America – Part 2 – Massachusetts

When we originally made plans to visit America it has to be admitted that no part of the Massachusetts area was on our radar at any point but then something rather nice happened. We discovered that my sister-in-law’s fiancĂ© supported the New England Patriots and he discovered that I too supported that particular American Football team. It gets better. He – perhaps wanting to make a good impression on future family members, perhaps looking for a good excuse to go himself – tracked down tickets to a Monday night football game. He also arranged for internal flights, hotel, and car hire. This saved us having to do any of this ourselves. And so it was that I, my wife, and my wife’s future brother-in-law (my wife’s sister had to work so couldn’t come along) flew from Baltimore to Boston just two days after arriving in America.

Baltimore To Boston

View of Boston from the hotel room.

I’ve already talked about travelling in America in the first part of this series of posts but just to give you a quick feel for this flight: awful internal security measures as per every American airport and then a quick flight with a cabin crew from Atlanta, Georgia whose intercom skill level rated at a Grade S (for screech!); I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone jumped every time there was an announcement of some description. Anyway, it was mercifully short.

Some Booking Mishaps
Now, I’d like to make it very clear here that we – that’s my wife and I – did not arrange anything. I’d like to point out that all minor disasters were not of our doing. I’d like to add that we blame nobody and had a great time anyway.

From Boston airport we hopped on a shuttle bus (with a driver who overheard our accents and insisted we come sit up front with him) to the Budget car rental lot where our hire car was waiting.

Our hire car was not waiting for us.

Computer checks were made, names were spelt out, checks were made again, names were double-checked, and then – finally – the printout of the car hire confirmation was retrieved from a bag to show that, yes, we were in the wrong car hire place entirely. We hopped on another shuttle bus to take us back to the airport in order that we could then hop on a third shuttle bus to take us to the correct car rental location but the first driver heard our sorry story and let us off near where we needed to go (so big thumbs up to the car rental people at Budget in Boston) and we walked the short distance to Alamo…

…where our hire car was not waiting for us. However, this eventually turned out to be one of those confusing name situations: you know how some people have a first name that could be a last name and a last name that could also be a first name (e.g. Bernard James or James Bernard)? Well, that happened. So that was sorted. Sort of. Because the hirer of the car was out of state they hadn’t taken the hire fee and because he only transferred money to his account when needed that meant he had to phone up his bank to transfer the money he thought he’d already spent to his credit card in order to pay. But we were soon on our way to the lovely hotel…

…where our rooms hadn’t been paid for as expected because of the same out-of-state rule in place. So I paid instead. And I felt good doing it. Our arranger of all things American in the Massachusetts area was, however, a smidge irritated with things.

Gillette Stadium from the bar where some nice Boston woman bought us some drinks because we'd taken a photo of her and her boyfriend.

Monday Night Football
We drove to Foxboro, home of Patriot Place, home of the New England Patriots. We actually had a stop at a bar en route where we observed the fine Boston art of “not being able to pour a pint to save your life” and we were suitably impressed by the frothy waste. We also witnessed several examples of the “pouring the wrong pint and having to give it away to strangers” spectacle that I’m sure you’re read about in the papers. Let’s just say that we don’t think Sam Malone would have approved. But we did. We got some free pints.

Patriot Place is its own little town; its own ecosystem in the wilds of Massachusetts; something difficult to compare to back home. So I won’t bother. The important thing is that it is also home to Gillette Stadium, a rather lovely venue that plays host to a rather splendid sport (American Football, if you remember from the opening paragraph (learn the rules of NFL here)) and a rather spiffing team (New England Patriots, again from the opening paragraph).

We drank outside the ground so that the alcohol would warm our inner innards. We then entered the stadium and continued drinking. For the warmth. I bought a red, throwback, hooded top for the warmth too. What I’m trying to get at here is that it was cold. Very cold. Turn your face blue cold. Make using your camera a risky business if you want to still have functioning fingers cold (that was me, by the way). Dress like George Clinton and wrap yourself up in a blanket in your seat cold (that was not me, by the way; that was the guy behind us with the strange fixation on shouting out phrases such as “throw it to Ocho!” (an instruction to the Patriots’ quarterback to throw the ball to a receiver not particularly renowned for catching any balls this year and quite often not even on the field at the time)).

The Patriots won. I may have taken some photos.

Boston waterfront. Pretty, ain't it?

Boston
We had a morning to ourselves in Boston and so took a lovely walk along part of the waterfront, over a bridge, over another bridge, and down some roads. I may have taken some photos.

It being a Tuesday there wasn’t a great deal going on and the only thing of interest was the strange, young man who stood and preached to the water. He may have been practicing for his church. Or his congregation may all have been fish. Or he worshipped Poseidon. He came across as a bit of a loon. I generally like taking photos of loons but not in countries where they’re actively encouraged to carry weapons on their persons at all times.

Boston Women
We had to fly to New York’s LaGuardia airport from Boston (usual security crapfest) and from there take a connecting flight back to Baltimore (on a twin-prop heated to a level that allowed for in-flight kiln-firing of pottery if so desired); that initial flight had a Boston crew. The Boston crew had a Boston stewardess. She was not the first woman from Boston I’d seen over the preceding day as you can imagine, but she was familiar-looking.

Boston women have a look. How to describe it? Pointy? Cheekboney? Stern? Not quite stern. Haughty? Haughty’s not bad. Back-combing seemed to be popular too. If shoulder pads were readily available this looked like the area of the world in which they’d be hard-pressed to keep well-stocked. And our American Arranger had tales of Boston women having been brought up in the area and dated one or more of them. In summary: hard work. He described them as being people who expected everything regardless of cost. The description seemed to fit the appearance.

Don’t you just hate stereotypes?

But we really liked Boston; it had a great feel to the place, helped probably by some crisp, clear weather. Next time we’ll try to get up to that part of the world when it’s snowing.

Author: Mark

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