Over the Pond and far away…Day 11

P1080301.JPG

Boston, and coming home….

And so we had come to the last day of our holiday before returning home, but we were not sitting-back. We wanted to savour every last moment. So down to breakfast early for cereal, juice, coffee and you’ve guessed it….waffles and strawberries and cream.  I can’t say I would want the latter at the table EVERY morning, but it WAS nice for a short time!

I knew that the hotel was quite close to the Charles River, but I didn’t realise how close. The interesting thing when you ask anyone local, how far some destination is, the reply is always measured in ‘blocks’, and not in metres or yards or parts of a mile…which is probably more sensible when you think of it!

Copley to Charles River.jpg

Only a few blocks north took us through tree-lined streets to the beautiful Embankment to let us see a load of lovely buildings on the other side of the river…..

….and wild life and friendly malamute dogs….

Our last chance to record images was when we went to have lunch in one of the leafy and delightful streets nearby… we managed to bypass the Sugar Heaven and moved-on to……Sonsie

For those who might find this of interest, we ate in the Sonsie Bistro in Newbury Street. (for your useless interest, Sonsie is a Scottish word which means ‘lovely’ in Scotland). The shared pizza and salad, with a rather strange but perfectly-pleasant beer sufficed, and so we went back to the hotel for luggage, and had an uneventful trip to Logan Airport.

The British Airways 747-400 monstrously-large plane was to be our carriage taking us to London. A perfectly-pleasant meal, a blanket, dimmed lights, and Fawlty Towers saw us lulled into sleep, and when we were gently wakened, on the approach to Heathrow, we had to move our watches on by 5 hours…..but I can’t say that my brain had completely moved forward  five hours.

And so we were welcomed to Happy Heathrow (not)……

 

Over the Pond and far away….Day 10

p1080221

Bootiful, booming, Boston……..

Sport is not my most knowledgeable of favourite subject, and American sport even less, but I think most folk at some time have heard of the RED SOX baseball team, hence the header photo…..but more of this later…

We slept well and whilst we had considered going out to find somewhere for breakfast, the smell of coffee, croissants, cookies and waffles was slightly stronger, so we conceded and headed for the restaurant. For me, a simple omelette would suffice, whilst Lady felt a croissant would satisfy her dietary requirements.

On both counts we were caught-out. My omelette came not just as a couple of fluffed-up eggs but with a large amount of fried potato chunks and salad….FOR BREAKFAST!!!  And Lady admits she was almost defeated by her ‘croissant’ which was cooked like French Toast, and served with fried potato and a relish of some kind! I suppose it takes all sorts!

However we were heading out to fulfil the reason for our visit to Boston…..a trip into the country-side to see some spectacular Autumn foliage. I had booked one with Grayline Coaches, with a handy pick-up point; outside the Fairmont Hotel in Copley Square. We were there in plenty of time, in the rain, at a layby where coaches, buses, and trolley buses were all coming and going. But no sign of a Grayline! I didn’t know phone codes to call them so we were helpless! Meanwhile we had the chance to look round at the marvellous buildings in the Square..

—–even on a miserable day it was certainly splendid.

Pick-up time had passed and enquiries to all the coach drivers had drawn a blank. I went over to speak with staff outside the Fairmont Hotel to be told that it had gone some time ago….from the ‘other’ frontage, around the corner! Oh, Dear!! So back to the Lenox, where the front of house staff contacted the company on our behalf. They did agree to give us back half of the total cost.

So what to do? Decided a Trolley City Tour would let us see a lot in a short time. Off to the Marriott (we travel in exalted circles, you know) to get the tickets, and back to Copley Square, to get our Trolley, and you certainly could not miss it! So off we set……

This was where the RED SOX photo comes into play, because it was evident that our driver was a keen RED SOX supporter, and he rattled-off the current team and stars from the past. So for my friends who are interested in these things, this photo might be of interest.

P1080223.JPG

No, I was more interested after we crossed the Charles River to the hallowed courts of Harvard University and MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With my physics background, MIT was hallowed ground, and any mention of it, in the CV of a writer of a research paper or article meant it had to be taken seriously. Unfortunately I only got one photo as he sped through.

P1080233.JPG

Back over the river again, passing a large group of pink-clad ladies walking for charity…a world-wide phenomenon. Then it was time to hop-off at Boston Common, at the State House, a wonderfully-impressive building.

P1080238a.jpg

This was a real breathing-space in a busy city, and looked to be well-used, but again it was clean and neat, with no litter, chewing gum, cigarette ends or over-flowing bins. Squirrels were around in numbers and the trees were starting to show us some of the colours we came to see…

I was also intrigued by the delicacies available at the café in the centre of the park, if you like that kind of thing….

I think I was always ‘against’ skyscrapers and how they might dominate the people-scape, and I still that that is so where they were added to a city design which was based on narrow streets and two-or-three storey buildings. But when I saw the wide avenues of Boston and the apartments and office blocks, they seemed ‘just right’….

So that was a pleasant time, but a hop-back-on to the trolley took us to a place well-mentioned in the literature on Boston…Quincy’s Market. It is, as you imagine, a gathering of small boutique places which women love to frequent to find that ‘special present’ or accessory. It is a wonderful place for a rainy day as you can pop-in or out of shops below ground, or on ground level, as well as being entertained by street shows, or join in the chess.

So much choice in eating places….so where to go for lunch? Where else but the Japanese Restaurant Wagamama? Chilli chicken ramen was a super, rather spicy stew full of noodles, and obviously chicken, and was quite enough to satiate the inner man or lady along with the beer!

Lady then insisted that we look-for, and acquire samples of the usual fridge-magnets, and coasters etc, without which no holiday is complete! Well-worth  a re-visit to see what valuable trinkets we missed  first time. And so back to the trolley and  eventually returned to Copley Square. By this time, feet were tired and body required a snooze. So I must have succumbed, but I don’t remember as I was obviously asleep!

Having dined so well at Wagamama, it did not seem necessary to eat much more, so we simply went out locally to have a typical Canadian meal for our last evening…and Pret a Manger took Lady’s fancy so there we went and dined adequately. Walking back to the hotel let me get a few shots of night-time Boston and the steam coming from the sewers, and often seen in films.

We also met a couple of Red Sox supporters on the streets, and had a chat. They had lost their match but there was no annoyance in their voice, they were perfectly sanguine about the score and saluted their opponents. Good for them, and an example to supporters throughout  the UK….and so to bed, as Samuel Pepys would have said…..

 

 

 

 

 

Over the pond and far away..Day 9

P1080170.JPG

Landfall at Boston…

There was a bit of a sad feeling overnight that this seemed like the end of the holiday with leaving the ship, (although it wasn’t really) and when I woke about 4am, I could not return fully to the land of slumber. Lady continued to sleep soundly, so I got up at 6am and was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by the time she came-to. Up for our last maritime breakfast on the Lido deck, (although I kept writing in my diary, about ‘going downstairs‘ to eat!). We said our goodbyes to those who were available and exchanged e-mails. There were others whom we had hoped to meet again, but of whom there was no sign….a great pity.

An orderly disembarkation,  luggage collection, taxi acquisition, and arrival at the Lenox Hotel, Exeter Street, (in the rain) were all achieved by noon, without mishap. Even better, we were expected….such a relief! No room was immediately available, but Lady  was pleased enough to sit at the fire-side in the Reception area…..in fact I don’t think anything would have moved her after our experience in Montreal!P1080179.JPG

The Lenox is one of Boston’s Historic Hotels and is full of that beautifully-descriptive word….splendour. There is a lot of information on the following website http://www.historichotels.org/hotels-resorts/the-lenox/history.php . Just have a look at the reception area…….

P1080177.JPG

The room was also luxurious, and I have some of the shampoos and lotions etc to prove it… They still had a turn-down service, and everything was impeccable. Even the phone was an old-fashioned circular-dial model!

We had a marvellous corner room on the 8th floor looking up Boylston Street towards Copley Square, and when I looked to street-level I saw a wide yellow line across the road, which said FINISH. It was then that I twigged. Boston-Finish Line-Marathon-Bombing-Deaths. It occurred on April 15th 2013, when two pressure cookers were detonated near two Finish lines either side of the Lenox Hotel. There were 3 deaths and 260 injured. Life seems to move on and there were now no obvious signs of the outrage.

P1080188.JPG

Despite the gentle drizzle, perambulation was self-prescribed and we went off to look at Copley Square about which I had read, and then an eatery for lunch. We knew of the portion-sizes to be expected, but hadn’t witnessed it first-hand, with self-service on the ship. We found a noisy Restaurant called the Globe, close-by and ordered a ciabatta each with some salad…WOW…we could have easily shared one! I even noted in my diary that I did not know how we finished it!

It was then time for Lady to see some shops, and there was certainly no shortage! It was almost a pleasure wandering around in the rain, along clean streets, it must be said, with amphibious vehicles in action…..are they practising for more global-warming? Then to the Prudential Mall which is massive, at the base of a large office block. At least it was indoors!

 

A flatbread (pizza) and a somewhat large salad, both shared, in a little local Irish pub, completed our first day in Boston…a city which we both felt we could really like…..

 

Over the pond and far away..Day 8

P1080129.JPG

Bar Harbour…. landfall into the U.S of A

During the night, we left Canadian waters and were now heaved-to close to American territory. Instead of going through all the customs rigmarole in a reception centre, the US Customs officials had come on board. We had been given the famous Green Card to fill out the night before and were advised to have it, and passport, with us, as we would be called to the ship’s Library in order.

Unfortunately we were only told an approximate time, so went to have breakfast, and had just time for cereal before the appropriate announcement came, and along we went. Everyone was courteous (well you don’t argue with a US Customs Officer, do you?) and we were able to return to our brekkies, secure in the knowledge that the U.S of A felt that we were honourable people and worthy of being let loose on their shores!

We waited until it was ‘open-tendering’ which meant that we could go just when we were ready. Getting from the ship to the tender was no problem when we were in dock, or securely anchored near to land, but it might have been somewhat hairy were we at sea with the ship and tender walloping about in heavy seas! But no such problems occurred. It is actually quite comfortable, and because the tender was almost empty, I was able to get some nice shots of the ship.

The first thing we noticed about Bar Harbour was the announcement about what it does pretty well…..catch lobsters, before we set-off for our internet-seeking.

P1080139.JPG

We were advised to take our internet-requirements to the local Jesup Memorial Library where we were met by smiling librarians who made us welcome, even offered their computers if necessary, and there was coffee available free if wanted. Classic dark wood panelling and a bust of (presumably) Mr Jesup, was well in keeping with the 1911 when it was founded. You have only to read its Facebook page and website to see the important contribution it makes to the locale.

Coming out again into the charming Village Green we saw what we had been hoping to see by coming to this area…..the changing of the leaves as autumn made its presence evident, even if only on a single tree!. So the journey had been worthwhile…to an extent.

p1080140

We are very fortunate in living near Argyll and Perthshire, Scotland where the amount of managed forestry acreage is vast and the chance of seeing beautiful colour change is very good. However our unpredictable and rather damp climate prevent us having the purples and strong reds that we hoped to see.

Close-by the Village Green and ‘the’ tree, was another St George’s Anglican Church. Unlike the previous one in Sydney, this had music playing, and extremely-well I must say! I was happy to listen to a master at the keyboard, and we had a very-pleasant chat about choirs and choral music. Hopefully we can keep in touch.

….But there were still some lovely sights to look-at and record….

And so back to the ship, packing to do (BOO HOO!), get dressed (PRETTY) and get to the Pinnacle Grill (HOORAY) for our final dinner of the cruise. I must say that it is nice to get dressed-up and have a meal alone with the lovely lady  who has been around with me for over 50 years…..and who still looks great….

Nouvelle cuisine was the order of the day, and I normally don’t find it very satisfying, but having dined sufficiently for a week, it was probably right and proper that we should stifle our demand for another over-indulgence in food. We needn’t have worried! What there was, proved very tasty and flavoursome, but I was never going to have to let my belt out a notch after this. However, the company was GREAT!

We spent the rest of the evening at the theatre with a wonderful comedian, but we came down with a crash to the realities of life when we had to put our cases outside, because tomorrow we would be leaving the ship for the next stage of our holiday…..

Over the pond, and far away…..Day 1

N507NS[1].jpg

Glasgow to Montreal ……….

Some five years ago, Lady and I, on retirement, traversed the north Atlantic, and the North American Continent to see Calgary, Banff, Jasper, the Rocky Mountaineer, Kamloops, yet more Rocky Mountaineer, and finally the fair city of Vancouver, before embarking on  a cruise into Alaska.

It was a momentous journey for me, as I am not a great lover of sitting in a metal tube for many hours at a stretch, either in the air, or on a rail line. Much as I loved it in retrospect, I was pleased that we had returned unscathed, and vowed that ‘That is That!’.

Lady is not so easily put-off, and expressed a gentle (but insistent) wish that ‘Boston in the Fall’ might be worth a view. As any man knows, this indicates that cerebral plans are already well-established, if not completed, in the Lady’s mind and that further discussion is meaningless……IT WILL HAPPEN….

This was all in August 2015, and when our Travel Agent was approached, I knew that all struggling was futile. Dates, times, hotels, cruise itinerary, were all established, as I saw a dwindling bank balance being replaced by increasing paperwork in a folder. Weather forecasts all along the way were viewed anxiously, so that it could be established what clothes I would require, to have washed, ironed, unworn, and sitting beside an open suitcase some weeks before departure. I had no inverse opinion requested about Lady’s clothes!

And thus it was that just a couple of weeks ago, accompanied by the massive amount of paperwork demanded by the so-called ‘paperless society’, we set-off for our flight from Glasgow to London. Weather and flight were pleasant and great views of London convinced us that we were lucky to live to the north of Glasgow with a view of the lovely Campsie Fells……all was looking good…..

Our Heathrow transfer was painless and our 7 hour BA flight to Montreal uneventful…… even some sleep was possible after a pleasant meal. As a bonus, the Canadian Customs Officers at Montreal were courteous, and the airport coach took us to a couple of hundred yards from our hotel. So we set off happily walking and chatting in the late evening …….but everything had been going too swimmingly….!

There is something about a foreign city at night…….it doesn’t look at all like it does in Google Street! We had just missed a turning, but, hey, there were a few police standing together, and we could ask them. It turned out that they were there because of the presence of the Chinese president! We chatted briefly and then asked for confirmation of where our hotel was ….well you know what they say…..policemen know everything. We set off again on our way happy that we would be soon tucked up in bed…..

The receptionist was mystified, and justifiably so, as she had no record of us. Showing her the booking confirmed that the police were wrong. It was NOT our hotel, although is sounded similar (probably my Irish/Scottish French!).

OK, so we now had the correct directions to our correct hotel and we DID arrive, checked the name over the door, and met ANOTHER mystified Receptionist…..’Sorry, Mr Monroe, no record of you’…..’Can you give us a bed and we can sort it in the morning?’……..’Of course, De Luxe OK?’…..’Anything!!’…..’Sleep well’……..

Three am saw me on my phone to our Travel Agent (the 5 hour time change permitted that) who reassured me that they would be working on this for me, and slumber eventually overcame tiredness from a very long day, annoyance, anxiety, and the question….. what can happen next?

For that you will just have to wait……