Next Time, Take the Plane (Or the T, or the Duck!)

This week was another exercise in public transport. I went to Boston on Sunday through Thursday for work. Boston’s a fine place to visit.

My sister, Susan, graduated from M.I.T. so I had actually been to Boston once before, but we didn’t do a lot of traveling as the weather was not that great. We were in Boston pretty much for just the graduation and we went to Salem to visit our friend Hannah while she was living there, so this was my first time in Boston proper for more than a couple days, and traveling alone I had to make up my own fun. I had a fair amount, so here’s what all happened.

First off was the packing adventure. The whole 1 carry on plus 1 personal item thing always throws me for a loop and I end up worrying my “personal item” is too big. In truth everyone cheats the TSA and carries on too much anyway, so I was probably being a good citizen by not taking up the entire overhead with my gear. What I am trying to do is pick a bag that will still count as a “personal item” and be of useful size for toting around regularly. This trip I used a Timbuk2 Cargo Tote (size medium) and it barely fits my macbook pro inside. The carry-on is a Briggs & Riley, which may be one of the best made pieces of luggage ever.

The plane ride was uneventful, though I was bummed United is doing the paid snack thing. I usually will put in for the vegetarian meal because it comes out first because it’s generally healthier, but also because it comes out before everyone else’s meal. This time, though, I just toughed it out and ate a bag of snack nuts and clif shot bloks energy food to get me through the flight. It wasn’t enough. The bright spot was having the movie switched to Wall-E at the last minute. I’d seen it before, but it’s great. The rest of the time was spent watching season one of the Whitest Kids U’Know which is like a somewhat dirtier Kids in the Hall. Took the Silver line to South Station then the Red line out to Harvard Square where I stayed at the Inn at Harvard Square. Had a very tasty burger and a black and tan at Grafton Street that night and slept like a baby at The Inn at Harvard.

The next morning had me on the Red line and out to South Station to the client site. The work was reasonably well set up but somewhat verbose and technical, so I’ll spare you the details. I had lunch from Al Capone’s which is a really killer deli. I’m surprised the quizno’s two doors down isn’t out of business. I paid $9 for a sandwich that was easily two meals worth (jalapeno chicken mmm). Despite what food was leftover, I still got a dinner: take out from Hong Kong Restaurant and a Sam Adams Winter Lager to have while watching TV: Heroes, My Own Worst Enemy, and Monday Night Football. Had a fun time texting back and forth with Julie who was watching MNF live with some friends.

Tuesday was another work day and lunch was in the building’s cafeteria, a subset of Cosi which I guess is an east coast chain of healthyish sandwiches and salads. Dinner was also off Harvard Square on Winthrop — went to Charlie’s Kitchen where they specialize in burgers… double-burgers. I had a lobster burger, jalapeno poppers, and a guinness. Yum.

Wednesday was the final work day and the team I was with took me to lunch at Miel Brasserie in the Intercontinental Hotel. It was a fancy lunch. I had the Burger Trio which was essentially gourmet sliders — a mini burger each of Kobe beef (tasty), ahi tuna (yummy), and lobster (omfg it’s good). I was laughed at for getting my normal drink (Arnold Palmer) as it’s somewhat of a summer drink… when it’s just below freezing outside. I was hoping to meet my friend Patrick for dinner but he got held up. I went to Shay’s and had a nice Riesling and another guinness with my chicken sandwich.

Thursday had my flight out later in the afternoon, but I decided to get an early start because I wanted to ride The Duck! The Duck is an amphibious landing vehicle used during WWII. It’s a 6-wheeled craft that is also equipped with a propeller. It also had a compressor hooked to the tires so you could deflate (for riding on sand) or inflate (for pavement) at will. So cool. Captain Mack drove us around and pointed out all manner of historical sites that I wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise, and then splashed into the Charles River for a little while. These tours are very popular in the summer, so since it was a little colder, we only had 5 people aboard. Because of this, we ALL got to pilot The Duck during the water portion of the trip. It was unreasonably fun. Maybe I can work The Duck into a water landing in the new Call of Duty game. My final meal in town was at the Logan Terminal C Legal Sea Foods. It was quite tasty with the lobster roll and the 24 oz winter lager.

The end of the trip involved a bit more public transportation. I took the AirTrain tram ride to the SFO BART station. Then paid for a one-way, one-stop fare to Milbrae which is south of the airport… but BART from the airport only goes north, so I had to take the train to San Bruno then transfer back southbound to get to Milbrae. In Milbrae I took the Caltrain down to San Jose where Julie picked me up.

I’m *so* done with traveling.

What I learned on this trip:
a. beer and burgers are good in Boston
b. smartwool long underwear is the bomb
c. a hat and gloves is necessary, and a scarf would have been good too
d. spending some cash for a really nice long wool coat was a great idea
e. some Boston women were doing a wool miniskirt + tights + boots thing which is very agreeable to me
f. people who wait in line ahead of their boarding group should be shot
g. the fact the charlie card works on the T system including the airport silverline makes Bay Area transit look anemic
h. no free wifi in San Francisco Int’l, Boston Logan, nor the hotel is criminal
i. no internet access nor personal computing gear at all at the client site was annoying but I never felt limited
j. EDGE access for my iPhone is plenty internet for my purposes

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