Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Oh Boston, thank you so much for this lovely Spring weather. It had warmed up somewhat compared to what we had in Philadelphia and New Haven, but now you’ve bought on the rain. Ta. Still, Massachusetts Ave does look pretty in the rain.mass-ave-in-the-rain.jpgAs does the Boston Commons, but it does render one disinclined to go walking about in it!Boston-Commons-rain.jpgBoston-common-raining-2.jpg
Instead we decided to make a day of staying indoors at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, along with half the city it would seem – the place was terribly busy for what should have been a lazy Sunday. Nevermind, Mr K’s Parking Fairy kicked in, and instead of parking in the Museum carpark for $22 for only 2.5hrs, he found a ‘don’t bother paying on Sunday’ street park closer than the Museum’s own car park. Woo-hoo. Also, love the buy your own ticket machine in the foyer – it didn’t feel the need to scrutinise my student ID like I was from another planet because it had never heard of my University. πŸ™‚ Just inside the door we were greeted by this fabulous Cleopatra statue as a welcoming whet the appetite tidbit… and she made a lovely change to the surly security staff at all the Washington and New York museums and attractions. That’s right, no security checks here at all – all theatre, I tell you.Cleopatra-statue-at-mfa.jpg
And just around the corner from her was the coat check room and this welcoming sign…
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Directly opposite the coat check was a small display of jewellery which ranged from 300BC bracelets of Roman origin to Van Cleefs, Cartiers, Lalique and a host of others. Also this stunning, American flag inspired, Harry Winston mask; made of diamonds, rubies and sapphires. All the pretties, can’t imagine what the sum value of that one little room room is. harry-winston-ruby-sapphire-diamond-mask.jpg We also went into a small temporary exhibit of musical instruments and saw some lovely harps from the 17thC and some 16thC harpsicords.
image*NB – not a harp! image *NB – not a 16thC, this one is much later and the others are stashed safely in my camera.

As it turns out, the entire Impressionist Wing is undergoing refurbishment at the moment which would be a great disappointment for many coming to visit the MFA, and they decided to take a rather novel approach to dealing with having to close off a collection. Rather than send that collection on tour while they are renovating the galleries, they decided to hold an online pole to select the public’s favourite 30 pieces from the MFA’s impressionist collection and host a ‘Boston Loves Impressionism’ exhibit in one of their special exhibition halls for the duration the galleries would be unavailable. So even though the wing was closed, we got a condensed view of the favourite impressionist masters.
The three most popular items were Van Gogh’s ‘House at Auvers’, yet another of Monet’s waterlilly series, and this now well known Degas sculpture.imageRsTSnWO3kYZwphfJ.jpgimage
This small collection, as voted by the public, was really quite impressive. Not the least of which because of the sheer volume of Monets they had in the room. I particularly loved this lesser known work,’Valley at the Creuse in Sunlight’, and really loved the detail of it, which of course up close, just looks like a big ol’ mess. You can see his signature in the second detailed image, signed in 1889.monet-cliffs.jpg
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I also love this Renoir, ‘Grand Canal of Venice’ painted in 1881. When exhibited for the first time in Paris, it scandalized the Parisian public with one critic denouncing it as ‘the most outrageous series of ferocious daubs that any slanderer of Venice could possibly imagine!’ Such a fabulous quote. Imagine what they’d make of art today.
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Wandering through the museum itself was quite a treat too, much like the MET, it is in an amazing building, this is a quick shot of the fresco above the Rotunda at the centre of the museum.rotunda-ceiling.jpgAnd lurking in a hidden corner was a cast bronze statue from which the enormous marble Lincoln memorial was cast.model-lincoln-statue.jpg

We took an extensive wander through the European Collections, having felt a bit like we had absorbed plenty of American history and culture this trip already, and found it to be a bit haphazard in it’s arrangement. There was a LOT of Regency decorative arts on display and then in the middle of it, this teapot collection covering a time frame… but teapot collection in the Boston Museum, was bound to be something that piqued my intersest,boston-teapot-collection-1.jpgboston-teapot-collection-2.jpg

Bit further into the Regency stuff and saw this delightful English writing box, so well kept.regency-writing-box.jpgAnd this wonderful oak panelled room with lush draper and an enormous carved heraldic mantlepiece. Mr K feels that when we buy our New Haven mansion, we should consider modelling one of the formal parlours on this room (the Chesterfield won’t look too out of place), and keep a locked box for people to throw their mobile phones into while we all sit around drinking brandy and talking politics – yes, I think this place is getting to him somewhat.regency-oak-panelled-room-2.jpgregency-oak-panelled-room1.jpgregency-oak-heraldry.jpg
I snapped a pic of this fabulous ceramic dish which if memory serves was 18th French, but the strong colours in it remind me of all the Turkish ceramics. Love the design.
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And then I had that moment when you know you have been travelling too long… sometimes, it’s seeing your friends hiding behind ancient Roman ruins taking a pee, sometimes it’s realising that your passport photo now looks better than you do, but for this trip, it was this absurd comment that let me know it must be time to go home soon – “Oh look. Another wall of Rembrandts.” Yes, I actually said that.more-rembrandts.jpg
I did however have a far more appropriate response to rounding another corner and seeing this fabulous Rogier van der Weyden just hanging there beside me. Simply beautiful. I took about a dozen photos of this with my real camera, I think the gallery staff were wondering what was wrong with me, it’s not like anyone else was paying it any attention. πŸ™‚
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And directly opposite a fabulous Heironymous Bosch triptych.
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This is “The Lamentation” by Luchas Cranach the Elder (c.1536) and even though it has no cool costuming in it, the guy in red looked like someone we know, so I had to grab some pics.
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I loved this painting. These and the ‘artist in his studio’ type thing always make me think the 4th wall of painting has been broken. It’s called ‘Picture Gallery wit Views of Modern Rome’, painted in 1757 by Pannini and was an extravagant souvenir of Rome, commissioned by the Duc de Choiseul to commemorate his stay in Rome as the French ambassador to the Vatican (there’s a job!). I loved that the further I looked into the painting the more familiar Rome landmarks I saw.
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Next we jumped forward a little bit and found ourselves in the last of the Regency rooms and into some pre-Raphaelites. Leighton, Millet and Rossetti were represented.
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But then cross the hall we encountered a tiny full on Medieval room with a few 13th century column capitals (French), a Limoge enamelled pigeon…
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and an entire 12th century Spanish chapel’s worth of frescos! It seemed so out of place here to see these frescos. I have seen many similar Christian frescos in situ in Spain, Italy, Greece and even Turkey (though those are often heavily vandalized), and it seem really odd to encounter such a thing in a museum in downtown Boston. Made me wonder, many people want to repatriate the Egyptian treasure back to Egypt, should items like this chapel, be sent back to Spain?
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Then the oddly laid out European Collections spat us out into this gallery which flowed straight into – Contemporary Glass?!?
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I didn’t catch the glass sculptors name on this piece, but I liked the juxtaposition with the jaunty coloured glass and the moody (oh, ok… bloody miserable) Boston weather behind it.
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I absolutely loved this piece – I searched high and low for the artist statement, name and date info, but as it was standing in the middle of a large room, I couldn’t find it. You can not believe how difficult it was to photograph this glass and mirror installation, but it really appealed to me, so I persevered.
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And plenty of detail to show off the piece…
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We ventured a tiny bit further into the contemporary art exhibit and saw this Charles Close bit, before deciding to flee the modern art and seek shelter in the comforting gift shop for a bit.
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Like most museums, they do have an excellent book store and gift shop, though one thing is starting to give Mr K, the shits. We are wandering through having a look at all the pretties and taking names of all the books I want that I can’t fit in my luggage, but which are readily available on the Book Depository (God bless their cotton socks!), and are seeing all these trinkets and prints and souvenirs with ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ by Katsushika Hokusai represented all over them and wondering if the MFA has a print. And yes, it turns out that much like the MET, they have a copy, and much like the MET, they NEVER have it on display because it is too fragile… but they are quite happy to make money off it in the museum store. Sigh…
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So that is now three museums where Mr K might have had an opportunity to view his all time favourite piece of art (which is saying something, because he’s not really into art), and each time, foiled by the desire to conserve. Surely there must be one museum in world with two copies of the print that are prepared to put one on view and save the other for posterity? πŸ™‚

And so endeth our tour of the Boston Fine Arts Museum with a dash through the pouring rain back to the car!

Basketball. Basketball. Basketball.

We went to see an NBL basketball game tonight – the Boston Celtics vs the Chicago Bulls! Y’all should have heard that last bit in a loud booming PA voice as though it’s filling the stadium! Now, we are not really fans of either team, it was just an opportunity to go see two well known NBA teams play while we happened to be in Boston.

Given we had spent a small fortune to go see Mr K’s favourite hockey teams – The Vancouver Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs (grrr… the bad pluralization gets me every time), we decided to just get some modest tickets for this game. Which meant that we were up in the third balcony in the nose bleeds. Mind you the view from up there at TD Gardens in Boston was pretty good – you could see the whole court, and you were looking down on the big screens that run all the replays, rather than looking up at it, which is a bonus to stave off getting a crick in the neck. One thing I did notice, the seats up there were narrower than the seats on lower levels – probably to squish more people in, and of course the arm rests don’t move so you get nice comfy steel digging into you for the whole game… they gotta work on that.

The game kicked off much like the other events we went to – an acknowledgement to the military servicemen and women for their sacrifices and then someone singing the national anthem. This time a choir of school girls. You know, I still can’t get used to the Americans all putting their hands on their heart and absolutely everyone singing along at full volume and looking disapprovingly at anyone not doing the same… in Australia, the national anthem comes on, you’re lucky if everyone stands up, some people will know the words to the first verse and the chorus, but only about 3 in 10 might make it through the second verse. We give a shit. We are patriotic and all, but we just don’t give a shit in the same way. The other odd thing about the anthem bit – every time I hear it, I am reminded of a rather absurd scene in the movie ‘Short Bus’… please don’t Google that, and if you do; don’t blame me for, ‘that which is seen can not be unseen’.
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The crowd of course were largely Celtics fans, which meant lots of green, lots of big leprechaun hats and clovers and stuff everywhere. One thing that happened here that didn’t happen at the hockey – they were periodically booing the Chicago Bulls! I assume to try and throw them off their game, but it was weird. Yeah, of course you cheer your team on, but do we really need to ‘boo’ the visiting team? Not very sportsmanlike imho. We were mostly on the fence and found ourselves cheering both teams whenever they did something cool.
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We did notice this guy though, Chicago Bulls No 5 Carlos Boozer… and he is a massive 6’9″ power forward who was having a helluva game. I felt an immediate affinity with Mr Boozer, for a start – could you get a more Aussie name? – and then there was his aggressive style that made you think his name should be Broozer not Boozer. He was great under the net and we had a lot of fun watching him.
chicago-bulls-boozer.jpgWe also noticed that every time the Bulls got possession of the ball, the spruikers/commentary team or whoever was in charge of the noise in the room, was playing AC/DC! Go the Aussie rock. It was probably supposed to help get the home team all stirred into action, but instead just made us associate the Chicago team with AC/DC. Nice. So between Boozer the most Aussie, German born, American basketballer ever and the soundtrack, we came away from the game as new Chicago Bulls fans! Go Bulls!
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Salem Witches and JFK. No segue.

Arrive safely in Boston, to a cool but beautiful afternoon. Traffic here not as alarming as LA, but roadworks made Sondra really work for it. We are staying a basement apartment Massachuessets Avenue, which is on the south side. There whole areas is dominated by apartment blocks that are in rows that seem to go on forever. They look really cool actually, love the slate looking roofs and interesting window seats and stuff.mass-ave-boston.jpghorticultural-society.jpg

We went for a drive out to Salem this morning in search of 17th century witch hunting history. Sensibly the first stop always seem to be a town’s Visitors Centre, where you can normally pick up on all the info that will help you get around and see as much stuff as you can. Fortunately Salem appears to be largely open for business (unlike a lot of New Haven and Plymouth that was ‘closed for the season… yeah, I wouldn’t want to work in that sort of weather either – but what do they do for money over the winter?)salem-visitors-centre.jpgThe Visitors Centre pointed us in the direction of the Salem Witch Museum which seems to be the biggest/most visited witchy attraction in Salem, so off we went. Outside we saw a statue of Roger Conant, the first person to settle in Salem in 1620 – can’t figure out whether he did anything else remarkable but there is a statue to the guy outside the Witch Museum nonetheless.
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Now, where to start with the Salem Witch Museum? It is built in an old gothic style church and I have to say, it is tackier than a black velvet Elvis painting! We got ushered into a large room, (no doubt previously the main room of the church) and were ‘spoonfed’ the history of the Salem witch trials through the use of a spooky voiced over dialogue and sequentially lit dioramas! No shit, we were sitting in the middle of a room, and there was the devil lit up red in the corner talking about how the pilgrims were obsessed with pleasing God and avoiding the devil, then that light went out and another lit up a black slave woman, named Tituba, filling the bored young girls of Salem’s heads full of voodoo, black magic and devils and nonsense. The girls became hysterical, the local quack diagnosed witchcraft and the rest became weird and tragic history. Over 200 people were prosecuted with witchcraft in the couple of years this nonsense was going on, 19 people were hung, a couple were tortured, all Medieval-like, and plenty ended up languishing in goal. After the ‘presentation’ we went through an exhibit that discussed the history of witches and perceptions thereof, starting with pagans through to Halloween and Wizard of Oz style witches to modern day Wiccans. There was a huge timeline on one wall of the exhibit which was intended to display the history of ‘outbreaks’ of witchcraft and witch persecution, but they included Joan of Arc who was charged with ‘heresy’ (this is not even remotely related to witchcraft) and left off Anne Boleyn was definitely WAS accused of witchcraft at one point due to her possession of an extra finger. So the accuracy of the museum exhibits was a bit of the light side? Meh, there’s plenty of well written books on this – it obviously continues to fascinate people. Aside from these obvious failings, I found the $9 admission fee was money well spent – you can’t find this sort of tacky just anywhere, you know! πŸ™‚
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After that we went for a wander around Boston Common and went to find the Salem Witch Village – which I had high hopes would have very little to do with historical witchcraft/witches. On the way, we saw the Church of the Immaculate Conception, (beautiful building) and I noticed in the front yard of the church, a monument of sorts containing the Ten Commandments… which tickled my fancy enormously as I thought the peoples around there way back when, needed to pay a little more attention to the 8th Commandment, in my humble opinion!
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We found the Witch Village, right around the corner from the local WitchCraft Beer Brewing Company, and the Salem Pirate Museum (alas, closed for the ‘season’). The Village contained a memorial park, another museum AND (wait for it!) a wax museum… so not going in there!! So instead we wandered around the memorial park and had a good look through the old cemetery, which contained many headstones from the original residents of Salem. I’ve always found old cemeteries rather sad, but fascinating.
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After the cemetery, we went down the Salem’s waterfront area which was nigh on deserted – I can imagine it’s extremely busy in summer, as there are heaps of little shops and restaurants, many of which were open, but looking very closed still in this weather.
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In the bay is The Friendship of Salem which is a 171-foot replica of a 1797 East Indiaman, built in New York, in 2000. The boat/ship thingy functions as a stationary museum during most of the year, however the ship is a fully functioning United States Coast Guard vessel capable of proper passenger and crew voyages, and occasionally sets sail. The name is a little twee, but the ship is pretty cool.
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We found ourselves at The Capts Seafood Grill for lunch right by The Friendship overlooking the harbour which was really pleasant. I had to try the lobster risotto – so much lobster and so cheap! – and after kicking aside all the overpower capers, found it to be absolutely delicious. First meal I have had that was in a regular sized portion for one to enjoy an elegant sufficiency and not leave half your meal on your plate!
losbster-risotto.jpgcapers-yuck.jpgIt was delicious, except for the whole drowning in bloody capers bit! Capers indeed!
After lunch we headed up Hawthorne Street towards the Hawthorne Hotel (there’s lots of Hawthorne around here, especially in the cemetery!), and saw a statue dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne himself.
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The only other thing that really stood out in Salem, other than the overwhelming number of new age shops selling incense, crystals, and all things Wicca and pagan, was the sheer number of tarot readers, psychic readers, palm readers and divination type people. There were sooo many shops full of people offering to read your future. I don’t know if Salem breeds them like this, or if the nutters are attracted to Salem to make a living, but they were everywhere! Weird. Made me wonder if it was a particularly ‘when in Rome’ thing to do – go to Salem, have your fortunes told?! Who knows.
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Oh, and I am totally sick of seeing this everywhere – massive piles of unmelted snow left over from two weeks ago… it’s so cold, the snow doesn’t want to melt. πŸ™
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After the tacky tacky delights of Salem, the most Touristy Historical Place Ever, we made our way to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
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The tour of the museum started with a film presentation of JFK’s early life and his love of the sea, life growing up in Cape Cod, and his intention to be a writer and a teacher, through to his naval career and early political career. There was plenty of casual footage of JFK and his family – himself and his 8 brothers and sisters – as well as his marriage to Jackie and their own two children. His early political career seemed to run smoothly, though it sounds like he never had any intentions of entering politics, and his father had originally earmarked his older brother Joe for a public life, but with Joe’s death, JFK ran for the House of Reps and won, and then the Senate and won that too, before eventually running for the Presidency in 1960. They have lots of memorabilia surrounding his election campaign on display in the museum there –
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This is a reconstruction of the tally room where Walter Cronkite narrated the votes coming in across the country for the 1960 presidential elections, and a map showing the final counts-
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JFK was enormously popular with his young bride beside him, I don’t think we have ever seen anything quite like it before or since… and certainly never seen anything like it in Australia. It is mind boggling to think how different history might have been if he wasn’t assassinated and if he had served two terms as President. I wonder what that would have looked like?
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I found this amusing, JFK was presented with a replica of the desk set used to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, by the White House News Correspondents and Photographers – a replica of the same desk set we had seen in Philadelphia only a couple of days ago.
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This thing was incredibly beautiful, so I had to take a photograph of it. It is a solid gold purse with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, that was presented to Jackie Kennedy by King Hussan of Morocco in 1963. So many of the gifts that the Kennedys received while in office were either commissioned by various statesmen, or beguilingly were actual treasures from the donating country – for example they were given a 3rd century BC statue from a representative of Afghanistan… who goes around giving away pieces of their nation’s own history? That makes no sense to me.
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Also in the library/museum is a large portion of the Berlin Wall, to commemorate JFK’s extensive involvement in Berlin during his short tenure as President… very cool.
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The Presidential Library and Museum itself is really quite impressive. Built in 1977 with Jackie Kennedy having approved the site and the plans, it is a very imposing structure well placed on Columbia Point and well worth a visit. The museum section itself is designed to look like you are walking through White House corridors and artefacts and information line the walls and various rooms off the corridors. They also have an awesome gift shop.
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One thing I did notice was the way the museum completely glosses over JFK’s assassination… no mention of it at all. No newspaper clippings, no news reel footage, no magazine covers. Nothing. For such an important moment in American history – everyone remembers where they were when they heard, apparently – it seems an odd omission. The only reference at all to his death was a newsreel running footage of his funeral and burial at Arlington Cemetery. I guess it seems a sensitive way to deal with this very painful chapter of America’s recent history, but I feel that younger foreigners who may not be aware of what happened to JFK could potentially miss something very important by their choosing to leave it out.

If I had landed at Plymouth, I would have kept on going!

Ah, nothing like having the prettiest room in the house with the largest, most magnificent bed… and the soggiest soft mattress you have ever encountered in your entire life. The direct result of this was being awake off and on from about 0230 and definitely being awake enough to watch the dawn peep through the curtains. new-haven-dawn.jpgWe are off to Plymouth today, via a town called Mystic, which is renown for its beautiful seaport and being the place where the a replica of the Amistad slave ship resides. Unfortunately, being a moving target, the Amistad was not in residence at the Mystic Seaport Museum and Shipyard today – probably had the good sense to seek warmer climes – so we decided the $USD50 for us to go into the remainder of the museum was a bit on the steep side.mystic-seaport-anchor.jpgInstead, we had a look around the port area and the funkiest nautical themed gift shop ever. *curses American Airlines yet again for their luggage capacity rules!*mystic-seaport-shop-hat.jpgmystic-seaport-1.jpgmystic-seaport-boat.jpgmystic-seaport-2.jpg
After staying outdoors as long as we dared, we took a bit of a drive around Mystic to check out the houses (did I mention how much I love the property market up this way?), and to try and find the Mystic Pizza shop. πŸ™‚ Yes, I know it’s an old movie and I am pretty sure I saw it at some point, but stuffed if I can remember anything but it!
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Then it was back on the road again and heading for Plymouth. We wanted to take the scenic route and stay by the coastline, but that was altogether too much for Sondra (our GPS) and she ended up taking us via the highways all the way there, which was quicker, but I dare say, not as pretty. Eventually we get to Plymouth Bay and discover that the town of Plymouth is pretty much NOT open for business yet… maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, but it seems like most of them are kinda holding out for better weather. Now the upsides of this is that we were able to find a park no problem (heaps of beach side parking here!), and no need to view this seemingly sacred but actually kinda ordinary rock surrounded by tonnes of screaming 8th Graders, but the downsides were – it’s still freezing, and hardly any of the shops or bars and restaurants in the area were open! So Plymouth felt rather… inhospitable on the whole.plymouth-bay.jpgplymouth-rock-cover.jpgplymouth-rock.jpgNaturally, there is also in the area some little National Park bookshops full of books on the history of Plymouth and the Pilgrims, and trinkets made by local artist and not so local artists (you’d be surprised how many ‘souvenirs’ you turn over and find out they are stamped ‘Made In China’). pilgrim-huts.jpgplymouth-tourist-ready-.jpg
Nearby is a commemorative memorial recognizing the contributions of the Women of the Mayflower voyage, donated by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) on the 300th anniversary of the historic landing in 1920.pilgrim-women-statue.jpgIf you have a look at the ‘not yet cleaned up for tourist season’ pond around this statue, you will see it’s partially frozen even though it faces due East and probably gets plenty of sun!! Nearby is a replica of the Mayflower itself, and I have to say, it is a LOT smaller than I was expecting. Having traversed a few seas by modern cruise ship, I’m not so sure I’d have the intestinal fortitude to get on a dinky little ship like this and cross the North Atlantic, no doubt the crossing was less than pleasant for many on board.mayflower-1.jpgmayflower-2.jpg
Yet again, we found ourselves driven indoors by the absolutely brutal weather on the coast. It wasn’t quite as bad as previously at East Haven, but the strong winds made it exceedingly enticing to seek refuge where ever possible. I haven’t done my research, but something tells me the pilgrims did NOT land on Plymouth Rock in winter, else they would have kept on sailing until they hit some more agreeable weather for certain! Luckily, we did find one establishment that was keeping its doors open in spite of the weather – The Office Bistro, where we were forced to order the Kentucky Bourbon boneless short ribs, and the local Scallops wrapped in bacon, all served with delicious fresh veggies. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it.
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New Haven is my kind of town.

Took our time driving up to New Haven today, via the dirty ugly smelly New Jersey Turnpike again. Β I tell you something for nothing – that must be one of the more expensive bits of toll road that I’ve had the misfortune to need to use… it cost us $2.05 when we got off the Pennsylvannia Turnpike, $11.80 for using the New Jersey Turnpike, $13.10 for the George Washington Bridge and then another $1.25 when we got off somewhere else, I don’t know I lost track!

imageimage Still, glad we were going North, because the traffic going South was totally cactus! imageWe made an unexpected stop at the PEZ factory as we made our way through Connecticut for a place to stretch our legs, but that is a whole other post as it is full of silly photos and stuff.

Anyway, we made it to New Haven just after lunch time and decided to go check out the B&B first up. We had booked to stay at The Farnam Guest House, which is a beautiful quaint old building on the north side of town on Prospect Street.imageThe Farnam Room where we were staying for the night, also another bedroom whose occupants had not yet turned up for the evening, the main parlour and dining rooms were also gorgeous.farnham-house.jpgfarnam-house-2.jpgfarnam-parlour.jpgfarnam-dining.jpg
So, after we settled in we decided to go take a drive around town before heading to the centre of town to check out the University and the local shopping district. I have to say that I am finding Connecticut is absolutely my kind of town. I love the architecture here, I love the beautiful old houses, the buildings that belong to Yale are all gorgeous, and I can only imagine how lovely the place looks when it is all green with new foliage (I’ve said it everywhere we have been – but the North East REALLY needs more evergreens!), or even better, during the fall when the leaves are al turning. New Haven reminds me a lot of some of the university towns in England, Oxford, Cambridge etc… I am pretty sure that is no mistake. So we went on a bit of a real estate tour, checking out beautiful houses as we drove past πŸ™‚new-haven-lawyers.jpgnew-haven-house-1.jpghouse.jpgreal-estate-new-haven-1.jpgreal-estate-new-haven-3.jpgreal-estate-new-haven-2.jpgThe photos are a bit on the wonky side, but that is what you get for snapping out a moving car window with an iPhone!

After pottering around the suburbs a bit, we went down to the town centre which is is full of gothic style sandstone buildings, and of course, bulk Yale stuff everywhere you turn. My university sells a couple of hoodies, a jumper or two, some umbrellas and maybe a hat, some cufflinks and a compendium… Yale has several stores dedicated to merchandise and you can get Yale and Yale Bulldogs, printed on nearly anything! Even a garden gnome – and you know I totally would have bought one of these silly things home if it weren’t for the stupid airline’s luggage allowance rules. πŸ˜‰yale-stuff.jpgyale.jpgyale-shop.jpgI would have loved for it to be a little less cold, so that I could have done a bit more wandering around taking photos of the buildings, but as it was, it was hard to stay out of the car for more than five minutes together.architecture-new-haven-1.jpgarchitecture-new-haven-2.jpgarchitecture-new-haven-3.jpgarchitecture-new-haven-4.jpg
After checking out a little bit of pottering around town, we went for a drive to ferret out the Lighthouse, which we were assured is at the aptly named, Lighthouse Point. Only it turns out you can drive for ages around the shoreline in this area and NOT find a public access to the water. We could find the lighthouse in the distance, but it appeared the only place to get anywhere near it was a private, fenced off, boat ramp area. Oh well, a bit more driving round in circles and finding lots of dead end streets confirmed that suspicion. So we head off looking for any access to an area of East Haven beach, and we eventually found the one area that seemed to have parking and access to the beach – mind you, everywhere we looked there were signs up saying ‘No Parking, Residents Only, All Others Will Be Towed’. Enquiries a little bit later revealed that these signs only applied during peak season when the car parks were busy, and it was to make sure that East Haven residents could go park near the beach and keep the tourists out… no shit, it seems that there is so little public access to the beach, that they make it a priority to allocate parking for residents, and bugger the tourists! It makes no sense to me – surely if you live nearby you have some way of getting to the beaches?! But apparently not. Anyway, we parked by the beach by encroaching on a restaurant car park and went out there for… oh, about three minutes. Given it was *mumble mumble* below zero and the winds were apparently around 35MPH, it just was not pleasant at all, no matter how pretty the area was.
east-haven-beach.jpgeast-haven-beach.jpgimageIt was at about this point that we decided to resume our real estate tour of Connecticut, and keep checking out beautiful houses. The median price in New Haven is approximately $240,000 which sounds awesome if you ask me, even if many of these homes are considerably smaller than what we are used to back home. Obviously many of these houses might have been much more than that, but $240K for a property in East Haven, Connecticut close to beaches and all the amenities of New Haven? I think I have found somewhere I could handle living on the East Coast now – San Francisco being the only place I have found that I would consider living in, on the West Coast. πŸ™‚ connecticut-house.jpgconnecticut-house-3.jpgconnecticut-house-2.jpgAfter a quick bite to eat (delicious and cheap lobster rolls… why, yes. I am planning on overdosing on all the fresh seafood while we are in New England!), at the Sandpiper restaurant with the handy carpark, we then tootled back the the guesthouse for a warm and toasty night in.image