I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
The plan was that we would take Friday off work, spend a little time shopping for scuba equipment, and then head to the beach if the weather was good, or plan something else enjoyable if it were not. Afterwards we'd drop into a Firefox celebration happening that evening, have a nice dinner, and take advantage of a complimentary stay with breakfast that was offered to us by the hotel where we had our wedding reception a year ago. It was going to be a wonderful break from what's otherwise been an exceedingly busy and stressful time.
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned. The BoM was tipping rain, so we skipped on the day at the beach. Instead we spent the entire day working on formatting papers for the OSDC proceedings. Not technically paid employment, but certainly not my idea of a romatic day together. Still, we had the evening to enjoy.
The Firefox party was good, we got to meet a number of people both familiar and unfamiliar, chatted about numerous geeky topics, and handed out some postcards for the upcoming conference -- these were very well received. After a while we found ourselves rather hungry, bid farewell to our newfound friends, and headed off to dinner.
Dinner was at an Indian resturant called Gaylords. No, really, that's their name. We'd been to Gaylords a few times before, and their food is fantastic, especially their tandoori. While their food was still excellent when we visited, their service was far from being up to scratch.
We were seated relatively quickly, but after a long wait had to ask for menus, which resulted in us being given only one -- a second menu was eventually provided after a few reminders. We ordered our food, and hoped that despite the long waits in ordering, things would go well from there.
Unfortunately, it didn't. While the food came in a timely fashion, and was excellent, the service continued to be poor. We had to ask for water twice, and for our drinks three times. Our meal (a banquet option) was advertised as coming with "Ice-cream \n Tea or coffee", but it took multiple requests from us for these to be served. When we did, there was no ice-cream, and the coffee was warm (not hot) and was served with far too much milk; normally patrons are given the option of adding their own milk, or even choosing to have their coffee black if preferred.
The night was capped with an argument about the phrase "Ice-cream \n Tea or coffee" on the banquet menu. It was our interpretation that this meant "ice-cream AND (tea XOR coffee)", whereas our waiter insisted that it was "ice-cream XOR tea XOR coffee", and since we already had our tea and coffee, no ice-cream would be forthcoming. This certainly wasn't supported by the formatting of the text on the menu, or by what we were informed by other waiters (that our ice-cream was "coming", in much the same way as Christmas).
Having been rather sick of the consistantly poor service I escalated the matter to management and promptly received ice-cream to have with my now cold and overly milked coffee. We left discussing the importance of hiring serving staff who are willing to at least make eye-contact with patrons, rather than taking every opportunity possible to avoid them. Despite the excellent food and amusing name, it's unlikely that we'll be visiting Gaylords again any time soon.
After dinner we headed to the hotel, was provided with our keys, and headed up to the room. Upon entering we realised that we should have skipped going out to dinner entirely, as the room was far beyond anything we had expected. Two double bedrooms, cable TV, full kitchen facilities including stove, oven, microwave, and dishwasher; spa bath, 180 degrees views on the lower level, balconies, and a spiral staircase up to a second floor with a 330 degree view of the surround area. Wow! There was even wireless if we wanted to pay an extra fee.
Unfortunately we didn't have our camera, and when we arrived it was about 1am, which was a bit late to invite friends over to check out our cool pad. Even so, the hotel was by far the best part of the day.
In the morning we were served a huge complimentary breakfast in our room, including thick and scrumptious omelettes, toast, fresh juice, fruit, croissants, pastries, and three weekend newspapers. It was great, and didn't cost us anything except an expensive reception there the year before. Rydges Riverwalk hotel in Hawthorn gets two big thumbs up for this. I wonder if I can convince them to give us a two year anniversary stay as well?