review

Joyce-Collingwood Precinct – a brief history

Welcome to my hood. This is Joyce-Collingwood. I’m still not used to the long version of the Skytrain station name. I still just call it Joyce Station. However, Collingwood is the official name of the neighbourhood, hence the hyphenated name.

Joyce Collingwood 3D model capture

Well before I was ever around, this area of Collingwood was a lake where the Musqueam nation used to hunt and gather food. When colonial settlement happened, European settlers found that they could drain the lake and use the fertile soil for farming. In 1891, the Interurban tram opened along the very same alignment as today’s SkyTrain. The Interurban brought people, housing and businesses into the area.

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Marriott Copley Place Boston

For the conference portion of my stay in Boston, we were in the Marriott Copley Place Boston.  It’s in the middle of the Back Bay area of downtown Boston.  It’s a very convenient location.

There are two shopping centres connected into the hotel.  Copley Place is built directly into the hotel and the Prudential Center is accessible by an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Huntington Avenue.  A Shaw’s Supermarket is directly across the street.  That’s where I got some yogurt and fruit for my breakfast.  More importantly, it’s where I bought my NyQuil for my cold and cough.

The rooms were what you expect of a Marriott.  Everything was clean and comfortable in my room.  My only beef is that the side of the bed near the night table is all caved in after lots of people sitting up and watching TV in bed.  So I had to sleep on the outside of the bed away from the night table.  Otherwise, my head would be lower than my feet when I lay down.

beds in my room at the Marriott Copley Place

I should add, though, that one of my coworkers had dirty towels in her room when she arrived.  She asked for a new room and promptly got one.

Normally at the Marriott Copley Place, wired internet is complimentary and wireless internet costs ~US$14 a night.  Thankfully, wireless internet was complimentary for all guests who were registered with our conference.  That was a godsend because I didn’t want to pay for roaming charges or did I want to go into the lobby just use the Internet.

hotel room desk

On the third floor were the business center, pool and fitness centre.  I brought my swimming trunks in the hopes of trying out the pool.  However, because I came down with my cold on my first full day in Boston, I was in no shape to hit the pool.

Chair in hotel room

In terms of food nearby, we did venture out a little, but ended up going to the Cheesecake Factory twice during our stay.  Not exactly a unique place to have a meal, but at least you know what you are getting.  One time, on my own, I ventured out to a restaurant called the Parish Cafe. It was recommended on my Lonely Planet Boston City Guide app for the Back Bay area.

Night view from the hotel room

In terms of public transit, there are two Green Line stations within walking distance – Prudential and Copley stations.  An Orange Line stop can be found if you walk through Copley Place and exit on the other end at Dartmouth Street.  There, you will find Back Bay Station.  That’s where I picked up my Charlie Card.

So the Marriott Copley Place was great to stay for its central location.  Boston is a great walking town, so nothing is too far out of reach if you are willing to walk a little.  However, the nightly rate is not for the budget crowd.  For work, it was great, but I probably would never come here on personal travels unless there was a really good deal.

the lobby escalators of the Boston Marriott Copley Place

my modo experiences so far – part 1

Now to be fair to the other car share programs in Vancouver, I should give you my review of the other car share program that I have used – modo.  Modo is formerly known as the Co-operative Auto Network.  They updated the look and name just this year.

Modo is a more set car sharing program.  The co-op has vehicles across Metro Vancouver.  The coverage area of Modo is quite large in comparison to car2go, for example.  You also have your choice of different vehicles.  If you really needed a flat-bed truck or a minivan, you could book one.  You just better hope the location of the vehicle is close to you.

First of all, Modo is a co-operative.  That means you can purchase a refundable share of $500 to become a voting member.  Rates are cheaper this way ($3/hr and a 15¢ to 40¢ per km charge) and you get other perks (TransLink Employee Pass Rate, for example).  You can also sign up for the casual membership which charges a non-refundable $50 annual fee.  However, rates are higher at $7.50/hr with this membership option.

All vehicles must be booked via phone before taking the vehicle.  So you have to call their number, go through the typical voice mail system, and find your way to a person on the other end for booking.  I’m sure after doing this many times, you could probably memorize the number sequence to go directly to booking with an operator.

Modo has fixed parking locations across town.  So wherever you pick up the vehicle, it must be returned to the same spot.  If the spot is a permit spot, then anywhere along that block in the permit zone should suffice for returning the vehicle.  When you book the vehicle, you book it for a set amount of time.  Modo highly recommends that you book with at least a half hour more to spare at the end.  If your trip involves the border or a ferry, they recommend a good one or two hour cushion.  If you finish your rental early, you can always call modo and inform them.  That way, you don’t get charged for the time you didn’t use the car.

modo's fiat 500

Modo does require an ICBC driver record check just like car2go.  There are also some other fees.  I have a casual membership, so I had to pay the $50 annual fee.  I also paid $30 annual fee into the drivers’ insurance pool.  The credit card I use for Modo doesn’t have rental insurance as a built-in feature; otherwise, I wouldn’t have to pay this fee.

When I signed up, I did most of this in person at the downtown office on Granville Street.  I was required to read the very lengthy, but I suppose necessary, orientation guide.  There was also a small online quiz to check if you truly read the guide or not.  I had signed up before the name change, so I’m not sure if all the procedures are the same as they were before.   A quick glance of the current site suggests the sign up procedure has been streamlined, which is good.  I may have signed up for the co-operative earlier if it wasn’t for all the hoops to jump through.  It looks better now.

Next time, I’ll share some of my actual driving experiences with Modo.