Friday, September 02, 2005

Wanted to continue this report sooner than this, but D and I spent most of the bank holiday weekend trying to get the garden up to speed - more than 5 weeks (3 weeks away and the weeks before too busy) of not doing any work on it have left it looking like a bit of a wilderness...

But that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, here is the second part of the big report:

New England - Part 1

You know, this feeling when you go on holiday somewhere, and you think that you would like to live there forever? Well, I usually get that. In fact, the only time I didn't think that when I was on holiday was:

1) Scotland: Breathtaking countryside, sure, but it rained. And rained. And RAINED. And then it rained some more. So much, in fact, that the car was almost washed off the road once, when we tried to pass some kind of river that had started flowing right across the street. The whole 2 weeks we were in Scotland we spent in various states of being damp and shivering with cold. The damp crept in everywhere - the car, our clothes, the bedlinen when we got into bed at the various B&Bs after a long day of RAIN. After a week I'd had my fill. So did I want to live at the Scottish west-coast? HELL, NO!

2) Fuerteventura: This was our one and only last-minute package-deal. Never again. Of course we should have got suspicous at the mere name of the island - fuerte ventura, as in 'strong winds'. Yeah. It was windy all right. Not a good thing for a desert island, as you can probably imagine. Sand flying everywhere, sand in your clothes, sand in the apartment, sand in you sun cream, sand in your books, sand in your eyes. Still, I think I could have made friends with all that sand and wind, if the island had been beautiful. I kind of like beautiful locations - in particular when I'm on holiday. I'm funny that way. Well, Fuerteventura, at least in my opinion, is not a looker. As I mentioned, it's a desert island, which means that there is very little greenery. Instead it's mainly grey and black (the volcanic stone does that). The only plant that seemed to thrive was a kind of sickening-looking red fungus which tended to cover the black lava-stones. It looked a bit like those pictures I have seen of the surface of the moon. The whole thing was not helped by the fact that even though most of the island was supposed to be a nature reserve, everybody was using the countryside as a giant dumping ground for old fridges, old bathtubs, old cookers, ... You get the picture. Now, I would probably still have made my peace with the place, if there had been somewhere quiet and nice to read a book, but apart from a few tacky tourist resorts, the island was sorely lacking in infrastructure. And the wind made reading on the beach impossible.

This island was definitely not for me, so no house there, thank you very much! If you are into excessive sunbathing and surfing, then I'm sure this is the place, though - endless beaches and, because of the wind, fantastic windsurfing opportunities. Or so I'm told.

Anyway, this is taking me away from what I was going to talk about - New England. See, I usually get a yearning to move to a different place when I'm on holiday, so if it was totally up to me and not at all up to my limited cash, I'd have houses everywhere, from Italy to France, to Greece, to the Caribbean. But this does not take anything away from New England. So so beautiful. And at the same time so much variety. I think we had it all - the big city, beach living, costly and cheap, intellectual, hip, alternative, and some amazing countryside.

I think I'd best do this day by day, that way I will have a travel diary for myself as well...

Day 1
We flew via Dublin (was the cheapest flight we could catch) to Boston, so the flight was loooong. We arrived in Boston in the afternoon, though, which was good, as it left us with enough time to go to the hotel, then explore a bit and grab a bit to eat, before the jet-lag would claim us. We stayed in Revere that night, because this was close to the Harley Davidson Rental place where we were planning to go the next morning.

Revere is, well... retrospectively it probably isn't very exciting. It's mainly residential, from what we could see, although apparently it has the first public beach in the US. We sat there for a while that evening, just trying to come to terms with the rather overwealming last few days - the wedding, the Sunday breakfast, the flight back to the UK, the flight to the US. It was peaceful. I will keep that beach in good memory.

We ate that evening in a Chinese restaurant we passed by, and had our first experience with American portion sizes. We'd ordered a meal each, but what arrived could easily have fed a family of six or more. Of course we were asked if we wanted to take the rest with us, and we did, but of course we didn't have a fridge or a microwave. Cold Chinese take-away is not good. ;)

We woke up early the next morning (jet-lag kicking in...) so we got some coffee and doughnuts at the 7/11 around the corner and took them back to the beach. We sat there, watching the beach come alive with joggers and people walking dogs. I can't remember when a simple cup of coffee and a doughnut have tasted this good...

It was still early, so we took some time walking around the neighbourhood, but there is really not much to tell. We were still so dazed, because of the flight, our jet-lag, but also because of everything that had happened during the last few days. It takes some time to come down from all that. So we just wandered around aimlessly for a while, then grabbed our bags and took a taxi to the Harley rental place. :)

I'm not really a biker (at all). I don't ride a bike, and despite the fact that D is quite heavily into bikes (in particular trial bikes), I have hardly ever been on the back of one of his. Despite all this, though, I associate the US with Harley Davidson bikes. Not as in 'everybody rides one', but I've always wanted to tour the US on a Harley, which is why I agreed to do this for the Honeymoon. D was obviously delighted, although he was also quite nervous because those are huge bikes and we are both rather short people... We were upgraded as well, because the bike we wanted was due for servicing, which meant an even bigger bike (it also meant that we had more storage space AND A CD PLAYER, though, so I wasn't too cut up about this!!), so we took it very very slowly that first day. Drove out of Boston and south, towards Plymouth, which was to be our first stop.

I think that trip was the first time it really sunk in for me that we were on honeymoon. It was sunny and warm, and the Boston skyline looked amazing as we drove over the bridge. The Harley was more comfortable than any bike I'd ever sat on, our luggage was stored in the saddle-bags on either side, and I felt free. It was like flying! No PhD, no work, no family, no wedding-planning,... just D and I and a Harley. :)

We arrived in Plymouth in the early afternoon. We'd booked a B&B here and the place was amazing. It's here - Whitfield House - and it was an old building, apparently built in 1782, and located just minutes from the harbour, in the second oldest street of Plymouth. It looked so beautiful - all the rooms were furnished with antiques, each looking different. Can you imagine that our bed was a canopy bed?!

Whitfield House garden and back of house (and the Harley):

Our room:

Plymouth is a beautiful place. Apparently it gets very quiet in the winter, but it was vibrant with life when we were there. Thousands of visitors come here every year to see Plymouth rock, which is supposedly the granite rock onto which the Pilgrims stepped after they arrived here on bord the Mayflower. The town itself is pretty and built in what I soon recognised as a typical style of New England.

A picture of the street parallel to the one our B&B was on:

I was rather unimpressed by Plymouth Rock, which looked to me like a glorified pebble, but I enjoyed the seafront, harbour and town, and we visited both the Mayflower II, which is a replica ofthe Mayflower, and Plimoth Plantation, which is a reconstruction of the Pilgrim's 1627 settlement. Both were very interesting and the replicas were well done. Thus, Plimoth Plantation for example authentically re-creates the settlement including everything in the village, costumes, implements, artistry, etc. There are even animans which have been bred to be very similar to those which the Pilgrims had. Similarly, the Mayflower II was informative and the exhibit was well done.

The Mayflower II:

We spent three days in Plymouth, and, enjoyed every minute of it. In the evenings we usually got some fresh fish from one of the places by the harbour and ate it by the water front, and we even managed to go whale-watching, something I'd very much looked forward to doing!

Plymouth Harbour:

Whale Watching:

Other than that, we took a day's trip to Cape Cod and Provincetown, but I think this has to be the subject of the next post, because the pictures are not on the computer yet!!

To be continued...


  1. Those pictures are wonderful Iris. Sounds like you had a great time so far. Looking forward to the next installment.....

  2. We loved it there... Hopefully we'll get to go back there one day!

    Next installment (even including some yarn this time) should be up either today or tomorrow. :)