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Amparo Bertram

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09:18 am: A capital holiday
My trip to DC went reasonably well, though there were a couple of disappointments. We started by driving there last Monday, arriving at our hotel, the Washington Hilton (where Ronald Reagan was shot) in the early evening. The first thing we noticed about our room was that it was far--and I mean FAR--from the elevators. The hotel has two wings, shaped vaguely like one of those stylized V birds that show up in drawings. The elevators are in the "body" of the V. Our room was near the tip of one wing, literally half a block away (megory paced out the distance).

The next thing we noticed was that our room was small...and this is an assessment coming from a person used to Japanese hotel room sizes. It also had no refrigerator. (Friends of megory's, both with diabetes, complained to the hotel that they needed a refrigerator for medical reasons, to no avail.) Before coming, we had been told that we would have free internet, but it turned out that they charged $13/day for service to the guest rooms (which is more than the $10 we were charged in Tokyo, for comparison). The wireless service in the hotel lounge charged by the hour. I decided to boycott such "service" and just go without for the week.

We noticed upon entering the room that they had left a letter informing the guests that they would be testing the fire alarm system the next day. That night, at about 2am, the fire alarm went off. We found out later that someone had pulled the alarm falsely, but at the time, no one evacuated because everyone thought it was part of the drill. What was worse than the alarm, though, was the hissing, crackling intercom system that was left on for about ten minutes while the hotel tried to figure out if it was a real fire or not.

The one nice thing about the hotel was its location. It was within easy walking distance of a number of good ethnic restaurants. We had Thai the first night and tried Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, and Ethiopian at various times during the week.

megory had to spend all day at the NEA convention (our reason for going), but my dad and I wandered around, seeing various museums and embassies and even the zoo. It was extremely hot, but still interesting. Chinatown was the one real disappointment...it consisted of a gate and some signs with Chinese translations under them and that's about it. It made Sydney's Chinatown look good.

I wrote out a whole rant in my head about the DC Metro and how poorly it compares to Japan's subways, with its non-functional escalators, ticket machines that spit your tickets on the floor, bad lighting, and stained carpets, among other problems...but at least there IS a subway system.

We got back to Michigan on Monday, where I've mostly been reading and catching up on more TV. I did venture out to pick raspberries in the backyard, though I was eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Finally, in Warcraft news, my guild has been progressing in the 25-person raid instance Mount Hyjal. Last night we took down the fourth boss, Azgalor, for the first time. We made a few attempts on the fifth boss, but we were slaughtered pretty quickly. That's going to take a bit of practice.



[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear that the hotel was so sucky. :-( In general, my experience is that high-end American hotels compare very UNfavorably with Japanese hotels (=sample size of 1, the Sunshine Prince) or even American motels in terms of service; I have rarely had a refrigerator or free wireless, for instance, whereas motels routinely have such amenities. But it sounds like your hotel raised the bar on poor service.

The DC Metro vs the Japanese rail system... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah. Have you had the pleasure of an acquaintance with the NYC metro system?

Sorry, I should've thought to warn you about the suckiness of Chinatown -- it didn't occur to me that you would go there (duh).

Re: DC heat: OK, I'm curious. I don't know if DC was at its worst while you were there (I would define "worst" as temps in the 90s with humidity so high that vapor is practically falling out of the sky), but how do you think it compares to Japan in the summer? Either Moriyama or Tokyo? (Of course, Japan has the added problem of extremely limited air conditioning. The worst heat wave I ever endured was a spell of 85-degree weather in England, where there was literally no air conditioning to be found anywhere, not in stores, not in movie theaters, not even in sealed buses.)

Glad you had an interesting trip overall & made it home safely!
Date:July 13th, 2008 10:24 am (UTC)
Have you had the pleasure of an acquaintance with the NYC metro system?

Nope. I've been to New York, but I was driven around in a car.

but how do you think it compares to Japan in the summer?

It got up to 99° one of the days, but it wasn't humid. Japan's ever-present humidity is what makes summer so awful, because you never stop feeling sticky.
[User Picture]
Date:July 14th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
Welcome back!

Sorry I missed you guys.
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