Sunday, July 13, 2008
Oh, how wonderful our trip to Boston was. I'd recommend the city to anyone. The streets were clean and safe, the buildings historic and immaculate, the shopping extravagant and impressive, the attractions abundant and accessible. It is definitely a walking town. It was easy to walk anywhere, everywhere else we took the subway. Had you been smaller and more totable (or larger and a glutton for sore feet), we could have walked everywhere we went - except to Cambridge. (Sure made our trip to Atlanta last year seem like dirt in comparison.)
The flights there were good, as they were coming back. We stopped in Toronto for a few hours. (Almost thought we wouldn't make it into the states with your electronic baby that cooed and moved. That went into the checked bags on the way home.) Got into Boston around 8:00 p.m., got a cab to the hotel and totally got hosed. (I'd studied the map good and hard and knew he was taking us way the heck from the direct route into the city. But what can you do...?)
Anyway, I tried to keep you on our time to avoid too much readjustment at home. So, we threw our bags in the room, you into the stroller and we went to find some supper. Being Saturday night, 9:30ish and college grad season, the streets were packed with partiers. At least the strip down Boylston St. Everywhere looked packed, then we saw it - the world's largest Apple store. (Drool...) Three gorgeous stories of glass, a minimalist set-up with a glass spiral staircase up the centre. Super nice, but that's because they have someone constantly sweeping the stairs and the floor to keep it all looking very pristine.
Once back on the street, we crossed to the other side to avoid some of the madness. We stumbled upon the conference centre where Dad would be spending the next four days, scooted through a mall - the Prudential Center - and into the 24-hour grocery store directly across the street from the Marriott. Grabbed some milk, pop, grapes and some entrees, including noodles of course, and took them back to the room. Did I mention the room was on the 36th floor overlooking the harbour? Wow.
So the next day we woke up to an even more gorgeous view. You could see downtown to one side, the harbour off in the distance and streets - going every which way - of brick row houses below - with some great views of their rooftop gardens! Dad went to his conference and we went swimming - the reason you told everyone we were going to Boston. Adorned in our pretty sundresses to cover our swim suits, we were all geared up with a beach ball and water wings. The pool was a little cold for my liking, but things like that never bother you. You'd swim in icicles if we let you. You are still very good at swimming on your own, trying to get away from me and my monster personalities.
If I've learned anything in the almost three years I've been a parent, specifically YOUR mommy, it's to not rush you. Ever. Or suffer the consequences. So for a couple days we took it pretty easy, swimming, then getting ready to go walking with the stroller, meeting Dad for lunch, trying to duck into some cool stores before you screamed. That kind of stuff.
I don't remember if it was Sunday or Monday, but you and I went out and hit the public garden. At first I wasn't sure how far away it actually was; city maps can be so deceiving. We wandered upon Copely Square, marked by a church and greenspace, facing the public library. We arrived at the lovely and mature public garden minutes later. We were greeted by a large statue of Washington on his horse, the many tulip beds were just on the brink of being spent, the lake in the middle calm with a lovely bridge full of people enjoying the day, and (labeled) trees of varieties from around the world towering over it all. And in the centre of it all were the swan boats. Ranging from 40 to over 100 years old, these pedal-powered boats took lucky ducks like us for a tour around the lake. (I think there should be an area of Wascana Park like this, complete with hot dog and ice cream vendors nearby. And more sculptures. I realize how few we have every time we travel somewhere else.) Lovely afternoons like this were always promptly followed by you falling asleep in the stroller, then me closing the curtains and putting you in bed for a two or three hour nap. All the better to keep you up late.
And late we did keep you up on Monday, strolling the neighbourhood of Beacon Hill until after dark. We (mostly your dad) were actually looking for Cheers because that's all he came to Boston for. But those homes we walked by on those old, brick sidewalks... Oh, those homes. It was like peering into a movie set for an opulent scene from 1940. Big gilded mirrors, large paintings, traditional furniture, original mouldings (and that's 1790s to 1820s, with the top real estate listings in the area going for $11.9 million.). These people are wealthy - and there are a lot of them. These four-story townhouses are dense and abundant, the streets are narrow and it's all beautiful. Anyway, on our journey, we stumbled upon the Mass State House and eventually Cheers where we all posed nicely for pictures.
By Tuesday, I was ready to take you to the Children's Museum by myself, but it was one of those mornings. You didn't want to eat. You didn't want to get dressed. Just plain grouchy. So we stayed and played all morning. I finally got you out around 11:30, but just in the stroller and just a few blocks away into the Boston Public Library. It was lovely. There were some museum-esque exhibits on the main floor, a gorgeous courtyard, a magnificent staircase with lions flanking the the first level, and rooms of people surfing the internet amidst collections of very old and kinda smelly books. After twenty minutes, you were starting to lose it so we cut it short, went back to the hotel and plopped your little sleeping body into bed.
And I should have known, it happens so often. You were sick. Fortunately, just a tiny cold but no matter the severity, it always starts with a foul mood and a bad attitude in the beginning that we're very familiar with that these last six months. So, we took it easy. Dad brought in supper and we 'rented' Bee Movie that night. (It's hard being on holidays and go-go-going all the time!)
Wednesday was Dad's last two sessions of the four-day conference. He ditched the closing keynote as I found it really useless last year. And once we figured out their subway system we went to the Boston Children's Museum. Almost identical in structure to what we'd experienced in Atlanta, it was good. You enjoyed climbing up the three-stories in this wavy-boarded, enclosed contraption - which really surprised me and maybe made me slightly unnerved. You've never been one to easily part from us and take on a totally new adventure on your own, but you did and you wanted to do it again and again. When we finally got you away and went through, we spent the next two+ hours jumping from activity to activity. It was fine, but I was tired and so were you. We headed back to the hotel amidst rush hour subway traffic, at which point we were nearly separated from Dad. This only heightened your anxiety about losing one of us as the day before your Dad missed the elevator that we'd gotten on. And though we quickly found him, from that moment on you held tightly onto each of our hands every time we crossed the street, got on the subway, and of course, went into an elevator.
That evening we succumbed to the Duck Tours that were permanently stationed across from our hotel. You hadn't napped and fell asleep before the tour began. And it was good. It took us everywhere and gave us an idea of what else there was and the history of it all. Some of the highlights included seeing a piece of the Berlin Wall, taking a jaunt on the Charles River, getting caught in the rain (but not being the people sitting across from us who totally got soaked) and getting to at least see the areas we knew we wouldn't make it to. You woke up as we were on the river, which must have been weird as you knew we were going for a ride, but I bet you wondered how we got onto a boat...
The next day we were ready to set our sights upon Harvard University and their Natural History Museum. This was a huge highlight. Not only was where we were in Cambridge incredibly quaint and very stereotypical small-town New England, but we now get to say we went to Harvard! The train station was right outside the university grounds, so it was very easy to find our way. I don't know if school was still in session (it couldn't have been), but there were people everywhere. We made our way to the museum, took the long, unstable ramp with your stroller into a door that was not the main entrance. This was typical of everywhere we went; it was completely inaccessible or completely inconvenient. You don't realize how hard it is to get around with wheels (albeit stroller ones) when most places only have stairs. Poor people in wheelchairs just have to stay home I guess... This is solely due to the age of the buildings I imagine, but still, I don't know how they get away with it.
So, we go in, ask for directions to the museum because there's no signage. And we get in for free as the scholarly man that we asked pointed us to the elevator and to the floor with the exhibits, completely bypassing the actual entrance. Whatever. We were so enthralled with what we were seeing, we didn't think twice. Their website says: Presenting the incomparable collections of three museums and the research of scientists across the University, it has a mission to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, sparking curiosity and a spirit of discovery in people of all ages. And it did. Besides the dinosaur skeletons/fossils and specimens of now-extinct animals, it was the sheer variety of animals represented that overwhelmed us (apparently 21 million specimens across the museum). And the age of them. To know that 150 or even 250 years ago, rich guys would have actual collections of animals, maybe monkeys or even gorillas, maybe birds of paradise, maybe mongolian tigers and that the museum would eventually acquire these animals, many in frighteningly real poses is insane to me. So is the passage of time and the ever-evolving issues of political correctness, but I digress.
Overall, it was wonderful. After leaving there, we went looking for some lunch and hit upon a nice place called the Uno Chicago Grill. Your dad swears that the burger he ate there was the best and is now on a mission to find something comparable. Anyway, we ate (well, you didn't really) and walked across the street to show Dad the Urban Outfitter's as he missed the one we hit in Boston. Lucky we did, too, because we found you the best thing ever: a battery-powered keychain that quotes 6 wicked witch lines from the Wizard of Oz. How awesome was that? Pretty wicked-awesome if we ask you!
After that we must have taken it easy again because I have no memory until the next morning, Friday, our last full day. (Wait, that's not entirely true. While you and Dad slept the afternoon away, I snuck away to buy a book and hit the high-end ritzy stores like Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Barneys New York. People pay in excess of the $94,000 ring I asked to see, and people buy little robin's egg blue sweaters for $12,000? I can't fathom it, but there was this one Prada bag that was really nice...) We'd originally planned to take you whale watching, but when Dad phoned they didn't recommend it because of your size. So whatever, we decided to hit Faneuil Hall Market and the downtown area. We're not into shopping, but went mainly to see what the fuss was about. The Holocaust memorial was good to see, the interior of Cheers, some statues but not much else. The food at the Hard Rock Cafe was really greasy and it was cold in there. After lunch we wandered through the streets and amazingly came upon the harbour where the aquarium and the whale watching tours departed from. We decided to give it one more crack at the whale watch and they said ultimately it was the captain's call but they would sell us the tickets. Oh, what fun. We boarded this large boat. During the announcements to the passengers they said, 'if you've never been on a boat, you might want sea-sickness medication. It's available blah, blah, blah.' So your dad suggested I get on board with that and though I've never gotten sick on Grandpa's motorboat, I went along because I do have such a weak stomach. I took this Dramamine that made me feel instantly ill, exactly like I felt for six weeks when I was pregnant with you. When that subsided, it started raining and we had to get off the deck and inside a cabin. The ride out was over an hour, but it was worth it. We had no idea we would be able to see the whales like we did. At times, they were twenty feet from the boat when they'd surface. Wow. And there were maybe three sets of two or three that we observed feeding and diving and spouting off and on for about an hour. Absolutely worth the trip. But when we turned back for our hour and a half ride back, you passed out, the Dramamine knocked me out and your dad - who will sleep anytime, anywhere - also slept. Exhilarating and exhausting.
Saturday morning we woke up, got ready and went for breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel. We has the buffet which was a nice change after sesame-crusted almonds and scones all week. When I was washing my hands in the washroom after your mad "I have to pee!" statement, I saw this sparkle on the edge of the sink. At which point I saw a big diamond ring and instinctively popped it in my pocket. We went back to the table and I whispered, "I have to go to the front desk. I just found a diamond ring in the bathroom." I was too hysterical to whip it out so we went back to the room to pack first. Upon closer examination, we deemed the ring a cheap knock-off so I threw it in my suitcase and we proceeded to hit the public garden and Newbury Street one last time.
I really had ulterior motives to go back to the public garden. We'd previously failed to find the statues of the ducks from the book I referred to here and I oh, so wanted pictures of you with those cute little ducks. Apparently you had the same idea because you mugged for the camera so sweetly the entire time. After we left there, we walked down Newbury Street so I could take a few last pictures of the stores that had impressed me so. Towards the end of the long street, we tucked into the International Poster Gallery to browse the original, vintage posters in every size. Of course, we heard the guy that worked there erroneously telling customers that certain posters were Swiss-styled with the indicator being the use of Helvetica. While that's accurate, the typefaces he pointed to were nothing like Helvetica. So sad to falsely educate...
Anyway, we were done. We headed back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, checked out, got a really nice cab driver who didn't hose us, sat (you briefly slept) at the airport for six hours and flew home after a brief stopover in Toronto. Ah, the end.
You said to us last weekend, "Let's go to Boston again to swim in hotel swimming pool." When we explained that we didn't have enough money to go back right now, you said, "Let's go to your work and make some money. Then we can go." You reminisce about it often, especially the subway riding and swimming pool. A big trip like this likely won't happen again for many years, especially if we ever get an addition to our family. But that's okay, next time it'd be nice if you could always remember it.