Saturday, October 29, 2016


I read a lot about New England and Salem and Boston when I was studying for my English degree; my favourite paper of all time was American short stories. I was therefore really keen to come to Boston and have a poke around.

I am really starting to feel tired now so I reverted to my post-Asia routine of sleeping until I wake, leisurely late brunch then out and about from early afternoon followed by an early tea and bed.

I am loving this trip but I have realised that it is a pretty relentless schedule heading off to a new place about every 4th day (though sometimes 3rd and very occasionally 5th). I had booked in a rest week in Ireland and one in Boston but the opportunity came up to visit Vermont - and I wasn't missing that for anything - and Ireland was a crazy obsessive - but productive - genealogical marathon.

I love meeting people in this wonderful Koha community and I want to meet everyone and talk to everyone and drink beer with everyone and accept every offer of hospitality and see and experience everything in every city BUT this does take energy, energy I need to start managing a bit better ..... although I could just sleep for a week when I get home I guess :)

So, leisurely starts, gentle days and early nights should just about get me home I think - plus 4 days eating BBQ, drinking beer and generally solving the problems of the universe with Bywater-Brendan in Oregon.

Back to Boston ....

The Duck Tour - every itinerary said to do the Duck Tour first so I did. Brilliant - corny - but brilliant. All the main spots on land then a harbour view as well. Tours like this are great don't take much energy - just kick back and enjoy.
Trinity Church, Boston.

The key, I have discovered, to seeing a place is learn to use the metro immediately and google maps. In fact technology has been of priceless value to me. I loaded all my bookings into an app - correction: Tripit gathered up all my bookings from my email account - and that was a great way to have all my flights, transfers, accommodation and tourist attraction bookings in one place. was another awesome tool which made it so easy to find accommodation quickly (use the filters) and book it. I did reviews too because I found those really helpful when choosing places to go. I stayed at one place after ignoring the 30% of bad reviews and that was a mistake because those bad reviews were all correct right down to the mouse in my room, arrogant staff and exorbitant 'facility fee' extra that is charged on arrival. Uber was brilliant - I used it in cities where I couldn't be bothered trying to master public transport and just wanted to get from A to B as quickly as possible (generally when I had loads of luggage and couldn't face escalators and metros).

The gamechanger though was google maps which I used extensively, everywhere. It was brilliant for telling me how to get from A to B and the metro info in every city was bang on; it tells you what station, what platform, what direction, how many stops and what it will cost. The only trouble I had was knowing what direction 'north-west' actually was etc but a compass app soon solved that but I quickly learnt that if you position yourself on a corner with the streets in the right alignment it all falls into place.

Back to Boston ...

Many of the tours were closed for the season but Christine from Vermont, who had worked in Salem, told me just to catch the train out there - easy peasy - and it was. I don't know about Salem. It kind of felt like a themepark and the story of Salem witch trials and those silly hysterical naughty girls is actually hideous and it didn't sit right with me seeing this glorification of witches and the Disneyfication of Salem. Maybe its because everything was ramping up to Halloween but I just didn't get it. I was interested in the history of it, the social conditions that prevailed at the time and created the environment for it to happen but the tacky fortune tellers and witches potions and related stuff just didn't do it for me.
The House of Seven Gables, Salem.

I loved the Nathaniel Hawthorn house down on the harbour front - that was way cool - and the House of Seven Gables (built in 1668 and the title of one of his novels) was a fantastic tour. This whole complex was set up to teach skills to immigrant children by a remarkable woman called Caroline Emmerton.

I made a mistake in getting to the Boston airport 3 hours before I was due to fly. I have an Air Canada club card and since I was flying Air Canada I figured there would be a nice lounge I could relax in, have breakfast, drink champagne, read a magazine and perhaps write a blog post. Nope. You pass straight through security into a 'lounge' that feels like a Dr's waiting room with a crappy cafe cart system and that's that. It was a long 3 hours I can tell you.

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