Bumming Around in Boston

Jonathan, Merinda and I flew to Boston for the week of 10-17 June, 2000 so that Jonathan could attend the MTT conference. We had a fun flight over; our trip went via Denver, where we were to have one hours layover before continuing our journey in the same plane. We left Santa Rosa on the 8am Airport Express and took off for Denver only about 20 minutes behind schedule. On landing at Denver, however, it was announced that our plane had mechanical problems with the landing gear (thankfully we didn't 'discover' this fact during the actual landing!) and we were advised to bokk on to another flight. Several hours later we finally left for Boston and arrived there at 11pm local time (8pm Santa Rosa time), a total travel time of 12 hours, not counting subsequent luggage collection and a 20 minute taxi ride to our hotel. A direct flight to Boston normally takes 6 hours from SF.

As we disembarked at Boston, we were hailed by a half dozen or so people who had elected to stay with the original plane and wait out the repairs. Apparently they had landed about the same time as us and had been the only people on the flight

Above is the view North (across the bulk of the city) from CN Tower. To the right is a map of the district. The CN tower is to the bottom left of the map, marked with a white triangle. Much of what you see is attached to the University, though the map does not show this. The greener region in the mid-ground of the photo is the main campus. You may be able to make out a white dome, roughly middle of the photograph, which is in the campus grounds. There are five hospitals in close proximity to, and just South of the University as well.

A feature of Toronto is that it has the world's largest underground shopping complex. This must surely be a response to the clash between the desire to shop that is prevalent in civilised cities, and the fact that it snows in Winter. (Canada is not known for the clemency of its atmospherics.) Looking at the lower region of the map, you will see a series of connections in blue. These are the paths of the undergroung complex, which stretches literally for kilometres.

Behold at left a view of a part of the PATH (the underground precinct) where it touches the surface. The photograph is taken at or slightly below ground level". Photographs taken elsewhere do not do justice to the size of the place; the typical arrangement is a 20-foot-wide corridor, lined with small boutiques or hairdressers or whatever, opening out into larger areas underneath specific large buildings. These areas might be given over to a food court, which must chiefly serve the population that works in the skyscraper above.

These skyscraper plots in the PATH also provide access to the surface. Subway stations of course are connected into the path, so you could catch a train to work, arrive, have breakfast, work, meet someone for lunch, go for a meeting in a nearby office building, go home, and never be aware of the weather outside.

To the right you see the view from our hotel room balcony. The view is North, and the hotel is North of the CN tower, so you can see it reflected in the face of the skyscraper.
In the foreground there is a small piazza, with a shallow pond, which we speculate might be a skating rink in Winter. Just out of camera to the right is a large apartment block. This is another feature shared by Toronto with cities like Paris: A lot of residential capacity in walking distance of business.

Another good thing about Toronto (and Paris and San Francisco and Sydney) is the "life" of the streets, typified by buskers, and diverse, interesting restaurants.

At left you see busking drummers. This works surprisingly well! On an evening return the first lad was providing a basic beat, while the other climbed poles or traffic lights and provided a riff using the signs and metalwork as instruments. He was remarkably adept at playing (after the fashion of cow bells or tubular bells) while shimmying up the pole and hanging on with his knees. An acquired skill, I guess.
They also offered "guest sessions", where for a donation you can do your thing on the drums, the buskers doing the accompanyment on posts.

Returning to the CN tower, they had a glass floor. All your senses tell you that you should not walk on this thing, even though the transparent space is neither clear and free of scratches, nor made of very big panels. To the left you see Kay and Meri, who is sitting on one of the panels.

Meri seemed quite oblivious of the distance to the ground, and was quite happy to play and pose, even looking down. Ignorance, or perhaps innocence, is bliss.

Strange things betray a city as a "good place". Restaurants are perhaps the best marker, their quantity, quality, and imaginativeness all being things for which to look out. (Not closing the kitchen at 9PM is also a good sign.) Here Meri reads the menu at an outdoor caf on Center Island.

In the imagination stakes, to the left you see the handbasin in the ladies changing sheds nearby. Imagination is not limited to the food!

Below you see a picture taken at the "Dinner for Australians", put together by Dave Skellern after the URSI model started by Godfrey Lucas. The restaurant itself is a fascinating, and we are told, very Canadian, idea.

The restaurant is huge, set out like a marketplace. There are stalls serving pizza, sushi bars, seafood stalls, drinks bars, creperies, etc., as well as "rooms" that can be booked. The photo at right was taken in the room which Dave had booked for the Aussie contingent, to which I was honourarily admitted... Meri faked it well, I wore my GNW T-shirt as camouflage.

When you arrive you are given card that functions like the paper your table has in a Yum Cha (Dim Sum). You take it, walk around from stall to stall, select food stuffs, and get the card stamped to record what you eat. When you leave it is added up.
Naturally, we all ate ourselves stupid, and had a ball.

Niagara Falls is across the lake, and Kay and Meri went there one day. Not by Hydrofoil, because the bastard went out of business (without the tourist-guide printers being informed), but they went anyway.

At left you see one end of the US-side falls (the less impressive side). What is impressive is the queue of people, all in their yellow raincoats, dutifully lining up to walk behind the waterfall. You would have to be keen....

Meri was in top gear coping with flying (she hardly noticed being in a jet plane, even landing and taking off), being in a hotel room (she was happy once she got a full, adult-sized bed), and seeing so many new people. Going on the Niagara expedition was taken in full stride. Here you see her and Kay on the Maid of the Mist, a boat that runs past the falls. Just like taking a shower with Dad, only you wear a silly coloured raincoat!

In fact, Meri was utterly full of beans and the joys of life, possibly because of all the people who obviously thought she was "so cute". The whole scene is summed up by the photo at right: Ruth is holding Meri who is so enamoured with the company and the attention that she is jumping for joy so much she is a blur to the camera.

One day we may have to go back to Toronto, sometime when I will get a chance to do some pleasure activities (instead of being at a conference). The islands offered what looks like a wonderful world of car and train and fire engine and swan-boat and ferris-wheel rides....

Not to mention lovely formal gardens....