Monday, February 07, 2011

More PAX - some questions

Unless something weird happens, I am coming to the PAX East IF meeting. I've got a couple of practical questions that soem of you, who know the area better or have been there before, can possible help me with. :)

1. It seems that hotels are pretty expensive in Boston, starting at about 100 dollars a night for a single room. (By contrast, around here I have often booked a room for two people for two nights for only a little more.) If that's how expensive they are, so be it, but if I am simply not aware of how to find cheaper hotels, please tell me.
2. I'm going to divide the few days after PAX to visiting Boston and New York (where I know someone I'd like to pay a visit to). Is Boston a good place to hang out for a tourist, or should I move to New York as soon as possible?
3. What would be the best way to get from Boston to NY.? I've seen that there is a high-speed train, which my European insticts tell me to use, but perhaps US trains are awful and to be avoided at all costs. :D

Any advice would be appreciated.

7 comments:

  1. 1. Yes, as far as I know, that's how much hotels are going to be, especially anywhere near the convention.

    2. Boston is indeed a good tourist spot. Ask in the IF suite and I'm sure you'll get plenty of suggestions for things to do and see.

    3. The fastest way is certainly the high-speed train, but it's very expensive. The cheapest way is one of several bus companies. Again, ask in the IF suite and you'll get some specific recommendations for which buses, but you should be able to get to NYC for around $20.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kevin, would it make sense (for Victor -- I'm not coming) to stay in the Motel 6 in Braintree? It seems like it'd be cheaper than any hotel in Boston, and you could take a long trip on the Red Line into town, but it might be so inconvenient that it wouldn't be worth it. (And the subway ride from the airport would really be long.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you're going for cheap, Megabus/Boltbus (two different companies, same basic business model) is a good way to go. They price seats based on availability and time remaining before the trip, and keep overhead low by not having dedicated stations or allowing you to bring more than one "medium-sized" piece of luggage (unlike Greyhound in both respects).

    If you book sufficiently in advance, especially for unpopular travel times, tickets can be *very* cheap (with free wifi and power outlets!): I've gotten roundtrip to NY from Pittsburgh (which is much farther from NY than Boston is) for as little as $15 booking three weeks in advance, and I've had the row of seats to myself every time I've made that trip (ahem, long-distance relationships...). In my experience, both companies are punctual and easy to use: book online, print out your confirmation number, show up a little before the right time at the right place.

    For Boston-NY, you also have "Chinatown bus" options, which are generally considered sketchy but also cheap.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Boston is a beautiful city, there's a lot of early-American history stuff to see in that town.

    My favourite thing when I was there was their science centre, with a massive tesla coil :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the comments. :) I found a cheaper hotel using a different site (it's called 40 Berkeley and has avarage reviews; they have shared bathrooms, but that's okay if I pay 50% less). Booked a flight, got my PAX ticket.

    It turns out that I also need to get an ESTA application, "Electronic System for Travel Authorization". This, my friends, is pretty hilarious:

    "On March 4, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-145. The Act directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a fee for the use of the ESTA system, comprised of $10.00 for each VWP applicant receiving authorization to travel to the United States and $4.00 for the processing of the ESTA application. Applicants who are denied authorization to travel to the U.S. under the VWP will only be charged $4.00."

    So not only do I have to subject myself to some weird, privacy-invasive anti-terrorist procedure just because I want to visit Boston; I also have to pay money for this privilege; AND the law that made this a reality is called the "Travel Promotion Act"? The US certainly has a very weird sense of humour.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Naming bills is the politician's version of those trolls that do it for the lulz. (Or, if you're feeling especially grim, the fun propaganda of past regimes: "The People's Glorious Travel Encouragement Bill!")

    I prefer the dryly descriptive bill titles, myself, but hey.

    Have fun at PAX. Boston has more than enough to keep you entertained if you decide not to do New York. Another thing to consider: it would be unusual, but not unprecedented, to have a snow or ice storm about that time. You'll want to keep an eye on the weather if you do any out of town travel. (The chances are pretty low it would be an out and out blizzard, but it has happened.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your hotel solution sounds a lot better than mine!

    The ESTA fee is lame, but the name of the Travel Promotion Act isn't quite so looking-glass as that; it seems that its main goal was to set up a program to advertise US tourism, and that the fees were how they paid for it. Which seems sort of backwards to me, but hey. At least they didn't go for a funny acronym or, gulp, the "Repeal the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."

    ReplyDelete