Books I've read

Sandra's book montage

The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Lovely Bones
The Secret Life of Bees
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Da Vinci Code
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Hobbit
The Golden Compass
Pride and Prejudice
The Time Traveler's Wife
Jane Eyre
The Notebook

Sandra's favorite books »

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A whale of a time

You will be glad to know that this is my penultimate entry about my holiday.

I've never been on a Whale Watching cruise so this seemed like a good time to give it a go.  The weather-forecast for Saturday was for rain showers all day and because it seemed unlikely this would disturb the whales it seemed like a good idea. 

The trip lasts for three hours.  It takes a hour to get to Jeffreys Ledge where the feeding is so rich for the whales that they can practically guarantee you will see something.  You spend an hour there and then an hour to get back.  Not bad!

This is one of my woefully inadequate pictures of the whales.  There were probably only one or two  hump-backs but they did pop up number of times for us on both sides of the boat so we had to go running backwards and forwards.  It was cold and wet but I have to tell you there is something magical about seeing them out there in the ocean, free to do whatever they want that any amount of Shamu shows at Sea World just can't match!  The good thing about the whale cruises from Boston is the choices seem to be the New England Aquarium (more of this later) or Boston Harbor Cruises who join up with the Whale Center of New England so you not only get guides who know what they are talking about, you are helping with their research and hopefully some of the cost.  I just wish I was a better photographer to have captured something amazing (and yes, it only occurred to me later that I could have used the video function).

 So back to Boston, feeling a bit cold and damp although the weather was getting slightly better.  I did have the most delicious lunch when we go back.  Lobster bisque in a metal cauldron - the best I have ever tasted (OK, probably the most expensive I have ever had) but ooh it was lovely.  I had, temporarily forgotten I was in America so I thought a bowl of soup might be fairly small and ordered a main course as well.  Silly me, the cauldron would have been big enough on its own but my next course - a crab cake on a roll was also absolutely gorgeous although absolutely no need for the roll!  The Chart House is right on the wharf where the whale cruises (and harbour cruises) go from and was so lovely and walm and welcoming (picture below).  It is a chain restaurant and I realised, once I knew it was a chain, that I have been to the one in Alexandria, Virginia (where the food was also good and the restaurant lovely and cool on a really hot day).  I would recommend it to you:

I hadn't really thought about visiting the aquarium again but it seemed like a good thing to do (to me and half of Boston I think) on a still rainy afternoon.  I try to avoid anything a bit ugh in aquariums or zoos so I hurried past the piranhas, didn't even look where the octopus was and really kept an eye out for any sharks.  It worked pretty well and I contented myself with the three types of penguin: Emperor, Rock-hopper and Little Blue, the fur seals and the giant sea turtle.  It was really crowded in there but warm and the penguins are adorable (and live until they are about thirty, much longer than in the wild).  Whilst watching the seals I did think about the whales and all the space they had - not sure that the seals are having such a good time.

The next day was grey and drizzly again so I changed my plans and went to the Museum of Fine Arts (again with a large proportion of Boston!)  Last time I was there they were building the Art of the Americas wing and I was a bit miffed to pay $20 to see Monets etc.when I could see them for free at the National Gallery in London.  This time the galleries were finished & I have to say they are really well done.  In addition Dale Chihuly had an exhibition.

I don't know how I found out about Chihuly but I really admire his beautiful glass art.  The exhibition wasn't too crowded so there was plenty of opportunity to take photos (it was fine as long as you didn't use flash) so I'll just give you an idea of his work:

This is a boat full of (what looked to me like) glass sweets.  It sits on a highly polished black surface so you have that wonderful reflection underneath.

The Art of the Americas wing was also beautiful. It starts with the earliest American tribes on the ground floor, works its way up through colonial times including some beautiful samplers and over-mantel embroideries, through the nineteenth century and up to the present day. As well as pictures they had some beautiful silver pieces, some room sets and some lovely Tiffany windows. I think it is a really great place to go for a few hours and they have a lovely cafe right by the American wing where I had a delicious peach and goats cheese flatbread (!) and a nice conversation with the lady sitting next to me.

Then it was over to Harvard Square on the T and one of my most favourite shops in the whole world - The Coop.  It's basically the student store for Harvard but it has the most lovely book shop, full of academic and more popular novels.  I've spent many an hour here trying to look intelligent.  Of course I bought a couple of books and then went to see Curious George, a lovely children's book shop across the road but it was closed & I read in The Boston Globe that it is experiencing financial difficulties.  So then it was back to the hotel for me. 

This picture to the left is from an earlier walk around the Harvard campus.  It shows the entrance to Adams House which is where some of the 'upperclassmen' live.  All of those houses were absolutely lovely.

So just one more entry to go on the holiday and then back to normal.


To get to the Wharf for the whale and other cruises take the blue line on the T to Aquarium and you are right there.  This stop is also, surprise, surprise, the best one for the Aquarium.

You have the details for the Chart House and the cafe in the Museum above.  The Aquarium/Harbour area isn't that far from Faneuil Hall, you could walk in about 10 minutes, which is full of restaurants of all prices and there is a Legal Sea Foods directly opposite the Aquarium which does lovely fried clams (yes, truly).  Look out for the big fish outside!

The T will also take you almost directly outside the Museum of Fine Arts - take the green line to Museum and you are just across the road.

And the very helpfully named stop for Harvard is Harvard.  This is on the red line.  There is a good way to remember the lines - the red line is named for Harvard Crimson (their colour), the blue line goes to the harbour (or maybe officially it's for the airport?) and the green line I think is in honour of the 'emerald necklace of parks' but it also runs near Boston Common and Public Gardens.

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