Fall Road Trip, Part 2 : Boston and home the long way

Boston Common roundabout

Boston Common roundabout

Boston

For our second full day, we are taking the train into Boston, just a 35 minute ride by commuter rail. It was hot today, hotter than yesterday and a little more humid. We had another nice breakfast and walked to the train station which is only about 10 minutes away by foot. There’s a major construction project going on so you have to walk a long way up to the platform rather than take a bus or taxi right in. En route we saw something we didn’t expect, a Tardis! Well, not a real one, a painted electrical service box. Remember where we parked the Tardis, dear!

We arrived at Boston’s North Station which is attached to the arena, formerly the location of Boston Garden, now rebuilt and sucked up into the corporate world like most of the sports arenas around and owned by Toronto Dominion, TD Centre or something is what it’s called now, home to the Boston Bruins (NHL) and the Boston Celtics (NBA) (that’s hockey and basketball, respectively.) Out front of the complex is a statue of former Bruins defence star, Bobby Orr depicted in full flight as he jumped across the goal crease after scoring the winning Stanley Cup goal in 1970. I remember that game!

We went to the main road where we could see the tour trolleys going by from different tour companies. They all pretty much do the same tours and routes so we hailed one that was about to stop. He was more than happy to take our money and we hopped on for the orientation tour of Boston. What we didn’t expect was the comprehensive tour of all the road construction sites in the city and the horrendous traffic in the old historic centre. The poor guide kept apologizing and said he was running out of things to say. He said he had 2 hours of material for what was turning out to be a 3 hour tour!

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

We skipped the last quarter of the tour, because we were getting bored with sitting and going nowhere fast and walked over to the touristy Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall area. They are two old buildings that were used for plotting revolutions and political things and a market and are now used for art exhibitions, and lots of shops, food stalls, and a tourist information centre. Quincy Market is all food stalls inside and lined with souvenir and arts/crafts stalls along the outside. The old warehouses on either side of the area are also now shops and restaurants. It’s a busy spot but quite pretty on a sunny day like today.

Kurt Cobain's wrecked Guitar. Hard Rock Cafe, Boston

Kurt Cobain’s wrecked Guitar. Hard Rock Cafe, Boston

We wandered through there and then decided to get lunch. Lo and Behold, there’s a Hard Rock Café just behind it so we thought that was as good as any. You can be sure of a good meal there. Our server, Cam I think was his name, was really good, not just with the menu but with our questions about the memorabilia, too. We found out that the chain has specialists that buy memorabilia at auctions or directly from artists or via bequests in wills, too. After we ate, he took us into another room which is used for private functions and showed us some of the items in there which were pretty impressive, and all hidden away from the general public. In here we saw a smashed guitar owned by Nirvana lead Kurt Cobain, one of Madonna’s pointy-busted costumes, and Guitars owned by Eddie Van Halen and also Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead.

We followed the red brick road, so to speak. Boston has a red painted brick trail through the city that you can walk that passes by most of the historic buildings and locations related to the War of Independence in the 18th Century. It’s called the Freedom Trail. We walked past a few of these buildings including the site of the Boston Massacre of 1770. Because it’s so warm, we really didn’t want to walk around too much in the heat and wanted to do something besides just walk around anyway. We decided on the Boston Science Museum and Planetarium and flagged down a taxi to get there quicker than we could walk, even with the traffic, though it likely wouldn’t have been a long walk, maybe about 20 or 30 minutes from where we were. If it wasn’t so warm and our feet not so sore, we could have done it ourselves!

The Science Museum is quite large and though a lot of it is set up for kids to learn via interactive displays, it’s still interesting for adults. They have special shows through the day and there’s an Imax theatre and the planetarium which we particularly wanted to see as neither of us had been to one before. The fee for the museum is a bit pricey then you add on more if you’re going to the Imax and Planetarium shows. You can just pay for those individually outside the museum entrance if you are only attending a show in one of those.

We had a cold drink in the cafeteria while we waited for the Planetarium show at 3:30 which was about moons in the solar system. You sit back and recline and look up. The ceiling is the movie screen with the stars and moons and planets and the rest of the action going on over your head and it’s very cool. The show lasted about 40 minutes. They have different ones through the day and you really could spend all day in the museum seeing the exhibits and shows. We had about 45 minutes before they closed to see some of the other halls so we checked out the maps and models, dinosaurs, the space exhibit that had a couple of space capsule recreations, the Mercury and one of the Apollo mission ones.

By the time we left there at 5 we were done in and it was still quite hot. Since the museums and attractions all closed at 5 anyway and there wasn’t much else to do until we decided to eat, which would be later, so we decided to get the train back to Salem and find somewhere to eat there .

Even though our stay in Boston was brief, it was enjoyable. Boston is a huge city so it’s busy and since the city centre is old, the roads are narrow which clogs up traffic. You’re better off walking or taking the subway (underground/metro) system to get around. There are a lot of really nice buildings, some fine museums and galleries and more history than you can shake a stick at. Boston Common is the oldest one in America, Fenway Park is the oldest baseball park in the league and the shopping and dining is world class. For foodies, there’s a Chinatown and an Italian neighbourhood and there’s lots of excellent seafood. If you’re into sports, it’s a haven with four major league sports teams calling Boston home. (hockey, baseball, football and basketball) Nearby Cambridge is the home of MIT and Harvard Universities and those are also interesting places to investigate.

On our return, we walked back into Salem centre from the Train station, which wasn’t far, and looked into a couple of shops that were still open before coming to the square next to the Bewitched statue. There were several restaurants there, one with a very odd name, Naumkeag Ordinary. Let’s have a look.

The menu wasn’t large but it had some interesting items and they also do specials on Thursdays because it’s Farmers’ Market day and they devise a couple of specials using things they get from the market. We had some lovely apple cider and shared a pate plate to start. Graham had a steak and I had a mustard crusted haddock which was melt in my mouth good. Probably some of the best fish I’ve ever had! Graham’s steak was excellent as well so we did well.

We walked back through the pedestrian street where the Tourist Info centre is. It’s dark now but there are still one or two stores still open and we had a good look round one that had a lot of really off beat souvenirs. We got back to the hotel, another footsore day! The air conditioning felt so good! We chilled out (Ha!) and caught up with emails and things.

The road home

Old Streetcar, Canadian themed

Old Streetcar, Canadian themed

And here we are on Friday evening in a Best Western hotel in Portland, Maine. We got on the road this morning after a light breakfast. Our initial destination was the Kittery Outlet shopping area. It was only about an hour and a bit away from Salem. Graham was successful in his quest for new jeans and sneakers and I found a set of really nice casserole dishes. We had a quick bite to eat and headed back out again. We aren’t sure where we are staying tonight, we’re going to wing it tonight and tomorrow night but it’s still early so we’re going to see what we might discover along the way.

And what we found was the Seashore Trolley Museum  in Kennebunkport. We got to have a 30 minute ride on an exquisitely restored streetcar with narration from a volunteer conductor on the history of public transit in the area. We could wander around the barns and they also have transit cars, train cars, busses and the like all over acres of the site. We looked in the barn where they are currently restoring some trams and trolleys, which can take years. One of the trams they’re working on is from Blackpool! Graham joked that he probably rode on that tram as a kid!

Then we went over to the other barn where the finished cars are and there were some really lovely ones including one with a lot of lacy ironworks, with a Canadian Flag and beaver décor on it! They said it can take 5 or 6 years to completely restore a streetcar due to scarcity of materials and original mechanical parts. I love obscure museums and this one fit the bill but it was just too hot to tramp around for too long! We bought an ice cream and a cold drink in the museum shop and sat in the shade for a bit then headed back to the car. Time to start keeping an eye out for a place to stay and we picked this Best Western hotel in Portland with a government rate of acceptable.

We got an early start the next morning with sunny skies overhead. We expected we might be able to make our way all along the Maine coast back to the Canadian border today. We were wrong.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

Our first stop was the Portland Head Lighthouse which was only a short drive away from the hotel. This is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and was built on instructions from George Washington in 1791. There’s a nice little keeper’s house that has a little museum in it and the views from the park are really wonderful. There’s another lighthouse in the distance called Ram Island Ledge lighthouse which makes a nice point of interest in the photos with the Portland one close up. It was already quite hot so we didn’t tramp around Fort William Park to see the remnants of an old fort. We visited the gift shop and then got on our way.

We decided to follow the US 1 route through the coastal areas though didn’t often actually see the sea. We drove through nice little towns and rural areas though the going was slow, having to shift down to 45, 35 or even 25 miles per hour through the main streets etc. The sun has gone behind the clouds and we wondered if it would rain but it held off and there were still sunny breaks. In one place we went through, we saw a little food stand called Red’s Eats. I don’t know what Red was selling but it must have been damn good because people were lined up around and down the block. There must have been about 50 people or more in the queue!

For our lunch break, we came across a restaurant on the edge of a cove at Lincolnville and thought that might be a good place to stop. It was called The Lobster Pound and Andy’s Brew Pub. We could watch people stroll across the rocky beach poking in the sand for clams, perhaps, with a few boats out on the water. The food was quite good and the service was as well. We didn’t try any of the brew pub’s ale because we were sharing the driving but it looked interesting. It was a large restaurant with almost all good views over the beach.

Away from there, we meandered along but we were finding it a bit frustrating as it was slow going most of the time. We ended up deciding that we’d never get back to New Brunswick tonight if we stayed on this road and we were already 2 days in the car, looking at another one, minimum, plus I needed to be 2 different places tomorrow if at all possible, I couldn’t put either of them off until the next day. It’s Decided. We would break off from the US 1 and head up to route 9 which goes cross country from Bangor to Calais and the border to St. Stephen and stay there overnight. I found a motel in Woodstock, called ahead and booked it and away we went through rural Maine. The road was pretty quiet and we had it to ourselves most of the time.

We had one coffee stop along the way and topped up the gas tank at the point where it rejoined US 1 with the sky going really dark quite quickly. It’s definitely going to rain and sure enough, just as we got back in the car, the rain started to hurl down! Luckily, we were right at the Duty Free shop and I pulled in to the parking lot, intending at least to wait out the worst of the rain. It eased up enough so we went into Duty Free to use up the rest of our American money.

We got to the border just as it was going dark, still raining a bit. We answered the questions, told them how much we’d bought. Yes, one bottle of alcohol. No, no beer or wine or tobacco. I don’t know whether that was the reason (since most people stock up on all those things) but they decided to have a look at our receipts in detail and look through the car. Whatever. We had nothing to hide.

It didn’t take long and we drove across and back into Canada, found the motel in St. Stephen (The Winsome Inn) and once we’d pulled out what we needed for the night, we nipped back down the road to a diner for a meal. The diner was called McNay’s and was an old fashioned no frills place with excellent homemade food. Nothing fancy about the restaurant but sometimes those are the best places and this is one of them.

Our last day was mostly driving again but we stopped in at Moncton to visit friends at lunchtime. It would have been a longer visit but I also needed to stop in Amherst to drop into a funeral home. The husband of a good friend had passed away and the family visitation was from 2-4 this afternoon and I really wanted to stop to see her even if it was just a short visit. It was. We got there about 5 minutes before 4 but they were all still there so I got to see her and talk to her a little.

It’s another 2 hour drive home and by the time we go there, we were more than ready to be out of the car! It took two trips to unload everything and there’s a mountain of laundry to do but we’re here. We really did enjoy the trip and I wouldn’t mind going again. I’d still like to drive through the rest of the coastal Maine area and stop off at all these nice places, shops, lighthouses, and museums. I’d also like to go to Boston again but would likely fly there and stay put for a few days, maybe taking day trips by train to some of the other places in the area, possibly including another visit to Salem. Or not. But road trips are fun and we’ll be doing more of them.

The longer version with more detail, should you prefer it, is here on my main website.
There are more photos here. 

Fall road trip, Part 1 : To Salem

Salem Common Bandstand

Salem Common Bandstand

Well, now, I’ve been absent from my blog for a few weeks, haven’t I? In past trips, I blogged while I traveled but by the end of the day, by the time I’d sorted out my photos and typed up the day’s events, I was too worn out to keep organizing blogs. Thus, I’ve not written a summary of our road trip down through New England until now.

The first part of the trip starts on Monday Morning, Labour Day. We drove from Halifax to Woodstock, New Brunswick on the Trans Canada Highway, crossed over and down Interstate 95. We decided we’d break the trip into two days rather than put in a 10 – 12 hour day driving and stopped over in a Howard Johnson motel in Woodstock. It’s right off the highway, does a basic continental breakfast, gives you free wifi and a bed to lay your head. The room was a good size and the dated décor and furniture has seen better days but it suits the purpose.

While we were there, we drove up the road a bit to see the longest wooden covered bridge in the world at Hartland, New Brunswick and we had a meal in a pub in Woodstock. There’s also a potato chip factory nearby called the Covered Bridge Chip Factory and you can visit that as well, see how they make kettle cooked chips and try samples. They have lots of neat flavours, too. Graham stuck with near-standard flavours like BBQ but I tried Lobster and it was really nice! You wouldn’t expect that to be a tasty potato chip flavour but it was good.

We had a bit of a delay at the border but it didn’t hold us up for long. There’s many miles of not much else but trees through Maine but past Bangor, things got a bit busier. We did run into a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions just as we came into New Hampshire on the Interstate. That was scary. The rain was coming down heavier than I’ve ever experienced inside a car. We really couldn’t see much of anything aside from the red taillights of the car ahead of us. We managed to find an exit and came off the Interstate and ended up on the shoulder of the road because we couldn’t see if there were any businesses or parking lots we could pull into. We waited it out, about 10 minutes or so, with four way flashers on and wipers going. It finally passed off, and we got back on the highway but a little while later, once we were off the Interstate, we drove into it again though we found a parking lot to turn into and this time, it was only a short wait for it to pass. It stopped altogether shortly after and we made our way the rest of the way to Salem, about an hour after we had planned to arrive.

The B&B in Salem, the Amelia Payson House, was easy to find. It is fully air conditioned which was great because it’s turned out really warm and humid. We found it and got registered and had a lovely chat with the owner, Donald. We got our bags up to our room and had a brew to relax for a bit.

Salem Witch Museum at night

Salem Witch Museum at night

The Inn has all the amenities you would expect including free Wifi, a must these days. Right outside our room is the sitting room with a Keurig coffee maker. Donald brought me some teabags and milk which was much appreciated. We had our drinks and headed out for a walk to find somewhere to eat. Donald had recommended a place which turned out to be not far away. I think a lot of the attractions in Salem are going to be close together. We went to the Salem Beer Works where we had some very interesting beers and Graham had an epic double burger. I had a Cajun dish that had just the right amount of heat. Yum!

We have one full day in Salem and we’re going to make the most of it, at least until we come apart at the seams. Breakfast was fresh waffles and fresh fruit, lovely! We got trolley tour tickets from Ada and headed out. The inn is only around the corner from the Salem Witch Museum so we went there first. This place isn’t a museum as such, rather, it has two presentations, one describing the witch trials and hysteria from 1692 and the other with someone talking about witches, Wiccan, and witchcraft and its general history. The first presentation had scenes with mannequins set up all around the room, one scene at a time with lights enhancing the descriptive narration. Quite well done. The trolley tour guide later told us they had consulted Disney in this so it makes sense they’d have done it right.

Around another block, we waited by the visitor centre where the Salem Trolley Tour picks up punters. We had about a 10 minute wait for it and away we went. The weather, by the way, is excellent today. It’s sunny and hot for sure but there’s very little humidity and there’s a bit of a breeze just when you need it.

The trolley takes you around the centre of the City in a general figure 8 route, heading down past the harbour first and out around by a big park and newer areas before heading into the city centre again to go through the older neighbourhoods where some historic houses are and some really beautiful old mansions are on Chestnut Street. The guide was quite good and talked about all kinds of things, from the witches, to Nathaniel Hawthorne to city rivalries. I do like when tours are narrated by live human beings rather than pre-recorded information.

Salem Waterfront

Salem Waterfront

We did the whole tour route and got off back at the visitor centre. We decided to walk down to the waterfront which was quite nice. There has been a lot of new development there and some nice restaurants looking over the inner harbour area. We looked at some menus and decided on a restaurant called Capt’s where I had a New England specialty, the lobster roll. This one was really good, with lots of lobster in it. It was piled high on the bun and a bit messy to eat, guaranteeing you’ve got your money’s worth! We even had dessert which we don’t always have room for.

We walked around the pier where the large old tall ship, the FriendShip was but it was closed so we couldn’t go on board. We walked back and just missed the trolley. We were going to take it back to the Witch Dungeon attraction but it’s just as well we missed it as we would have missed out on two other things that we decided were very cool.

The first of these was a little printing shop that also carried all kinds of unusual works from local artists, it’s all gothic and new age and that kind of thing which we both like. It’s called the Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery. The owners were very interesting and I think the man that does the printing had a fair bit in common with Graham, at least with the kinds of films they both like!

Onward. We walked back towards the tourist centre, passing lots of shops geared towards the witch tourist trade, some looking pretty hokey and some that were much less the type that would attract the bog standard tourist, shops that someone that actually practices Wicca or other new age practices would frequent. There are shops that advertise Tarot readings, one that said it was a school of witchcraft and wizardry, shops where you can buy any manner of fantasy themed or creepy ornaments, artwork, books, posters and jewelry.

The next thing we found that we’d have missed if we’d have caught the trolley was a movie monster museum called Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. It was very dark inside but lit enough so that you could see the monsters and read the cards. It showed a lot of the old movie monsters from the 1920s on through the 80s and 90s including Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Werewolves, Pumpkinhead, Freddie Kreuger, and many more. Graham knew them all! I knew the old ones but am not as familiar with many of the modern horror movies other than obvious ones like The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs and some of the series of films like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street.

There were lots of old movie posters and a lot of signed photographs of an awful lot of movie actors from both the old and new eras. The accompanying music reminded me of the kind of scary music they’d play with the old silent or very early talking horror movies. Wonderful stuff!

Near the Old Burying Point

Near the Old Burying Point

We stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for a cold drink. That’s the American equivalent of Tim Horton’s. Apparently it was started in Massachusetts. More trudging as we’re starting to get footsore by now. We came back up behind the Peabody Essex Museum which is supposed to be really good but it’s very large so would take a few hours to get through. They have a house that was transported from China which we could see from the outside. It’s also across from an old burying ground with some graves of some very early settlers.

We stopped in a few shops along the way and finally got to our destination by foot rather than trolley, the Witch Dungeon museum. Again, it’s not really a museum as such, more of a presentation with some exhibits. They have a live performance which we expected to be much longer than it did. There’s a brief explanation of how the witch trials crisis started and then it depicted a pre-trial hearing where one of the young girls that was embroiled in the accusations against many of the men and women in the village was confronting an older woman. It probably wasn’t more than 5 or 10 minutes then we were ushered downstairs to a representation of the jail (gaol) and dungeon where the accused were kept with some more narration. Except we were told the real jail would have had a dirt floor. This didn’t. And the real jail didn’t have cells. This did. And the real jail was actually in a different location. What was the point, really?

Oh well, live and learn. We had to think about what to do for our evening meal. We are both tired and sore and thought that since we’d had a large meal at lunch, we would just buy some sandwiches and have them in the room tonight. We often do that after a long day walking around. Getting old!

Since we’d found ourselves back at the visitor centre we decided to go in and they told us about a deli inside the little mall next door. We found it, got some sandwiches and drinks there and we finally made it back to the B&B about 5 p.m., totally worn out. The Air Conditioning sure felt good as did a cold drink to rehydrate. Boston tomorrow will be another long day so we should plan that.

Impressions of Salem:

Beautiful old mansions and houses, brick and wooden, brightly painted and well preserved. Centre of the city is easy to navigate and all the main things are close at hand. Seems to be some really good restaurants and lots of unique shops. Somewhat tatty and exploitive of the witch connection when it’s really quite a historic place but it’s claim to fame ended up being the Witch Trials and that sealed it’s reputation. That’s what brings the tourists in. It’s mayhem at Halloween! Some of the attractions related are very good and very well put together and some are just hokey. Same goes for the shops. The trolley tour is very good, I’d recommend that. There are parks and squares and the waterfront is quite nice, too. It’s a good place to base yourself if you’re visiting the area, both Boston and some of the nice towns in the area. We would like to go again and stay longer and explore more of the area.

Part 2 of the trip coming soon.

The longer version with more detail, should you prefer it, is here on my main website.
There are more photos here.

The Next Road Trip – Maine

Our next trip is going to be a road trip. We decided to head down into New England, with the end destination being Salem, Massachussets where there be witches! We really enjoyed the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, in Cornwall (UK) and wanted to see the American version. The museums around here will focus on the Witch trials, no doubt and be just as interesting. We’re also going to take the train or the ferry into Boston for a day as well. I’ve been to Boston but he’s not been there and it’s quite a nice city.

We’ll probably do the hop on hop off tour and then wander around. Boston has a good Fine Arts museum, that’s a possibility or we could just soak in the atmosphere of the city.

I had thought we’d take the more southern route, crossing at st. Stephen/Calais, Maine and taking an older road, called the “Airline” (route 9), maybe staying over in Bangor but according to Google, it takes just as much time to go north further into New Brunswick on the Trans Canada highway, past Fredricton and cross over at Woodstock/Houlton and take the I95 down to Salem. I suppose, it’s all highway so it would be faster. I think we might do that and break the journey overnight at Woodstock, as it’s quite a long day to drive all the way through, even just to Bangor which is 3/4 of the way by the time you get that far.

Coming home, we do plan to travel along Route 1 along the Maine coast, exploring. Seaside towns, lighthouses and gorgeous scenery. Might even go to Campobello Island and come back into Canada that way, by ferry from there to Deer Island to the mainland. We can decide when and where to stop on the road and pick a little motel along the way, or two and take our time coming back. We will also plan to make a stop or two at the famed outlet shopping areas of Kittery and Freeport if time allows.

And Time Will allow for at least one shopping stop, if I have my way :)

We’ve got a B&B booked for Salem, Amelia Payson House which looks lovely. The lady I spoke to was very nice, too so I think we’ll be happy there. We’ll book a hotel in Woodstock but the other nights we will be on the road, we probably won’t book ahead of time. Could be interesting!

New York Minute

I randomly dive into my folders of travel photos and come up with one that might inspire a post. This one is tonight’s memory, the New York Metropolitan Museum, or The Met. I love museums, big and small. I especially love weird and wonderful ones like the Dog Collar Museum in Leeds Castle, England. That sort of thing.

But the Met is one of the big ones on the scale of the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert. You can’t dip in and do it in an hour. You could be there all day with a stop in the cafe to reenergize but I find that after a few hours, I burn out and it all becomes a blur.

Setting the Wayback Machine to the summer of 1998, I was taking a course for work in nearby Parsippany, NJ. There isn’t much there in the area where the hotel and training centre was but we were close to the main road and a bus into Manhattan. Several of us students took the bus into the Port Authority one evening and we walked across and down to the Empire State Building and went to the top just as dusk was settling over the skyscrapers on a hot and hazy evening.

After, we walked back to Port Authority, thinking it was probably a bit late to look for a restaurant and still make a late bus back to the hotel, a journey of an hour from the bus station. We didn’t know how late that particular commuter bus would run so we walked back to the terminal and, crossing 7th Ave. we could see the lights of Times Square blazing up into the night a few blocks distant. I actually stopped in the middle of the street (in a crosswalk, I’m not *that* kind of tourist!) to take photos!

On the weekend, I had a Saturday to spend on my own before my flight home on Sunday so I took the bus into the city again and went to the Met. I spent the whole morning there and it was bliss! Pre-Raphaelites, Tiffany, and even better, the medieval Unicorn tapestries were on display from the Cloisters which was undergoing renovations.  I got to see some Impressionist paintings, too, paintings I had only seen in books…Renoir, Monet, Manet, Sisley, Degas, the list goes on. Their collections are more extensive in the Impressionist schools than any I had seen up to then.

Leaving there, I soon found myself near St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center before meeting a penpal and his wife at Sak’s where she worked. We had lunch and we walked around in the oppressive heat and humidity for an  hour or two, crossing Times Square mid-afternoon.

Times Square, August 1998

When I am asked what I thought of New York, my first answer is “Colourful”!  I don’t just mean it’s inhabitants either.  I mean there is a lot more colour than you would expect for a city consisting of so much concrete, steel and flesh!  The streets are filled with endless streams of bright yellow cabs.  There are big, bright billboards on and between buildings.  There are brightly coloured advertisements in shop windows.  There are flags and banners hanging from stores, museums and public buildings.  Many people are dressed in bright colours and the sidewalks are dotted with news agents selling newspapers and magazines.  There is, of course, colour overload when you reach Times Square. Garbage bags are pink, the police station has a neon sign!  And let’s not forget the frequent food vendors and fruit and vegetable markets with their bright canopies and umbrellas.

My second impression is the constant smell.  Now, it’s not a bad smell.  Well, not all the time.  As you walk the streets, you are constantly walking in and out of one smell after another…perfume from people or stores, garbage, diesel fuel from busses and subway vents, food cooking, people, freshly cut grass, the scent of a flower bed and car exhaust.

The pace of the city is so much faster than I am used to, too and you find yourself speeding up to keep up!  Not too many cars use signal lights… the car horn seems to be the weapon of choice but traffic lights seem to be more than just a suggestion.  You will see a few cars run the red when it first turns but then, generally, the cars hold back and let the cross traffic take their turn.

I only had that day and a few hours in an evening in New York but my partner and I have decided that our next side trip when he next visits me is probably going to be New York. I haven’t really seen much of it and he’s never been at all. It’s not a long way from here, a couple of hours’ flight. We might see a Broadway show, maybe take a tour bus, go on the Staten Island Ferry for a good view of the skyline. We’re always planning one or two trips ahead of the one we’re about to go on.

Always dreaming of where we can go next.

And that’s how it should be!