Apr 24, 2019

The Boston Diaries 4: It Was One of Those Days.

Monday.  What a day.  But at least I got my Starbucks with my Starbucks name :-)

Monday was a day that didn't quite go to plan.  Long term readers of the blog will also know that I'm a traveller that 'can't let go'.  My trip itinerary is usually planned out on a Word table (because I'm too bad at Excel to do spreadsheets), I have trip plans on TripAdvisor, I book things through TripAdvisor. I have a set routine for heading to the US, which I am sure you all also know from memory too.

Which is great until things beyond my control don't get with the programme.  A promising day trip I booked and had confirmed tickets for was a non-event because the established company organizing the tour changed their system after I made my booking and mixed my dates up.  I only found out when I rang the company because no one else was at the meeting point.  They were apologetic and apparently I'm getting a refund but as Monday was the only full day I had in my itinerary for sightseeing, it was a massive disappointment.

And then, it rained.  And rained.  So hard I soaked through 2 pairs of socks and shoes.  So hard the paper bag carrying my dinner from Chipotle burst open in the foyer of my fancy hotel....  I had also left for dinner without my wallet beforehand.  

I can laugh about it all now with the benefit of a good nights sleep. It's the kind of stuff that doesn't make it to Instagram.  Probably with good reason.  But it happened.  I like to think that I got all my trip bad luck done with on Monday and that it's going to be smooth sailing from here on in.  In light of the harsh realities of the rest of the world's current suffering including the senseless terrorist bombings in Sri Lanka and the less headline-leading but very real rates of homelessness I see on the streets here, my disappointments are pretty feeble.  But it feels good to have written it all down and let it all out.  

Never fear, though.  There were photos from the day all the same.  Let's discuss.

Trader Joe's is in the process of taking all my money.  I highly rate the above combination as part of a protein-rich breakfast.  I will be bringing home that pepper grinder with me....

I've been watching all the cable.  Specifically E!  The Real Housewives, the Kardashians (I'm not even ashamed....) and E! news.

Copley Square, the daffodils and Trinity Church before the rain set in.  The church is set on wooden pylons and has its own pump system that keeps these structures wet and strong.  The water comes from the Charles River which is maintained to artificially keep the tide as high as possible to maintain the foundations of many of Boston's buildings.  Boston is built on a great deal of reclaimed land.

The magnificent Boston Public Library to the left and the Old South Church on the right.

Trinity Church and the John Hancock Tower.

After the drama around the tour I was meant to be on today, I decided to a Boston Duck Tour tour instead.  Tours run several times a day and there are pick up points all over the city.  Providing an overview of Boston, the tours are basically a drive and sail - yes sail - by of many landmarks in the city.  The 'ducks' are amphibious vehicles based on those used during the war to transport both men and equipment.

Our conDUCKtor (geddit) was engaging and fun.  We drove past sights so proper photos weren't really possible.

This is photo of our 'duck' waiting to enter the Charles River while another 'duck' leaves it.

And then we were in.

Sailing under bridges and along the river along Boston's city skyline.

We passed other 'ducks' whilst on the water.  As the waters were so still, children onboard were able to help steer the craft during our journey.

The roof of each 'duck' features the signatures or service men and women.

The Museum of Science overlooks the river and its canopied area in front of the dome is a popular place for weddings and other functions.

The pylons of the Longfellow bridge which joins Boston to Cambridge features masonry depicting the Vikings early members of the community felt were part of the city's history.

There was a time when The Charles River was heavily polluted and this had dire implications for the local ecosystem. 

Mass renewal programs have been undertaken by the government and the waters are now home to fish and the birds who count on them as food.  A mother was nesting with her eggs on the wharf as we sailed by.  You can't see her clearly in my photo because she ducked (!!) down at the last minute.

Out of the water, we rounded out our tour with a drive on Beacon Street.  There are purple windows in some of these pricy houses and they are an oddity that resulted from the original glass' nature changing over time.

I have to head back to Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden before I leave to walk at least a portion of the Freedom Trail.  Fingers crossed.

In the latest instalment of 'Living the Life of a Refinery 29 Money Diaries Contributor', I have discovered Sweet Green salad bars.  You know me, finger on the pulse of the youth.

The Shroomami bowl is the bomb dot com.  With broccoli, of course,

Didn't stop raining all day, actually.  Just as well the hotel is so fabulous because I ended up doing some yoga in its gym before dinner.  By the time I had finished, the cup of mint tea I brewed at the gym beverage station had reached its optimum drinking temperature.

Officially, I was there doing yoga to road test my new activewear find ... Athleta.  Its parent company is GAP but it has that Lulu feel.  I'm such an activewear devotee that I'm not going to even pretend that I felt some guilt at 'cheating' on the Lulu.  Athleta's camo is on point and their leggings have decent pockets.  Sold and sold.

And here we are.  The conference began today and this is our course material for the next five days.  The consolation is that the slides for every single presentation are contained within these hefty tomes. So far, it's been amazing and I hope that this bodes well for the rest of my stay in this fascinating city.

Fingers crossed the weather stays okay and I get the chance to round off my sightseeing before I fly out Saturday.

Have you ever had one of those days whilst away on a high stakes trip?  Did it end well?

Apr 23, 2019

The Boston Diaries 3: The Fairmont Copley Plaza. Newbury Street.

Happy, Hoppy Easter from the lobby of the Fairmont Copley Plaza.

I was told that an after brunch petting zoo was also on offer.  But where, I wonder?  I just can't see an inch of the lobby that would be animal proof....

Easter brunch was in full swing when I checked in.  Little ones on their semi-best behaviour in their best dresses and suits scampered this way and that across that beautiful carpet clutching baskets of eggs as they sized up the guy in the bunny costume.  There's something about US childrenswear.  The adults have given the world The Bachelor and The Kardashians but common sense seems to have prevailed with their children and all I see is practical, age-appropriate yet on point clothing that stands up to repeated cycles in the dryer.

My promised in-room fridge was wheeled in shortly after my luggage was delivered.  It didn't take me long to give it that homely Australian treatment.

This is what the inside of my fridge looks like.  I know, it's everything a woman could want as they settle down for a week in a new city.

The bubbly in a can with .. a straw(!!!) is a Californian one made by Sofia Coppola's winery.  The cans take pride of place in my fridge after I walked them home from a store where I was carded at the checkout.  I won't lie, handing over my drivers licence totally made my day.

Everything else in the fridge came from my local Trader Joe's.

Living my dream of being a Money Diary girl for Refinery 29.  Every journal writer seems to vist TJs or Dunkin' at least once in their diarized week.  I have now done both in one day!  Go,.  Me.

Aside from the usual berries and fresh milk I buy, I also found a bag of six pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs.  I will discuss them in more detail when I finally get around to eating them.  Suffice to say I also had to get a bottle of TJ's (organic) ketchup and some pepper but it still worked out cheaper and less stressful than having to look for breakfast each morning.

The side wall of a large complex of food outlets including Starmart, the place I shall always remember as the place I got carded at 43.

One thing I learned pretty quickly over my first few hours in Boston is that supermarkets and shopping centres seem to blend into the landscape of the CBD.  There's none of the floor length windows, mad lighting and massive, almost pulsating flat screens that signify a Westfield from the next suburb in Boston.  Rather, there's a discrete sign on a wall next to pretty non-descript entrances that lead to escalators that lead to the shops.  As someone who needs both retail and historical landmarks to navigate around a city, it's made getting my bearings in Boston pretty challenging.

I'm pretty happy with my room.  Aside from my fridge, I have a stash of Le Labo toiletries scented with Rose 31 and....

a kettle!!

I wonder if it was my request for the empty fridge that prompted housekeeping to add a kettle to the room as well.

My first impressions of Boston are that it's youthful, cultured, friendly, vibrant and the less uptight younger sibling to New York City.  As I stumbled my way to Newbury Street I bumped into lots of people dressed for some kind of cosplay convention that the city was hosting.  Other fresh-faced youngsters were punctuating their lively conversations with hits from devices that could either be diffusing nicotine or cannabis (cannabis has recently been legalized in Massachusetts).

Everyone outside of cosplay and mull demographic appears to love food and shopping.

I walked through Eataly in search of lunch.  It's Wholefoods after a gap year in Italy.

The massive footprint of the store is divided up into precincts that offer take away food and drink, fresh produce for purchase or fine dining in relaxed dining spaces.  It was heaving so I didn't stay long but I intend to return later in the week to get some cannoli from the ground floor cafe.

Lunch ended up not being terribly fancy but it did tick off a few things on my bucket list.

I got a Rainbow Wrap from Trader Joe's that not only matched my scarf, it also tasted great for something that's meat-free and pre-made.

Oh that chocolate frosted Dunkin' Donut was good.  I'm sure eating it with cutlery added that something something to the taste....

It stopped raining just as I scraped the last bit of frosting off the paper bag so I decided to go to the Newbury Street shopping precinct after dropping off my groceries at the hotel.

Newbury Street is the epicentre of people watching and shopping in the Back Bay neighbourhood.

It's a tree-lined road studded with brown stoned houses and terraces that feature some pretty stunning little gardens.

 The daffodils are in honour of the recent Boston Marathon.

Pots of them with Boston Strong stickers on their wrapping can still be found with fresh blooms on steps and walls around the city.

Like all shopping districts globally, Newbury Street has its share of national and global brands in its retail mix.  It's the way of the world whether we like it or not.

In between the Shake Shacks, Lulu Lemon, UNQLO and COS stores there are still a few independents to be found but you do have to look hard for them.

Not only does Newbury Street feature an Aesop store, it also has its own T2.

 And, wait for it...

The Halal Guys are in Boston and on Uber Eats!!!

I'm off to explore the city under the close supervision of a tour guide tomorrow.  We will be covering a lot of territory and I'm so relieved I decided to join the tour because I don't think I'd be able to get myself to even half the places the tour will take us in the whole week that I will be here.


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