Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Boston (Day 27): Talking Shop

10 July 2014 Leave a comment

After a solid sleep, we spent the late morning walking around the western edge of Boston Common, near our hotel.


We were due to meet Y, yet another friend of ours from USP who’d been in J’s year. In addition to this relation, Y had also been at Carleton before me, and we were also going to meet A, a friend of Y’s who’d also been at Carleton. We managed to meet somewhere around the Common, and headed west for lunch and coffee. I remember getting started almost immediately on a conversation about philosophy (and our old professors) with Y on the walk there.

Lunch was at the Cheesecake Factory, and therefore huge.

After lunch we took a walk to Pavement for coffee, which turned out to be very good.


The coffee conversation continued to be quite involved and at some point we were discussing that snark and smarm article which I’ve probably mentioned a couple of times here by now.

It was nearly evening when we left the coffee shop. After saying our goodbyes, T and I continued our walk around Boston, this time heading north-east towards the harbour.

It was soon dark (the days not being very long in winter), so we ended up stopping for dinner at what turned out to be a bar-restaurant done up in facsimile of Chinese-ness. There was a sports game on at the bar area, which was reasonably busy; but aside from the staff, Tim and I were probably the only Chinese people there. That the sketchy simulation of Chinese-ness seemed to be at least somewhat successful (judging from at least the size of the place and the ample staffing on a not-very-busy foggy winter night) was a bit mysterious to us. More immediately inexplicable was the business at the bar, since nothing on the drinks list bore ordering (at least to me).

Following dinner, therefore, we were obliged to look for another local watering-hole. We ended up at another sports bar somewhere across town with a much better selection for a few more hours of catching up.

While we’d not planned more for the night beyond dinner, on the walk back from the pub neither of us felt much like bed. We saw quite a bit more of the city on the way back, but I remember stopping to watch this light show going on near Faneuil Hall.


On the way back we passed by a movie theatre, so we ended up watching a late-night screening of American Hustle (incidentally my second Christian Bale movie this winter break). I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I think some of that at least had to do with our feeling as though we’d been talking about the whole world (in truth, the narrowly delimited but thoroughly entangled social world we’d recently been in the thick of) over the past couple of days; for me, at least, there was the feeling of working something over that I’d not quite gotten out of my system, and it was good to see a different complicated world on-screen in dramatic, melodramatic, and meta-dramatic color.

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Boston (Day 26): Catching the T

10 July 2014 Leave a comment

I took an early bus out of New York, picking up breakfast from a little cart for a coupla bucks on the way to the stop.


It was a few hours’ ride north, but I managed to sleep most of the way. I arrived in Boston shortly after noon, and made my way from South Station to the hotel where I was to meet T, who’d arrived just shortly before I did. We checked in and headed out for lunch in downtown Boston.


In the previous year, T and I had served in the student government together. After lunch, we visited our friend J at his campus. Between the snow and the evening light, the place was quite beautiful.


J was also a friend from school. He’d served in the student organization in the years before T and I did. After our walk around campus, we stopped by J’s home for a bit, before dinner at IHOP.

Although we hadn’t run around much, between the three of us we’d done a whole lot of catching up about plans, projects, people, and everything else we’d once been neck-deep in, and I suppose this was tiring after its own fashion. After we took our leave from our friend, T and I caught the T (Greater Boston’s subway system) back for an early night.

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New York (Days 24 – 25): Crossings

30 June 2014 Leave a comment

I took the train from Warren to Manhattan. In New York, I stayed with yet another J, also a good friend, and, furthermore, my erstwhile partner in trombone-playing.

One way in which my visit to New York stood out from my previous excursions was in the number of Singaporeans I met, including both friends from (and through) ACS and USP. Part of the reason for the number of coincidental meetings was that it was the end of the exam period for the students at NYU, and other institutions not running on the quarter system (fall term, winter term, spring term, and summer break) like Carleton. Though travelling alone certainly has its unique charms, after the preceding few weeks of it, I was quite energized to see everyone. Also, from the time of my arriving in Minnesota, it’d been a few months since I’d met so many Singaporeans together.


In addition to meeting people around town or in J’s apartment (quite the center of activity, it was), mostly I remember experiencing the buzz of the city. I mainly stayed between the Village and Times Square (where we tried and failed at the ticket lottery for Wicked) over the two days I was in town. J had been working at the campus news outfit over the past year (and quite evidently having a great time at it), and so I got to see some of that as well.


I was also introduced to Shake Shack burgers, Washington Square, and Strand Books, a.k.a. as the best bookstore in the world (or, at least, in my experience).




And finally a picture of a New York City street-junction, for that city-feeling I remember from the time spent navigating the street grid between stops, but which I can’t otherwise describe.


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San Francisco (Day 20): Land’s End

26 June 2014 Leave a comment

Our adventures began somewhat later this day, following the previous late night. We started with lunch at a Dim Sum place which J knew of.


Like the prawns, lunch turned out to be delicious and huge.

Following lunch, we headed out to Land’s End park in the northwest part of San Francisco for a bit of a hike, and some spectacular views.





And then it was a quick stop by the Golden Gate Bridge for a photo (it feels gratuitous to post that, on top of everything).


On the way to dinner, we stopped by Haight Street for a bit, where I picked up a bottle of a limited release of Speakeasy Brewing’s barrel-aged ale (actually, their first series; it’s a rather new outfit). Dinner was at a low-profile (and thus relatively inexpensive) xiao long bao place, which I enjoyed.

We headed back for a night-cap, and I prepared to leave for the east coast on the following day.

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Santa Barbara – San Francisco (Day 19): Retour

25 June 2014 1 comment

I was due to take the AMTRAK back to Jack London Square in Oakland in the late morning. From the trip south, I knew that the views of the coastline were close to my departure point in Santa Barbara. We’d passed them in the night-time on the way down, however, and as I passed it again the light of day I realized I’d missed how very close we were to the water.


The rest of the ride past quite uneventfully. I tried to sleep as much as I can, the train was stopped at points (as usual), and I ended up arriving in Oakland about two hours later than scheduled. Despite the fact, my friend J was still up to meet me.

J had been at school in the area at UC Berkeley, and so, at about 1 a.m. that night, he drove us out there to look around the campus. I didn’t mind, since I’d mostly tried to sleep on the train. Furthermore, I was hungry, and I was promised food. The promised food included the best fried rice I’d had in America.


After some time looking around the campus, catching up, and picking up more food (bubble tea, popcorn chicken), J drove us back across the bridge to San Francisco for the night.



Actually, along the way, we did stop for a view of the city from a peak.


And, once we were back, we opened up a bottle of something I’d picked up from Telegraph in Santa Barbara.


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Santa Barbara (Day 18): At the Granada

24 June 2014 Leave a comment

I woke up somewhat earlier this day. After a quick shower, I made a brief circuit of the neighbourhood, picking up brunch from a taqueria nearby. (The chicken taco was amazing.) I brought my lunch back to the little deck on top of the hostel, and spent the morning writing postcards. I’d picked up a bunch of them over my first few stops, and I had a long list of intended recipients which I unfortunately never finished writing.

It took quite a while to finish the few that I wrote, and by the time I was done it was mid-afternoon. Like the day before, I was aiming for one of the breweries between the hostel and main street. Today’s was Telegraph Brewing Co.


The beer was very good, but some sort of event was going on, and the place was rather more crowded than Figueroa Mountain, so I didn’t stay very long. It was nevertheless about evening-time when I left, and the walk through town was, again, very pretty.



I stopped to pick up stamps and drop off postcards somewhere, before Norton’s Pastrami again for dinner.


After dinner, it was the concert proper at the Granada Theater.


Watching Jeff Tweedy play, I was marvelling throughout at the skill of the master. On the guitar, every attack and resonance seemed to say something, and I was amazed at the player’s/instrument’s range. This mastery in expression was more than matched in the vocal performance as well.


Overall, it was quite the dream for this Wilco fan.

I stood outside the tour bus for some time after the concert, with a few other fans. Jeff Tweedy remained elusive, however.

After the wait was the walk back through town, which was quiet at this hour.

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Santa Barbara (Day 17): Beach Town

21 June 2014 1 comment

I slept in the next day, but when I woke up, it was gloriously bright and sunny outside again. Santa Barbara is a beach town (in fact one of my room-mates in the hostel had been there fore a couple of months for the surfing), and so with a few hours to go before the concert, I decided to drift in the general direction of town via the beach.



I remember feeling a shade of schadenfreude while at the beach and imagining winter in Minnesota.

My midpoint along the drift to town was Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. While I’ve sampled a good number of craft beers just via local merchants and a few more-specialist bottle-shops, I’ve not been to that many brewery taprooms (at the moment, I only recall visiting Jackalope Brewing in Nashville, and perhaps the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston, though that isn’t exactly a brew-pub set-up); the main reason is that several of them are harder to get to without a car, and most of my travels took me through cities, where I mostly depended on the local forms of metro-transit, and where I would generally try not to drift too far away from the inter-city bus- and rail-networks. Santa Barbara, however, is both very compact, quite laid-back, and quite affluent (it is, I was told, a retirement destination); one expression of these facts is the prevalence of vintage cars around town.


This also meant that there were a few breweries set up within an accessible radius, and I could get to them on foot, which brings us back to Figueroa Mountain.


I had fun looking around place, the beer was good, and I had an interesting chat with one of the brewers. This was towards the tail-end of the work-day, which meant that I was due soon in town to catch dinner before the show. From the taproom, it was a short-enough walk to Santa Barbara’s main street. I stopped for some very good pastrami-on-rye at a place off main street, near the theatre. At the theatre, however, I was in for a bit of a surprise, because I’d gotten the date wrong – the concert was happening the following day. I was certainly glad that I hadn’t been in a worse mix-up, but insofar as I’d been keenly anticipating the performance, the dissipation of tension left me momentarily directionless. I set off again down main street in the reverse direction.

I didn’t have to walk long before an alternative occupation for the evening presented itself, in the form of not one but two small-ish movie theatres along the street, which I’d failed to notice on the way up in my single-minded focus on pastrami and the concert. I walked into one and bought a ticket for the second Thor movie (‘The Dark World’). On a moment’s reflection, however, I decided to turn into the theatre screening Out of the Furnace instead. (This one would start some fifteen minutes later. Both theatres were quite empty, however, and so we mostly just sat wherever we wanted.)

Whereas the Thor movie (which I’ve actually just seen on cable TV yesterday) is never really serious, though always very Serious, Out of the Furnace is pretty much only really serious. Among other things, it was a stark contrast to my days of leisure and worry-free holidaying. Coming as it did in this rather late point of my travels, though, I think it was a much better movie to watch than Thor’s would have been – and I’m not out to dismiss Thor either, insofar as he is probably my favorite Marvel movie-hero At the time I think I had dim appreciation of the contrast between the life-situation portrayed and the leisurely holiday and easy retirements I’d been walking around, and looking back, it seems to be the main thing I took away. After the movie, I spent the walk back just thinking about things other than food.

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