Boston wrap-up

Our last day in Boston, Monday, was one of the coldest days I can remember. The basic temperature was about -8C, with a wind chill that took another seven or eight degrees of that. It was beyond cold and well into actively painful.

Martin and Scott in front of the Massachusetts State House We didn’t end up doing much. We had a breakfast of donuts, and then hopped from shop to shop in Downtown Crossing, trying to stay just slightly warm. In an attempt to show that we’re not completely dead to history and culture, we also did a tour of the Massachusetts State House. We finished our time in the city with a late lunch at Quincy Market, and a beer at the “Cheers” bar there.

Overall, we had a great time. Boston is a lovely city. With its narrow streets and brick facades it feels European in places. The shopping is pretty good, even in the shops are almost the same as everywhere else: Gap, Clare’s Accessories, Borders, Macys, Banana Republic, etc. That struck me as soon as we arrived there. Globalisation is smoothing out the worldwide retail experience. I don’t think this is a good thing. I like going places and being able to find stuff I can’t get anywhere else. Sure, the market stalls in Quincy and Faneuil Hall sell localised merchandise, but you know you’ll be able to find t-shirts, sweaters, baseball caps, cheap jewelry and miscellaneous other souvenir goods. It’s not the same. (Rome, on the other hand, is completely different. One of the many reasons we love it so much.)

The pubs in Boston are really nice. We visited four, and they were all friendly and atmospheric. The beer is really expensive, though. On Saturday afternoon we paid $12.50 for a pint of Guinness and a pint of Sam Adams. Admittedly, this was in a tourist-friendly pub just round the corner from Faneuil Hall, but the prices elsewhere weren’t too far off this, either. And, as we found out on Sunday on our way back to the hotel (soaking wet from the pouring rain), you can’t buy beer on a Sunday. We’d hoped to take in a couple of brewskis and watch the golf, but we ended up with Diet Coke instead. We did go out to a smashing bar (The Marshall House) later in the evening for a meal. I had lobster–yum!

So, was the trip worth it? Definitely yes. Would I do it again? Hmm. I really missed Abi and Alex. But if I could have them with me, then I’d be well up for a return visit.

Boston, part 2

Martin with the River Charles in the backgroundYay! I’ve got my luggage back! It arived this morning. Unfortunately it wasn’t here in time for the Toad concert last night, so I was forced to buy some new clothes yesterday afternoon (trousers, t-shirt, sweater, socks), and let my travel insurance pick up the tab. Damn.

Scott with Faneuil Hall in the backgroundThe concert was excellent. On the Glen Phillips message board, a few folks were complaining that the venue and the crowd were rubbish, but I thought it rocked. (Perhaps having flown five thousand miles to get here has something to do with that? Maybe.)

Martin with the F.A.O. Schwartz bearWe did have a scary moment before the gig, though. After we’d walked all over the landscape and located the Avalon (right next to Fenway Park), we took the subway (the “T”) back to downtown. We split up to do some shopping, and met back at the hotel. The idea was that we’d rest up for a bit, then head out at about 6 or 6:30, and have something to eat near the venue before actually going in at 8.

At about five minutes to six, with both of us slobbed out on our beds, watching the World Matchplay Championship golf on TV, I pulled the concert tickets out of my bag to have a look at them.

“Er, Scott…”


“It says here that the concert starts at 6:30. And that the doors opened at 5:30.”


Martin and Scott on the TA mad dash ensued. We got changed in no time flat, and were out the door by 5 past 6. Fortunately Boston is quite small. The T station was only a couple of blocks from our hotel, and it was only a 15 minute trip on the train to get to the stop closest to the Avalon. We knew that Toad wouldn’t be on stage at 6:30, but I do like catching opening acts, and I had a dread worry that they might not let us in if we arrived late.

Boston in the rainAll was cool, though. We got there at dead on 6:30, and there were plenty of people who arrived even later. Wheat had already started playing, but we took the time to stow our coats and have a beer. We then wandered through to the main hall, and enjoyed the music.

Wheat were pretty good, but Bleu absolutely rocked. They both played about five or six songs, followed by half hour breaks for breaking down and setting up again. Toad came on at around 8:30, and the crowd went wild. They played eighteen songs, followed by two encores:

  1. Whatever I fear
  2. Something’s always wrong
  3. Dam would break
  4. The longest day
  5. Fly from heaven
  6. Crowing
  7. All I want
  8. Always changing probably (? I’ve never been too sure about the titles from Bread and Circus
  9. Come back down
  10. Nightingale song
  11. Political Science (Randy Newman song, Glen acoustic)
  12. ? (Another Glen acoustic song, but I didn’t recognise it)
  13. See you again (A Lapdog song. Johnny Hawthorne accompanied them on a lot of the material this evening, but he stayed at the back of the stage. They let him up front on this one, and he rocked some electric guitar ass.)
  14. Windmills
  15. ? (A new Toad song? “Everybody’s Cool”? Glen chewed the mike and mumbled most of the way through it, so I didn’t catch most of the lyrics.)
  16. Hold her down
  17. Brother
  18. Fall down

  1. Crazy Life
  2. Amnesia
  3. Walk on the Ocean

  1. I will not take these things for granted

Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Avalon Ballroom, 1 March 2003Man, oh man, that was fantastic. Despite the camera ban, I managed to snap a few pictures. (I didn’t want to use a flash, though, so they’ve come out a bit blurry.) On our way back to the hotel we were feeling a bit peckish, so we stopped to grab a couple of chicken and pepper sandwiches just outside Quincy Market. It was after-pub food, but it just hit the spot for us. Lovely.

Martin at the Prudential CenterToday we had breakfast in the hotel, and went out to do a bit of shopping. After yesterday’s cold, crisp, but sunny weather, today is utter rubbish. It’s pissing down with rain, and despite the hotel’s complimentary umbrella, we’re both soaked to the skin. We’ve just had a slice of apple cinnamon loaf at the Prudential arcade, but now we’re probably going to head back to the hotel. Plan is to pick up some beers on the way, and watch the rest of the final of the golf. If it’s not too rainy this evening, we might go out and catch a movie. Otherwise, it’ll be just up to Quincy for some delicious deep-fried Chinese food. Yum!


Martin in BostonYay! We’re in Boston!

Without my luggage!

I had almost been expecting it to go missing, so it wasn’t too great a surprise (or stressful situation) when we got to the baggage caroussel, and the NorthWest customer rep announced that about a hundred passengers’ bags had been left in Amsterdam. So that’s three times in four years.

Boston Common, with snowIt’s very cold here. There was lots of snow, and a severly hard frost earlier in the week, and most of it is still around. It’s piled up on the sides of the streets and lumped around trees. The ponds of Boston Common are still frozen over, and the whole city looks very pretty.

Scott in BostonWe’re having a good time so far. Yesterday evening after we’d checked in at the hotel, we went out for a wander around town to get the lay of the land, and have a beer. This morning we walked all over the landscape looking for someplace that would serve us pancakes for breakfast. At about 11 o’clock we gave up and had omelettes and muffins instead. (No diners! Everything is trying to be continental European-style!)

Boston snowToad this evening. We’re planning to walk out to the concert venue now and scope it out, to see is there’s anyplace nearby we can have something to eat before the gig. We’ll probably head back to our hotel in the afternoon, then take the subway there in the evening. Yay!