Friday, April 4, 2014

Boston Day Five

Last day in Boston.  We packed up and checked out in the morning and checked our bags behind the counter.  We had until 4:00 before we had to head to the airport.  We did as much as we could!

A train ride took us to the Freedom Trail- we had seen parts of it but wanted to walk the whole thing.  We started in Boston Common and the State House.  A "fried dough" cart set up shop as we arrived, and we split one.

That line of red bricks marks the trail to follow through the city.

Old cemetery- this is Samuel Adams.

It was a beautiful old cemetery.  Oddly, markers have been moved at least twice to make rooms for paths, etc.

We saw this statue outside of a government building.  A Democrat donkey and a pair of shoe prints in front engraved with elephants and "Stand Firm."  

Faneuil Hall and Quincy market had a good selection of lunch options- J chose a pizza bagel that is the best representation of those words we've ever seen!  I had a little cup of clam chowder and we split a fresh orange juice.

The trail goes through the North End to see Paul Revere's house- Mike's Pastry was still there waiting for us.  I chose a Boston cream puff this time, and J went for a black and white.  I expected them to be like sugar cookies, but they are soft and pliable.  The chocolate frosting was super fudgey.... It was great!

We walked down Commonwealth Avenue- the houses are gorgeous and the middle of the street is a tree-lined walk.  Extremely genteel, yes?

We walked back to the Boston Public Library, I wanted to show J a map embedded in the floor- Boston was originally much smaller and hillier.  They slowly filled in the bays to make more landmass, the map showed that process between the 1600's and now .

We walked through Chinatown to find a snack to take with us on the plane- we found a holographic Simon Dewey pirated print. 

After Chinatown we walked back towards the hotel to get our bags, caught a train for the last few stops, and headed to the airport.  Security was slow, the airport is just fine, and the flight was nice.  We got home around 11:30 local time and gave my parents a huge thanks for taking up our slack this week!

We loved Boston- it's well designed with great public transportation, and beautiful to boot.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boston Day Four

When J joined us for dinner last night, he was officially done with his data conference.  Today was the first day I didn't leave the hotel solo- a different kind of day!  Love it.

We caught the train out to the museums again and walked through the Isabella Gardner Stewart museum- she was an art collector who opened her home to the public a few days a week and left her home as a museum in her will.

She had wonderful taste, and showed a good sense of humor in how things were displayed.  There was absolutely no photography allowed, but our favorites were water colors by John Singer Sargent (she gave him working space in her home, they were good friends), ballerina pictures by Kronburg, a self- portrait by Rembrandt, and I loved some early (4th century) Italian religious pieces with periwinkle blue and metallic gold accents.  

We bought lunch at the museum cafe- I had chicken salad and he had a quiche.  We ended with beignet.  Very different getting meals with J- I've been either getting really fast meals or skipping them entirely.  Sitting down to a plate and a napkin is a lovely thing!

We took the trains back towards town and visited the First Christian Scientist church.  Kooky church, but they have a tour of a three- story stained glass globe you can walk INSIDE of.  That was worth it for J :). Again, no photography.

Afterwards we walked up to Charlstown to see the USS Constitution ("Old Iron Sides.")

It had way more rigging than we expected.

Cannons, and lots of them!

Bunks, below deck.

Low clearance- right about 5'5" :)

We took the ferry back down to the north end .  Beautiful ride!

I told J I wanted to find cannoli in the north end (basically Little Italy) and he said sure!  He didn't realize until we walked in that it was a dessert... Well, it made a nice start to dinner :).  The cannoli was nice and crispy, the filling seemed to be a heavily flour-thickened vanilla pudding filling.  He ordered a cream puff filled with Bavarian creme and coated in a chocolate shell.  (Mike's Pastries)

We walked across the little street to a seafood restaurant, The Daily Catch.  It was the smallest restaurant I have ever seen.   This picture shows almost the entire space, including the kitchen.  Fantastic homemade squid ink pasta with olive oil and garlic for me, and a plate of calimari prepared four ways for J.

We saw this enormous flag in a retail building entrance... Has a flair for the dramatic!

We walked home from dinner- this is the view from a bridge by our hotel.

We figured we walked about eight miles this day, and I know I walked at least that much every other day.  I thought I brought great shoes, but my feet hurt terribly.  It's a shame since I know I am going to be walking no matter what they feel like, it's too pretty NOT to walk everywhere!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Boston Day Three

I woke up to an amazing sunny morning and totally forgave Boston for the nasty weather.  What a gorgeous, gorgeous day!  It was still cold this morning when I walked out the door, with gorgeous sunshine.

I walked down to the train station and caught a line out to Harvard University.  Boston really looks like parts of Seattle to me.  This campus reminds me of the quad at UW.

I spent most of the day at the Museum of Natural History on campus... But I almost walked straight back out when I found myself facing 100 screaming kids filing into the exhibits.  Woah!!  Haha.

They had an exhibit of 4,000 glass flowers and plants- it was more than just for pretty, it was a botanist's exhibit.

Here is salvia and a bee at life size, and then magnified fifty times to demonstrate the state of the stamens when pollination occurs.  This is all glass.

The minerals room was cool.  I snapped pictures of gorgeous gems that I had never heard of... But definitely want to hear more about ;)

I loved the colors they occurred in.

Big 'ol bones.  Wooly mammoth, I think.  There were rooms and rooms of taxidermied mammals and birds, whale skeletons, bugs stuck with pins... Lots and lots of stuff to see!  I stayed there from about 10:30 till 2:00 then went to find lunch.  Grabbed a little bowl of quinoa salad at a food cart on campus and then went out to wander Cambridge.

I walked through campus and down to a river and followed it for a while before discovering I was going the wrong way- I found Craigie Castle though, the former headquarters for George Washington and home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Very pretty :)

I walked back to campus another way to find the train station and rode over to Copley Square.  I arranged to meet a friend for dinner, and she suggested the steps of the Trinity Church- it's easy to find and just two blocks of her office.  We were teens together before she left Seattle to go to school on the East Coast- she loved it so much she never came back :)

In the summers she gives walking tours- she showed me around until J joined us around 6:00.  

This is a mural in the public library- it is an impressive place with marble staircases, an Italianate courtyard, murals, marble busts... Just lovely.  

I promised my Ernie pictures- enjoy, kid!

Here is J at the Boston Marathon finish line.  This is where the bomb went off last year at the marathon.  So tragic, and the marathon is in about three weeks.

It was lovely to see this girl- she is a talented lawyer, has a love of American and Russian history, and is a great storyteller.  We had a great meal of tapas and had a wonderful evening!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Boston Day Two

A new day made everything brighter.  J was at his conference by 7:00 and I woke up a few minutes before he left.  A luxuriously lazy morning for me, and only hunger for breakfast (and knowing that things would be open soon) pushed me out the door around 9:00.  

I found the train station, and a ticket window to purchase a pass for the week.  Public transportation is a beauty here- an $18 pass will get me anywhere the subway, bus, or ferry can take me this week.  I also found breakfast (a steak and egg wrap) and enjoyed people watching while I ate.

I took the subway out to town and went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  It was amazing, and HUGE.  I started at. 10:30 and didn't finish the first floor till1:30.  I grabbed a sandwich at the shop (BLTA on a croissant) and tackled the second floor for the next few hours and then found the one staircase in the corner that would take me to the basement- there was a John Audobon exhibit I especially wanted to see.  Definitely recommend this museum to everyone who likes to walk :). My favorite exhibits were the Impressionists, musical instruments, jewelry, pink in fashion, Dutch painters, the later European portraits, Ancient Egyptian... There was really a ton of exhibits.  There were perhaps a dozen fully furnished period rooms to view that were also very cool.

Here are some pictures I snapped of my favorite things-

I love how Van Gogh accented with black lines and used such intense colors.

Everyone loves Degas, right?  Interestingly the placard noted that while modern audiences view her as graceful and lovely, contemporary audiences viewed this as a grotesque representation of a scrawny girl.

Monet's colors are wonderful.

Again, with the bright colors and outlined in black.  This wasn't a large painting.

This statue of Columbus made me giggle- the picture doesn't capture his hilariously intent and burning gaze as he receives his inspiration to make his travels.

This was terribly cool- a collection of ROUND seals used on clay tablets.  The pictures they created were so dainty and stunning.

This picture reminded me of the artist in Kiki's Delivery Service.  Love the purples and greens.

Ernie and I studied Albrecht Durer in school this year, and this fellow was influenced by that man's rabbit painting. Love the details and colors.

I didn't finish at the museum until 4:30- I intended to try for two museums but ran out of time :). I caught the train back towards town and got off at Boston Common to poke around.  Back home Spring has arrived- daffodils, azaleas, hyacinth, forsythia, flowering quince are all in full bloom.  Here, nothing is in bloom.  There is not a single green thing out there.  I was hoping to see some color at the public gardens!  Alas.  I saw lots of statues, though.

Here is George Washington.

State House

The morning was cold, windy, and wet.  By the evening the rain had stopped but it was still in the 30's and windy.  My excellent Seattle-Style jackets kept me dry and warm- can't beat fleece under a water-proof rain parka.  Plus, my pickle-green self got more than one second glance yesterday among the sea of black coats :)

After I walked through Boston Common and the public gardens I found dinner a few blocks away (a nice apple cider and soda drink and a steak sandwich) and then wandered down Newbury, the "Fashion Street."  It was billed as a Rodeo Drive but it's not very big :). 

It's funny, but Boston really reminds me of Seattle so far.  The weather is just like ours, the building styles are so close to Pioneer Square area (so far.). People here are more professional though, in everything.  There are lots and lots of young, white, male professionals.  They are exactly the boys I went to business school with, with the perfect hair and perfect jeans and shiny shoes, and they all walk around complaining how busy and stressed they are .  So that's different than our Seattle boys who seem to be constantly laughing at their lives!  So there's that kind of professional, but even the art museum attendants and sandwich shop clerks just leap to attention whenever I speak to them.  That is very different from the laid back, friendly, vibe at home.  I also have not seem a single homeless person or mentally ill person.

After wandering a bit I got back on the train towards home.  I took two trains and then figured I was close enough, I'd walk the last mile or two.  J decided to play hooky from the big dinner at his conference last night so after I got back to the hotel we went back out to find him som dinner.  We ended up walking to Chinatown and he ordered a few plates of dumplings at the busiest restaurant we could find (figure that was a good sign!). We stopped for fro-yo afterwards and they have different toppings here- longan, rambutan, red beans, lots of jellies... I loved it :). 

We walked back to the hotel and I took a scalding bath- J walked 6,000 steps just at his conference and to town and back, I can't imagine how many I walked those twelve hours I was out!  

My prayer in the morning was just that I be able to find meals and not get lost.  He answered that brilliantly and I had a wonderful day!  It's extremely rare to get dropped off in a strange city, alone, with no responsibilities to attend to.  Super fun, though!