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Lcuy's 2005 College Tour-Chicago, Boston, NYC, and Portland Oregon.

Lcuy's 2005 College Tour-Chicago, Boston, NYC, and Portland Oregon.

Old Apr 17th, 2005, 03:04 PM
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Lcuy's 2005 College Tour-Chicago, Boston, NYC, and Portland Oregon.

I combined a Northeast college tour for younger daughter with a visit to Portland Oregon. My report is really long, so here is a quick summary:

Day one: Honolulu to Chicago. Stayed at City Suites Hotel. Loved this little hotel! Good pizza dinner at Lou Malnati’s near DePaul Univ.

Days 2, 3, 4: Boston, the Onyx Hotel, near Fleet center. Nice hotel, surprisingly good location.

Days 4, 5, 6: NYC, Edison Hotel. Although we expected a budget hotel, we were not happy here. Very noisy and had an awful bathroom. Excellent location though. Best meals were at Le Monde, near Columbia U and Sophia’s in the Edison Hotel. Saw Movin Out.

Days 7-18: Portland, Oregon. Had reservations at 5th Ave Suites, but ended up staying the whole time in my friend’s new house. Many great meals: Wildwood, Typhoon, Nuestra Cocina, Mothers Bistro (once for lunch, once for breakfast), Esparza s Tex-Mex, Todai, Crema, Bar Pastiche, Zell’s, Sub Rosa, PIX and Elephants Deli-both the NW 23rd and NW 7th locations. Also attended the Hawaii Club luau at Lewis & Clark College.

The long version:

At the last minute, my high school senior decided she did want to do a college tour. When I say last minute, I mean really last minute. All her applications were in, and the acceptance letters were due the weekend after the trip. We knew wed be touring schools that might be rejecting her the next week. We also knew this would be a crazy trip, trying to tour eight colleges in seven days.

We had first class upgrades on United from Honolulu to Chicago. It was nice having the extra room, but UALs first class has to be the worst in the industry. Nothing but golf magazines (“What do you expect”, the FA quipped. “We're in Bankruptcy”), plastic cups and plates, and the seats didn’t even have footrests.

Our flight left HNL at 5pm and got into O’Hare at 5am. We caught the El to the Belmont stop, where the City Suites hotel was two buildings from the tracks. I had visions of trains shaking us all night, but we never heard or felt a thing. The hotel was adorable...looked like it was straight out of the 1940's , but had obviously been renovated recently. For $139 a night, we had two double beds and a little living room with a sofa bed. The rooms and bath were immaculate and they had Aveda bath products. I really loved the heated bathroom floor. They had bagels, donuts, and coffee and tea in the lobby all day. Best of all, they let us check in at 6:30 in the morning.

We toured both Loyola and DePaul University that day. Luckily both were right on the El, as it was snowing..big wet snow..and very windy. We managed to do some shopping for a prom dress on the Magnificent Mile, then cabbed back to Lou Malnatis (near DePaul) for dinner. Wed asked several people to recommend a good place for a real Chicago pizza and 3 out of 4 named this one. Yummm. We ve never had pizza like this!

A quick train took us back to our hotel, where we slept well until 4 am. We had a 7 am flight to Boston. Due to a late train, and also getting into the wrong line, we came very close to missing our flight. In addition, we couldnt check our bags and I ended up losing my favorite Swiss army knife at the security checkpoint. Always wondered how people could be so stupid as to bring knives. Now I know- I always check my bags, so never even thought about it being in there.

It was cold and wet in Boston. Everyone kept saying, “you should have been here for the great weather last week” which did not make us feel any warmer. Took a cab from the airport and we were again allowed to check into our hotel very early. I had worried that the Onyx hotel was in a neighborhood that would be deserted at night. It turned out that there were several Irish Pubs and other restaurants all around it, and we were about a 60 second walk from the T station and the Fleet center. The Onyx is part of the Kimpton chain...very reasonably priced boutique hotels. We were on the third floor at the end of the hall. Completely quiet. Very, very comfortable beds with down duvets. Helpful, friendly staff.

We were amazed at how dogs are loved in Boston. Dogs are allowed on the trains and busses. Our hotel allowed dogs in certain rooms, and they had a dog bowl in the entry with the names of the current canine guests displayed.

Toured Boston College that morning. Got into a little spat with my daughter, so rather than go to my carefully researched lunch spot, we just ate at a dumpy looking sandwich place opposite the school. Turned out to have awesome food!

Hit Filene's Basement, H&M, and Bloomingdales on our way back to the hotel, then had room service for dinner.
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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 03:06 PM
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Next day was a tour of Boston University, then shopping on Newbury Street and the malls around Copley Square. Great variety of shops. Decided to be real tourists and ate at Legal Seafood. Had clam chowder and a surf (for me) and turf (for daughter). Pretty good meal actually. The T was jammed going back to our hotel. Everyone and their roommates were going to the college hockey finals at Fleet Center. We were tempted to go to the game, but really needed sleep at this point.

Sunday we slept in, then headed down to watch the St Patricks Day parade. We took the T to the end of the parade route. For once, the sun came out, and we had a lot of fun watching the green crowd from our prime curbside seats until the parade reached that point an hour or so later. In the meantime, we sampled hot dogs from a cart (great!), a slice of boston pizza (even better!) and a Dunkin Donut. What is it with Dunkin Donuts in Boston?? They are everywhere! Even in the subway stations. Is it the official fast food of Boston?

The parade itself was pretty interesting. Lots of bagpiping police and firemen in kilts, union sponsored floats, Irish politicians, and great revolutionary war soldiers with guns that went off with lots of smoke and noise.

From there we headed to the food courts at Quincy Market. Steamed mussels, lobster rolls, and little pastries filled with whipped cream (cannoli?) gave us enough energy to do more shopping. Still no perfect prom dress, but the looking was fun. All the clerks were quite impressed with my daughters tan, which always led to “why would you want to be in Boston in the winter?”

We got take out food at Au Bon Pain and ate it our room. An 8 am flight the next morning, so we took a cab again.

From LaGuardia, we took a cab to the Hotel Edison on 47th right off Broadway. This hotel had been recommended by my sister and some friends. Everyone warned me that it was a very basic hotel, but clean and convenient.

This was true. The room had two twin beds, 3(!) tiny closets, a desk, a tv stand, and the smallest bathroom we had ever seen. You had to step over the toilet to get in the tub, and there was no way to turn on the shower without standing under the showerhead. As the water came straight out of the shower head (you couldnt mix it first in the spout) it was quite a rude shock to be going from cold to hot. Our toilet had a rude habit of erupting for no reason every half hour or so. It would rumble and spray water all over the toilet seat and floor. The radiator had the opposite problem..it would rarely come on, leaving us huddled under the blankets.

The biggest problem though, was the paper thin walls and doors. We could hear our neighbors zipping their suitcase, and the high school group tackling each other in the halls at 11 pm. The next night we were treated to the kids- and the chaperones- talking and yelling in the halls at 1:30. The management refused to send someone up to quiet them, complaining that it was the fault of “the people who book the rooms”. I finally had to go out and tell the noisemakers to go to their rooms.

The restaurants in the hotel were both very good. We had great breakfasts at the Edison café and ate dinner at Sophias twice. Incredible Italian food and wine. Service at both places was very “New York”.

We toured Columbia and had lunch at a great deli across the street from Columbia on Broadway. Later took the train to White Plains and a cab to SUNY/ Purchase. The next day we toured Barnard, then met up with my older daughter and her boyfriend who attends Columbia. We all had lunch at Le Monde in the same area. Very tasty meals.

The boyfriend had classes, so we went off to shop once again for the elusive prom dress. Don’t know how, but we managed to get to Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor in one afternoon. Rode buses, subway, and walked a lot. Tried every gown in every store. Finally struck paydirt at Lord & Taylors.

Older daughter really wanted TGI Fridays for dinner...she loves their garden burgers..so we made the mistake of going in there on Times Square. $22 for the burger and one soda. Luckily, they totally messed up the other 2 meals and we were not charged for them!

Next day, we wandered SoHo, took the Staten Island ferry, stood at the WTC site and went crazy inside Century 21. We ate at Sophias and saw Movin Out at the theater behind the hotel. We loved it and happily, we only had to run across the street, as it was snowing hard.

Another 5 am cab to LaGuardia in the morning. Flew to Chicago, then daughter flew back to Hawaii and I went to Oregon. For 11 days I did little but shop, eat, and visit with my niece, MIL, best friend, and my older daughter (once she returned from NYC). All the good restaurants are listed at the top of this report. My favorites were Nuestra Cocina, Mothers, Wildwood, Bar Pastiche and Sub Rosa- a brand new little place at Clinton and SE 26th. Portland is a great food town.

Loved the L&C luau. The kids put on an amazing show...did hulas, Tahitian, Maori and Samoan dances, plus fire knife and flaming poi ball dances. Wonderful costumes and food. Felt just like Hawaii!

A comment on the college tours. We had been warned that rushing from one college to another would not allow us to really get a feel for the campuses. We had done a lot of research over the past year, and these were the schools that had all looked great. In person though, three of them were clearly not for her, and one was much more impressive in person. I am very glad we went.

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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 03:26 PM
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Wow Lucy, what a whirlwind! Sounds like it was fun though.

When we lived in upstate NY and then CT, we noticed tons of donut places. Even our kids noticed, lol!

Glad you enjoyed Mother's. I really like it and am taking a few friends there next week.
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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 04:10 PM
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Funny that you had a spat at BC. We were in such a fight by the time we got there that son wouldn't even get out of the car!!! I can't even remember what the problem was, but boy was I mad at him. Who wouldn't want to look at BC?! Anyway, we just sent in his deposit to Denison - and we're thrilled!
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 02:06 AM
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Mothers is the restaurant I most wish I had here at home..terrific eggs, the belgian waffle was perfect, at lunch the fries were incredible, and they're open for dinner too!! Their cinnamon bread pudding was the best I've ever had.

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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 05:19 AM
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Re: Boston portion of your trip. You did a great job cramming in both college visits and some sightseeing - especially during a really busy weekend and a week I remember as having awful weather. If your daughter considers school in Boston, remind her that the weather is usually awful here until mid-April or May (when she would likely be heading home)

Re: Dunkin Donuts. There are more Dunkin Donut shops in metro-Boston than people. I do not know who eats all those donuts. But many people who go into shops, especially in AM, just get coffee. Part of the appeal is that traffic around Boston is awful and a 15 mile commute can take an hour - hence the explosion of drive-thru Dunkin Donuts.
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 05:58 AM
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lcuy, I loved your report. I just can't beleive how much you got in in so little time, and w/so little time to plan for it. Go, lcuy, go!
About your Swiss Army knife. On my recent trip to Japan, I packed in hte checked luggage my favorite swiss army knife, the one I bought to go on the post-college gradutation backpacking trip through Europe. During a major screw up at Narita (we thought we were going to pay extra to send a small extra bag but NWA wanted $250 to send the extra bag) I ended up taking a bag, which I thought would be checked, onto the plane as carry on. Yes, the swiss knife set off alarms at security and away it went.
I have never stayed at hotel Edison, but I did laugh very hard when I read your account. The hotels from hell.
I am looking forward to doing this type of tour w/my son in a few yrs.
I know your daughter got her acceptance that she wanted, as you posted on Freaky Fri. about that. Which school?
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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Great trip report, but I'm curious too (have driven around 2 of the 3 schools mentioned) - which one did your daughter choose?
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 08:21 PM
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Boston University. Although a bit bigger than she had hoped for, it had everything she wanted- A wide variety of courses and degrees (she'll be in science probably), good dance and fitness opportunities on campus, interesting city, convenient public transportation, and cute boys..
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 01:30 AM
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Those of us from boston look forward to answering your Boston questions - was it the Dunkin Donut that sealed her decision?
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 05:42 AM
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Congratulations to your daughter lcuy! My *cute* son will be graduating from BU in a few short weeks. My other *cute* son was also accepted at BU but decided to stay in NYC. But there are other guys there If you ever have any questions, just give me a holler!

If your daughter is into water sports -sailing and kayaking are great at BU and the Agganis Arena is top notch (but I'm sure she already knows that)!

I wish you all happy days ahead!
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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What's wrong with being a Rainbow Warrior?

I lost 10#s and had to take a nap after reading your TR.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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Great report! Congrats to your daughter. I bet seeing her tan was like a breath of fresh air for those recovering from a miserable northeastern winter.

I had to laugh at your Dunkin Donut comment. My family lives in MA, and my husband comments on the DD phenomenon on every trip back there. I do believe that more DD = fewer Starbucks.

My brother tells us that from the parking lot of DD where he stops for coffee on his way to work, he can see two other DD stores .

Their coffee does seem to have a cult-like following. My mom has been buying their beans to grind at home for years and my friends who have moved out of the area order the beans online. Nobody seems to mention the actual donuts. Go figure!
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Old Apr 20th, 2005, 06:30 PM
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I laughed when I read that you combined the college tour with prom dress shopping. My daughter and I just returned from Boston to see if she really and truly wanted to attend Tufts; our other objective during that trip was to find strappy sandals and a purse to wear with the prom dress. Both missions accomplished -- the latter on Newbury Street. (And I am so happy I don't need to do another college tour for at least one year when the next one starts looking).

For BU, the Commonwealth Hotel is practically right across the street, and we stayed there during the first Boston college tour visit -- its very nice, and they have weekend rates that aren't awfully outrageous, especially if its not baseball season
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 09:35 AM
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Nice job picking Portland restuarants! I love Mothers especially, and isn't the new Elephants location fabulous! Yumm.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 10:23 AM
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Barbara- Thanks for the tip on the Commonwealth hotel. In looking for reservations for orientation, I realized that having a couple of good hotels choices will necessary in this college town! Hope your daugher enjoys her Boston outfit...Mine is wearing hers this Saturday. Half the fun is saying whe bought it in NYC!

Sks- you should see the restaurants still on my "to do" list! I LOVE eating in Portland..so many great choices and such reasonable prices! Glad I have reasons to keep returning to the city.

It was funny about Elephants. One morning, I was planning lunch and asked my girlfriend about the french style deli with the funny name (but great food) near Nordstoms. I'd eaten there several times in the past. She didn't know what I was talking about so we made other plans.

That afternoon, I went to pick up my Mom in law, and saw the new one right across from her apartment. How convenient!
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