I have arrived safely in Boston and am completely in love with the place. I had a pretty dreadful flight here from San Fran, turbulence, over-crowding, nowhere to stow hand luggage, stuffed right at the very back of the plane where we were served last by the grumpiest Steward I have ever known. As we were the last to be served, the Steward explained he had run out of cutlery so would we mind sharing – really! You can’t go anywhere without tripping over a hand sanitizer in SF and the current flu epidemic is making people even more anxious, so no, we will not be sharing our cutlery. I opted for the cheese and cracker option…
It was with slightly heavy heart that I ventured out into the cold, dark rain on my very first visit to Boston. The airport shuttle was waiting and my driver was nice enough but not very chatty. I was up to this point not overly impressed. Then I got to the world’s friendliest hotel and all was well with the world again. My room is nice enough, I screwed my nose up when I realised there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room but complementary refreshments are served in the lobby. I wasn’t initially enamoured with the idea of having to get dressed to pad down seven flights of stairs for my morning brew but I love it now. I am greeted with a cheery good morning by the housekeepers, on the first day I was asked how my night was, I explained I was in a slightly different time zone still and was cheerily told to take my time. The reception staff are equally cheery and helpful. I live with teenagers. I’m lucky if someone grunts at me in the morning. I could easily get used to hearing ‘have a great day ma’am’ every time I leave a building. When I return the concierge guys out front welcome me back – even if I just pop to Star Market next door. It’s not at all cheesy – it’s lovely.
Initially I had planned to meet with folks from the Fenway Institute but Bob needed to have some dental work so this was postponed until Tuesday (today). I was so grateful for a day to catch up. My inboxes are overflowing already despite my best efforts and I have little time to write up all my experiences, adventures and meetings. I did manage to walk to the Cheers bar and buy some souvenirs which was really the only thing I’ll have time for sightseeing wise.
Today was spent with Bob and Lisa from the LGBT Aging Project. In contrast to San Francisco where every other building is a gym, in Boston every other building is a café (my kinda town) where Bob, Lisa and I met and had some lovely, insightful conversations about working in the LGBT space, the challenges, the gains, collaborations and who else I should try and link in with. I could easily spend another month here making links.
I’m deeply grateful for the time today, my head is again buzzing with ideas of how I can bring this knowledge and understanding back to the UK to have a positive impact. I was even more fortunate that Bob, Lisa and some of their colleagues are moving so they were keen to offload some bits and pieces including this – which I love!
They were even polite enough to give me a small, that’s how lovely people are here. I hot footed it back to the hotel – I cold footed it back to the hotel, it’s -3 here – to write up notes and plot more fabulous plans based on today’s discussions. I wandered over to the shopping centre opposite the hotel in search of gifts for ungrateful teens. I got a bit excited to see a Neiman Marcus in real life, I’ve only ever heard of it on TV before 🙂 I can’t afford anything from aforementioned store so left. I did drool at the window of Jimmy Choo for a while though before bracing the elements in search of a subway.
I’m a huge fan of travel cards and by far the best way to get to know a place is to travel by bus. You get to meet the most interesting people that way. On my last day in San Fran, I met a really interesting chap who introduced me to three of his personalities, they all seemed nice and he gave me some great tips on travelling to New York. It never ceased to amaze me that pretty much everyone I met talked openly about having a therapist, except the people I met on the bus who I suggest would greatly benefit from some psychological intervention.
I bustled down to the subway – you have to bustle here or your ears drop off from the cold – and in my own bumbling inept way could not get to grips with the top up system of the travel pass. It’s called a Charlie Card here which again is just a lovely friendly name for it. I sent a photo to my step son, Charlie. (I’m never sure if I can use the term ‘step’ children as G and I are not married but for brevity I’ll use it here in the hope that it will not cause offence to anyone and because to say ‘the son of my boyfriend’ makes me sound a bit grandiose). With my Charlie Card I can travel any bus or train except the commuter line. I have no idea what that is but have three appointments spread across town tomorrow so will suss it all out by then. I’m such a chilled out seasoned traveller now.
The nice lady in the subway who probably has to deal with people like me visiting and not knowing what the hell they are doing all day was super helpful. By which I mean she assessed me as very needy and did the whole transaction for me including paying with my bank card. I wasn’t sure how the Charlie Card worked – some travel cards you swipe on but not off, some on and off, some you just flash at the driver – so asked for some clarity. These you swipe against a reader on the barriers. She made me swipe and go through. I didn’t actually want to travel anywhere but I got on the next train because I’m British and would rather pretend I wanted to do something than let a helpful person down. So I went to Arlington for a bit, then took a return train which took me out another exit and so helpful lady never knew. Sometimes it is exhausting being British.
Walking back I found a lobster shack. Not where actual lobsters shack up but where you can go in and eat something called a lobster roll. I’d heard talk of these and wanted in. They are delicious and I’m going back. Obviously, I’ll have to wait until staff changeover because they might think I’m a lobster roll addict or something. Here it is (totally acceptable to photograph food for a blog kids, just saying) The pickle was free 🙂
I missed out on the complementary hot chocolate from the worlds friendliest hotel but the lobster roll made up for it. Chatted to the family earlier and everyone is surviving without me, which is good. Remember kids even when I’m not in the country I know what you are up to, don’t forget that. Always watching, always watching (Roz, Monsters Inc)
Busy day planned tomorrow and tired out even though its only 9pm. Bob has recommended an evening stroll around the Italian quarter, but I’m pooped so that’ll have to wait another day. Big love from Boston x