Spent the last week going round Boston. Entertaining and diverse city. Also easy to escape so the beautiful coastline both North and South were just waiting to be discovered.
Arrive Boston early evening, wander slightly aimlessly looking for the hostel. Asked 7 people where the road was until being rescued by a very nice woman who pointed up at a sign about 30 feet away and said "you're here" Doh. Crashed onto bed in ok hostel. Joined in a pathetic scramble for beds in our room. All asigned bed numbers which someone weeks ago had decided to ignore. For the rest of the week, everytime someone came in the room to find someone in there bed, they started muttering. Left a few to fight it out when 2 people wanted the same bed. Pretty sure we got the blame having been there the longest. Always fun to create chaos then split before the scraps start.
Took the obvious choice of going to visit a crappy little town full of gift shops. Being both fans of the Crucible (Sam has actually read the book, I just liked Daniel Day Lewis in the film) we hopped on the train to Salem. Went through a well presented but small and taacky exhibit in the Witches Dungeon. Treated to a reading from part of the original court transcipts (Good acting, but giving me Daniel Day Lewis and a bag of popcorn would have gone down better) followed by a few dungeons with sad looking dummies in. Rest of the town was gift shops and cafes, hundreds of them. Whopee. Can only see so many and they virtually all sold the same stuff. Overheard one woman being given her fortune. Her man was apparently just scared of commitment but if she brought a certain book, he'd change. Poor dilusional sod. Highlight of the day was finding a couple of Bat T-Shirts. Can never have too many.
Having spent the previous day staring at plastic witches, we opted for something slightly more intellectual. Nowhere better than the most prestigeous university in the United States (and the riches organisation outside the church) Harvard. Fabulous campus, should have gone there. Few more tourists than Sheffield (not sure why) but stunningly beautiful buildings and a really nice atmosphere. Despite being a Saturday and the place buzzing with tourists, you can still feel the vibe, knowledge is there to be savoured, and the best in the world come here to savour it.
We hooked onto a tour given by 2 current students and were treated to lots on interesting stories about the rivalries between the town and Uni, the reasons being the dedication of some of the buildings and rituals the students perform before exams. (running round screaming butt naked - sophisticated lot)
Also popped into MIT on way back. Also full of the brightest minds in the country, but with some of the uggliest buildings on the planet. Concrete monstrosities that should have been condemmed in the 70's.
Just to ensure our brains didn't get to overwelmed by this amazing seat of learning, and just to confirm our place in the grand scheme, we sat on the steps of Harvard Library with all the other tourists watching a daft dog chasing a ball for half a hour. Dog funny, brain happy.
Day on the beach to recover. Sadly didn't match up to my now very high expectations. I need warm water, crashing surf to play in and soft, golden sand. I also want sun which only came in short bursts slowly clearing away the fog. Beach looked a bit eerie in the fog. Just remember suddenly looking up and Boston had emerged out the gloom. Didn't even realise we were that close.
Highlight of the day came in the evening when we promised ourselves a good dessert. Cheesecake Factory, one of those places everyone raves about, is a large restuarant chain spread across the US. No space to eat real food (except the free bread that we pigs couldn't help but say yes to - stupid mistake) so went straight for the cheesecake. Chocolake Cake base, Chocolate Moose, Raspberry swirled in the Chocolate Cheescake filling and an enormous chocolate truffle on top, all serves with a very generous pile of whipped cream. Mouth watereing just thinking about it. Given a huge piece, far more than most people, (apart from Americans) could eat. Tasted divine. Chocolate heaven, could taste every single calorie. Couldn't finish it, nearly broke my heart to leave the last chunk. Going back when we get to New York.
The Freedom Trail - The trail around Boston which highlights the main points of interest in the beginning of the American Revolution. The war they started against the English. Couldn't help but feel some sympathy for our lot. They may have been taxing the British settlers calling themselves Americans without giving them any representation, but I'm sure they had their reasons. Must have been more to it. Will check in one of Dad's books when I get back.
Despite not being that fussed about the history, the trail was great. Wound its way through Boston's parks and back streets giving another side to Boston that we'd previously missed sticking to the main center. Lots of spectacular and interesting architecture to enjoy, though just till the midday sun got too much and out complaining stomachs took over. Then it was hiding in this Library to use the net and round the shops again.
Another day by the beach, this time half way to Cape Cod. The intention was to get the train down to Plymouth then hopefully jump on a bus or ferry down to the really pretty bits further south. No buses, not many trains either. 8 hours in a tiny town with 20 gift shops, 10 cafes and no easily accesible sandy beach. Tried asking in the tourist information centre where we could walk. "Walk? umm... you want to walk to something, what do you want to walk to?" Had to bite tongue not to shout, "we don't know you idiot, why do you think we asked you". The idea of walking anywhere is alien to these people. The drive to a place, eat a donut, visit the gift shop, eat at mcdonalds followed by another donut then move on to the next place. Eventually sent on a long walk up a pleasant little valley. Took us 10 minutes. Ah well, few more gift shops then. Nice day by the sea.
Finally we actually walk in a museum. The JFK Museum and Library. Fascinating, celebrating his life and everything he, and his brother have achieved. A section of history that is really interesting, and you don't feel guilty to be English.
Pub now, then on to Washington DC.
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