"Massachusetts has been the wheel within New England, and Boston the wheel within Massachusetts. Boston therefore is often called the "hub of the world," since it has been the source and fountain of the ideas that have reared and made America."
~ Rev. F. B. Zinkle, Last Winter in the United States (1868).
Destination: Boston, MA. [U.S.A.]
I have found, in a short amount of time being here, that this part of America has much natural beauty, but it's lacking a certain something in a serious way. The season where the flower buds grow back and animals exit their burrows is upon us, and shall soon explode into a vivid display of colour, sound and delight.
But until then, we're stuck with the teasingly cold weather, L.L. Bean coats and too many boat shoes. It's not even sailing season yet.
The city, of Boston, itself is pretty. A college town encompassed with working men and women, college students, and families, young and old, bustles with an energy that is truly on its own level. The city is old, because it's the "home of America", and the architecture of some of these buildings is quite ornate and spectacularly detailed. The Charles River reminds one of winter and summer, all rolled into one, especially when accompanied by the arduous rowers and crew-members that row endlessly, day and night. Street corners hold a combination of "school stores", cutesy cafes, secondhand clothing stores, convenience shops and high-class chains. The suburbs of Boston, whether they be in the forests or by the water, feel like they're on a whole different planet. Luckily, with the efficient T-Rail system, no one is ever truly disconnected.
It's hard to compare cities, but I can honestly say that this place in unlike many I have been before. There is a truly...eclectic feeling...about this place, where the strangest bouts of niceness, and most lethargic displays of ignorance, are out in the open for all to see. Take for example, the wonderful seafood of this town. Lobsters; crabs; clams; various other misnamed shellfish; collections of deep-fried fish; it's all in great abundance, and it's bloody delicious -- particularly the delicacies on offer at "The Barking Crab".
But it's mirrored by the large collection of pearls, pastel sweaters and moccasins. Strange, isn't it?
In certain parts of Boston, and by this I mean the surrounding towns, people will be either nice, rude, smiley or dismal depending on their situation; which is only to be expected--it's like this everywhere. However, it feels particularly different here.
Some suburbs here have too much money. Some don't have enough. The education is ridiculous(ly GOOD!). Boston suburbs have schools where you honestly cannot go wrong. The people, on the other hand, are hit or miss.
In my time of being here, an extremely small amount of people have been friendly straight off the bat. Mathematically speaking, 0.02% have said "Hello" when they walk past. [It's very foreign when compared to almost everyone (99.3%-ish) in Oz who grin "G'day" to strangers.] Upon reflection, the only people who have gone out of their way to say "Hello" while making deliberate eye-contact (not the "awkward kind" that most people here seem to try to avoid) have been middle-aged, working class men who adorn sweatshirts with the words "Such-and-such Plumbing", "Joe McWhoever's Electrical Company", or "[Insert Name Here] & Sons". I don't know why that is. If anything, I hope they can permeate some grins and smirk-age into their families so the next generation smiles when walking around the Charles River.
Because that is what makes a city beauty--I feel, especially when travelling in a foreign city. It's not the amount of architecturally amazing buildings, or old museums, or historical landmarks. It's not the price of handbags in shop windows, or collection of trinkets, or specialty items that are only available in that town (--I'm yet to try Boston Baked Beans).
It's the people who make you want to come back.
It's the smiles that you receive from strangers, the "Hello! How are you?"'s that make you feel like a local; not a tourist. It's holding a door open for the person behind you; leaving space in the elevator; stopping the bus driver when you see the young foreigner with his overly obvious backpacker's bag; giving a few extra dollars to the girl in front of you who is $1.19 short on her coffee.
If Boston could make a few changes, and bring some smiles to their streets, they'd have one heck of a chance to become a serious American hub. I haven't been everywhere in Massachusetts; in fact, it's hard to say I've been anywhere, but I'm certain that a few smiles would have made the trip 100% better.
And if one more person doesn't put their life on hold for the 2.3 seconds that it takes to extend their arm and keep the door open, I might just tear off some prawn heads.
~ Ms. Always Travelling