Thursday, 22 December 2011

USA Today (13) – 9/11 and cod pieces on New England’s fist

Today it’s back to New England for another instalment from our road trip in the fall – aka our honeymoon.

Today is 9/11. Its ten years since I flew out of New York. I was in the air returning to the UK as the planes were flying into the twin towers. I missed it by a whisker (you can read about that amazing and ultimately traumatic trip in this previous blog). Today was Sunday – we’d be arriving in New York in two days time (Tuesday). Not ten years to the date, but ten years to the day since I left.

I knew I’d be having my New York moment in a couple of day’s time so I parked my emotions until then, because today we had different fish to fry. We were off to Cape Cod.

I’d forgotten what 6.30am looked like – but there it was yelling at me to get my backside out of bed. So I flung on some clothes, did my hair (hair straighteners – yippee) and got a lift with our Bostonian friends down to Alewife Station – possibly the best metro station name in the world. 

By now we were riding the T (metro) like locals, emerging like little meerkats at The Boston Aquarium. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we were heading for The Provincetown Fast Ferry to Cape Cod.

I’m not quite sure why I bothered to do my hair, because once we got cracking on the ferry I insisted on sitting outside. It’s not called the fast ferry for nothing. It didn’t take long to bring back that ever so chic ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look. 

Boston harbour.

As we sailed out of the harbour, the view of the Boston waterfront was spectacular. But it really turned my stomach to see planes flying into Logan airport over the harbour in front of the sky scrapers. 9/11 was so much in everyone’s mind, it made you shudder to see them. Inside the ferry people were watching the 9/11 memorial service in silence on the TV – the name, age and home towns of the victims scrolling along the bottom of the screen while the former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani and President Obama spoke to the crowds. They were cut dead at 10.28am. The time flashed up on the huge screen at Ground Zero to commemorate the time that the North Tower collapsed. I’m not alone in remembering that moment as clearly now as ten years ago.

Ninety minutes after leaving Boston we arrived in Provincetown at the very end of Cape Cod. If you imagine the Cape as an arm sticking out from America’s east coast then Provincetown is the fist. I’d read in my guidebook that a rainbow flies over Provincetown – not in a Wizard of Oz way but in a gay friendly way. Yes, Provincetown, Cape Cod’s fist is probably the gayest place I’ve ever been to.
Picture Source

I pride myself on being broad minded but even I had to try not to stare at buff men in speedos walking hand in hand down the street past shops with names like ‘Spank the Monkey’ and ‘Burger Queen’!

We’d arranged to meet up with a friend – Tris’ old Scrabble adversary from his two years spent teaching in Zambia through Voluntary Service Overseas (2002-2004). Unlike Tris, she had got itchy feet again and was teaching in Cape Cod through an exchange programme. She’d swapped her house, job and car with a local teacher who had likewise stepped into our friend's life back in Scotland. 

So we had our tour guide for the day, driving us around all the sights which needed to be seen – historical theatres, cinemas, libraries – it was all very cultural. 

Cape Cod cinema.
We stopped at Barnstable Bay for lunch. It was my first chowder to the trip and it tasted amazing.

Our friend's ‘houseswap’ house was really cute and funky. A traditional one storey wooden clapboard house it was stuffed full of quaint and kitsch nic-nacs. All I could think was that it must have been a nightmare to dust, but that’s just the kind of gal I am!

Sadly we didn’t get our timing quite right, getting caught in a Boy Scout 9/11 parade on the way back to Provincetown. With only 40 minutes left to explore we bought presents, ice creams and then we were on the ferry back to Boston.

Almost got a picture of a Minke Whale!
Our voyage home wasn’t however without incident when we were almost boarded by a Minke Whale. One minute we were powering across the ocean, the next the proverbial anchors were slammed on as we performed a dramatic emergency stop. We clung to the railings as the ferry came to a halt and then dashed over to the side to see the whale breaching up into the air before diving back under the water. 

We arrived back in Boston and headed to Quincy Market where the British, for some reason were defending Wagamama’s . 

Very precious noodles.
I’m not sure who they were defending it against – possibly the entire Boston Fire Department who were letting off steam in the ‘Cheers’ bar further down? The sound of bag pipes was a tuneful? if not odd reminder to the Celtic origins of so many from this city.

Quincy market.
In honour of our trip on the ocean waves, we plumped for ‘The Salty Dog’ for dinner who served us with calamari, blue cheese salad, lobster linguine and October beer. As the white fairy lights entwined around the branches of the trees twinkled in the moonlight, Summer in Boston 2011 couldn’t have really been much better.

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