Beach, Lake Erie

Beach, Lake Erie

Originally uploaded by tanaudel

I’ve posted some more photos on Flickr, this time from the shores of Lake Erie.

We could see the lake from my aunt’s house and my mother and I went exploring, through vineyards and across the road, down between groves and gardens and guest houses to the lonely shore. It is a shale beach, covered with flat, clinking stones, that ring and shift like coins underfoot. The rocks are carved and sculpted in fluid shapes by the grey waves, and the cliffs are of finely stacked, brittle layers of stone, supporting here and there broken and stranded boat ramps, or rusted ladders that end a metre or more above the stones, or stairs that have fallen away and been replaced with uncertain landings of shale-slabs balanced on pebbles.

Five Hotels

  1. The Eddison, New York – Slightly decaying art deco hotel in the Times Square District. Comfortable, well-appointed and beautiful, and the things that might have been shabby instead were attractive – the worn carpets had lovely old designs, and the grilles and pipes in the bathrooms were covered with punched tin lace and the lift doors were etched with patterns. Even the door knobs in the old wooden doors were impressive and moulded with the hotel initials. We sat in bed and drank hot chocolate and ate Madeleines. Also, when Genevieve and I were back in NY and trying to find a bathroom near Times Square one night, they let us use theirs.
  2. Country Comfort, Erie – An airport motel, and being a motel and in Erie, cheap. Also spacious, comfortable and with a very large bathroom. No kettle of course, so I could not use the tea bags I had liberated from the At Home the night before. I had to get up early the next morning to catch the airport shuttle which was to leave at the same time breakfast started. But the breakfast buffet was already out (everything from omelettes to doughnuts) and a flight crew and the bus driver were eating and watching the fires in LA.
  3. The Embassy Suites, Conference Centre, Washington – Washington hotels aren’t cheap. And because I did not book this until the day before and didn’t know my way around Washington and it was only one night, I went for the really expensive one. And it showed – a room with an enormous double bed and a bathroom and a sitting room with sofas and table and chairs. The sort of luxury that makes it a shame to not be spending much time there, so definitely a business hotel more than a tourist one (at least for tourists who are trying to see the whole city in a day and a half) .The concierge booked my night tour for me and they had glass urns of water with lemon and of fresh lemonade in the foyer (a highlight). Breakfast was alright as hotel breakfasts go, though they had Tazo tea (which brings me pleasant memories of packages of crafts from America). Room service stopped at 11, which would not be a plus because I really wanted hotel room service, just once and this seemed the hotel to do it at, and because it was late and cold and I’d been out on the night tour in the rain and my stockings were soggy. The vending machine on our floor only had soft drinks and all the cafes nearby were closed. I called reception to ask where I could get food, and they said the vending machines on level 3 had snacks. I put on my coat and shoes over my pajamas and descended, but the machine was full and wouldn’t take any money and I was tired and cold and hungry and called reception again to ask if there was anywhere at all I could get food, and the night manager brought me up a whole box of Pepperridge biscuits (like an Arnotts selection, but thin and buttery and fancy).
  4. Hotel 31, NY – Small. Clean. Not for people with large suitcases, because when I say small, I do mean that. The street frontage is small (although conveniently located across from a non-self-service laundry), though attractive, with carved stone and eagles and so forth. The foyer is small – it gets crowded with three guests. The elevator was the kind where you swing the door open towards you and pull the brass grille aside and can see (and if you wanted, touch) the hotel as it moves past the diamonds of the grille. One person and luggage was about the limit – we took the stairs a lot, but never had any actual trouble with the lift. It was just disconcerting. The room had two single beds, a basin, a hanging rack over the radiator and a desk which was mostly occupied by a television set. It had basically no room for luggage or anything except sleeping, and although it was cleaned everyday we only ever received one set of towel, handtowel and washer between the two of us and had to ring down every night for someone to bring us up another set, at which point they (after a time) would usually bring us three. All the rooms had different wallpaper. Ours had two sorts – one pale cream floral brocade and the other cream and pastel stripes. Another down the hall had a large, dark tartan. There were two bathrooms on the floor, and sometimes there was a queue, but not a very long one. Not a business hotel – but an excellent base of operations when you don’t plan to spend much time in your hotel room. Sort of a luggage locker with benefits. So no complaints, but it was character building and had actual ceiling lights, which was novel.
  5. The New York Helmsley – my mother didn’t want to share a bathroom with other guests once she joined us, so we changed hotels on the last night. Genevieve thought it was very luxurious and I agreed at first, but mostly because we’d just left Hotel 31 which would, frankly, would have fit in the foyer. It was more modern than the Eddison, but the beds were doubles instead of queens (and this mattered because I was sharing with my mother) and the lighting was dim (no ceiling lights) and the view, though respectable, was not as spectacular as Hotel 31’s vista of roof-gardens, chimneys, fire-escapes and the Empire State Building. They did, however, have friendly staff and check us in very early when we showed up on their doorstep and store our bags while we wandered on our last day, something I doubt Hotel 31 would have had the capacity for. They even had a port cochere.