When in Quaint … (strike that) Crowded Boston.

Well, I said on 8/1 I would post “tomorrow.” I guess that makes me a liar.

The day in question: July 31st. The city in question: Boston. The plans for today were quite simple. Nighttime plans: a Red Sox game. Lunch plans: eating in the “corporate dining room” where Justin (our host) works.

The day started out with Wendy (our other host) taking my brother (Steven) and I around the city. We went toward the John Hancock Tower, a 60-story skyscraper and the tallest building in New England.

John Hancock Tower, Boston

John Hancock Tower, Boston

We looked around the area, first going into the original part of the Boston Public Library which is very ornate, includes beautiful frescoes, and is a setting of many film scenes. After this we walked a couple blocks down nearby Boylston Street, where I could see the Boston Marathon finish line still painted on the street. It seemed almost fresh. Wendy gave me a little background, particularly on prominent “sites” of the Marathon bombings, like where the security video feeds were…and some anecdotes. Apparently Justin was working nearby and since the transportation was stopped after the bombings, he had to walk home – many miles. Just past the finish line, we went into the Copley Square shopping plaza/mall, mainly so that I could get some coffee but also so that I could try to find a USB/micro USB cord cheaply. I had forgotten to plug in my phone last night and the power was low. We were planning to be out all day. But since the cheapest cord I could find was $12 (at the Microsoft store, no less) when they cost about 50 cents on ebay with free shipping from China, I passed. Later on, I found out Justin had a spare and he let me borrow it to use with Steven’s portable charger.

Reading Room, Boston Public Library

Reading Room, Boston Public Library

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About that lunch in the corporate dining room. It turns out Justin works in the John Hancock Tower. So we went over, waited in the lobby while we came down, and then we had to show our IDs and receive visitor ID cards. Then we went up to the 49th floor, to the dining room. The selection was incredible. For $6, it was exactly like a Las Vegas buffet. I had more food than I care to list here. We were surrounded by people in business wear, but we as guests were dressed casually. The point is, I didn’t want to create a scene carrying around plates filled with ridiculous piles of food. This is where all these employees go for their regular lunch after all. But I did have to try several items that looked great and took in some views from 500 feet over Boston.

View of the Finish Line from the John Hancock Tower - 49th Floor.

View of the Finish Line from the John Hancock Tower – 49th Floor.

49 Floors above Boston #1

49 Floors above Boston #1

49 Floors above Boston #2

49 Floors above Boston #2

49 Floors above Boston #3

49 Floors above Boston #3

After a mini-tour of Justin’s office, the three of us were back out on the streets and decided to take the cute and relaxing swan boat ride on the little lake in Boston Common. It was a relaxing 10 minute glide along the lake and we sat in the front row. After this we walked through part of the Freedom Trail including the Burying Grounds, Faneuil Hall, the old State House, site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House (still standing since before 1700). We also visited the relatively-new Holocaust Memorial – I’m not sure if that was added to the Freedom Trail. It would be a different type of freedom, but I guess it fits.  This monument was brilliant – the best Holocaust Memorial I have seen anywhere. I spent quite a while there, thinking and reading. Then it was time for baseball!

We started heading toward Fenway Park on the “T” which is the metro and stands for “train.” It was going ridiculously slow, partly because of the game, partly because of rush hour. So we got off part way and ate dinner at a small restaurant called “Flour Bakery and Cafe.” It is a natural, organic, vegetarian-friendly place and is exactly the type of place I’d go all the time if I lived nearby. It is owned by (famous?) restauranteur Joanne Chang. Then we decided just to walk the rest of the way toward Fenway, arriving right as the game began._DSC9130

The entire Fenway Park experience was everything I hoped it could be and even more. With the seats so close to the field, such history, such a fun experience and supportive fan base, I can see why tickets cost so much. And by “so much” I mean way more than Dodger Stadium, but not really that bad in the big scheme of things. We got seats the day before the game, on the aisle, down the 1st base line, without any obstructed views (of which there are MANY among the Fenway Park seats) for about $40 each. Even being one of the furthest-back rows among the seats, we were still very close to the field, because the seats at Fenway are not very steep. During the game, I walked around to get some other views._DSC9115

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Fenway is a classic park that opened the same week the Titanic sunk. Think about that! I like to think the stadium looks very much how it did back then. Maybe they have added some seats or something like that, but it is still a very unique experience. The home locker room is accessed from the concourse, right near where food is sold. The sight lines are poor – many seats are facing straight forward – not angled toward the infield – and cause those people to sit with their head turned to the side in order to see home plate. Also, the seats look original! They are old, wooden slat seats and there is very, very little leg room. I barely fit!

The view from our seats.

The view from our seats.

But on to the pros: The atmosphere was incredible. I think almost everyone in the crowd was a Sox fan. No one seemed drunk, everyone enjoyed cheering their team on, and I finally got to see Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” played at the end of the 7th inning. It was one of the coolest things I possibly have ever seen, certainly at a ballgame, to see the crowd singing at full volume along with Neil Diamond. And it sounded like all 30,000 people are singing. And cheering and making hand gestures – see the video. You might need to listen closely – it gets clearer.

This game gave us our money’s worth. It went 15 innings. We only stayed for 11, then had to leave to catch the “T” back home. It was worth every penny and it is unquestionably the most fun baseball atmosphere I have witnessed. Though I am partial to Dodger Stadium, I loved Fenway!_DSC9127

——-

The next day, 8/1, involved sleeping in and then Steven and I went to Salem together. This is the city where the witch trials took place in 1692. Now, the city seems like a complete tourist trap with countless witch museums, ghost tours, and Magick exhibitions. Kind of creepy! We went to a park/arcade/carnival at the end of the peninsula, called Salem Willows. We enjoyed pepper steak sandwiches and then followed with ice cream from the store where the ice cream cone was invented, E.W. Hobbs.  I got my ice cream in a cup and felt obligated to get the cone on top, even though I don’t like sugar cones. They apparently also have amazing popcorn although popcorn never sounds (or smells) good to me unless I cook it myself on the stove._DSC9157

We walked a little bit of the Salem historical walking tour, focusing mainly on the cemetery which has many tombstones from the 1600s. That’s just incredible. I always find myself stalling in places like that, my mind drifting to an imagination of what life must have been like back then. In particular, the tombstone photo below is of a family, where the father lived into his 70s, the mother until 45, a second wife into her 60s, and then there are three children who died. But they aren’t small children or infants like so many back then, and so many others in cemeteries like this. No, Elizabeth died at 17, Hannah at 19, and Josiah at 21. These deaths were all around the year 1800. I can’t fathom that. Was that normal? What was normal? Did they expect to die young? I really have no idea and I can’t imagine. _DSC9181

Finally, a leisurely drive along the coast through the cities of Marblehead, Lynn, and Revere, brought us back to Boston. We didn’t have plans for dinner but Wendy and Justin did, and it couldn’t have been better.

We went to a pub in Harvard Square (near Harvard U,) and played stump trivia as a team. We got 3rd out of approximately 15 teams, had excellent fish and chips and (several) local beers along the way.

Still frustrated that I didn’t know Hokkaido was the 2nd largest Japanese Island. I thought it was Honshu.

We were there for several hours and it was a super fun way to end our time in Boston. The whole way back Justin and I were talking about our similar music tastes, so that was pretty cool. The next morning, Steven had a flight back to LA and I drove him to the airport in the pouring rain. I got back to Justin and Wendy’s and fell asleep again.

Happy images to leave you with:

What I saw above me as I lie on the grass

What I saw above me as I lie on the grass

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One thought on “When in Quaint … (strike that) Crowded Boston.

  1. Would Wendy be the same one that was in Hungary?
    The architecture is really cool: a neat mixture of old historical buildings with new skyscrapers.
    I absolutely don’t like Neil Diamond, but that was pretty neat to see/hear what seemed to be the entire crowd singing along to the song. Very cool baseball game experience, Bobby. 15 innings?! Wow.
    Great pictures. Glad your brother could join you in this leg of your journey.

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