When you are about to do a review of a travel destination, you should always start out with something positive.
I recently went on a road trip to New Jersey. It is known as The Garden State. It is the embroidery capital of the world! The food is great and the people are incredibly friendly.
Having said that, it is a curious place.
As a public service announcement, I advise if that dishevelled Trivago dude ever suggests you vacation there, you asked to be rerouted.
To be fair, we were just there for three days and we had a wonderful time but there were just so many odd things about New Jersey (specifically Pitman) that it left us shaking our heads.
On the route we took to get there (10 hours without stopping), we were a car of four middle-aged women (it was 14 hours – as we needed to pee more than once).
There are apparently many roads to get there. One GPS and three cellphone maps gave four different sets of directions. We think we were on the New Jersey Turnpike with tollbooths literally every few kilometres.
You would just get rolling and you had to stop to pay a toll. It was hard to figure out as sometimes you took a little card to be stamped. You might pay 15 cents or you might pay $5 or anywhere in between.
Sometimes, you didn’t take a ticket, they just took your car’s picture (like the 407) and they’ll send a bill.
I will admit the highways were in good shape using this constant pay option. However, it was annoying having to keep change, bills, tickets and bifocals handy at all times.
Also odd was the fact there were no less than four Marriott hotels within a few blocks in one small town. We were going to pick up a friend at the Marriott. It never occurred to us to ask if there were more than one.
After the third visit at the wrong location, we literally thought they were kidding us. Somehow we should have known if it was the Courtyard Marriott, Marriott Residences (side by side) Marriott Deptford on the same street or the Marriott Glocester in another township – ding ding ding – that one! It was a comedy of errors that seems hysterical now, but not so much at the time.
At our hotel – which was easier to find – they had a really amazing breakfast buffet. I say that because usually hotel breakfasts are tasteless. This was so good that after the first day we were excited to go back the next day for more delicious crispy bacon. Alas, here in Pitman, we were advised they only have bacon on Tuesdays and Fridays. I don’t know if there is a pork shortage or what the reason was but that’s the way it is!
There was the most perky lady supervising the buffet. She would rush into the room each day and bellow “GOOD MORNING, BREAKFAST GUESTS!” Then, she would offer a brief tour of the waffle station, coffee area and yogurt fridge. It was like a little extra entertainment which would be great if it weren’t happening quite so early in the day.
After midnight, restaurants in Pitman are all closed. Even the 24-hour diner. Even the ones with hours on the door saying open 'til 3 a.m. It was the weirdest thing and made us very 'hangry'.
We met some lovely locals on the trip and when I suggested I didn’t understand New Jersey, they replied in unison, “Nobody understands New Jersey.”
The Garden State has left me in a state of confusion!