I now get what people mean when they say fall is beautiful in New England. With the wooden houses perched on hills surrounded by fall foliage – trees ablaze with reds and ambers and yellow fields, it is such a pretty place.
The air also has a stillness to it, and with all the Halloween decorations hung from lamp-posts and in store windows, I can totally understand the undercurrent of New England covens and witchcraft. After all, the town of Salem is just 40km further up the road.
I left Lisbon at 12:15pm, getting in to Zurich at 3:30pm and after buying Swiss chocolate in the airport (they practically forced me), I left Zurich at 5:30pm or 12:30pm Boston time, giving me a case of deja vu, or the early part of Groundhog Day – without the snow or groundhog.
My flight was pretty uneventful except for the Boston native I was sitting with who spent the entire flight talking about his girlfriend and drinking aeroplane sized red wine bottles (2 glasses to a bottle) like he was responsible for finishing the entire plane’s supply. Where that got interesting for me was when he decided to supplement an already full glass with more wine, resulting in spilling it all over his seat, himself and my pants.
Then as he was getting off the plane thrust a handful of multi-denominational currency at me (I declined) – presumably guilt money for laundry expenses.
I am staying at the HI Hostel in Stuart St, near Chinatown in central Boston. It’s pretty much like staying at a hotel except I have another 3 girls in my room and bunk beds. They provide free breakfast, free highspeed wifi and a 24 hr reception and everything is clean and light. Other accommodation options in Boston were a little pricey when I was doing my research, so for the convenience and location, I would definitely stay here again.
Explaining the Boston accent – From the Boston Globe newspaper article
How we tok
We don’t speak English. We speak whatever they brought over here from East Anglia in 1630. The Bawstin accent is basically the broad A and the dropped R, which we add to words ending in A – pahster, Cuber, soder. For the broad A, just open your mouth and say ”ah,” like the docta says. So car is cah, park is pahk. If you want to talk like the mayah, repeat after me: ”My ahnt takes her bahth at hahpast foah.
Yesterday I took the ‘T’ up to Cambridge, right into Harvard Square, where I took the Harvhard tour, run by second year Harvard students. I found out last night on the drive into Boston from the airport that Boston has over 290 higher education colleges, and the population of 3 million swells to 7 million when school is in session.
The tour was really good, with the guide giving us the history of the school and the different buildings. Apparently the trick to becoming a successful and wealthy Harvard is not to graduate. Former non graduated Harvard students include: Bill Gates, Matt Damon, Mark Zuckerberg (who left to pursue Facebook after launching it from Harvard’s dormitory rooms) and Frank Gehry among others.
Another bizarre fact is that Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones were roomed together in their first year and then requested to room together for the remaining 3 years they attended Harvard. All the buildings you see below are actually first year student dorms, other year’s lodgings are not in the central square, but are close by.
I then spent the afternoon wandering around the bookshops and cafes of Cambridge and then took the T (subway) to Newbury street; a mile long street lined with historic 19th-century brownstones that contain hundreds of shops and restaurants, with the lower numbered end containing the most expensive shops. Obviously I walked to the other end to replace my wine soaked pants.
After another broken nights sleep – a girl decided TO TURN ON THE LIGHT! IN A DORM! Which aside from being a cardinal sin when hosteling, was at 5am as she wanted to find her “favorite shirt in the bottom of her suitcase”.
Needless to say she got etiquette lessons pretty quickly from the girl closest to the ceiling (fluorescent light tube) on the top bunk, but too late for me to pretend my eyeballs hadn’t just been seared awake.
After free waffles at the hostel I walked down into South Boston to the SOWA Sunday market and looked through the vintage and handcraft stalls. If I wasn’t traveling with a pack I would have got some posters to frame, but finding a post office to send them back was a little more than I could manage on a weekend (or with yet another early morning).
They had food trucks at the market which are a major industry in Boston with over 300 of them in the city, providing cheapish and fantastic food at markets, near colleges and on streets downtown. Some of my lunch options on Sunday were paris crepes, super dogs, frozen hoagies, Roxy’s grilled cheese, a fugu truck, the bacon truck, mobile food fired pizza, and a whoopie pie truck.
For dinner I had my first lobster roll in North Boston. Who could go past a sign proclaiming it was wicked good? (I spent my whole time in Boston saying everything in a Boston accent, and pretty much just soaked in the accents of people speaking while on the T).
It was actually better than I had imagined; brioche type bun, mayo, lobster, potato chips as standard on the side. Lobster isn’t as rich as crayfish, and its a bit more fishy tasting than prawns, but definitely not fish. I think my roll cost $8.
I really really liked Boston. It was an easy city to get around, and it was (obviously) less hectic than NYC but is still vibrant, and has an amazing history. Thanks to a large student population, it is also less expensive to eat in than NYC and has heaps of cafes, bookstores, shopping and entertainment options. The city seemed sports mad and everyone seemed pretty united about the Red Sox chances this year. Boston is definitely a city I would visit again with more time – explore the it’s history a bit more, the Peabody, the Boston tea party and the JFK museum are on my agenda for next time. I was actually sorry to leave, but NYC was waiting.