First Impressions

14 10 2010

I’m left standing outside a train station for nearly an hour waiting to be collected. There’s a man sitting on a bucket playing a trumpet, he knows two songs, he repeats them a lot… without improving. I’m wearing a rucksack, it’s heavy and the day is hot. Am I going to slip into one of my trademark moods?

No way José, the trumpet man is American, the train station is Boston South Station and I’m on holiday baby.

My lift arrives in the form of Jake “The Chin” Lindmark (see above video). Boston traffic on a Friday at 5:00 is mental and we’ve got to travel 30 miles out of the city. During the journey Jake informs me that I’ll have to sleep on the living room floor because the spare bedroom has being changed into a bar.

A BAR? THAT IS FUCKING AWESOME.

I’ve spent the day travelling from New York and I’m knackered so we decide to have a quiet night down the local. After meeting Jake’s dog, who would become my new best friend, and a real life lesbian called KT it’s time to take the edge off reality.

We rope in Jake’s house mate Dan and head to the Irish bar. We don’t have much choice in this as every bar in Boston is Irish. Lots of beer and Irish accents, it’s like being in Dublin. The quiet night ends trying to flip the car in Mc Donald’s car park and me ranting all the  way home because they charged me extra to have a bottle of water instead of coke with my Big Mac Meal. Falling up the steps to his house we have to see if his bar works.

It does.

DAN

I sleep.

Then it’s morning.

Then my head hurts.

I force myself to get up and go into Boston. On the train in I decide to stay for an hour and then I’ll head back to Jake’s and try to get some sleep. Within 30 minutes of walking around Boston I’m hooked. The city is incredible. This is the city New York wishes it could be. It’s clean, it’s friendly (I should point out New York is, also, exceptionally friendly) and it oozes my favourite thing: FUN.

 

BOSTON AND ME

 

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Boston You’re a Beauty

13 10 2010

 

A Day Out At The Liverpool Red Sox

 

Culture is always the first port on any Pauliday (that’s a cross between Paul and holiday… sorry I’ll never use it again). A bit of a hike outside the main city is The Museum of Fine Arts, unlike DC and NYC I have to pay and, even after flashing the student ID of money saving fun, I cough up $20. A vast building that, for some reason, puts all the crappy pots and coins at the front and you have to make your way upstairs and to the back to see some of the gems.  I’ve seen a lot of Van Gogh’s on my holiday but the MFA provided me with by far my favourite as well as a feast of Monet.

I spend three hours here and my ticket is good for a second visit within the next week, I decide I shall make use of it, work my way around and look at more crap pots and a chair from China?

Enough culture time to drink. Jake arrives in and we try out some of the variety of Irish pubs on offer. Boston is a university town and that means I get asked for I.D. everywhere; each time feels like a compliment. We end up in Whiskies and I see the most beautiful bar maid I could ever imagine. She’s the kind of gorgeous where you could make her the biggest movie star in the world. Can she act? Doesn’t matter. Sorry I’m digressing; I shall have a long hard think about her later. The only problem is she’s turned to place into a sausage factory of admirers so we decide to try somewhere classy.

A few doors up we go to a snaaazzzzzyyyyy bar. Shit, it looks expensive.

“I’ll get this round” Jake informs me.

“You sure?” I say, “thank fuck” I think.

This is the point where everything gets hazy, I know I spent the last hour before bed sitting on the floor trying to compose a song on a guitar hero guitar; no television or wires, just the guitar.. There was shots, beer, brandy, I got a hug from a scouser, drunk driving behind a cop car, no water with Mc Donald’s even my new best friend looked concerned for the state I got myself in.

 

My new BFF

 

The last few days have merged into one. Went to see the Red Sox and went to the top of The Prudential building, cracking views up there, tries to watch a game of American Football but went for a lie down instead, let other people barbecue for me, met the other lesbian Shelli (lovely couple who also have a lovely dog) and made use of the fridge buy filling it full of beer and then emptying it.

Boston is like a European city, the town planners obviously thought fuck that grid system shit, just  put streets wherever; resulting in a wonderful maze of skyscrapers towering over little churches, hidden parks full of hot women and more awesome second hand book shops.

My MFA ticket is good for another visit and… well… it’d be rude not to. I spend an hour staring at the same paintings and ignoring the pots and chair. Stopping for lunch I’m a bit annoyed at having to pay $10 for a sandwich. Then the sandwich arrived or as it should be called a breeze block. I don’t eat for the rest of the day (no wonder I’ve being doing massive poos for the last fortnight). It’s my last day in Boston and I soak up every second wandering aimlessly before heading back out to Jake’s.

 

A Normal Bookstore

 

We go out to celebrate my last day and I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t remember leaving the pub, but I didn’t get a hug from a scouser. There was, however, a pub quiz on and amongst the team names were Nailin’ Palin and Fat babies ruin great vaginas. I’m wearing the Boston uniform which is a Red Sox cap backwards.

On my last day I visit Salem, where the famous witch trials were held and buy a copy of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, makes sense but different Salem. Shit.

Then it’s over.

Jake runs me out to the airport and the adventure that began in DC two weeks ago, but really began in Rome last May has ended. I’m sad to leave but what a fucking incredible way to end the best summer ever.

 

Lots of this

 





Top Tip for the USA

8 10 2010

 

I’ve recently enjoyed my fifth visit to the USA and I must say this was quite possibly the best. A wonderful country with the friendliest people God ever put on his green earth. But I have a gripe.

Tipping.

Why oh why is it such a big deal? I went for a meal in DC with some friends; it was an expensive Greek restaurant and we all chipped in $8 towards the tip. Do I have a problem with this? No, not at all, the food was good and the service was friendly and prompt. Skip forward a few days and I go into a bar in New York, I order a bottle of beer, the bar tender pops off the cap of the bottle and hands it to me. I pay $6 for the beer and leave a $1 tip. The person who served me wasn’t rude or overly pleasant. Why do I feel compelled to tip? I question this with my cousin (a New Yorker going on 15 years) and he is adamant I must tip.

His reason is the people serving don’t get paid a great wage, they live on their tips. When did their wage packet become my concern? They probably have more money than me. The person who sold me a cinema ticket probably earns less yet American society doesn’t feel that their job merits tipping.

He says this is a tipping society, but no worker has a right to a tip. All I want is a bottle of Heineken, serve me and engage me and, you never know maybe I’ll like you, tell you get yourself a beer, maybe I won’t. Never assume.

Tips by their very name and nature are earned. Another bar I went to, as soon as I sat down the barmaid came over introduced herself to us and shook hands. We stayed, got pissed and happily left a $15 tip. No problem.

While I’ve name dropped DC and New York already in this blog I may as well mention I also went to Boston and it was awesome.

America, I love ya baby but if you want my money you gotta earn it like everybody else.





A NEW ME?

4 10 2010

I’ve decided after nearly killing myself with alcohol consumption I’m taking a month off the beer and will try to be a better person.

Don’t all fucking laugh at once.





DAYS OF CULTURE

4 10 2010

My desire to do everything touristy in London today brought me to The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. The reason I had not yet been here is that I loathe the area of Covent Garden so much but, trying to walk off a hangover, I stumbled into the square. It cost £6 for a student (normally £10) and my first impression, having bought my ticket and left a bag in the cloakroom, was of how friendly the staff are.

The museum is designed over three floors and, starting at the top you work your way down in a chronological tour of transporting in our wonderful capital. Having exited the elevator at the top I found myself confronted by trams from the 1800s presented “in action” with life size wax models to give one a taste of what it felt to have these horse drawn carriages trundling through the streets.

The information is presented in easy to digest pictures, audio and texts; there is also a large amount of interactive displays designed for children but also quite entertaining to a 31 year-old man. The place is immediately engaging and very open, you are encouraged to go into the old carriages, sit down, try and get a feel for it. Though there is a recommended route to follow, it is very much a space for wandering. If you live in London this museum makes you want to find out more about your local line or station.

There are no airs or graces; it’s not like a trip to The National Gallery or The British Museum where you must only enter if you’re terrifically aloof and terribly intellectual. The Transport Museum’s main concern for their visitor is that they enjoy their visit and you will enjoy your visit and learn quite a lot without realising it. For example how much horse poo had to cleaned of the streets back in the early days.

The highlight must be the very well thought out exhibit concerning the Blitz. Not only does it deal with London but also Coventry and Dresden. There is a book where visitors are asked to write their thoughts on that period and some of the stories people have written  in are humbling. This is the last exhibit before reaching the ground floor which is a fantastic menagerie of old and new, try your hand at being a tube driver or wander through the fleet of old and new buses and carriages.

This is a fantastic place to visit, well worth the money (even if you pay full whack) and I shall recommend it to any and all.

P.s. their toilets are also very clean.