Being that the competition in Gatineau was only on Friday and Saturday, and our flight to London out of Boston was scheduled for very late Monday night, we decided to use the extra time to see some sights. Of course, neither of us are morning people, and we were exhausted from the competition anyway, so we asked for late check out and slept in until 1pm on Sunday. We skipped breakfast to get out of Gatineau as quickly as possible (especially because Gatineau is really not the prettiest of cities).
Our first stop on our sight-seeing tour? The parliamentary buildings in Ottawa! When we were in Gatineau last year, we didn’t take advantage of our time to see the parliamentary buildings, but since we were driving past them anyway, we decided we might as well stop and take some pictures. The buildings were built in the 1850s, during a time when anything Medieval was very popular. All of the buildings were designed with the medieval style, although ranging across the Medieval timetable spectrum. Simeon asked me why parts of the buildings looked different, even though most people would call it “Gothic”. So I explained the difference between Gothic vs. Neo-Gothic vs. Romanesque architecture, all of which make up various parts of the Parliamentary buildings, and compared it to Baroque style buildings, of which there was one just across the street. And the best part! Sims actually seemed interested! He was paying attention and everything!
Next we drove into Montreal, which was quite funny because our directions took us into the city centre, but the exit we needed was closed and we don’t use the internet function on our phone in Canada because it’s too expensive. So we totally winged it! First we drove through Chinatown, or “Quartier Chinois” as it’s called in Montreal. Then, somehow, we ended up on Rue St. Catherine, right in downtown where McGill University is! First we slipped into Starbucks to grab a snack and check our email. We had skipped breakfast, after all. Then we wandered around a couple of blocks in the gathering gloom of twilight, and finally went to a pub called “Les Trois Brasseures”. The food was good, and we ordered a “varlet” of beer, which is a 1-litre mug! Woo hoo! Just as we were finished eating, a former student of ours from Seattle who just moved to Montreal to go to university joined us for dessert. As it turned out, I had posted on Facebook that we had arrived in Montreal, and she was online and responded “come look me up!” We gave her a call, found out she was studying in a library only a couple of blocks away, and that was that!
But we couldn’t spend too much time in Montreal, and we promised to give ourselves more time to see the city in the future. After dessert with our former student, we hopped back in the car and drove through the tempestuous rain toward Boston. But we didn’t want to drive through the entire night, and stopped at a small city just south of Concord in New Hampshire called Manchester. We ate a midnight dinner at a cute, ‘50s style diner that had jokes about pilots on the walls like “You know you’ve got a bad pilot when… he rolls down the cockpit window to let his dog stick its head out!” The next morning we were out of the hotel by 1pm and stopped by a post office to mail back home our latin costumes and trophy from Worlds, and Starbucks in south Manchester to grab a quick breakfast. Then, the final leg to Boston!
We arrived in Boston at about 4pm, which was plenty of time to take in some sights before heading to the airport for our 11pm flight. We parked downtown and walked to a Bank of America to make a deposit; then, sightseeing!
At first we wanted to take one of those “Duck Tours”. Peeps from Seattle will know exactly what I’m talking about, and we were surprised to find that Boston offered similar amphibious vehicular tours! But the final public tour was at 4:45, and we arrived at the stand just a few minutes too late to catch the last one. However, we lodged it away in our memories for next time. Instead, we grabbed one of the maps provided by the tour stand and chose four or five points on the map to visit.
First was the Boston Public Library. OMG!!!! This was the most amazing library I’ve ever seen! Marble floors and stone mosaic walls, fountains out of the walls, a gorgeous outdoor courtyard in the middle of the library with a pond and a statue and fountain in the centre, and books from the 1800s lining the walls from floor to ceiling. It was a Kora Paradise!
Then we made our ways toward the Boston Public Gardens, checking out some gorgeous architecture as we went, including a church that was founded in the 1600s. The Public Gardens is a huge park in the centre of Boston much like New York’s Grand Central Park, only a bit smaller, more beautiful, and older (it was founded in 1837). The gardens were beautiful, with a large pond in the middle with swans swimming around a musicians playing Spanish style guitar. In one section of the park, everyone was out with their dogs. We stopped to watch a dog hunt down a squirrel… and the squirrel almost didn’t make it! Further on, we saw a woman playing fetch with her Pomeranian, which looked just like our dog’s son, Rocky! We watched for a long time and momentarily felt sad. We miss our Foxy!!
Finally, at the end of the park, we arrived at the Boston Courthouse, which is a huge complex of gold-domed buildings. We were actually in search of John F. Kennedy’s residences, which were supposed to be around there. We never found the residences, but instead we found a really cool little speakeasy hidden in an alleyway behind the courthouse called, appropriately, “The 21st Amendment”. Food was good and the inside looked just like an old pub circa 1700.
Boston is probably the first city I’ve been to where I really feel invigorated and “at home”. It’s such a gorgeous city, and even Simeon loved it. The city has pretty much everything we love – a gorgeous park, beautiful architecture, fresh air, and the ocean. The only thing that’s missing, compared to Seattle, are mountains! Strangely enough, I love Seattle so much that I’ve never felt the itch to move away. However, having driven through the New England countryside and exploring Boston, I’m feeling it for the first time in my life. New England is incredibly beautiful; someday (although not in the near future), I’d like to move to New England, and Boston has my vote as the city I’d like to move to. Even some of the suburbs we drove through, like Stoneham, are beautiful places where Simeon and I can both see ourselves living. I think I have finally found a city and a region that rivals the Pacific Northwest.
Btw, pictures coming up on Facebook! Standby!