Footnotes to the East Coast: Part 3 - Boston

Boston had a weird impact on me. I knew I was basically catching it at a perfect time of year (or close to) in early summer, but still I was overwhelmed (at a minimum I was at least regularly whelmed) at how great the city was.

I understand it gets cold and miserable, but when it isn't it's a great city to walk around and take in. Maybe it was the differences to New York that stood out, like the old town with narrow streets, or the fact everything wasn't just a grid layout. It just felt good.

(Actually, something I probably should clarify, I know this might have made it sound like I didn’t like New York - that couldn't be further from the truth. New York was excellent, it was just that New York also had lots of opportunities for me to point out things that might be perceived as negative. Also, tied to the above, the nice grid layout in New York makes it super easy to get around and find places.
It's just Boston felt different and it resonated with me)

So with that, let’s get into some stuff about Boston (I guess…)

  • People say that the people in New York are rude (which might be true, I'm not sure I ever really met people from New York), but it's really just the people from the Upper East Coast in general.
    The thing is, that people tend to say it like it is a bad thing, while the opposite is actually true. Being nice to people is great, but it needs to be in moderation (wait, what?) and more at certain times and places. It's totally acceptable to not be out-of-your-way nice to people when walking along the street. When walking along the street everyone should be moving along quickly and staying out of the way, if people aren't then it's fine to let them know they are in the wrong. People in Boston are good at that (as it turns out people in London are too and it's great).

  • And if you like walking, then Boston has some organised(ish) walking you can do - the Freedom Trail. What better way to take in years of American history by following a red brick line around the city?
    It is a little weird that it basically starts in a graveyard, but I guess that’s what all history kind of winds down to. Plus, if you don’t go to the cemetery you won’t get to see John Hancock’s awesome grave. Which is cool in person and in provided guidebooks:


  • The Freedom Trail also helps show off that Boston is really old. Like, way older than New Zealand. Then again, I hadn’t yet been to Europe, which it turns out is even older again!
    (I guess it would be reasonable to point out that my use of “old” and “older” here are basically tied to recorded Western history. I am aware these places had people before then, and that the land masses existed before the people. Just let it go already)

  • Though I had been eating a lot in America (see: Disney World), it wasn’t until eating in Boston that I actually saw a food challenge issued on a menu. And it wasn’t just one challenge, it was a series of them:

The best bit about these, in no particular order:

  • You have to pay for them, and if you do manage to finish you just get a t-shirt. Guess there is no such thing as a free lunch
  • The wording is great. My favourite is probably the lasagna challenge, I mean, “about 6 pounds of lasagna”, how can you go wrong? Do they have to be imprecise in case someone has a scale with them and complains they didn’t get enough?
  • This wasn’t some crappy restaurant. The food was really good, and, pretty sizeable anyway. I don’t know that any of us actually finished out normal meals.
  • Do people come here specifically to do the challenges, or do people come in for dinner and suddenly realise they would like three to six pounds of pasta?
  • What if you came in all prepared to do the lasagna challenge but the lasagna of the day wasn’t one you liked?
  • This restaurant was upstairs. The stairway was pretty steep and wasn’t exactly wide. I am not convinced it is safe to eat that much food and then try and go down those stairs.
  • Do they get angry if you order a challenge for the whole table?
  • If you order the challenge, do they still give you bread before the meal?
  • Why didn’t I see these at more places?
  • Speaking of food, did you know squirrels are basically real people too? They buy ice creams and everything:
Eating ice cream, just like real people!

Eating ice cream, just like real people!

I imagine a small child cried about this while all I could do is smile and laugh. Look at him! He is eating an ice cream.
Soon after this he lost his grip, the ice cream kind of poured out, then he dropped the cone.

  • In Boston I did something I had never done before – I watched an episode of Game of Thrones live on TV. This isn’t really something noteworthy, I had watched it on TV before in New Zealand, but seeing it at the same time that it is first aired was something that at the time I considered worth writing down. I guess I am quite looking forward to next season.

  • Fenway Park is pretty neat. Sure, I didn’t see a giant shootout there (like movies led me to believe would happen), but baseball is OK too. 
    It is also really long.
    I know a day of cricket is longer, but just looking at photos it seems like a long time passed while watching the game
Started early, ended not early

Started early, ended not early

Fenway also had a lot of cool stuff to look at in and around the ground, and you could get expensive food too (it is a live sporting event after all). The people behind me seemed to enjoy the peanuts. At least according to beneath my seat.

Mmmm, someone else's nuts

Mmmm, someone else's nuts

One thing that seemed strange about a live baseball game (at least at Fenway) was the complete lack of replays of anything ever. I get it, baseball takes a few days as it is, adding more replays isn’t exactly helping speed things up. But it would be nice if you could see the limited very exciting things replayed once or twice on the big screen.
Other complaints about baseball basically just fall in-line with watching live sports anywhere – beer is expensive, tickets are probably overpriced, weather can ruin the experience etc.

Despite that, at least at baseball it seemed like stuff was happening in the crowd the whole time. Maybe not to the level it does at football games, but you could always find something interesting to look at if the game wasn’t.

I recommend going.

  • You know what is really nice while travelling for a long time? A home cooked meal (and a nice bed and homely place to stay). I strongly suggest trying to line these things up if you can.

  • Oh, I guess it is also worth mentioning that if you are me and don’t really do seafood then some of Boston (and the New England coastal region) might not mean that much for you. Want some clam chowder or lobsters? Well you’re in luck. If you don’t, well… I mean… you can generally get a burger or something too. I like to think that I’m not the problem, but I probably am. Save the sad lobsters?
  • Boston is also very much like Hamilton (NZ, not ON), there is a river, there is a place nearby called Cambridge, and there are lots of wicked smart people there.
    (Yes, I am going to point out that every place that has a river is like Hamilton)
    In Cambridge(Boston) there is MIT and Harvard, so you can go there and walk around and pretend that you are smart too. See, look, art!
I think it is something about maths and stuff

I think it is something about maths and stuff

And here is me clearly fitting in at Harvard

Because this is what people do at Harvard

Because this is what people do at Harvard

At least it is something to make the CV stand out…

  • Not far from Boston (though actually out of state) there are also nice beaches (just like Hamilton!)

And like all beaches there are super rich people who live there. Here is The Breakers. This is where the Vanderbilt’s went on holiday (you know, Nate’s family from Gossip Girl). 

See how I have taken the photo from behind a small fence? Yeah, that fence keeps rabble like me out.
See how there are rabble sitting around the place on the lawn? As I understand it they paid an entrance fee to go there. Just to clarify, that means they paid an entrance fee to sit on the front lawn of some rich peoples house. I think I understand how the people got rich.


What else happened in Boston? Well, maybe I would remember if I had taken better notes about things. All up Boston was wicked cool. I highly recommend it during summer time.

Coming up next… time… Iceland! Then Cambridge(just like Hamilton!)! Then London! Then other things!

I am only three months behind real time now.