I've been so lazy to write about Boston as I always want each post to be perfect. But I can't be bothered now, I just want to journal the incredible experiences I've had in America, with this being my first entry. After meeting some friends we met in New Orleans yesterday when they played a gig in KL, I'm reminded of all the amazing I've met in the US. So here goes. I'm listening to a French version of 'So This Is Love' from Cinderella so I'm expecting a lovely, slightly more romanticized account today.
Fung and I arrived on a rainy evening in Boston. We had stopped over in Doha, Qatar on the way there and the journey had taken a harrowing full-day. At first, I wasn't impressed - faced with basically the same architecture and weather that I had left in a hurry in London. Our Uber dropped us off at our Airbnb. An unimpressive door invited us in, we climbed a rickety staircase, the smell of weed was emitting from the pores of the hallway itself. The bedroom was tiny, perhaps 2.5m x 2.5m, that only fit a bed which proceeded to break a day later. We were starving, and without data, so we proceeded to venture into Rochester, a neighbourhood that was so dodgy that our Uber driver had warned us against at least thrice, to access the closest T-Mobile to get our SIM cards. Armed with screenshots of Google Maps, we took our first tentative steps out into Boston, and into the US. One small step for man, a great one for Bianca. I've been dying to make this trip of a lifetime since I was in high school, fantasizing about roadtripping through the US. In the excitement, we (or I) forgot to heed the recent warnings, and jumped in head first into Rochester, not realizing it was Rochester until we saw a huge sign saying 'Rochester Supermarket', as if to warn us. It was truly hilarious. We did feel quite unsafe in that area but sheer excitement and reckless need for data got the best of us. We eventually succeeded in our quest and grabbed our first slice of New York pizza (I know, we weren't even in New York) for dinner (the cheapest and most American thing we could get at that hour and around the area - c'est la vie, oui?).
I'm trying out the Slideshow Gallery for my pictures so please click on the images to go to the next pictures!
In general, Boston reminded me of London, except it was larger-feeling, more spaced out, with sunny shadows lilting through the same historic architecture. It was more 'New England' than it was 'America' to me, which was probably why I wasn't too impressed in general by the place. I had just left the whole too cold, too windy, slightly depressing scene in London and was welcomed by exactly that in Boston. It also proceeded to snow which we were completely unprepared for - it was hilarious. Fung had never actually experienced snow so it was really lovely to see her enjoy it.
I enjoyed the Freedom Trail immensely, however, and how history steeped the city. The temperamental history buff that I am, I was drinking in every guide book and Google write up of the places we visited on the trail. We walked for at least 5km every day in the cold, with our beanies strapped on, our scarf shared and strung silly-ly conjoining both of our necks, necessitating us to walk no more than 3 steps apart from each other (making passersby stare weirdly, or comment 'Cute (snort)'. It made reading information about the city terribly difficult, with your nose dripping, hands freezing, every time you want to google a particular building or street. But walking around the beginnings of America itself was incredible, seeing it unfold from street to street, building to building.
The Old North Church was one of my favourite sites: the split church congregation layout that showed clear social segregation and racism (African-Americans sat above, the Mayor of the Town sat in in the first enclosed pew). The USS Constitution museum was a great experience too - we could engrave our names in the metal that would, supposedly, encase the reconstructed hull of the ship. I love that sort of stuff. The Boston Public Library was also a highlight for me - what more could you want than books, high ceilings and colonial architecture?
The city has a huge Irish population and we had arrived smack on St. Paddy's Day. Unfortunately, our jetlag (Malaysia and Boston had a 12-hour difference) made staying up past 7pm a huge struggle and we could not, to our best of our abilities, manage to participate in the festivities. I was quite surprised, but pleasantly so, that so many Irish-Americans still felt some sort of connection to their Irish roots (St. Patrick is Ireland's foremost patron saint, according to WIkipedia). But it is unbeknownst to me whether most of the people celebrating in the streets are actually even Irish. It was really interesting to see the influences of the Italian immigrants on the North End, the Irish on the whole of Boston.
I would say that the restaurants in Boston that served contemporary American food were amongst the best in the US. They were so good that I feel obliged to write a separate post on my top 5 restaurants. This shall come soon, I promise. My hypothesis is that the weather is so bad there, the food had to at least be amazing. We were brought to Alden and Harlow by our friend, Cassie Tong, thanks Cassie for bringing us to a restaurant where we didn't understand anything on the menu but would never forget the tastes we experienced that day. Ali Chan, my hilarious boarding school friend from Benenden, took us to this gorgeous restaurant by pier 6, called Pier 6, where the views was absolutely spectacular. We looked out over the waterfront, with the other numbered piers lining the waters. We also had a pretty epic taste of alcoholic boba yaaas near Boston University.
We popped into Cambridge, Massachusetts to visit Harvard, no doubt I was reminded to do that by my dad. It was not as beautiful as Oxford, no bias here naturally, but it had a sort of more forward-thinking, modern feel to the place. My love for stash in general had nothing to do with me buying a Harvard notebook and cap, all pretty in their maroon colour scheme (way more flattering than Oxford's dark blue, can I just say), which I proceeded to wear like a nerd for the next few weeks, until the wind (or maybe a higher, kinder being) blew it away.
Boston, you were an apt first step into America. We received a Cliffnotes version of the beginning of America as we walked around the town. But it was time to get out of our bed-room (literallly, it only fit a bed) and head to New York, New York.