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Published: July 31st 2006
Union Station, D.C.
The impressive Union Station in Washington.
So, tody we're (back) in Providence, since this city has a few rare, but excellent things:
a) free internet at 1: Starbucks (and I had to try the Mocha frappuccino, I was told, so that's fine) and 2: at the library around the corner from Starbucks.
b) free 2 hour parking up in the old historic parts, even on a weekday after 8 o'clock. Downtown, parking costs from 9 dollars ... and it took me a whole 20 minutes slow walking and checking the map to get here from the parking. Fascinating.
So, what have I now found out from a week in the NE of this vast country?
That the only reason Bostonians might not realize pedestrians are there is because they have to look out for all the crazy bicyclists crossing the roads :-) and that Philly doesn't have any cheese without steak, so unfortunately there was no Philly cheese for me.
But OK, I'll try to start from the beginning.
Washington, District of Columbia. I got to the Union station, realised that the train was 5 (!) hours late, so I was wondering a bit what to do. A very helpful information person told me
Interior Union Station, D.C.
The impressive "corridor" (I've lost the word?) jsut outside Union Station in Washington.
both where to park for free downtown and how to get the station parking ticket for 1 dollar instead of 6! So being, as I am, from the economical parts of Sweden, I was delighted.
Finally the train arrived and I could be reunited with Klas after a month.
We dropped his bag in the car and went to check out the Capital (not the Capitol, that was closed). Unfortunately, because of the delay, everything was closed.
What we did after a while was to head east. I really wanted to go to a small town in Delawaare called Lewes, because the replica of Kalmar Nyckel was there this summer. THis led us to try to find a place to sleep in Annapolis. BAD idea. Very bad. Do not EVER try to get someplace to sleep in Annapolis. Do not do anything in Annapolis, even the gas is incredibly expensive.
And the service at Days Inn, where we eventually ended up after several hours of searching, was the worst I've ever experienced, that not saying a little, since I've been a travel guide in the old Eastern Europe...
But we survived, and sure, the rom was nice, but we'd
Library of Congress
This is a library.
(You know, think of the phrase 'That ain't a knife, THIS is a knife' from Crocodile Dundee!)
realize how nice the night after.
In the morning, we could at least have some kind of breakfast, that is: bagels, philly cheese (yes, I did get it, but not in Philly itself!), peanut butter (not the chunky stuff, of course, you Swedes may compare this to Skippy), a lousy cup of tea and some OK orange juice.
But at least it was breakfast! Having paid the enormous amount of 135 dollars (incl. tax), we definitely thought we deserved it.
We entered Delaware, and found our way to Lewes. This was worth the night before, or at least I thought so. Ever since I started to work at the Maritime museum as a guide in 1998, I've been talking about the Kalmar Nyckel that left Goteborg in 1637 with thieves and scoundrels and others, to head for the new world, to build the colony New Sweden. They did so, build the Fort Christina (named after the queen Kristina), and some other small cities there, around Delaware, in what is now Wilmington.
Several years ago, some enthusiasts in Delaware wanted to rebuild the Kalmar Nyckel, and now, here she was. Please go to their web page and check
On board Kalmar Nyckel
Me discussing knots, hemp ropes and other stuff with the crew members of Kalmar Nyckel.
it out: Kalmar nyckel.org
. If you would happen to end up in the NE of the US, please go visit them, a half day trip is only 60 dollars, and since they are totally dependent on fuding, it's not a lot of money. The crew girls were really helpful, since we didn't have the time to go on a whole trip, unfortunately, they still showed us around on board and we bought the book about the building of the ship at least.
We also went into Wilmington, and that was a surprise: there was nothing for Swedish tourists! Absolutely nothing! The old Fort Christina memorial place is in the black neighbourhood now, and even though there was a nice park there with a lot of shadow, absolutely noone was there!
But we enjoyed ourselves, and then we drove down to the waterfront, which was really nice. I even bought a locally brewed ale there, but I haven't tried it yet, since it was in a 75 cl bottle and Klas doesn't drink! Maybe tonight, the last night of our car trip.
So eventually we went north and found our next motel. I had found a booklet with coupons, and
Detail on Kalmar Nyckel
Lovely little green gargoyle... it wasn't green in the 17th century, the crew admitted.
it turned out that this was very good, we got the rooms a lot cheaper with this booklet! And here's when we got confused.
We ended up at a normal motel, not looking much, but the price was great, about 50 dollars. When we entered the room, we just didn't understand a thing. This room was just as good as the one we payed 135 dollars for the night before? Klas remembered that his Rough guide book said something about motel chains being rather equal in quality, but different in pricing, and this was really true. All our motel rooms this week have been excellent and usually cheaper than hostels!! So we are going to miss these motel rooms when we drop off the car and start hostelling again tomorrow.
Next stop Providence. We had read that HP Lovecraft was buried here, which sounded like a good reason to just stop by. This turned out to be a wonderful idea. If you come to Providence, go to the Visitors centre downtown, they're most helpful, and we got a walking tour map to see all the Lovecraft sites (rather uninteresting most of them, but still), and this walk was great!
Klas on Kalmar Nyckel
He was there, too! Actually, he took most of the pictures, I was too busy talking :-)
We got to see several of the old colonial houses here, and that was good and cool in the shadows of the trees.
But the most fascinating thing was the grave yard, Swan Point
. We did as most people in Europe would, and parked by the gates. We found a map showing more or less where his grave should be. We walked, walked, looked, searched and walked, but could find it. We gave up, returned to our car and then the guard of the yard comes up to us in his car. Were we looking for Lovecraft? Why didn't we say so? "Follow me in your car."
So we entered once more, IN OUR CAR, and finally got to see the tiny stone.
We were then shocked by driving in a grave yard, but we have now understood that this is normal. Why walk when you can drive?
Next day's visit was Boston, so we got out of Providence and managed to get a very cheap, but not that bad, motel on the road to Boston.
So, Boston. I guess we both had rather high expectations, which was bad, since we found the city to be just a
Back of Kalmar Nyckel
In the rear, they've put all the people giving money to the modern project. Seems very American, I guess, to mix old and new in this way, and to put forward the people who have donated money in this fashion. Interesting. (What is 'akterspegel' in English?)
little bit too much. The Boston Commons were a delight, and Columbus park was not bad either, but we had hoped to follow the "Freedom trail", a walk through central, old parts of Boston, but the only guidebook was just too expensive for our budget. Well, priorities, OK, but still. We got to follow the Black heritage trail for free instead, and that wasn't bad. And to eat, the Quincy market was very good, since it has tons of options. But still, I guess the heat wave killed us, so we eventually decided to focus on the outskirts, and to visit Cambridge north of central Boston the day after and to perhaps check out the ships and some viewpoints in the afternoon.
Right. And then to get to Cambridge should have been easy. No problem. Except the signs in Boston weren't not really good. We ended up crossin the river TWICE before going on the right way, and what should have taken about 15 minutes took us about an hour ... so we simply parked the car and got out for a beer in the area around the hostel. That was nice, we got an excellent dinner and I got
Isn't she beautiful?
to taste a couple of strange Massachusetts beers, a Samuel Adams wit bier and a "Sherwood forest archer's ale".
Morning in Cambridge wasn't bad either, even though it's a small place, but we felt academic walking around the university area of Harvard university.
And then north.
We were heading for Salem, but took lunch at a mexican resto in Lexington. Then Klas gets out the guide book and realizes that we just have to make a stop before Salem. In the small place just close to Lexington, an American named Thoreau lived for a while. He's obviously a writer (no, I'd never heard of him ...) that wanted to live far away from the hustle in town ... so I understood why Klas really wanted to go there :-)
Hence, a trip to Walden pond and Thoreau's hut was next stop. This was a great idea, to get out in a forest, it eased our minds very good. SO that's another tip: Walden pond in Concord, between Boston and Salem!
And then Salem itself. I had left my camera somewhere and forgotten it, so I'm afraid I don't have any photos for uploading here, sorry!!
We got the tip
Swedish traces in Wilmington
The road leading to Fort Christina memorandum place :-)
to do the Salem Witch museum even if it's a bit tacky. Well, we can just pass on the following: don't. Unless you're really interested in exactly everything with witches, just don't spend your money here, buy a book or look it up at the library instead. It's badly done, old and torn and totally bereft of history, from a European point of view.
But do visit Salem otherwise, it was a really nice spot with the beautiful ship Friendship and a good atmosphere around the port.
So all this took a lot shorter time than we expected, and hence we returned to the motel south of Boston again, and as I said, returned on our last driving day to Providence, just for Klas to visit the Athenaeum and look at Lovecraft manuscripts (which he managed to do, but not the originals) and for me to write this.
And now, these last words of this entry is written after we have returned the car, without a scratch on it (phew) and managed to get all the way to Chicago.
But the trip is worth another entry, I'll write it in a few days.
Take care of
yourselves, wherever you are!
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