Business travel last week took me through six airports, two hotels, two railroad stations, and more Starbucks than I can count. Some random thoughts on being in Boston and New York and other points along the way:
● Judging by the honking and bad driving, Boston is more than back to normal.
● I do believe that Boston’s T is my favorite transit system in the world. I miss tokens, though.
● At a dinner in Boston, I prophesied that they’d be telling their where-were-you-when-bombs-went-off stories for ten years – because that’s how long it took those of us in California to stop talking about the Loma Prieta earthquake (though we will, upon request, be happy to bring it up again).
● On the other side of one wall of my room between ten and midnight my first night in Boston, I heard someone who was clearly obsessive-compulsive zipping and unzipping a garment bag. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I opened the door and realized that on the other side of the wall was the hallway. I googled the name of the hotel and “haunted,” but nothing came up. I finally asked the front desk clerk. He gave me a strange look and replied, “You’re the fourth person to ask me that in the last few weeks.”
● I couldn’t remember the last time I stayed at a hotel that issued metal keys with diamond-shaped plastic tags. At least I couldn’t forget my room number, since it was embossed on the plastic.
● Environmentalists complain that airplanes are carbon-spewing nightmares, but I think what travelers do on the ground is worse – Styrofoam cups in plastic wrap, linens washed every day, takeout containers, and more. I carry a Starbucks traveler mug and I still feel guilty.
● My cousin and her daughter came into Boston from Rhode Island on Amtrak. I walked right up to the end of the platform at South Station to meet them, and later in the day, when my cousin decided to change her departure time, Amtrak swapped her tickets in the blink of an eye. I miss doing that in airports.
● Now that I know it costs $13 to go through the Holland Tunnel and $15 to cross the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, I will never complain about the $6 fee to cross the Golden Gate Bridge again.
● I asked the west African cab driver who took me from Newark into Manhattan if he liked America. He said, “Of course. Back home there are no jobs and if you criticize the government, they kill you.” Kind of makes gridlock look more benign.
● Grand Central Terminal is considerably different today from the first time I visited it – when it was still Grand Central Station – in 1972. It’s cleaner, brighter, and the food is better. I miss Nathan’s, though.
● The best part about traveling to new places is having dinner with old friends.
● The last time I stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City (see lobby above), I saw actor Chris Noth and was propositioned by a prostitute in the lobby bar. This trip was much less eventful.
● The only time to visit New York is for three days in the spring. Any longer and in any other season is just madness.
● Speaking of madness, two weeks ago the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco charged us $62 per night to park our car in their garage. The same charge at the Roosevelt in midtown Manhattan would have been $55 per night. I say this purely to shame the Marriott.
● My last random thought is the same one I have after every trip, business or pleasure: it’s good to be home.