When I travel, I like to stay away from chains as much as possible. This isn't alway possible, but I find that staying away from Starbucks and TGIFridays usually allows me to find places that have much more character and charm than mass produced chain restaurants. Frequenting local businesses lets you feel a little bit of the local flavor of a new town much better than the cookie cutter establishments that are the same, or at least very similar, regardless of location.
When possible, I like to extend this philosophy to where I spend the night. Most of the time I do end up staying in chain hotels, but I find that staying in the occasional B&B to be most rewarding. I make more of an effort to do this when I travel for pleasure, but it has worked out well the few times that I stayed at a B&B while on business trips.
More and more, B&B owners are catering to business travelers by offering thing like earlier breakfasts, competitive weekday rates and free wireless internet access. In addition to these amenities, the people that run B&Bs are generally quite personable and eager to advise you on all of the best local non-chain restaurants.
The only problem with B&Bs can be your fellow guests. For one reason or another, my wife and I keep running into the strangest people at B&Bs. Uncomfortable interactions can usually be avoided by taking your breakfast early and eating at a table that is away from the others, but sometimes this just doesn't work. Some B&Bs offer fixed breakfast times and communal dining tables; this is where some of the B&B charm starts to wane.
Forced social interaction before the effects of coffee have been fully actualized is not something that I actively seek out, so my views on the topic may be slightly biased. I think that my tolerance for eccentric people must be at a minimum in the morning because I often come out of a social B&B breakfast with quite a cynical attitude. For your amusement, I will outline two actual couples that I have run into while traveling.
The Lacrosse Couple
My wife and I were staying at a B&B in Providence, Rhode Island for a Brown University reunion and most people at breakfast that morning were in town for their reunions- except for one couple. This couple were in town for a Johns Hopkins lacrosse game . This couple appeared perfectly pleasant when we met them, but the singular focus off their life quickly became apparent.
These people lived, breathed and slept lacrosse. They couldn't let the conversation go for more than three minutes without bringing up their beloved college sport. They told the table about their devotion to their team and even informed us that they took out a second mortgage on their house in order fund a trip to Australia in order to follow their lacrosse team.
I'm all for having a hobby, I have several, but I also understand when my conversation companions don't get excited about a vintage razor or a new fountain pen ink. The lacrosse couple had very little understanding or tolerance for anyone or anything that was not lacrosse. This sort of behavior is simply unacceptable so early in the morning.
The Rental Property Couple
While spending the weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, my wife and I met a couple that was taking a break from managing their lakeside rental property. They had a lot to say about rental properties in general and their recent experiences of renting to a cut rate movie company that used their rental as the location for a movie.
This wasn't a big budget movie, of course, but it featured the actor that was in a movie called You Have the Right to Remain Violent which according to www.imdb.com is still in production. According to the rental property couple, this movie is like fight club, only with a moral.
From what I can gather, the movie that was filmed at their property is Ironsides, which is scheduled to be released in late December- I will not be watching this movie. Like the lacrosse couple, this pair couldn't stand the conversation being steered away from them and their interests, it was quite annoying.
I think that many people go to a B&B to get away from everyday life, but there are some people that just can't let things go and appreciate what is in front of them. More importantly, these are the people that just can't seem to shut up an enjoy their coffee.
Is it just me that keeps running into these obnoxious people or have you run into them as well. I'd love to hear about your run-ins with B&B people in the comments section below.
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