I have been forced to put some of the CITIES OF THE WORLD on notice. (Truthfully, most of them are just THE CITIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES, but CITIES OF THE WORLD sounds much more dramatic, doesn’t it?) They have been judged and many have been found wanting.
For the record, I do not think that I am a harsh critic. I don’t require much in the way of creature comforts. In order for my stay to be comfortable, I do need some things. Who doesn’t need some things?
The first thing, the most obvious thing, is to procure a decent hotel room at a rate that does not require the hocking of my right arm. Most of the time this is not a Herculean task. After all, like most denizens of the western world I, too, have access to the internet and I am fully capable of using it.
I can almost always find a safe, clean place to lay my head at a reasonable price. What I have discovered — through the process of trial and error — is that all lodging is not created equal. You have to read the fine print and plan accordingly if you want to be happy with your choice of hotel room.
At the very least I require clean sheets. I would also like to feel safe from the odd drive-by shooting. Once that criteria has been met, there are other things that will encourage me to make a return visit to your facility and/or your city.
Wi-Fi access comes to mind. I want it IN my room, not just in the LOBBY, for heaven’s sakes! And I want it for FREE. Seriously, don’t your hotels have tablets, CITY? Don’t your citizens play games, check email, or just wander the World Wide Web before dropping off to sleep at night? And, really, who wants to see me traipsing about the lobby in my pajamas? No one, that’s who.
Let’s move on to coffee now because the availability of large quantities of this beverage (made just the way I like it!) is, after knowing that I won’t bring home bed bugs or be shot in my sleep, a very important factor in how much (or how little) I enjoy my stay. I like scenery as much as the next gal but, frankly, the only scenery I want to see dotting the landscape first thing in the morning is something familiar and just the right shade of green — a building with the Starbuck’s logo.
Don’t hand me this crap that there is Starbucks coffee in my room. If I wanted to make my own damn coffee I would have stayed home where the cleanliness of the sheets might be questionable, but where the coffee is always fresh and readily available.
In other words, CITY, I want a barista (or baristo, I don’t discriminate) to make me my coffee. I am a good guest. I don’t litter, keep my fellow visitors awake all hours of the night, or stiff the maid. I think I deserve, while I am gracing you with my presence (and giving you my hard-earned money), to have my coffee made for me.
It’s the little things, CITY. The big things don’t faze me. I can read a map or download an app for whatever sightseeing things your location has to offer. I can — and I have — figured out the New York City transportation system all on my own. If I can get to the outer boroughs from New Jersey using the subway it would stand to reason that your little burg won’t stymie me.
I am fully aware that I am biased. When the city by which you judge all other cities is Manhattan, it is difficult not to be biased.
It feels weird when visiting other cities —- cities that seemingly have never heard of capitalism — and there is no one trying to sell you water a street corner. A shish kebob or a knish would be far too much to hope for.
At the base of the Empire State Building there is not one, but two, Starbucks Coffee shops. This insures that no one need go to the top half-caffeinated or, God forbid, latte-less. Take note, OTHER CITIES. Please.
While I do not expect that sort of forward thinking to exist everywhere, it is nice to know that it exists somewhere. It has spoiled me, though, I will admit that. Other cities just don’t seem to fully grasp how those of us who are used to Manhattan are gobsmacked by what we view as poor planning and, I’m sorry to say, the complete and utter lack of initiative that passes for “business as usual” in other metropolitan areas.
I was once on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was 100 degrees and humid on the beautiful shores of the Potomac. I could see the Jefferson Memorial in the distance. What I couldn’t see was anyone selling a bottle of water. I couldn’t buy one for love or money. I was directed to a water fountain. A water fountain! If I’d had a cooler and a couple of cases of Poland Spring I could have made a mint that day. A mint!
Recently we found ourselves in Philadelphia. There was acceptable lodging with easy access to both Wi-Fi and a decent cup of coffee. (I made sure of that — thank you Google maps!) What there seemed to be a dearth of, though, was an adequate supply of ice cream. The availability of ice cream ranks high on the city judging scale.
I live in a small town and there are not one, but two, decent ice cream shops in walking distance from my house. I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect that one should be able to easily come by something as simple as a scoop of vanilla in a cone after dinner while strolling through a city.
We couldn’t, though. Even after consulting our smartphones, the best we were able to come up with was one of those “fill your own cup fro-yo” places. Let’s not even get into the fact that frozen yogurt is NOT ice cream. I don’t even find it to be an acceptable substitute, but when it’s the only port in the storm, I’ll take it. I don’t have to be happy about it, though.
A city loses big points when it cannot provide me with ice cream. Sorry, Philadelphia, but you lost major points there. Major points!
Honestly, I can’t wait to take my daughter back to school in Burlington, Vermont. For a small city they get it right. Not only can one easily find affordable accommodations, but these people love their coffee and their ice cream. I haven’t done the math, but I’ll bet that, per capita, they have as many Starbucks as Manhattan. As for ice cream, have you every heard of a little company called Ben & Jerry’s. Yup. They have those, too.
I may be visiting Montreal soon. I have this fantasy that involves crepes and room service. I have a dream that some enterprising French-Canadian hotelier will blow me away by offering me a luscious crepe filled with rich vanilla ice cream accompanied by a velvety latte delivered to my Wi-Fi enabled room. If they do, I promise not to spill any of it — not a drop — on their clean sheets. And, this should go without saying, they will be awarded a very high number of points. A very high number, indeed.
What can I say? Every woman is entitled to a fantasy.
photo credits: coffee, ice cream