Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Enjoy the City In a Few Hours

Work trips, professional conferences, and organization events may take you to a city away from home. It’s easy to take the cab from the airport straight to the hotel, eat in the hotel restaurant, and follow the busy agenda that brought you there, never to emerge onto the city streets until time to get back in the cab for the return trip to the airport. Resist.
Take comfy walking shoes & be ready to explore!
Over the past few months, I’ve had a few agenda-driven trips, for a quick weekend or a few days, but only a few hours to experience the city.  But I can't stay inside and never wonder around the city. Let me share some excuses to get out of the hotel.

Explore the city.  Especially, if it’s a new-to-you city. In Milwaukee, I arrived hours before my meetings were supposed to start, on a beautiful, sunny day.  There was just enough time for the fifteen-minute walk to the RiverWalk (who knew there was a river?) to get lunch. Along the way, when the sidewalk ran out and we were looking at a drop into the river, we learned that the streets that bridge the Milwaukee River are a series of drawbridges – that rise straight up, not angled, to let the boats pass.

In Austin, I went boot shopping at night and in between the conference ending and my return to the airport for my late flight home, I walked over to the state Capital building for my own self-guided tour.  In San Francisco, I combined sightseeing with my workout and ran over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Eat outside of the hotel.  I like to try the local restaurants, rather than a chain. I live in the DC area, I could eat at almost any chain restaurant I want to at home.  In Austin, of course, I ate at places featuring, what else - Mexican and Southwest.  I tried Adolfo’s, an Italian place in Springfield, MA and had this delicious pasta with seafood and basil and a French martini.  It’s a small restaurant, lit primarily by candles. I had a perfect seat by the bar, next to the window – I could people watch inside and out and was close to the bartender.  In Milwaukee, I ate - where else - on the Riverwalk!  I had a delicious veggie burger and drinks at WaterBuffalo.


Do something a little different.  For a recent trip, I planned to get a cab for the short ride from the airport to the hotel. Then it hit me – for the $100 round-trip cab fare, I could rent a car for the two days I’d be in town. So from the car rental lot, I picked out a car I’ve never driven before – a red VW Bug! It was fun departure driving this little car that would fit in the back seat of the huge truck I drive at home.  Continuing in the “new car” theme - in Charlotte, I had a great time at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
VW Bug - My little teeny ride for a weekend!

Expand your hobby. I crochet and am starting to knit. In addition to regular trips to my local yarn shop, yarn is my travel souvenir. In fact, when other people travel, I ask them to bring me back yarn.  But isn’t all yarn the same, my husband always asks. (Or used to, he doesn’t even bother anymore.)  Well, you just never know ‘til you check, do you?  I have shawls and scarves and sweaters made from yarn purchased in Atlanta, San Francisco, and Madrid.  If you have a particular hobby, does the supplies or the hobby itself work as a travel souvenir? And if you don’t have a hobby, make one up perfect for traveling like collecting spoons or coffee cups, visiting state capitals, eating at hometown ice cream shops or drinking local beers.
Yarn shopping in Mystic, CT & Berlin, MD

Take a break from the group. This is a tip for the introverts out there. Sometimes traveling and hanging with the group is exhausting, right? All those people, all that chatter, all the group decision making.  When you’ve had enough, bow out. Make an excuse or tell the truth, whatever you think will get you out with the least questions.  Go outside for a walk or get a drink at the bar down the street.  It may seem awkward for the moment, but at least you’ll be refreshed when you return.

How do you squeeze in fun during a business trip?

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