Dear New York Times:

30 09 2006

Torches
I really enjoy the regular 36 Hours feature in the Travel section. Lately, for instance, I tagged along with your travel writers for long weekends in College Station, Tex., Jackson, Wyo., and Lafayette, La. Each of those destinations—and I’ve been to a couple of them already—worked, too. I could imagine arriving about 4 p.m. on a Friday and hanging out until Sunday evening. And your travel writers gave interesting advice about how to enjoy the weekend. In fact, ever since I read the 36 Hours feature on Lafayette, I’ve had a hankering to try the eggs Begnaud—”two eggs on a grilled biscuit covered with crawfish étouffée, and accompanied by cheese grits flecked with andouille”—at Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge, La. Yum.

But, um, I have to say I’m more than a little puzzled by Friday’s 36 Hours destination: Honolulu. Who was the target audience for this piece? Like you, I live on the East Coast. Getting to Honolulu would require, well, a significant adventure. If I arrived there at 6 p.m. on a Friday, I’d be tapped out. Tapped out from the airport security, the cross-country flight, the inevitable layover in Los Angeles, the flight halfway across the Pacific—whew, I’d probably be downright pooped from all of that. And if I somehow recovered enough to make the suggested 8 p.m. dinner at Hoku’s at the Kahala Hotel & Resort, I’d have to make it up by sleeping in the next day. But, no, you’ve got me headed off to a farmers’ market at 8 a.m. Good God! Are you trying to kill me?

And, believe me, I wouldn’t be ready to head back by Sunday evening (or even Monday morning). Gosh.

Actually, you must’ve understood, at least at some level, that Honolulu was a silly 36 Hours destination. Your travel writer, Jocelyn Fujii, started off her recommendation for 6 p.m. on Friday with a few thoughts about jet lag. Hmmm, yeah. Unless you live in Guam or Maui, Honolulu isn’t really a destination that’s feasible for a quick, 36-hour visit, is it? If it’s going to take me a full day to get somewhere, I’m going to want more than a day and a half, more even than a long weekend, to enjoy it. Honolulu would make a great 7 Days destination. Let’s do that instead, ok?

And let’s keep the 36 Hours destinations a little more manageable. I’m thinking Ottawa, Canada, might be a good choice. Have any ideas about that?

Thanks.

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3 responses

1 10 2006
J. M. Branum

Portland, Oregon would make a great 36 hour trip. Of all of my short jaunts (ok, I was there for I think 4 days), I had loads of fun there.

If I only had 36 hours to spend in the town, I would stay at the hostel on Hawthorne street (and rent a biyclce from there to get around town), from there spend the day visiting all of the cool gardens (the Rose and Japanese gardens are wonderful), and enjoying a different locally brewed beer (or several beers) at each meal.

And, of course you would would have to make a stop by Powell’s books and if its the weekend go to the Saturday market they have.

1 10 2006
J. M. Branum

Actually I got another great 36 hour trip, and I can say this because I’ve done this trip in about that much time…

Monterrey, Mexico

It is a huge metropolitan city (4 million in the metro area) with subways and whatnot that is only 4-5 hours south of Laredo, TX. The city is a bit cowboy (Norteno style… lots of guys in cowboy hats, but instead of beef they eat cabrito), has a neat old part of town with lots of cheap craft items, but also has a real alternative culture element too, with a fair number of local rock bands, ranging from punk to metal.

I’ve made two weekend trips there from Austin. I caught the Greyhound in the late evening, made it across the border and to the bus station in Laredo around sunrise, and then arriving by bus into Monterrey around lunchtime. Then spend the rest of the day touring the town and stay in a cheap hotel around the bus station (a bit sketchy, but it’s less than $10 a night), then spend the morning of the next day seeing more of the sights before catching a bus back to the Estado Unidos.

If all goes well, you would be gone about 48 hours from Austin.

4 10 2006
Jay

Those sound like good choices, J.M. I’ve never made it to Oregon at all. (I’ve made it 40 states so far. Two of the missing are Oregon and Washington.) I may rectify that next year, though, as my church’s general assembly will be held in Portland next June.

Monterrey sounds like a lot of fun, too. Next time you go, let me know and I’ll join you. I’m a lot braver when I’ve got back-up. 🙂

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