Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Airport Transfer Deals and Directions

An important connection during any trip including an airline flight will be the transfer to and from the airport. Many airports naturally herd tourists to expensive cabs or shuttle buses, but often there are cheap alternatives that require a little work to recognize or discover. Arthur Frommer recently blogged that the reason most airports offer a budget option is that the workers at the airport need an inexpensive option to travel to and from the airport, everyday. I personally like to research this leg of the trip before I leave, so I am not stuck with a huge cab bill. A cab from the airport in Boston today costs me $60, compared to less than $2 on the subway/bus system. An important consideration when using public transportation can be opening and closing times, such that flights may leave or arrive when the trains/buses aren't running.

Hostels generally include directions to travel by public transportation to and from the hostel. The Barcelona Dream Hostel offers directions through a Photo Guide, a handy idiot-proof guide to reaching the hostel. (mentioned on the forums) This photo-based guide is a remarkable improvement over the simple text directions found on many hostel sites. The future of travel directions may be short videos that can be uploaded to Youtube for easy dispersal. Another option for quickly traveling to a destination could include using mobile phones or other devices, but I haven't found these quite as effective yet for public transportation. I think preparing directions before you go is crucial, and you can augment this with a device when the original directions are not sufficient for arriving at your destination.

Work at a Hostel

The Student Travel Blog mentioned a few days ago that opportunities to work at a hostel are available, you just have to ask. A site like hosts some job listings, or you could contact hostels directly. In exchange for a room and some spending money, hostels may also hire you on the spot to clean, perform maintenance, or any number of needed chores. The Martha's Vineyard hostel on Cape Cod, among others, used to expect backpackers to help with chores at the hostel, but those days are long gone. Hostels generally are professionally run, which requires a staff of people to clean and maintain the hostel.

The Hobo Traveler seems to have made a living of exchanging room and board for a mention on this website,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FYI: Europeans Drinking in the US

This weekend, Harvard Square was hosting a local Oktober Fest, and I met a few Europeans at the John Harvard's Brew Pub. They wanted to sample a few of the local brews, but were turned away by the bartender. Many bars will not accept any foreign forms of identification other than a passport. The patron was baffled by the bartender's insistence that he show his passport, which he was not carrying on him. Unfortunately, even though he didn't look anywhere near 21 years old, US liquor laws can put a great burden on bar owners and their employees to strictly enforce age identification laws when serving alcohol. Perhaps, one day American culture will change to yield more common-sense alcohol policies, but until then knowing the law is important to enjoy a cold brew.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Boston Staycation

I blogged last month about the ridiculousness of "staycations", but I now have to admit that I just took one this weekend. My family was in town for a week, so I spent a few days exploring another side of Boston with them. I stayed at their hotel in Dorchester, and we had dinner in the North End. I had forgotten what a zoo the North End can be on Saturday night. We waited an hour and a half outside the "Daily Catch" for some of the best seafood and pasta in Boston. Everyone was pretty cranky by the time we were seated, but the quick service and excellent food was well worth it. I watched the UT/OU game with my mom, and we had a blast watching UT beat OU, again. I guess once again, I have to agree with old adage, "Don't knock it until you've tried it".

The only frustrating part of my staycation was my inability to recharge my iPhone and capture more pictures around town. I was able to snap this picture of the bar at 224 Boston, a nice restaurant in Dorchester.

I had a great salmon and spicy rice, that came with a small fruit salad. I also had a pumpkin-tini, which was on their drink specials list. It had some spices on the top, but I never seemed to be able to taste them since they would float in the middle as I drank from the side of the glass. Maybe, if drank it in one long gulp, the momentum would push it into my mouth. I have a lot to learn about drinking these crazy martinis.