Oh hey! I haven't been around for a while because I've had the immense privilege of doing some travelling for work and pleasure over the last couple of weeks, my places of destination? Boston and New York! As you may have guessed this post covers Boston, we'll get to New York later in the week.
Boston architecture is something else, there is clearly a strong European influence but with American scale thrown in for good measure. Red brick and intricate detail are the go-to architectural features, you spend a lot of your time with your neck craned looking up at the roofs, door and window edging, brickwork and elaborate window box displays.
Boston common where the above swan boats can be found is a treat, to take a ride on one of these bad boys was only a couple of dollars and remarkably they are propelled by just one person pedalling... typically a teenage girl who looked as if she had never seen carbs let alone ever eaten any. Impressive.
Boston has a lot of energy to it, street performances bring a lot of colour and music to the atmosphere especially around Quincy Market, support for baseball team the Red Sox is clear which ever way you turn as every third person is wearing some item of clothing with their logo on it.
The Christmas shop in Quincy Market was a find, from the outside it doesn't look like much but upstairs it goes on for miles around corner after corner. Pictured above is the Cocoa Cola section (yes you read that right) my other favourites included the LGBT ornaments and the American snacks sections. I ended buying a hotdog, packet of fries and gherkin ornaments for our tree I can't wait to have them take pride of place.
The Seaport District was an area I didn't have time to explore too much but I've heard the seafood restaurants are immense (I'm not a fan of seafood so you'll have to take my friend Clare's word for it), what I did love in the area was the turquoise colour of the water and the hundreds upon hundreds of jellyfish bobbing about. If we hadn't had meetings to get to I would have stood there watching them for hours, they're not stingers apparently but I'm not sure I would want to get in the water with them.
We had to go to Salem, the prospect of witch related tourist tat was too great an opportunity for us to miss out on. Following some Trip Advisor reviews we decided to take the ferry rather than the bus, the cost was an eye-watering $45 but it was a nice day so we thought we would give it a whirl.
Salem was a touch disappointing to be perfectly honest with you. It was like a very low budget Totnes or Glastonbury without any good tat and a lot of completely vague, over-hyped museums. As seems to be the way in America one of the dungeons that had actually held the accused witches got concreted over and an office block was built over the top of it so there are no remaining artefacts of the era of witch trials. I say that but we were invited to touch a 300 year old beam that had come from the dungeon. 300 year old beams don't have quite the same gravitas when you come from a city that has a Roman wall running through it but hey ho it was a good effort.
Good things about Salem? The shop sign below was pretty good and we found a cafe called Life Alive which sold the best vegan food I have ever tasted, if I could eat there every day I would totally convert to veganism and I wouldn't look back.
The thrift shopping was pretty good, I didn't but should have purchased the photo above, because lets be honest that is Sam and I in twenty or thirty years (perhaps not even that long...).
The tat shopping game was strong, with plenty of lobster themed items to buy. My favourite would have to be this lobster claw oven glove, but the lobster claw pens I bought were also a highlight. Clare was blown away by the sale on in the Yankee Candle shop, so much so she had to by another suitcase to accommodate her buys, airport security must have freaked out when they saw that bag go through the x-ray!
There is a lot to recommend about Boston and I realise this post has been rambling on for some time now so here is a summary:
- Visit Quincy Market to soak up the atmosphere, do some shopping and have a beer, you can also pick up the freedom trail here which takes you on a walking tour around the city. I didn't get time to do this but if I ever go back it will be one of the first things I do
- Get a 7-day Charlie Ticket for the subway even if you're just there for a couple of days it will save you a lot of money
- Visit Harvard University, it's only a few stops away on the red line from the centre of Boston and it's quite nice to poke around where the world's brightest and best go to learn. A word of warning however, there is a statue which tourists take their photo with touching the foot of it for good luck. Don't touch that foot, students wee on it as a prank.
- On your way to Harvard University get off the subway at Central and grab food or a smoothie from Life Alive (not the chai one though, Clare got it to try and be healthy and it tasted rough, any of the others are fine though)
- Go to Salem but don't have high expectations, if budget is an issue get the bus with your Charlie ticket rather than shelling out for the ferry
- Go up the Prudential Tower (accessed via the Prudential Mall) to see views like the one below. We watched a rain storm move towards us which was followed by an amazing sunset.
So that was my trip to Boston in a nutshell, it was my first visit to the East Coast of America and I liked it a lot. I suspect I'm more of a West Coast girl but perhaps I should go back to California to double check...