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25 September 2007

The Bostonians (Singular)

Despite the genuinely concerned warnings I received about my decision to travel from New York to Boston by Greyhound ($30) rather than train ($85), the journey wasn't really too bad. The worst part is the fact that it requires leaving from Port Authority in NYC, which is reminiscent of Birmingham New Street but without the charm. It is huge and sprawling with many different wings and spiral staircases descending further down into lower circles of Dante's hell.

Once on the bus, it was fine once I stared out of the window at the beautiful turning, fall foliage of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Driving near Hartford, I saw a sign for New Preston, a fairly standard, rich, WASPy New England town spread out around Lake Waramaug. To my 17-year-old self, staying in a gorgeous lakeside B&B in New Preston with our own private deck (romantic hotels are definitely wasted on the young...), this was my idea of heaven and I spent about six months trying to come up with a plot for a novel I could set there. The parts of Connecticut we travelled through weren't that spectacular. Massachusetts wasn't so bad though and before too long, I caught sight of the Boston skyline and there we were at the South Station.

The hostel is a bit dingy and I was still annoyed that I was paying $100 for my private double room occupied solely by me  (thanks, Monsieur Exquisite). Still, it is less than five minutes walk from the shops and cafés of Newbury Street, which is naturally one of my favourite parts of the city. I wasn't in a shopping frame of mind, though, and so walked the length of Newbury Street, across the Common and then doubled back round to Beacon Hill and drooled over the amazing houses up there. By this time, the sun was setting and I watched the sunset fall over Cambridge, across the Charles. Very romantic.

I spent about an hour browsing in a cool, independent bookshop-cum-café at the end of Newbury Street called Trident. It's a funky place and they have a good selection of books, and the fact that the café was serving everything from milkshakes and coffee to three-course meals made me feel less self-conscious about eating my salad toute seule while surreptitiously reading the book about posh American kids at boarding school (Restless Virgins, which would have been more interesting if I hadn't read several other American high school exposés over the past year (on sororities, over-achievers and just general stuff), each of which is written by a journalist but is "telling the true story of the five (-ish) teenagers detailed herein"). Also, the waiter was a hottie from BU who was more than happy to fill his quiet Monday night by chatting to the charming English girl .

So far, then, Boston ain't been too shabby. Different from how I had planned things but not so terrible either.

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