Monday, August 27, 2018

Saying Goodbye to Boston

All good things must come to an end unfortunately and my trip to this city is no exception. I must admit Boston surprised me with what it has to offer and I can honestly say that it's been one of my best trips so far. The combination of spending time with my friend Angelica who is such a sweet heart and exploring this city with tonnes of entertainment options, made my stay all the more memorable. I left Boston early this morning and I am back home reminiscing about some of the trip highlights which I will share below.

Newbury Street

A two mile stretch of a pretty street filled with boutiques, restaurants/cafes and salons. The beautiful brownstone buildings add to the appeal of Newbury and I would definitely recommend a stroll along the street especially on a nice sunny day.

Beacon Hill

Pretty neighborhood known as one of Boston's oldest as well as most expensive. It's worth your while checking it out and taking a stroll along it's streets, if you love taking photos you will not be disappointed because the area is highly photogenic.

Boston Common

It's America's oldest public park and people come here to jog, walk along the paved paths or just chill out. The African Festival that I had mentioned in my prior post took place at this park and we of course attended. The turn out was pretty good and the event was so much fun.

That's it folks, my last day in Boston was hectic as we spent the whole day out and about. At night we decided to go to a Haitian nightclub to end the night on a high note, loved the music! we danced, laughed, drank and had a very good night. Wouldn't have wanted my last night to end any other way.

 This pretty much sums up the night, good times indeed! and with the best company.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Boston's Carnival Parade

So far I am really enjoying Boston and what the city has to offer, Angelica and I have been up and about exploring and attending the numerous summer events taking place in this city. By the time we get to her apartment at the end of the day I am usually so tired that updating this blog is the least of my priorities. Today we attended Boston's Caribbean Carnival parade, we actually just found out about it last evening through one of Angelica's friends and we decided to check it out.

We thought we would spend maybe a couple of hours then move on to something else as we weren't expecting much but it turned out to be so much fun that we spent the whole day at the event and ditched the other plans we had. It was a day well spent and I will let the pictures do the talking........

That's it folks! keep checking in for more updates as tomorrow we attend another event that I am really looking forward to, The Boston African Festival. This should be fun!

Random Thoughts of The Day:

There are so many restaurant options for different kinds of food here that I have made it my mission to try a dish from a different country everyday. We have had some Afghani food, Cabo Verdean food,  Jamaican food (ok, I have had this before but it still counts). Next we are going to try Haitian food.

I was telling Angelica how the trains here look so old, out of curiosity I looked up information online to see how old they are. Turns out the Boston subway system dates back to 1897 and it's the oldest in the US. Well, as long as the trains get you from point A to B that's what matters right?

It's funny how always without fail I look forward to a trip, buy the ticket, then totally lose interest in traveling a day or two before the trip. I literally try to talk myself out of the trip but of course I end up getting on the flight anyway because there is no way I am losing money over some silly fickle tendencies. After traveling I always end up having so much fun that I wonder why the heck I was grumbling prior to the trip. Needless to say it wasn't any different with this trip but now I am having so much fun that I can't believe I ever thought I wouldn't. Yes, I am weird like that.

I have to hand it to some of the folks who had huge elaborate costumes at the Caribbean Parade, those things appeared heavy and to make matters worse it was hot and the parade route was 2 miles long. I really don't know how they managed to carry on but kudos to them!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Up & About In Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the US and it so happens to be one of the cities that I have always wanted to visit but I was just never proactive in making the trip happen. My friend Angelica who I met in Cali, Colombia moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard University and I can't tell you how many times promises of a visit were made. I finally decided to fulfill my promise so here I am, in Boston. Well, currently staying with Angelica in Cambridge but easily commuting to Boston to see what the city has to offer, so far we have visited the following places....

Boston Public Garden

It is the first public botanical garden in America that was established in 1873. The garden is very pretty and ideal for relaxing on its grounds or taking a walk along the various pathways it has. It's not very big and a walk around is very do-able and highly recommended.

 Four years later and it's like we never missed a beat with our it miss a beat or skip a beat? hmmm?!

The Freedom Trail

A 2.5 mile trail through downtown Boston that has 16 sites that have historical significance in the history of the US. The trail is pretty easy to follow and there are signs all over to guide you, there are guides who can take you through the trail explaining each site but we opted to go through the trail by ourselves. I didn't take pictures of all the sites as I was distracted by all the activities around but I managed to get a couple.

Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market

These two are actually part of four places located around a cobblestone promenade, the other two places are north and south market. It's a nice area to watch street performers, do some shopping and grab something to eat.
PS: Faneuil Hall does have a long history which I am not going to pretend I am well versed in but I read some bits and pieces prior to visiting just to get an idea of what the site is all about.

Inside Quincy Market, there were plenty of food options that it got overwhelming.

Boston Harbor

Located adjacent to the city of Boston, it includes almost 40 miles of pedestrian friendly public access to the water's edge. We didn't of course walk along the whole harbor, but we still enjoyed what part of the location had to offer.

That's it folks, today was a long day comprised of long walks (just how I like it) and we managed to see more than I had anticipated. I didn't include all that we did as I am too tired to go into more detail but at least you get an idea of what we have been up to so far.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

I am very proud of my friend Angelica, just thinking of how far she has come and to now be attending Harvard University where she will be graduating with a doctorate degree. Very impressive indeed! her story was actually featured in some newspapers in Cali.

Today evening after doing all the sight seeing we could during the day, we went to an art exhibit that Angelica had planned. To be honest with you I thought I would be so bored but didn't have the courage to tell Angelica this because she had really been looking forward to this exhibit. Well, turns out I loved it! what made it even more interesting is that she was interpreting some of the art for me and I got to learn a lot about the story behind the various artists' work. She is very knowledgeable about art as it's her area of speciality.

Drivers here seem very aggressive, I can't tell you how many times I have witnessed road rage and it's only been my second day here! 

Barack Obama's daughter attends Harvard and Angelica has spotted her and her boyfriend several times around campus. I wonder if she goes through a lot of scrutiny being the daughter of a former president, now that's pressure I would hate to live with. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Toronto Islands

Where do you head to when you want to get away from the city and relax a little bit? you head to Toronto Islands which are a chain of islands on lake Ontario. The islands are actually not very far from  downtown Toronto and it takes about 10 minutes on a ferry. Your other option is to take a water taxi which will be more expensive than the ferry ride that costs less than $10. I think the water taxis cost about $20.

After all the touring and partaking of Caribana events we headed to the Toronto islands to get a little rest and re-charge (when I say we I mean Edna, her roommate, their mutual friend and I). We brought our own food and had a little picnic before we proceeded to black out on the beach and take a long nap........okay, I am the one who actually blacked out the rest went for a swim and took bike rides around. I was tired from all the action plus the combination of heat, food and two margarita drinks was the perfect recipe for a good long nap.

We did get to do some exploring afterwards but we took things super easy with no rush, the purpose of our visit was to relax after all and that's exactly what we did.

From the islands you can get some very pretty views of downtown Toronto....

That's it folks! I have since returned home and I am glad to say that my trip exceeded my expectations. Toronto is definitely a city to check out if you have the opportunity, I am glad I finally got to visit as it did not disappoint.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

The good thing with Toronto Islands is that there is something for everyone, whether you want to swim, lay on the beach, walk or bike around the can do it all! plus its very kid friendly and has an amusement area with rides for kids.

At the beginning of the year I had made up my mind that this year was going to be full of travel to make up for last year which was pretty dry. So far it's working out as I had planned and I couldn't be happier! I am heading to Boston in a couple of weeks, Seattle at the end of the month then I have a very exciting international trip in November and another one in December. If this is a prime example of manifesting what you want then heck! I want to win the lottery.

I am still trying to make up my mind on where I want to spend my birthday next year, I know it's in March and there is still time but I like to plan things in advance, usually by around August I already have an idea of where I want to go but this time my mind is all over the place and I can't decide.

I had wanted to check out some salsa clubs while in Toronto but it never happened, by evening we were always so tired from being out the whole day plus I think age is catching up to me, at the end of the day all I look forward to is a nice hot shower, my favorite shows on Netflix and my bed.

I would like to give a shout-out to my Samsung S7 phone, you are the real MVP! the photos you take are the and I honestly don't even need a camera anymore as you do a better job than any camera I have ever had. Keep being you and don't you ever change.......yours truly, J.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls borders New York and Canada's province of Ontario (Toronto is the capital of Ontario). I have always wanted to visit the falls so being in Toronto, I had the perfect opportunity to make this happen and so I did.....of course with the help of my friend Edna with whom I am staying with.

There were a couple of public transportation options available, use regular public transport and pay a round trip of $50 or get a bus in China town that normally picks up people to take them to the casinos next to the falls for a round trip of $28. No guessing which option I picked! we made our way to China town where buses were leaving every hour and we were able to get space fortunately, turns out space is never guaranteed because some people actually make reservations for seats and if you are a casino member you get priority seating as well.

Once we got to Niagara we made sure to get a ticket for our trip back to the city, this is very important because without this ticket you might end up stranded without a ride back. The ticket indicates the bus number to look out for and what time pick up is, they are handed out inside the casinos and normally the transportation company will guide you in getting one. We were not interested in gambling or checking out the casino so we made our way to Niagara.

The weather was hot and the place was packed!! there was an Indian concert taking place next to the falls so this added to the crowd. We decided to buy a boat ride ticket so we could get up close to the falls, the line to get onto the boat was long but it moved surprisingly fast so we didn't have to wait for too long. I think we were in the line for about 10 minutes before the next boat ride became available and we were able to get on. We were each given a poncho as we boarded the boat because getting that close to the falls you will get wet whether you like it or not.

The boats are actually pretty huge and have two decks, we made our way to the upper deck to get better views and quickly got a spot. I am so glad we went on the boat ride because getting up close to Niagara was quite an experience, of course we all got drenched but it was part of the fun and since it was hot anyway, what better way to cool off right? it was so worth it and without further ado, here are the picture I took........enjoy!

I guess red was the color of the day

There was an option to zip line close to the falls, I thought it was so cool.

Trust me, the picture below doesn't even come close to depicting how crowded it was. It was packed!

That's it folks, after the boat ride we walked around the area which was buzzing with activity then had dinner before making our way back to the bus heading to Toronto. It sure was a day well spent!

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Edna had mentioned that the area surrounding Niagara Falls is very commercialized, I did not grasp the full extent of this until we got there. From casinos to hotels, to restaurants, to souvenir shops......I mean, the place is designed to make you want to spend money.

I find casinos so depressing, just the look of desperation on some of the people's faces is enough to put you off. There people who are truly addicted to gambling and it's just so sad to watch.

I am so glad that my friend has the same stamina as I do. We have covered so much ground since I have been here and I love it! anytime we would be in the middle of exploring we'd look at each other and go, "are you tired yet or should we go on?" we would always opt to go on.

I under estimated how hot it would be here in Toronto, when I get back home I am giving my poor skin some major TLC because it's endured a lot in this heat. My feet have also suffered, from the swelling of the heat and the soreness of walking the whole day in sandals.......poor babies.

I would have loved to visit Montreal and Quebec but time is really not on my side, maybe next time. By the way everything here in Toronto seems to have English and French translations, airport officials have even greated me in both languages. Edna's roommate was telling me that in Quebec where the official language is French, some people look down on English speakers and would rather have you speak any other language to them other than English.