Friday, January 27, 2012


From Boston to New Hampshire and back again in a day. I rolled in to Beantown on the silver bullet early evening Monday, got a quick peek at the cityscape and proceeded to navigate the underground from South Station to North, where I bought a ticket to meet Kerry, who was tending her uncle’s place in NH. North Station is also home to the Garden, where a Celtics game was in progress. I was privy to a group of drunk kids in green and yellow being scolded by the police and the drunkest among them passed out and carted off on a stretcher. A fitting welcome to Boston, I guess.

My train to Fitchburg arrived soon after that fiasco and after an hour’s ride I got to see Kerry’s shining face at the station. After enthusiastic greetings we hopped in the car and drove into New Hampshire. Driving up to it was like driving through Narnia; the driveway was snow-covered, winding and lined with gas lamps. The house was awesome, with a bevy of cozy guest rooms for the choosing and a fireplace. Kerry had cooked spaghetti with sun dried tomatoes for dinner. We sat in front of the fire, unwound, listened to the quiet and caught each other up with our respective lives.

The next morning Kerry and I had a leisurely breakfast and sauna. (The house had previously been owned by Swedes, and you know how they love their saunas)  It was such a relaxed way to ease into this trip, I couldn’t have asked for better! After giving the house a quick tidy we packed our stuff and Kerry’s pup Gabi into Kerry’s Subaru and motored on to Jamaica Plain, which is akin to a borough like Greenpoint in Brooklyn, but further away from downtown and with it’s own unique vibe. That night we decided to stay in and hang out on the couch, watching a couple of episodes of Boardwalk Empire on her roommate Ethan’s projector screen after checking out Ula’s, a cute café near the Sam Adams brewery. Kerry scooped up some macarons and cupcakes for dessert for all the housemates, who’d made a yummy soup and fried yucca for dinner.

Wednesday was a nice leisurely morning of Mickey-shaped chocolate and beer waffles, followed by a visit to the Sam Adams brewery all on my lonesome. Sam Adams has a tiny brewery right in Jamaica Plain, a 20 minute walk through the neighborhood from Kerry’s place. The tour was nothing too special, being such a small brewery with only about 4 tanks for brewing and everything in one small warehouse. The tasting part was fun, albeit slightly awkward for being alone. The tour guide and bartender were pretty cool to me though so I didn’t feel quite so odd being the only solo taster.

Later I met Kristin, a dear old friend whom I’ve known since elementary school. She brought me to the theater district and treated me to a very lovely meal of gourmet French cuisine. Unfortunately not everyone in the restaurant was being conscious of the high class atmosphere, by which I mean the couple that were sat next to us… the woman, maybe in her late 60’s, was very sick throughout her meal and kept laying her head smack on the table, burping and possibly vomming into her napkin. Her husband seemed pretty cavalier about the whole incident, although it occurred to Kristin and I that the woman needed some medical attention. The couple stayed on, despite frequent interventions from the staff. I clearly remember the woman even once asking about dessert. Weird.

Before meeting up with Kristin, I got a chance to walk around Copley Square and check out the Boston Public library. Impressive. 

I found myself wandering over to Newbury Street, which is a shopping concourse consisting of some very high end stuff. Of course this was a window-shopping mission for my broke self, although I came pretty close to a purchase when I tried on a pair of opalescent pearly gold Doc Marten 12 holes. In the end I couldn’t justify throwing my current boots in the trash or casting them off to the thrift store yet. But earlier in the week I did get a chance to shop in some JP thrift stores, which were spectacular! I picked up 2 awesome sweaters for just $9! Can’t go wrong there.

I got to do a little historical sightseeing on my own as well, following the ‘Freedom Trail” past Paul Revere’s house, the church where he hung the lantern to signify that “The British are coming!” and all that jazz. Along that path I stumbled into a crazy old cemetery (which Boston is chock full of) and photographed some of the headstones in the golden-hour light.

My last very “touristy” venture in Boston was another beer tasting, this time at Harpoon Brewery. Again I was on my own, as Kerry was working and Kristin and her sister had to pick a friend up at the airport. I felt like an absolute nerd but I wasn’t going to miss out on the free beer just cause I didn’t have a bud to go with. However, looking back, it would have been MUCH more fun with one.

I bought a growler of Harpoon Chocolate Stout (chocolaty-er but less creamy than the Brooklyn Brewery version) and headed back to Kerry’s. We had another night of snuggling and Boardwalk Empire viewing, snuggled on the couch with blankets and My-My (the kitty) and Gabi (the pup.)

The next morning we ate Dim Sum for brunch in Chinatown. The weather had since become quite inclement, and the trek to the ICA (Boston’s contemporary art center) after a brunch of dim sum on Saturday was made unpleasant by the discovery of my boot’s lack of waterproofing. Travel tip: always be sure your footwear is waterproof when you travel on the east coast in the winter (no brainer there.)

The museum itself was pretty cool, although scaled down to only half it’s usual offering due to an installation in progress that isn’t opening until February. There was a video art piece detailing the violent and hateful reaction of the first Gay Pride March in Serbia, juxtaposed by a video of interpretive dance. The documentary footage of hate-filled speech and violent, bloody mayhem turned my stomach to the point where my mind was made up that humans were the most horrifying creatures, but I think the thing that stuck most with me about that was leaving the small room where the video was screening and coming into a room where the delicacy, introspection and thoughtfulness of human beings was palpably evident in the sculptural works and cerebral undertakings. I felt slightly less sickened to be a member of the same species as those creatures on the previous screen.

 After the museum Kerry and I walked over to a bar called “Drink,” an underground (no, literally) establishment that boasted a clean, minimalist bar setup, industrial surroundings and cute, tattooed and vest-clad bartenders who were definitely skilled in their craft. Kerry and I both indulged in a lovely warm drink called a Tom and Jerry, which is hot water, milk, rum and brandy with lots of wintery spices and a creamy sugary meringue topping.

 The bartenders were very attentive and honestly curious as to how we found their creations. I would definitely recommend that spot to a Boston visitor (although I have to admit to a slight sticker shock when the bill came.)

Next I met up with Kristin and her posse again in Back Bay, where we hopped a cab to Faniuel Hall and had a few beers and Chinese food at a crazy packed Karaoke bar called Hong-Kong. After witnessing some of the worst (best) Karaoke I’ve ever seen happen before midnight, I headed back to JP to meet up with Kerry for a dance party in Somerville. Of course, being us, we jumped up on stage when the emcee announced a dance contest… unfortunately, we weren’t the favorites of the target demographic and were all but booed off the stage. Still, we made the best of it (as we always do) and danced for another hour- sadly enough I went a little too crazy without stretching first and woke up Sunday morning with a very painful right knee joint. I felt better though when Kerry came into the room I was sleeping in and told me to hold out my hand, into which she dropped a beautiful crystal and gold necklace as a birthday gift!

Kerry and I chowed down in a really cool vegetarian/vegan friendly café called “the OtherSide” right near Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon and then she helped me cart all my junk to the bus station and I boarded the Boston-New York express bus with the intention of meeting my friend Jay for a beverage and getting back on the bus at 10:45 to Austin. 

Well, it’s noon on Monday and I’m still in Brooklyn, so you can see how well those plans worked out! It seems Jay’s still pretty good at getting me to agree with whatever he says, so I went along with the plan of spending an extra day in New York (yeah, he really had to twist my arm for that one.) and we hung out last night in some Brooklyn bars I hadn’t yet been to.

As for Boston, I checked off 5 out of 7 of my “to-do’s”
√ take a million photos
√ sit in café’s and drink black coffee (City Feed, OtherSide)
√ visit art galleries and museums (ICA)
√ call my mom often
√ drink local beers (Sam and Harpoon, that was easy)
_ make 1 new friend (made some acquaintances)
_ photo booth strips (couldn’t find one) 

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