Monday, September 8, 2008

Hub of the Universe, Part II

Photo by my sister...I haven't asked her permission for this, so hopefully she won't make me take it down when she finds out! And the pic is of Cambridge...but it's from Boston...

Well, I made it home. I didn't talk about this second Boston trip in my last post-- partly because my laptop was indeed dying, and partly because I didn't want to jinx the final steps of the travel homeward. And largely because I needed a little distance.

Let me begin by saying that I'm finding myself fonder of the city now with that little bit of distance. And I should also say that it is quite easily the prettiest city in the US-- it's also very English, and it makes me nostalgic; I lived in London for a year and a half, and it is my favorite. The people of Boston are the nicest I've been around in a large city and the most helpful. I just finished the McCullough John Adams biography, and have been working my way through a book about the 1787 congress, so the place was definitely of special interest.

And I have not given up on having a good experience there-- I'll be back! This one, unfortunately starting badly before we even left.

My sister was beginning BU last week, so my mother and I went to help her move in. But the only flight she could find for us that was affordable was out of Little Rock, with 2 connections: 4 hours in Atlanta and 40 minutes in Detroit. We would arrive late at night, so we Pricelined the hotel at the airport. Unfortunately, Mom and I had a failure to communicate, as they say. I managed to get the date wrong for the hotel. So since the Pricelined room was already paid for, we had to just buy an extraneous night and rearrange the car rental.

Long story short, the Little Rock airport's skycaps were awful; the TSA people said out loud that they weren't going to talk to us; and we were put on another airline without being told. There were multiple delays and we barely made it. The hotel restaurant was closed and we had to get room service ($$$$$$). We went to pick up the car the next morning and it was soooo far away.

A GOOD note: driving in the Boston city center, mostly throughout Back Bay, the Government Center area, around the Commons, and throughout the Fens, was positively enjoyable. Once I settled into the one-way streets and the 3 lane roads, I was loving it. And meters-- METERS! You can just PARK at a METER!

Back to the frustrating. It took us 2 1/2 hours to get to Dedham that night, where we were staying. A friend of ours has a house there-- an 1880's Victorian with some amazing details. I'll talk about those in a minute...
Several reasons for the long drive. Mapquest's directions were baaaad. But mainly, things just aren't well-labeled in Boston. You'll be driving down the street for miles without any kind of indication of what street you are actually on. Grr.

Ok. So after that, we decided to take the train in from then on. Mapquest directions to the train station were wrong again. Asked for directions. They sent us to West Roxbury. At the station, we see that the parking thingy only took cash. Back to a grocery store to get cash. Back to train. Stuff the parking slot. Check the schedule. NO TRAINS TODAY. Find a police station for directions to another station. Get there-- NO TRAIN for TWO HOURS. So this time, it took us 4 hours to get to Boston, door to door.

More poorly labeled things throughout the city, short T trains that didn't wait for anyone to get from one end of the platform to the other.

The trip back: Many more delays and tight connections. Assurances that our luggage would make it. It didn't. Then we realized the car keys were in the luggage. Stayed at a friend's house that night. Got to the airport to pick up luggage-- that flight was late.


However. As I mentioned, an amazing house. Jet doorknobs and 5 panel doors throughout. Wide plank floors. The kitchen cabinets that I think Adam and I are going to get. A cool tile floor in the bathroom that's just like ours, but updated:
And one of my favorite effects involved the doors in the kitchen. You saw that the wood was simply finished and in gorgeous shape. I was standing in one of the kitchen doorways and noticed that the doors and trim had been painted. They'd color matched either an opaque stain or thinned paint to the other doors in the house and sort of haphazardly brushed it on. When I shot it with the flash on, it was really obvious. But this pic shows it in all its cammoflaged glory.

If you really look for it, you can tell...But it's a damn good effect. It's something I may experiment with in the future. Lucky for our friend, though, it's only the one room. If you had this through a whole house it might be really obvious. I remember seeing on another blog (I don't remember which one, but if you're reading this, let me know and I'll post a link!!) who did a similar thing with shellac and it looked like a fumed oak, if I remember correctly. So if anyone's interested in doing this and wants more info, I'll ask her if she did this and any tips she has...

So. The long and short is-- this trip was also a bit of a dud. But we were moving my sister in and were successful, so it met its goal. We saw the MFA's Winslow Homer exhibit and had a beer at Cheers (shut up.) and ate some PHENOMENAL food. Next time, I know what to expect a bit more. Detailed driving maps will be purchased, and since we were able to priceline a 4* place for $80, it looks like it's almost as cheap to stay at the hotel. Having a kitchen was certainly nice, but $20 a day in train fees and $40 or $50 on a rental car to get to the train station (no taxis there), and you might as well stay in the city or at the airport.

I haven't given up. Just a lesson learned. And I will say, yet again, it is the most beautiful city in this country.


Stephanie said...

Ack! You ended up in West Roxbury, huh? That's where I'm from! (Originally. Not now.) My parents still live there, as does my sister, and I went to high school in Dedham. Small world!

Boston has the most horribly labeled streets ANYWHERE - hands down. I spent the first 17 years of my life there and I still get lost.

As you said, next time you visit, stay in the city (or in Cambridge) and take the T and you should be fine. :-)

Speaking of the T, we're heading to Boston in a few weeks for my sister's wedding, and my five year old is beside herself with excitement. Her kindergarten class has been singing "Charlie on the MTA" and she is now dying to "ride the rails beneath the streets of Boston" in hopes of meeting poor stuck Charlie!


Amalie said...

Whoa. It is a small world.

When I was 5, I would also have been beside mom sang that song to me all the time. Ok. If I'm really being honest, here, it was stuck in my head the whole of last week.

I think I just expected to be all stressed while driving in the city-- but that really wasn't bad. And it helped that the police were directing some of the dorm move-in traffic. It was all the peripheral streets that gave me trouble...