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Old Feb 22, 10, 2:28 pm
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violist
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,200
2010 ASTA (string teachers' association, not travel agents) convention

US1716 BWI PHL 0850 0920 E90 2A (was 0730 0821)
US1270 PHL BOS 1015 1145 E90 2F

was 3040 BWI PHL 1100 1143 E45 3A
and 970 PHL BOS 1315 1427 E90 3F

The Fairfield Inn Boston/Saugus is a fine and private place,
though few do there embrace, just kidding. It is listed as a
new property on the Marriott Website, but it ain't. Last
couple times I stayed there it was a Courtyard, and the
previous time something else. My friend Lichtenberg stayed
there twenty years ago, when it was a Comfort Inn; it was
pretty much the same then. About the only things that have
changed are: the breakfast nook now has expanded into what
used to be the restaurant, meaning that (as my friend the
ex-AA ex-drum corps shuttlebus driver pointed out) it no
longer looks like a mortuary, and anyhow the restaurant was
lousy; also the bar (most welcome back in the day) is gone.
The okay but slightly tired rooms are still the same, a
little more tired; the dodgy elevators are dodgier and
noisier than ever. Still, 74 bucks and full Marriott points,
and the $5 shuttlebus advertised on the Website is free.

For dinner I conned a friend into going to the Hilltop
Steak House for old times' sake. It's two miles up the road,
but with the hotel being on one side of the road and the
restaurant on the other, complications bring the journey to
four miles each way.

It's a sad shadow of its former self, when Frank Giuffrida
would strut through the restaurant, bossing his friends and
relations, who in turn would boss the customers, who would
meekly line up to be treated to Abuse 101 and the full
stockyard experience from the victim standpoint and then, if
they were lucky, some of the best beef this side of Omaha
(remember that this was before the proliferation of Capital
Grille, Ruth's Chris, Morton's, and so on and so on). Only
one room was open, and I forget which one it was, probably
Kansas City, the others gaping dark and ominous.

The staff were willing but not completely up on what was
what, having to return to the back to research such hard
questions we asked such as "what is your Sam seasonal" and
"what is the soup of the day?"

We had a Sam regular and a Sam Noble Pils, which is a bit
light but has some good hoppiness. It's supposed to be
German in style, to which assertion I kind of shrug.

My buddy ordered the filet medium rare, and it came medium
rare and actually a kind of beautiful piece of meat. I
warned against the rice, saying it would be dead salty;
it was.

I ordered the 18-oz bone-in sirloin extra rare, 5x or so the
price of what it used to be when I started going here, with
red bliss smashed and a salad. The salad was as expected, a
quart of iceberg with a few perfunctory slices of tomato and
red onion; the house dressing "yellow Italian" was acrid and
disgusting, same as I remembered. The steak was way inferior
to what I recalled: it was gristly and tough, though the fat
was crispy and tasty. It is rare to get a rare sirloin that
is almost too tough to eat. This one was; nonetheless, it
was okay (sliced extra thin with the comically oversized steak
knife) and a reasonable memorabilium of forty years ago.

It was snowing pretty hard when I got back. A nice warm
room, comfy bed.
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