Another ‘dusty drive’ full of highway instructions about what to do in case of a dust storm, which convinced us that such phenomena must be a regular occurrence. For all the warnings, our journey was uneventful and we arrived in Phoenix by lunchtime. At this point I need to confess that Carolyn is often (usually) generous enough to leave the choice of hotels to me and, therefore, I have to take full responsibility for what we subsequently found. I had booked a Super 8 hotel and it is a chain we have used a couple of times in the past when our favoured chains were unavailable. It advertised a swimming pool, great, and all the usual amenities, so I wasn’t too concerned to see the outside, which had some motel type features. As we had arrived early, we were wanting to dash off to Scottsdale, where we had booked a Segway tour for the following morning. Because we had no idea where to find the meeting point, we thought we could go and explore the neighbourhood and discover the best way to get there when we might be pushed for time the following day. With that in mind, we accepted the early check-in (how kind), dropped off suitcases and set off for Scottsdale.
Scottsdale was quickly found, as was the Segway company, so off we set to explore, and fall in love with, this most western of western towns. Part of it is a replica of a Wild West town, even with a Saloon which had swinging doors. Another part of the town houses very upmarket shopping and yet another is an art centre with galleries which rival those found in New York. Upmarket? It most certainly is. We took a tour on a free trolley bus and for a while were the only passengers. This gave the driver an opportunity to “sell” the town, but there was no need, we were captivated.
Having enjoyed a quick snack for lunch, by the time we were done with the trolley bus an ice cream was a distinct possibility. The driver had pointed out an ice cream parlour, which had kept the same style from its opening in the 1950s, so off we went in search of refreshment. Oh my goodness, the decor was fabulous, the waitress inspiring with her knowledge of all things sweet and delicious and her recommendations were just divine. For me, it was one scoop of butter crunch ice cream along with a black raspberry ice soda, and, for Carolyn, an enormous sundae and a milkshake. It was almost too much, but stalwarts as we are, we managed to force it down!
Meanwhile, playing on my mind, was the fact I was less than happy with my choice of lodgings. We were here for two nights and, although I had only taken a brief look at the accommodation, I wasn’t happy. Scottsdale was enchanting, so why did we want to be downtown?! Back at the hotel my fears were confirmed. It was seedy, not just grubby but downright dirty in parts, rooms felt gritty underfoot, drawers had remnants of goodness knows what, and bathrooms… not going there! The much advertised pool was green at one side and I was staying only long enough to avail myself of the wifi to find another hotel. Within 10 minutes I had booked the Hilton Resort Hotel in Scottsdale, had provided the receptionist with a long list of evidence that the accommodation was unfit for habitation, cancelled the booking and received confirmation that no charges would appear on my credit card. Result! (I did follow this up with a blistering complaint to Booking.com and subsequently had profuse apologies and assurances that the hotel would be reinspected by them with a view to removing it from their listing). Even Super 8 got in on the act with all sorts of offered inducements to use them again. Never might be a bit too soon.
The Hilton Resort was lovely, and just the job for a couple of respectable travellers! We moved swiftly, checked in, and went back into Scottsdale for dinner. (By this time the ice cream was just a memory!).
The following morning (after a most comfortable night) we were off for our two hour Segway ride. Having enjoyed these jaunts all over the world, we now consider ourselves almost experts, but merely tell the tour guides that “we have done it before” and happily go through the training and safety briefings along with “first timers”. It was a good tour, with a great guide and we zipped along the route, demonstrated that we could stand in a hands-free pose, and genuinely had fun. We bookmarked places for a return visit, restaurants for breakfast and dinner before deciding to go back to the hotel and enjoy the multiple pools for an hour or two. Such a fabulous hot and sunny day and the joy of a resort hotel with drinks (and food) served to your sun bed.
Our final evening in Scottsdale took us in search of a really nice restaurant for dinner. The popularity of the place meant that many of the eateries were already fully booked but we enjoyed a wander and, by an incredible stroke of luck, we happened upon a restaurant which had been highly recommended by our tour guide on our Segway tour. Were we particularly hungry or was the food exceptional and very reasonably priced? I think the latter and with the restaurant manager asking us to take her to England, we left with fully tummies and still full purses.
Tomorrow we are off to Palm Springs with more than a small amount of regret at leaving Scottsdale. We must come back!
Carolyn’s Curios and Curiosities
And, so to Phoenix…
We arrived at our Super 8 hotel a little early but were welcomed and told our reservation was ready. Regrettably, as Kath explained, it was dirty, had broken security bolt on the door, the toilet would barely flush, the curtains were tatty and the swimming pool had green mould on its walls. Kath commented that if she hadn’t been from Preston she would have described it as a “flea pit”! As she is from Preston, the description she used was a euphemism for a primitive toilet! With the aplomb and application her working life had given her, within minutes, the Receptionist was keen to cancel our booking and reimburse our payment. Kath had already researched an alternative in Scottsdale where we had spent a fabulous afternoon and it is in the Doubletree by Hilton that we are now spending the next two nights. Putting that hiccup to the back of our minds, we can reflect on Scottsdale this afternoon.
The town describes itself as ‘The West’s Most Western Town’ and Old Town Scottsdale certainly was something special. Other than the cars, we would have expected stage coaches and cowboys on horseback. All the cowboy film sets were seemingly modelled on this place. And then we spotted a free trolley bus tour (“every 15 minutes”) which took us round the whole town with high end shops, beautiful art galleries of many types, numerous restaurants and live music bars – even a karaoke one… which was tempting… briefly.
A decent late lunch; the ice cream and soda; and now resting in our clean, comfortable, secure hotel with a Segway ride already booked for the following morning!
Scottsdale, Arizona – what a find! The name rang a bell but only somehow connected with UFOs. We’d come to see Phoenix but stayed in Scottsdale and would love to stay longer. I could live almost anywhere in the world but this town is really appealing in many ways. It is a cultural combination of high end shops, fabulous art galleries, public amenities and statues coupled with history and obvious civic pride. Well done, Scottsdale!
We had booked our favourite tour activity for the morning – 2 hours of Segway riding. My formal review of the tour? …
“Having done Segways Tours around the world, this was, probably, the very best. Certainly, Juan was the best tour guide we’ve ever been fortunate to meet and the safety videos before we started were informative to a level we’ve not experienced before. The areas we covered highlighted Scottsdale’s enormous appeal and we look forward to coming back! Thank you. Excellent!”
Juan was a teacher in a nearby local town and did the tours at the weekend. We were kitted out with a helmet and a headset so we could hear his excellent commentary throughout. He learned everyone’s name and seemed genuinely interested in all six of us whether from UK, Chicago, or Colorado. Kath and I were the most experienced riders – the ‘Pros’, Juan said – but everyone had a great time. We zipped (max. 10 mph) from sidewalk to road to park to paved areas after our familiarisation on the car park. Fascinating historical anecdotes and great sights throughout our two hours made the morning memorable and enjoyable. Kath and I impressed Juan by our knowledge from previous experiences when we all had to be photographed in front of the ‘Love’ statue – hold each other’s handlebars to maintain an upright and stable position. ‘Pros’ indeed! I did make sure that Juan was aware of my first Segway experience when I foolishly disobeyed safety instructions and fell off outside the Congress building in Washington DC to the concern of my son several years ago. If you’re going to fall, do it spectacularly! The armed guards were quite sympathetic, I recall.
The morning had started with a quick bite and drink at Lo Lo’s where Kath refused the offered grits. Me? I’ll eat anything although grits do remind me of semolina which is not my usual breakfast!
The Pony Express statue was historically inaccurate as the riders didn’t carry guns and would have been jockey size but the movement captured by the sculptor masked that as we relived memories of the iconic stories we’d been told in the past. One of the most inventive was the ‘Doors’ which you went inside to find yourself in a kaleidoscope of images and, for fun, the One-eyed Jackrabbit made us smile.
The afternoon was spent by (and in) the hotel pool – our first of the trip – and the experience was very worthwhile with a clean, cool pool and very sunny weather blazing through the palm trees.