Bedlam the Cat had planned to accompany Insider on a trip to
Washington because the newly renovated Washington Monarch Hotel is
In fact, the hotel was so excited about receiving Bedlam that
its staff planned to hold a meeting about the best way to deal with
the cat's needs, from kitty litter to dinner treats.
But it was not to be.
Despite the fact that many hotels, not to mention the airlines,
are doing their best to accommodate our four-legged friends, Amtrak
has a decidedly different view.
And because Insider was traveling by Amtrak Metroliner from New
York, this posed something of a problem.
An Amtrak reservationist explained the no-pets-allowed policy
(Seeing Eye dogs are the exception) and when pushed, suggested that
Bedlam's caretaker start a campaign on behalf of pet travel.
"Hey, that's how the bikers got their way," he said, referring
to Amtrak's installation of bike racks on its New England
Insider was ready to protest, but an Amtrak spokeswoman put
things into perspective.
"I got on a plane last night and had to get off before the
flight started because the woman next to me had a cat with her. I
am so allergic that I would have had to go to the hospital had I
stayed on the flight," she said.
"Amtrak doesn't allow pets for the safety of the animals and the
guests," she explained.
And might little Bedlam travel with Amtrak in the future, if a
pet car is created?
"We hardly ever receive complaints or requests about pets, so
don't count on it," she said.
...More on Amtrak
Meanwhile, there is a group of Amtrak riders who have formed a
lobby: People against the use of cellular phones on trains.
"We get plenty of calls from people who want cell phones banned
on the trains," the Amtrak spokeswoman told Insider, "but there are
just as many who need to use their phones while riding, so we're
trying to figure out a policy that's fair to everyone."
Amtrak is experimenting with a "quiet" car on an early morning
train between New York and Philadelphia, where riders like to catch
up on their sleep.
So is the car free of cell phones?
"Oh yes," she said. "And there's no talking allowed either. Only
Move over Baskin Robbins! You've got some serious competition
south of the border.
Fortaleza, Brazil, ice cream lovers have a choice of 50 -- that's
right, 50! -- flavors at Sorveteria.
What's more, the tempting selections include tapioca, cashew and
fruits as yet unknown to us Yanks.
After sampling a half-dozen or so little spoonfuls, Insider made
one of life's tougher decisions, settling on cashew ice cream
served atop a huge wafer.
Some hotels go to great lengths -- and some not at all -- when
it comes to turndown services and the nighttime goodies that are
left for guests.
Many hotels stick to the two-mints-on-the- pillow routine; some
upgrade to chocolates and miniatures of brandy, and a very few take
the giant leap forward to two champagne glasses and a magnum of
Insider eagerly anticipated returning to her hotel room one evening
at the Hyatt Regency St. Lucia.
What treats might be there? What surprises lay in store?
Well, she came, she saw, she sampled and she still doesn't
The items on the plate, as shown in the photo above, were not
identified and bore little resemblance to anything familiar.
One tasted sour, the second was rubbery and the third was
Insider raided the minibar and devoured a lip-smacking,
eye-rollingly delicious Snickers bar.
Now that's the stuff dreams are made of.