A Travellerspoint blog

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Boston

14/05/12

rain 20 °C

So here we are in Boston, in the Back Bay area, in trendy Newbury St. This b and b is like a hotel. It's three townhouses joined together. We have a room right at the top away from the street noise.

as soon as we arrived in the early afternoon, we got sorted and went off to take the cheesy Duck Tour. It was raining and cold and grey so not a fab start but the guide was good and the amphibious vehicle was fun. It's a good way to get a snapshot of the place and be orientated. Boston is not laid out the way I expected. It's funny how a 2d map can have so little meaning. I hope we can have a better look around soon. The weather was for ducks so I guess we did the right activity today!

Yesterday may pedometer clocked almost 20,000 steps. Other days it's been around 12,000 or 15,000. This is good due to erratic eating that comes with travelling. We ate at Legal Seafoods tonight. Apparently nothing is older then 2 days and they have strict quality control. Great news for a quality assurance person like moi.

There was a lululemon shop across the road. You know what that means....

I have been enjoying the surprises and having negative preconceptions disproved. For example, I am impressed at the orderly way people here disembark from planes, one row at a time. Same in the theatre yesterday, patrons file out one row at a time and politely wist. No pushing and shoving. I like how nothing is ever a problem. You ask for help and you get more than your sked for. Yesterday at a bakery cafe, the waitress gave us free cookies because we waited for 11 minutes for our order! Talking of cookies, these are sickly sweet doughy numbers and not amenable to dunking into a lovely cup of tea. However, I am not complaining, as my green tea habit has been satisfied 100% of the time and I don't dunk into green tea.

Boston will be explored and further reports made tomorrow or the day after.

Posted by fay_bee 18:01 Comments (2)

Boston

15/05/12

all seasons in one day 18 °C

Today, we walked the Freedom Trail. This is a 8km trail through 16 famous landmarks in Boston. We saw lots of buildings and locations that are significant in American history: Bunker Hill, the State houses, Paul Revere's house, the USS Constitution along with some lovely cobbled streets and old houses with permanently lit gaslamps in the streets. The Freedom Trail took us about 5-6hours with a couple of refreshment stops. The old (very old) burial grounds were quite fascinating. Some of the graves were dated as old as the 1600s. I suppose I am more educated now about American history; it's different when you are actually in a place. The history becomes alive and more relevant.

Strange thing -weather forecasts. The told us 61C (16C) and chance of rain, however, I could easily have walked around in a T-shirt for part of today. It varied a lot: windy, drizzly, sunny, overcast.

We took the train back from Charlestwon to Back Bay. My legs are pretty tired (so glad I have good shoes!)

We had a quick look in the Prudential Center which as a very nice shopping mall and food hall. We bought some food to augment brekfast tomorrow. The breakfast component of this B&B is less than satisfactory so we had to buy some fruit and yoghurts today. We also went into CVS (a pharmacy that sells heaps of non-pharmacy things like toys and food). I like this place. Being a bit of a toiletries addict and pharmacy lover I could have spent ages browsing around. There is a stunning array of supplements and things to treat any imagined malady. Similarly, in the supermarket, the range and variety of foods is overwhelming (and this was not even a big supermarket). If I lived here and had to do a weekly shop, I am sure it would take me 2-3hrs. Just choosing which cheese to buy would take 15 mins!!! There were 3 types of pre-cooked bacon in boxes (not refrigerated). Yes you read that right people, pre-cooked bacon in a box.

Today my pedometer was about 16,000 steps.

If there is anything any readers woud like to ask/know, please write a comment. Sometimes I think my blogs are too bland. But I suppose it's not like the Balkans last year!

Until tomorrow!

Posted by fay_bee 14:30 Comments (1)

A few snaps from Chicago

The Bean Sculpture
The skyline with me and Paul

Posted by fay_bee 15:21 Comments (0)

Boston

16/05/12

semi-overcast 20 °C

Day 2 in Boston and I'm glad to report that the BeeGees have exited my head and stopped singing "Massachusetts". Just like the Blues Brothers kindly left my brain when we left Chicago. Tomorrow is New York and as we all know, this city has the most songs written about it. It is true that my Brain is 70% lyrics.

Breakfast is so pathetic at this establishment here in Newbury St that we brought our own and ate at their tables. Fruit and yoghurt should be de rigueur as far as I am concerned.

We had a fun day taking tours. First we took the train to Harvard university. ("Hahvad") since we have learnt that Bostonians don't pronounce their Rs. The tour was led by a girl in her 3rd year. She was a good tour guide with lots of anecdotes and facts. it's a good thing we didn't stay with this fuddy duddy old man who wanted to take us on a tour. I thought he looked dodgy and anyway he was dead boring. Whilst we were led around the campus, we got to see and appreciate the history and notable alumni, but unfortunately we were not allowed into any buildings. The campus feels smallish and more crowded but is somehow still so stately and grand. We learned how much it costs to go to Harvard and general student life and what they are offered.

Lunch was had a flat patties, a burger place.

Next we took the train to MIT to keep up the theme of campus tours. We both agreed that this felt more like a university we were used to. it was old and modern, seemed to have better student life. The sports amenties are amazing. If I went there to study, it would be hard to tear myself away from all the FREE fitness facilities and activities. MIT students have a lovely campus too, it includes sculptures like Henry Moore. Unlike Harvard we were able to walk the corridors and peer into class rooms and labs. So we got a better idea of the place.

My pedometer stopped counting at around 4000 today. Perhaps he is as tired as I am? This evening, we are going to join another tour group. This time the ghosts of Boston. It starts at one of the burial grounds near here. I hope to get scared out of my wits. I am not sleeping anyway, so no chance of nightmares for me!

We have a few hours left in Boston tomorrow morning, after which we take a 4h Amtrak ride to The Big Apple. We are staying in an apartment studio. No idea if there is wifi so there may be a pause in this blog.

So who will sing in my head tomorrow? Grace Jones, Frank Sinatra or Alicia Keys?

Posted by fay_bee 15:06 Comments (3)

Boston / NYC

17/05/12

semi-overcast 22 °C

Last night we went on the ghost tours of Boston. It was a small group, us and a father with his 2 daughters from San Diego. I don't know if this is a coincidence but we are come across a lot of people from San Diego on this trip so far.
Anyway, again we had a great guide. She was a very engaging story telling, really able to suck you in and engage your full attention. I desperately wanted to see a ghost or ghoul or specter, anything! Straining my eyes into the darkness of the central burial ground and the Boston common where thousands of bodies are buried. Thousands. But no, nothing revealed itself to me. Nevertheless, we heard some rather creepy stories. Murdered doctors, grave robbers, the Boston strangler, Mary Dyer and other pioneer women who were hanged on Boston common.... We went into the Omni Parker hotel were we saw the room in which JFK proclaimed at age 5 that he would be president one day, and later proposed to Jackie. Also saw a fabulously creepy mirror into which Charles Dickens read his Christmas Carol put aloud to give voice to the characters. In this hotel Ho Chi Minh was a pastry cook! At the athanaeum, we heard about the highwayman who repented and was forgiven by a brave man who challenged him unarmed. The highwayman wrote his memoirs and asked that upon his death he have his writings bound in covers made of his own skin. One book is in this private library, the other has been lost.
Boston at night is really good.

This morning we took the Amtrak to NYC. We passed through Rhode Island and Connecticut. Travel is the best geography lesson you can have. I truly love the houses in this part of the country. The wood cladding and steep roofs. I like the forests and so many waterways (with water in it, unlike Australia where a creek is a dry shallow divet in the ground). The scenery is like a balm to my eyes.
The journey was an easy 4hrs. At Penn St station, it was like being in Hong Kong, people everywhere in some kind of organized chaos. Pick an exit, any exit! A short ride to east village by taxi, and we arrived at our lovely arty studio apartment. The owners are artists and the place is FULL of art and books.... I did not know this when I booked so this is a bonus!
We just had to go stock up for breakfast at the Wholefoods Supermarket a few blocks away. OMG. This particular store of the chain covers a whole block and is 2 storeys high. A simple shopping list becomes a nightmare for the indecisive types. My bug-eyed, bird neck action was in max mode. I'm talking about looking at everything in all directions with my eyes on stalks. In Australia not many people even know what kale is. I've recently started making kale chips at home (thanks to a friend's introduction to this taste delight), but over here you can buy kale chips in all sorts of flavours. There were 2 shelves of the stuff!
There are tiny shops I can only glimpse into as I walk by... I feel like I am holding up ten thousand people behind me if I stop to window shop. Everything is so enticing and curious and different. Do these people know how lucky they are?!
We ate evening meal at a middle eastern cafe, serving hummus, pita and falafels etc.
Now back in the apartment, I wonder if I'll sleep in the city that never sleeps. I will have Morcheeba to keep me company. She's singing her New York themed song to me. I will be pondering the question, what do New York couples fight about? With the street just below, I might find out if anyone outside has a barney.

Posted by fay_bee 19:24 Comments (0)

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