July 13, 2014
Even when you fill a hotel with 300 people, things can go sideways in Marriott land. Met at the door by a persnickety doorman, I was refused luggage service when I arrived and asked to drive around to the loading dock. What?! Well, there was a bit of music equipment, but in the past it has all fit on 2 carts. No bending of the rules for mr door weeny.
So, instead of a welcome I got to bake in the heat, sweat through the shirt I was going to wear in a video shoot an hour later, and work with (the very able and excellent) security people. Hey Westfields, your front entrance situation needs a reboot. (FWIW, after a chat with the manager, the checkout situation went much more smoothly.)
But there is some good news. The Internet situation has been fixed. Free, more reasonable net. Which when you are running a conference full of geeks (like last year) is important.
And there is some bad news. The shower still sucks in suite 130. I mean really, get a new shower in here. The rest of the room is far better.
After a long day, including a video panel, a talk, and a music performance, it was nice to retire to some wine and cheese left by the event staff. Thanks for that! It was demolished before I thought to take its picture.
All in all, the Westfields Marriott is an even better place for a meeting than in past years. But the staff needs some training and suite 130 needs a new shower. They can make you an espresso in a pinch though, and they’re actually pretty good at it.
Three showerheads for the Westfields. Run a meeting here, but don’t come here for the sleeping rooms.
June 13, 2014
What happens when you drive down to the Stick? You have to stay at the crappy Hilton in Wilmington, NC. Um, yay? Here we are again. But we must say that this room 829 is better than the junior suite from years past. Only three of us crammed in here this time.
Nice view on the river side. If you like WWII battleships especially.
The hamster cage persists at the Hilton. Nice to finance Paris’ nonsense.
Of course the shower is plastic. And the sink is curvy.
Anyway, screw this Hilton and its awfulness. On to the rest of Wilmington (which is a delightful little town for the most part.
First we stopped by Circa 1922 for some average cocktails. They make a mean French 75, but their ice needs work. We made the most watery Corpse Reviver #2 ever and followed that with a drink w/o ice.
1 oz gin (London dry)
brown sugar cube
.5 oz lemon juice
champagne to top
Mix the first three ingredients and add champagne in a flute. Lemon twist.
Dinner was at the not so cleverly named “The Little Dipper” fondue restaurant. Meh. My parents made way better fondue in the ’70s.
Never fear, though, there is a cover band called the “Breakfast Club.” They played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Ah. What more does Wilmington need?
No stars whatsoever for the Hilton. They should burn this place down and start over. But tomorrow is the Stick.
We pretend that the showers are not built over a bathtub. Alas.
Some eating places to check out (mostly down past Washington Square). L’asso Pizza is an undiscovered gem just north of Little Italy. Great Italian style pizza. The Butcher’s Daughter is a quaint little crunchy granola juice bar. The Meatball Shop in the Village is a great place for lunch (good balls with a Buffalo Trace whiskey float to boot). Tamarind in Tribeca is fantastic upscale Indian worth the price.
On the cocktails and wine front, Ayza is a nice place for a glass of wine just around the corner from the apartment. The Brandy Library is an oasis for a drink and some live piano music almost any time.
The Gin Gin Mule (as concocted by Brandy Library)
2 oz gin (they used seagrams)
1.5 oz fresh ginger beer
.5 oz 1:1 simple syrup
.5 oz lime juice
3 mint leaves
splash of soda
Serve on the rocks in a collins glass.
A stop by Weather Up in Tribeca (which in the past has been top notch) after dinner at midnight was disappointing. They were “closed” and refused to make us a simple cocktail even though their hours supposedly go to 2am. Not accommodating in the services business? Done with buttheads like that. (Tuesday night 5.27 in case heads need to roll.)
All in all, the apartment is a great base of operations for a NY run. Take the acela and pick up some Krispy Kreme’s at Penn Station to import to Virginia!
May 15, 2014
True to its word, the Palazzo Cicala is an upscale boutique hotel in the heart of the old city. Located in the Piazza San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Cicala would be hard pressed to have a better location.
Unfortunately, the hotel is very small and when we were visiting was completely full. The good news is that they have a couple of associated apartments nearby that are equally central and nice little places to stay. Don’t forget to ask!
Both the hotel and the apartment have grand entrance halls.
Breakfast is brought over in the morning. Special note: if you go to bed at 6am, breakfast at 8:30 happens WAY too early. But that is how it goes in Genova.
Fortunately, the apartment has net.
For dinner, we went to Pintori just down a couple of alleys from the hotel. BTW, in this part of Genova driving is not allowed. Nor is it really even possible. Pintori was very good with an excellent wine list and a small collection of good grappa. The grappa was our downfall.
Genova was full of young people all out until 3am. We joined them for a Negroni or two. Then we sat up in the living room and talked until the sky turned blue again.
Five showerheads for the only boutique hotel in all of Genova. Excellent.
May 11, 2014
Where they serve a mean Bisteca Fiorentini at il Latini.
And then a train to Cedri. Well kinda. A train to Pontedera and a car ride to Cedri. Cedri has population 7 or maybe 8 if you count the dog Kiko. We arrived at 3am.
We set out on a Saturday morning after a leisurely breakfast to get some errands done. Having lived in Italy, I knew we were in for some fun. Our plan was to head over to the Tenuta Serravalle restaurant outside of Montelopio and make a reservation for dinner with Paolo. The problem being that nobody knew exactly were exactly the restaurant was located. After an hour driving around looking, we ditched the plan and headed to Peccioli to get some dry cleaning done. That plan also failed when the sole dry cleaners in town was closed…forever. By this point it was time for a refreshment on the patio. Or three! Things began looking up.
The best part happened when we found the grocery store. Our car ended up blocking the exit for Paolo (the restaurant owner) who was more than happy to accommodate us for dinner. Of course we still did not know where the restaurant was actually located.
Some dining hints for Tenuta Serraavalle. Bring your instruments and play for your dinner…and your lunch the next day as well. As a result of all the music, we now have a gig Thursday for an official cena featuring us!
Tuscany is incredible.