotel. I calculate that my turn to get the iron will come about 3 days after I’m already back home in the U.S. Then again I might be the only guest in the last few years that ever set foot on the premise wearing a suit and sporting a full time job.

6:00pm – After a good cry I decide to head out to a restaurant where healthy doses of Sangria will blunt the sting of my predicament.

8:00pm – I finish dinner and check around a few other local hotels to see if they have any remaining vacancies. After a few hearty laughs as I pose that question to front lobby managers and one prolonged grimace when I note my current accommodations I accept the predicament I find myself in and make the long slow walk back to the hotel. Around the same time I get a text message from an old Adobe colleague also at the show. “Hanging out at the Mandarin Oriental tomorrow night for drinks….join us!” That one hurt.

9:00pm – As night falls the quality of the characters lingering around the bar next to the hotel follows suit. The hotel manager buzzes me in through the since secured double re-inforced lobby door. I catch a momentary glimpse of the sacred single iron as it disappears into yet another room. I start my death march upstairs

9:15pm – I reach the top of the stairs and approach my room. The hall lights have since shut off. Lock down for the night. In the room realizing I’m still in the same clothes from a day ago I plug my nose, head into the bathroom and start up the shower. I scan my surroundings. No fancy soap or shampoo. Correction..make that no soap or shampoo. Contemplating if the liquor store across the alley from the hotel carries Irish Spring. Odds quite low. I jump in and decide to just spread the dirt around.

9:45pm – I gingerly pull of the bed spread pull back the covers, praying that all the money the hotel saved not stocking shower soap for its guests has been invested alternatively in healthy amounts of strong germ killing laundry detergent instead.

10:15pm – Either total sleep deprivation over the last day or the lingering effects of the sewer stench wafting straight through the bathroom door lulls me to sleep/unconsciousness.

3:00am – Bar next to the hotel closes. Remaining fellow quality guests return to their rooms. From the paper thin walls I hear every conversation simultaneously and crisply as if it’s being screamed directly into my ear. I contemplate offering my unprompted advice in return to one particular conversation that indeed you might want to have that rash checked out. Over the next 20 minutes the collective guests around me decide to have an impromptu door slamming contest.

3:20am – Rythmic bed squeaking sounds from my neighbor to the left begins.

3:22am – Squeaking ends. Rookie.

4:15am – I’m awoken again by shouting voices coming for the alleyway outside of my hotel. I don’t speak much Spanish but the loose translation I am able to derive from the conversation is something along the lines of “Yo WTF? I’ll crack your skull in half if you don’t give me my money” I recognize the voice of that of the wounded cougar. Mental note – Never stiff a wounded cougar.

7:15am – Sunshine breaks through my window. I survived the night. I take another soapless shower get dressed, brace open my door and slam it shut as hard as I can to provide a complimentary wake up call to my hungover neighbors.

After a hearty gruel breakfast I fire up the laptop and craft an email to my boss.

“Hi! Made it to Barcelona and the hotel your assistant booked for me. An interesting selection. Here’s a link so you can check it out for your next visit here. Just wanted to let you know I’ll be heading off shortly to the show, I’m a bit tired from the noise emitting from the bar below till 4am, sporting a wrinkled suit and a bit smelly at the moment given the lack of my hotel amenities and won’t be able to do any work from the room with no WiFi but I’ll manage somehow. BTW if you don’t hear from me in the next 24 hours inform the CFO to prepare the random money to secure my return. Glad I could be here in person as the sole rep for our company. Later!”

10:45am – Our travel coordinator calls. Miraculously a room opened up at a 3 star hotel down the road and I can check in anytime.