Saturday, January 10, 2009

Boston on $10 a Minute

There are plenty of good reasons to plan a weekend getaway to Boston. Maybe you want to check to see if you act nervous around people who aren’t white.

Or perhaps you’re a history buff, and you get your jollies from walking past a monument that says:


Whatever the cause for your trip, the first step is to find a hotel. Generally, visitors to Boston have two lodging options:

1) A moderately-priced hotel with basic amenities like continental breakfast, fitness center, and free Internet, or

2) a hotel that is actually located somewhere in Massachusetts.

We managed a compromise – The Midtown Hotel, located right in the heart of Back Bay, near Fenway Park. The Midtown features, in its profile, an impressive array of amenities like “private bathrooms,” “windows that open.”

But it was also the only option within our budget that did not also offer complimentary mugging.

Once you’ve booked your hotel, you actually have to drive to Boston. From our house, it’s about four hours, which gives us an excuse to stop and use one of those swanky new turnpike service areas, which offer a variety of healthy and energizing foods to lift the spirits of weary, sedentary travelers.

Just kidding. They have fast food and greasy pizza.

But the restrooms feature “Waterless Urinals,” a revolutionary technology that boldly suggests that you don’t necessarily need two gallons of water to get rid of ½ cup of urine.

Once you arrive in Boston, start randomly swerving and cutting off other drivers until you get to your hotel. Leave your car there and take The T, the local subway system, to all your various destinations.

For the privilege of one ride, you have to pay $1.75. You can get a “Charlie Card” from a helpful touch-screen kiosk. This allows you quick, electronic access to the turnstiles until you are broke.

Interesting note: The name “Charlie Card” comes from a 1948 folk song about a man who gets stuck on The T forever because of the ridiculous fare structure.

Despite the irony, you can’t go wrong with a name like “Charlie.” How many unlikeable people named “Charlie” have you heard of? Aside from the entire North Vietnamese army, I mean.

Anyway, once you’re underground riding the train, observe the rules of urban public transportation, which, coincidentally, are exactly the same as the rules for Interstate Public Restroom Urinal Use: Don’t make eye contact, don’t speak, don’t be seen studying the map, and don’t freak out just because some sketchy dude with a serpent tattoo on his face is standing right next to you, talking to himself about how much longer it will take before he can get off.

To pass the time on The T, think of places where you would like to emerge above ground. I personally recommend the Museum of Science, where you can pay exorbitant admission to watch your kids play on the escalator for two hours.

You gotta love Quincy Market, where people with a lot of spare time watch talented street performers, and several actually give them money.

Sort of like Portland, only they’re not prostitutes.

Once inside, you can accidentally spend the $20 bill you were saving for that hour of parking and get a turnpike service plaza meal served in a Styrofoam box.

On second thought, you should probably just stay home.

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