Thursday, July 26, 2007


And now for a summer rerun of last year’s return to Bean Town.

This year the 25th annual National Association of Tax Professionals National Conference and Expo (I have been attending since 1988, missing only one or two over the years) was held at the Marriott Copley Place in Boston. I have been to Boston many times over the years, including the 1995 NATP conference also at the Marriott Copley Place.

The hotel, adjacent to the Copley Place shopping mall (which connects to the Back Bay train station) and connected by "skywalk" to the Shops at Prudential Center mall, is excellently located. It is within walking distance of the theatre district, Boston Commons, and Boston's "Restaurant Row" and shopping district. The subway makes it relatively easy to get to the downtown and waterfront areas.

Because of the increasing cost of conference hotel rooms (advertised at $149 per night but actually $167+) I allowed long-time friend Carmen "the Bear" Ceraolo to join me to cut costs. He offered to drive, as he had done on one of our previous trips to "Beantown" (thinking about it I do not believe that I ever had beans while in Boston), which provided additional savings. The drive from Wayne NJ was 234 miles each way. Travel time was a little under 4 hours going but 6 hours on the return trip due to Carmen's excessive caution driving in the rain. It cost $160.00 to park at the hotel in Boston for our stay - but the total cost of taking the car was much less than if I had parked my car at Journal Square for the week and taken Amtrak. I certainly would not recommend driving while in Boston, which we did not do. One night we made the mistake of taking a taxi to the waterfront during rush hour instead of taking the subway, which proved to be long and expensive trip due to traffic.

My days were devoted to the conference educational sessions. Carmen was on his own, visiting the hotel health club, the library at Copley Square, and taking the hop-on, hop-off trolley tour. We met each evening for dinner. Sunday night we chose the hotel's "Gourmeli's" where I had clam chowder and lobster roll. We also dined at the "Champion's: sports bar and restaurant in the hotel lobby, the Marriott's only other dining choice, "Applebees" on the street level of the Prudential Center mall, and "Sola's Irish Pub" in the lobby of the Lennox Hotel (the Shepherd's Pie was almost correct - lamb and beef and potatoes). "Flamer's" in the international food court at the Shops at Prudential Center mall offered me an excellent, and reasonable, alternative to the hotel's $19.00+ breakfast buffet.

On this trip I finally took the "Duck Tour", which now also departs from directly across from the street from the Marriott. I had previously ridden the "Duck" (a renovated WWII amphibious landing vehicle, code-named DUKW, which played a crucial role in the D-Day invasion) in Washington DC and Branson MO. We drove throughout Boston, splashing into the Charles River for a brief mid-tour cruise.

I was disappointed that there were minimal theatre opportunities available, apparently because it was summer. I had checked online before the trip and found only MENOPAUSE, THE MUSICAL to my liking. However, once in Boston we were told it had closed. Our only options at the Copley Square Bostix booth (similar to TDF's half-price booth in Times Square) were the BLUE MAN GROUP (no thanks), a production of CINDERELLA (again, no thanks) and the audience-participation farce SHEAR MADNESS, which Carmen and I had seen on our first visit to Boston many years ago.

Around town we came across many individually-decorated ceramic cows, part of "Cow Parade Boston", similar to the ceramic deer I encountered in Honesdale in the summer of 2004 (the "Wayne Deer Games") and the ceramic elephants and donkeys in Washington DC in 2002 (I believe the concept began with cows in Chicago). The Boston cows were to be auctioned off to benefit the Jimmy Fund charity.

Our last evening in town we booked a 3-hour dinner cruise on the waters of Boston Harbor aboard the Odyssey, leaving from Rowe's Wharf. The dining room was more than half empty, so we had a table to ourselves. While the ambiance was elegant, the food very good and served at a relaxed and leisurely pace, the live combo entertaining, and the views of the night-time skyline from the observation deck beautiful, it was a bit pricey, especially when you added in drinks.

It was a pleasant get-away, with the weather, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect for the time of year. Unfortunately, once again, the GD extensions were still waiting when I returned to Jersey City!


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