"Oh, they lit candles to welcome us," I thought as we looked around and saw the burning votives.
Then we noticed the smell. Was it the kitchen trash? Had it been hurriedly taken out before our arrival? But the unpleasant and awful scent stretched beyond the small kitchen and spread throughout the apartment.
"I think something died in the walls," said my savvy friend Kira. "I think it's a dead rat."
By now, the scent of the heavily perfumed candles was starting to make us feel nauseated as well.
To see if absence would make the smell grow weaker we headed out for our dinner reservations. When we returned, however, it was as bad as ever. It also created a feeling that made you wonder: What else was here? Bed bugs? Cockroaches? More rats?
Sometimes it's the lowlights on a trip that you remember -- and laugh about most when it's all over. And while this trip to New York had so many highlights -- seeing Alan Cumming in Cabaret, squeezing into a table at Prune, encountering a character of a saleswoman at Bergdorf Goodman, touring the Tenement Museum -- I know we won't soon forget the Dead Rat Incident. Because travel contains so much more than the brochure dream. And that's one reason I started this travel blog. To share tips about destinations, my passion for outdoors, cultural and family travel, but also share stories about the trip itself. It's about the journey right?
In the end, it all sorted out. We contacted our Airbnb hosts, who immediately (and we must assume guiltily) offered half-price that night or a full refund. And we found, thanks to online searches, a pleasant hotel in Tribeca. We didn't feel the slightest bit like real New Yorkers pulling our suitcases into the lobby and riding the elevator to our plushly carpeted room. But boy, did it ever smell good.