Writer on vacation! – part 1
It’s strange to be home again. Believe it or not, this one to the States was the longest trip I’ve ever took and being home again after two weeks was odd at first.
My house’s rooms seem huge after the hotel’s rooms. Andrea and I have been to very good hotels, but obviously we had to compromise between price, position and private bathroom (a must have – I am that annoying kind of traveller), so the rooms we had were comfortable, but surely not big.
Then, after speaking English for so long, I almost ordered my first cappuccino in Italy like I would have done at Starbucks.
This vacation was a very good chance to test my skills at speaking and understanding. I found that I am able to be understood, while understanding it’s a horse of a different color. It mainly depends upon who I’m talking with. I found many people I understood completely, others that I understood quite well, while others that I didn’t understand at all. I believe it would be the same for a foreigner coming to Italy.
On the whole it has been a wonderful experience and I’m only sad it’s over.
Our first stop was Boston.
First things first: our suitcases were on the conveyor belt at Logan Airport. That’s a fact not to be underestimated. As an Italian journalist, Beppe Severgnini, says: Italians have a innate scepticism about watching their luggage disappear on a belt in Italy and seeing it reappearing somewhere else. That’s why I was quite worried, more so since we changed plane in Dublin. But our suitcases were both there and quite intact.
Then we went to the information desk to ask where we could buy the tickets for the Silver Line for downtown. The answer was astonishing. It’s free. The Silver Line from the airport to downtown it’s free. It was a first even for Andrea, who travelled so much more than myself.
Our hotel was the Boston Park Plaza and Tower. Perfect position, quite central near the Boston Common and the Public Garden, with a beautiful entrance hall in art deco style. The room, as I said, wasn’t very big but was comfortable, the bathroom on the other hand was tiny.
The first evening, during which we tried to stay awake as long as possible to fight jet lag, we went to dine in a nearby restaurant, where Andrea eat a very good looking lobster. We immediately learnt two things: air conditioning in public places is incredibly high, almost freezing, even if outside is not so hot; food portions are big, very big, almost too big. I didn’t manage to reach the end of my fish and chips!
Before leaving for the States, every person I talked with told me to prepare for unbearable heat in summer. Well… on our first day in Boston we were dressed like this…
…not really what you would expect from summer. But that way it was better; we managed to walk around all day without melting down.
Boston is special. It has a very European air, maybe that’s why it looked so familiar, and it’s permeated with history. I have to admit I’m pretty ignorant about American History, it’s not something we study thoroughly at school here, but it was interesting to learn all the stories bound to the Freedom Trail.
After this bath in history, we decided to take a very different tour and went to visit TD Garden, the place where the Boston Celtics and the Bruins play.
My ignorance about sport is even worse than the one about American History, but I enjoyed the tour. It was interesting to see the arena from the inside!
That’s it, our guide in the tour was a guy quite difficult to understand. I don’t know if it was due to his accent or his monotonous tone. However it was a new experience. Here in Italy the thought of visiting a stadium or an arena would have never crossed our minds.
On our second day in Boston, we went to Cambridge and toured the Harvard campus and the MIT. The thought that kept crossing my mind, speaking in an heavily sarcastic voice, was “well, this is just like Italian University!”. Thinking about all the students that work so hard to be admitted in those places made me feel in awe of their passion and dedication.
Our school and university system is quite different. Here there are only a few faculties with limited enrolment, like medical school; for the most part there’s no admission exam. On the other hand there’s always a sort of stumbling block in the first semester or so, so that the unmotivated students are discouraged.
Obviously I couldn’t resist the temptation to stop at the Harvard official gift shop!
Our cultural tour continued with a visit at the public library and then… a stop at Barnes and Noble! It was the first time I entered a book shop of the chain and the first thing that struck me was the huge part dedicated to non fiction. It’s something unusual for me, since in Italian’s book stores non-fiction is usually only a little section hidden in the back room. However there I found a number of shelves devoted to business, self-help, how-to… and obviously writing. I couldn’t help…
Well… after just two days I was in love with Boston and, even if we were heading to New York, I was sad to leave.
Next time I will tell you about our days in New York City. In the mean time… have you ever been in Boston? Is there a city you love very much? Let me know in the comments!