Well, here I am, home from vacation and just burning to tell you about my trip, share some pictures. Unfortunately, that’s just what a personal blogger would be expected to do, and it wouldn’t be Something Entirely Different.
So, instead, I’m going to write a little about why I like staying in bed & breakfasts. Then I’m going to share some pictures.
A bed & breakfast (B&B) isn’t a small hotel, it’s something different and it’s a different kind of experience. When someone stays in a hotel, one of the things they usually value is privacy; a hotel contains a lot of public space, and people generally use their public manners and avoid unnecessary interactions with people. Staff are courteous and approachable, but they are employees, and their role is to provide service to a large number of people.
When you stay in a B&B, you must expect … well, I almost said you must expect less privacy, but that’s not quite right. What you must expect is a little shared intimacy. B&Bs are almost always older private houses that have been converted to small inns. They are furnished with home furnishings, and they feel like private space. Many are run by one person or a couple, and the larger ones only have a few hired staff. You feel like a guest in someone’s home; it’s a social occasion.
If I asked you to picture a hotel room, all of my readers would imagine something pretty similar to what the others have imagined. B&B rooms are all different, but they all look like someone’s bedroom. Here’s a fairly typical B&B room:
And here’s a more upscale B&B room:
Guests in a B&B often encounter one another over breakfast; whether the dining room is furnished with a large dining room table or several smaller tables, it’s still a dining room, not a restaurant. In many B&Bs, guests may also meet over afternoon refreshments; some serve cookies and lemonade, some serve afternoon tea, and some, like the Thornehedge Inn, where I stayed last week, serve wine and cheese.
One morning, during breakfast, we shared the table with a couple from New Hampshire and their daughter and son-in-law. We began chatting with the daughter, who had just graduated from medical school, and was entering her clinical training to practice gerontology. I soon found myself talking with the doctor’s mother, with whom, it turned out, I shared the experience of surviving an aggressive cancer.
One afternoon, over wine, we talked with two women (cousins from Toronto and Quebec) who were traveling together. The Quebecoise cousin and my wife had their professions in common.
And we talked over both wine and breakfast with a couple from Pennsylvania who, like us, love biking, but we talked about a lot of other things, too.
As I’ve mentioned before, Something Entirely Different isn’t a travel blog; so why am I writing about the pleasures of staying in B&Bs? This blog is about love. Staying in B&Bs helps us to meet new people, share experiences, and come together, if only briefly and without risk, in community.
Community is very important to me – most of the essays I’ve had published in conventional print media deal with this concept, either directly or obliquely. And it’s very, very important to the Unified Theory of Everything, which I will be adding to now. (This post isn’t an aside, it’s a segue.)
But first, some vacation pictures.