Originally I was supposed to be leaving New Orleans this morning for a 30-hour, three bus marathon trip down to Sarasota, Florida. This also included a three-hour layover during the early hours of the morning in Orlando. While I can put up with occasionally sleeping in airports and the odd straight through long bus ride, I didn’t have the stamina for this. I managed to find an Avios flight, via Charlotte but it meant having a 24-hour layover there (again).
I’d booked a night in the Ramada hotel near Charlotte Airport. This place had the advantage of being next to a light-rail station for easy access into the city. While waiting for the hotel shuttle bus to pick me up from the airport I read some emails on my phone. One such email was regarding the Marriott Miles and More scheme. At the exact time of reading this message, the Marriott shuttle bus came past and I got on. As we pulled up outside of the Marriott I thought that this hotel looked a bit fancy compared to where I usually stay. Then the penny dropped that I’d got onto the wrong bus! Reading the email had subconsciously put the brand into my head! Luckily the Ramada was not far too far away. I discretely sneaked out of the lobby and bit of jaywalking across a dual carriageway took me there.
While the room in the Ramada was quite nice, that was about all that was good it. At check-in, the receptionist asked me to give a 5-star review on TripAdvisor and to mention his/her name. I found the cheek of this quite amusing so don’t want to get them into trouble and mention his/her name although I know it as they wrote it on a card for me! The irony was that this place was about as far from deserving a 5-star review as you could imagine. Within an hour of being there in two staff members had walked into the room without knocking. It was a good job I was not in any compromising situations! The pool was shut and my credit card was charged twice for the reservation. No apology or explanation was forthcoming for either.
As previously mentioned Charlotte doesn’t seem to have a great deal of attractions for the casual tourist. Last time I was here I think that I mentioned that the main one is the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In fact is actually the Billy Graham Library. There are plenty of reminders that you are in the heart of the Bible Belt around here. The main road out of the airport, the Billy Graham Freeway, is also named after the famous preacher. Churches and religious signs are all over the place. Not that I’d ever make fun of this. While I don’t follow a particular faith myself (except Tranmere Rovers) I believe that people should be free to follow whatever beliefs they chose, providing they are non-dogmatic and tolerant.
With nothing much to do/open/working at the hotel the only viable option was to take the light rail into city for a couple of pints. Charlotte seems like a decent night out. There were plenty of bar options and lots of revellers were enjoying the nightlife. Surprisingly I was recognised by a woman working in a bar where I had a drink the Monday before last. I like that sort of friendliness. Also in this place something happened for the first time on this trip that occurred quite a bit the last time I was in the US. A young lady overhead me talking and said, “Do you know who you remind me of? You sound and act like him.” I knew straight away who she meant. Karl flipping Pilkington! While I don’t have a Manc accent, I’ll give her credit for at least picking the correct region of the right country rather than the usual Australia!