Existing Member?

The Pursuit of Leisure Don't expect too much, and you won't be disappointed.

From Midnight Sun to Midnight Ride

USA | Tuesday, 28 June 2011 | Views [586]

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel

Greetings from Boston! It is 10:30 at night and I am witnessing something I have not seen for a while: darkness. I actually had to turn the lights on in the hotel room. I also took a hot shower and the water did not smell like anything at all. I kind of miss Iceland. I flew from Reykjavik this morning and landed in Boston where it was a sunny 83 degrees outside. The captain on my Icelandair flight said it was beautiful weather but I've been so used to 40-50 degrees that this felt really hot to me and I was sweating in the cab ride already.

I checked into the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel – the “grande dame” of Boston, and it's in this great location in Copley Plaza in the Back Bay area. My cab driver said it's where the presidents and governors always stay when they visit. I found this decent online deal for the most basic of rooms, which is a nice queen-sized room with absolutely no views at all. It reminds me of my hotel in London actually, except the quality is a bit better. Of course right when I got back to the U.S. I had to get into that pesky habit of tipping again, so one for the cab driver and another for the bellhop. What is the appropriate tip for a bellhop I never had a clue. But I felt a very important person coming out of the cab with the hotel doorman opening the door for me, taking my backpack and both my luggages and placing them on a luggage rack and wheeling it behind me as I walked to the lobby. I suppose a little service every now and then isn't a bad thing. The hotel is a nice-looking building from the outside, but it does not prepare you for the inside, which is so ridiculously ornate; the main entryway is lined with chandeliers and my jaw dropped when I stepped in.

I did not plan anything in Boston before I came here other than my hotel. I had bought a day-to-day guide but didn't set out any itineraries because everything on my trip has been planned only the night before, so after unpacking my things in my room I went down to the lobby and asked one of the bellhops where the Public Gardens were. This guy had a really strong Boston accent and he didn't understand when I said, “gardens.” Then he said, “Oh, Public GAHdens,” and pointed me to the place. I stopped for a bit in Copley Plaza because there were some booths selling fresh fruits and vegetables so I walked a bit around there. I also bought a Polish sausage. Yeah, I'm on a hot dog kick.

I followed his directions and it's a pretty nice park. It was very crowded and it's not a huge park but still felt peaceful. There were loads of people taking naps in the grass (with the majority NOT being homeless). I bought a ride on the swan boat on the lagoon, where there's one worker who pedals and steers in the back for the entire boat. That's probably a decent workout. There was a breeze on the lagoon so it felt pretty nice – very relaxing. There's also a very tiny and cute suspension bridge that the boat passes under. All the workers seemed to be kids and this one guy was working this as a summer job before starting college. Then there was a family behind me and the mom told one of her kids that they could work here once they go to college in Boston – like it was the most common summer job in the world.

After the park I went to the Granary Burying Ground, which has the graves of the victims of the Boston Massacre, and such famous patriots as John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. (I hope we all know who Paul Revere is and who he warned on his famous midnight ride). It was a very small cemetery and according to this guide in a tricorner hat who was giving a tour, I overheard that even though there are only hundreds of headstones, anywhere from 5.000 – 12,000 bodies might be buried there. The area was under heavy construction, particularly with the paved paths. Actually a lot of Boston seems to be under construction so they're not really good photo ops. On the taxi ride we passed by the Esplanade which is where they're holding the 4th of July celebration with fireworks and Boston Pops. Everything's in setup mode with bleachers and whatever stages they're preparing. I'm a bit bummed that I won't be here for that; it looks like it's a massive celebration.

Then I headed to the Boston Public Library, which has a really gorgeous interior. There are frescoes on the walls and these 2 lion sculptures that adorn the staircase. The architecture is pretty neat-looking. The reading room was pretty nice too but there were a lot of students who were studying so I didn't take any pictures in there and just sat down and pulled my guidebook to choose what looks interesting. Finally I settled on heading to the Prudential Center (or the “Pru”) which is a huge indoor arcade/shopping center. Yes I actually missed this too while abroad. Food courts! I opted for a cheaper dinner tonight and had Wagamama, which is a British noodle chain. I had it once in 2009 in the Auckland Airport in New Zealand I think, and I forgot to visit while I was in London, so this was a nice way to make up for it. It was located directly over the subway though, and the first time a train passed underneath I wanted to duck under the table because I thought it was an earthquake. After dinner I was still pretty tired from packing late last night so I called it a really early night and just had a Pinkberry frozen yogurt for dessert and then did the short walk back to the hotel.

Some things I had missed while I was abroad: American TV, American chains, free soda refills, cheaper meals, and of course the general sort of excess comfort level that is not provided internationally. And I did miss Americans too. Sure, they can be pretty annoying abroad, but on homeland everyone has a sort of joyful energy that I didn't see a lot of in Iceland and definitely not in London. One thing I did not miss was my cell phone however. I grudgingly turned the network back on when I got to Boston and there were so many hundreds of work e-mails coming in on my phone I had to delete the account entirely off my Blackberry. Now that I'm back in the U.S. I have this compulsive need to keep checking it even though I don't hear any notifications. You'll find it's hard to turn off your smartphone but when you do it's a really nice break from information overload – a return to simpler times if you will.

Tomorrow I am either doing the duck tour or visiting the USS Constitution or both or something else. I hope the weather is good. If it's not I'll duck into some of the museums. I only have 2 full days left and even though the city is compact and easy to get around just by walking, I won't be able to do everything I want here. If I can just do a couple of neat things and get one really good seafood/lobster meal I'll be happy with my time in Boston.


Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about USA

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.