“How was I assigned this particular section?”
“If a cranberry bounces while TOM students are occupied with Shad exercises, is it really bouncing?”
“Why must HBS blondes (especially the fake ones) do everything in packs of five?”
Instead of wasting your time on these and other pointless RC-year ruminations, you should be sweating only one detail: a consistent New York travel game plan. Don’t get me wrong: Boston is a great little town. But there’s no way you can justifiably ignore all the cultural, professional, gastronomical and criminological draws of Manhattan, especially with the HBS schedule granting so many long weekends. Plus, the subway rats have long since retired to Queens. So herewith, the skinny on various and sundry New York getaway options – complete with TOM-friendly terminology (for all you cranberry wonks).
Yes the airline industry is in the dumps, with US Airways in serious danger of folding in the next six to eight months. But that still doesn’t stop the carrier from commanding about $250 a pop for its coveted Friday afternoon shuttle to LaGuardia. Ditto struggling Delta. Tip: United and American Airlines will often sell you the same flight for around $70 less. Sunday returns average about $125.
Pros: Faster than the Fonz on a first date, the Logan-LaGuardia shuttles take about an hour to beam you down to Gotham (or at least Queens). Just as you take your first sip of club soda and Courvoisier the flight attendant chimes in to prepare the cabin for its initial descent. Swell.
Bottlenecks: Pick your poison: an obscene $40 cab to Logan or sweaty, 45-minute red-green-blue line T ride. Then, depending on where you need to be in New York, another $25 – $35 yellow-cab fare (times two if you want to fly back Sunday). The good news is New York cabbies dispense excellent smack talk; one recently tried to convince me that Dick Cheney has a transplanted baboon’s heart. “Seriously, my friend!”
Pity Amtrak. Chronically underfunded, the national railway is seemingly always on the brink, even as it boasted its highest rider-ship ever this past fiscal year. While Amtrak will never be lauded as svelte, efficient or on-time, its northeast corridor line basically gets the job done (rust, delays and all). Cost: Anywhere from $99 for the 3:15pm Acela Express (assuming you can make it) to $64 for the slower regional line that departs at 7:30 and gets into New York just before midnight (when Penn Station truly shines).
Pros: A Student Advantage card wins you a 15% discount off non-Acela fares. Penn Station is as centrally located as it gets in New York. Moreover, Amtrak passengers are able to plug in their laptops and savor fine caf‚-car fare, sharing government-issue Cheez-Its with hotties across the aisle.
Bottlenecks: The forty-minute red-line trek from Harvard Square to South Station. If you don’t make the 3:15 or 3:20 train, you’ll have to sit around staring at deformed station pigeons for an hour. Hey, it still beats TOM.
Here’s where things get colorful.
Fung Wah, the infamous $15 Chinatown bus that departs from the South Station area, defines sketch. The same holds true for Greyhound/Peter Pan, which recently slashed its Friday and weekend New York fare to $15. But they are what they are: functional cattle cars that eventually get you to Manhattan, hopefully in one contiguous piece. Tip: strategic sleep deprivation the night before traveling allows you to sleep through all the horrors.
Pros: Cheaper than Wal-Mart management. Plenty of tickets.
Bottlenecks: Indigestion. Nauseating traffic. The Greyhound’s annoying stop in Framingham. Bathroom stop at a perplexingly ghetto Roy Rogers in Connecticut, followed by two-hour stench of burger grease, onions and CVS-brand hairspray. The ride can often take five to six hours.
The Limoliner: An upscale (but absurd) option. A luxury coach complete with exquisite leather seats and spotty Wi-Fi and satellite TV service that departs from the Back Bay Hilton Fridays at both 2:30 and 6:15. Your $69 ticket buys you not only vanity gratification, but also the attention of an on-board stewardess serving light meals and cola. The bathroom even sports a vase full of freshly cut flowers. No joke.
All of which makes me wonder why some entrepreneur doesn’t charter a weekly bus out of Harvard Square. Greyhound, after all, offers a dedicated Boston University-New York trip. Krishna Mahesh, where’s the love?
One-Way Car Rental
Pros: This do-it-yourself option is fast, fun and cheap – assuming you split the cost of the ride with others. Avis, which is just behind the Kennedy School in the Charles Hotel, offers one-way rentals for anywhere between $50 and $100, depending on availability. Grab a bag of Cool Ranch and some Mad Libs and the four hours will feel like two.
Bottlenecks: You try corralling more than two HBS schedules (ahem, egos) into one car.
Still, the ability to pack in four other classmates makes this travel option ideal for mass hair-color coordination.