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More than a feeling

Things I knew about Boston, MA before I went there at the weekend:

•The Tea Party thing.
•People tell me that “I’ll really like it, it’s a very English type of city”
•My old BBC Colleague Malcolm works there (in the BBC Bureau)
•An iPod contributor friend of mine Annette lives there
•It’s where Cheers was filmed.

Off we go then …

And so the tour continues. A few months ago when my life was in disarray, one way of giving it some focus was to draw up a list of American cities that I really feel I must visit before I depart from the vastly fascinating shores, it was the turn of the captial city of the thirteenth out of fifty states that I have ever been to that got done this time.

First stop : Improv. Of course! That also heavily tends to define my life now, and Boston’s most famous venue for all things unscripted is the Improv Asylum! So a walk around North End on the first night soon turned up the venue, and I got to compare the north/sound difference of this new world of mine.

Boston is smaller that I’d realised. Actually – that’s a little unfair. Let’s just say it’s more compact than I’d figured. Maybe that’s just because they’ve run out of space in the ‘island’ area, and so they’ve spread out into the suburbs. Suburbs which all have have English names! Cambridge, Chelsea, Winchester, Reading, Braintree and Weymouth are all Boston districts which are more familiar to me as towns in the UK.

It’s not so compact that it doesn’t need a mass transit system though. And I can’t go to a city and not be a little obsessed with its trains, can I? So that MBTA, or just the ‘T’ as its known got done. A fairly standard underground train system .. apart from the wonderful Green Line which was actually more like a trolley/tram system with just two cars per train. Except that platforms were long enough to accomdate 8 cars, so it wasn’t unusual to have one train in at the far end of a platform, whilst another one came chugging along behind it and pull up behind the first one – loved it!

Everyone forewarned me of how cold it was going to be, but it’s not until you actually have to (literally) face it that you’re reminded of just how friggin’ chilly it can be. And actully it wasn’t the temperature, but the wind that kills you – it feels as if it’s swooping into the cheeks on your face and lifting a layer a skin away leaving you red, raw, and exposed. Ouch.

But in a strange way it was a familar cold. When it got cold here in Charleston last week it was uncomfortable (mainly because having had nine months of warm weather, I’d forgotten what it was like to be cold), but because it was a different kind of cold to what I was used to. Being cold in Boston reminded me more of what it was like to be cold in London, than Charleston’s chilly climate. I know that mind sound like a pile of tosh – but I stand by it. I felt more ‘at home’ in the northern cold than the southern one. The air just felt different.

Getting lost trying to find a diner, walking around large parts of parks and the city geocaching, being disappointed that the tea party museum was closed and being renovated, skating on the frozen pond in the common (and learning that there are two types of ice-skate: Figure skating and Hockey style – never the latter people, never! Ok?), drinking too many Gingerbread Latte’s from the coffee-chain-the-does-not-need-promoting, spotting woodpeckers, squirrels and other assorted wildlife in the parl, going to the Museum of Science for the afternoon, and generally hanging out in the company of good people. Good times.

I doubt I’ll squeeze in any more trips before the end of the year as Christmas is now coming, as a big billboard boomed out for a local radio station as I was in the taxi on the way to the airport. “Boston’s Favorite Christmas Songs! 105.7 WROR! it proudly proclaimed. Really … Christmas? C’mon … haven’t we got to get Thanksgiving (this Thursday) out of the way first?

I found myself not humming any Christmas songs, but a certain Boston tune in my head as I drag my bag through the doors to the airport wondering which song I’ll be humming to myself next time. Some cool blues standard, or perhaps some Elvis.

Because there’s only New Orleans and Vegas left to do.

13 responses to “More than a feeling”

  1. geofftech says:

    ‘More than a feeling’ – It’s a song. By Boston – the band. Just in case you didn’t know …

  2. G's Mum says:

    Rather a lot of typos here Geoff, perhaps your fingers are still a bit frozen! Looks a good place though. Any Kennedy’s about?

  3. Moley says:

    “… Because there‚Äôs only New Orleans and Vegas left to do.”

    I thought you wanted to do Hawaii as well?

  4. geofftech says:

    #3 … because when I do Hawaii, i’ll be on the way out… and not coming back to Charleston.

  5. jhota says:

    the Green Line is my favourite, too. the funky articulated nature of the cars is just cool. i like the Silver Line as well – though it’s actually a bus line, not trains. but they run underground through tunnels, so…

  6. tami says:

    Well, if you do New Orleans please plan it around Mardi Gras since that would be a good time for you to visit with all the Parades and partying. Dont expect me to party tho as I have to work and I am to old!! LOL

  7. tami says:

    Oh and Mardi Gras is Feb 24 so count back 11 days and that is when it begins. The best parades for visitors is the weekend leading up to Fat tuesday- or pancake day as you would call it!

  8. ckd says:

    “walking around… geocaching” – does that mean you found your GPS?

  9. Lynne says:

    Did you see anything about the 1919 Great Molasses tragedy when you were in Boston?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Molasses_Flood

  10. Rudi says:

    One interesting note about “the coffee-chain-the-does-not-need-promoting”: Boston is one of its few big city failures in terms of taking over: Dunkin Donuts rules the roost in Boston (and, indeed, in most of New England), as there’s a fierce loyalty to the local shop “done good.” Most New Englanders will argue that *$ is too bitter a brew.

  11. Samantha says:

    Is Charleston cold of the damp sort or the dry sort?
    I find the dry sort more uncomfortable, despite it being better for my hair and skin, because it feels like it’s getting right into your bones and tends to come along with those biting winds. It occurs more in the south than the north of England/Britain.
    Meanwhile the damp cold, for all it makes my hair frizzy, my skin explode in spots and gives me hip and foot joint trouble, feels a touch warmer to me, because it’s what I grew up with, what I get whenever I go home, what I’m more used to as a typical nothern Brit.

  12. Rhys says:

    whoops, when you originally mentioned Boston on your list of must see cities, I mean tot jump in and tell you about a must see attraction (for the likes of you). If you get off the train at the Kendall/MIT stop and wait for it to leave you will find several large handles along the walls on the platform. The handles are connected to large noise making devices between the tracks. A large chime, a set of bells and a thunder sheet. I think you would have appreciated it.

    http://tech.mit.edu/V115/N66/sculp.66n.html

  13. Audrey says:

    Hi! Did you visit Harvard in Cambridge? Very proper. You would have liked it. Best, Audrey

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