Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Friday, 22 May 2015

USA Trip: Taking Nathaniel to his paternal roots. Part 2 - Beautiful Boston

Following from Part 1...

After the delicious Thanksgiving/Birthday turkey dinner we slept like logs. Well I did anyway, I think A got up with N early in the morning and went to play downstairs. ;)

It was Friday morning and first order of the day was to get to an RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) office so A could get his Driver's License renewed. Yup he still operates on a State of Massachusetts Driver's License (25+ years after arriving in SA mind you!). After a failed attempt at trying to get to the local town's RMV which had a huge queue, we found out there was an express RMV office at a highway stop on the way to Newton - where we were going anyway - score! So off we zooted to the highway stop. While A did that Nathaniel and I browsed the high-way stop's shop. Where I found an awesome gift for the boys in the form of a GIANT Snickers bar. I Whatsapped Griff saying 'I bought you a Snickers bar, so you can see if the American ones are any different', to which I got a bland reply saying, 'Mom, I am sure they taste the same..'. Little did he know the difference was that it is 10x BIGGER than usual. LOL.

After that excitement we drove through to Newton (another suburb on the outskirts of Boston) to meet up with our friends Kerry and Graham who had moved back to Boston from Cape Town a year ago. They have a 3.5 year old boy and a little girl a few weeks older than Nathaniel. They stayed with us when they were in SA in March, so Nathaniel had already met them. We met up at a diner called Rox. Where the babies had a good chat and then got stuck into tasting everyone's food. Georgia, being older was already quite into eating. While Nathaniel up to this point had had a limited diet of just small quantities of organic fruit and veg purees. At this meal alone however he tried avo, sweet potato fries, corned beef, pickle, bread, lemon and I think he got some milkshake too. (After that all bets were off and the child has now eaten all and everything, and appears to like everything too!)

After our yummy lunch (I had an avo, pear, feta and pecan nut salad, A had a Reuben sandwich) we walked to Newton park and had a good play session with the kids.
After bidding farewell to our Afri-American friends we did a spot of shopping - the New Balance Factory  is in Boston so we visited that - I got running socks and some running shorts - and Nathaniel got his first pair of tackies/trainers, for next year when he is walking well. Then we went to the airport to collect Andrew's sister Edie, who had flown in fro Chicago to come spend the week-end with us and see us all. Yay! (I met her last time too, and her hubby Fred was recently in SA and also stayed with us).
Then it was time to head to MIT (yes THE MIT!! Eeeek. *geekgasm*) to go see Dan (Becky & Jon's son, who came to SA with his girlfriend Adina in Jan and stayed with us) - who was just about to graduate from the Boston Conservatory with a Masters Degree as a conductor!  - conduct the opening night of the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan players group in their production of Utopia Limited.

It was one of the oddest theatre events I have been to and started off rather strange. Nathaniel was hilarious at first and was mimicking the acting and singing on stage. The show turned out to be very well acted, with excellent music and was very entertaining. I loved it. We then all headed back to Becky & Jon's house for the night.

On Saturday it was my turn to get up early. So at the crack of dawn on a chilly spring morning Nathaniel and I went for a long (4-5km) walk around the neighbourhood. Looking at all the beautiful houses and spring flowers in bloom. Becky was hosting a family open-house for us that day so over the course of the day various aunts, uncles, cousins etc streamed in. I lost track of how many came but it was easily 20. All came bearing gifts for Nathaniel. He was very spoiled. Lucky boy. He loved all the attention he got. It turned out to be a gorgeous warm day too so lovely to be outside on the lawn. I went for a drive with Jon to get coffee, as one does in the states, and he showed me a bit more of the general area including a small lake. So pretty.
Soon enough the afternoon wound down into the evening and only a few visitors were left over and we settled in to have a BBQ dinner of steak and burgers. Eventually a huge chocolate mousse cake arrived with a cousin (who is a chef) and then Jon brought out his 'moonshine' and all I can remember is we got quite festive and everything was very funny after that. :)

Sunday morning I surprisingly felt quite chirpy and keen to run, so off I went. I decided to be adventurous and see if I could find the place Jon had shown me, and I did. I made my way to the lake. Then instead of turning back and retracing my route I decided I could do a loop, even though I had no idea where to actually go.... I do tend to have a good sense of direction though so wasn't too worried. I was 'lost' for a short while though and ended up on the wrong side of a high way. Once I saw a land mark I knew on the other side I actually ran over the highway and climbed over the centre barricade - convinced I was going to be chased down, caught and arrested! LOL. Anyway I eventually found my way back, and went way further than I had expected to, 15km!

Then it was time to head into Boston city to take a look around. Edie, Jon, his 'little brother' Carter, A, Nathaniel and I piled into the car and headed out on a stunning day. Boston centre was full of people. It transpired that a huge charity walk was taking place so parking was nigh impossible to find.

After driving up and down in the Beacon Hill area an exclusive old styled area right in Boston  - which is stunning - we finally found parking and walked over to the park via part of the Freedom Trail where we saw a couple of cemeteries and Independence fighter Patriot's memorials etc.
Loads of people were out and about enjoying the day and exploring the city. We strolled through the Boston Common enjoying the scenery and view of the magnificent Massachusetts State House Building. We also crossed over to the Boston Public Garden to go look at the cute 'Swan Boats' on the lake and the Bronzed 'Make Way For Ducklings' Ducks. Jon also pointed out the TV show CHEERS's pub which is across the road from the park, and then we walked on to the Washington statue and all around the garden. 
By that time we were all hungry so we walked towards China Town, stopping at place that sold Pizza slices, where we had a delicious pizza slice. (Carter had a huge delicious burger). Jon knew a Chinese place around the corner who's toilets we could use, so it was dubbed 'Take  a Dumpling' hence forth. :). 

After browsing in China Town we walked on towards the site of the Boston Tea Party. There is a replica of the ships and re-enactments happen for tour groups, and you can of course stop for tea too. We carried on and walked past the aquarium, pausing to see the seals playing, and then on to Faneuil hall, to Paul Revere's (the famous patriot) House and the Old North Church.
By that time we were more than ready for a break and stopped at a coffee shop for a cappuccino and cannoli. Which was my first time ever trying a cannoli... Aside: We did try to get into Mike's Pastry (which seems to be Boston's equivalent of Cake Bosses' Carlo's, but the queue was around the block, so we settled on somewhere quicker and quieter. So back to the cannoli. I thought it would be like a brandy snap with cream. Instead it was more like a Chinese restaurant bow-tie and cheesecake. It was tasty, but not necessarily my favourite thing ever. Certainly worth trying though!
Once we'd had a rest we walked on to the Union Oyster House. And the New England Holocaust Memorial, which was incredibly sad and moving. I think it is probably impossible not to walk through it without shedding a tear. It is a stark reminder of the atrocities of WWII. The Jon ducked into Union Oyster House to get us some authentic New England Clam Chowder, and corn bread

We shared this under Sam Adams' statue, where Dapper Dan appeared all suave and smart in his Tux, having just conducted a matinee of Utopia Limited. So he joined us for the next part.
So we carried on past some interesting bronzed trash set into the road at an intersection - apparently an art installation - it is weirdly beautiful, and back past Faneuil Hall and to the site of the Boston Massacre. Where Carter and I played dead.
We then went through Pi Alley. (Unremarkable) and finally back to the car! That was a LONG WALK!!
But we were not done yet... From there we went on to Dan & Adina's apartment in East Boston, which has the most amazing view over the water to the city. Wow. 

We visited there for a bit and then it was time to start heading homeward, but not before visiting  John F Kennedy Memorial Park in Harvard Square (yes THE HARVARD! Eeeek!). A used to work near here in his early career and was inspired by JFK quotes. This one in particular...
Of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us - recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state - our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions - were we truly men of courage . . . were we truly men of judgment . . . were we truly men of integrity . . . were we truly men of dedication?
John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

Finally the day was done and we went home pretty much ready for bed!

And with that, our stay in Boston wound to an end, we just had time for one more run in the morning and then some packing up and a last playtime on the floor, before we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport with Edie. She went back to Chicago and we flew on to Palm Beach Florida.

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