Most of you know I’m in the UK already. Been here two and a half weeks actually, which is mind blowing. And I’m sure you are anxious to hear what I’m up to over here and read all about what this lovely country is like. Especially right before Christmas, when the festive spirit is so evident and so infectious. Or at least that’s what I imagine you want to read about. Before I do start writing about the UK, I must first tell you about the last stop in the USA before flying to London, because, well, I can’t stop thinking about it.
No sooner did I wax poetic about Richmond, Virginia ((Andrew and I really did love it there)) and tell all about how it was at the top of the list of where I may want to settle down upon return to the states, did I arrive in Boston and confirm my long-lived suspicion that I could see us living in Boston. That’s just one of the great things about life, isn’t it? There is always something amazing around the next corner. Especially if you venture out to see it. “Know what I just gushed about? Well that’s old news, because I want to tell you all about THIS now.”
Departing Utica for Boston was slightly bittersweet, as I had to say goodbye to my dad, my sister and her four kids who we had so much fun with over nearly a month in New York State. I am almost thirty-two years old and I still get emotional saying goodbye to family, no matter how long I’d just spent with them. It never gets easier, does it?
Andrew and I boarded Amtrak bound for Boston and tucked into our Viewliner Roomette for the seven hour ride to Boston. We had booked this train ride before the road trip, deciding to splurge on a roomette for some more comfort and space than just a coach seat for each of us. Trains are still so interesting to me, and I love taking them as a mode of transport. The roomette has two seats facing each other, which fold down to make a bed; an upper bunk which lowers down from the ceiling; in-room sink AND TOILET ((!!)); as well as reading lights, outlets, linens and towels. And to our surprise, this roomette price included a dinner ((beverage, main, dessert)) in the dining car! It was truly money well spent, and a perfect way to get to Boston for the last few days before boarding a flight bound for England. The one-way train fare from Utica to Boston was $42 US per person, and the roomette addition was $81 for a total of $163 USD. It may seem a bit pricey for regular travel between upstate NY and Boston, but in our situation of being car-less with lots of luggage and only traveling one way, it was so perfect and completely worth the value.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, a huge part of what started us on this adventure is that we had to vacate our rented home in Seattle. Both of us ready to inhabit a new city, the road trip across America would serve as an interview of sorts for each destination visited. There was no formal list, but in our minds, we had criteria of which we were looking for: closer to both families; had to be a major city; near a major international airport; had to be a very walkable city, and good public transport would be a bonus; job availability would certainly help our odds of getting jobs straight away; lots of parks and a close proximity to other cities/states for weekend road trips. After living in Seattle for so long, I was growing increasingly frustrated with the months of gray skies and wet drizzle, and warm sunny weather for much of the year seemed like a nice idea, but I knew that would be hard to come by given the other more important characteristics listed. As much as Richmond ticked off many boxes on our list, Boston would sweep the competition with one very critical component….major league sports.
Now, I am in no way suggesting I will ever be a Red Sox fan. It will even feel sinful if and when I ever step foot in Fenway. I am a New York Yankee girl all the way. Andrew is one of the biggest Sonics fans that graced the streets of Seattle, and he loves his Seahawks as well. I have never really followed an American Football team, but I am thrilled the Seahawks are having an incredible winning season and garnishing some respect for Seattle sports. The Mariners…well they were the Mariners. And who can forget our beloved Sounders? My point is, we both adore major league sports and love going to games. One of our first dates was to a Mariners/Yankees game in Seattle. Upon arrival to Boston, we began a little bit of research on what to do while there, and since attending a Bruins hockey game is pricier than we were comfortable with this time around, attending a Celtics game would be the ticket. Sitting in the TD Garden watching the Celtics reminded me just how important sports are in our life. Even our family members picked up on this, and made comments via social media that Boston seemed to suit us quite well with its major league sports.
Andrew and I stayed at Hotel 140 in the Back Bay neighborhood. It was a great spot for us, close to fantastic shopping on Newbury Street, close to Boston Common ((the oldest public park in the country)) and Copley Square. We walked all the way over to Charlestown and back on the Freedom Trail. We lunched in Quincy Market, and dined at South End Buttery as per recommendation by a local who overheard us chatting about dinner ideas while thawing our cold hands at a Starbucks. We met up with an old family friend of mine for beers near the Garden, and tried a cannoli from legendary Mike’s Pastry in the North End.
I had been to Boston twice before, both on day trips with my mom, and knew from those short visits there was something special about Boston. On my last visit a few years ago, I first had that slight tingle in my gut about someday calling this city home. I wanted Andrew to experience it and form his own opinion, but hoped he would adore this East Coast city right away. Being away from friends and family for so many years has led me to the life I’ve always wanted to live. But I sacrificed being around for birthdays, holidays and events, big and small. There came a point when I was ready to leave life in Seattle to be closer to my family and start a new life, and explore a new city that I could soon call my own. New York is too big and fast paced for the two of us at this point in our lives; although I couldn’t get enough of Austin, its geographic location is not my favorite; San Diego is relaxing and warm, but still too far from our families. Boston feels so right. To both of us. It ticks all the boxes, and we still have places like San Diego, Austin and Richmond that we can keep as vacation spots. Boston has character, and I’m talking more than just a few driver to driver f-bombs that we heard a mere hours into our first day. It is a city that has old mixed with new. So many great neighborhoods to explore in Boston ((21 to be exact)). The several major colleges and universities undoubtedly make it desirable for international students, which breathe intelligence and diversity into the city. It is extremely walkable, the third most walkable city in the country, and an estimated 13% of residents commute by foot.
To be honest, it is early days yet, and we don’t intend to return to the US for several months. And, of course, both of us have yet to find jobs that afford us someplace to live there ((this recent NPR article gives me hope that my wage equality is a priority in this city)). But I can’t stop thinking about what life would be like in Boston. Andrew and I both have mentioned Boston several times a week since we were there in November. Even in the frigid temps of Beantown during our visit, we found ourselves spending hours outside walking the streets, some which unexpectantly reminded us of being in London.
I will be spending the next several months enjoying our UK family and their incredible hospitality, as well as planning visits and exploring parts of Europe. During these months, in the back on my mind, I will find it difficult not to also be thinking about starting a new life in Boston. So get ready people of Boston; I’m coming for your fair city!
Next on the blog, I will recap the epic USA road trip with my ‘best of the road trip.’ You won’t want to miss it!