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I needed to book a Scranton, PA hotel room for a night in October. My first stop was Orbitz. I found I could get a room at the Days Inn for about $62. That is including taxes and fees. It was a 2 star hotel. There were some other hotels that were priced at over $100 a night. But I just wanted some place decent, and cheap. I found rooms slightly cheaper if I was willing to stay outside of Scranton. But I wanted to stay closer in town.
I headed over the Hotwire.com to see what I could find. I found a 2 start hotel for $58. But when taxes and fees were added in, the price jumped to about $70. And I wouldn’t even know what hotel I was booking. Probably Days Inn, but maybe not.
I headed over to Priceline. They listed the Days Inn hotel at $66/night. And I am not sure if there would have been taxes and fees added to that price. But it was already more expensive than Orbitz.
I decided to try Priceline’s Name Your Own Price. I bid $30, which with taxes and fees came to about $40. My bid was not accepted. I checked out other areas, and found some areas with much more expensive 2 star hotels. I added one of those in figuring I wouldn’t likely get one of those), and upped my bid to $35. Again, my bid was not accepted. I upped my bid to $40, which with taxes and fees, came to a price of slightly over $50. I added in another area, and again my bid was not accepted. I set about to raise my bid yet again. I was going to try $45. But then I saw that with taxes and fees, Priceline had the total at $58 or $59. That was not much cheaper than the rate at Orbitz. And with Orbitz, I knew what hotel I was getting. With Priceline, I didn’t know. It was PROBABLY the same hotel, but maybe not. And there wasn’t even a guarantee that I would get the room for that price. I didn’t submit the $45 bid. I went back over to Orbitz and booked my Scranton PA hotel room for just over $62.
Maybe the Name Your Own Price feature works better for higher priced hotel rooms.

I needed a hotel in Louisville in August. I didn’t particularly care which hotel I stayed in, I just needed to stay downtown near 4th street. I searched various travel sites, and found the hotels were kind of expensive. I found a website that had winning Priceline bids for various citys. But I found these bids not very useful, since it depends when you will staying in each city. And many of the bids I found for Louisville were not the weekend I would be staying there. But I did find a tip on how to win Priceline bids.
I will be there on the weekend of the Ironman Triathlon, so I am guessing they will have no shortage of guests. So I didn’t count on getting a hotel for those cheap prices. But I had to try.
I checked out Priceline, and found that the only 3.5-4 star hotels were in the downtown area. So I tried bidding $70 for a 3.5+ star hotel. My bid was not accepted. No problem. I would either have to wait til the next day to up my bid, or modify my requirements. Since I knew there were no 3.5+ star hotels in any other area of Louisville than downtown, I added another area, and upped my bid by $5. Again I was turned down. I added another area, and upped my bid again by $5. My bids were repeatedly no accepted. I used up all my bids.
The next day I tried again. I started at $90. Each time my bids were not accepted, I would add another area of the city. As I said, I knew that I would not get a hotel in another part of the city, since there were no 3.5+ star hotels anywhere but downtown. I finally bid $105, and my bid was accepted. I got a room at the Hyatt Regency for $105/night plus taxes and fees. It came to $374 for 3 nights.
So try this trick next time you go to use Priceline. Just be sure there are no hotels of the star rating you want in the areas that you add, to get the extra bids.

My wife and I have eaten here a couple times. The first time was for dinner using a coupon from our Entertainment book. The second time was this last weekend for lunch to celebrate her graduation (she got her Masters degree).
The Plum Garden is a Japanese restaurant. They have both regular seating, and hibachi. Hibachi is where sit around the cooking surface, and the chef cooks right in front of you, usually providing a bit of entertainment, doing various tricks with the food and cooking utensils.
Both times we ate here, we did the hibachi thing. The quality of the hibachi cooking “show” depends on the experience of the chef you get. The first time we ate here, we had a great show. The second time, the chef wasn’t nearly as skilled. Things they would do included building a small volcano from onion rings, and having it shoot fire and smoke, and then having lava pouring out, spinning an egg on a spatula, tossing it in the air, and having it slit on the edge of the spatula, tossing balls of rice into the customer’s mouths, etc. It’s a lot of fun.
As for the quality of the food here. It’s excellent. I have had the hibachi steak both times, and my wife has had the shrimp. The shrimp was probably the best I have ever had on the first visit. I really considered the getting the shrimp on our second visit. But I was able to try my wife’s shrimp. It was still really good, but not as good as the first time. I guess it depends on the shrimp. Besides the main entrée, the meal also include Japanese onion soup, rice, and a garden salad with some sort of dressing that I tastes like it is made from carrot juice. It’s interesting. Maybe the difference in chefs is a lunch versus dinner thing. But during our lunch, we saw the chef at one of the other hibachi grills, and he was doing many of the tricks that our chef hadn’t done. So maybe it is just luck of the draw. Or maybe you can request a chef?
Anyway, the food is a great, and the service excellent. I will eat here again.
The Plum Garden is located at 3349 Monroe Ave, Rochester NY, 14618 (which is actually Pittsford). Their phone number is 585-381-8730.

When planning our trip to Boston, I was a little nervous about how to get around. How to get from Waltham where we we staying, into downtown Boston. Not only for the marathon on Monday morning, but to the expo on Sunday. I am used to going to places, where I can drive to, and park my car. I like places with free parking. But this was not a good option in Boston.
My friend who is a local, said that we could take the T (subway). Fortunatly, I had some friends who had gotten into Boston a day earlier, and had already ridden the T, so we didn’t have to figure it out ourselves.
We simply drove our car to the T station, and parked. Parking was something like $6 for the day. On Marathon day when my wife went to park at the T station, the lot was full, and she had to park on a nearby side street.
There were machines at the T station where we could purchase tickets, or a “charlie card”. We got the charlie card. The machines allow you to put a certain dollar amount on the card. We figure that we would be riding the T about 4 times each, so we put enough money on the card for 8 rides. The rides cost $1.75 each I think.
When you want to get on the T, you go through a turnstile. You just touch the charlie card to the little sensor, and go through. The T’s seem to run pretty often. We didn’t ever have to wait very long. So we never bothered looking at a schedule. When starting at the outskirts of the T routes, the T’s are fairly empty. But as you get closer in to the city, they get more and more crowded.
The opposite is true when coming out of the city. There was one time where the train was so full, that we had to wait for the next one. But that was only a few minutes. Then as you get farther from the city, the T gets emptier and emptier.
Overall, getting around was not nearly as stressfull as I thought it might be.
Though there was the time after the marathon whne we went to get on the T, and a cop turned us away from the T station, saying it was full. We turned about to hobble to the next station (about 4 blocks away), when the station we were at, suddenly opened. I was not thrilled about that whole situation.
The trick is finding the the T stations. I never had to find the stations myself. I was always with people who knew where the stations were. I might not be able to find them myself easily.

A bunch of my friends and I were in Boston for the marathon. We met up at the convention center where the expo was being held. We went out searching for some place to have breakfast or brunch all together. There were about 15 of us. We wanted to find some place where we could sit all together. Probably not easy on regular days. But the city was crowded with people there for the marathon. We wandeded around the streets, stopping at places, and asking about available seating. Most of the places had no room, or there would be an incredibly long wait. Then we stopped at Charley’s Restaurant. They said they had room for us, though we would have to wait maybe 20 minutes. Sounded like a good deal.
The bunch of us waited in the bar area talking. After a bit, someone came and took us downstairs. We were seated all together. There weren’t any other people down here. It seems like they opened this area up to accomidate our group! How cool was that.
Service was very good, though the food was a little slow to come. That really didn’t bother us, and we were enjoying talking. A couple people had to leave, to make it to the Red Sox game.
The food did come, and it was very good. I had the “Newbury Breakfast” which consisted of three eggs any style served with an English muffin, fresh fruit, home fries and crisp bacon, sausage or ham. It was very good. My only complaint was that it was pretty light on home fries. Cmon guys, potatoes are cheap! The other people in the group seemed to enjoy their brunch meals as well. My wife, and a friend ordered the french toast, and they brought little tiny things of syrup. Not nearly enough for the friend toast. But a simple request, and they brought more. I would eat here again.
Charley’s Restaurant is located at 284 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115. Their phone number is 617-266-3000. They have a website: www.charleys-restaurant.com

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