Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New England Clam Chowder

TWO days into our Boston trip and this morning Wren found the Fallen Man. Sounds like one of those US documentaries, doesn't it? The reason I am up at just gone 3.30 in the morning is that I had to deal with said Fallen Man.
But let's rewind. We are staying in a B & B called the Beacon Inn, a cosy little brownstone at no. 1087 Beacon Street, just a five minute walk from Fenway Park, home of the great Boston Red Sox. Everything has been going swimmingly, despite the fact that my credit card was somehow refused on the first day. Ringing the bank I was told it was 'just a precaution' because it was such a large sum of money (I was paying for the lodgings up front). It didn't stop me feeling like a crook though. Thankfully Wren came to the rescue.
Our room is nice, but pretty cosy and basic and we have a separate bathroom down the hall.
Anyway, in the early hours of this morning Wren needed to use the facilities and crept out of our room so as not to wake me. A few seconds later she was back.
"Babe, a funny thing happened on the way to the bathroom..." she began.
Funny time to tell jokes in a vauderville manner, I thought, but decided to play along, it being half past sparrow fart and me having nothing else worthwhile to do.
"Yes honey."
"Well I was walking along and I found a man lying between here and the bathroom."
"Oh yeah?" I said sleepily. "Did you manage to get past him?"
"Um, no, he's right in the way. I don't know what's happened to him."
With that I bravely wandered out to take a look. And there he was. Curled up in the foetal position directly in front of our bathroom. You could still just about step over him, which probably would have been my preferred option, but Wren felt differently, obviously concerned for his health. I approached him tentatively.
"Excuse me, mate..."
He sprang awake.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, fine buddy," he replied, leaping to his feet.
He had a big indent on the side of his arm from where he had been sleeping on the wooden floor. Fortunately he had a pair of shorts on, or it might have been even more embarrassing.
He proceeded to stand there, wobbling around a bit and trying to get his bearings.
"Trouble is," I said, "You are lying right in front of our bathroom."
"Oh ok," he said as he remained rooted to the spot.
Then he sprang back to life. "Third floor?" he said.
"This is the first."
He turned, disappeared upstairs and I heard a door bang shut.
Strange events. He didn't seem drunk, must have just been sleepwalking, I reckon.

A quick recap. On Sunday before we flew out we stayed at the Sheraton Skyline. The room was terrific (they actually still have smoking rooms!) and the bed comfy, but the Al Dente restaurant was the biggest rip off I've ever come across.
I had a couple of pork pieces with some fancy Italian name, wrapped in Pancetta, with four small new potatoes and no veg. Came to about 18 quid. Wren had another pretty ordinary dish.
We also had a bottle of water for which they charged 4 quid. The waiter, who looked remarkably like Benny Hill in one of his disguises (God rest his soul) kept coming over, displaying a mock smile and asking: "Is everything to your liking?"
For this I gave him two quid as a tip to round it up to 40, and away he went to process my card.
When he came back, though, the bill had gone up to 56 pound - for a snack! They hadn't added the VAT until AFTER the bill was presented. A bloody cheek. If you're staying at the Skyline in future, make sure you stock up on sarnies and takeaways.
Talking of sarnies there was a sarnie crisis on Monday morning before we flew. We left the tupperware with two bacon sandwiches in the mini bar in our room. Wren went to retrieve them while I stayed downstairs and paid the bill.
Then she rang to tell me the dreadful news. "My tupperware box is locked in the fridge! I can't get it out" Quick work by the hotel. They had processed my room bill and managed to lock the mini bar in one single movement. Brilliant. Wren wasn't happy so I offered to buy her a new tupperware box when we got home.

Oh yeah, Boston. Nathan, if you're reading this: The Stereos are playing over here at the Paradise near Harvard University on Friday night. I'd love to go (as would Wren) and could even do a review for Saturday's WoS. Do you know any of their people who might be able to wangle our entry on the door? Get Withers to reply.
Anyway, flight was good and the hotel, despite the odd dead person, is fine. On the first night we went out to eat at American Joe's off Newbury Street and it reminded me how well served you are over here. In contrast to Al Dente I had a beautiful first course of Clam Chowder and followed that with a massive cheeseburger while Wren's starter, Calamari, was a feast in itself and contained some tangy chillis, too.

Today was a long day, walking the freedom trail. First, though, we picked up our Red Socks tickets at Stub Hub! At least, it took them 40 minutes and they could only find the Tampa Bay ones, but gave me some others for today's Orioles game (which is first pitch 1.30). The tickets are better and they gave me back $25 as compensation for keeping me waiting. That's what I call service, Al Dente!
The trail itself was awesome but pretty tiring and took us on a historic journey from Boston Common to Bunker Hill. It took us about 4 and a half hours but we stopped off in various places, including the Hub Pub! It declared itself: The Friendliest Pub on the Hub (the hub being the centre of Boston because it was once described as the Hub of the Universe - not too arrogant. Mind you, I know some people who think that about OUR hub, the one at Thomson Towers).
There were some types sitting around a circular bar, eating lunch, knocking back beers and playing some kind of gambling game in which they bluffed each other about what numbers were on their dollar bills, or some such. Interesting, but not sure what it was.
One of the guys had a stripey blazer, red bow-tie and an eccentric air. They also seemed to have a far more leisurely lunch than most of us get. It made me speculate: The long lunch, boozing, gambling, quite cocky and flamboyantly dressed? I reckon I have stumbled across a drinking hole for Boston journalists!
Lunch in Quincy Market was fantastic with all the food on offer. I ate Greek, a moussaka with chips and salad. It was very good value. Wren settled for a salad. Mind you she was still full of the muffins and dunkin donuts she had scoffed earlier in the morning.
By the time we got back to our hotel at about 6pm we were knackered. I settled down to watch the Red Sox smash the Orioles 14-2 and take a close look at Fenway. We'll be there later today and I'll try to report later.
Have a nice day, y'all...

3 comments:

Paps said...

Lunch at Quincy Market?Iam now offically envious.
If you get time, Nick, pay a visit to http://www.brendanbehanpub.com/
Best game of darts you'll ever have. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Paps

Smashy said...

Paps is right - get yourself to Behans.
Mighty jealous about you going to Quincy Market and Fenway.
Assuming you have bought a baseball cap - suggest you get another for when you lose one in the pub
Go Sox.
Smashy

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