I used to travel a good amount for work. At one point, it seemed like at least once a month I was on a plane to the west coast for this meeting or that. I didn’t mind the travel, besides being away from family and friends, but pretty quickly I did get rather sick of the hotel bar.
Travel for work isn’t what most people who don’t travel often think it’s going to be. When I used to travel, a lot of friends would often send me tips for places I had to check out, hot spots in towns on the other side of the country. This trendy bar or that seasonal restaurant were must-see spots; they would say, I should use the opportunity of traveling to see them. But after a long day of work, plus catching up on whatever happened back at the office, the last thing I wanted to do was angle for a reservation or try to venture across town to the hip area for dinner, because let’s face it, more often than not, my hotel was not located in the heart of hipsterdom. Which meant I wound up having a drink and a bite at a nondescript bar that had very little to offer except for a seat, some food and a glass of wine.
While once in a while I liked this scenario ok, drinking at these hotel bars, as many of us who have traveled are all too familiar, can start to get boring rather quickly. The drinks and food are rarely exciting, and while they do the job, there’s a tendency to feel like being at one of these places is still a bit of work. Where’s my opportunity to let loose at the end of a long day? Where’s some sort of excitement? And that’s when I stopped heading for the hotel bar and started asking the front desk for directions to the closest place to buy wine.
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Realizing you’re a grown ass man and you can drink in your room if you want to is an incredibly liberating experience. As I began to grow tired of the hotel bar, I realized I was not visiting my childhood home and damnit I could drink in my hotel bed if I wanted to, and so, that’s what I started to do. Always on my first day of the trip, I’d gain insight from people into a good wine shop or liquor store and as the day ended, that’s where I would head.
There is something really cool about perusing the aisles of a wine shop in a town which you aren’t familiar. You get to see how regional tastes change, and also potentially try something you wouldn’t be able to find back home. I jumped at this opportunity, using my travel as an excuse to get outside of my comfort zone when it came to trying different things. And since I was never nervous about embarrassing myself, since I would probably never be in the store or see the clerk again, I asked really stupid questions. Questions I was always unsure of back home, but I never wanted to ask for fear of being labeled a wine moron. But let’s be honest, we’re all basically different levels of wine morons, and these questions allowed me to learn more than I ever would had I not asked them. Plus they gave me the courage to keep on asking them when I returned home.
With a new bottle in hand, I’d head back to my hotel, potentially picking up dinner on the way, and go straight up to my room to crack open the bottle and enjoy. There was something awesome about being alone with my thoughts, watching whatever I wanted to, drinking in bed if I pleased and enjoying a glass or two of something I had never tried. No one was around to say I was doing something wrong, and I got to appreciate the wine for the sole reason I purchased it in the first place, to help me unwind after a long day, and feel ready to do it all again in the morning. I guess the business trips weren’t so bad after all.
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