Travel


CommuterPageBlog: Don’t Panic. You Can Still Get There Quickly By Transit Even As WMATA Closes Pentagon City, Crystal City and National Airport Stations over Labor Day Weekend
Metro Stations Closed
I can’t believe that DC Metro is shutting down 2 major rail stations for the entire holiday weekend – one of them is the airport!! Is it any wonder that people don’t rely on Metro and choose to drive instead?

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Q.E. 2 Makes Final Visit to New York – NYTimes.com

In a parting embrace under the lady lighting the harbor, the Queen Elizabeth 2 slipped beneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at dawn Thursday to pay a last visit to New York and a grander new sister ship, before sailing into history after nearly 40 years of luxury transatlantic travel as the fastest passenger ship afloat.

For her final visit — her 710th — the venerable liner, which was sold last year for eventual use as a floating hotel in Dubai, was joined by the four-year-old Queen Mary 2, the latest flagship of the Cunard fleet and a throwback to a golden age of ocean travel before jets, when, as the company slogan had it, getting there was half the fun.

My parents sailed on the QE2 in the late 1970s. As part of my mother’s first and only trip outside North America, she agreed to fly over to London if my dad would bring her home on the QE2. My mother had a deathly fear of flying — to get her on the plane over took at least one Valium and a few drinks.

While she loved her visit to England and riding lots of trains (my father went for a train conference/tour), it was the trip home that really made it for her. I’m not certain what she loved most — the excellent food, drink and service or the large pool of willing bridge partners at her disposal (she was a terrific player).

Based on her tales from her crossing, I’ve always wanted to take the journey myself. I guess I’ll have to settle for the Queen Mary 2 of the Queen Victoria. Shucks.

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Pullman Porters Helped Others Reach Their Destination – washingtonpost.com

So much cultural meaning is packed into the figure of the Pullman porter — racial pride and racial guilt, the faded glory of the American railroad, a level of customer service now extinct — that it seems beyond mere mortals to inhabit the myth.

Three avatars of the age did just fine yesterday, nevertheless. They were the best-dressed gentlemen in Union Station: Not in the starched white jacket, bow tie, pressed trousers and blue caps of their old profession, but in sharp business suits, each man displaying — and they did not plan this — a colorful pocket handkerchief.

But then, of course. A Pullman veteran knows everything there is to know about self-presentation, about working a room, about coming out on top in the daily status wars — maintaining one’s self-respect without threatening the status of those who think they are superior.

“A certain profile of man was successful out there as a sleeping car porter,” says E. Donald Hughes II, 53, who put himself through the University of Maryland making beds and shining shoes on the railroad. “We could think on our feet, and we could turn things around to our advantage very quickly and make you think that you were in control when in fact, you weren’t in control.”

My dad worked for several railroad companies throughout his career. As family, we did most of our travel by train. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I was a teen since none of my friends ever traveled this way.

My favorite memory is having my 7th birthday on the train while we were traveling from Baltimore to Montana. We were having dinner on the train (full service with lots of linen and silver) and I was a little grumpy that I wouldn’t be home with the cake and presents. Just before we were to order dessert, the waiter brought out a lovely birthday cake. I’m certain my parents asked what could be done and at a previous stop, someone went and bought a cake for me. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and I felt so special.

My parents always taught us to be respectful to the porters and waiters. They were not babysitters or playmates – they had work to do and we should respect that. We always said called them “Sir” and said “please” and “thank you” when they helped us.

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Nov. 14, 1889: Around the World in Only 72 Days

Bly, born Elizabeth Jane Cochran, was the prototype of the independent woman: “one tough broad” in newspaper parlance. She came to the business after the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch read her angry rebuttal to what would today be called a sexist editorial by one of the paper’s columnists. The editor was duly impressed and, after tracking her down, offered her a reporting job. It was there she acquired her pen name, Nellie Bly, which she carried with her for the rest of her life.

After traveling to Mexico and attacking the Mexican government for corruption in a series of stories, she returned to the United States and moved to New York, where she eventually found a job with Joseph Pulitzer‘s World. She covered women’s rights issues but also specialized in investigative stories. In fact, she’s often credited with inventing the practice of investigative reporting.

Inspired by Jules Verne’s wildly popular 1873 novel, Around the World in 80 Days, Bly proposed to her editors at the New York World that she undertake the same trip to try and break the fictional record. Traveling by steamer, train, rickshaw and any number of other conveyances, she did — by eight days.

What an amazing feat for a woman of her time when most women rarely traveled in public without an escort or chaperone! I picked this item to note in honor of my mom. She was born 80 years ago today. Unfortunately, she died 3 years ago. Love you, Mom!

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Tens of thousand revelers paint Spanish town red in giant tomato fight – International Herald Tribune

BUNOL, Spain:
Tens of thousands of warriors-for-a-day hurled tons of ripe tomatoes at each other Wednesday in an annual food fight that transforms this Spanish town into a sea of red mush.

At precisely 11:00 am (0900 GMT), on the cue of a rocket fired from town hall, municipal trucks hauled 117 tons of plum tomatoes into the main square of Bunol and dumped them, setting the stage for exactly one hour of good-natured warfare.

I love it – a tomato free-for-all! Please follow the link to read more about it.

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Bathed In the Right Light – washingtonpost.com

Here is link to a very interesting article from today’s Washington Post about the lighting of the city, mostly around the Mall area. Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraphs:

At night, there is a second city that emerges in Washington, more
beautiful and more intelligible than the city by day. The great
monuments on the Mall glow a warm white, the grass and trees that
surround them sink into inky darkness, and the city itself seems
larger, more dramatic and more logically laid out. The Capitol dome
looms over the Mall, the Lincoln Memorial defines the end of the axis
stretching to the Potomac River, and the White House is a modest but
assertive presence across the Ellipse to the north — as if the
executive is standing watch, on the edge of camp, while the city
sleeps. The republic, at night, is properly ordered.

The strange thing about Washington’s nocturnal beauty is that none of it was planned, yet none of it was accidental either.

I must say that I think Washington is one of the loveliest cities at night. It’s truly inspirational and, even though this sounds so cliché, it does make you feel proud to live here.

One especially memorable evening we drove to a party in upper Northwest in January 1997, the night before Bill Clinton’s second inaugural. Fireworks were set off in 10 different locations throughout the area. As we drove toward the Memorial Bridge, the fireworks started and we saw the most spectacular sight! The night was especially cold and clear — I think that made the fireworks even more brilliant.

Inaugural 1997

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BBC NEWS | Europe | Paris readies for Velib frenzy

Saw this spot on the BBC World news last night. What a great idea – hope it makes it across the pond.

“We’ve set things up so that the same card can be used for public transport and for Velib. You can set up a subscription for just one day or for a whole week and the subscription fee is minimal – one euro ($1.38; £0.68) to anyone who wants a one-off go or 29 euros ($40; £20) for a year’s subscription.”

The Velib scheme is aimed at people who are making short journeys.

The first half hour of pedalling time is absolutely free but, if you fail to return the bike after 30 minutes, you get charged an extra euro and the penalties go up the later you are.

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