I Hear a Pleasant Mix of Languages in My Upper Manhattan Hotel

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At the elevator, two woman spoke in a strange language, it might have been Dutch, or perhaps even Latvian. I was coming downstairs after staying the night here on 101st street, in the Broadway Hotel, which is actually a hostel and a hotel. It’s about half and half, so I took one of the rooms on the seventh floor with a private bath, and sadly, a shower that never got hot. Brisk!

Young kids from all over the world converge on this place, it’s a cheap place to sleep and my room was fine at about $209 with tax. The first cabbie I asked in the rain to take me up here shook his head, no way he was driving that far up Manhattan.

Yesterday I met a woman who promotes the tourism of Estonia. She told me that in her nation, founded in 1991, free Wi-Fi is a guaranteed human right. Like water, air and sewer, you had to be able to connect, it’s the law. I love that. She said that anywhere in Tallin, the capital you can grab a free Wi-FI signal. And nobody in the whole country pays.

At lunch we learned about Dresden, Germany’s artistic city in the far north. The enthusiastic tourism woman said that the number one market for foreign tourists there was the US. That surprised everyone at my table. I sat beside a young woman who was the travel editor of Coastal Living. She graduated from Michigan State in 2004, and remains an avid sports fan. She compared someone to “Lebron in the fourth quarter” during the evening. I told her that I don’t meet many women who are such avid sports fans.

The magazine is based in Birmingham Alabama, and she said she likes living down there where of course there is no coast nearby. Her magazine publishes articles about any place that has a coast, and features the housing and the lifestyles of coastal folks. “So I guess you’ll only be meeting with the coastal countries of Europe, right?” I asked her. “Well, it can be any kind of coast, an island, or anywhere else where people live by the water.”

It was a great day in NYC, and as I headed up north from Times Square to 101st St, it felt good once again to be meeting with tourism people, schmoozing with travel writers and generally, doing what I was meant to do in this world.