Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pizza, idiots and getting back into Canadiaiaia

I had had a good and relaxing time in Burlington and would love to come back sometime for a longer stay. But for now, it’s a quick bus to the airport where the Greyhound bus arrived just after 1130am and I boarded it on my way down to Boston. It was a weird journey as on the way we passed through....MANCHESTER!! It’s obviously not as good as the real thing, but with a Manchester Airport too, it was pretty close. I even spotted a ‘Trafford Street’, which was really weird. Anyway, I arrived in Boston, found the spanking new hostel, just near the bus station and settled in .Dinner was free as a bunch of scouts from Washington were earning their ‘Hostelling’ badge, by cooking dinner and cleaning up after the travellers. The lady in charge of them had an English accent and was from Sussex. I spent a while chatting to her whilst helping myself to seconds of Spaghetti. The evening was quiet – a trip to the cinema to see Prometheus. 

Manchester Airport!!

Check out where the sign says you can go - Manchester and .....

The scouts making my dinner!!

Monday – the start of another work week for most and another day travelling for me, but today a new concept – Speed tourism! I had originally planned an overnight trip to Portland, Maine, but because of the price of hotels there it was reduced to a 3 hour afternoon day trip. In the morning I had a look at bits of Boston I missed last time, like the North End and around the harbour area. Then when I went to get the bus, it was late to arrive, the driver didn’t turn up and when a replacement arrived he couldn’t close the luggage doors. All in all we were an hour and a half late to arrive in Portland, leaving me just 90 minutes to see the town.

I headed straight into town and towards Portland Observatory – a lighthouse shaped tower which boasts views over the whole city and shore - I arrived at the same time as the bus I would have caught if I had waited only to find that to get to the top of the tower you have to take a tour lasting 30 minutes – I didn’t have time, so looked around the bottom and outside before making my way down to the harbour area – here there are loads of nice restaurants, pubs and Lobster cafes. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try any before I made my way back to Greyhound to catch the bus back to Boston.

I must admit, my first impressions of Portland weren’t good. Strange people everywhere that looked like they were either on drugs, or were in desperate need of some! Maybe I had arrived as the local loony bin was having lunch!  Anyway, I was pleased to see that it was lovely down by the harbour and much nicer – so I will give the town the benefit of the doubt. I actually really enjoyed my 90 minutes there and wasted not a second of it. A few nice buildings, lots of fire stations and a mini ‘Flatiron’, building which was my favourite!

On the main street in Portland - people relax in rocking chairs!

Ace little flatiron building

What street - PONCE STREET!!

What the fuck do they believe in!?

What street!?!?

The bus back was on time and driven well, even though the Greyhound station in Portland was a bit of a dump. So that was my trip to Maine! Maybe next time I should try to spend a little more time there, but as a day out it was fun!
Portland Observatory

Ok then!

Shit greyhound station

You could tell it was a shit area!


Back at the Hostel I had been joined in the room by some French students. They were friendly enough at first, offering me a beer and asking if it was ok to drink in the room. I said no to the beer but yes to them having a drink. But they then started to take the piss – the 5 in the room were joined by 5 more and what started as a quiet beer before going out soon turned into a noisy drinking game, with 10 people sprawled out over the floor and beds, disturbing my peace and leaving a mess on the floor. Drinks were spilled and loud raucous screams and shouting started. I was just starting to get annoyed when they left for a night out – It was just gone 11.30pm. I went to sleep and actually slept well until I was woken by knocks and bangs at about 8am. The friends had joined us again and were openly chatting, loudly while I was still sleeping in my bed, then one of the guys from another room sat on the windowsill and opened the blinds, letting loads of light in the room and really waking me up. He noticed me and said ‘Hello’. I didn’t reply but motioned my disapproval of the noise and his actions, before climbing out of bed, telling the group that they were noisy and rude and then I left to get a shower and cal down. When I returned 10 minutes later, they had all left – bags and all. Bye bye dickheads! It very rarely happens, but when you get rude and obnoxious people in your dorm it can really ruin a hostel.

The day out was good though – I went under the harbour on the tube, to Maverick, East Boston where I could get a good view of the city skyline from Piers Park. I also happened across a school ‘4th grade Graduation’ ceremony in the park where the kids were being given certificates for their endeavours over the school year. They all received certificates for graduating 4th grade and for community involvement, whatever that means – but some got loads like Best in maths, most improved in English and the like.
The kids getting their certifocates


Delicious Boston Pizza

Boston from across the harbour

One particularly popular little lad received a certificate for ‘Most improved behaviour’, meaning that he was probably a little twat last year!! I felt sorry for the three kids that only got the two basic certificates, but they all seemed to be really proud of themselves. Usually, I would say that it was all bullshit and a waste of time, but to be honest the kids really enjoyed their little presentation and took something from it, so maybe it is a good idea – at least while they are young and seemed really happy and excited to get recognition for something. So good luck to them all! It was also good to do it on a sunny day in the park and have a little picnic and party afterwards, where their parents all joined in and took photos of their big day. It was really nice to see the kids so happy.

I grabbed myself the ‘must have when you are in Boston’ lunch – some pizza slices, which were some of the best I have ever had and only cost $3 for two massive slices, before I ended up at the Elephant and Castle pub to watch the England game. A good game with an England win and a good chat in the pub with a few locals and Brits too, made it a great afternoon.

On my last night in the hostel I was joined by a really nice family from Madison, Wisconsin. They were friendly, fun and best of all, they were considerate. But later on we were joined by two Spanish lads. They were loud and rude and turned on the main lights when unpacking, even though the family was in bed trying to sleep. I still had the memories of the French from yesterday and so I told them to turn off the lights, unpack in the morning and to be quieter – which they did!! Nice.

This morning they were as quiet as mice and left without a word, both dressed in suits for what looked like job interviews. I hope they get them.

I left an hour later and said goodbye to the nice family on my way out, before making my way to the bus station and the Greyhound north to Montreal.

It’s my last day of this journey and it will be a lazy quiet one. I’m staying in the really nice hostel in Montreal again tonight before I fly back to Winnipeg tomorrow.  I deserve a quiet day as in the last 37 days I have spent 3 nights sleeping on trains, stayed in 11 hostels, and visited 8 cool cities and towns. I've also crossed 3 more American states off my list and walked approximately 170 miles – that an average of 4.6miles a day. 


This blike just kept laughing out loud!

Alligator Ice cream

Cool Boston Fountain

Hmm, strike that comment – It was a more stressful day than I anticipated. Mainly due to the bureaucracy of the Canadian border guard who spent half an hour asking me every question under the sun about me, my army life, Buffy, her job, her family, my savings and everywhere I have travelled in the last 2 years. I was open and honest about everything but still she asked more questions before disappearing with the big list of details to check them all out on her computer. Eventually after the bus had waited ages for me, they let me into Canada without so much as a smile. The daft thing is that the Americans on the bus were all let straight through. Bastards! I should have shown her a photo of me and the queen – that would have made her let me in quicker!! Anyway, no worries now, I’m back in the cool hostel, aircon blowing and a fucking huge can of beer sat by my bed, slowly getting emptier. Ha-ha, peace at last!

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