Tag: travel

I’ll Take The Modest Hotel

Modestly priced hotels usually include hot breakfast, free wi-fi, parking, and an onsite, coin-op washing machine. Why do the fancy hotels insist on charging extra for basic amenities? The nicer the hotel, the more add-on fees. What is a resort fee anyway? I have no interest in a fridge full of high priced mini-bar food. What I need is a place to keep restaurant leftovers and the stuff from the cooler.

I’m not referring to cheap hotels with holes on the walls, stained carpets, and tiny critters looking for a new home.

I once stayed at the Ritz on a business trip. I felt fancy just saying the name of the hotel. It’s like the song.

The room was cozy but no different than a regular one. A co-worker thought she saw a movie star in the elevator. I don’t pay attention to celebrities. Not if it means giving up a free breakfast.

On another business trip, I spent two weeks with no washing machine. Dry cleaning bags hung in the closet awaiting my business. Four dollars to wash a pair of pants. I stuffed all my clothes in that plastic bag and schlepped it across the street to the Chinese Laundry where they charged by the pound.

I’ve attended conferences at swanky hotels with opulent common areas. To save money, I shared a room with three friends at the special conference rate. They squeezed us into a tiny room with no view. I think they reserve these rooms for cheap conferees. Breakfast was not included.

My daughter learned this lesson on her honeymoon. For the wedding night, she and her husband selected an expensive, historic hotel. On arrival, they discovered it wasn’t as nice as the modest hotel that housed the wedding party. They returned to the wedding party’s hotel the next morning for the free breakfast.

Smaller hotels (and motels) can include unique amenities. The Comfort Inn in Ouray, Colorado offers a squeegee and windshield washing fluid. Good for those who have been four wheeling all day and can’t see out of the Jeep windows.

I’m willing to give up some amenities to stay in a fun historic hotel. Although, more and more of these are adding the touches I expect. Someday I’ll stay in the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona on the historic Route 66. For that, I’m willing to find my own food and stream data on my phone.

I’ve dipped my toe into the world of Airbnb’s. The first one I stayed at was quite nice. Exactly as expected. The second one, however, taught me to pay careful attention to the pictures. It was beautiful, but one of the two bedrooms was inside the only bathroom. The toilet had a little room, but from the bed, we could see inside the shower. Awkward.

Four of us shared that bathroom, so we gave the early risers the bed with the shower. Wouldn’t have been so bad if there was another bathroom.

If I stay at more Airbnbs, I’m sure to find lots of interesting blog topics.

Meanwhile, give me the cheap—I mean modest—hotels. They have all I need.

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I Refuse to Conform

Happy Thanksgiving. I couldn’t think of any fun Thanksgiving themed topics, so I’ve written this blog instead. Besides, sometimes you need a break from the hoopla and the family . . .

and the expectations.

In our orderly industrialized society, it is easiest to put everyone in the same little box. The assembly line forces conformity. I can’t tell you the number of times my son has had to scrape the cheese off of his hamburger because we left the drive-thru without checking the order.

No one wants to be a carbon copy of their neighbor. My daughter lives in a row house in Philadelphia, where all the homes look alike, for blocks . . . and blocks . . . and blocks. They go on forever on streets that are so narrow, it is hard to take a photograph. Don’t get me wrong, her apartment is lovely. It might be called a townhome in the west.

The easiest way for people to express their individuality is to decorate their doors. Red doors. Purple doors. Green doors.

Wreaths are popular way for city folks to express individuality.

My visit turned into a door hunt, like a scavenger hunt in search of the most interesting door. Luckily no one came out of their home to accuse me of being a stalker.

Porch gardens and planter boxes provide variety in an otherwise uniform world.

This reminded me of a time when I was an expert witness at a federal hearing in Washington, D.C. Back in my financial analyst days. Each morning before going on record, Judge Silverstein held a necktie contest for the men. He would select the most unique tie and, at his sole discretion, declare a winner.

The judge told me that men expressed their individuality in the courtroom through their tie choices. Suits are a kind of uniform. Women have more options of color, style, and accessories.

Some of the men tried to win, bringing their craziest Father’s Day gifts to the hearing. Others simply wore the tie their wife packed in their suitcase.

One morning, an attorney from California wore a yellow submarine tie. Judge Silverstein said he would win if he sang Yellow Submarine. He started singing and everyone in the courtroom joined in.

I’ve heard that the young men express themselves through crazy socks.  Here is a picture of my son-in-law with his goomsmen at my daughter’s wedding. And this is one of the formal wedding photos! All of their suits matched when they stood up at the ceremony, but they were very proud of the socks.

Wouldn’t life be dull if we all conformed? We may all come off the same assembly line, like black-and-white photos. But our uniqueness allows our color to pop.

At Thanksgiving when your relatives make you a little crazy with their odd habits and unusual food preferences, remember to be thankful for non-conformity. I guess I touched on the holiday theme after all.

As for me, I’ll find ways to stand out, whether intentional or not.