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My first trip of 2017 involved both people and places that I am quite fond of along with a method of transportation that I find very enjoyable.

For me, an outing on Amtrak that is four hours or less is one of the best ways to travel. You don’t have to deal with TSA, the departure and drop-off in the city is right below the radio station, the ticket is usually relatively inexpensive and the trip is pretty comfortable. Amtrak offers decent Wi-Fi free-of-charge, you’re allowed multiple carry-on baggage items and it’s not a hassle to bring food or drink with you on the train, especially given that you’re departing from Penn Station (Don Pepi’s is my go-to and in my opinion, makes one of the best quintessential NY Deli sandwiches in the city).

With that, I grabbed my normal order (2 eggs on a wrap, prosciutto and mozzarella on a roll, bottle of water, small coffee) and walked over to check-in. Amtrak offers e-tickets via an app but I opted for the antiquated paper ticket. Thanks to a complimentary upgrade, I rode in business class on the trip; not the same as a first class plane upgrade. The seats are a bit bigger and more comfortable but not measurably more than coach. You also receive free non-alcoholic beverages with the upgrade, a note I found out after I made my purchase at Don Pepi’s.

My itinerary started at Penn and ended for Friday in New London, Connecticut. Then I hopped a ride to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville to spend the evening, see a few old friends and naturally, lose a bit of money. To be honest, the only thing I left the property upset about was that for my second consecutive trip, I failed to dine at Todd English’s Tuscany, my favorite restaurant in the resort.

Peak-boughieness right now on this blog.

Caught a Connecticut vibe this weekend. @mohegansun, the real MVP.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Saturday a car trudged through the snow and brought me back to the train station, where I rode Amtrak up to the Kingston, Rhode Island station. An Uber brought me across the Pell Bridge to Newport where Cumulus Media was having its annual holiday party.

This party is fantastic for a number of reasons: it’s scheduled after the craziness of the holiday season, it’s held in the Newport Marriott which is gorgeous (just like the rest of that beautiful town), the food is delicious (I love seafood) and most importantly, the crowd is lovely.


A different Uber brought me back to the train station on Sunday morning and I encountered perhaps the most New England Uber experience ever. It had stopped snowing at this point but there is almost no one on the roads; some areas are plowed more than others. I notice there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on the way and I could really go for one of their coffees (especially given the alternative was to buy one aboard the train; no offense Amtrak). I ask the driver if he’ll stop and he obliges. I then inquire if he wants anything.

“Yeah, you know what? I could go for a coffee,” he responded. “Medium dark, no sugar. Team work, getting the job done.”

You’re damn right. And just like the other people, places and methods of transportation I encountered over the weekend, what’s not to enjoy about that?

I wanted to see more than one date on Coldplay’s “A Head Full Of Dreams” tour. I was looking for a reason to travel back up I-95 to Rhode Island. And, I had never been to Gillette Stadium before.

So last weekend on Saturday, the last Saturday of July, I booked a train at midnight to Providence. I then reserved a one-way rental car from the T.F. Green Airport to Manhattan for Sunday. Then, via the Hotwire app, I grabbed a room at The Omni in downtown Providence.


A few hours of sleep, some quick packing and a shower later and I was on the subway to Penn Station and off to Southern New England for a quick but exciting jaunt.

I arrived before 11 a.m. to a sun-soaked downtown Providence. The weather was simply fantastic; so much so that I had to stop and document the moment as I walked from the train station to my hotel.


After dropping off my bags, I walked from the hotel to the Providence Place Mall, which is actually connected to The Omni via a walk-way. Like other shopping centers, the mall is a bit antiquated (i.e. the H&M does not sell men’s clothing) but I welcomed a trip in to suburbia, even if only for an hour or so.

I snagged a new Yankees snapback, a couple jackets from Zara and a venti coffee from the Starbucks kiosk before returning to The Omni and checking in to my room. Wait, I have a fridge? Perfect. Even if for only 24 hours, one of my go-to moves when traveling is stocking up on essentials from a grocery store or convenience mart for my room so that I’m not left to pay coffee house or room service prices the following day.

But before I addressed that, I dressed in to my workout clothes and went for a fantastic five mile run downtown – through the square, up College Hill and across the campus of Brown University, over to the Newport Ferry and back.

I then grabbed those essentials from CVS (no grocery store downtown!) and showered. My colleague Barbi Jo picked me up around 4 and we made the 40 minute drive up to Foxborough. We parked and walk to “Patriot Place,” the surrounding area outside of the stadium which is lined with outdoor shopping, bars and restaurants. Barbi and I met Jess (and Jess) inside Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar and Grill.”

Again, a bit of suburbia but I didn’t mind one bit. We chatted, drank and eventually grabbed a table so we could eat before heading inside Gillette for the concert.

The lineup: Foxes (she sang on Zedd’s “Clarity” and won a GRAMMY for it), Alessia Cara (who is fantastic) followed by Coldplay a little after 9 pm. We made our way to the gate and attempted to get in but ran in to a small issue: Barbi’s purse BARELY didn’t fit inside this grey container that security provides you, so they wouldn’t allow her inside.

So, back to the car, dropped off some belongings and back to the gate.

Now inside, we grabbed our light-up wristbands and “LOVE” buttons and walked up to the 300 level where we were seated. As we attempted to walk around the upper bowl of the stadium we were met again by security. A portion of the stadium behind the stage was blocked off until the first three songs of the set were finished due to (spoiler alert) Coldplay’s fireworks. The issue was that this happened about 20 minutes before they took the stage and with no warning. So we either wait in place or walk all the way around the other part of this massive football stadium, probably not reaching our seats until the third song anyways.

Then our fortunes, albeit briefly, changed. We were approached by Live Nation and told that they were upgrading people from the 300 level to unsold floor seats.

Boom.

We grabbed our new tickets and wristbands and flew downstairs just in time for the opening notes of “A Head Full of Dreams.”


The only other issue: by the time we reached our seats and attempted to buy drinks, alcohol sales were cut off. It was only 9:30 and Coldplay had just taken the stage!

Whatever. Beautiful night, fantastic concert and a lovely impromptu after-party/night cap at Bar Louie in Patriot Place all occurred before I retired to my room in Providence around 2 am.

The next morning, I checked out of my hotel at 11 am and was on the go non-stop. I took an Uber to the airport, picked up my rental, drove to Eli’s On The Hill in Branford to grab lunch with my colleague Bartley, hit up both the Clinton Crossings Outlets and Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk and visited a friend in Bronxville before dropping off the car and plopping on my couch around 9:30 am.

It was a busy weekend, which probably explains why I am writing this, a week later, in the midst of a lazy Saturday on the aforementioned couch.

There are a number of goals I’ve set for 2016; two include writing more for this blog and posting higher quality and quantity to social media, specifically Instagram. So Friday night, when I was in the studio I decided to take a second and enjoy the view.


Post-show Friday turned from a late night to an early morning. I retreated to the Upper West Side, only to head back down to Penn Station a few hours later as I had a train to catch for Providence, R.I. I love many things about Amtrak, including but not limited to the view.


My radio show has aired in Providence since 2009 and has always done well there. This certainly has endeared me to the area. Nothing but love for the Ocean State.


Oh – so I traveled up to Rhode Island for the Cumulus Providence Holiday Party. I liked that it was on a Saturday and after the craziness of Christmas and New Year’s. The party was held in scenic Newport, a town I had never visited. Thankfully my colleague Jay (who usually is with me covering award shows) picked me up from the train station and showed me around. It doesn’t matter what time of year – witnessing something as powerful as the Atlantic Ocean in person is pretty spectacular.


Extra point for me because the caption of that post read, “I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean.” Love DNCE. Anyways, Saturday night in Newport was much fun. But alas, another early morning and early train ride awaited me. Returning to the greatest city in the world makes it all worth it though.

In a radio interview to promote his show at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI on May 4, Usher all but avoided directly answering a question by 92 PRO-FM’s Jessica Schiano on whether he and Rihanna were involved romantically.

(FF to 2:43)
“I’m not on the phone to dispel anything,” responded the singer when Schiano asked him if he was hanging out with someone whose name “rhymed with Rihanna.” “You know, artists, we have friends… people definitely see something that might not always be what you think it is.”

Rumors began swirling that the R&B superstars were an item after the two were allegedly spotted together at the Coachella festival in California. A couple of days later, the two were allegedly spotted in New York on a date.

Usher’s “OMG Tour” ends June 1 in Los Angeles. Rihanna kicks off her summer long trek with supporting act Cee Lo Green on June 4 in Baltimore.