Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mother/Daughter Travel to the East Coast

I've been slacking on the blogging lately, but for good reason:  we were traveling!  First my 16 year old daughter and I spent three days alone together, and then my husband and son joined us on day 4.  We had just two days together before my daughter left us to join her high school group in New York City, and we remaining three finished off the week in NYC as well.

Since my husband demands a little more luxury than I do when traveling, I decided to take the opportunity of being alone with my daughter to show her how little it actually takes to travel frugally, comfortably, and safely.  Our first stop was Boston and we stayed in a hostel.  You may know from my previous posts that I am a big fan of hostelling in Europe, but I have never stayed in one in the U.S., so I was eager for the experience.  It did not disappoint.

The bright and spacious hostel lobby.
Our hostel in Boston was 40 Berkeley.  Located in the South End of town, the neighborhood is - most critically - safe and clean.  My daughter and I never felt nervous, not even when arriving by subway at night (Back Bay station is a block away).  The reception staff was fabulously welcoming:  they asked us not only what floor we wanted our room on, but also which way we wanted it facing and whether we preferred to be nearer or farther from the hallway restroom!  Fresh baked cookies were offered in the bright and spacious, multi-level main lobby, and there was a game room and a snack room with Starbucks coffee and vending machines.  A little later, when I asked a gentleman at the reception desk about subway tickets in Boston, he reached in his wallet and handed me a 7-day, unlimited ride, subway pass (value = $18).  When I thanked him profusely, he said, "Are you traveling alone?" to which I replied, "No, I'm with my daughter," and he promptly pulled out another card for her.  Astonishing hospitality!  And in a final warm gesture, on the morning we departed the hostel we had to leave before breakfast, but one of the cooks who'd noted that my daughter liked bacon, handed her a take-out box full of bacon.

The buffet breakfast, included in the $84/night twin-room rate, served eggs and omelettes, potatoes, bacon or sausage, pancakes or French toast, a variety of cereals, breads, and all beverages.  This hearty breakfast held us over until a late afternoon lunch (sometimes substituted by afternoon dessert instead)!

What were the 40 Berkeley rooms like?  Pretty similar to my old UCLA dorm room.  Two twin beds, a desk, a dresser, and a closet:


The shared bathroom was average too, but never crowded or out of hot water or supplies.

With our free unlimited subway rides, my daughter and I took advantage of Boston's extensive public transportation system.  We rode the trains sometimes even just one stop, rode the bus, and could have taken a ferry as well, but did not.  We were impressed how convenient it was to travel straight to all our college campus tours at Harvard, Tufts, MIT, and Northeastern University.

Will my daughter be attending college in Boston or on the East Coast?  I have no idea, and I don't think she does either.  Since we live on the West Coast it would be far from home, of course.  She's not used to cold weather, and we were both freezing on Wednesday last week when the temperature in Boston hovered around 37° F all day.  What's attractive to both of us about some of these college campuses is their beautiful European architecture.  My jaw dropped touring Yale in New Haven, CT.  Brown and Princeton University are also stunning.

A castle in the English countryside?  No, Yale's residence halls.

Beautiful Brown University campus.

A cathedral in France?  No, the campus chapel at Princeton University.

Since we suffer from limited train service out here on the West Coast, it was exciting for both my daughter and me to travel by Amtrak from Boston to Providence and then on to New Haven.  I learned another travel lesson though:  just like on European high-speed trains, Amtrak tickets are best purchased in advance because the price goes up over time, just like airfare.  We paid almost double what I expected for the ride from Providence to New Haven.

After my husband and son joined my daughter and me in Connecticut, we rented a car and drove to New York City, where we checked in to hostel number two:  Broadway Hotel and Hostel in uptown Manhattan.  The experience was a little bit different.  Will post about it next week.

See my review of Broadway Hotel and Hostel here.

3 comments:

  1. Those are beautiful campuses - kind of makes you want to go back to school, doesn't it?!? It was lovely meeting you in New York!

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  2. You have inspired me to stop at a couple of campuses on my cross-country trek. I am already planning on Indiana University in Bloomington, my alma mater. I might encourage my husband to visit NYU or Columbia when he takes the girls in June. For me, Northwestern and Georgetown are definitely on the route. Great destinations!

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  3. Amazing!! We stayed at a Hostel in NYC and it was great. Looking forward to hearing your story!

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